Saturday, October 24, 2009

As if on cue . . .

Why Fox News isn't news   Oct. 23: Rachel Re: Rachel Maddow points out what has been largely overlooked in the discussion of the White House feud with Fox News, that explains why Fox is not news.

DougJ: Stopped clock
Mickey Kaus, of all people, has one of the best takes on Obama v. Fox that I’ve seen:
I think Fox is also not neutral (which, again, doesn’t bother me) but it’s also not independent (which does). This isn’t because it’s owned by Rupert Murdoch—moguls are, typically among the more independent sorts. It’s because it’s run by Roger Ailes. I have zero faith that Ailes is independent of the Republican party or, specifically, those Republicans who have occupied the White House recently—the Bushes. As I said, I think if Karl Rove called Ailes in 2003 and said “We don’t want so much coverage of X” it’s extremely likely that X would not be covered on Fox. A … suggestive example of Fox’s loyalty is the debate on immigration, in which Ailes’ network initially seemed to try valiantly—against the beliefs of most of its audience—to push the Bush White House line in favor of “comprehensive” legalization (while brushing aside its viewers’ views).
It’s certainly possible, in theory, to have a faux news organization that pretends to be an ordinary, ideologically biased journalistic outlet but that, at the top, is actually taking orders from Moscow, or from Kennebunkport. That news organization might have lots of viewers and money and White House press passes and some great on-air correspondents—it’s not as if you could rip off their masks to uncover the alien underneath, like in V. ABC’s Jake Tapper would refer to it as “one of our sister organizations.” But that’s not what, ultimately, it would be about. It would be different in nature, just like Organizing For America would be different in nature if it decided to buy some cameras and cable time and start reporting the news.
As if one cue, there are report that Republicans want Roger Ailes to run for president:
“Ailes knows how to frame an issue better than anybody, and that’s what we need now,” said one friend of the he Fox founder, chairman and CEO.
Frank Luntz, the well-known Republican pollster, said Ailes would be a force if he made the run.
“I have known Roger Ailes for 29 years,” says Luntz. “No one knows how to win better than Roger.”
There’s really not much else to say. Fox News is run by a Lee Atwater protege who Republicans see as a possible 2012 Republican candidate for president.
Media Matters: So desperate they'll believe anything -- the fake Obama thesis debunked 
October 23, 2009 2:43 pm ET by Simon Maloy
It really gets to be pretty pathetic sometimes, watching the conservatives grasp at every straw they can in order to attack and discredit a president they don't like.
If you listened to Rush Limbaugh today or visited Fox Nation, then you might have heard about President Obama's supposed college thesis in which the college-aged commander in chief allegedly wrote: "The so-called Founders did not allow for economic freedom. While political freedom is supposedly a cornerstone of the document, the distribution of wealth is not even mentioned. While many believed that the new Constitution gave them liberty, it instead fitted them with the shackles of hypocrisy."
Now, you might be thinking: "Wait a minute, I thought conservatives didn't like Obama's elusive thesis because it was on nuclear disarmament." Well, this is a different thesis, it would seem, and blogger Michael Ledeen wrote about it two days ago:
I missed this first time around.  Brian Lancaster at Jumping in Pools reported on Obama's college thesis, written when he was at Columbia. The paper was called "Aristocracy Reborn," and in the first ten pages (which were all that reporter Joe Klein -- who wrote about it for Time -- was permitted to see).
So Ledeen sources this bombshell to another, more obscure conservative blogger, who wrote -- back on August 25, mind you -- that Time's Joe Klein had seen Obama's damning thesis and was going to report on it for "an upcoming special edition about the President." No indication was given as to how this obscure blogger came to know that one of America's premiere journalists had obtained this information. There was no indication as to how this blogger was able to quote material only Klein had had access to. Oh, and let's not forget that this very same blogger was busted by for fabricating stories about President Obama.
But hey, why speculate on whether it's true or not? Let's go to the source. Mr. Klein? "A report is circulating among the wingnuts that I had a peek at Barack Obama's senior thesis. It is completely false. I've never seen Obama's thesis. I have no idea where this report comes from -- but I can assure you that it's complete nonsense."
This story is fake and falls apart under the slightest scrutiny. Corrections and apologies are due from Ledeen, Limbaugh, and Fox Nation, but if you believe you'll get an apology from pathological liars of that sort, then you're more gullible than they are.
UPDATE: Very well-hidden at the bottom of the Jumping in Pools blog post that started all this stupidity is a "satire" tag:
LATER UPDATE: It gets even better -- according to the PolitiFact article that called out the Jumping in Pools blogger, Matthew Avitabile, for making up outlandish Obama stories:
Avitabile, a Republican who had previously poked fun at Obama with a tongue-in-cheek article that said scientists had determined that he was "genetically superior," is thankful for all the traffic it generated for his blog Jumping in Pools. In the past he was lucky to get 1,000 hits on a story, but this one got more than 50,000. Yet he's disappointed that so many people published his work without verifying it.
"Out of the 50,000 who looked at it, only three had the good sense to contact me and see if it was true," he told us (PolitiFact was one of the three).
Avitabile described himself as a moderate Republican - "I'm pro-gay rights, pro-wind energy" - but said he was surprised that so many in his party had such negative feelings about Obama.
"People wanted to believe this about the president so bad, that he would really go toward a dictatorship so much that they would go with it without checking it," he said.
Bellantoni (TPM): WH: We're Happy To Exclude Fox, But Didn't Yesterday With Feinberg Interview 
Adding to the Fox News v. White House feud today is a dust-up over an interview with pay czar Ken Feinberg. Turns out, it was a sort of miscommunication, but the White House adds that if they had left Fox out it would be a case of "Not that there's anything wrong with that!"
The version Fox has pushed all day is that the network was excluded from an interview roundtable with Feinberg yesterday, and that bureau chiefs from ABC, CBS, NBC and CNN came to Fox's defense.
TPMDC dug into it, and here's what happened.
Feinberg did a pen and pad with reporters to brief them on cutting executive compensation. TV correspondents, as they do with everything, asked to get the comments on camera. Treasury officials agreed and made a list of the networks who asked (Fox was not among them).
But logistically, all of the cameras could not get set up in time or with ease for the Feinberg interview, so they opted for a round robin where the networks use one pool camera. Treasury called the White House pool crew and gave them the list of the networks who'd asked for the interview.
The network pool crew noticed Fox wasn't on the list, was told that they hadn't asked and the crew said they needed to be included. Treasury called the White House and asked top Obama adviser Anita Dunn. Dunn said yes and Fox's Major Garrett was among the correspondents to interview Feinberg last night.
Simple as that, we're told, and the networks don't want to be seen as heroes for Fox.
TPMDC spoke with a network bureau chief this afternoon familiar with the situation who was surprised that Fox was portraying the news as networks coming to its rescue.
"If any member had been excluded it would have been same thing, it has nothing to do with Fox or the White House or the substance of the issues," the bureau chief said. "It's all for one and one for all."
A Treasury spokesperson added: "There was no plot to exclude Fox News, and they had the same interview that their competitors did. Much ado about absolutely nothing."
But the White House isn't backing down from its feud with Fox.
"This White House has demonstrated our willingness to exclude Fox News from newsmaking interviews, but yesterday we did not," said White House spokesman Josh Earnest.
An administration source wondered if the networks were annoyed Fox disclosed logistical negotiations since they are treated as off the record, but the bureau chief did not view this in the same light as discussions about, for example, the president going to Iraq.
As for the ongoing battle, Earnest said: "The president and other high ranking officials and people like Ken Feinberg have done interviews with Fox in the past and will do them in the future."

Friday, October 23, 2009

Nothing they can say . . .

QOTD, Steve Benen
"Honestly, is there nothing conservatives can say that would force them from polite company? Just how nutty must far-right activists be before they're no longer invited to share their ridiculous ideas?"
QOTD2, deputy White House communications director Dan Pfeiffer:
"We simply decided to stop abiding by the fiction, which is aided and abetted by the mainstream press, that Fox is a traditional news organization"
Aravosis: Member of House GOP leadership says Rush and Glenn Beck speak for lots of Republicans 
Good. That's what we've been saying all along. These guys just can't help themselves.
Greg Sargent:  
* Will Robert Gibbs’ pushback against Dick Cheney on Afghanistan (yes, it was very aggressive) earn Obama another series of media comparisons to Nixon? Probably.
Right-wing pundit Frank Gaffney was on MSNBC's "Hardball" yesterday, debating U.S. policy in Afghanistan with Ron Reagan. It didn't go well, but the heated exchange was really only part of the problem. (thanks to reader W.B. for the tip)

After Reagan rejected the neocon approach to the conflict, Gaffney made things personal. "Your father would be ashamed of you," Gaffney told Reagan. The former president's son replied, "You better watch your mouth about that, Frank."
Now, Gaffney probably knows he crossed a line of decency; in fact that probably why he said what he said. Gaffney's a right-wing nutjob whose job it is to say ridiculous things.
And that's really what matters here. Gaffney's insane rhetoric isn't the problem; the fact that he was invited onto national television (again) to share his insane rhetoric is the problem.
Gaffney probably isn't a household name, but inside the media establishment, he's a pretty well known figure, as evidenced by his joint appearance with Dick Cheney on Wednesday night. And when offered a major media platform, Gaffney takes full advantage.
In April, for example, Gaffney appeared on MSNBC to argue that whenever President Obama uses the word "respect" in foreign policy, the word is "code for those who adhere to Sharia that we will submit to Sharia." He wasn't kidding.
In June, Gaffney wrote a column insisting that President Obama might really be a Muslim. In March, Gaffney argued that "evidence" exists connecting Saddam Hussein to 9/11, the 1993 attack on the World Trade Center, and the Oklahoma City bombing. Last September, Gaffney argued that Sarah Palin has learned foreign policy through "osmosis," by living in Alaska. He's argued that U.S. forces really did find weapons of mass destruction in Iraq, but the media covered it up. He's used made-up quotes and recommended "hanging" Democratic officials critical of the Bush administration's Iraq policy. He even believes there's "evidence" to support the "Birthers," and once recommended a military strike on Al Jazeera headquarters.
So why is it, exactly, that MSNBC's "Hardball" invited Gaffney on to talk about foreign policy? What is it the viewing public can learn from listening to his unhinged perspective?
To be sure, Gaffney is certainly entitled to believe obvious lunacy, but that doesn't mean he deserves a microphone or the opportunity to convince a national television audience that his lunacy is legitimate.
Honestly, is there nothing conservatives can say that would force them from polite company? Just how nutty must far-right activists be before they're no longer invited to share their ridiculous ideas?
Cheney undeterred by failure, shame  Oct. 22: Rachel Maddow is joined by Ret. Major General Paul Eaton to discuss why former Vice President Dick Cheney is the last person anyone should listen to about successful prosecution of war and productive foreign policy.

Maybe I should start taking this personally.
Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) has been booked for yet another Sunday talk show appearance this weekend -- this time on CBS' Face The Nation. Despite a "wildly unsuccessful presidential campaign" last year and his comparative irrelevancy in the U.S. Senate, this will mark the 15th time McCain has appeared on a Sunday talk show since January.
For crying out loud. As of this weekend, there will have been 40 Sundays since President Obama's inauguration in January. With his 15th Sunday show appearance, McCain will have been a guest on one of the programs every 2.6 weeks. No other official in the country comes close.
Since the president took office, McCain has been on "Meet the Press" twice (July 12 and March 29), "This Week" three times (September 27, August 23, and May 10), "Fox News Sunday" three times (July 2, March 8, and January 25), and CNN's "State of the Union" three times (October 11, August 2, and February 15). His appearance on "Face the Nation" this weekend will be his fourth appearance since February (October 25, August 30, April 26, and February 8).
And who, exactly, is John McCain? He's the one who lost last year's presidential race badly, and is now just another conservative senator in the minority. He's not in the party leadership; he has no role in any important negotiations on any issue; and he's offered no significant pieces of legislation. By all appearances, McCain isn't even especially influential among his own GOP colleagues.
Now, I suspect producers for "Face the Nation" will point out that U.S. policy in Afghanistan is a very important topic right now, and argue that McCain represents the conservative Republican perspective on the issue. Perhaps.
But let's not forget a) McCain has already discussed his position on Afghanistan on other programs very recently; b) his understanding of U.S. foreign policy is tenuous at best; c) we already know what he's going to say, making the interview dull before it even happens; and d) there are plenty of other Republicans who agree with McCain who aren't on every 2.6 weeks.
In other words, there's just no reason for the media's obsession with McCain. It's as if the bookers are addicted, and as a first step, I'd encourage them to admit they have a problem.

Rouge on a Rogue


It is impossible to defeat an ignorant man in argument. -William G. McAdoo, lawyer and politician (1863-1941)
Slajda (TPM): 'Going Rouge' To Come Out Same Day As Palin's Book 

A collection of essays about former vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin, titled Going Rouge, will be released the same day as Palin's own much-awaited book, Going Rogue.
The essays, collected by The Nation senior editors Richard Kim and Betsy Reed and written by Max Blumenthal, Katha Pollitt, Matt Taibbi and several others, will examine "the nightmarish prospect of her continuing to dominate the nation's political scene."
And yes, the book is available for pre-order.
Marshall: Leveling with the Public
Pressed for comment by NBC, President Obama says that Fox News is essentially a TV version of a talk radio station.
I think this is just the right approach. Obviously, Fox is very successful and has a big audience. And I don't think the Obama administration should refuse to appear on Fox News, something I very much doubt they'd do. But it would not be honest to pretend the Fox is a real news organization in the sense that the other network news divisions or cable outlets are.
I've always noticed that Fox is the biggest on getting people who come on for interviews to give mini-Fox testimonials. How Fox is fair-and-balanced or the most cutting edge news organization out there or various nonsense like that. And if I'm not mistaken what that dingbat Liz Cheney's beef is is that President Obama and members of his administration won't do those promos for Fox. "Congratulations to Fox, a great news organization in the grand tradition!" and so forth.
Fox is not just not a conventional news organization like ABC News or the New York Times. It's not even a legit opinion journalism outfit, as many other have noted over the last few days. Pretending otherwise is no better than pretending your cousin doesn't have that drinking problem everyone in the family knows she has or telling people Corleone family businesses are all legit.
Come to think of it, the really apt analogy is professional wrestling. It's entertainment. Lots of people like it. And to each his own. But it's not right to pretend it's a real sporting event, is it? It's just not right.
Late Update: As I said in my previous post on the topic, this doesn't mean there aren't rock solid journos at Fox. I'm talking about the total package and who runs the place.
Chapter and verse . . . 
Rachel Maddow addresses White House fight with Fox News  Oct. 22: Rachel Maddow is joined by her msnbc colleague Keith Olbermann to set the record straight on White House criticism of Fox News and the dishonest campaign Fox News has launched to drag Maddow and Olbermann into the matter.  

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Thursday Health Care: 60 Votes Edition

Marshall: Bold 
Specter: "We have 60 votes without Sen. Snowe."
Yglesias: The Klein Guide to Public Option Compromises 
Give it a read. The essence of compromising is, I think, to have a clear sense of which compromises count as a pretty good deal. And to me this is pretty clear. If you can’t get the public option of your dreams, the “opt-out” idea is still pretty good. It’ll lead to the creation of a big, viable public option and if it works well the pressure will grow on the opt-out states to opt back in. The other compromises involve giving much more away.
Unfortunately, Olympia Snowe also seems clearly opposed to the opt-out idea.
Think Progress: Rep. Weiner Identifies 55 Republicans On Medicare Who ‘Steadfastly Oppose’ The Public Option
Rep. Anthony Weiner’s (D-NY) office today released an internal study showing that 151 members of Congress “currently receive government-funded; government-administered single-payer health care — Medicare.” Of those 151 members, 55 are Republicans who also happen to be “steadfastly opposed [to] other Americans getting the public option, like the one they have chosen.” Included on Weiner’s list are anti-public option crusaders Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY), Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-IA), Sen. Jon Kyl (R-AZ), Sen. John McCain (R-AZ), Sen. Orin Hatch (R-UT), Sen. Richard Shelby (R-AL), Sen. James Inhofe (R-OK), Sen. Mike Enzi (R-WY), Rep. Virginia Foxx (R-NC), and Rep. Peter King (R-NY).
This morning on C-Span, Weiner explained the idea behind the project:
WEINER: It’s more another way of looking at this debate, this discussion about the public option, to put it in focus. We went, just out of curiosity, looked at how many members of Congress get the public option. And I know a lot of people have said, “Well under the new bill, how many of you members of Congress would choose the public option?”
Well there already is one; it’s called Medicare. And we found 55 Republicans and 151 members of Congress are on Medicare right now. So they’re already getting the same type of public option that we’d like people who are without insurance to be able to get. And I guess the purpose of this list was to kind of point out some of the hypocrisy of this debate.
“You have members of Congress thumping their chest how they’re against government health care,” Weiner noted, adding, “and yet when it’s time for them to accept Medicare, they’re like, ‘Sign me up!’” Watch it:

Back in July, Weiner offered an amendment that would eliminate Medicare, saying at the time that it was “put-up or shut-up time for the phonies who deride the so-called ‘public option.’” Of course, no one voted for the measure.
“Even in a town known for hypocrisy,” Weiner said in a statement today releasing his study, “this list of 55 Members of Congress deserve some sort of prize. They apparently think the public option is ok for them, but not anyone else.”
The AP reports this morning on the Senate Democrats "who are more concerned about their next election or feel they have little to lose by opposing their party's hierarchy," and who may stand in the way of health care reform.
Many of the usual suspects were mentioned, but one stood out.
Sen. Mary Landrieu of Louisiana, where Obama lost by a similar margin, said she might be willing to let some states try "fallback or trigger" mechanisms that would create a public option if residents don't have enough insurance choices.
But she told reporters, "I'm not for a government-run, national, taxpayer-subsidized plan, and never will be."
That is, except for Medicare, which is a taxpayer-subsidized national plan that Landrieu supports.
And Medicaid, which is also a taxpayer-subsidized national plan that Landrieu supports.
And the V.A. system, which is also a taxpayer-subsidized national plan that Landrieu supports.
And S-CHIP, which is also a taxpayer-subsidized national plan that Landrieu supports.
And the Federal Employees Health Benefits Plan, which is also a taxpayer-subsidized national plan that Landrieu supports -- and takes personal advantage of.
Yes, except for all the "government-run, national, taxpayer-subsidized plans" Landrieu already favors, she's not for them and she never will be.
Good to know.
Defining Medicare Part E  Oct. 22: Author Jonathan Cohn discusses whether passing a public option will succeed in expanding health care to everyone and control costs.

Krugman: The facts have a liberal health-care bias 
A quick thought: now that Congress is getting close to actually passing health-care reform, the question is not so much whether to do anything, and more how to pay for whatever it is we do. As a result, sound-bites and slogans are mattering less, and CBO estimates are mattering more.
And this is pushing reform in a progressive direction.
Serious students of health care have known for a long time that the magic of the marketplace doesn’t work in health care; the United States has the most privatized health-care system in the advanced world, and also the least efficient. The pale reflection of this reality in the current discussion is that reform with a strong public option is cheaper than reform without — which means that as we get closer to really doing something, rhetoric about socialism fades out, and that $100 billion or so in projected savings starts to look awfully attractive.
It has also been clear from international evidence that universality is cheaper than leaving a few people expensively without care. That’s reflected now in the projected savings from a strong employer mandate.
The point is that reality is pushing for a more progressive reform than the Baucus bill. Truly, the facts have a liberal bias.
Long-time regulars may know I have quite a few "conversation enders." These are comments that lead you to know, the moment you hear them, that the writer/speaker is either clueless or intellectually dishonest, and there's really no reason to engage the person in a serious dialog.
We all have them. When I hear, "Tax cuts are fiscally responsible because they pay for themselves," it's a conversation ender. When I hear, "Evolution is just a theory," it's a conversation ender. When someone says, "Global warming can't be real because it's cold outside," it's a conversation ender. More recently, references to "death panels," Democrats' similarities to Nazis, or questions about the president's birthplace are automatic conversation enders.
But one of the all-time classic conversation enders is the belief that seniors can't get hip-replacement surgeries in Canada. Here's Rep. Todd Akin (R) of Missouri on the House floor yesterday:
"I just hit 62, and I was just reading that in Canada [if] I got a bad hip I wouldn't be able to get that hip replacement that [Rep. Dan Lungren] got, because I'm too old! I'm an old geezer now and it's not worth a government bureaucrat to pay me to get my hip fixed."
This is comically wrong, and it's been debunked over and over again. For one thing, the comparison itself is nonsensical, since Democrats aren't proposing a Canadian-style system.
But more important is the fact that seniors in Canada get hip-replacement surgeries all the time: "'At least 63 percent of hip replacements performed in Canada last year...were on patients age 65 or older.' In 2006-2007, an additional 1,577 hip replacement surgeries were performed in Canada on patients over 85."
As it turns out, just a few months ago, Rep. Roy Blunt, Akin's fellow Missouri Republican, made the identical claim. When it was proven false, Blunt walked it back and vowed not to repeat the bogus claim again.
If only Todd Akin paid closer attention.
Update: Paul Krugman takes this a couple of steps further, adding some socialized-medicinal details that I'd overlooked.
Well, I guess it's safe to say private health insurers have no intention of rebuilding burnt bridges. Suzy Khimm noted the other day, "Activists on the left have long insisted that insurance companies aren't to be trusted. But up until now, it's been hard to make the charge stick, since the insurance lobby -- a.k.a., America's Health Insurance Plans -- has been cooperating with the White House and its allies."
That cooperation is officially over.
It started last week with a deceptive report on health care premiums. Soon after, insurers launched a new round of attack ads. Now, Sam Stein reports on the industry's message to Republicans.
A top lobbyist for the major private insurance industry trade group, America's Health Insurance Plans (AHIP), urged Congressional Republicans to not even consider helping Democrats pass health care reform lest they aid an "enemy who is down."
Steve Champlin, a lobbyist for the Duberstein Group who represents AHIP, declared that the road to a bipartisan health care reform bill was, essentially, dead. And he urged GOP members to keep it that way.
"There is absolutely no interest, no reason Republicans should ever vote for this thing. They have gone from a party that got killed 11 months ago to a party that is rising today. And they are rising up on the turmoil of health care," said Champlin. "So when they vote for a health care reform bill, whatever it is, they are giving comfort to the enemy who is down."
Chaplain made the remarks at an annual AHIP conference. He added that he expected reform with some kind of public option to pass, though he emphasized the importance of Republicans standing firm in opposition.
Now, it's worth noting that this isn't especially surprising. Private health insurers don't support health care reform? They consider Democratic policymakers "the enemy"? Well, sure.
Reading this, though, I'm reminded of the Republican Meme of the Week. If the White House criticizes AHIP, and tries to leverage the industry's antics to rally support for reform, the administration, we're told, must be creating an "enemies list." If Obama criticizes insurers, he resembles, we're told, be a modern-day Nixon.
In other words, AHIP can try to derail reform, pressure Republicans to vote in lock-step against improving the broken system, and characterize the majority as "the enemy," but if the White House pushes back, it's the president and his team who are being outrageous.
Our discourse can be awfully frustrating sometimes.

This Makes Me Deeply Happy

C&L: Alan Grayson vs. Paul Broun: A battle of wits with an unarmed man

You might expect a man who graduated from Harvard Law School with honors, and was later a law clerk in the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals (1984-85) under Robert Bork, Ruth Ginsburg, and Antonin Scalia to know his stuff concerning the Constitution. And with that kind of background you might also reasonably assume such a man would not suffer fools gladly when presented with an alternate view of reality on U.S. Constitutional matters. Grayson uses the words of William Rehnquist and James Madison to destroy a rather hapless Paul Broun.
This is Rep. Alan Grayson and Rep. Paul Broun discussing a bill to deny funds to one specific named organization in a Science and Technology markup. Such a bill is known as 'a bill of attainder'.
h/t Ministry of Truth for the transcript
Chairman: "Mr. Grayson is recognized."
Grayson: "Thank you. I'd like to ask the gentleman from Georgia a few questions, and I'll yield to him for the purpose of having answers to these questions. Um, does the gentleman from Georgia know what a Bill of Attainder is?"
Broun (R-GA) "A bill of, the answer's yes, in fact it's been very explicitly described by the courts."
Grayson: "What is it?"
Looooooooooooooong pause while Broun looks through notes for an answer
Broun: "The courts have applied a two-pronged test. Number one, whether specific individuals or entities are affected by the statute, Number two, when the legislation affects a quote "punishment" end quote, on those individuals, it serves no legitimate regulatory purpose. "
Grayson: "What, um, does the Constitution says about Bills of Attainder?"
Broun: "Oh, I suggest that this is not a Bill of Attainder. It's, um, certainly does focus on a specific entity, but it does not inflict punishment by any means. In fact. . . "
Grayson: "Will the gentleman from Georgia explain what the Constitution says about Bills of Attainder?"
Outside Voice/another Republican: "Mr. Chairman, will the gentleman yield for a second? The gentleman from Florida?"
Grayson: "No. I'd like an answer to my question."
Outside Voice/another Republican: "Well, frankly, I can't wait to see the discussion when it comes to . . . . "
Grayson: "I did NOT yield, and I'd like an answer from the gentleman from Georgia to my question, I. . ."
Chairman: "Li, Li, Listen, let's get back to all the time, is Mister, the gentleman from Florida, who will yield to the gentleman from Georgia, will . . ."
Grayson: "Right. What does the Constitution say about Bills of Attainder? It's a simple question."
Broun: "The Constitution says "Congress shall pass no Bills of Attainder" but this is not one . . . "
Grayson: "Alright, now, would you agree with me that it is Unconstitutional to single out one or more persons without the benefit of trial?"
Broun: "Uh, no sir, there is a two-pronged test, this is not a Bill of Attainder, it is . . . "
Grayson: "Alright, well, when I, when I said, I'll reclaim my time. I just quoted William Rehnquist writing the book "The Supreme Court", he wrote that book and said "You cannot single out on or more persons without the benefit of a trial." Will the gentleman agree that Bills of Attainder are contrary to every principle of sound legislation?"
Broun: "The two main criteria which courts would like to look, in order to determine whether legislation is a Bill of Attainder, one is whether a specific individual/entity is affected by extension, number two, whether the legislation affects a punishment to the individuals . . . "
Grayson: "Will the gentleman please tell me whether you agree or not that Bills of Attainder are contrary to every principle of sound legislation?"
Broun: "Bills of Attainder are Unconstitutional."
Grayson: "AND contrary to every principle of sound legislation, is that correct?"
Broun: "That's correct."
Grayson: "Alright. And you know who said that?"
Broun: "Tell me."
Grayson: "James Madison in the Federalist papers."
"Now, do you, does the gentleman agree that the Bill of Attainder clause was intended not as a narrow or technical provision, but rather as an implementation of the separation of powers, and a general safeguard against legislative exercise of the judicial function, or more simply, trial by legislation. Will the gentleman agree with me on that."
Outside Republican: "Will the Gentleman yield?"
Grayson: "No."
Laughter throughout the committee room , then silence. . .
Outside Representative: "Um, the, the, will the gentleman restate the question?"
Grayson: "The question is, will the gentleman from Georgia agree with me that the Bill of Attainder clause was intended not as a narrow or technical provision, but rather as an implementation of the separation of powers, and a general safeguard against legislative exercise of the judicial function, or more simply, trial by legislation. Will the gentleman agree to that?"
Broun: "No, sir, I will not, and I ask counsel to help us with this, I think all this is determination of the court and I'd like to appeal to Mr. Sensenberner (wingnut whose name I refuse to spell correctly)
Grayson: "Well, I'm sorry, but it's my time, not yours or Mr. Sensenberner's, so I will reclaim my time, and I will point out that what you just you would NOT agree to is from a Supreme Court case called the United States V Brown, something I would expect you might know about, given your name."
Outside voice: "Will the gentleman yield?"
Grayson: "No."
One voice laughs
Grayson: "Uh, listen, we, we are trampling on people's Constitutional rights. And I think it's unfortunate that the mania that exists on the other side of the aisle regarding this one organization, and we know why that mania exists, it's because they've registered an awful lot of Democrats, continues to distort and waste the time of this committee and many other committees here in Congress. ENOUGH IS ENOUGH! I yield my remaining 5 seconds"

Our Failed Media: Proving the Point Edition

DougJ: The sad heart of Ruth, again
In defending her and Jake Tapper’s freak-out over the Obama administration’s decision to begin describing Fox News accurately, Ruth Marcus lets something very telling slip:
One of my sentences provoked particular derision from the left. “Imagine the outcry if the Bush administration had pulled a similar hissy fit with MSNBC,” I wrote. I confess to having forgotten about the Bush administration’s public tangle last year with MSNBC. White House counselor Ed Gillespie wrote to NBC News president Steve Capus complaining about a “deceptively edited” quote from President Bush, but he used the opportunity to complain about other allegedly slanted coverage and “the increasing blurring of those lines” between the “news” as reported on NBC and the “opinion” as reported on MSNBC.
Hissy fit? Well, Dan Froomkin, then a liberal blogger for The Post, cited “the White House’s unprecedented attack on NBC News,” noting what he termed “the White House’s outsized reaction,” and he hypothesized that an infuriated Bush had ordered the attack: “So is it a stretch to suspect that Bush told his counselor to get a little revenge?”
So let’s get this straight, she asks us to imagine an outcry if the Bush administration had attacked MSNBC. Then she admits that Bush did this but she forgot. It must have been quite an outcry! And then she cannot find a single member of the mainstream media that complained about it. Not one! (I’m not sure Froomkin is really a “liberal blogger” but he’s not really part of the regular media, either.)
It would be hard to make my point better than Marcus already made it.
Steve Benen: EVEN NPR.... 
Ken Rudin is the political editor for NPR. To see him swallow the latest Republican attack meme whole is more than a little painful. Here's his commentary on "Talk of the Nation" yesterday, complaining about the White House's criticism of Fox News.
"Well, it's not only aggressive, it's almost Nixonesque. I mean, you think of what Nixon and Agnew did with their enemies list and their attacks on the media and certainly Vice President Agnew's constant denunciation of the media. Of course, then it was a conservative president denouncing a liberal media, and of course, a lot of good liberals said, 'Oh, that's ridiculous. That's an infringement on the freedom of press.' And now you see a lot of liberals almost kind of applauding what the White House is doing to Fox News, which I think is distressing."
I'd like to think Ken Rudin knows better. I expected too much.
Now would be an excellent time for a reality break. Has the Obama White House ordered the Justice Department to spy on Fox News employees? Has the administration ordered the IRS to start digging through Fox News' books, hunting for irregularities and auditing on-air personalities? Has the president directed thugs to break into Glenn Beck's psychiatrist's office?
Of course not, that would be insane. And so is this comparison.
Nixon used the power of the presidency to harass, intimidate, and investigate those who questioned him. It was as scandalous an abuse as the nation has ever seen -- the White House used the levers of government to attack independent news outlets.
And what as the Obama team done? They've dared to point out a simple reality: an obviously-partisan propaganda outlet in not a legitimate news organization. That's it. That's the totality of the White House's efforts -- criticizing a network that operates as an arm of a political party. There's no boycott, no punishment, no vendetta. All we have here are some White House aides who've criticized a network.
And Ken Rudin, Ruth Marcus, and others are comfortable comparing this to Nixon's illegal abuses and "enemies lists."
As manufactured outrages go, this is truly ridiculous, even for a shallow Washington media establishment.
For years, Republicans have been on the attack -- against the media in general, and a handful of outlets in specific. GOP leaders and officials have boycotted news outlets they don't like; they've attacked networks they believed to biased; and they've routinely snubbed those whose coverage they disapproved of. The last White House went after NBC News, even from the briefing room's podium. Republican disgust for the media has been a staple of American politics for what seems like forever. Ken Rudin, Ruth Marcus, and others never once compared this to Nixon-era abuses.
And yet, when the White House dares to offer mild and accurate criticism, the political establishment not only throws a fit to defend a sorry excuse for a journalistic enterprise, it embraces a nonsensical comparison to a former president/criminal.
It's incomprehensible. Ken Rudin ought to be embarrassed.
John Cole: I’d Also Like to Note
That while half of the beltway media have the vapors over Obama being too mean to Murdoch’s hacks, Chris Matthews is on my television debating with his guests whether or not Obama is “tough enough.”
I think DougJ said it best a while back:
I’m watching Monica Crowley and Pat Buchanan on the McLaughlin group and so help me God, I am praying for a dirty bomb in Georgetown. These people will destroy us all.
Was it always this bad?
John Cole: The Neocon Fainting Couch
When we last visited steely-eyed warrior Peter Wehner, he was leading the chairborne rangers in an epic battle against George Will, who Wehner decided had grown weak at heart over Afghanistan. That was but a few weeks ago, but since then our valiant warrior has left the fields of battle and taken to the fainting couch:
The term “sister organizations” is important because it shows solidarity with a news organization under fierce attack by the White House. This is the kind of question one would hope to see when a president and his top aides target a news organization and then, for good measure, try to dictate to other news organizations what they should do, how they should act, and which stories they should follow. But so far, stunningly, the media — including the White House press corps — have mostly been quiescent. One might have expected more in the face of these extraordinary efforts at media intimidation and media control. If the situation were reversed, and a Republican White House were targeting an entire network in a similar fashion, criticisms, condemnations, and thundering editorials would be pouring forth; terms like “abuse of power” and “chilling effect” would be on the lips of virtually every reporter in America.
A few quick things:
1.) Fox is not a news organization. Period.
2.) Fox news helped to organize and promote partisan political rallies, including situations in which their producers were caught rallying the crowds and their rabble was shouting down and ACTUALLY intimidating reporters from other networks.
3.) Fox is not a news organization. Period.
4.) Peter Wehner worked for the Bush administration. The Bush administration, in eight years, conducted more abuses to the field of journalism than anyone I can recall. A partial recollection of the Bush administration’s wrongdoings include:
    -Paying Armstrong Williams, Michael McManus, and Maggie Gallagher and others for favorable opinions about WH policies or to attack opponents of the WH. -Planting Jeff Gannon to lob softball questions. -Used reporters to out a CIA agent, then sat by and watched reporters go to jail to protect their sources. -Fed reporters misinformation about WMD in Iraq, then used those reporters stories as corroborating evidence of the existence of WMD in Iraq. -treated Helen Thomas like a leper. -waged a coordinated campaign against NBC. -kicked all the NY Times reporters off of their planes. -the Pentagon Pundit program, which sold the war by planting former military officers on networks. Uncovering this story earned a journalist the fucking Pulitzer. -Staged mock press conferences with FEMA employees pretending to be reporters. -allowed Ari Fleischer to tell everyone (but directed at journalists) they needed to “watch what they say and what they do.”
And that is simply off the top of my head, and god only knows what lies and abuses Peter Wehner was responsible for while working at the Bush era Office of Strategic Initiatives. By comparison, the Obama White House has merely stated the obvious, which is that the Fox news is not a news organization.
I’m thinking Peter Wehner can just stfu.

Those Wacky Wingnuts: Reductio ad Absurdum Edition

QOTD, E.J. Dionne:
Is there room in the Republican Party for genuine moderates? Truth to tell, the GOP can't decide. More precisely, it's deeply divided over whether it should allow any divisions in the party at all.
In which republicans suggest ending all regulation on banks . . .

Obama taking it to the banks  Oct. 21: Rachel Maddow is joined by Rep. Barney Frank, D-Mass., to talk about plans to limit the income of bank executives whose banks took federal bailout money.

Think Progress: Bachmann Says Dole And Frist Represent A ‘Non-Pro-Freedom Agenda’ Because They Want Health Reform
Today on her radio program, Laura Ingraham interviewed guest Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-MN) and asked her about the ideological direction of the Republican Party. The pair discussed recent statements made by retired GOP Senate Majority Leaders Bill Frist (TN) and Bob Dole (KS) in support of some type of comprehensive health reform.
Dole has called for Republicans to become engaged in the process, stating “we’ve got to do something” to solve the current crisis. Frist has endorsed the Senate Finance health reform bill, and has called out “people on the extreme” in his own party for falsely labeling President Obama’s health reform as “socialized medicine.” Clearly incensed by these comments, Ingraham and Bachmann traded barbs trashing the former Republican leaders for daring to veer away from a “pro-freedom agenda”:
INGRAHAM: Of course. God bless Bob Dole he just came on our show, I have great respect for the man. And also for Frist. But Frist presided over a pretty disastrous situation in the Senate.
BACHMANN: They lost.
INGRAHAM: They lost. And Bob Dole lost how many times on a national level? I guess I’ve lost count. [...] That Republican ideology and that Republican outlook has been a losing outlook. That’s why President Obama wants more of us to be like them.
BACHMANN: Because we want a pro-freedom agenda. And he’s trying to throw people around who he believes will increase a non-pro-freedom agenda.
Bachmann and Ingraham’s vitriol wasn’t only reserved for Republicans who dared to express a willingness to support reform. Asked if the New York Times’ recent profile of her has generated a lot of “hate mail,” Bachmann replied that although she does receive a lot of mail, it is “because Nancy Pelosi has made me a top target.” Ingraham then began mocking Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) — the first female Speaker of the House of Representatives and the highest-ranking female politician in American history — by making hissing and cat noises, then shrieking, “she doesn’t like powerful women.”
Attaturk (FDL): Gridirony
In the annals of football and sacrifice, Pat Tillman has nothing on this poor soul who has had the league of Pat Patriot soil his love of ‘Murica more thoroughly than his hero’s pants soiled were in rehab.
Mark Muller, owner of Max Motors and wannabe arms dealer (he saved Missourians from having to make the hard choice between a pickup truck and an assault rifle this summer by giving away free AK-47s with purchase of a truck), is now claiming that he’s canceling his Kansas City Chiefs season tickets because the NFL supposedly blocked Limbaugh’s attempt to buy the St. Louis Rams.
And in the most laughable story of prioritizing one’s life ever…
Muller told the Cybercast News Service that Limbaugh was the reason he first went to an NFL game. Muller claimed that he heard Limbaugh endorse the NFL on his radio program in the ’80s. Muller supposedly talked to his wife, and they “gave up everything in our life at the time [so] we could buy two season tickets, no more dinners out, nothing.”
They gave up EVERYTHING! Suck it Arbys!
Poor me, I chose an NFL club the ol’ fashioned way. I lived in the general geographic area of one (and as this was the Minnesota Vikings I don’t want to go into too much depth over how that has worked out for me).
Papers in red states don't understand why their republican senators support gang rape.  Funny that.
Praise for Franken's 'anti-rape' amendment   Oct. 21: Rachel Maddow is joined by former KBR employee and rape survivor, Jamie Leigh Jones, and her attorney Todd Kelly to talk about the importance of Senator Al Franken's 'anti-rape' amendment and the disturbing number of Republican Senators who voted against it.

Chris in Paris (AmBlog): Orrin Hatch thinks Obama has a lot of free time 
As much as I enjoy college football, spending even five minutes on the college football BCS problems at this time is foolish. But hey, we're talking about Orrin Hatch after all. Shouldn't Washington be more focused on the economy, unemployment, health care, Afghanistan or any number of other issues before this?
A senator whose undefeated home state school was bypassed for the college football national championship last season urged President Barack Obama on Wednesday to ask the Justice Department to investigate the Bowl Championship Series, citing Obama's own concerns about the way the top team is crowned in building a case for action.

"Mr. President, as you have publicly stated on multiple occasions, the BCS system is in dire need of reform," Sen. Orrin Hatch, R-Utah, said in a 10-page letter to Obama calling for an antitrust probe of the BCS. The Associated Press obtained a copy of the letter.

John Cole: Who Is the Real Barack Obama?
So far, I can recall Obama being compared to the following figures:
Pol Pot
David Duke
I think now it is time to start the definitive list of people Obama has been compared to, good or bad. Include a link to the comparison.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Getn r Done

New Orleans, Little Rock, and Kansas City, Missouri to hold free health clinics.

Keith should be extremely proud of this, because he made it happen. It is great politics, and also a great humanitarian effort. 

Missouri to hold free health clinic

Oct. 21: Nicole Lamoureux, the Executive Director of the National Association of Free Clinics, explains to Countdown's Keith Olbermann how donations helped allow another free health clinic to take place. 


Bill in Portland Maine (DK)
Harry Reid dines out:
"Oh, waiter! Um...Waiter, I am powerless to eat this meal."
  "What is it now?"
"Well, y'know how I said I needed the broccoli spears facing a certain way and the fish had to be a certain temperature and the gravy had to be a certain consistency and the butter had to be medium-soft?"
  "Yes. You've sent your meal back six times already. I'm quite familiar with your order."
"Well, it's lovely, but it needs to be on a different-colored plate. Let's try chartreuse, shall we? Let's try that."
Harry Reid gets a green light:
"Golly, I am powerless to proceed. It looks green, I'm confident it could be green, but I'm also detecting a hint of red. Yes, I believe the filament inside the red light is still slightly illuminated and I couldn’t possibly proceed until I was assured that it was completely extinguished before I step on the gas. We'll have to get a ladder and check."
[Honk!!! Beep!!! Honk!!!]
"Your horns are not helpful in this situation. I'm powerless."
Harry Reid takes yes for an answer:
'Look, I want to believe you said yes. I know you've repeated it several times and it certainly sounds like yes. But I am powerless to accept it as yes because of all the possible meanings that may exist for it. 'Yes' could mean something obscene in a different language and I would be reticent to accept that definition in this particular circumstance. So until I'm able to open a congressional investigation into all the subtleties of the word in question, I shall have to suspend any action until such time that I'm convinced that your
yes means my
yes. I request that you keep this ice cream truck idling here for the next twelve to eighteen months because I really do
want those sprinkles, and I want to believe that you, in fact, have indicated that you are able to provide them."
Next week: Harry Reid explains why he is powerless to accept the results of a coin toss.
BarbinMD (DK): Party Of No Obstructs Extending Unemployment Benefits - Democrats Let Them 

While Republicans may be publicly wringing their hands over unemployment numbers (while gleefully calculating how they can use them to their advantage in 2010), they continue to block legislation that would extend unemployment benefits:
Republicans are hoping to attach a number of amendments related to ACORN and immigration — provisions that have delayed floor action on the UI bill indefinitely, according to the offices of both Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.).
A spokesman from the Majority Leader's office mewls:
It seems as if they aren’t negotiating in good faith on this.
Wow, what insight.
For the second time in a month, the Party of No is screwing over those who need help the most -- but they're getting an able assist from the Party Who Can't Spell Majority:
Senate Democratic leaders have twice tried to get the consent of GOP leaders to pass the bill, only to be shot down over procedural sticking points.
So what happened? Democrats asked for the bill to come to the floor under unanimous consent, and Republicans said no. Of course you can bring a bill to the floor in other ways, such as a motion to proceed, and while that could be filibustered, the leadership isn't bothering to see if Republicans would have the guts to filibuster a bill to extend unemployment benefits at the same time that they're pretending to feel the pain of the jobless. 
Sargent: New Ad Cheers On Harry Reid In Fight For Public Option
A new twist to the left’s efforts to get Harry Reid to man up on the public option.
Americans United for Change, the labor-backed group allied with the White House, is launching a new radio ad in Nevada that — rather than overtly pressure Reid — cheers him on in his efforts to get the public option done. The none-too-subtle message: Getting health care reform through the Senate will make Reid a hero — if it includes a public option.
The ad casts the fight for reform as a “marathon” and correctly labels the public option as the real way to prevail over the insurance industry, and continues:
Now that the marathon is beginning its last lap … the insurance companies are desperate to prevent us from getting to the finish line.
Luckily the guy whose has been handed the baton to run that last lap –- is Nevada’s Senator Harry Reid.
Luckily … because Harry Reid isn’t afraid to fight the insurance companies. He’s already gone after their anti-trust exemption … and he’ll keep fighting until we get health care for all Americans –- including a public option –- this year.
Cheer him on. Call Senator Reid at 702-388-5020 — tell him to keep fighting until we win.
The spot reflects a divide in the pro-reform camp over how strongly to pressure Dem lawmakers into backing the public action. Scrappier groups such as MoveOn and the Progressive Change Campaign Committee are running ads pressing Democrats hard, while Americans United for Change and Health Care for America Now have generally heeded the White House’s directive that it not open fire on fellow Dems.
In the new spot, AUC is pressuring Reid, but with a light touch, so it’s unlikely to irk the White House. Full script here.

It is what it is

Sully: So Liz Is Afraid Of Rachel 
But will use Sean as a propaganda vehicle. Like father like daughter. Cowardice is always the flip-side of bullies.
Atrios: Huckaboom
I think one of the most interesting moments of the presidential primary season came when the online Right and plenty of elite conservative commentators had a collective freakout about the possibility of Huckabee as their candidate. How exactly that squares with the Palin worship I don't quite understand, but keep that in mind as we watch the unfolding conservative movement crackup..
 No More Mister Nice Blog
Let the Witch Hunts Begin!

via digby:
To me, now more than ever, the conservative movement must purge itself of those in its “leadership” who are not worthy of the cause they claim to champion. Over the past year I have begun to suspect that David Keene, the head of the American Conservative Union and the Chairman of CPAC (the largest annual gathering of conservatives) may fit into this category.
This is starting to look like a repeat of the early chapters of Thomas Franks' What's the Matter With Kansas. That's the part where the rank and file Conservatives--the secretaries and the holy rollers--stopped taking marching orders from the upper class, corporatist, Republicans and took over the party from underneath. That was good for the Republican Party for a while since it gave them an energized base. But since party identification has fallen to its lowest level ever, and they are splitting off between social conservatives and small government conservatives its not clear that this will still be a winning strategy nationally. In fact, its not going to be until the social conservatives free themselves of the corporatists and reach out sucessfully to hispanics and blacks, or the corporatists free themselves of the social conservatives and reach out sucessfully to everyone else. As long as they are locked in a struggle to control the same base its like watching two alligators clawing at each other as they spiral down to a watery death. Yay.

John Cole: Makes Sense To Me 
Not seeing a problem here:
President Obama is working systematically to marginalize the most powerful forces behind the Republican Party, setting loose top White House officials to undermine conservatives in the media, business and lobbying worlds. With a series of private meetings and public taunts, the White House has targeted the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, the biggest-spending pro-business lobbying group in the country; Rush Limbaugh, the country’s most-listened-to conservative commentator; and now, with a new volley of combative rhetoric in recent days, the insurance industry, Wall Street executives and Fox News. President Obama is working systematically to marginalize the most powerful forces behind the Republican Party, setting loose top White House officials to undermine conservatives in the media, business and lobbying worlds.
Considering Rush Limbaugh and the lunatics at Fox are unstable and dishonest and an actual threat to the country, and the Wall Street execs almost brought down the world economy, the only thing I can say about this strategy is “MORE OF THIS, PLEASE.” Even if it gives Jake Tapper and company the vapors.
John Cole: Fred Hiatt’s Nuts 
Today’s guest voice is Bill Donohue of the Catholic League:
There are many ways cultural nihilists are busy trying to sabotage America these days: multiculturalism is used as a club to beat down Western civilization in the classroom; sexual libertines seek to upend the cultural order by attacking religion; artists use their artistic freedoms to mock Christianity; Hollywood relentlessly insults people of faith; activist left-wing legal groups try to scrub society free of the public expression of religion; elements in the Democratic party demonstrate an animus against Catholicism; and secular-minded malcontents within Catholicism and Protestantism seek to sabotage their religion from the inside.
Donohue works his way through the usual enemies list- radical gays, Jesse Jackson, secularist, Hollywood jews, Democrats, etc.
I’m too lazy to go through Donohue’s list of appalling behavior, as it is too long and ugly to recount it all, but most recently he was heard comparing Obama to David Duke. There really is no one too crazy or vile to get an op-ed printed at the Washington Post.
Benen: ONE IN FIVE....
Perhaps the most striking result in the Washington Post/ABC News poll released yesterday had to do with the relative size of the parties: "Only 20 percent of adults identify themselves as Republicans, little changed in recent months, but still the lowest single number in Post-ABC polls since 1983."
Newt Gingrich was asked about the number, and blasted the poll. ABC News polling director Gary Langer had a compelling response.
Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich had some pretty harsh criticism of our latest poll today, charging in a radio interview that it was "deliberately rigged." He's entitled, of course, to his opinion. But not to a distortion of the facts.
What's his gripe? Gingrich made the comment on our Salt Lake City affiliate, KSL-AM, when asked about our finding that only 20 percent of Americans now identify themselves as Republicans, the fewest since September 1983 in ABC News/Washington Post polls. His reply:
"Well, it tells me first of all that the poll's almost certainly wrong. It's fundamentally different from Rasmussen. It's fundamentally different from Zogby. It's fundamentally different from Gallup. It's a typical Washington Post effort to slant the world in favor of liberal Democrats."
We've heard it before, from both sides: Democrats jump on data they don't like, Republicans do the same. The reality is that this poll, as all our work, was produced independently and with great care, including the highest possible methodological standards. And contrary to Gingrich, it happens to be in accord with most other recent good-quality surveys measuring political partisanship.
And that's really the key here. The latest CBS News poll found 22% identify themselves as Republicans. The latest AP poll found 21%. Ipsos/McClatchy put the number at 19%. Gallup had the highest total for the GOP, at 27%, but the Pew Forum study had it at 23%, while NBC/WSJ found 18%.
Average those together, and we find about 21% of the public are self-identified Republicans. What did the Post/ABC find? 20%.
Are there poll outliers that deserve skepticism? Absolutely, but this doesn't appear to be one of them.
Gingrich may not like the results, but that doesn't make them wrong, and it certainly doesn't make the poll "slanted" or "deliberately rigged." There's no conspiracy necessary: the Republican brand is suffering badly, and it yet to recover from the Bush/Cheney era.
 YglesiasUFO Conspiracy Theories More Popular Than Congressional GOP 
The numbers on the public option in the new WaPo/ABC poll got all the press yesterday, but there’s other interesting stuff. For example, just 19 percent of the country trusts congressional Republicans to make good decisions:

Confidence in Obama is not sky-high, but confidence in the opposition is rock-bottom. By way of contrast, 37 percent of the population believes the US government has had secret contact with extra-terrestrials.
Meyerson (WaPost): Who's afraid of the free market?
As everybody knows, the two biggest battles on Capitol Hill -- reforming health care and regulating Wall Street -- have unleashed massive campaigns from the enemies of free markets.
The Obama administration and congressional liberals, right? Guess again.
It's health insurers and big banks that are fighting against having their products displayed on open markets, where buyers might be able to find better (and more comprehensible) deals, or are resisting reforms that would open those markets to more competition. Neither the health-care industry nor Wall Street banking is a notably competitive sector these days. Indeed, both are becoming less competitive. And they want to keep things that way.
In more than 30 states, five or fewer health insurance companies control three-quarters of the market (in Alabama, one company controls 90 percent). And mergers among health insurers are at an all-time high this year, the Wall Street Journal reported Tuesday. Worse yet, more and more businesses are declining to offer health insurance to employees (60 percent offered benefits this year, down from 69 percent in 2000 and 63 percent last year, according to an annual Kaiser Family Foundation study). Increasingly, individuals will have to shop for insurance in markets that are steadily less competitive.
President Obama and congressional liberals believe that one way to help Americans get the best deal for health coverage is to establish insurance exchanges where consumers can compare plans online. They further believe that merely establishing an exchange in an oligopolistic market isn't enough; the way to ensure true competition is to create a public option concerned less with preserving an industry-wide profit margin than with offering Americans a better deal.
Over the past two weeks, one major poll after another has shown that the public supports the public option by a wide margin. Does that mean that three out of five Americans, Barack Obama and most congressional Democrats are really closet socialists? Probably not. It means that they support consumer choice, informed shopping and genuine competition in the health-care sector. The leading opponent of which is our health insurance industry, which does just fine without them.
A similar dynamic characterizes congressional efforts to regulate Wall Street. Last week the House Financial Services Committee took up the question of regulating derivatives. It crafted a bill that would enable the five banks with 95 percent of all U.S.-bank derivative holdings (J.P. Morgan Chase, Goldman Sachs, Bank of America, Morgan Stanley and Citigroup) to keep much of their business off the exchange the Obama administration proposed establishing so that investors buying derivatives could compare the prices and risks of the offerings and regulators could know when these deals threatened to topple the economy (as they did last year). By keeping these products off an exchange, the banks can (and do) collect considerable fees every time they sell such offerings -- fees that would decline if deals closed on a competitive exchange.
These fees contribute heftily to the mammoth quarterly profits that Goldman and J.P. Morgan announced this month. It's not as if banks are profiting from deals that are jump-starting the real economy, after all. They're not raking in dough from funding the next Google or Apple: A report from the National Venture Capital Association and PricewaterhouseCoopers forecast venture capital investments this year at $15 billion to $20 billion, down from $30 billion in each of the past two years.
So whence their profits? Partly, they're a consequence of the increasing concentration of finance. The profitable big banks -- chiefly, J.P. Morgan and Goldman -- "are able to charge more for all kinds of services because companies need banks and investment banks now, and there are fewer strong ones to help them," Douglas Elliott of the Brookings Institution recently told the New York Times. David Viniar, Goldman's chief financial officer, recently admitted as much. "The best environment for Goldman Sachs is very, very strong global economic growth, and that's not what we're in right now," he said last week. "But you know, our market shares have improved, and I think we're getting a bigger share of a smaller pie."
They want to keep it that way. Which is why the banks have lobbied so hard to keep many derivative trades off a public exchange.
So who's for competition and open exchanges? Who's for markets, instead of opaque products sold behind closed doors? Not big business, at least in the health-care and finance sectors. They've got few competitors and sell products for which consumers can't easily discern if they're paying a fair price. Why muck with that?
The market champions here are the president, liberals in Congress and the American public. Advocates for socialism? More like advocates for shoppers.
In his new column yesterday, National Review's Rich Lowry slams President Obama for investing too much time in condemning his predecessor. There are a few problems with the argument.
Republicans needn't trouble themselves to nominate a presidential candidate in 2012. No matter what, Pres. Barack Obama will be running against George W. Bush.
Bush will be Obama's eternal foil. At this rate, when Obama writes his post-presidential memoir, it will be titled: An Audacious Presidency, or How I Saved America from That Bastard Bush. His presidential library will have a special fright-house wing devoted to Bush's misrule. He will mutter in his senescence about 43, like the Ancient Mariner about his albatross.
Obama clearly wants Bush to be the Hoover to his FDR. Since his predecessor left office with 34 percent job approval, Obama understandably feels moved to scorn and berate him. But Obama's perpetual campaign against Bush is graceless, whiny, and tin-eared. Must the leader of the free world -- if Obama still accepts that quaint formulation -- always reach for the convenient excuse?
To bolster his case about Obama's constant, graceless whining about Bush, Lowry pointed to exactly zero examples. The column didn't include a single instance of the president blaming his predecessor for anything -- not even one quote showing Obama "scorning" or "berating" George W. Bush. Lowry added that President Obama "impugns his immediate predecessor with classless regularity," and backed that up with absolutely nothing.
If these cheap and ugly attacks were so common, shouldn't Lowry point to one or two to make his case? Something?
The reason, I suspect, that Lowry levies the charge with evidence is that there is none. Lowry has it backwards -- Obama has shown considerable restraint about blaming the previous administration for the crises and fiascos it left for the nation to overcome.
Last night, for example, the president delivered a couple of partisan, campaign-style speeches at DNC receptions in New York. The combined total of references to "Bush," "my predecessor," the "previous administration," etc. was zero. Obama talked about the challenges we're all dealing with, but even in partisan speeches to partisan audiences, he didn't mention the failed recent president at all. Obama made an oblique reference to "what was waiting for us when we began this presidency," but if Lowry thinks that constitutes graceless, classless scorn, his rhetorical standards need reevaluation.
Lowry referenced the president's get-a-mop speech in San Francisco last week, when Obama mentioned efforts to clean up "somebody else's mess," but again, this is indirect, circuitous rhetoric. To hear Lowry tell it, the president can barely go a day without using George W. Bush as some kind of pinata. This has no basis in reality.
I'm of the opinion that President Obama doesn't blame Bush nearly enough. Bush really is a Hoover for modern times. Nearly every single problem this administration has faced, and continues to face, stems from Bush's failures, incompetence, and mismanagement. The moment President Obama was sworn in, he had to deal with an economy in free fall, soaring unemployment, a collapsing U.S. auto industry, a health care system in crisis, a housing crisis, a looming global warming catastrophe, two costly wars, an enormous budget deficit, a $10 trillion debt, a pessimistic electorate, a Guantanamo fiasco, and a global landscape in which the United States had lost much of its global prestige.
And even under these circumstances, Obama bites his lip, refrains from blaming Bush, and rolls up his sleeves to clean up the mess(es) he inherited. Lowry has it backwards.