Wednesday, October 31, 2007

The Politics of "Pile On"

Is this what passes for a unified message these days? While I can understand the importance for a political party to stand together pressing for specific goals, it's become completely ridiculous lately in the reality based community. Here's a hint: Having a united message doesn't require everybody adopting the same talking points or even the very same words!

What I'm referring to in this instance is the pile on spin regarding the criticism of Hillary Clinton in Tuesday night's debate. Her campaign put out a video Wednesday morning called "The Politics of Pile On" and suddenly the phrase was ubiquitous. I suppose that from now on any criticism of Ms. Clinton will be called piling on, just as a couple of weeks ago any questioning of the Families USA /Frost family ad campaign was called smearing Graeme Frost.

First of all, I did a cursory Google search and as far as I can tell the first reference to "pile on" in relation to Hillary was an AP article from October 22 about the GOP debate titled GOP Hopefuls Pile on Clinton. Perhaps that's the inspiration for the phrase. But today, after the video and press release were put out, variations of it have popped up all over the place.

Let's examine just what this pile up stuff is all about. Hillary flip flopped all over the place regarding whether or not she supports Eliot Spitzer's effort to have illegal aliens obtain driver's licenses in New York. She was called on it by the other Democrats in the debate because she wouldn't give a straight answer. The video is here. It was so bad that today she finally had to clarify by saying yes, she agrees with what Spitzer is doing. So, to distract from the fact she screwed up, the lefty blogosphere is taking her campaign press release to heart and portraying the debate as a bunch of mean old men piling on the woman.

And who is to blame for encouraging this piling on? Well, early Wednesday morning a blurb appeared on Drudge Report:
Right on cue stories started appearing on memeorandum attacking Russert and blaming him for setting Hillary up. As usual these days, irony is lost on these people. "Politics of Pile On", indeed.

"Bush Dog Democrat" Senator Jay Rockefeller

If you're wondering what a Bush Dog Democrat is, the term was coined by Matt Stoller at Open Left to describe Democrats who don't disagree with Bush or Republicans on every issue. What is likely to get Rockefeller labeled as such is his op-ed in the Washington Post today about the FISA bill, specifically as it relates to legal immunity for the telecom companies that provided information to the NSA shortly after 9/11.

In the immediate aftermath of Sept. 11, the Bush administration had a choice: Aggressively pursue potential terrorists using existing laws or devise new, secret intelligence programs in uncharted legal waters.

Unfortunately, President Bush often chose the latter, and the legitimacy and effectiveness of our efforts to fight terrorism were dramatically undermined.

The president's warrantless surveillance program and his decision to go it alone -- without input from Congress or the courts -- have had devastating consequences. One is that private companies, which would normally comply with legitimate national security requests, now have incentive to say no.

Okay, so far that doesn't look like anything pro-Bush. In fact, Rockefeller is slamming him. Here's some more:
Here's why. Within weeks of the 2001 attacks, communications companies received written requests and directives for assistance with intelligence activities authorized by the president. These companies were assured that their cooperation was not only legal but also necessary because of their unique technical capabilities. They were also told it was their patriotic duty to help protect the country after the devastating attacks on our homeland.

Today there is significant debate about whether the underlying program -- the president's warrantless surveillance plan -- was legal or violated constitutional rights. That is an important debate, and those questions must be answered.

In the meantime, however, these companies are being sued, which is unfair and unwise. As the operational details of the program remain highly classified, the companies are prevented from defending themselves in court. And if we require them to face a mountain of lawsuits, we risk losing their support in the future.

That's pretty much common sense. The telecoms believed the requests for information to be legal and acted accordingly. If they have to wait until the legality is determined before acting then they'll simply not offer assistance. Rockefeller continues:
Let's be clear. First, there is no automatic amnesty. All Americans, including corporate citizens, must follow the law and be held accountable for their actions. The bill authorizes case-by-case review in the courts only when the attorney general certifies that a company's actions were based on assurances of legality, and the court is specifically required to determine whether the attorney general abused his discretion before immunity can be granted.

Second, lawsuits against the government can go forward. There is little doubt that the government was operating in, at best, a legal gray area. If administration officials abused their power or improperly violated the privacy of innocent people, they must be held accountable. That is exactly why we rejected the Whitehouse's year-long push for blanket immunity covering government officials.

Third, immunity is the only procedural mechanism that works. We decided against "substitution" (putting the government in the shoes of the companies) and "indemnification" (making the government cover all costs) because both still mistakenly place the onus on the companies rather than on the government. And we recognized that this could expose too much about our intelligence capabilities, jeopardizing collection that targets foreign threats.

So the government can still be sued if it acted illegally. If actions were taken that threatened civil liberties unduly they won't go unpunished. Why isn't that enough? Why the clamor for the companies to be sued? Here, I'll show you why:

NEW YORK (CNN) -- BellSouth and AT&T were added to a class-action lawsuit against Verizon Communications that alleges the companies illegally participated in a National Security Agency domestic surveillance program.

The complaint, filed in Manhattan District Court, is asking that the companies pay $200 billion in fines to their 200 million subscribers.

Attorneys Carl Mayer and Bruce Afran said that since the lawsuit was filed Friday they have been overwhelmed with calls from people wanting to join the suit.

Enough said.

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Oh, Brother!

Bush Derangement Syndrome is on full display over at Daily Kos. It seems people are blaming everything under the sun on Bush, including their personal and family problems. One in particular makes me wonder if it's for real. It's just too much. Check it out:
meldroc: Bush has also damaged my mental health.

After I actually took the trouble to inform myself about politics a couple years ago, and learned the true extent of the damage Bush has done to this country, I have a constant boiling rage inside me. Absolutely constant. Never ceases, though sometimes I can get it down to a simmer so I can go out in public and hang out with friends without doing something stupid. On top of the anger is a generous dose of fear and anxiety, coming directly from the Bush administration's march to fascism.

Frequently, I'm so intensely angry that I hit things. I just broke my bookshelf today because I hit it. My knuckles have decent callouses on them from hitting things, and various pieces of my property show signs of my rage. Thankfully, I've never turned violent against people since I was in high school, though I was sorely tempted to deviate the septum of a wingnut who called me a traitor and f*ggot to my face at the anti-war march last Saturday.

Of course, it's unhealthy to harbor this much anger, especially if I'm stuffing it down all the time so people around me don't see me acting borderline psychotic. These emotions leak out, turn into other emotions, like depression, which I've fought with since college. I've also developed a venomous hatred of Bush and his cronies and the 23-percenters that support him. Hatred's never a good emotion to hold, but there it is. I literally hate those motherf*ckers who are destroying our country.

By all rights, I should be getting help, but I'm not going to. I was soured on the psychiatry business by my experience with anti-depressants - I ended up nearly emotionless, apathetic, and lost my motivation and creative drive, and as a result, I was unemployed for three years and had to move back in with my parents. I was your classic anti-depressant zombie. They didn't like the changes to my personality either, and stopped paying for the meds. After I tapered off the anti-depressants, I got my drive back, I was able to find work as a software engineer again, move into my own apartment, and now I'm supporting myself again. On top of that, if I told a counselor about my feelings, or that I'm so afraid of my government that I literally spent several hundred dollars on a shotgun, a deadly weapon, to defend myself against my government, I'm afraid I could get thrown into the psych ward. And I value my freedom enough that I will not allow that to happen under any circumstances. So, no shrinks.

I haven't talked to my best friend and ex-roommate in weeks because of a few personal issues between us, including politics - he's Republican, and though he's no fan of Bush, he constantly mocks and belittles my politics when I talk to him. So I don't."

That just seems fishy to me, reminiscent of the famous CheChe post from last year that was also featured at Daily Kos, and also worth a read because it's hilarious.

h/t Right Wing News

S-CHIP: Smoking for the Kids

via the corner at NRO

Ann Coulter Fails to Live Down to Moonbat Expectations

John Hawkins at Right Wing News comments today on a story I read the other day by Rick Jacobs at Huffington Post. Jacobs is all a twitter because he spotted Ann Coulter eating at a gay owned restaurant in West Hollywood. Naturally, he thought he had a scoop, so much so that he had to take a picture of her to put on his post.

Mr. Jacobs is apparently one of those who's convinced that Coulter hates gay people, ostensibly because she used the F word in regard to John Edwards. Hawkins points out that the normal reaction Jacobs should have had to seeing her in that restaurant would have been to wonder if he was wrong about her all along. But no. Instead he gleefully reports to his readers how he went over to her table and pestered her in between references comparing her to Hitler, etc. This is standard moonbat behavior. Oh, and he also flat out lies about her in this passage:
How many adolescents in mid-America have heard Ms. Coulter saying they are "faggots," subhumans who should die, just so she could eat dinner at a gay-owned establishment and pay with blood money? How many lives have ended so that Ms. Coulter can giggle and guzzle in West Hollywood?
If you click the link you'll see that it goes to some gossip page talking about her using "faggot". The rest of that comes right out of Mr. Jacobs' imagination. As I've pointed out before, moonbats put up a link and then lie about what it leads to, knowing most of their fellow travelers won't bother clicking it.

For some strange reason he also calls her a hypocrite. Apparently in moonbat English the word is defined as someone who doesn't live down to your expectations. If you can stomach the comment section you'll notice a lot of them include they hypocrisy claim as well, though most of them can't spell it.

Monday, October 29, 2007

Paul Krugman's Moonbat Extravaganza

In his opinion piece in the NYT today, Krugman hits on many of the moonbat talking points regarding Iran and Islamofascism in general. Let's do this in a checklist format:

Moonbat talking point #1: Scary "neocons" are threatening to take over US foreign policy. Here's Krugman:
Consider, for a moment, the implications of the fact that Rudy Giuliani is taking foreign policy advice from Norman Podhoretz, who wants us to start bombing Iran “as soon as it is logistically possible.”
Talking point #2: Islamofascism doesn't exist and is a term made up by scary neocons who want to use it for justification to go to war against Iran just as it was with Iraq. Krugman:
For one thing, there isn’t actually any such thing as Islamofascism — it’s not an ideology; it’s a figment of the neocon imagination. The term came into vogue only because it was a way for Iraq hawks to gloss over the awkward transition from pursuing Osama bin Laden, who attacked America, to Saddam Hussein, who didn’t.
#3 Iran had nothing to do with 9/11 and has in fact been helpful in the fight against Al Qaeda. This is similar to the claims that Saddam Hussein had nothing to do with Al Qaeda because his was a secular regime and therefore hated by Bin Laden. Here's Krugman again:
And Iran had nothing whatsoever to do with 9/11 — in fact, the Iranian regime was quite helpful to the United States when it went after Al Qaeda and its Taliban allies in Afghanistan.
Not only is that a mindless recycling of a talking point, but as pointed out here, it contradicts the 9/11 Commission report.

#4 Related to talking point #2 is the idea that Al Qaeda is an isolated group without ties to a larger phenomena. Here's Krugman responding to an ad put out by Mitt Romney:
He doesn’t say exactly who these jihadists are, but presumably he’s referring to Al Qaeda — an organization that has certainly demonstrated its willingness and ability to kill innocent people, but has no chance of collapsing the United States, let alone taking over the world.
#5 is the ever popular "Republicans just don't like brown people!"
Most Americans have now regained their balance. But the Republican base, which lapped up the administration’s rhetoric about the axis of evil and the war on terror, remains infected by the fear the Bushies stirred up — perhaps because fear of terrorists maps so easily into the base’s older fears, including fear of dark-skinned people in general.
Essentially Krugman is parroting the words of numerous other moonbats who believe that neocons want to go to war with Iraq/Iran for nefarious reasons and are using the fear of brown people as the pretext. If Mr. Krugman really doesn't know about Islamofascism he can consult this handy synopsis. That is if he's ready to examine the issue instead of establishing his moonbat cred.

h/t Tom McGuire and memeorandum

Laura Bush States the Obvious

From The Hill this morning: Laura Bush accuses Dems of demagoguery on SCHIP. Accuses? It's more like she's pointing out something that's blatantly obvious.
“It’s really easy to blame people for so-called voting against children,” Bush said in an interview on Fox News Sunday.
Yep, that's how they play the game. If you watch that video of Reagan's speech from 1964 that I posted earlier you'll see they've been doing it for a long time. If you don't agree with their solutions to problems, which usually involve empowering bureaucrats, you don't care about the problems. It's old and tiresome.

via memeorandum

Sunday, October 28, 2007

Reagan - A Time for Choosing

Most people have probably seen this speech by Reagan before, but upon watching the video again I'm struck by how familiar the issues are that he talks about. It's a shame that so few approach them this way lately.

Exposing A Toothless Watchdog

This is pretty hilarious. IAEA head honcho Mohamed ElBaradei is pissed because Israel took out that Syrian site suspected of being a secret nuclear facility. Get a load of the pompous, arrogant, windbaggery:
"That, to me, is very distressful because we have a system; if countries have information that the country is working on a nuclear-related program, they should come to us. We have the authority to go out and investigate," he said.
"But to bomb first and then ask questions later, I think it undermines the system and it doesn't lead to any solution to any suspicion, because we are the eyes and ears of the international community."
So let's get this straight. This worthless bureaucrat didn't even know about the site and still says there was no evidence of it existing, even though we've all seen the pictures. Given that, this guy is upset with Israel for not consulting with him before acting. Because, you know, he's the decider. He's got the title and a Nobel Prize, too! Never mind that he nor his organization have ever stopped any other country from getting nuclear weapons, and don't even think about the fact he's apparently a stooge for Iran or any other middle eastern country that wants to obtain them. How anybody can believe the IAEA and the UN in general are anything other than useless, bureaucratic crony pits is beyond me.

More at Little Green Footballs and Israel Matzav.

Thursday, October 25, 2007

Return of S-CHIP - Question the Timing

Here we go again. The House has passed what is being called a scaled back version of the S-CHIP bill. The vote was 265-142, still short of veto proof. How was it scaled back? According to the Washington Post:
The new version will underscore that illegal immigrants will not have access to the expanded program. It will ease adults off the program in one year, rather than the two in the vetoed version. And it establishes a firmer eligibility cap at 300 percent of the federal poverty line, just more than $60,000 for a family of four.
Those are valid concerns, but if you'll recall my post from a few days ago examining the details of the bill, the biggest problems I have with it are that it's to be funded with an increase in tobacco taxes, which is unlikely to pay for more than the outreach and enrollment provisions. I tend to agree with Rep. Joe Barton who compares this attempt with putting lipstick on a pig:
"It may a be a good pig. It may be a nice pig. It might be intended to be the right kind of pig," said Barton, the ranking Republican on the House Energy and Commerce Committee. "But it's still a pig."
Some Republicans are complaining that the fires in California kept many of those who would have voted no from attending the vote. Ed Morrisey at Captain's Quarters has even more timing shenanigans from the Democrats:
So what happened today? The debate on HR 3963 will occur under a "closed rule" -- which means Republicans can't offer amendments. The GOP Whip claims that this is the 40th time that rule has been invoked by the majority. Also, the bill got filed last night at 11:25 pm, almost a midnight run, and the House started debating it at 11:20 this morning, just shy of 12 hours after publicizing the text. Most of the people debating this bill havenh't even read it yet.
Yeah, it does look like they're trying to sneak it in while everybody was distracted by other events. However, Bush has said he'll veto it again because it still has the stupid tobacco tax and outreach provisions. He's offered to bump up spending on the program to $20 million if those are taken out, but apparently those are the most important on the pro side.

The usual suspects are once again starting up with the robo-calls to Republicans and Democrats to get them to override, but something tells me they won't have any more luck than the last time because they're trying to sell it with lies.

I'll be on the lookout to see if those Families USA ads start popping up again. Which reminds me; Michelle Malkin has information on that WellCare raid in Florida that sent the stock for the company tumbling. Guess who was the initial investor?

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Senate, House Democrats Continue to Operate in the Real World - Nutroots Out for Blood

As I posted yesterday, the netroots wing of the Democratic party is becoming increasingly disenchanted with the real world Democrats in the House and Senate. Today there's more of the same with the confirmation in the Senate of Leslie Southwick of Mississippi as U.S. Circuit Judge for the fifth circuit. Prominent members of the reality based community are peeved at the Democrats who voted to confirm. Check out the tirade from someone blogging at a place called DownWithTyranny!:
I felt sick this morning when I saw the Republican minority invoke cloture on the attempt by progressives to deny Bush's latest KKK judicial nominee confirmation. Yesterday I warned that Judas goat Ben Nelson was working with Trent Lott in rounding up the votes to thwart the progressive strategy. Thanks to Diane Feinstein (D-CA), he succeeded.
The win today is being cheered by reactionaries, homophobes, Republican partisans, corporate interests, and racists as a huge victory. After the Republicans passed cloture to shut down debate 62-35, Southwick sailed to victory 59-38. So who were the Democrats who screwed us, Democrats who every progressive should do all they can to defeat?

Well, of course, first and foremost is the horrific and utterly corrupt and contemptible Dianne Feinstein, without whose connivance, Southwick would still be bottled up in committee hearings. And then of course, there's Bush's point man inside the Democratic caucus, Ben Nelson. The full list of Democrats who officially joined the GOP for the day:
The poster then goes on to list the names of the supposed Senate turncoats. The roll call vote is here. Feinstein and Ben Nelson are taking the most heat from the lefties because they equate compromise with capitulation. They actually believe the politicians in the House and Senate are supposed to take marching orders from them. Oh, did I mention Joe Lieberman also voted against the moonbats? How long will it be before he makes another appearance in blackface?

Jeralyn Merritt from Talk Left chimes in with her post Who's in Charge? "Dream Act" Fails, Southwick Wins:
With votes like these, it's difficult to believe the Democrats are the majority party in Congress.
The Dream Act she's referring to is yet another setback today for the left and other illegal immigration amnesty advocates. It was shot down in the Senate today, which is a good thing as far as Fred Thompson is concerned. His article from his campaign website: Democrats' DREAM Act is a Nightmare.

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Stark Apologizes for Tirade - Left Circles Wagons Around Dodd

Facing a censure vote in the House for his moonbat outburst last week, Pete Stark apologized today, saying he hopes he can now be as insignificant as he should be. The highlighted part is important, not so much for how it pertains to Stark, but to his message. He's learned that it doesn't pay to stand up in Congress and spew talking points culled from left-wing bloggers. Perhaps it's their message that should now be considered insignificant.

The reality based community isn't taking this brush with reality very well. They're calling Minority Leader John Boehner a cry baby for introducing the censure resolution, which is ironic considering it was their man Stark who broke down and sobbed for five minutes after his apology. They're also highly upset with the Democrats who didn't toe the line. From Booman Tribune:

Just so you know who the cowards are, here are the losers that voted against Rep. Stark.

Jason Altmire (PA), Chris Carney (PA), Joe Donnelly (IN), Brad Ellsworth (IN), Heath Shuler (NC)
And here are the cretins that voted 'present':
Dan Boren (OK), Lincoln Davis (TN), Baron Hill (IN), Tim Mahoney (FL), Charlie Melancon (LA), Dennis Moore (KS)
And, just so you know, these fools hurt Rep. Stark's feelings.

Cry baby, indeed.

Not to be discouraged by the setback with their Stark gambit, word comes now that pressure from the netroots is going to be put on Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama to stand by Christopher Dodd, their moonbat representative in the Senate. From Greg Sargent:
In a move that will up the pressure on Hillary and Barack Obama to stand firm against the Senate telecom immunity FISA bill, MoveOn and a dozen top progressive blogs will launch an all-out campaign tomorrow to pressure the two Senators into publicly declaring their support for Chris Dodd's threat to place a hold on and filibuster the bill, Election Central has learned.

MoveOn spokesman Adam Green tells me that the group will send out an email to "thousands" of its members tomorrow morning, and thousands more throughout the day, asking them to call the offices of Hillary and Obama and demand that they publicly affirm their support for Dodd.
In another move that points to the significant degree of coordination among the top liberal blogs on the FISA issue, Green says that the following bloggers will also be directing their readers to call Hillary and Obama's offices and press them on this:
DailyKos, Atrios, OpenLeft, Firedoglake, MyDD, Glenn Greenwald, Crooksandliars, AmericaBlog, Digby, Taylor Marsh

Oh, good. At least it will give them something else to do instead of constantly attempting to drum up outrage by taking out of context comments made by Rush Limbaugh and others.

Update: Greg Sargent now reports that a spokesman from the Obama camp has voiced support for filibustering the FISA bill, but with no direct reference to Dodd. Clinton gave a wishy washy answer, but several lefty blogs are reporting she's with Dodd.

Monday, October 22, 2007

Sister Souljah in Slo Mo?

There's trouble brewing in the netroots. As the Democratic Party continues to operate as if they exist in the real world instead of the make-believe reality based community, left-wing hostility toward their hitherto progressive allies is mounting.

John Hawkins from Right Wing News has reaction from Democratic Underground and Daily Kos to how Democrats in the House and Senate are dealing with their Moonbat wing.

Participants at DU are invited to vote in a poll in which 77% of respondents so far have rated Nancy Pelosi a disappointment or a nightmare. The Kossacks are upset with Pelosi and also Harry Reid in the Senate. Pelosi is in trouble for not standing by Pete Stark's comments in the House the other day and Reid for not rallying around Christopher Dodd, who, since he knows he has no chance of getting the Democratic presidential nomination, has decided to parrot of the left-wing online community talking points concerning that FISA bill he's attempting to hold up.

Against that backdrop, it's rather interesting that the New York Times has a page one story titled Clinton Finds Way to Play Along With Drudge. Here are the first few paragraphs:
WASHINGTON, Oct. 21 — As Senator Barack Obama prepared to give a major speech on Iraq one morning a few weeks ago, a flashing red-siren alert went up on the Drudge Report Web site. It read, “Queen of the Quarter: Hillary Crushes Obama in Surprise Fund-Raising Surge,” and, “$27 Million, Sources Tell Drudge Report.”

Within minutes, the Drudge site had injected Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton’s fund-raising success into the day’s political news on the Internet and cable television. It did not halt coverage of Mr. Obama’s speech or his criticism of her vote to authorize the war in 2002, but along the front lines of the campaign — the hourly, intensely fought effort to capture the news cycle or deny ownership of it to the other side — it was a telling assault.

Mrs. Clinton’s aides declined to discuss how the Drudge Report got access to her latest fund-raising figures nearly 20 minutes before the official announcement went to supporters. But it was a prime example of a development that has surprised much of the political world: Mrs. Clinton is learning to play nice with the Drudge Report and the powerful, elusive and conservative-leaning man behind it.

That man, Matt Drudge, came to national prominence a decade ago as a nemesis of the Clintons who used the Web to peddle, gleefully, the latest news and rumor generated by the Monica Lewisnsky scandal.

How interesting. Is Hillary really feeding info to Drudge to help undercut Obama? If that's what's happening then what's the purpose of this investigative piece? Is it to help her create an image as being Drudge friendly in order to appeal to moderates or is it to help Obama, or anybody else who wants to challenge her from the left, by portraying her as a traitor to their cause? At least one lefty blogger accuses her of "sucking up to wingnuts".

Don Surber also analyzes the story but focuses on the portrayal of Drudge in the piece, which is pretty bad, but to be expected from the NYT. But if it is a hit on Drudge then it's also a slam of Hillary by association.

Taken together all this information leads me to believe that what's happening is the inevitable break between serious Democratic politicians and their fund-raising arm, which happens to be far left. The difference between this and the original Sister Souljah moment is that this one is gradually playing out over time instead of being signified by a defining act or statement.

Sunday, October 21, 2007

About "Faux Outrage"

Pete Stark's Moonbat Minstrel Show

I honestly can't say I'm outraged or even shocked by Stark's comments here. He reads from notes enough to convince me he just went around to lefty blogs and collected their talking points. A few times he tries to dramatize them, but not very convincingly, because he keeps having to go back to the list. None of it was original or surprising, to me at least. Perhaps it's of concern that he's using his bully pulpit in Congress to give wider voice to such strange political views, but it cuts both ways. It's not always good to get a message out.

Some interests expressing concern about the consequences of Stark's tirade are, ironically enough, those lefty snarkpits from which he undoubtedly seeks inspiration. Just to refresh your memory, here's the part of his speech that's generated the controversy:
"They sure don't care about finding $200 billion to fight the illegal war in Iraq. Where are you going to get that money? Are you going to tell us lies like you're telling us today? Is that how you're going to fund the war? You don't have money to fund the war or children but you're going to spend it to blow up innocent people if we can get enough kids to grow old enough for you to send to Iraq to get their heads blown off for the President's amusement."
Again, that's just standard, boilerplate Moonbat rhetoric. But here's the catch: It's not shocking to me because I'm someone who regularly reads political/activist blogs and politics in general. People outside this demographic will react differently upon hearing him.

One left-wing site, Crooks and Liars (in liar mode?), commented on the controversy by putting up a post called Right Wing goes bonkers over Rep. Pete Stark’s comments: Take the C&L Poll. Here's how Stark is quoted:

“I’m just amazed that the Republicans are worried that we can’t pay for insuring an additional 10 million children. They sure don’t care about finding $200 billion to fight the illegal War in Iraq."

”President Bush’s statements about children’s health shouldn’t be taken any more seriously than his lies about the War in Iraq. The truth is that that Bush just likes to blow things up – in Iraq, in the United States, and in Congress.

Hmmm...which part is left out? What John Amato (C&L) quoted was indeed said by Stark in the video above, but it's not the part at issue. Amato apparently agrees with me that he really crossed a line. Why else would he pretend it wasn't said? Here's Amato's take on the matter:
After Rep. Pete Stark made his harsh statements against the Republicans and Bush over the SCHIP veto, the right wingers are trying to change the subject again by feigning outrage against him.
After giving a few examples of how Republicans are supposedly feigning outrage, he puts up the poll. At some later time, it's not clear when, the transcript for the entire speech was added to the bottom of the post. Apparently a software glitch caused the delay, but there's still nothing noting just which statements made by Stark are controversial.

Around the same time as that posting, another popular left-wing blogger, digby from Hullabaloo, put up some commentary as well. Battered Spouses repeats the talking point used in the Amato piece, that Republicans are feigning outrage, but doesn't take the further step of trying to hide what he actually said. Instead it's presented as if the writer just can't understand why anybody would be offended by it:

Are these macho tough guys really offended that some congressman made these comments in a debate? Are their feelings hurt on behalf of the president? Does CNN really believe that's what's going on? Does anyone think that what Pete Stark said on the floor yesterday truly upset the Republicans?
As I said before, what political operatives and others accustomed to such heated rhetoric think isn't the issue. His comments weren't posted on a blog likely to be seen only by those familiar with memeorandum. People not familiar with Moonbat sites don't know what actually goes on in them, and they'd probably be appalled if they were ever to find out. To their ears, what Stark said sounds very different from how it's perceived by digby.

Since we're on the subject of faux outrage, let's take a look at what these two blogs had to say about last week's smear campaign in the run up to the vote to override Bush's veto of the SCHIP bill.

C&L: "
The wingnuts have been in full force attack against the family of Graeme Frost, the twelve year old boy that gave the Democratic radio address a couple of weeks ago. In their typical ignorance of the facts, Malkin and the rest on the right side of the blogosphere are trying to paint this family as phonies. Think Progress has noted the important facts the attack monsters are forgetting."

"This is sick. The right is going after the 12 year old who gave the Saturday Democratic address supporting the SCHIP program. Remember him?
Think Progress reports that the pathological rightwing freakshow has accused this family of being "rich" because Graham earns a scholarship to go to private school, and his sister goes to a special school paid for by the state because she was handicapped by the accident. Oh, and they have a house they bought years ago for 55,000 when the neighborhood was dicey. Apparently, they should be living in their car and the handicapped daughter should be selling pencils on the street corner. That's the world these empty souls want to live in.
I believe they'll find that attempting to dismiss controversy over legitimately outrageous statements, going so far as pretending they weren't said, is even more difficult than their previous gambit trying to gin up faux outrage of their own.

More discussion from Gateway Pundit and Darleen Click.

Saturday, October 20, 2007

Poll Fisking - Academics, Journalists, and S-CHIP lies.

Okay, more on Tumulty, S-CHIP, and smear campaigns. The only reason I'm focusing on Tumulty is because she's apparently operating as a public relations envoy for the socialized medicine crowd. Perhaps this doesn't make her unique, but she caught my attention with her story in Time and her parroting of Think Progress talking points.
On October 17, Ms Tumulty put up a post on her blog titled: SCHIP: The latest polling numbers:
On the eve of the House vote on overriding the President's veto, this new survey, conducted by National Public Radio, the Kaiser Family Foundation, and the Harvard School of Public Health lays out a pretty stark political equation in favor of expanding the program. From the summary:
She then quotes the first few paragraphs of the summary of the poll (pdf), though her link doesn't go to what she cut and pasted. Maybe she's doing things the Think Progress way now and assuming nobody will ever click the links anyway. I don't need to quote as much as she did from the summary, but there's one sentence that's particularly important:
This asking was followed by a version of the question that provided proponents’ and opponents’ strongest arguments. Even when presented with these pros and cons, support stays at 65 percent.
That naturally made me curious to find out what pros and cons are presented in the poll (pdf). But the first thing I noticed was the third question. Check it out:
3. Over the past couple of weeks, Congress and the President have been debating the renewal of the State Children’s Health Insurance Program, also known as SCHIP (esschip). Would you say you have heard a lot, some, not too much or nothing at all about this issue?

20 A lot
28 Some
21 Not too much
31 Nothing at all
* Don’t know
-- Refused
52% have heard nothing or some degree of not too much. 28% know some degree of some, and 20% say they know a lot about it, probably consisting of activists, better informed people in general, and perhaps a few who will say they know a lot about it because they want to appear better informed. Apparently this group in general just doesn't know much about the issue. That fact is essential to the outcome of the next important poll question, which is relevant to the summary quote:
5. (Supporters say the expansion would prevent children who are already covered from losing their coverage and provide health insurance for millions of low-income children who are currently uninsured. They also say the program has been shown to be effective over the past ten years). (Opponents say the expansion would encourage some families who have private health insurance to drop it in favor of government funded coverage. They also say the expansion will wind up covering some children in middle-class families). After hearing these arguments, would you say you support or oppose the increased funding for this program? (em)

65 Support
28 Oppose
6 Don’t know
* Refused
One of the strongest arguments for the pro side is the Families USA lie. Keep in mind many of those polled don't know enough about to issue to see it as a lie. They're likely to take it as face value. And look at the opposing view presented. The first part is a dishonest re-framing of the argument. The critics say this will discourage people from obtaining private insurance if they don't have it already. The second part, with middle class, is very misleading. There are other suspicious questions in the poll, and be sure to read them, but as far as I'm concerned these two taken together reveal it as a push poll by interest groups. Any cursory examination of it makes that clear. However, Karen Tumulty posted it simply as the latest polling results.

About those interest groups: Here's what NPR, one the sponsors of the poll, said about it:
Support for reauthorizing and expanding SCHIP didn't fade much even after people heard the strongest arguments for and against adding 4 million children at a cost of $35 billion. Support for the plan stayed at 65 percent overall.
The press release from Keiser Network quoted NPR as saying researchers were were struck by "how strong support for the bill remained even after people were given the arguments against it." That suggests the "issue is not likely to go away anytime soon".

Of course they're gonna play that one up because it's the one based on the big lie. If you click through the links you'll see these interest groups form a network of research institutes acting in concert with the Families USA campaign. Looking at more of their research makes it clear they're all pushing for
universal coverage of one sort or another.

Now look at what NPR had on their Friday Morning Edition show:
Morning Edition, October 19, 2007 · Lawmakers are already starting to hammer out another version of the State Children's Health Insurance Program after a failed vote to turn back President Bush's veto. The current program expires Nov. 16. A recent poll by NPR, Kaiser and Harvard suggests that Americans will support a significant expansion.
They intend to use the bogus poll as the voice of the people and leverage to try again to get something like the last monstrosity they tried to ram through. The other players in this; Families USA, Kaiser, Commonwealth Fund, and CPBP are all on the same message.

As For Karen Tumulty, she posted a little summary of the S-CHIP battle, the failure to override the veto, and where it goes from here. Here's the gist:
The operative definition that congressional Republicans are looking for would fall into the "face-saving" category. They've lost this one politically; they know it; they just want it over. I would look for them to beg President Bush to seize on any modification to declare victory and retreat.
She's just doing her public relations job.

Friday, October 19, 2007

Rush Limbaugh on S-CHIP and Moonbats

Limbaugh let's it all hang out here. I can't say I disagree with anything he says.

Thursday, October 18, 2007

273 Votes for Socialism

That's a relief. Earlier I was wondering what I'd write about if the expansionists had prevailed. But looking at the vote count is still a bit depressing, because there were still 273 Congresspeople who think this S-CHIP bill is just fine as it is. Here's some text in the bill that should make everybody stop and think.

Let's start with what proponents of this bill hope to achieve:


    It is the purpose of this Act to provide dependable and stable funding for children's health insurance under titles XXI and XIX of the Social Security Act in order to enroll all six million uninsured children who are eligible, but not enrolled, for coverage today through such titles.
Let that soak in and consider the implications and assumptions. That six million uninsured children figure apparently comes from the Congressional Budget Office:
In response to your letter of July 10, the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) has examined available estimates of the number of children who lack health insurance but are eligible for Medicaid or the State Children's Health Insurance program (SCHIP). Some empirical studies have found that there are between 5 million and 6 million such children. In contrast to those studies, the Administration recently estimated that a much smaller number, 1.1 million children, lack health insurance but are eligible for Medicaid or SCHIP.
So they're going with the higher number, naturally. But let's go back to the stated goal of this legislation; to make sure every uninsured child that's eligible for this is covered. The assumption is that if a child is uninsured the best remedy is to get them enrolled in what is essentially public insurance. Notice the emotional argument designed to overwhelm common sense.
  1. Six million children are uninsured.
  2. We all agree that's not a good situation.
  3. Various causes of the problem have been cited, mostly relating to the high cost of health insurance and health care in general, too much bureaucracy, corruption in the system, over/under regulation, not enough personal responsibility, and on and on. So while there's agreement on there being a problem, there are several different competing ideas on solutions.
  4. This bill, if it or any other legislation ever makes it into law with this formulation, decrees that the only solution to the problem is the get all the uninsured kids (and their families) covered by the state.
  5. If you disagree with any of this you hate sick kids, smear them, and hope they die.
And you thought all that talk about it being a step toward socialized medicine was simply bluster and posturing. On top of that it insults intelligence by claiming covering every single currently uninsured child can be paid for by this:
Title VII: Revenue Provisions - (Sec. 701) Amends the Internal Revenue Code to increase the excise tax on: (1) cigars; (2) cigarettes; (3) cigarette papers; (4) cigarette tubes; (5) smokeless tobacco; (6) pipeless tobacco; (7) pipe tobacco; and (8) roll-your-own tobacco. Allows a credit of $500 against such increased excise taxes. Makes such tax increases on tobacco products effective January 1, 2008, and payable on or before April 1, 2008. (em)
here are so many problems with this it's hard to know where to start. I don't know how anyone can square the contrast in principles if they believe smoking is an unhealthy activity which should be discouraged, while at the same time believing it makes moral or reasonable sense to fund other government activities with the proceeds from that activity. What's more, this revenue is to be extracted by demanding more money from those who are not only disproportionately poor, but also addicted to nicotine. There exist poor people, even with families, who will put back groceries if that's what it takes to get their smokes. It's also practically wrong-headed. If more people stop smoking because it costs more, which is the first stated goal of anyone who wants to raise the tax, then the tax base will shrink.

Where will all the money come from to complete the stated goal of blessing every uninsured child in America with socialist medicine? Will the tobacco tax continue to be raised until, according to the logic, there's a lone smoker required to pay for the entire bureaucracy? I get the impression those arguing in favor of this know damn well it's crazy, but they just want to get legislation passed now. They're confident they'll be able to add other sources (taxes) for funding this by simply saying; "Oops, the tobacco tax didn't work, but we can't allow everybody being helped now to be kicked off ! We need to raise taxes on the wealthy, and if you disagree you're a cold, heartless bastard"!

If you believe the language in the bill about the phase-outs of certain aspects of the program, as promised in the bill, your mind should be changed by this part of it:

`(a) Outreach and Enrollment Grants; National Campaign-

    `(1) IN GENERAL- From the amounts appropriated under subsection (g), subject to paragraph (2), the Secretary shall award grants to eligible entities during the period of fiscal years 2008 through 2012 to conduct outreach and enrollment efforts that are designed to increase the enrollment and participation of eligible children under this title and title XIX.

    `(2) TEN PERCENT SET ASIDE FOR NATIONAL ENROLLMENT CAMPAIGN- An amount equal to 10 percent of such amounts shall be used by the Secretary for expenditures during such period to carry out a national enrollment campaign in accordance with subsection (h).

Part of the smoking tax revenue will be used to expand the reach of program. Ten percent is supposed to go into an enrollment campaign. I have no problem with making people aware the service is available, but that's not what this is. This goes beyond informing people of a safety net that could help them. In this case outreach means getting as many people as possible dependent on socialist medicine. By the way, one of the most important activist groups in this, appropriately called the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, has some ideas for outreach: (pdf)
Support efforts to cover families — While enthusiastic outreach efforts aimed at enrolling children are critical, a growing body of evidence shows that providing family-based coverage appears to make a substantial difference. States have aggressively expanded eligibility for low-income children, but working parents are still likely to lack coverage. In most states parents qualify for Medicaid only if they have income far below the federal poverty line. In the typical state, a parent in a family of three loses Medicaid eligibility when her income surpasses 67 percent of the federal poverty line. A parent working full time at $7.00 per hour earns too much to qualify for Medicaid in 37 states. New research finds that family-based Medicaid expansions that cover parents result in a significant increase in Medicaid participation among children who already are eligible. (em)
So there you have it. If they get their way, part of that outreach to get all uninsured kids will be to pay off their parents with socialized medicine. Well, they have research that says if you give parents socialized medicine, it's easier to get their kids enrolled. After all, this is about helping sick kids. If you don't agree with it you're just a big old meanie.

Here's a new link to the bill 273 Congresspeople voted for today.

Side Notes:
Later I'll fisk a bogus poll that's been put out by the activist groups pushing for this.
I know I said I'd talk more about the smearing of Michelle Malkin going on in the media recently, but now I think I'll include her in a post about the smear campaign in general and the various people it's aimed at.

Swift-Boating Tumulty

UPDATED 10/19 at bottom

I'm here to tell you I'm shocked...shocked and appalled, even, that the left-wing blogger at Horse's Mouth is pleased with Ms. Tumulty's coverage, and is confident enough that she share's his point of view, to openly encourage her to follow the story on the "smear the sick kid" crowd (as if she hasn't done enough to parrot their campaign line from the start).

Not surprising, though, considering she also quotes another left-wing blog, Think Progress, and cites it as if it's a credible source. How ironic. An essential component of their health care strategy is to accuse anybody who questions their poster family campaign, designed to deceive people into supporting their agenda, of mearing/sliming/swift-boating the families, especially the children. This plan is hinged on a particular incident involving Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell's communications director, Don Stewart, and a blogger for Free Republic named icwhatudo. That's a rather creepy name, and unfortunate because it plays right into the paranoia and Brown Shirt fantasies already plaguing much of the reality based community. Nonetheless, Tumulty and her cohorts know they can't refute most most of the information in his post. All they have is that he was wrong about the schools, which he admits, and which was echoed in the e-mail sent out by Stewart. According to Tumulty and her cohorts, Stewart and icwhatudo are guilty of spreading bogus smears of Graeme Frost. First let's examine how Mr. Stewart himself explains what happened.

Here's Stewart in the news story in The Courier-Journal in Louisville:
A week ago yesterday, Stewart said, he sent an e-mail to reporters covering the insurance issue, alerting them that "bloggers have done a little digging and turned up that the Dad owns his own business (and the building it's in), seems to have some commercial rental income and Graeme and a sister go to a private school that, according to its Web site, costs about $20k a year -- for each kid -- despite the news profiles reporting a family income of only $45k for the Frosts.

"Could the Dems really have done that bad of a job vetting this family?" Stewart asked in the e-mail.

He explained yesterday that such e-mails are "part of regular conversation with reporters."

"I pointed out something that had been in the blogs for a couple of days and had been of increasing interest, but I also raised skepticism as to the content," Stewart said.

Hours later, he said, he sent two follow-up e-mails waving reporters off.

A plain reading of that will lead an honest person to conclude Stewart received information pertaining to the story, that he was skeptical of, and relayed it to reporters. Shortly thereafter he discovered the information was no good and sent another email saying as much to reporters. So, what's wrong with what he did? Is it suspect because his sources were bloggers? Okay, if you believe his information was unreliable because it came from blogs, that's an arguable point, though not everybody will agree with it in all instances. Where's the smear of Graeme Frost ?

Karen Tumulty, Time Magazine's National Political Correspondent since 2001, had this to say about the actions taken by Mr. Stewart:

"In this case, with few exceptions, most journalists saw the smear for precisely what it was--and wrote it that way." (emphasis mine
Wow. She's certainly gives the impression she's accepted it as a given with her casual use of the word. Is it a smear because it the subject matter consists of financial and asset information for the Frost family? Hey, you Democrats pushing this are to blame for that. The profile of the Frost family published in Baltimore Sun lists their income at $45,000/year. It also includes this interesting bit:
"I am incredibly thankful," said Frost, who works full time for a medical publishing firm. Her husband, Halsey, is a full-time woodworker.

From the profile we get the kind of work they do, their income, and the picture of them in their kitchen. Noticeably absent from the profile is any mention of Graeme Frost or his Democratic Radio Address. Keep all this in mind for later reference.

Shortly after the Sun article began circulating around the blogosphere people started commenting on it. Someone at Free Republic (one of those right-wing blogs) looked at the picture of the family in their kitchen and speculated that the counter-tops look like granite, which The Associated Press dutifully reported on October 10th, adding that the family had responded that they're concrete. That tidbit is presented in the AP article as the only question conservative bloggers had raised. That alone could be laughed off, and if your only source was AP you'd have probably thought that's all there was to the story.

What AP left out was
a lot of other information icwhatudo included in the Free Republic blog post two days earlier. Some of that information is what Don Stewart relayed to reporters the next day. As you'll recall, part of his correspondence with reporters included his questioning whether the family had been properly vetted by their handlers. Presumably, he provided reporters with the link to his source article from which he got the information.

On October 8, the same day Stewart says he sent the emails to reporters, Think Progress posted a story titled Rightwing Launches Baseless Smear Campaign Against 12 Year Old Recipient of SCHIP. If the title isn't a hint that perhaps the objectivity and accuracy of the post should be questioned, then the URL will make it abundantly clear:

Attacking Graeme Frost. Upon reading the post it becomes clear that it's a blatant misrepresentation of what was posted at Free Republic. A link to the post is provided, but the authors of these types of posts, especially at a place like Think Progress, can be reasonably certain very few people who frequent the blog will click the link to read it themselves. They'll take the what's written in the smear story at face value because in that the inhabitant prefer not to visit right-wing sites. They don't want to give them traffic and they fear catching cooties.

The same day the Think Progress piece was posted, ABC News blog Political Radar posted a story titled: Dems' Poster Child Faces a Firestorm. Quite a contrast from the TP article. First of all it uses the poster child formulation which reveals that the writer, at least, believes the whole melodrama was a staged political stunt. The post has the same link to the Free Republic used by Think Progress. However, it quotes directly from the posting, without the twisting and distorting employed by TP. In effect this exposed the real Smear Story for what it is. To compound the offense, the word smear isn't even used in the story! It was all too much for Karen Tumulty. She went right to her blog at Time's Swampland and put up a very short post titled: Graeme Frost: Swift-boating a Seventh Grader. A new S word as Smear became Swift-boat. Perhaps she recalled memories of the Kerry campaign. The post contains two sentences. The first is:
This, apparently, is what passes for a policy debate these days.
The link takes you to ABC Political Radar story. The second sentence is:
UPDATE: Think Progress gives us the electronic paper trail.
You can probably guess which post that link goes to. Yet she posted it casually, without comment or qualification, as if it's somehow a legitimate and undisputed paper trail. She apparently felt reassured enough to pen, the next day, an article for Time Magazine online titled: : The Swift-Boating of Graeme Frost , in which she repeats many of the talking points in the Think Progress post, apparently without bothering to check out the claims.

At this point the conversion was complete. A journalist at a prominent, mainstream media outfit, one which trumpets it's supposed neutrality and objectively, had become a portal and advocate for the world-view of the most dishonest and stidently partisan elements of the left, those who consider the truth optional in political endeavors and smearing political opponents is standard. In essence, a mindset exactly like the one she believes wingnuts possess. As I said earlier, ironic as hell.

Here's a chilling quote from Tumulty in regard to Dan Stewart and his alleged smearing that, perhaps inadvertently, admits the real objective of all this :
I suspect that the next time something like this happens, Stewart won't be so quick to hit the Send button.

Side Notes:

I know, I haven't commented on Michelle Malkin's role in all this yet, mainly because when Tumulty published her Swift-Boating screed Malkin's activities weren't yet known to her, or if they were she didn't mention them in her piece. I'll elaborate on Michelle's saga in my next post. As a teaser here's another quote from the Louisville Courier Journal story:
"Forgive me if I already told you this, but a blogger that I trust (and who hadn't written anything on this issue yet) tells me that after spending a lot of time on this, they now believe there's no story there, that the family is legit," Stewart wrote in one e-mail, according to the text he provided to The Courier-Journal.
Has it been determined yet who that mystery blogger was?

Links featured in my next post:
Center on Budget and Policy Priorities
Coverage & Access | New NPR/Kaiser/Harvard School of Public Health Poll Examines Views of SCHIP
H.R. 976 - the Bill Bush vetoed
NPR/KFF/HSPH Survey: Public Views on SCHIP Reauthorization: Topline (Poll) PDF
Keiser Family Foundation

Update: I need to comment more on why I put this cartoon up. Here's another remarkable quote from the Political Radar post linked above:
After House Speaker Nancy Pelosi's office became aware of the Frosts through a healthcare interest group, FamiliesUSA, Democratic leaders turned to Graeme to deliver the party's weekly radio address Sept. 29.
So we have a direct connection between the Frosts and Families USA, a Soros funded outfit that promotes the spread of leftism and socialism. Their name is a ruse to sucker people unfamiliar with the issues over to their agenda.

About Families USA - Their ads were playing all over the lefty blogosphere. I noticed them in the run up to the vote yesterday, often at places that were first to go with the smear/swift-boat/slime/stalk distraction. I happened to be looking at memeorandum at the time. It was amazing how many posts popped up around the same time with variations on the same theme and very words. Wow. It's enough to make someone prone to such thinking believe it was a coordinated campaign.

Anyway, I love the picture because it contains, in one picture, three of the big lies involved in the campaign.

The little kid with the sign? That lie is from Families USA.

Limbaugh, Malkin, and the rest of the wingnuts? They're reminding us of John Kerry and his unfortunate (for him) encounter with the Swift-Boat Veterans for Truth. That comes right from Karen Tumulty. She has an interesting history with Swift-boating and John Kerry. Here she is interviewing him September 12, 2004. You'll notice the only time she mentions the Swift-boat campaign is while asking Kerry what he thinks of them. Of course he gave the stock answer; the the attacks are just awful and George Bush should call them off. Nowhere does she ask about the specific charges they make. I guess at that point she had already decided his critics were simply a smear group and therefore everything they say can be ignored.

The couple talking about smear campaigns represents lefties who have the words smear or slime or variants thereof in the titles of their articles. Paul Krugman, Think Progress, Huffington Post, and countless others apparently had the same original inspiration at the same time.

I'll update again as soon as I have the stuff ready for the Kaiser connection and more.

Sunday, October 14, 2007

Let's Try This Again - deleted posts

I know it's been a long time (over a year) since I've posted. I'm toying with the idea of starting back up, but I first wanted to clean up some of my previous posts. I deleted one that upon further thought appeared to be simply an extension of the introduction post and two that were videos from youtube. If you want to see them they're still in Google cache if you happen to like ABBA and Blondie.