Thursday, September 30, 2010

McMahon Unsure What The Minimum Wage Is, But Sure That It Should Be Lower

By Tanya Somanader At a press conference today, Republican Senate candidate and World Wrestling Entertainment CEO Linda McMahon (CT) celebrated the endorsement of the National Federation of Independent Businesses, a “prominent business interest lobby” that finds fault with unemployment insurance, the Americans with Disabilities Act, and the Family Medical Leave Act.

But “staff abruptly shut down” the conference when McMahon began endorsing the NFIB’s more controversial opposition to increasing the federal minimum wage. When pressed by reporters on whether she supported reducing wages, McMahon said “Congress should consider lowering” such a “mandate” that businesses cannot afford:

Most notably, McMahon said she believed Congress should consider lowering the federal minimum wage in times of economic distress for small businesses, such as the current recession.

“The minimum wage now in our country, I think we’ve set that and a lot of people have benefited from it in our country, but I think we ought to review how much it ought to be, and whether or not we ought to have increases in the minimum wage,” McMahon said.[...]

When reporters asked McMahon to clarify whether she would support reducing the wage, which is currently $7.25 per hour, the candidate replied, “We should always review the policy that is put in place.” “I think we ought to look at all of those issues in terms of what mandates are being placed on businesses and can they afford them?” McMahon said. “I think we should get input from our business community. We should listen to our small business operators, and we should hear what it is they have to say and how it’s impacting their businesses and make some of those decisions.”

McMahon insisted that she was not advocating an elimination of the minimum wage altogether, but when pressed on whether the state’s minimum wage “was too high, or onerous on state businesses,” she “admitted that she did not know what the current minimum wage is” and decided she was “just not going to comment anymore.”

Six hundred and fifty economists, however, were quite clear in 2007 that an increase in minimum wage not only “would improve the well-being of low-wage workers” but would have “very little or no effect on employment” as critics suggest. In fact, the Economic Policy Institute found last year that the minimum wage acted as a “stealth stimulus” during the current economic crisis by boosting consumer spending by $4.9 billion.

But McMahon has no interest in delving into the actual impact of her policies. Indeed, McMahon admitted that she didn’t even know “if any of her employees at World Wrestling Entertainment are paid” a minimum wage. But if her treatment of her employees is any indication, Connecticut constituents shouldn’t expect even a health or pension benefit from her. That’s just how she does business.

Update A McMahon campaign spokesman called it a "creative interpretation" to say that McMahon would consider lowering the minimum wage, adding "she is clearly saying that we ought to review whether this is in fact the time to raise the rate." However, the transcript from the event shows that McMahon pretty clearly left the door open to reducing the wage:
Ted Mann, The Day: Should it be reduced now? Since businesses are struggling, as you all described? Would you argue for reducing the minimum wage now?
McMahon: "We have got minimum wages in states, we have got minimum wages in the (federal) government, and I think we ought to look at all of those issues in terms of what mandates are being placed on businesses and can they afford them. I think we should get input from our business community. We should listen to our small business operators and we should hear what it is they have to say and how it's impacting their businesses and make some of those decisions."

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Obama is right: Fox News promoting "destructive" GOP agenda

From Media Matters In a recent Rolling Stone interview, President Obama said Fox News is part of the tradition of using the press "very intentionally to promote their viewpoints" because Fox "has a very clear, undeniable point of view" that "is ultimately destructive for the long-term growth" of the country. Indeed, Fox has a long history of actively promoting the Republican agenda and of opposing economic positions which economists say would stimulate growth.

Obama: Fox a "destructive" network that uses its platform "very intentionally to promote" its "point of view"

Obama: Fox "has a very clear, undeniable point of view" that "is ultimately destructive for the long-term growth" of the country. In an interview to appear in the October 15 edition of Rolling Stone, Obama stated his belief that Fox News is a "destructive" network that uses its platform to "very intentionally promote" its point of view, which is "ultimately destructive for the long-term growth" of the country:

The golden age of an objective press was a pretty narrow span of time in our history. Before that, you had folks like Hearst who used their newspapers very intentionally to promote their viewpoints. I think Fox is part of that tradition -- it is part of the tradition that has a very clear, undeniable point of view. It's a point of view that I disagree with. It's a point of view that I think is ultimately destructive for the long-term growth of a country that has a vibrant middle class and is competitive in the world. But as an economic enterprise, it's been wildly successful. And I suspect that if you ask Mr. Murdoch what his number-one concern is, it's that Fox is very successful.

Obama is right: Fox has an extensive record of pushing GOP agenda, candidates

Five potential Republican presidential candidates are employed by -- and speak almost exclusively through -- Fox. As Media Matters documented, five potential Republican presidential candidates are employed by Fox News as contributors or hosts and have made at least 269 appearances on the cable channel -- compared to a total of six appearances on all other major news channels combined. Fox also has a record of supporting ex-employees' bids for elected office with free airtime, fundraising opportunities, and on-air adulation.

Fox lavished coverage on the GOP's legislative agenda. Following the House Republican Conference's unveiling of its 2010 legislative agenda, "A Pledge to America," Fox lavished attention on the pledge, devoting at least 2 hours and 33 minutes on September 22 and 23 to promoting, discussing, and reporting the agenda.

FoxPAC: Fox News' corporate parent gave Republican Governors Association $1 million. News Corp., the parent company of Fox News, donated $1 million to the Republican Governors Association, causing journalism experts and news veterans to criticize the donation for "compromising the appearance of fairness."

Fox News host and contributors also raise big bucks for the GOP. Meanwhile, Fox News hosts and contributors -- including Sarah Palin, Newt Gingrich, Mike Huckabee, Karl Rove, Dick Morris, and Sean Hannity -- continue to raise money for Republican candidates and causes using political action committees and 527 and 501(c)4 organizations. Delaware's Republican U.S. senatorial candidate, Christine O'Donnell, even thanked Palin and several other Fox-tied supporters for propelling her to a primary victory over Rep. Mike Castle.

Fox also supports candidates with fawning free coverage and serves as a launching pad for their campaigns. Republican candidates regularly appear on Fox for softball interviews to launch their campaigns and promote fundraising. Indeed, Nevada's Republican U.S. senatorial candidate Sharron Angle recently bragged to supporters that her appearances on a "friendly press outlet" like Fox are very profitable for her.

Fox News aggressively promoted tea party protests. Fox News aggressively promoted the tea party protests which the channel described as primarily a response to Obama's fiscal policies, going so far as to host several of the network's shows on location at protests.

Fox has a history of adopting and promoting GOP talking points -- without even stopping to edit them. Recently, following Republican Congressmen Kevin McCarthy's and John Boehner's repeated assertions that failing to vote on tax cuts will inject "uncertainty" into the economy on Fox News Sunday, Fox personalities ran with the talking point, spreading the claim throughout the network. Similarly, last year, Fox News host Jon Scott aired a segment purporting to "take a look back" at how the economic recovery plan "grew, and grew, and grew." In doing so, Scott referenced seven dates, as on-screen graphics cited various news sources from those time periods -- all of which came directly from a Senate Republican Communications Center press release. A Fox News on-screen graphic even reproduced a typo contained in the Republican press release. Fox did not attribute the data to the Senate Republican Communications Center at the time. The following day, Scott apologized -- for running the typo.

Economists agree with Obama: proposals pushed by Fox bad for long-term growth

Fox has opposed every major effort to stimulate the economy -- despite economists' support. Since Obama took office, Fox personalities have opposed every major package proposed to stimulate the economy, despite support from a consensus of economists and economic analysts. Recent opposition has included Obama's newly proposed infrastructure plan, the extension of unemployment insurance, aid to states, and food stamps, all of which have been shown to stimulate the economy.

Fox's campaign to extend tax cuts for the wealthy would add debt, do little to stimulate growth. Over the past few months, Fox has launched a campaign aimed at extending the Bush tax cuts for the rich. However, economists and financial analysts agree that those cuts will cost $700 billion and would be much less effective at stimulating the economy than extending unemployment insurance, food stamps, and providing direct aid to states - all proposals which Fox personalities have repeatedly opposed.

Fox opposed the stimulus and since bill's passage, have repeatedly falsely claimed that it failed. In covering the 2009 American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, commonly referred to as the stimulus, Fox News consistently advanced false and misleading claims about the economic recovery package. Since the bill's passage, Fox News figures have repeatedly advanced the false claim that the stimulus "failed," despite the fact that independent and private analysts agree that the stimulus boosted GDP and increased employment.

Obama: Democratic voter apathy ‘inexcusable’

By The Associated Press

Obama calls Fox News viewpoint 'ultimately destructive' for the country

Admonishing his own party, President Barack Obama says it would be "inexcusable" and "irresponsible" for unenthusiastic Democratic voters to sit out the midterm elections, warning that the consequences could be a squandered agenda for years.

"People need to shake off this lethargy. People need to buck up," Obama told Rolling Stone in an interview to be published Friday. The president told Democrats that making change happen is hard and "if people now want to take their ball and go home, that tells me folks weren't serious in the first place."

The midterm elections are in five weeks and polling shows that Republicans, out of power at the White House and on Capitol Hill, have a much more excited base of supporters than Democrats. Obama, campaigning this week in four states, is in a sprint to restore the voter passion that helped him win office

Yet in his attempt to light a fire under supporters, Obama comes across as fired up himself about how many backers fail to acknowledge the progress he sees. He said the glass-half-empty view among many progressive voters can be a debilitating force that distracts them from the real worry: Republicans.

The GOP is poised to win seats in the House, if not control of the chamber, and gain ground in the Senate, too.

"It is inexcusable for any Democrat or progressive right now to stand on the sidelines in this midterm election," Obama said.

The president has been telling Democrats to "wake up" and recognize that he and the Democratic-run Congress have delivered on promises, from a new health care law to tougher rules for Wall Street to more aid for college students. Obama wants disenchanted supporters to see that Republican wins in November would undermine the ability of Democrats to get the unfinished business done, from climate change legislation to allowing gays to serve openly in the military.

What emerges in the magazine story is a stern, lecturing tone from Obama.

It comes mainly at the end of the interview. Obama had wrapped the lengthy Q-and-A session, according to the magazine, but then returned unprompted to make one more impassioned point and unleash on the enthusiasm gap. He portrayed a clear choice between an administration that despite some warts has helped advance its agenda, and a Republican Party that would offer disastrous policies for the economy and civil liberties.

"The idea that we've got a lack of enthusiasm in the Democratic base, that people are sitting on their hands complaining, is just irresponsible," he said in the interview. He said Democrats should be thinking about what's at stake this election "if they want to move forward over the next two years or six years or 10 years."

The Rolling Stone interview was conducted Sept. 17. The Associated Press obtained a copy of the story, titled "Obama Fights Back."

Obama expresses plenty of disappointment over how Republicans made a tactical decision from the start to oppose him, but also offers some "grudging admiration" for its political effectiveness in keeping the GOP united. He said the resulting slog between Republicans and himself — legislative delays and political fighting reminiscent of the Washington he ran against — has worsened public skepticism of government and eroded the feeling of hope that surrounded his election.

The president said he keeps a checklist of his campaign promises and that he has met, by his account, about 70 percent of them.

As for the rest: "Well, that's what the next two years is for, or maybe the next six."

Obama would need to win re-election in 2012 for that latter timeframe to occur.

Obama calls Fox News viewpoint 'ultimately destructive' for the country

Obama told Rolling Stone that Fox News had a political agenda but he thought their main purpose was to make money.

"Look, as president, I swore to uphold the Constitution, and part of that Constitution is a free press," said Obama. "We've got a tradition in this country of a press that oftentimes is opinionated."

I think Fox is part of that tradition — it is part of the tradition that has a very clear, undeniable point of view. It's a point of view that I disagree with. It's a point of view that I think is ultimately destructive for the long-term growth of a country that has a vibrant middle class and is competitive in the world. But as an economic enterprise, it's been wildly successful. And I suspect that if you ask Mr. Murdoch what his number-one concern is, it's that Fox is very successful.

M.C.L Comment: I said it before and I'm going to beat that drum until it's worn out if any progressive or Democrat think by sitting home and letting the wingnut tea party Republican win a congressional or senate seat is going to teach this president or his party a lesson will be sadly mistaken after these sick, racist and hypocritical bastards take control.. If you're a 99er or soon to be 99er you think The Turtle, Jim DeMint, Sharron Angle and Christine O'Donnell will allow another extension of unemployment benefits? Ha ha ha no. While the house GOP is holding investigations to see what's on President Obama's Mp3 player you think they're going to fix health care, education, and the job outlook? Ha ha no. And if you're a gay activist you think an Republican house and a slightly Republican senate is going to fight to repel DADT, DOMA and any other issue you care about? Ha ha I wouldn't hold out for hope. While things haven't been the way you wanted to be but I can assure you if the corporate Republicans along with their easily led retarded tea bag cousins get power things are going to get worst.. Because these tools will be more focus to further crashing the economy while blaming Obama not only crashing the economy , they will have the Obama white house fighting off endless subpoenas from uber dickheads like Darrell Issa who's main goal is to find something to impeach the president over. While the Republicans play get the negro with the funny name we're going to suffer from their inaction.

Sharron Angle And Her Husband Receive Government Health Care

By Ben Armbruster Throughout her campaign for U.S. Senate in Nevada, GOP candidate and tea party favorite Sharron Angle has railed against government intervention in just about everything. Angle said she wants to “personalize” Social Security, and she even went so far as to suggest the possibility of an armed insurrection against the U.S. government to protect “against a tyrannical government.” Part of Angle’s anti-government philosophy has also included health care. She wants to repeal the new health care law and recently attacked mandating coverage for autism and maternity leave. She even suggested that Medicare and VA coverage work “towards a privatized system.” But Politico notes today that Angle this week admitted that both she and her husband benefit from government subsidized health care:

Angle’s campaign acknowledged to Nevada journalist Jon Ralston Monday that both the candidate and her husband receive health care from the federal government. Spokeswoman Ciara Matthews said in a statement: “Mr. Ted Angle receives his pension through the (federal) Civil Service Retirement System. While it is not supplemented by the federal government, current civil servants pay into the program to pay the schedule of those already retired – much like how the Social Security Program works today. Mr. Angle does not qualify – nor does he receive Social Security benefits. His health insurance plan (the Federal Employee Health Program), which also covers Sharron, is a continuation of what he was receiving while he worked for the federal government.”

GOP Rep. Roscoe Bartlett Claims Credit For Over $100 Million In Stimulus Funds He Opposed

By Lee Fang Ever since the Recovery and Reinvestment Act (the stimulus) passed over opposition from every House Republican and nearly every Republican in the Senate, ThinkProgress has carefully documented how opponents of the stimulus have called the program a failure, while at the same time taking credit for its success in their home districts.

Rep. Roscoe Bartlett (R-MD), a vocal opponent of the stimulus, confronted President Obama and told him that the program would be a waste shortly before the vote. “Mr. President, I think it’s more than a little bit selfish to try to solve our economic problems which we created by burdening future generations yet to be born,” Bartlett said to Obama, according to Fox News. But with stimulus projects helping to boost the western Maryland region Bartlett represents, Bartlett is singing a different tune to his constituents. In a press statement blasted by his office earlier this week, Bartlett “announced” a $115,240,581 grant to “expand broadband internet access throughout western Maryland”:

Congressman Bartlett said, “This $115,240,581 grant to the state of Maryland is part of the federal government’s effort to expand broadband access to less populated, rural areas. Through a public-private partnership, the state will deploy its One Maryland Broadband Network to provide abundant, affordable broadband internet to western Maryland and other areas of the state. In Article 1, Section 8 of the Constitution, our founders gave Congress the power to ‘establish Post Offices and Post Roads.’ They recognized that it was a federal government responsibility to ensure that there was a means of communication and transportation between the states. Technology has evolved over time and the post roads of yesterday have evolved into the internet of today. This initiative is very important to western Marylanders since it will enable our residents and businesses access to a tool that is vital to commerce in our national and global economy.”

Bartlett’s release did not disclose that the program is funded entirely by the stimulus. Of course, Bartlett, a good friend of Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-MN), tries to posture as a courageous, anti-government Tea Party lawmaker. But in reality, he’s just a hypocrite who votes against vital reforms and spending programs in Washington, while sheepishly trying to take credit for their success back at home.

Sanders: Chamber Would Rather Have Companies Pay Vietnamese 20 Cents An Hour Than Hire Americans

By Zaid Jilani Today, Senate Democrats tried to bring the Creating American Jobs and Ending Offshoring Act, which would give “companies…that shift overseas jobs to the U.S.” a special payroll tax holiday, to the floor for a full vote. Yet thanks to a united Republican filibuster and the defection of a handful of Democratic caucus senators — Max Baucus (MT), Ben Nelson (NE), Jon Tester (MT), Mark Warner (VA), and Joe Lieberman (CT) — the Democrats failed to achieve cloture and were unable to bring the bill up for a vote.

Last week, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce declared its opposition to the bill, claiming that “replacing a job that is based in another country with a domestic job does not stimulate economic growth.” The National Association of Manufacturers (NAM) also came out against the bill, arguing it would “jeapordize” American job creation.

Today, Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) answered questions from reporters about the legislation’s demise. He told them that, “of course,” NAM and the Chamber opposed the offshoring bill because they “much prefer paying people in Vietnam 20 cents an hour than American workers a living wage“:

Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) on Tuesday blasted the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and the National Association of Manufacturers (NAM) for opposing legislation that attempts to in-source jobs by granting companies a payroll tax holiday that shift overseas jobs to the U.S. and limits the use of tax deferral. “Of course they are [opposed],” Sanders told reporters. “They much prefer paying people in Vietnam 20 cents an hour than American workers a living wage.” [...]

Sanders suggested that these organizations oppose the bill because it bolsters the bottom lines of their members. “It is to their advantage, in many cases, to shut down plants here and pay people a fraction of the wages that American workers lose by going to China,” Sanders said. “What’s the surprise about that?”

The Chamber has made passing legislation that makes it easier for its member corporations to offshore labor a centerpiece of their agenda. NAM also makes expanding U.S. hiring overseas a main part of their legislative plans.

Update Sanders appeared on MSNBC's The Ed Show last night to talk about the offshoring bill. Watch it:

Monday, September 27, 2010

Pence Admits The GOP’s ‘Pledge’ Is ‘Not Necessarily New’

By Alex Seitz-Wald House Republicans’ gimmicky new “Pledge to America” repeatedly refers to itself — including on its cover page — as a “new governing agenda” to “set a different course” for the country. Nonetheless, it has come under withering criticism from right, left, and center for being little more than regurgitated rhetoric and repackaged failed GOP ideas. While Republican leaders have tried to sell the originality of the proposal, Rep. Mike Pence (R-IN) — the number three House Republican — couldn’t seem to decide whether his party’s Pledge was new or old yesterday during an appearance on Meet the Press. At first, he insisted that the Pledge does indeed have “new ideas.” But just moments later, after being pushed by host David Gregory, Pence admitted, “What we have in this proposal is not necessarily new“: GREGORY: And one of the big issues if you go back even to interviews I’ve done with Republican leaders after the election of President Obama was that this wanted to be the party of new ideas. … So what’s new here? PENCE: Well, ending bailouts and cutting spending in Washington, D.C. is a new idea, david! And the truth is, look, Republicans didn’t lose our majority in 2006, we lost our way. We walked away from the principles of fiscal discipline and reform that minted our governing majority back in 1980 and again in 1994. And the american people walked away from us. What we have in this proposal is not necessarily new — the idea of fiscal responsibility, pro growth policies, openness and transparency in government are solid american ideas. What Republicans are committing to in the pledge for america is taking important first steps in this congress to steer our national government back to the basic practices. Watch it: As for new ideas, Pence’s citation of “ending bailouts and cutting spending” is pretty pathetic. Of course, cutting spending is not a new idea — the GOP’s own website proudly states that “reducing the size of government” was “adopted early on” by the party. And as a Roll Call analysis published today found, the rest of the Pledge is equally recycled. The Pledge was supposed to be the product of a website House Republicans created to listen to the American peoples’ new ideas called America Speaking Out. However, Roll Call found that “only one provision [in the Pledge] appears to have come solely from that effort.” The rest of the proposals “already existed as a part of other House Republican initiatives or as bills offered by individual Members months before the website was launched,” the Capitol Hill newspaper continued. Less than a week after its big roll-out, the narrative of the Pledge as a bold new policy vision appears to be collapsing — even in the minds of Republican leaders. Yesterday, House Minority Leader John Boehner said the Pledge is not “about potential solutions,” but rather just serves to highlight the problems, while Pence admitted it is “not necessarily new.” Rep. Peter Roskam (R-IL), who is the deputy chairman of the America Speaking Out project, went even further when confronted with the Roll Call analysis, saying, “Let’s face it, none of these topics are new topics.”

Friday, September 24, 2010

Funny Friday: Dave Chappelle Piss On You

Fox News Source: O'Donnell Chose Hannity To Get 'Certain Kind of Treatment'

by Joe Strupp

A Fox News source tells Media Matters that Christine O'Donnell's decision to cancel an appearance on Fox News Sunday, but appear two days later on Sean Hannity's show, indicated "she made a choice about interviews where she felt she would get a certain kind of treatment."

Several media observers and ethicists, meanwhile, criticized Fox News for allowing O'Donnell to appear in what was clearly a friendlier environment just days after she canceled Fox News Sunday, with one observer declaring Fox's handling of the situation "speaks to a lack of professional integrity within the organization."

Fox News Sunday staffers were "shocked" when O'Donnell cancelled after extensive promotions were done about her appearance, the same Fox source said, adding that frantic efforts were made to change her mind.

"She shocked people when she changed her mind because she had made a commitment," said the source who requested anonymity but had knowledge of the events. "There were calls made to her political advisors and her people to persuade her that it was a bad idea. I think people were very upset and felt it is unprofessional to make a commitment to a Sunday show when the audience is made up of influential people."

Fox News officials did not respond to requests for comment. O'Donnell also cancelled a Sunday appearance on CBS' Face the Nation.

Several media veterans criticized Fox for allowing O'Donnell to choose her interview after disrupting the network's premiere Sunday show.

Edward Wasserman, a journalism ethics instructor at Washington and Lee University and regular media columnist, said the incident shows Fox's poor news judgment. "It speaks to a lack of professional integrity within the organization, but it is a more common practice," he said. "Fox let its own public down by letting itself be used this way."

"Media complicity in allowing O'Donnell or any other person who becomes a national figure to escape hard, tough questioning is flat-out irresponsible and dangerous," adds Michael Getler, PBS ombudsman. "It would seem to apply to this case."

Kevin Smith, president of the Society of Professional Journalists, agreed: "I would like to see us in a position where candidates don't get to pick and choose which shows they go to. Tough questions have to get asked. I think the voters in Delaware would like to see that."

Asked about the treatment O'Donnell received on Hannity, Smith said, "I doubt that they made it exceedingly difficult for her and she knows that."

Al Tompkins, an instructor in broadcast and online issues at The Poynter Institute, said such interview choices are common in today's television news, but said that does not make it right.

He agreed that Hannity would give O'Donnell an easier appearance than Fox News Sunday's Chris Wallace. "He is more sympathetic to Republicans generally," Tompkins said of Hannity, adding, "Chris's show is not a pushover. Candidates hope for great coverage, but it should not stop [Fox News Sunday] from getting her on the show."

Geneva Overholser, former ombudsman for The Washington Post and currently director of journalism at the USC Annenberg School for Communication and Journalism, said Fox's reputation does not make such actions a surprise. "I can understand why people at Fox News Sunday might be unhappy," she said. "But knowing what we know about this network it is not shocking.

Pelosi says tax cut vote possible before election

By STEPHEN OHLEMACHER House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, under pressure to send Democrats home to campaign with the strongest possible closing argument, said Friday she is considering calling a vote on extending middle-class tax cuts next week

Democrats, however, are divided on whether forcing a recorded vote on the issue before congressional elections in November would be politically helpful as they fight to maintain control of Congress.

"We will retain the right to proceed as we choose," Pelosi told reporters. "We'll take it one day at a time."

The most sweeping tax cuts in a generation, enacted in 2001 and 2003, are due to expire in January. Republicans want to extend all the tax cuts. President Barack Obama and Democratic leaders in Congress want to extend them for individuals making less than $200,000 and married couples making less than $250,000.

If Congress does not act, taxpayers at every income level face significant tax increases.

Obama has been pushing for a vote by year's end to extend middle-class tax cuts. But House Democrats — much like their Senate counterparts — are divided. Republicans and a few Democrats want to extend the tax cuts for everyone, even the wealthiest Americans.

On Thursday, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid chose to postpone consideration of the tax cut extension until a lame duck session scheduled to convene Nov. 15.

House Democrats had hoped the Senate would act first, before the election, to narrow the question of which tax cuts to preserve. Sensing the impasse and wary of being branded tax hikers before Election Day, more than 30 rank-and-file House Democrats urged Pelosi to extend all tax cuts, at least temporarily.

The question for Democratic leaders is whether holding a tax cut debate, a debate and a vote, or joining the Senate in a bicameral punt would be least damaging before Election Day.

Some Democrats are wary of supporting Obama's plan to let taxes rise for the wealthiest Americans, fearing they would be accused of supporting a tax hike. Other Democrats believe they have a winning message of fiscal responsibility while making the rich pay more after years of relative prosperity.

Pelosi downplayed the political dilemma Friday.

"There isn't a person in our caucus that isn't for tax cuts for the middle class," Pelosi said. "It's not about the election. It's about the policy and we're all very strong on that, and members, with a vote or without a vote, can go home and talk about their commitment to that."

House Republican Leader John Boehner has seized on the indecision, saying that not securing a tax cut extension before the election risks a tax hike in 2011.

"Congress should not go home without stopping the tax hike on American families and small businesses," Boehner said. "Doing so would wallop every taxpayer with a tax hike in a struggling economy — and that's simply irresponsible."

House Republicans have said they are confident that their tax proposal would win a majority of votes in the House, if Pelosi allows it to come up for a vote.

Time is running short for the House to act before it breaks for the election. The House is only in session for two days next week, and Pelosi said her goal is to send lawmakers home by next Thursday.

Regardless of when the House votes, Pelosi vowed to extend the middle-class tax cuts by the end of the year.

"America's middle class will have a tax cut," Pelosi said. "It will be done in this Congress. There is no question about that."

Desperate For Support, Republicans Tout Colbert’s Fake Endorsement Of ‘Pledge To America’

By Ben Armbruster

House Republicans have had a tough time getting anyone — even fellow conservatives and Republicans — to endorse their new gimmicky “Pledge to America” they rolled out yesterday. Newt Gingrich, David Frum, Erick Erickson, the Club for Growth, conservative radio hosts, and even some GOP House candidates aren’t too thrilled with the recycled Republican pledges.

It seems Republicans are so desperate for someone to endorse the Pledge that they are now touting the fake support from a fictional character. Today, Comedy Central host Stephen Colbert testified — in character — before Congress on migrant labor issues. During the hearing, Rep. Lamar Smith (R-TX) noted that Colbert supports giving lawmakers 72 hours to read bills before they’re voted on and extrapolated that Colbert must support the entire Pledge because that “idea” is within it. Later, Colbert reassured Smith with this satirical response:

COLBERT: By the way I do endorse your policies. I do endorse your policies. You asked me if I endorse Republican policies. I endorse all Republican policies without question.

SMITH: Okay, including the requirement that members have 72 hours to read a bill before we vote on it?

COLBERT: Absolutely.

SMITH: Thank you for your endorsement of the “Pledge to America.”

Watch it:

Rep. Darrell Issa (R-CA) was so happy someone announced support of the GOP’s “Pledge” that he promoted Colbert’s (fake) endorsement on twitter:


Either Republicans still don’t know that Colbert’s “I love the GOP” shtick is all an act or perhaps they don’t care as long as someone of any stature offers support for their “Pledge” scheme.

GOP Senate Nominee John Raese: ‘I Made My Money The Old-Fashioned Way: I Inherited It’

By Scott Keyes Following the death of Sen. Robert Byrd (D-WV) this summer, a special election was called to serve out the remainder of his term in the Senate. The November contest will pit Gov. Joe Manchin (D) against perennial candidate John Raese (R). Recent polling has shown a competitive race in the Mountain State.

Yesterday, Raese appeared on the Matt Lewis show, a conservative talk radio program. When Lewis asked Raese about his background and his life experience, Raese offered this straight-faced response:

LEWIS: Tell us a little bit about you and your business experience and how you got here.

RAESE: I made my money the old-fashioned way, I inherited it. I think that’s a great thing to do. I hope more people in this country have that opportunity as soon as we abolish inheritance tax in this country, which is a key part of my program.

Listen here:

Last year, all persons inheriting less than $3.5 million (99.75% of all Americans) were not affected by the estate tax. Apparently, Raese is also campaigning the old-fashioned way: catering to the ultra-rich.

Update On equality issues, Raese is opposed to the repeal of DADT and supports a Constitutional Marriage Amendment defining marriage as the union of one man and one woman.
Update Lowell Weicker, a former Republican congressman and independent Governor from Connecticut, said the state GOP “can’t find men or women that have come through the chairs to get to where they are. They find people with a wad of dough who just try to buy the office.” Linda McMahon, the wealthy former chief executive of World Wrestling Entertainment, is the Republican running for Senate in Connecticut.
Update The Politico has an article today discussing Raese's exorbitant wealth. They note that "Raese leads a lavish lifestyle that's included over 15 cars, boats and motorcycles, a home in Florida where his family lives full-time and where, records show, he paved the driveway with marble in 2008 as the economy was nosediving."

Raese Florida home

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Fox & Friends' "Pledge to America" reporting: A great pledge or the greatest pledge?

From Media Matters Despite vowing to report both sides of the story "and let you decide," Fox & Friends' coverage of the GOP "Pledge to America" consisted almost entirely of conservatives who love the pledge and Republicans who want to promote it. However, Fox ignored that several conservatives have panned the "Pledge to America." Fox vows to "report" both sides of "pledge to America" story and let "you decide" Carlson's promise on pledge coverage: "We're going to report and let you decide." Fox & Friends co-host Gretchen Carlson opened the September 23 show by announcing: "The GOP out with a solution to save America this morning. But some say it's actually a pledge to the same people that got us into this mess. So who's right? We're going to report and let you decide." But then Fox just decided: Coverage consisted almost entirely of support for the "solution to save America" Fox & Friends' "point-counterpoint": Three Republicans who love the plan. In Fox & Friends' first segment on the Republican's pledge, correspondent Julie Kirtz reported on the elements of the pledge, including that it "promises to stop what Republicans call job-killing tax hikes." Co-hosts Brian Kilmeade and Steve Doocy then purported to offer a "point-counterpoint" on the pledge, saying, "let's just listen to both sides," and aired a video consisting entirely of clips of Congresswoman Michele Bachman (R-MN), Congresswoman Shelley Moore (R-WV), and Congressman Spencer Bachus (R-AL) all offering their support for the pledge. The only opposition to the pledge Fox & Friends airs is Steny Hoyer's poem mocking the plan. Later during that segment, after Carlson explained that the Republicans came up with a "very massive, structured, specific plan" to counter the notion that they are simply "the party of no," Doocy mentioned Steny Hoyer's (D-MD) response to "what he thinks [the pledge] will say," and read the following: I pledge allegiance to the hedge fund managers of Wall Street, and the consumer protections I want to take away... I pledge allegiance to the insurance companies, who we want to put back in charge of health care... I pledge allegiance to the wealthiest of the wealthy who I will protect before the middle class... I pledge allegiance to the oil companies whom we apologized to ... I pledge allegiance to big corporations and the jobs they outsource... with a recession and huge deficits for all. Discussing Hoyer's statement again in the second hour of the show, Kilmeade called Hoyer "the voice of sarcasm." He then read a portion of Hoyer's comments and added: "You get the idea. So Steny Hoyer being sarcastic about the pledge, and sarcastic about what he claims to be the Republican agenda." Fox & Friends aired no comments from other people criticizing the pledge. Carlson's softball interview with Rep. Pence: "I guess the Democrats can't say that the Republicans are the 'Party of No' anymore." In a subsequent segment on the Republican's pledge, Fox & Friends hosted Congressman Mike Pence (R-IN) to promote the Republican's pledge. Carlson began the interview by asking Pence: "Well I guess the Democrats can't say that the Republicans are the 'Party of No' anymore, can they?" Carlson then asked Pence if the pledge was a "tip of the hat to the tea party movement," and why "it was so important" to have a commitment to "families, traditional marriage and private and faith-based organizations" and to end "all public funding for abortion at home and abroad." Fox & Friends hosted Malkin to say pledge shows GOP "is clearly listening" to its base. Later during the program, Fox & Friends hosted Michelle Makin to discuss the pledge. Malkin said that the pledge showed that Republicans are "clearly listening to the grassroots base of the Republican party who've been demanding some sort of written contract." She added that the pledge is "a good rejoinder to all of the knocks from the Democrats and the White House that the Republicans are simply the 'Party of No'." She also expressed concern that in the past, conservatives have seen "so many Republicans make these grand pledges and then forsake them in times of crisis," but "they've got an agenda now" and "of course they [had] to produce something." Carlson then agreed that "they have to produce it so that they're no longer the 'Party of No,'" and that "there's a tremendous amount of imagery and thought that went into this whole thing to appeal to the American public." What Fox didn't tell you: Not all conservatives loved the pledge Erick Erickson: Pledge is "Perhaps the Most Ridiculous Thing to Come Out of Washington Since George McClellan." In a September 22 post, RedState blogger and CNN contributor Erickson wrote of the pledge: These 21 pages tell you lots of things, some contradictory things, but mostly this: it is a serious [sic] of compromises and milquetoast rhetorical flourishes in search of unanimity among House Republicans because the House GOP does not have the fortitude to lead boldly in opposition to Barack Obama. I have one message for John Boehner, Eric Cantor, and the House GOP Leadership: If they do not want to use the GOP to lead, I would like to borrow it for a time. [...] The entirety of this Promise is laughable. Why? It is an illusion that fixates on stuff the GOP already should be doing while not daring to touch on stuff that will have any meaningful longterm effects on the size and scope of the federal government. This document proves the GOP is more focused on the acquisition of power than the advocacy of long term sound public policy. All the good stuff in it is stuff we expect them to do. What is not in it is more than a little telling that the House GOP has not learned much of anything from 2006. RedState's Hogan: "The Pledge to Nowhere." In a September 23 post to, blogger Hogan wrote that "Yesterday's much anticipated 'Pledge to America' represents a glimpse into how Republicans plan to govern, and simply put, it's a pledge to nowhere." He continued: At a time when America needs a bold, simple, fresh plan for putting America on the path to fiscal and constitutional sanity - we get instead an almost 8000 word term paper of inside-the-beltway regurgitation that lacks the one thing the American people seem to be dying to have... actual leadership. Harsh? Hardly. [...] In one asinine move, the GOP House leadership demonstrated that it is more interested in votes than in changing Washington and that it has learned nothing. In fact, all you need to know is that the ever-inspiring and bold David Frum wrote yesterday about the Pledge, "GOP to Tea Party: Your Votes Yes, Your Ideas No." Frum: "A Pledge to Do Nothing." In a September 22 post to the FrumForum, David Frum linked to Erickson's critique of the pledge, and wrote: Here is the GOP cruising to a handsome election victory. Did you seriously imagine that they would jeopardize the prospect of victory and chairmanships by issuing big, bold promises to do deadly unpopular things? But if the document is unsurprising, it's also unsurprising that Erickson and those who think like him would find it enraging. The "Pledge to America" is a repudiation of the central, foundational idea behind the Tea Party. Tea Party activists have been claiming all year that there exists in the United States a potential voting majority for radically more limited government. [...] But the true sad news is that this is not a document to govern with in the recessionary year 2010. It's fine to reject Tea Party illusions. But without an alternative modern Republican affirmative program, the GOP will find itself at risk of being captured and controlled by special interests instead. The most admirable thing about the Tea Party is its zeal to find a bigger message for the Republican Party than: do what K Street wants. The message offered by the Tea Party may have been unworkable, unrealistic, or worse - but at least it was large and public-spirited. I'd like to see a Modern Republicanism that responds better to the needs of the country, while retaining still the Tea Party's reforming spirit. What I fear is the worst of all worlds: a Republican majority that rejects not only extremist ideas, but all ideas. Doug Ross: Erickson's point "that the GOP's effort is mostly 'dreck' -- is valid." In a September 22 post, blogger Doug Ross linked to Erickson's post and wrote: (emphasis in original) "[H]is point -- that the GOP's effort is mostly 'dreck' -- is valid. Washington's so freaking broken that the usual platitudes and rhetoric can't and won't suffice. 21 pages? How about starting with two words: THE CONSTITUTION?" He gave a critique of several elements of the pledge: Consider the summary of the GOP pledge: • We will fight to ensure transparency and accountability in Congress and throughout government. [Platitude] • We will continue to fight the growth of government and oppose new stimulus spending that only puts our nation further in debt. [Platitude] • We will fight efforts to fund the costly new health care law. [Feh] • We will fight to increase access to domestic energy sources and oppose attempts to impose a national "cap and trade" energy tax. [Okay, barely] • We will fight for the rights of workers and oppose "card check" schemes that put union bosses before individuals' right to a secret ballot. [Okay, barely] • We will fight efforts to use a national crisis for political gain. [I have no idea what this means]

GOP congressman can’t or won’t say how ‘Pledge’ will pay for tax cuts

By David Edwards and Muriel Kane

Even before the Republican Party's "Pledge to America" was officially released on Thursday, Democrats were painting it as a return to the failed policies of the Bush years.

"The Republicans running for Congress, they want the next two years to look like the eight years before I took office," President Obama charged at a Wednesday fundraiser. "The chair of one of their campaign committees already told us their intentions. He said that if the other party takes control of Congress, they plan to pursue -- and I’m quoting here -- the 'exact same agenda' as they did during the last administration."

"You heard the president," ABC's George Stephanopoulos asked Rep. Paul Ryan (R- Shemp Howard look a like) on Thursday morning. "How is it different?"

Ryan, who is the ranking Republican on the House Budget Committee, responded that "cutting spending, creating jobs, putting the policies of economic growth in place, and cleaning up the way Congress works ... stands in sharp contrast to the way Republicans conducted ourselves a decade ago. ... We spent too much money. We lost our way."

Although Ryan spoke of cutting spending, however, his ideas for reviving the economy appeared to revolve around extending the Bush tax cuts for the wealthiest Americans, along with repealing a few programs, like health care reform and the stimulus, that are particularly unpopular with Republicans.

"The two central items on the agenda," Stephanopoulos noted, "are extending the tax cuts passed under President Bush, repealing the health care passed under President Obama. Those are going to cost at least four trillion dollars over the next ten years, and your pledge doesn't spell out anything close to paying for that four trillion dollars."

"I brought a budget to the floor last year that cut $4.8 trillion in spending," Ryan replied.

This was a reference to his "Roadmap for America's Future," released last February, which proposed privatizing Social Security, turning Medicare into a voucher system that would by design not keep pace with actual health care costs, and enacting what Think Progress described as "draconian real cuts in all domestic programs."

"You do concede that you do not have a path to balance the budget and you don't pay for the tax cuts that you're extending," Stephanopoulos remarked, adding that even "the rest of the Republicans aren't signing onto" the "Roadmap."

"We do actually have a plan to get this country back on track," Ryan insisted. "We want to balance the budget by controlling spending."

His chief emphases, however, continued to be on tax cuts. "The problem we have right now is jobs," he stated. "We need job creation. Taxing capital gains, taxing dividends, taxing small businesses will hurt us from creating jobs."

"There's a big uncertainty problem," Ryan concluded. "Businesses aren't hiring because of all this government uncertainty. We want to address that."

This video is from ABC's Good Morning America, broadcast Sept. 23, 2010.

GOP’s ‘Pledge To America’ Is To Ask Americans How To Solve America’s Problems

By Ben Armbruster

During the roll-out of the House GOP’s “Pledge to America” gimmick, House Minority Leader John Boehner (R-OH) was asked for specifics on how his colleagues would balance the budget and cut the deficit, but he wasn’t able to hide the fact that document falls short on details. “I don’t have all of the solutions,” Boehner said, adding that the American people “will help us get the answers.”

Noting Boehner’s dodge, MSNBC host Chris Jansing today asked Rep. Bill Cassidy (R-LA) — a key GOP lawmaker involved with the “Pledge” — to help the Minority Leader out. “Can you tell us how, specifically, you’re going to cut spending?” Jansing asked. But like Boehner, Cassidy came up fairly empty, only offering the old GOP fallback of “tort reform” — saying it would save $54 billion over ten years — and ending the benefits enshrined in the new health care law. Echoing Boehner again, Cassidy said the GOP will ask Americans for answers, which Jansing called a “cop out”:

JANSING: Isn’t that a cop out? … If you’re going to say, “Here’s our pledge.” Don’t you have to say, “Here specifically is what we pledge to do”? Don’t say, “American people, I know you elected us to find answers but we’re waiting for you to give us the answers.”

Watch it:

To be clear, the proposal Cassidy is offering to reduce spending and reduce the $1.4 trillion deficit is to enact a law that may save $54 billion in ten years. Moreover, according to the CBO, which Cassidy cited for his figures, getting rid of the new health care law would actually increase the deficit by $143 billion.

But the fact that the GOP’s new “Pledge” does not answer these questions should come as no surprise. Republicans have been asked repeatedly over the past year what federal spending they would cut to bring down the debt and deficit and can never come up with an answer.

Newly Declassified Documents Show Bush Administration Looked For Excuse To Start War In Iraq In Nov. 2001

By Zaid Jilani The Bush administration has long maintained they had not decided to invade Iraq until the days before it actually began and that they did “everything” they could to “avoid war in Iraq.” President Bush even claimed that the “American people can know that every measure has been taken to avoid war.”

Yet there is evidence that the Bush administration, from its very early days, was actively plotting to go to war with the Arab country. From a British memo that noted that “Bush made it clear the US intended to invade whether or not there was a second resolution and even if UN inspectors found no evidence of a banned Iraqi weapons programme” to memoirs by administration members Richard Clarke and Paul O’Neill, there have been numerous disclosures that strongly suggest that the Bush administration was plotting a war against Iraq while recognizing it was not a threat to the United States.

Now, with the help of a Freedom of Information Act request, the National Security Archive has obtained a newly declassified document that details talking points that emerged from a meeting between Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld and CENTCOM Commander General Tommy Franks in November 2001.

The talking points mainly revolve around the logistical planning for a war in Iraq. They detail the “decapitation” of the Iraqi government by U.S. forces and make regime change the goal. Interestingly, they already mention U.S. forces “coming out of Afghanistan” to join the invasion of Iraq. Yet the most alarming part of the document is a bullet point titled, “How start?” (which is a discussion that actually appears after the planning of the entire war). The participants in the Rumsfeld-Frank meeting discussed possible ways to provoke a conflict with Iraq, including an attack by Saddam Hussein against the Kurdish north, the U.S. discovering a “Saddam connection” to 9/11 or the anthrax attacks, or a dispute over WMD inspections. It appears from the language of the talking points that the Bush administration had already decided to go to war with Iraq and was looking for an opportunity to invade:


Another document obtained by the National Security Archive shows that the Bush State Department’s Bureau of Intelligence and Research created an assessment of international support for a war against Iraq in December 2001. It noted that the “UK’s Blair would publicly support a US decision to bomb Iraq but would face considerable criticism.” It worried that going to war in Iraq could “bring radicalization of British Muslims, the great majority whom opposed the September 11 attacks but are increasingly restive about what they see as an anti-Islamic campaign.” These fears appear to have been prescient, as in July 2005 British Muslim extremists apparently radicalized by the war in Iraq detonated bombs throughout London.

Joining A Growing Number Of Incumbents, Rep. Issa Refuses To Debate His Opponent This Year

And it's not just Rick Snyder avoiding debates By Tanya Somanader Rep. Darrell Issa (R-CA) is fully embracing his role as the Ranking Member of the House Oversight Committee, eager to “subpoena the rats and cockroaches” in his crusade to impeach President Obama. While relishing his “duties” as a Oversight Committee member, there is one civic responsibility the five-term incumbent is dodging: the duty to debate.

According to the North County Times, Issa is now “refusing to debate his Democratic opponent” Howard Katz (D-CA), after personally agreeing to do so “when the two chatted at a July 3 parade” in Oceanside, CA. Katz contends that Issa said he’d “certainly” debate him “on a date that works with my schedule so I can come.” But now, Issa’s spokesman Kurt Bardella insists that “the topic of debate never came up” and, “because the economy is a free fall,” his job in “continuing the process of oversight” outweighs is responsibility to participate in a debate:

“I was asking him about a debate and he said, ‘Certainly, just make it on a date that works with my schedule so I can come,’” said Katz, a Temecula resident.

Bardella denied that Issa, R-Vista, ever agreed to debate whether he should continue to represent the district that includes much of North County and Southwest Riverside County.

“The topic of a debate never came up,” Bardella said Tuesday. “He (Issa) has never made any kind of promise or commitment to debate.”[...]

Bardella said Issa is concentrating on his role as the ranking Republican on the Oversight and Government Reform Committee, a powerful panel he will lead if the GOP wins enough seats on Nov. 2 to wrest control of the House from the Democrats.

“This is a situation where the economy is in a free fall and the people are in a free fall,” Bardella said. “The congressman is focused on doing his job and continuing the process of conducting oversight.”

Katz insists that Bardella is telling a “fib” and even released a picture of the two talking at the parade “where he swears the promise was made.” Katz needed the debate because he is in a “‘David versus Goliath’ matchup” against “one of the wealthiest members of Congress.” Libertarian candidate Mike Paster (CA) shares Katz’s debate frustrations after “he was unsuccessful in repeated efforts to get someone from Issa’s office to respond to his call for a debate” last week.

While Issa may have specific reasons to be wary of public scrutiny, his debate denial reflects a growing number of House candidates “who are flat-out refusing” to debate challengers. Rep. Steve King (R-IA), who has never formally debated a Democratic challenger, told his opponent that he hadn’t “earned” the right to debate him. And while Rep. Roy Blunt (R-MO) is willing to debate his opponent, he is backing out of all but two of the debates he originally proposed.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

O'Reilly's wrong, Carter's right: Fox features race-baiting, birtherism, and religious smears

From Media Matters: Bill O'Reilly attacked comments from former President Jimmy Carter about Fox News' race baiting and its role in promoting falsehoods about President Obama's citizenship and religion. But Carter was right: birtherism, race baiting attacks on Obama, and lies about his religion have all found a home on Fox News.
O'Reilly: Carter's "ridiculous" criticism of Fox is "beneath a former president" O'Reilly: "Carter can simply not back up what he says." On the September 21 edition of Fox News' The O'Reilly Factor, O'Reilly aired snippets from an interview in which Carter offered criticism of Fox for having "attempted to twist around what [Obama's[ religious faith is and whether or not he's an American" and their tendency to "inject race" into their coverage of Obama. O'Reilly then criticized Carter for "not telling the truth": OREILLY: And while we're on the subject of presidents, Jimmy Carter is a Fox News hater. Did you know that? Speaking on CNN he said this about President Obama and FNC. CARTER [video clip]: A lot of gullible folks in the United States actually believe what Fox puts forward as facts when most of it is just complete distortions. And they've also attempted to twist around what his religious faith is and whether or not he's an American and so forth. So I think that's a new version of cable news. [edit] I would attribute most of the negative attitude not to the facts, but to the distorted facts that comes out of Fox. [edit] There has been a deliberate effort -- again, referring to Fox Broadcasting -- to inject the race issue into it. O'REILLY: I think Larry fell asleep during that interview, I'm not sure. So let's examine Mr. Carter's statements. We can find no Fox News employee who has said President Obama is a Muslim. We can find no Fox News employee who has said the president was not born in America. Now, years ago there was some misreporting on a madrassa story, but corrections were quickly issued. So it seems Mr. Carter is not telling the truth, and it is beneath a former president to accuse FNC of injecting race into the political process as Carter does. Carter can simply not back up what he says, in fact he's afraid to appear here on the Factor. Because he'd look foolish. His ridiculous statements are irresponsible and reflect poorly on him. O'Reilly edited video to cover up Beck's race baiting O'Reilly cropped video to hide Carter's statement that Fox "called Obama a racist" -- a clear reference to Beck. While O'Reilly claims that Carter "can simply not back up what he says" and says that "it is beneath a former president to accuse FNC of injecting race into the political process," O'Reilly crops Carter's quote to cover up the fact that he said that Fox has "actually called Obama a racist on television." From Carter's September 20 interview on CNN's Larry King Live (portion aired by O'Reilly in bold): CARTER: I don't think the Tea Party people are racist, except maybe a tiny portion of them. But there has been a deliberate effort -- again, referring to Fox Broadcasting -- to inject the race issue into it. They have actually called Obama a racist on television. And when they say, like some of the leaders of the Republican Party have said, that he's epitomizing the tribal influence of his father from Kenya, you know, that obviously has political connotations. So I think -- I mean, racist connotations. In 2009, Beck called Obama a "racist" with "a deep-seated hatred for white people." On the July 28, 2009, edition of Fox News' Fox & Friends, Glenn Beck said that Obama "has a deep-seated hatred for white people or the white culture" and "is, I believe, a racist," a statement he subsequently claimed to stand by, in spite of growing criticism. Beck's comments were condemned by a wide variety of media figures. A year later, Beck "amend[ed]" his statement and said he meant to attack Obama's theology. Fox News and Fox News personalities promoted birther stories, falsehoods about Obama's faith As O'Reilly noted, Fox & Friends had to "clarify" after pushing false smear Obama attended a "madrassa." On the January 19, 2007, editions of Fox & Friends First and Fox & Friends, Kilmeade, along with Doocy and Carlson, spent several segments advancing a false report that then-Sen. Barack Obama was raised a Muslim and attended a madrassa, or Islamic school, as a child in Indonesia. At one point, Doocy asked: "When people find out this stuff, they're going to go, 'Why didn't anybody ever mention that that man right there was raised as -- spent the first decade of his life raised by his Muslim father as a Muslim and was educated in a madrassa?' " Kilmeade responded, "Yeah, is that a problem?" He added: "Evidently, when he was a little kid, he went over to Indonesia and went to a madrassa. He -- in his two best-selling books, he doesn't really mention this in detail." On the January 22, 2007, edition of Fox & Friends First, Doocy said he had to "clarify" the show's reporting on the fabricated madrassa story,stating that "Mr. Obama's people called and they said that that is absolutely false. They said the idea that Barack Obama went to a radical Muslim school is completely ridiculous." Nearly three years later on O'Reilly's show, Coulter claimed Obama "attended madrassas." On the December 28, 2009, edition of The O'Reilly Factor, conservative columnist Ann Coulter said, "Andrew Sullivan pointed out, you know, what are these radical Islamists going to do when they look and see the president of the great Satan. And you know, he has brown skin. And he attended madrassas. And he talks about how he's so moved by the call to prayer five times a day. He used to hear in Indonesia. If anyone can say we're going to look for radical Islamists, it ought to be President Obama." Guest host Eric Bolling did not correct Coulter's falsehood that Obama "attended madrassas." Coulter: Obama went "to madrassas as a child." On the December 30, 2009, edition of Glenn Beck, Coulter said: "And like I say, Obama can be doing more than Bush. He is specially situated that way, as having gone to madrassas as a child, not being a white male, which is, you know, the height of political incorrectness, but just the contrary, we're moving in exactly doing the -- making -- repeating the worst mistakes of the Bush administration." Thomas McInerney, Fox News' birther military analyst. In an affidavit reported on August 31 by birther site WorldNetDaily, Thomas McInerney, a retired lieutenant general who now serves as a Fox News military analyst, says that he believes there are "widespread and legitimate concerns that the President is constitutionally ineligible to hold office," and expresses support for an Army officer who is currently awaiting a court-martial for refusing to obey orders from his commanding officers "until the president produces his original birth certificate." Hannity on birthers: "[A]ll they wanted to do was say, 'Where's the birth certificate?' That's all they were asking" On the August 12, 2009, edition of his radio show, Hannity said, "This huge birther thing is another huge distraction. To try and portray conservatives as a bunch of right-wing nutjob kooks when people all they wanted to do was say, 'where's the birth certificate?' That's all they were asking. 'Show us the birth certificate.' " Hannity promoted birther story. On the July 16, 2009, edition of Hannity, Sean Hannity recounted the story of Army Maj. Stefan Frederick Cook, who claimed President Obama had not proved that he is, in Hannity's words, "a U.S. citizen." Hannity's story explained that Cook had his deployment orders revoked and that "Major Cook and his lawyer expressed joy at this outcome and they took it as an admission on the part of the military that the president is not in fact a legitimate citizen by birth." Hannity did not make clear to his viewers that Cook's assertion was incorrect. Fox Nation repeatedly promoted birther stories using picture of Obama in Somali clothes. From the July 14, 2009 edition of The Fox Nation: From the July 20, 2009 edition of The Fox Nation: Fox Nation promoted WorldNetDaily birther story. The July 16, 2009 edition The Fox Nation featured the following image, linked to a story from WorldNetDaily promoting the cause of a birther's challenge to President Obama. E.D. Hill called Obama fist bump "a terrorist fist jab." On the June 6, 2008 edition of America's Pulse, Fox anchor E.D. Hill teased a discussion of a fist bump between then-Senator Barack Obama and Michelle Obama as "A fist bump? A pound? A terrorist fist jab? ... We'll show you some interesting body communication and find out what it really says." Four days later Hill said, "I certainly didn't mean to associate the word 'terrorist' in any way to Senator Obama and his wife." Hume claimed Jerusalem Post story quoted Obama's half brother about "Muslim background." On the June 18, 2008, edition of Special Report, Brit Hume stated that Malik Obama, Sen. Barack Obama's half-brother, "tells The Jerusalem Post that 'if elected his brother will be a good president for the Jewish people, despite his Muslim background.' " In fact, Obama's half brother did not speak to The Jerusalem Post for the article cited by Hume (he spoke to Israel's Army Radio), and subsequent audio of the interview indicated that Malik Obama did not refer to Barack Obama as having a Muslim background. Hume later issued an on-air correction for the false claim that Malik Obama had said Barack Obama has such a background. Fox News and its employees inject race-baiting into Obama coverage Fox News and its personalities have a long history of aggressive race-baiting and racially charged commentary, particularly with regard to their coverage of Obama. For example: Gingrich: Obama is engaged in "Kenyan, anti-colonial behavior." In a September 2010 interview with National Review Online, Fox News contributor Newt Gingrich asked "What if [Obama] is so outside our comprehension, that only if you understand Kenyan, anti-colonial behavior, can you begin to piece together [his actions]?" and that "That is the most accurate, predictive model for his behavior." Beck: "Anti-colonialism" allows you to "see Barack Obama and where he's going." From the September 15 edition of Premiere Radio Networks' The Glenn Beck Program: BECK: I couldn't figure out what the president was doing and I missed the fact because I hadn't really looked into him. It becomes almost an illusion of racism -- and it's not racism. It's anti-colonialism. It is -- it's liberation theology, which is also in a way anti-colonialism. It's Marxism in its roots. And when you understand these things, all of a sudden everything makes sense. ... His grandfather and his father -- when you understand what they were doing, you all of a sudden can see Barack Obama and where he's going. Fox heavily promoted phony New Black Panther Party story. Fox News hosts and personalities -- including O'Reilly himself -- relentlessly promoted the unsubstantiated allegations against the Department Of Justice's handling of prosecutions against the New Black Panther Party. In addition to the network hosting members of the fringe group multiple times, on-air personalities like O'Reilly attacked Attorney General Holder for his handling of the case (and mangling the facts in the process), while Beck claimed the New Black Panthers were a part of President Obama's "army of thugs." Beck says Obama's agenda is driven by "reparations" and the desire to "settle old racial scores." On July 23, 2009, Beck said: "Everything that is getting pushed through Congress, including this health care bill, are transforming America, and they are all driven by President Obama's thinking on one idea: reparations." Beck went on to state: "These massive programs are Obama-brand reparations -- or in presidential speak -- leveling out the playing field." Beck also said Obama's goal is "creating a new America, a new model, a model that will settle old racial scores through new social justice." Beck: Obama satisfying his "desire for racial justice" though "intimidation, vilification, bullying." On July 27, 2009, Beck said: "We have demonstrated President Obama's desire for racial justice, but how is he setting out to achieve it? Exactly the way a community organizer would: through intimidation, vilification, bullying, a system, an underground shell game." Beck continued: "Look how he has handled different things. [Henry Louis] Gates -- he calls the cops stupid and racist before he admits, he says, 'I don't know all of the facts.' But he jumps to the conclusion that the cops are racist." Hannity just can't "get over" his Rev. Wright obsession. Hannity mentioned Wright on at least 45 different episodes of his Fox News show between Obama's inauguration and July 31, 2009. Indeed, his repeated references to Rev. Jeremiah Wright have prompted his own guests to comment, "You always want to bring up Reverend Wright," and "Sean, you need to get over it." Guest-hosting O'Reilly, Ingraham claims Obama "channeled his best Jeremiah Wright accent" in NAACP speech. Talking about a speech Obama gave to the NAACP, Ingraham said: "Last night, President Obama spoke to the NAACP and channeled his best Jeremiah Wright accent." After airing a clip of Obama's remarks, Ingraham added: "Now, why does the first African-American feel the need to affect an accent that he clearly does not possess? Or is that the way people speak in Honolulu? It's a cheap attempt to pander to an audience that already supports him." Beck frequently claims Obama policies are "slavery" or will lead to slavery. Beck has repeatedly said that the stimulus bill "is slavery"; and ranted that Obama is "addicting this country to heroin -- the heroin that is government slavery" and that "the government's irresponsible spending is turning us into slaves." O'Reilly repeatedly offered false defense of Fox News' coverage of purported health insurance jail-time O'Reilly falsely claimed "[n]obody" on Fox pushed health care jail-time falsehood. On the April 13 edition of his show, O'Reilly responded to Sen. Tom Coburn's (R-OK) suggestion that Fox News perpetuated the false claim that under the health care reform legislation, individuals can be sent to jail for not having health insurance by repeatedly insisting that "nobody" on Fox advanced that claim. In fact, Fox News relentlessly pushed that falsehood -- including on O'Reilly's own show. Contradicting O'Reilly, Cavuto acknowledged Fox pushed health care jail-time falsehood. On the April 14 edition of his program, Neil Cavuto admitted that Fox News pushed the false claim that, under the health care reform legislation, individuals can be sent to jail for not having health insurance, saying: "I've researched this and a number of Fox personalities had made that comment." O'Reilly digs in, falsely claims Coburn didn't have "his facts in line." On his April 14 program, O'Reilly again denied Coburn's statement that Fox News pushed the health insurance jail-time falsehood, stating that Coburn "didn't really have his facts in line." O'Reilly's new bogus spin: Nobody at Fox pushed jail-time falsehood about "final bill." Following criticism from Media Matters, MSNBC's Ed Schultz, and Time magazine's Kate Pickert, O'Reilly claimed on his April 15 program that when "jail time" had been "on the table," Fox News had reported on it, but no one on Fox News made the claim after that provision was supposedly removed. O'Reilly concluded: "Nobody at Fox News reported inaccurately about the Obamacare prison situation. Nobody." In fact, the health care bill Fox News had been reporting on also did not have "jail time" as a penalty for not having health insurance. Moreover, five days before O'Reilly's statement, Fox Business' Eric Bolling made a false statement about "the Obamacare prison situation."

McCain proven ‘flat out wrong’ on DADT after scolding reporters

By David Edwards and Muriel Kane

Senator John McCain's remarks to two reporters after he had voted to block the repeal of "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" on Tuesday have already drawn widespread attention for their rambling and almost incoherent nature.

Now an officer who says he was discharged from the Air Force even though he was never asked and never told is suggesting that McCain may have been "deliberately deceptive" when he insisted that the military is "not seeking out people who are gay."

"Regulations are we do not go out and seek to find out someone's sexual orientation," McCain asserted flatly. "I know the military very well and I know what's being done, and what is being done is that they're not seeking out people who are gay. And I don't care what you say. I know it's a fact. I don't care what you say."

As the reporters insisted that there are "documented cases" of soldiers whose private emails were searched, McCain simply repeated over and over, "It is not the policy, it is not the policy, it is not the policy. It's not the policy. It's not the policy. It's not the policy."

Columnist Andrew Sullivan was quick to describe McCain as "flat out wrong" when he denied that the military "actively seeks out gay people in order persecute and expel them."

Sullivan quoted from Nathaniel Frank's book, Unfriendly Fire, which noted that "The Servicemembers Legal Defense Network (SLDN), a watchdog and legal aid organization that has monitored the effects of the policy since its inception, reported 340 command violations (perpetrated by the military) in the first year alone, including fifteen actual or attempted “witch hunts” and ten death threats to service members for perceived homosexuality. For the first three years, SLDN documented 1146 violations, with the number increasing each of those years. The abuses of 'don’t ask' have ranged from the purposeful to the neglectful to the vicious."

Major Mike Almy, whose name had been mentioned by the reporters interviewing McCain as an example of someone whose private emails had been read by the military, appeared with MSNBC's Rachel Maddow on Tuesday evening to say that he was "shocked" by McCain's denials.

"I was literally quite stunned when I first heard it," he told Maddow. "As you know, I testified before the Senate Armed Services Committee in March and told my story. Senator McCain was there. He sat twenty feet away from me and he listened to every word of my testimony."

"For him to make that statement today, that the military does not search private emails," Almy continued, "tells me that he either didn't listen to my testimony this past March, he forgot what I said, or he's being deliberately deceptive with the American public about the true nature of Don't Ask Don't Tell and using partisan politics over the interests of national security."

"The simple truth is the Air Force searched my private emails in 2005 in Iraq," Almy asserted. "During the height of the insurgency, they launched an investigation ... solely to determine if I had violated Don't Ask Don't Tell and to find whatever evidence they could use against me. And those emails, searched in Iraq, were the sole basis of my discharge from the Air Force."

According to Servicemembers United, "Mike Almy was a distinguished Air Force cadet who came from a long line of military service. When he was discharged in 2006 he had attained the rank of Major, was named one of the top officers in his career field in the Air Force, and was in charge of leading 200 airmen in Iraq. None of this mattered however when his emails were illegally read and he was relieved of his duties after he refused to make a statement about his sexuality without the presence of his lawyers. His replacement was a junior officer with very little leadership experience."

Almy explained in an open letter to President Obama last spring, "In the stress of a war zone, the Air Force authorized us to use our work email accounts for 'personal or morale purposes' because private email accounts were blocked for security. Shortly after I left Iraq -- during a routine search of my computer files -- someone found that my 'morale' was supported by the person I loved -- a man. ... I was relieved of my duties, my security clearance was suspended. ... I was given a police escort off the base as if I were a common criminal or a threat to national security. The severance pay I received was half of what it would have been had I been separated for any other reason."

Despite the way he was treated, Almy told the president, "If you end 'Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell' (DADT), I’d re-enlist the day you sign repeal into law."

Ed O'Keefe at the Washington Post, who described McCain as "scolding" the reporters, noted that McCain could be considered half right. "So-called "third-party outings" were banned earlier this year by Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates," he wrote, "unless they're instituted by top military brass, so McCain's statements are only kind of correct that the military does not currently 'seek out' gay troops."

But those kind of fine distinctions are not likely to satisfy Major Almy. "I'm very angry at his statement today," he told Maddow in conclusion. "I would love to visit Senator McCain in person. I would love to shake his hand and I would love him to look me directly in the eye and tell me that the military does not search private emails. Because I know for a fact that that's not true."

This video is from MSNBC's The Rachel Maddow Show, broadcast Sept. 21, 2010.