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Sunday, February 28, 2010

Kyl defends Bunning blocking unemployment benefits

By David Edwards and Gavin Dahl On the morning of the day unemployment benefits are set to expire across America, one Republican senator defended the ideology of another.

"All Senator Bunning was saying quite correctly is it ought to be paid for," Sen. Jon Kyl told Fox News' Chris Wallace.

Sen. Kyl (R-AZ) explained Sunday why Sen. Jim Bunning (R-KY) was justified in blocking another extension of unemployment benefits.

"Congress just passed the so-called pay-go legislation which is supposed to require that we find offsets or other savings if we are going to spend money. So what's the first thing we do? We exempt this bill from it," he complained.

But Kyl does believe the extension of benefits will eventually pass because they are temporary. "It will pass, though, because it's a temporary extension. The question for the longer term extension is a different issue because that's well over $100 billion," he added

Republican Sen. Jim Bunning (R-KY) on Thursday night expressed his opposition to renewing unemployment benefits on the Senate floor with an unusually harsh message for its backers: "Tough shit."

Bunning repeatedly and single-handedly objected to an effort by Sen. Dick Durbin (D-IL) to attain unanimous consent among senators for extending COBRA and other benefits to out-of-work individuals across America.

Bunning claimed he was concerned about the impact of the benefits extension on the deficit and insisted the funds come out of President Obama's stimulus package.

Provisions of last year's stimulus bill that allow extra weeks of unemployment benefits and COBRA health coverage are set to expire today.

This video is from Fox's Fox News Sunday, broadcast Feb. 28, 2010.

Pelosi: GOP ‘orchestrated’ some tea parties

By David Edwards and Gavin Dahl The Republican Party is pulling the strings behind the tea parties but protesters still have some things in common with Democrats, according to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi.

"The Republican Party directs a lot of what the tea party does, but not everybody in the tea party takes direction from the Republican Party. And so there was a lot of, shall we say, astroturf, as opposed to grassroots," Pelosi told ABC's Elizabeth Vargas Sunday.

"We share some of the views of the tea partiers in terms of the role of special interests in Washington, D.C," Pelosi continued.

"So, common ground with Nancy Pelosi and tea party movement?" asked Vargas.

"Well, no, there are some. There are some because they, again, some of it is orchestrated from the Republican headquarters," she replied. "Some of it is hijacking the good intentions of lots of people who share some of our concerns that we have about the role of special interests

Taking the opportunity, she completed a one-two punch, without hesitation.

"And many tea partiers, not that I speak for them, share the view, whether it's -- and Democrats, Republicans and Independents share the view that the recent Supreme Court decision, which greatly empowers the special interests, is something that they oppose," explained Pelosi.

In his first state of the union speech, Jan. 27, President Barack Obama criticized the Supreme Court decision in Citizens United vs. FEC that overturned decades of limits on corporate spending in elections, a move many observers say will result in a "wild west" of unbridled spending designed to influence elections.

Corporate lobbyists are openly discussing how to sway elections while dodging "public scrutiny" and attaining "sufficient cover" for their intended practices, earning a sharp rebuke from transparency groups and commentators.

This video is from ABC's This Week, broadcast Feb. 28, 2010.

Cantor: We need ‘to get more people uninsured’

By David Edwards and Gavin Dahl Republican House Whip Eric Cantor(R-weaselly looking douchebag) may have made a Freudian slip Sunday when he told NBC's David Gregory that the GOP wants to "get more people uninsured."

Gregory asked a panel to comment on what he called the fundamental tension of the health reform debate.

"The tension seems to be that individual elements are popular. You can talk to people who want better health care, better access to health care, reform. But there's a lot of distrust that government can deliver this kind of care and handle it well."

"The reality is Republicans do care about health care," Cantor replied. "We want to address the first and most foundational element which is cost. Because if we can bring down cost, more people can access care. But we also know that there is something we can do to get people more uninsured."

"The problem is," he continued, "with the president's bill it's about expanding Medicaid. No one wants to go onto Medicaid. That's why physicians in Florida and other states are leaving Medicaid in droves because of the imperfect reimbursement structure. That's what this bill is about, is expanding the government programs that don't work. We need real reform to bring down costs

Democratic Chief Deputy Whip Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz jumped in to counter his assertion that Democrats wouldn't address costs.

"There's 47 million people in America that don't have insurance. We are all paying for them because they show up at the emergency room as their primary access point for health care," she said.

"In order to reduce costs we can cut a tax of $1000 on American families just by covering those people," she insisted. "We can also make sure that we bring down costs by broadening the pool, adding the healthiest people who are choosing right now to not carry health insurance. Then when they get hit out of the clear blue sky by an unexpected illness, they don't have insurance, and we're all paying for it."

This video is from NBC's Meet the Press, broadcast Feb. 28, 2010.

Kristol: ‘I Didn’t Watch’ The Health Care Summit, But I’ll Comment On It As If I Did

By Faiz Shakir

On the Fox News Sunday roundtable this morning, the panelists discussed President Obama’s health care summit. NPR’s Mara Liasson said that while it may have been “political theater,” it was also “very clarifying” because it “laid bare exactly where the two parties stand.”

Host Chris Wallace asked Weekly Standard editor Bill Kristol, “Have you been clarified?” — leading to this candid acknowledgement from Kristol:

KRISTOL: No, but I didn’t watch it, so — (laughter). I have a life. (laughter)

Everyone on the panel, particularly Wallace, appeared to find Kristol’s admission quite hilarious. More disturbing, however, was that Kristol continued to opine on the health care summit as if he did indeed watch it:

KRISTOL: You compared it at the beginning of the hour to a dog-and-pony show, and I thought to myself, that’s really an insult to dog-and-pony shows. I like the dog shows there on the Animal Planet. … Many people were impressive. The President showed his usual professorial ability to sort of say certain things and highlight certain facts, or alleged facts.

Kristol of course couldn’t comment on what “certain things” or “certain facts” were particularly insightful, since he “didn’t watch it.” Being knowledgeable on the subject matter apparently isn’t a requirement to be a Fox News pundit. Watch it:

Introducing the panel, host Wallace asked Liz Cheney how her father was recovering from his mild heart attack. “He’s doing well,” she said, noting that he was “probably watching” Fox News this morning. “We’ll try to do nothing to upset him,” Wallace responded.

Sen. Alexander: Using Reconciliation To Pass Health Care Reform Would ‘End The Senate’

By Pat Garofalo Today, Sen. Lamar Alexander (R-TN) appeared on ABC’s This Week to discuss last week’s bipartisan health care reform summit. During the summit, Alexander urged the President and Congressional Democrats to “renounce” the idea of using budget reconciliation to pass health care reform. Alexender went even further today, saying that the use of reconciliation would be “the end of the Senate“: The reconciliation procedure is a little-used legislative procedure — 19 times, it’s been used. It’s for the purpose of taxing, spending, and reducing deficits. But the difference here is, that there’s never been anything of this size and magnitude and complexity run through the Senate in this way. There are a lot of technical problems with it, which we could discuss. It would turn the Senate, it would really be the end of the Senate as a protector of minority rights, the place where you have to get consensus, instead of just a partisan majority. Watch it: If using reconciliation were really “the end of the Senate,” the Senate would have died a long time ago, and Lamar Alexander would have been complicit in its death. Reconciliation has been used to pass at least 19 bills, including major pieces of health care reform legislation like the Children’s Health Insurance Program and the Medicare Advantage Program. Fourteen of the times reconciliation was employed it was used to advance Republican interests. Furthermore, Alexander himself has personally voted for reconciliation at least four times, as Igor Volsky pointed out: – 2003 Bush Tax Cuts: The Congressional Budget office, Bush’s tax cuts for the rich increased budget deficits by $60 billion in 2003 and by $340 billion by 2008. The bill had a cost of about a trillion dollars. [Alexander voted yes.] – 2005 Deficit Reduction Act of 2005: The bill cut approximately $4.8 billion over five years and $26.1 billion over the next ten years from Medicaid spending. [Alexander voted yes.] – 2005 Tax Increase Prevention and Reconciliation Act of 2005: The bill extended tax cuts on capital gains and dividends and the alternative minimum tax. [Alexander voted yes.] – 2007 College Cost Reduction and Access Act: The bill forgave all remaining student loan debt after 10 years of public service. [Alexander voted yes] In the end, Alexander’s mere presence on television this morning seems to indicate that using reconciliation does not, in fact, end the Senate. M.C.L comment: I'm convinced that Republicans think everybody in America are just a mouth breathing knuckle dragging Fox News viewer who will believe any lie they tell us.

Friday, February 26, 2010

TYT Hour - February 25th 2010

Let them eat applesauce: Right-wing media mock the uninsured

Right-wing media figures have mocked Democrats' descriptions of hardships faced by their constituents who lack health insurance, including a story Rep. Louise Slaughter told about a woman who wore dentures that previously belonged to her dead sister. For example, Rush Limbaugh said, "So if you don't have any teeth, so what? What's applesauce for?"

Media conservatives ridicule the uninsured

Limbaugh: "What's wrong with using a dead person's teeth? Aren't the Democrats big into recycling?" Responding to Slaughter's account, which he called the "sob story of the day, Limbaugh stated:

LIMBAUGH: You know I'm getting so many people -- this Louise Slaughter comment on the dentures? I'm getting so many people -- this is big. I mean, that gets a one-time mention for a laugh, but there are people out there that think this is huge because it's so stupid. I mean, for example, well, what's wrong with using a dead person's teeth? Aren't the Democrats big into recycling? Save the planet? And so what? So if you don't have any teeth, so what? What's applesauce for? Isn't that why they make applesauce?

Limbaugh previously told a caller who could not afford the $6,000 it would cost to treat a broken wrist that he "shouldn't have broken [his] wrist."

Beck mocks Slaughter's story: "I've read the Constitution ... I didn't see that you had a right to teeth." On his February 26 radio show, Glenn Beck played an audio clip of Slaughter's account then said, "I am wearing George Washington's dentures right now. I'm wearing his teeth right now." He later added, "I just like wearing dead people's teeth. But in America -- I'm sorry, I didn't know that that was -- I've read the Constitution before. I didn't see that you had a right to teeth." Echoing Limbaugh's remarks the previous day, Beck stated, "The environmentalists should be all over Slaughter. 'How dare you say that?' My gosh, they're just recycling. They're just reusing."

Beck sidekick uses baby voice to mock letters Obama receives. On Beck's February 25 radio show, co-host Steve "Stu" Burguiere stated that Obama "gets 10 letters, Glenn, every night." Co-host Pat Gray asked, "From 2-year-old girls?" Then, one of the co-hosts started speaking in a baby's voice: "I have no health care, Mr. Pwesident, and I have no feet and no tonsils because doctors took 'em out."

Conservative blogger Pamela Geller linked to an audio clip of the segment, which she wrote was "[d]a best! the funniest thang evuh!"

Gateway Pundit attacks Slaughter's "sappy lib sob story of the day, hands down." On his Gateway Pundit blog, Jim Hoft linked to a video clip of Slaughter telling the story about the dentures under the headline, "Horror! Lib Dem Claims Her Constituent Wore Dead Sister's Teeth (Video)." After declaring the account the "sappy lib sob story of the day, hands down," Hoft wrote: "Will Obamacare buy me glasses and contacts? Will Obamacare buy me a gold tooth in the front of my mouth with a little heart on it?"

Ingraham: "Louise Slaughter won the Olympics of sob stories." On Fox News' The O'Reilly Factor, radio host Laura Ingraham said she "liked the dueling sob stories, OK? One Democrat was trying to outdo the next on the sob story about how rotten our health care system is. Louise Slaughter won the Olympics of sob stories by saying one of her constituents had to wear her sister's dentures. OK? It got so bad with the health care system." She later added, "You had Harry Reid on the cleft palate with his -- I mean, the whole thing was ridiculous."

Fox Nation labels anecdote "Summit Insanity." From The Fox Nation, accessed February 25:

Fox Nation screen capture

M.C.L Comment: In the mind of conservatives it's about who would Jesus deny help to. These are the same horde of zombies that like to tell us liberals don't have any morals yet they don't mind ignoring Jesus' principal teachings help the poor, clothe the naked and take care of the sick but three dollar gutter whores like Laura Ingraham pretty much say F them the Democrats are only trying to make you feel guilty Mr. Red State American.

And Mr.Red State American is going to nod like he always do, because Mr.Red State American has adopted the elite conservative world view of I got mine and the hell with you. But wait until Mr. Red State American get sick or someone he loves get sick than he's screaming where's my help when the medical bills start rolling in.

Mr.Red State American needs to listen to these stories because they're are one illness away from being one of these people and Mr. Red State American needs to stop listening to these scum bags on the right.. If Beck gets sick, he can reach in his pocket and pay for it, If Laura Ingraham or Ann Coulter get sick or something pop up after a weekend "exchanging" ideas with their male right wing counterparts they can reach in their pockets and pay for it, If one of Rush's Dominican lovers stab his fat ass he can reach in his pocket and pay for it and if Sean Hannity get sick or any little Hannitys get sick he can reach in his pocket and pay for it.

Palin: Health summit would have been better with beer

By David Edwards Palin tells tea partiers to 'take over' Republican Party

Bipartisan health care reform negotiations would be more productive if lawmakers just had a buzz, according to Sarah Palin. The former Alaska Governor told Fox News' Sean Hannity that the White House "beer summit" accomplished more than Thursday's health care reform summit.

"I think Michele Bachmann summed it up very well earlier today. She suggested that maybe the beer summit was more productive and fruitful than what we saw today out of the health care summit," explained Palin.

"Maybe these guys should have popped some tops off some [Miller Genuine Draft beers] and gotten really down to business and gotten the work done," Palin recommended.

The former governor believes that the health care summit was a "victory" overall for Republicans because Americans got to hear their ideas

In the same interview, Palin had a message for tea party protesters who are considering starting a third party to run against Republicans. "Now a simple answer to a challenge we face today with the tea party movement -- and I believe that I'm a part of that because I'm such a believe in freedom and that's what the tea party is all about -- a simple answer to the challenge that they face and not knowing kind of where we belong right now is to essentially pick a party because we are a two party system," said Palin.

"It's a heck of a lot easier to get in there and reform one of the parties and get the people in the party to understand what has built this great country and what will allow for a brighter future for this great country than it is to form a whole new machine and a whole new process via a third party," the former governor continued.

"Let's just get in there and take over one of the parties. I vote take over the Republican Party, tea partiers, and get them to see the light," Palin suggested.

This video is from Fox News' Hannity, broadcast Feb. 25, 2010. Quick comment: Yes Republicans follow the Red Queen advice and let the tea party take over your party.

Race-baiting pro-life billboards hosted by CBS firm

By Daniel Tencer Hot on the heels of its controversial airing of a pro-life ad during the Super Bowl, CBS is once again facing pressure from activist groups after it emerged its outdoor ads division is hosting a series of provocative anti-abortion ads in the Atlanta area.

The company's involvement in billboards that declare black children to be an "endangered species" because of abortion is raising concerns among progressive activists about the company's political neutrality.

Two anti-abortion groups, Georgia Right to Life and the Radiance Foundation, have bought space on 65 billboards in recent weeks to run ads that link abortion to racism.

The ads are linked to a Web site, TooManyAborted.com, which asserts "abortion kills more African-Americans, per year, than heart disease, cancer, respiratory disease, accidents, homicides, suicide, and cancer–combined. Black women have abortions at over 3x the rate of white women."

"The Web site connects abortion to segregation, saying that after the civil rights era, racists went 'underground,' and that today 'abortion is the tool they use to stealthily target blacks for extermination,'" the New York Times reported earlier this month.

Now a report at AlterNet says that the billboards hosting the controversial ads are owned by CBS Outdoors, which is owned by Viacom, the same company that owns the CBS TV network.

"This is not the CBS of my childhood (I Love Lucy, the Ed Sullivan Show) or of the once venerated show, 60 Minutes," the unsigned AlterNet story declares.

This is instead the CBS that “suddenly changed its advocacy policy” to air a Super Bowl advertisement earlier this month from Focus on the Family, the ultra-right conservative organization that seeks to limit the rights of women, homosexuals, and people of color generally. Meanwhile, they denied ad space to several organizations representing gay rights and gay advertising interests.

It is the CBS that then pushed for inclusion of Focus on the Family ads on the website of the NCAA.com, and for airing ads by the same during the March Madness college basketball tournament, until the latter pulled those ads in response to protests from the LGBT community and likely after someone, somewhere in the NCAA finally (re)read their own guidelines against ads coming from messengers that, for example, denigrate gay people.

Pro-life groups in the Atlanta area are mobilizing against the campaign, with SPARK Reproductive Rights Now leading a pressure campaign against CBS Outdoors to have the billboards removed.

"The goals of these billboards are to shame, demonize and blame black women, their bodies, sexualities, and capacity to make informed decision[s] about their bodies," the group says in a statement. "The anti-choice movement has a zealous and dangerous preoccupation with [black women's] fertility and our children."

The group has launched an email-writing campaign asking CBS Outdoors to remove the ads.

"The language in the billboard is using messages of fear and shame to target women of color," Leola Reis of Planned Parenthood of Georgia told the Associated Press. "If we want to reduce the number of abortions and unintended pregnancies, we need to work as a community to make sure we get quality affordable health care services to as many women and men as possible."

As the AlterNet report notes, the billboard campaign is running at the same time as Georgia's legislature debates a new bill, the Prenatal Non-Discrimination Act, which would ban abortions based on the race or gender of the fetus.

According to Republican state Rep. Barry Loudermilk, one of the bill's co-sponsors, the new law would apply "the same standards of non-discrimination that is current law regarding employment, education, government and housing, to the practice of human abortion."

Supporters of the bill are using similar as are seen on the billboard ads. They point to statistics from the Centers for Disease Control, which show that 57 percent of abortions in Georgia were performed on black women, though black people account for only 30 percent of the state's population.

"The civil rights activists did not fight to make lynching safe, legal, and rare. They ended it," said Dr. Johnny Hunter, head of LEARN, an anti-abortion group that focuses its efforts on the black community. "We must fight to end the ugliest form of racism: abortion."

Georgia is not the only state considering such a law. Oklahoma's legislature recently moved forward on a bill that would, among other things, ban abortions on the basis of race or gender.

Rep. Steve King Sings The Praises Of Lobbyists On The House Floor: ‘Somebody Needs To Stand Up’ For Them

By Zaid Jilani

The Center for Public Integrity reported recently that the health care debate kept more than 4,500 lobbyists employed at various points throughout the year, effectively drowning out the voices of the American public. Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) said these lobbyists descend “into the offices of members of Congress and say, ‘Don’t vote for change. Keep the status quo alive.’”

This afternoon, while speaking on the floor of the House of Representatives, Rep. Steve King (R-IA) defended the role of Washington lobbyists, saying that they “do a very effective and useful job on this Hill” and went as far as to say that “somebody needs to stand up” for them:

KING: The people of my district deserve every bit of as much representation in this Congress as the people do in any district. But this structure, this iron-fisted structure in this House of Representatives, that’s what breaks down deliberative democracy and it undermines our constitutional republic and it denies the very legitimate knowledegable input from all across this country. Think about how this works. Each of the 435 of us we go home to our districts. We build a network of advisors providing information for us … in a whole series of ways. Town hall meetings, individual meetings, individual lobbyists, yes lobbyists do a very effective and useful job on this Hill.Somebody needs to stand up for the lobby, it is a matter of providing a lot of valuable information.

Watch it:

This isn’t the first time King has lauded lobbyists. Last year, he praised astroturf lobbying group Americans for Prosperity for busing in protesters to Washington, DC, even comparing them to Paul Revere. And unfortunately, he isn’t the only member of Congress who has taken it upon himself to defend lobbyists. During the Senate Finance Committee’s mark-up session of its version of the health care bill, Sen. Pat Roberts (R-KS) demanded that the committee delay its votes to give health care lobbyists “at least 72 hours” to read the bill.

Of course, lobbyists hardly need members of Congress standing up for them. Last year was a record year for lobbying expenditures, with $3.47 billion being spent to pay lobbyists to influence-peddle at every level of the federal government.

M.C.L comment: Oh please will someone think of the multi-billionaires?

Bunning Whines About Missing Basketball Game, Tells Dems ‘Tough Sh*t’ On Unemployment Benefits

By Pat Garofalo

Yesterday, the House of Representatives passed an extension of unemployment benefits on a voice vote. The Senate, however, has yet to act on the same measure, as various senators are throwing up procedural roadblocks. On Wednesday night, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) asked for unanimous consent to approve an extension, only to see the motion blocked by Sen. Jim Bunning (R-KY) over “a dispute over how [the bill] should be funded.”

Late last night, Democrats made repeated attempts to pass the extension by unanimous consent, and Bunning blocked them all. He then complained that the Democrats’ insistence on trying to ensure that unemployment benefits not expire had caused him to miss a college basketball game:

I want to assure the people that have, heh, watched this thing until quarter of twelve — and I have missed the Kentucky-South Carolina game that started at 9 o’clock, and it’s the only redeeming chance we had to beat South Carolina, since they’re the only team that has beat Kentucky this year — all of these things that we have talked about and all the provisions that have been discussed, the unemployment benefits, all these things. If we’d have taken the longer version of the job bill…we wouldn’t have spent three hours plus telling everybody in the United States of America that Senator Bunning doesn’t give a damn about the people that are on unemployment.

(Bunning’s beloved Kentucky Wildcats went on to defeat South Carolina.) Watch it:

At one point, while Sens. Dick Durbin (D-IL) and Jeff Merkley (D-OR) were asking him to relent, Bunning was overhead blurting out “tough sh*t” as he sat in the back row.

Not only did Bunning’s antics go on all night and ultimately prevent an extension from passing, but other Republicans went to bat for Bunning, arguing that the Democrats should simply respect Bunning’s hold. Sen. Bob Corker (R-TN) said, “I believe we’re stooping to a low level. This is not the way the Senate functions. Everybody in the country now knows that the senator from Kentucky has a hold on this bill. … That’s something that we honor in this body.”

“I just don’t think one senator ought to be able to heap this kind of suffering and misfortune on people who are already struggling in this economy,” Durbin said. “This is a wild pitch you are throwing tonight because it is pitch that is hitting somebody in the stands.” 1.1 million workers are scheduled to have their unemployment benefits expire next month, and 5 million will lose their benefits by June.

Update Sen. Durbin tried once more to pass the extension by unanimous consent this morning, and Bunning objected again.

Rep. Trent Franks: African-Americans were better off under slavery.

By Alex Seitz-Wald

Rep. Trent Franks (R-AZ) — one of the most conservative member of Congress, according to a new National Journal ranking — decried the strained state of political discourse in an interview today with blogger-activist Mike Stark. While defending hate radio host Rush Limbaugh, Franks said bipartisanship and “true tolerance” is about “being halfway decent to each other in spite of the differences.” But when the conversation turned to abortion, Franks made a clearly indecent comment, claiming that African-Americans were probably better off under slavery than they are today:

FRANK: In this country, we had slavery for God knows how long. And now we look back on it and we say “How brave were they? What was the matter with them? You know, I can’t believe, you know, four million slaves. This is incredible.” And we’re right, we’re right. We should look back on that with criticism. It is a crushing mark on America’s soul. And yet today, half of all black children are aborted. Half of all black children are aborted. Far more of the African-American community is being devastated by the policies of today than were being devastated by policies of slavery. And I think, What does it take to get us to wake up?

Watch it (beginning 6:20):

Franks continued by saying, “[S]ometimes we get angry and say things that we shouldn’t say, and I apologize…[for saying things] that are intemperate. But I don’t want to hide from the truth.” Franks’ comments are reminiscent of a new anti-choice campaign which seeks to put up 80 billboards in “urban areas where blacks reside” with the message, “Black children are an endangered species.”

M.C.L comment: And Republicans wonder why blacks and other minorities flip them the bird during every election cycle.

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Fox News continues to attempt to redefine "nuclear option"

In its latest attempt to redefine the meaning of the term "nuclear option," Fox News has seized on a Breitbart-promoted video to falsely accuse Democrats of hypocrisy for considering using the reconciliation process to pass health care reform, when they had previously opposed the "nuclear option." But, in fact, the nuclear option referred to a Republican proposal to change Senate filibuster rules on judicial nominees and was not related to reconciliation.

Fox News uses Breitbart-hyped video to accuse Dems of hypocrisy on reconciliation

Fox & Friends: "Irony" that Dems are now considering reconciliation. On Fox & Friends, host Brian Kilmeade said: "The problem with reconciliation is the Republicans say it's an outrage. It's bypassing the Constitution. It was never intended for that reason. Is that what the Republicans are saying, or is that what the Democrats have already said when the Republicans had the majority? Let's look at this tape, first put together by a website called nakedemperor.com." After playing the video, co-host Steve Doocy said: "Harry Reid has said it's still on the table, and that's why we are showing the irony that the Democrats were saying, you can't do reconciliation. It's just wrong. It's not the spirit of the Congress." [Fox & Friends, 2/25/10]

Sean Hannity: "What do you make of the hypocrisy?" On his February 24 Fox News show, Sean Hannity aired clips of Democratic leaders and asked Fox News contributor Newt Gingrich, "What do you make of the hypocrisy?" Gingrich replied: "Well, I think that what you're seeing is a Chicago-machine politics approach that basically says, if we can run over you and mug you then we're going to get away with it. And I think what they don't understand is this is not Chicago. The United States is not going to tolerate a group of people trying to apply kind of a Hugo Chavez majoritarian rule in the Senate." [Hannity, 2/24/10]

Bret Baier: Reconciliation was "once called the nuclear option." On Fox News' Special Report, Bret Baier said that the Senate process of reconciliation "was once called the nuclear option" and then aired clips of what he claimed were Democrats criticizing the "nuclear option" "when Republicans were using it." After he aired the clips, Fox News contributor Kirsten Powers said, "Thank you for establishing beyond all doubt that politicians are hypocrites." [Special Report, 02/24/10]

Fox Nation: "Video Flashback: Dems Howl with Rage Over Nuclear Option." The Fox Nation embedded the Naked Emperor News video under the headline, "Video Flashback: Dems Howl with Rage Over Nuclear Option." From the Fox Nation:

fn_nuclearoption1

Van Susteren: "[Y]ears ago when it came to Republicans using reconciliation, Democrats were singing a different tune." On her February 24 Fox News show, Greta Van Susteren noted that Democrats want to use reconciliation to pass health care and said, "But years ago when it came to Republicans using reconciliation, many Democrats were singing a different tune." After playing the clips, Van Susteren told former Republican Sen. Rick Santorum that there "may be some hypocrisy on both sides of the aisle." Santorum later said, "It is, in my mind, Democratic hypocrisy, not Republican hypocrisy." [On the Record, 02/14/10]

Beck: "[T]hey all stood up and said this was such a bad idea." On his radio show, Fox News host Glenn Beck played clips from the Breitbart.tv video and said of the possibility that Democrats might use reconciliation: "Why are they threatening this so much? Especially when they all stood up and said it was such a bad idea." [Premiere Radio Network's The Glenn Beck Program, 2/24/10]

"Nuclear option" was coined by GOP in 2005 to describe a process to change Senate filibuster rules

Lott described proposal to change filibuster rules as "nuclear option." The term "nuclear option" was coined by former Sen. Trent Lott (R-MS), one of the leading advocates of the proposal to change the Senate rules on filibusters for judicial nominations. After Republican strategists deemed the term a political liability, Republican senators began to attribute it to Democrats. As Media Matters for America noted, at the time, many in the news media followed suit, repeating the Republicans' false attribution of the term to the Democrats.

Democratic senators in video weren't discussing reconciliation. The clips of Democratic senators aired were first compiled in a video created by the conservative website Naked Emperor News and promoted on Breitbart.tv -- where "NEN videos premiere." As Media Matters noted, the senators were expressing opposition to the proposal to change Senate rules to eliminate use of the filibuster for judicial nominations -- i.e. the "nuclear option" -- not the use of reconciliation.

Reconciliation is already part of Senate procedure, and Republicans have used it repeatedly

Reconciliation process is part of congressional budget process. The budget reconciliation process is defined by the U.S. House Committee on Rules as "part of the congressional budget process ... utilized when Congress issues directives to legislate policy changes in mandatory spending (entitlements) or revenue programs (tax laws) to achieve the goals in spending and revenue contemplated by the budget resolution."

Republicans repeatedly used reconciliation to pass President Bush's agenda. Republicans used the budget reconciliation process to pass Bush's 2001 and 2003 tax cuts as well as the 2005 "Tax Increase Prevention and Reconciliation Act." The Senate also used the procedure to pass a bill containing a provision that would permit oil drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge. (The final version of that bill that Bush signed did not contain the provision on drilling.)

Reconciliation has been used to pass major changes to health care laws

Reconciliation has repeatedly been used to reform health care. On February 24, NPR noted that many "major changes to health care laws" have passed via reconciliation. These measures include COBRA, which allows laid-off workers to keep their insurance coverage, and the State Children's Health Insurance Program.

Fox News has a history of conflating reconciliation and the "nuclear option"

Fox News repeatedly falsely labels reconciliation as "nuclear option." Fox News hosts and guests have repeatedly pushed the falsehood that the "nuclear option" refers to the budget reconciliation process. The Fox Nation and Fox News personalities like Hannity, Van Susteren, Dick Morris, Bret Baier, and Bill Sammon have all falsely compared reconciliation to the "nuclear option," and the Fox Nation has previously coupled its headlines with images of a mushroom cloud from a nuclear bomb:

fn_nuclearoption2

M.C.L comment: I know I posted a story about the faux outrage and the out and out lies being spew by the Republicans loyal whores in the right wing media.. But I had to say this when Captain hypocrisy Sean Hannity whines about hypocrisy I gotta say something. Anything President Bush and Republicans wanted to do no matter how dumb it was Sean Hannity and the other flying monkeys in the right wing press backed it 100% so he needs to shut the hell up. Yes, yes I know I'm repeating this point again but it's true the Republicans and the right wing media are scared about this passing because A. it hurt their pimps in the health care industry and B. It kills the Republican chances to win back the majority and the white house for the next 30 years.

And seeing how the right wing hacks are falling over themselves trying to discredit a process the Republicans used themselves numerous times during Bush presidency has given me hope that a health care bill with a good(not strong) public option is going to pass via reconciliation.

A guide to debunking Republican talking points at the health care summit.

By Zaid Jilani I know it's late but here ya go Today, the White House kicks off the Bipartisan Health Care Summit, which “may be the end of the beginning for health care reform.” Republicans have already declared that they would not bring new ideas to the table. They plan to reiterate their criticism of the existing Democratic legislation and speak in generalities about how the private market can lower health care costs and achieve “universal access.” Today, former Bush strategist Karl Rove instructs Republicans that it is “necessary” for them to criticize the president, because they have “facts, ideas, and most of the American people on their side.” While their poll-tested talking points may sound convincing, the ideas the Republicans are proposing actually shift the costs and risks of insurance onto individuals and divide the market into low-cost plans for the healthy and high-cost insurance for the sick. In response to these talking points, the Wonk Room’s Igor Volsky has published a Viewers Guide to the Bipartisan Health Care Summit. Here is what the GOP will say and why they’re wrong.

McCain Assails Reconciliation, Forgetting He Once Said The GOP Laid ‘The Groundwork’ For Its Use

By Ben Armbruster

Today at the White House bipartisan health care summit, Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) tried to argue against the Democratic majority using reconciliation to pass health care reform. He first claimed to be an anti-reconciliation champion, falsely equating the “nuclear option” to pass judicial nominees (which he opposed in 2005) with reconciliation in general.

He then admitted that reconciliation has been used in the past, but “never before” for something as costly has health care and that using it now would all but ruin the U.S. Senate as an institution and “harm the future of our country”:

MCCAIN: The last time when there was a proposal that we Republicans in the majority would adopt a 51 vote majority on the issue of the confirmation of judges. There was a group of us that got together and said no that’s not the right way to go because that could deal a fatal blow to the unique aspect of the United States Senate which is a 60 vote majority. And we came to an agreement and it was brought to a halt.

If a 51 vote reconciliation is enacted on one-sixth of our gross national product. Never before has there been –- there’s been reconciliation but not at the level of an issue of this magnitude and I think I could harm the future of our country and our institution which I loved a great deal for a long, long time.

Watch it:

First, the “nuclear option” McCain referred to is not synonymous with “reconciliation” in general. It is the latest dishonest GOP talking point simply meant to derail health care reform.

Second, and most hypocritical, McCain himself has previously supported using reconciliation to pass major legislation and just last year, conceded that the GOP has no case in arguing against its use:

MCCAIN: I fully recognize that Republicans have in the past engaged in using reconciliation to further the party’s agenda. I wish it had not been done then, and I hope it will not be done now that the groundwork has been laid.

Not only has reconciliation been used on countless occasions in the past, it’s simply not true that “never before” has it been used on legislation as big as the Senate’s $900 billion health care bill. The GOP majority used reconciliation to pass President Bush’s tax cuts, which have so far cost the federal government nearly $2 trillion and continue to add to the deficit. The CBO, meanwhile, said that the Senate’s health care bill yields “a net reduction in federal deficits of $132 billion” over 10 years. PolitiFact.com noted that it’s “probably true” that Bush’s tax cuts cost more than the Senate’s health care bill.

Moreover, NPR noted recently that “for 30 years, major changes in health care laws have passed via the budget reconciliation process.”

GOP Rep. Dean Heller claims extending unemployment benefits is creating ‘hobos.’

By Pat Garofalo Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) is trying to pass an extension of unemployment benefits, but is facing resistance from Republicans who are throwing up procedural hurdles and trying to use the extension as leverage to push through a tax cut for the wealthiest families in the country. Sen. Richard Burr (R-NC) today questioned the necessity of an extension on the grounds that “we intend to have some immediate impact on the economy through what we’re doing.” And discourse in the House isn’t any better, with Rep. Dean Heller (R-NV) positing that extending unemployment benefits may be creating “hobos”:

Heller said the current economic downturn and policies may bring back the hobos of the Great Depression, people who wandered the country taking odd jobs. He said a study found that people who are out of work longer than two years have only a 50 percent chance of getting back into the workforce. “I believe there should be a federal safety net,” Heller said, but he questioned the wisdom of extending unemployment benefits yet again to a total of 24 months, which Congress is doing. “Is the government now creating hobos?” he asked.

1.1 million workers are due to have their benefits expire next month, and 5 million will see their benefits disappear by June. There are currently six unemployed workers for every job opening, and even without compensating for population increases, 350,000 jobs a month would need to be generated for two full years just to make up the jobs lost in the recession.

M.C.L comment: I'm going out on a limb and predict Mr. Heller is going to be in the running for Worst Person on the next "Countdown with Keith Olbermann"

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Conservative media revive "nuclear option" falsehood to accuse Democrats of reconciliation hypocrisy

From Media Matters Research department:

Conservative media are pushing the falsehood that "the nuclear option" refers to the budget reconciliation process in order to accuse Democrats of hypocrisy for previously criticizing the nuclear option and now considering using reconciliation to pass health care reform. But Democratic criticism of a 2005 Republican proposal to change filibuster rules is in no way inconsistent with passing health care reform through reconciliation -- a process that has repeatedly been used to pass legislation, including major health care reform.

Conservative media spread Breitbart.tv video and message that Dems are hypocrites on "nuclear option"

Breitbart.tv headline: "Obama & Dems in '05: 51 Vote 'Nuclear Option' Is 'Arrogant' Power Grab Against the Founder's Intent." On February 24, Breitbart.tv posted video showing Democratic senators expressing opposition to a Republican proposal that would have eliminated use of the filibuster for judicial nominations. Text accompanying the video states, "Biden: 'I pray God when the Democrats take back control we don't make the kind of naked power grab you are doing.' "

Beck: "[T]hey all stood up and said this was such a bad idea." On his radio show, Glenn Beck played clips from the Breitbart.tv video and said of the possibility that Democrats might use reconciliation: "Why are they threatening this so much? Especially when they all stood up and said it was such a bad idea." [Premiere Radio Networks' The Glenn Beck Program, 2/24/10]

Limbaugh: Democrats were "against doing this precise thing back in 2005." On his radio show, Rush Limbaugh said of Democrats, "They are going to blow up the Senate rules, they are gonna nuke the Senate rules, in order to get health care through the Senate. They were all against doing this precise thing back in 2005 to confirm judges." [Premiere Radio Networks' The Rush Limbaugh Show, 2/24/10]

Drudge links to video. In red text above the site's logo, the Drudge Report echoed Breitbart's headline and linked to the video (click on image to enlarge):

Drudge headline

Fox Nation embeds video. The front page of the Fox News website Fox Nation featured a headline on its front page reading "Video Flashback: Dems Howl with Rage Over Nuclear Option":

Fox Nation headline

The headline linked to a Fox Nation page on which the Breitbart.tv video was embedded.

HotAir: "Video: God doesn't listen to Joe Biden." HotAir.com blogger Ed Morrissey wrote in a February 24 post, "Or maybe God just figured that Joe Biden wasn't terribly serious about this 2005 prayer, unearthed by Breitbart TV and Naked Emperor News today." Morrissey also embedded the video in the post.

Townhall.com: "Flashback: Obama, Dems Call 50-Vote Nuclear Option 'Arrogant' Power Grab." In a February 24 post that also contained the video, Townhall.com blogger Meredith Jessup wrote, "With rumors Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid might try to force a nuclear option vote on Obama's health care plan, this video is especially poignant today."

"Nuclear option" was coined by GOP to describe a process to change Senate filibuster rules

Lott described proposal to change filibuster rules as "nuclear option." The term "nuclear option" was coined by former Sen. Trent Lott (R-MS), one of the leading advocates of the proposal to change the Senate rules on filibusters for judicial nominations. After Republican strategists deemed the term a political liability, Republican senators began to attribute it to Democrats. As Media Matters for America noted, at the time, many in the news media followed suit, repeating the Republicans' false attribution of the term to the Democrats.

Reconciliation is already part of Senate procedure, and Republicans have used it repeatedly

Reconciliation process is part of congressional budget process. The budget reconciliation process is defined by the U.S. House Committee on Rules as "part of the congressional budget process ... utilized when Congress issues directives to legislate policy changes in mandatory spending (entitlements) or revenue programs (tax laws) to achieve the goals in spending and revenue contemplated by the budget resolution."

Republicans repeatedly used reconciliation to pass former President Bush's agenda. Republicans used the budget reconciliation process to pass Bush's 2001 and 2003 tax cuts as well as the 2005 "Tax Increase Prevention and Reconciliation Act." The Senate also used the procedure to pass a bill containing a provision that would permit oil drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge. (The final version of that bill signed by Bush did not contain the provision on drilling.)

Reconciliation has been used to pass major changes to health care laws

Reconciliation has repeatedly been used to reform health care. On February 24, NPR noted that many "major changes to health care laws" have passed via reconciliation. These measures include COBRA, which allows laid-off workers to keep their insurance coverage, and the State Children's Health Insurance Program:

NPR reconciliation graphic

On NPR, Prof. Rosenbaum stated, "[T]he way in which virtually all of health reform ... has happened over the last 30 years has been the reconciliation process." Additionally, during the February 24 broadcast of NPR's Morning Edition, health policy correspondent Julie Rovner quoted George Washington University professor Sara Rosenbaum saying: "In fact, the way in which virtually all of health reform, with very, very limited exceptions, has happened over the past 30 years has been the reconciliation process."

M.C.L comment: I give the Republicans and their whores in the conservative media credit they don't let a little thing like in your face hypocrisy get in the way of a good GOP talking point. As it pointed out anytime reconciliation has been it was used by the Rethugs and they're acting like the Democrats are doing something that has never been done before.

You don't need me to tell you why the Republicans and their media whores are working overtime to make sure health care of any form won't pass one it hurt their sugar daddies in the health care industry and two it gives President Obama and the Democrats a victory which in return for the Republicans means they won't see the majority or the white house for another 30 years.

And finally I'm going to comment about the newest right wing media whore one Mr.Andrew Breitbart, dude gets his information from two places one the RNC and two from the hole he calls an ass. From watching "Countdown with Keith Olbermann"few months ago this uber deluxe size douchebag is going to create his own version of Media Matters.. Where he will hold the media accountable for what I do not know but I'm guessing he's going to whine that not enough news outlets are mindless repeating RNC talking points and passing them off as news.

In short to sum up Mr. Breitbart he's the guy that bank rolled James O'Keefe and his 3 dollar whore sidekick in those ACORN videos(which O'Keefe doctored),hopefully Mr. Breitbart got the 3 dollar whore a good lawyer and soap on a rope for Jimmy O'Keefe because I believe Jimmy O is going to be a real popular in the prison shower.

Rush Limbaugh rebukes Glenn Beck — for attacking Republicans

Fox News host Glenn Beck has been a central target of liberals -- they've even pushed to have advertisers boycott his show for allegedly racist comments he made last year. But now he's getting it from the right. Specifically: Rush Limbaugh.

The Associated Press noted that in Beck's CPAC keynote address, "The conservative commentator [Beck] drew cheers from conservative activists Saturday night in a speech that implored Republicans to renounce profligate ways in Washington, let big banks fail and honor true conservative principles."

Beck said the GOP should confess to its spending problem the way Tiger Woods admitted to having a problem with women.

Limbaugh's response was gentler than he's shown himself to be in the past, but a rare and surefire pushback against the Fox host.

"I would not have said that the only people who can stop Obama should be excoriated for being just as bad," he said according to Mediaite. "It would never occur to me to say that. I don’t know what the objective would be

Limbaugh usually doesn't hold back on his criticisms of others, but chose his words carefully when pushing back against the conservative lightning rod and Fox host whose popularity has surged in the last year.

Unlike Beck, who has delivered scathing critiques of Republicans in the past, Limbaugh generally operates closer to party lines.

"I feel liberated," Limbaugh said after Democrats won control of Congress in 2006. "I no longer am going to have to carry the water for people who I don't think deserve having their water carried."

Mark Levin, also a popular conservative radio host, issued Beck a similar warning for criticizing the GOP. "Stop dividing us," he said. "Republicans deserve reinforcements."

While Beck has in recent months lambasted the Wall Street bailout as an example of the GOP's spendthrift ways, he repeatedly defended the policy immediately after the 2008 collapse when President Bush first implemented it.

"I think the bailout is the right thing to do," Beck said on his Fox show days after the meltdown. He echoed the same stance at a later day.

The following video is from Limbaugh's radio show, snipped by Mediaite.

NCAA pulls Focus on the Family ad over complaints about the group’s homophobic positions.

By Amanda Terkel After trying to reach out to football fans by airing an ad during the Super Bowl, Focus on the Family is now targeting college sports. This week, LGBT blogs reported that NCAA.com was running a Focus on the Family banner advertisement. The site has now pulled the “Celebrate Family. Celebrate Life” ad, citing concerns by NCAA members over Focus on the Family’s homophobic positions:

The NCAA made the decision after some of its members – including faculty and athletic directors – expressed concern that the evangelical group’s stance against gay and lesbian relationships conflicted with the NCAA’s policy of inclusion regardless of sexual orientation, [NCAA spokesman Bob] Williams said. [...]

Williams said the decision to pull the ad was based not on the message but on the messenger.

Advertisers “should be generally supportive of NCAA values and attributes and/or not be in conflict with the NCAA’s mission and fundamental principles,” according to NCAA standards. The NCAA may exclude ads or advertisers “that do not appear to be in the best interests of higher education and student athletes.”

On Monday, Pat Griffin, a former professor and consultant to the NCAA on LGBT issues, wrote, “Focus on the Family is a right-wing Christian political organization that not only opposes a woman’s right to choose whether or not to have an abortion, they also are one of the most powerful national opponents of civil rights for LGBT people. … Now they want to impose their values on the NCAA tournament and college basketball fans and the NCAA and CBS are inviting them to. They are rolling out the red carpet and I am deeply offended by the NCAA’s complicity in this.

Weiner Offends The GOP On House Floor: You’re All ‘Owned’ By The ‘Insurance Industry’!

By Zaid Jilani

Today, the House of Representatives debated the Health Insurance Industry Fair Competition Act, legislation that would repeal the 65 year exemption health insurance companies have from anti-trust regulations.

Speaking on the House floor this afternoon, Rep. Anthony Weiner (D-NY) lambasted Republicans for being “a wholly owned subsidiary of an insurance industry,” prompting an offended Rep. Dan Lungren (R-CA) to lodge a complaint:

WEINER: You guys have chutzpah. The Republican Party is the wholly owned subsidiary of the insurance industry. They say this isn’t going to do enough, but when we propose an alternative to provide competition, they’re against it. They say we want to strengthen state insurance commissioners and they’ll do the job. But when we did that in our national health care bill, they said we’re against it. They said we want to have competition but when we proposed requiring competition they’re against it. They’re a wholly owned subsidiary of the insurance industry. That’s the fact!

LUNGREN: Mr. Speaker I ask that the gentleman’s words be taken down.

WEINER: You really don’t want to go there, Mr. Lungren.

A minute later, Weiner returned to the floor and withdrew his words, and then substituted them by clarifying, “Make no mistake about it, every single Republican I have ever met in my entire life is a wholly owned subsidiary of the insurance industry!”

Lungren once again immediately demanded that Weiner’s words be taken down. Weiner once more finally returned to the floor to withdraw his words, and ended his statement by saying that he has had “enough of the phoniness. We are gonna solve this problem because for years our Republican friends have been unable to and unwilling to. Deal with it!” His colleagues applauded his remarks. Watch it:

At the end of the debate, the House voted 406-19 to repeal the insurers’ long-held exemption from anti-trust laws.

Transcript:

WEINER: You guys have chutzpah. The Republican Party is the wholly owned subsidiary of the insurance industry. They say this isn’t going to do enough, but when we propose an alternative to provide competition, they’re against it. They say we want to strengthen state insurance commissioners and they’ll do the job. But when we did that in our national health care bill, they said we’re against it. They said we want to have competition but when we proposed requiring competition they’re against it. They’re a wholly owned subsidiary of the insurance industry. That’s the fact!

LUNGREN: Mr. Speaker I ask that the gentleman’s words be taken down.

WEINER: You really don’t want to go there, Mr. Lungren. [...] Make no mistake about it. Every single Republican I have ever met in my entire life is wholly owned subsidiary of the insurance industry. That is why —

LUNGREN: Mr. Speaker I ask that the gentleman’s words be taken down once more.

WEINER: Look, the point is very simple, there are inequities in the present way we distribute insurance. There are winners and there are losers. The winners are the insurance industry. [...] There is not bipartisanship on this particular issue. The people who sit on this side, at the risk of offending anyone, generally support the idea of standing up for the American people in their battle against big insurance. And the people generally speaking who sit on this side of the chamber and specifically speaking as well in a lot of cases, simply won’t permit that to happen and haven’t for a generation. Well, that is going to end now. [...] Enough of the phonyness. We are gonna solve this problem because for years our Republican friends have been unable to and unwilling to. Deal with it!” (applause)

Update The roll call of the vote is now up. GOP Reps. Akin (MO), Boehner (OH), Brady (TX), Broun (GA), Buyer (IN), Franks (AZ), Garrett (NJ), Jenkins, Jordan (OH), King (IA), Lamborn (CO), Linder (GA), Moran (KS), Paul (TX), Price (GA), Ryan (WI), Sensenbrenner (WI), Tiahrt (KS), and Westmoreland (GA) voted against.

Like His Friends In Congress, GOP House Candidate In Tennessee Also Guilty Of Stimulus Hypocrisy

By Ben Armbruster ThinkProgress recently released a report documenting more than 110 GOP members of Congress who voted against the economic Recovery Act last year, but later touted the funds or asked for more money. However, it appears that this stimulus hypocrisy is not limited to elected Republican officials.

Politico reports today that Shelby County, Tennessee Commissioner George Flinn, who is running to challenge Rep. John Tanner (D-TN), has joined his Republican friends in Congress:

He attacks the Recovery Act on the Jobs section of his website, writing, “The so-called stimulus bill adopted by the Democrat Congress has done nothing to help the situation.”

But in addition to being a radiologist and radio magnate, Flinn has a sideline as a self-help guru for aspiring entrepreneurs, and a website, YourAmericanDreams.com.

And in one of the videos from the site, he teaches aspiring businessmen how to apply for government grants, including — explicitly — stimulus monies.

Here’s what Flinn says in the video:

There are all kind of grants. There are grants for doing everything in the world you can think of. Maybe you can apply for one of these grants, maybe you can get some money that the government’s spending — they’re just not spending it on you right now. But they’re spending it. And some of it’s part of the stimulus package. So, we want to make sure that you– anything that’s available to you, that you deserve, you get.

Moreover, this month, the Shelby County commission accepted a $1.6 million federal grant provided by the stimulus to fund a local Head Start program. The resolution passed 12-1 with Flinn voting to approve. Flinn has also sponsored a number of resolutions to authorize funds provided by the Recovery Act.

Ron Kirkland, one of Flinn’s primary opponents, has heralded the stimulus as well. The Hill reported this week that, “as a recent president of the American Medical Group Association,” Kirkland “last year touted the group’s work in getting a payment to doctors inserted into the stimulus package.” Former senator Rick Santorum recently had some advice for those Republicans itching to promote the benefits of stimulus funds while attacking the stimulus. “I wouldn’t be promoting it,” he said.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Will Breitbart, O'Keefe, and Giles come clean about the ACORN pimp hoax?

Eric Boehlert

Last September 12, when the story of undercover ACORN surveillance videos was just breaking, conservative activist Hannah Giles, who starred in the clips as a wannabe prostitute, appeared on Fox News. Host Greg Gutfeld was positively giddy during his Giles interview, as he mocked the ACORN employees who were caught on tape giving Giles and her undercover partner, James O'Keefe, all kinds of misguided advice on how a prostitute could avoid paying taxes on her late-night income.

The wisecracking Gutfeld especially loved the whole pimp-'n'-ho premise of the sting and was stunned that ACORN staffers bought the ruse, considering the outlandish way Giles and O'Keefe were dressed when they strolled into the community organizers' offices. In the ACORN clips posted online, viewers could see Giles strutting around outside in a revealing outfit, while O'Keefe was decked out in fur with sunglasses and a goofy-looking cane.

As Gutfeld excitedly mentioned to Giles [emphasis added]:

GUTFELD: It's amazing to me because, seriously, you guys look like you came from a frat party where it was pimps 'n' hos. I would think they just would've said, "Get out of here!" But in fact they were trying to help you set up a brothel.

According to Gutfeld, O'Keefe walked right into the ACORN offices looking like he came from a costume party, and they still didn't catch on.

But, of course, we now know Gutfeld had the story all wrong. As I noted last week, and as blogger Brad Friedman had pointed out previously, James O'Keefe never wore his crazy hustler outfit to meet with community organizers. Instead, the '70s-style blaxploitation pimp costume O'Keefe helped make famous was a propaganda tool used after the fact to deceive the public about the undercover operation.

Yet in the very infancy of the ACORN scandal, Fox News host Gutfeld was peddling a false story about O'Keefe's pimp costume, a false story that quickly morphed into accepted fact. (Eventually, after an avalanche of repetition, didn't pretty much everyone believe O'Keefe was decked out as a pimp?)

It quickly morphed into fact because the lead propagandists helped to spread the tall tale. And now they won't come clean about their role.

For instance, during that September 12 broadcast, Giles said nothing to set the record straight. That night, she sat and listened to Gutfeld tell the phony pimp story, and she became complicit in the lie. Obviously, Giles knew her undercover pal didn't look like he just came from a costume party when he walked into ACORN outposts with his undercover camera. But on Fox News, when Gutfeld spread that tale, Giles did nothing to correct the record.

Soon, her undercover cohort joined in the misinformation campaign. Two days later, O'Keefe appeared on Fox & Friends decked out as a pimp. Host Steve Doocy announced that O'Keefe was "dressed exactly in the same outfit that he wore to these ACORN offices up and down the Eastern Seaboard."

O'Keefe made no effort to correct Doocy's falsehood.

And then one week later, writing in The Washington Times, O'Keefe and Giles' mentor, conservative activist Andrew Breitbart, whose website Big Government first hosted the ACORN clips, added to the misinformation movement. He wrote that O'Keefe had been "dressed as a pimp" while "getting" tax advice inside ACORN offices.

It was all part of a campaign, often fueled by winks and nods, to plant the indelible image of O'Keefe strolling into inner-city ACORN workplaces on summer afternoons decked out in his furry pimp costume and clueless employees not batting an eye.

It wasn't enough to uncover dubious practices inside the offices. Breitbart and his colleagues, consumed by hatred for an underfunded and somewhat adrift nonprofit, were determined to demonize ACORN (a "thug organization," as Giles put it) and paint its workers as immoral fools for not being able to spot the spoof a mile away. (In truth, O'Keefe was dressed rather conservatively -- slacks and dress shirt -- when he talked to ACORN staffers, and he often presented himself as an aspiring politician.)

Last week, when highlighting how the pimp story was a fake, I stressed two things. First, that fact does not change what happened on the Candid Camera tapes, and it certainly doesn't excuse the behavior of the low-level ACORN staffers who seemed shockingly eager to help people skirt the law. Second, the pimp revelation does raise all sorts of questions about the ethics and accuracy of Breitbart, O'Keefe, and Giles and indicate that the hoax should send up a red flag among journalists. Breitbart claims he's championing a new breed of "journalism." But is his brand built on lies?

If the trio's willing to obfuscate about clothing, then reporters and pundits need to use extreme caution when dealing with any claim they make in the future. And that probably goes double for O'Keefe, who offered up pretty dubious spin following his arrest in New Orleans last month in connection with the Keystone Kop capering inside Sen. Mary Landrieu's office.

So last week, Media Matters helped highlight how the pimp story was bogus, and what did Breitbart do in response? Did he accept responsibility and make plain to his Big Government readers that any confusion on the pimp issue was his fault and that he regrets not being straight about it?

Of course not. Breitbart, allergic to fair play and decency, at first insisted he had nothing to correct in his Washington Times column, even though he falsely reported O'Keefe was "dressed as a pimp" while receiving ACORN advice. He then posted a nasty, insincere "correction" via Twitter. And at CPAC last weekend, his voice dripping with contempt, Breitbart announced he was "so sorry" that O'Keefe "apparently" hadn't been dressed as a flamboyant pimp when taping ACORN. (Breitbart ought to take lessons from fellow conservative Michelle Malkin on how grown-ups post corrections.)

Meanwhile, Giles last week flatly denied they had ever claimed O'Keefe entered ACORN offices as a pimp:

"We never claimed that he went in with a pimp costume," said Giles. "That was b-roll. It was purely b-roll. He was a pimp, I was a prostitute, and we were walking in front of government buildings to show how the government was whoring out the American people."

Ah, the B-roll. For those unfamiliar with the video production term, B-roll is secondary footage often included in TV reports that shows the featured subjects in some sort of pedestrian action mode, like walking through their office or taking a phone call at their desk.

When the ACORN tapes were first posted at Big Government, they contained plenty of B-roll, or cutaway shots, featuring O'Keefe in his flamboyant pimp outfit outside. And, of course, that's a key reason viewers and news consumers first got the false notion that O'Keefe did his entire undercover sting in the costume, because the video-makers left that obvious impression. (Since O'Keefe did the ACORN filming, he's rarely seen on tape inside the offices.)

Indeed, wasn't the entire point of the deceptively edited B-roll clips to create confusion from the outset? Giles says they "never claimed" O'Keefe wore a pimp outfit, but why else would they purposefully include footage of him in the video if not to create that false impression? Meaning, the videos in and of themselves represent proof that Breitbart, O'Keefe, and Giles knowingly tried to peddle the pimp lie.

As blogger Conor Friedersdorf sensibly noted last week:

After watching the ACORN videos, I shared them with several apolitical friends who don't follow the blogosphere very closely. All assumed Mr. O'Keefe walked into the ACORN offices wearing the pimp suit.

For me, the "Hey, look, I'm dressed like a pimp" B-roll clips posted on Big Government tell us all we need to know about the purposeful attempt to mislead the public. But if you want more proof, let's continue.

Let's go back and reread a Washington Post article from last September and note the picture painted by O'Keefe. It seems pretty definitive [emphasis added]:

The proposition was outrageous, outlandish and right up James E. O'Keefe III's alley. Hannah Giles was on the phone from Washington, D.C., and she was asking him to dress as her pimp, walk into the offices of the ACORN community activist group, openly admit to wanting to buy a house to run as a brothel and see what happened.

It was serendipity, O'Keefe said Thursday. On that day in May, he was still burning mad after watching a YouTube video of ACORN workers breaking padlocks off foreclosed homes and barging in. "I was upset," he said.

O'Keefe, 25, packed his grandfather's old wide-brimmed derby hat from his swing-dancing days, his grandmother's ratty chinchilla shoulder throw, and a cane he bought at a dollar store, then drove from his parents' home in northern New Jersey to the District to execute the idea with Giles, 20.

Last September, the Post interviewed O'Keefe, who told the newspaper all about how the ACORN videos came to be. According to his telling, Giles called and asked him to dress as a pimp and "walk into the offices of the ACORN community activist group," as the Post relayed it. And after getting Giles' call, O'Keefe told the Post, he packed up his pimp costume and drove south to execute the plan.

But today, Giles claims they never claimed O'Keefe was dressed as a pimp for the sting.

Meanwhile, I already noted the time when Giles appeared on Fox News and remained silent while the host pushed the bogus talking point about the pimp costume. But that wasn't the only time Breitbart and friends remained mum.

Question: Isn't sitting idly by while a lie is broadcast about your story nearly as bad as broadcasting the lie yourself?

Let's go back to Sean Hannity's show on September 14, 2009. (That's the same day O'Keefe appeared on Fox News in his full pimp costume.) Giles and Breitbart were the guests, and host Hannity was hyping the ACORN clips (transcript from the Nexis database):

GILES: Yes. Imagine that. Everyone is suffering and looking for a loan and they tell us and you know, we're going through all this financial problems, and they're telling me to bury funds in the back yard so that the government or my pimp can't come steal the money.

HANNITY: And by the way, and he is the least convincing pimp that I would think in the world. But he pulled -- you guys pulled it off and did a great job.

Hannity claimed O'Keefe wasn't even convincing as a pimp, yet was still able to fool ACORN employees, to "pull it off." Of course, as we now know, O'Keefe wasn't dressed as a pimp inside the offices, so that didn't fool any of the employees.

So what did Breitbart and Giles do as Hannity pushed the phony pimp story on national TV? Did they jump in quickly to set the record straight, so no misinformation spread across the airwaves? Did they stress how important it was to be factually accurate about the ACORN sting operation and that neither one of them wanted to mislead Hannity's viewers into thinking O'Keefe was actually dressed as a pimp on the undercover videos?

Nope. Neither Breitbart nor Giles tried to correct Hannity, because by all indications, O'Keefe, Giles, and Breitbart wanted the bogus pimp story to be pushed in the press.

The same dance played out on November 16, 2009, when Hannity again hyped the tapes. His guests that night were O'Keefe and Giles (transcript from Nexis):

HANNITY: All right. You were both dressed as -- and by the way, you are the least convincing pimp in the entire world. I mean, I just don't -- I don't get it.

O'KEEFE: It's pretty outrageous. It's ridiculous. And look at the way that Hannah's dressed. They didn't blink an eye.

HANNITY: And by the way, Hannah, you are the least convincing prostitute. I want that to be clear, too, in the entire world.

But in all honesty, it is outrageous.

Not only did Giles and O'Keefe fail to correct Hannity's false implication that O'Keefe had worn the pimp outfit while secretly filming, but O'Keefe enthusiastically agreed the whole thing was "pretty ridiculous."

Last point: When many in the mainstream press began to erroneously report the pimp costume falsehood, did Breitbart or O'Keefe or Giles contact reporters to set them straight? Out of a concern for accuracy and fair play, did any of them step forward and spell out the facts, which were routinely mangled in the press? Did Breitbart, who seems obsessed with seeking corrections, contact New York Times editors, for instance, when the newspaper last year mistakenly reported that when he "visited ACORN offices," O'Keefe was "dressed so outlandishly that he might have been playing in a risque high school play"? Did Breitbart get in touch with the New York Post when it made a similar blunder? NPR? The Dallas Morning News?

I suspect the answer is no, because the right-wing activists wanted the falsehood to flourish. And, as I've detailed, they helped plant it in the first place.

But now the fooling is over, and it's time for Breitbart, O'Keefe, and Giles to come clean about the ACORN pimp hoax and their role in spreading it.