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Friday, July 29, 2011

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Right-Wing Media Mount Last-Ditch Effort To "Hold The Line" And Risk Default


From Media Matters

Days before a potential default crisis, right-wing media are engaged in a full-throated lobbying effort against a compromise to avoid default, urging Republicans to "hold the line" and act like "winners."
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Right-Wing Media Lobbies GOP To Risk Default And Refuse A Deal

Limbaugh: "Winners Do Not Compromise." Repeatedly saying "winners do not compromise," Rush Limbaugh instructed Republicans in Congress not to "act like losers":
There is no reason to compromise with people who have not offered any substantive ideas of their own. There is no reason to continue to act like losers, particularly coming off the November elections when we were landslide winners.
Winners do not compromise. Winners do not compromise with themselves. The winners who do compromise are winners who still don't believe in themselves as winners, who still think of themselves as losers. And you and I are finished with supporting people who think of themselves as losers. [Premiere Radio Networks, The Rush Limbaugh Show7/29/11]
Fox Nation Trumpeted Limbaugh's "Epic Rallying Cry To Conservatives." Fox Nation promoted Limbaugh's plea that the GOP not compromise with Democrats, calling it an "epic rallying cry":
limbaughfn
[Fox Nation, 7/29/11]
CNN's Erick Erickson: "Hold The Line" On Cut, Cap, And Balance. In July 26 Twitter posts, CNN contributor Erick Erickson urged Republicans to "hold the line" and avoid compromise:
 ericktweet
erickson

Bruce Bartlett: Chunk of GOP either stupid, crazy, ignorant or craven cowards




Historian Bruce Bartlett, a former domestic policy adviser to President Ronald Reagan, sat down with MSNBC’s Chris Matthews on Wednesday to discuss the national debt.
Bartlett said it was a myth that tax cuts are the key to prosperity, noting that Reagan raised the capital gains rate. He was also skeptical that Congress would be able to solve the current budget crisis.
“I think at this point, there’s nothing that can pass the House of Representatives,” he said.
“I think a good chunk of the Republican caucus is either stupid, crazy, ignorant or craven cowards, who are desperately afraid of the tea party people, and rightly so.”
Watch video, courtesy of MSNBC, below:

Boehner version of debt ceiling bill passes in the House

By Muriel Kane/Raw Story

By a vote of 218 to 210, the House of Representatives on Friday passed the version of debt ceiling legislation promoted by Republican Speaker of the House John Boehner.
Twenty-two Republican members voted against the bill, along with every Democrat who was present. The GOP no votes included Representatives Amash, Bachmann, Broun, Chaffetz, DesJarlais, Graves, King, Gowdy, Duncan, Latham, Huelskamp, Jordan, Paul, Mack, Scott, Walsh, Cravaack, Mulvaney, Johnson (Ill.), Southerland, Wilson, and McClintock. It appears significant that several of those are from the early primary states of Iowa and South Carolina.
The bill then moved from the House to the Senate, where it was immediately defeated by a vote of 59 to 41, with a few Republicans joining Democrats and independents to vote against it.
By midnight on Friday, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid is expected to offer his own version of the legislation, which according to Talking Points Memo will be "amended to include more spending cuts, and a few as-yet undisclosed carrots, to entice enough Republicans to overcome a filibuster and pass the legislation."
The hope is that the bill can be passed in the Senate by the end of the weekend and returned to the House on Monday, where it will face the challenge of winning over enough Republican members to obtain a majority
The bill then moved from the House to the Senate, where it was immediately defeated by a vote of 59 to 41, with a few Republicans joining Democrats and independents to vote against it.
By midnight on Friday, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid is expected to offer his own version of the legislation, which according to Talking Points Memo will be "amended to include more spending cuts, and a few as-yet undisclosed carrots, to entice enough Republicans to overcome a filibuster and pass the legislation."
The hope is that the bill can be passed in the Senate by the end of the weekend and returned to the House on Monday, where it will face the challenge of winning over enough Republican members to obtain a majority.

GOP Senator Concedes It Wouldn’t Be ‘Healthy’ To Have To Raise The Debt Limit Again In Six Months


By Marie Diamond/Think Progress

Even as the GOP leadership is caving to the outrageous demands of Tea Party members, some Republicans are also becoming more amenable to Democrats’ insistence that there be a long-term debt ceiling increase that goes through the 2012 election. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) reiterated today that the Democratic caucus is completely opposed to a short-term deal that would force Congress to raise the debt limit again in six months, when political divisions will be even more stark because of the upcoming election.
Republicans had initially insisted on a short-term increase, but today on MSNBC, Sen. Bob Corker (R-TN) conceded that it wouldn’t be “healthy” to have to go through this excruciating process again in six months — something the latest version of Speaker John Boehner’s (R-OH) plan still requires:
CORKER: I would love to see us go ahead and achieve all the savings that we can get right now…But I do agree with the fact that having these debates in the middle of the economic downturn that we’re having right now is not healthy. And there’s no question that business people…watch this and become uncertain. So in a perfect world, and I know we’re not in a perfect world, but if we can get worked out over the next several days something that actually achieves all those savings on the front end and also extends the debt limit beyond this next election, to me that would be the perfect solution, and I hope we can do that.
Watch it:
Corker’s position was echoed by a Senate GOP leadership aide who told CNBC’s John Harwood that the party would be comfortable extending the debt ceiling past the 2012 elections, “provided that they had some sort of guarantee that a second round of spending cuts and entitlement reforms would take place.”
The Huffington Post notes that “the softening of the Senate GOP’s position is a breakthrough of sorts in the debt ceiling debate.” Republicans have been arguing that they will only approve a short-term increase because Congress has traditionally voted for small incremental raises. But that’s not actually true: in May 2003, Congress passed the equivalent of an 18-month increase, putting the issue off past the 2004 elections. That extension was roughly the same length of time of the increase President Obama is requesting. Twenty GOP senators currently in Congress voted for that 2003 bill.

Hundreds Of Thousands Of Boehner’s Constitutents Would Be Hurt By His Debt Ceiling Plan


By Pat Garofalo/Think Progress

House Republicans met today in an attempt to scrape together votes to pass House Speaker John Boehner’s (R-OH) plan for raising the debt ceiling. Boehner pulled the bill from the floor last night when it became apparent that he didn’t have to votes to proceed, and has made it even more right-wing today in an attempt to drum up support.
As we’ve been noting, Boehner’s plan would batter the social safety net, forcing trillions of dollars in entitlement cuts and the passage of a balanced budget amendment, in order to raise the debt ceiling again when such a move becomes necessary in six months. As the New York Times put it, “Because the first round of cuts [in Boehner's plan] would eviscerate discretionary programs…the second round of cuts would need to come from Medicare, Medicaid, Social Security and other safety-net programs. To get cuts that deep in 10 years would require cutting the benefits of current retirees and beneficiaries or gutting health care reform, or savaging the safety net for low-income Americans, or some combination of the three.”
According to the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, Boehner’s plan could cause one of themost dramatic increases in poverty and hardship of any law in history. Boehner’s bill actuallyeliminates a 26-year-old measure protecting the poor from budget cuts. This would have an adverse effect all across the country, including in Boehner’s district where, as Half in Ten’s Melissa Boteach and Jessica Liu found, hundreds of thousands of people rely on the social safety net that Boehner wants to eviscerate:
– 180,000 people are on Medicare or Medicaid, comprising 27 percent of his district.
– 4,000 households access some form of public housing assistance.
– 90,000 or 13.9 percent of the district lives below the poverty line.
– Approximately 70,000 households receive Social Security benefits.
– Over 30,000 households are eligible for the SNAP (food stamp) program and20,000 low-income children are eligible for food and nutrition services.
“The House plan would result in an enormous increase in poverty and hardship while keeping Congress mired in a never-ending debate over default crises instead of a focus on jobs,” Boteach and Liu wrote. And Boehner’s constituents would certainly not be spared the pain.

ALLEN WEST SLAMS TEA PARTY FOR TURNING ON HIM: ‘THAT KIND OF SCHIZOPHRENIA I’M NOT GOING TO GET INVOLVED IN’


From Think Progress

Tea Party leaders from the Tea Party Express, Tea Party Nation, Tea Party Founding Fathers, and United West are targeting their hero Rep. Allen West (R-FL) and three other GOP freshman for supposedly trading in their Tea Party principles to support House Speaker John Boehner’s (R-OH) debt ceiling plan. Chaffing under his new title of “Tea Party defector,” West scoffed at his supporters’ derision this morning on the Laura Ingraham Show. “If [Tea Party] folks, one minute they are saying I’m their Tea Party hero and three, four days later I’m their tea party defector, that kind of schizophrenia I’m not going to get involved in,” he said. Listen here:

Thursday, July 28, 2011

NY Times Whitewashes O’Keefe’s ACORN, NPR Video Scams

 by Eric Boehlert/Media Matters

Assigning a Rush Limbaugh fan and biographer to profile right-wing activist James O’Keefe wasn’t exactly a daring choice by editors at The New York Times Magazine. The fact that the resulting puff piece is a predictably soft retread of O’Keefe’s often-told tale should surprise no one.
What is odd is that the Times would publish such comically inaccurate characterizations of O’Keefe’s adventures in undercover video stings; stings that have proven time and again he’s incapable of telling the truth.
Those are the facts. They are not in dispute. But in the loving hands of Times writer Zev Chafets, O’Keefe is portrayed as an enterprising, muckraking journalist. And in the loving hands of Zev Chafets, O’Keefe is portrayed exactly the way O’Keefe wants to be portrayed.
I realize that’s Chafets’ niche at the Times, to bring his partisan, conservative perspective when writing profiles of partisan conservative media figures, and to do his best to paper over anything unflattering about the subject at hand. That’s what he did with his New York Times Magazine cover story on Limbaugh in 2008. (The super-soft profile helped Chafets land a Ditto-ography book deal.)
And I understand why Chafets likes the very easy gig. It makes little sense, though, why the Timeswould be interested in publishing this kind of predictable feature about O’Keefe. Regardless of the motivation, what about the facts? What about O’Keefe’s ACORN and NPR stings for instance, and the controversy that soon engulfed him over allegations he had edited his clips in order to concocts sinister stories? How does the Times deal with those issues?
Not well.
A quick NPR refresher: Last March, O’Keefe unveiled a video sting designed to expose NPR’s liberal bias. It featured NPR fundraiser Ron Schiller having lunch with two potential (albeit fake) deep-pocket Muslim donors and Schiller making disparaging comments about Republicans and Tea Party members. We soon discovered, via Glenn Beck’s website The Blaze, that the tapes had been highly edited and done so in an unethical way to make the Schiller comments seem much more damning than originally believed.
Now here, in its entirety, is how Chafets deals with the firestorm that erupted around O’Keefe’s NPR tapes when it was they revealed they were fraudulent.
When it was suggested that the tapes had been dishonestly edited, O’Keefe invited people to watch them in their entirety. “He said it, that’s just a fact,” Dana Davis Rehm, a spokesman for NPR, said of Ron Schiller. In the aftermath, NPR conducted sessions on ethics for its support and operational staff and is planning to publish updated ethics guidelines in September. 
Gee, that doesn’t sound like that big of a deal: People raised questions and O’Keefe graciously invited them to view the full tapes.
Gimme a break.
From Time [emphasis added]:
Schiller did say some bad things, the Blaze found. But the short video took them out of context, like a bad reality show, and made them sound worse. It transposed remarks from a different part of the meetingto make it seem as if Schiller were amused by the group's "goal" of spreading Shari'a law. It left examples of his complimenting Republicans on the cutting-room floor. And that Tea Party quote? Schiller was, for at least part of it, describing the views of some Republican friends. Somehow — oops! — O'Keefe left that bit out.
You can add to those key points the fact that Schiller clearly stated on several occasions that funding donations, no matter how generous, have no effect on NPR’s news operation.
In other words, the entire premise of O’Keefe’s NPR gotcha was proven to be a fraud. There weren’t simply implications the tapes had been deceitfully cropped.  That was proven to be the case. Period.
It makes you wonder how anyone at the Times can square that factual assessment with the idea that it was merely “suggested” that O’Keefe’s ACORN tapes had been “dishonestly edited.” It also makes you wonder why the Times assigned Rush Limbaugh’s biggest fan to write puff piece about James O’Keefe.
Meanwhile, ACORN. Here’s Chafets:
His takedown of Acorn was even more devastatingalthough Bertha Lewis, Acorn’s former chief executivecontends that the videos were dishonest. “He is demon, a liar and a cheat,” she says. “What he did was despicable. He created a fiction.” Bertha Lewis still insists that Acorn did not offer advice on how to break the law. Clark Hoyt, a former public editor for The New York Times, reviewed O’Keefe’s raw footage and edited tapes and concluded that “the most damning words match the transcripts and the audio, and do not seem out of context.” There is no doubt that O’Keefe disseminated only the material that supported his thesis about Acorn, but this kind of selectivity is the norm in advocacy journalism. 
Really? It’s normal in advocacy journalism to withhold exculpatory information in order to tell the story you want to tell? It’snormal to dishonestly edit videos in order to give viewers a false impression of what actually occurred? And it’s normal to flat out manufacture lies, the way O’Keefe did by suggesting he entered ACORN offices decked out in a Halloween-ish pimp costume?
This is just embarrassing.
Meanwhile, for those interested in detailed reviews of O’Keefe’s ACORN production, at least three of them have been conducted. All  three confirmed that while some ACORN employees behaved inappropriately in the O’Keefe videos, they did not break the law. And all three confirmed that O’Keefe did severely edit the tapes.  Also, a 2009 report by the Congressional Research Service stated that O'Keefe's undercover videotaping may have broken laws in California and Maryland.
But for some reason Chafets does not mention the findings that completely undercut O’Keefe’s ACORN hoax. (Or the fact O’Keefe is currently being sued by an ACORN worker in response to one of the undercover videos.)  Chafets also ignored the pimp lie that O’Keefe spread with the help of his mentor, Andrew Breitbart.
Then again, in telling the O’Keefe tale Chafets also opts to make no mention of the fact that last summer O’Keefe planned to set a bizarre, floating trap to sexually humiliate a CNN reporter. 
So yes, the Times does a great job dressing up O’Keefe and pretending he’s an important person.

Boehner, Short of Support in House, Delays Debt Plan Vote


By CARL HULSE/New York Times

WASHINGTON — The federal budget fight reached new heights of uncertainty Thursday night as the House Republican leadership abruptly put off a vote on its proposal to raise the debt ceiling to avert a government default.
Republican lawmakers who opposed the plan were summoned to the speaker’s office for a new round of lobbying by top House members. As he left the office, one of those called in for an arm-twisting, Representative Louie Gohmert of Texas, said he remained “a bloody beaten-down no.”
The postponement threw the endgame of the debt-limit clash into confusion. The White House and Senate Democratic leaders had been waiting for the House to act before making their next move with an eye on the Tuesday deadline set by the Treasury Department for raising the debt ceiling or facing the possibility that the government would not be able to meet all its financial obligations.
Republicans had expressed confidence throughout the day that they would round up enough recalcitrant conservatives to pass their plan, but they obviously miscalculated.
Shortly before 6 p.m., near the end of a two-hour debate on the plan, Republicans halted the proceedings, and Democrats claimed that Speaker John A. Boehner was still short of the votes he needed.
At 6:50 p.m., the leaders stopped all business on the floor, where the House had worked through a list of post offices to be renamed, and called a recess. The move left unclear when work might resume on the measure that would provide a $900 billion increase in the federal debt limit in exchange for slightly more than that in spending cuts. A second increase of $1.6 trillion in 2012 would be tied to the ability of a new special committee to produce a proposal to save an additional $1.8 trillion.
As the House remained dark, Republican leaders scurried from office to office, meeting with members and trying to find a way to press forward with the vote.
Failure to pass the measure would represent an epic defeat for Mr. Boehner, the first-year speaker who has invested significant political capital in trying to get his fractious majority behind the legislation, which had the strong support of the entire leadership team.
Though they knew the vote was going to be close given the philosophical objections of many House Republicans to an increase in federal borrowing power, Republicans earlier Thursday had made it clear that they expected to pass the legislation in an effort to force the Democratic-led Senate into accepting it.
“When the House takes action today, the United States Senate will have no more excuses for inaction,” Mr. Boehner said Thursday afternoon, just before the debate began.
But with House Democrats offering no votes, even from the party’s fiscal conservatives, Republicans evidently remained shy of the total needed for passage, and Mr. Boehner engaged in some very public arm-twisting as he pulled members off the floor into a nearby office.
Republicans who met with the speaker, in his frantic search for votes, included Mo Brooks of Alabama, Jeff Flake and Trent Franks of Arizona, and two freshmen from Illinois, Randy Hultgren and Joe Walsh.
Asked when the vote would occur, Mr. Walsh said: “We don’t know yet. It’s up in the air.” For the moment, he said, he was still a no vote.
News of the prospect that the vote could be put off began circulating as Representative Nancy Pelosi, the Democratic leader and former House speaker, was making her party’s closing argument against the plan on the floor.
Representative Steven C. LaTourette, an Ohio Republican who was serving as the presiding officer, announced that the House was going to turn to other legislative business — naming post offices — when she concluded.
The delay caught Senate Democrats off guard. Harry Reid, the majority leader, had said earlier Thursday that once the House approved its plan, he intended to immediately set it aside and move ahead with his proposal for deeper spending cuts and a longer extension in the debt limit, which would ultimately be thrown back to the House.
The White House was taken by surprise by the postponement as well, having shared the expectation that Mr. Boehner had the Republican votes to pass his measure. Administration officials had no immediate reaction; any satisfaction at the public show of Republican disarray over a bill that Mr. Obama had threatened to veto was offset by concern that additional delays only raised the chances of missing the deadline to increase the debt limit.
All day, the White House was on the sidelines, awaiting the outcome of the expected House and Senate votes before it could engage Senate Republicans in talks on a compromise that could pass in the Senate and be sent to the House, upping the pressure on House Republicans to fall in line.
After earlier talks, Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr., who served nearly four decades in the Senate and acts as the White House point person for dealing with the Senate Republican leader, Mitch McConnell, was not in touch with Mr. McConnell on Thursday, aides to both men said. They said Mr. McConnell had made it clear that he did not want to engage until the House had voted on Mr. Boehner’s bill.  
Mr. Obama has said he wants an increase in the debt limit through 2012 to avoid a repeat months from now of “this kind of circus,” as his press secretary, Jay Carney, said Thursday.
Mr. Carney echoed Mr. Obama’s argument that such timing could make an essential extension of the government’s borrowing authority hostage to election-year partisanship. He added, “Lift the cloud that’s hanging over our economy.”
Robert Pear and Jackie Calmes contributed reporting.

Judge allows defamation suit against Breitbart to proceed

By Stephen C. Webster/Raw Story

A district judge in Washington, D.C. ruled Thursday that a defamation lawsuit against conservative blogger Andrew Breitbart may proceed to trial, according to Legal Times reporter Zoe Tillman.
The suit, filed by former U.S. Dept. of Agriculture employee Shirley Sherrod, had faced a motion to dismiss or relocate, which was struck down.
Judge Richard Leon did not issue a written opinion on the case.
Last year, Breitbart published a video of Sherrod describing to an NAACP conference how she overcame her own racist attitudes. However, a video from that speech was deceptively edited to make it appear that she was describing how she used the power of the government against a white farmer.
She was fired from her post at the agriculture department within hours of the clip hitting Breitbart's website, and for at least a day the world believed Sherrod was a racist who abused her power to harm a white farmer.
Once it became clear that was not the case, the government offered her the job back, but she declined. Even after a formal apology from the White House and an offer to talk to the president, Sherrod still refused.
Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack took it a step further and offered her a position dealing with civil rights and discrimination issues at the USDA, but Sherrod declined and vowed to sue Breitbart over his deceptive prank.
The suit also targets Breitbart colleague Larry O’Connor and one other unnamed defendant.
Lawyers for the defense argued that the suit was invalid because it was triggered by a matter of "pure opinion," not statements of fact