Friday, August 07, 2009

MediaMatters.Org WEEKLY update of the weird righty WACKOS!

Media Matters: A long, hot summer of hate

It was an ugly week, and a telling one.

"Global warming is no different than health care, is no different than cap and trade," Rush Limbaugh explained on Monday. "It is simply another branch of liberalism, statism, that is designed to expand government control over individuals and their liberty and their freedom and their income."

"And if this plays out right ... you can do some great damage, culturally, to liberalism," he concluded.

The next five days showed how seriously the right wing is taking those words and how far it is willing to go to confuse and manipulate the public, and to capitalize on the ensuing fear and rage. The goals: the complete delegitimization of Obama and the wholesale destruction of the progressive movement he leads.

Glenn Beck is anti-violence, pro-poison

On Monday, Glenn Beck made clear that he does not support violence in the name of political causes. Sure, he's advocating civil disobedience if need be. Maybe 70 million people voted for Barack Obama less than a year ago, but who cares? "It is time to go to Washington!" he preached on Wednesday. "It is time to stand or sit in the middle of the street if you have to!" But remember: no violence.

Then on Thursday, he poisoned the speaker of the House. Not literally, of course -- just in effigy. On live television. What's the problem? Can't you liberals take a joke?

It was a perfect example of the game conservatives in the media are playing: pouring gasoline on the fire, and then, once they are criticized, saying that they were only kidding. But what does Beck expect his viewers to take away from his broadcasts? After a week of increasingly violent protests at town halls around the country, including one such event at which protesters reportedly mentioned Beck by name when explaining what inspired them, he cannot seriously contend that his rhetoric isn't having an impact, isn't stirring up the rage and confusion that is defining opposition to Democratic reforms. How many times can Beck portray Obama as a traitor who is destroying our national sovereignty, or compare the president's health care proposals to those of the Nazis, before the anger spills over? He calls for calm, and then describes the Obama-led "brownshirts" who are silencing dissent and the "enemies list" the White House is compiling of those who dare to voice their opinions. Meanwhile, it is the Democrats, we are told, who are the irresponsible ones. It is Democrats who are using the language of "pure hate," as Frank Luntz told Beck, to describe the brave patriots who are shouting down members of Congress in defense of liberty. Why are they doing it? Beck's answer? They want to create "more problems" so "they can use the iron fist and crush people." In the meantime, Beck urged his supporters to continue pressuring their members of Congress, even if they have to "hold a meeting ... in front of their house."

There was a hint of accountability this week after several of Beck's advertisers canceled their contracts with his show in the wake of his accusation that Obama hates white people. But the provocation continued. "When will someone stand up and say, "Traitor'?" Beck ranted on August 5. "When will someone stand up and say, 'Thieves'? ... The American way of life is being systematically dismantled and destroyed! The republic is in danger!"

Beck is right. If he gets his way, it is in danger. Reason will have been replaced by rage.

With Obama in office, Lou Dobbs claims to be an independent no more

Lou Dobbs took aim at everyone this week -- and CNN still has his back.

In spite of fresh criticism from sources as diverse as the NAACP and Don Imus, CNN alone among the major cable channels decided that it would refuse to run the ad Media Matters put out calling for the network to address Dobbs' promotion of the "birther" conspiracy theory. Predictably, Dobbs tried to make the entire issue about Media Matters itself, saying the ad "really reveals a lot about" who we are. He continued the theme throughout the week, portraying Media Matters as one of the White House's "attack dogs" and asking Obama to call us off, something Ann Coulter agreed with when she was a guest on his radio show.

It was actually a banner week for Lou. In fact, he officially abandoned his stance as "Mr. Independent," using his radio show to inform Obama (a regular listener, to be sure) that he was "moving from being an independent, sir, to being absolutely opposed to ... any policy you can conceive of!" Dobbs celebrated his newfound opposition by spreading misinformation on health care reform (it's socialism, by the way, because Obama's a socialist), hosting a Michelle Malkin lovefest, defending Limbaugh, raising the specter of incipient fascism, and repeatedly attacking Keith Olbermann, whom he described as a "cretin" and a "psycho" who was "psychologically scarred" from beatings by "girls" that he supposedly suffered as a child. No wonder, then, that Olbermann works at MSNBC, the network Dobbs called a "coven of thugs."

And not to be left behind by his fellow right-wing media celebrities, Dobbs offered support to a caller who threatened to "brawl" with health care reform advocates at a town hall, encouraging others like him to make their "voice heard."

But whatever you do, don't say "birther" on his show.

Rush Limbaugh hates Nazis, which is why he hates Nancy Pelosi

It's hard to imagine, but in certain ways, Rush was actually the most reasonable of the conservative heavy hitters this week ... except for his repeated comparisons of the Democratic leadership to the Nazi high command. Whoops -- never mind.

With the precision the right-wing echo chamber provides on a daily basis, Rush reiterated his heartfelt belief that if Democrats have their way, senior citizens -- the very same group that benefits exclusively from that evil government-run program known as Medicare -- will spend their last days on a "Statist Farm," where they will be unable to see a doctor and suffer at the hands of heartless bureaucrats whose job it will be to "make sure certain people die." On the other hand, if you were a loyal Obama supporter, you know, like an HIV patient, you might get special treatment. Limbaugh also mocked the voice of Kathleen Sebelius (he sure hates it when women talk) and described her work promoting reform as a "campaign of pure fraud and deceit." And he had a warning for some of the crooks in D.C.: "You Blue Dogs are about to see your last days if you vote for this bill." At least he's giving them one more chance to get it right.

Predictably, Limbaugh decried the idea that anti-reform town hall protests were anything other than the work of self-informed citizens. "It's not ginned up, it's genuine. It's real," he explained. Sure, there isn't a single shard of evidence that any well-funded conservative organization has spent a single second spreading lies and advocating aggressive tactics in the hope of furthering the disruptions.

"There is no manufactured anger," Limbaugh said the next day. "The anger is legitimate and real and it is boiling over."

There's that idea again: The anger is boiling over.

In order to truly manipulate people, you need to convince them that they are fighting pure evil. And on Thursday, Rush finally got down to business.

"[T]he Obama health care logo is damn close to a Nazi swastika logo," he said on air. He went on to explain "the similarities between the Democrat Party of today and the Nazi Party in Germany." Key among them: "Adolf Hitler, like Barack Obama, also ruled by dictate." On Friday, he did it again, but blamed Nancy Pelosi for "starting it" because she had pointed out that one conservative protester had made a sign featuring a swastika. There was plenty of photographic evidence to back her up, but Limbaugh still called her "deranged."

Sounding the same call as Beck and Dobbs, Limbaugh explained that Obama's "brownshirts" were coming, sure to make use of the "snitch website" he had set up. He warned of "union thugs" who had "roughed up" a protester -- "Mussolini-type stuff." He accused a St. Louis SEIU local of violence, and then gave out the office's address.

He even latched onto a recent fad in conservative circles: comparing Obama to the Joker, the sociopathic anarchist from the most recent Batman movie. "His goal was to undermine the whole system," Limbaugh said of the character, while actually explaining himself.

He wasn't kidding. The conservative playbook has been laid bare, and it is ugly. In the face of this summer of hate, progressives must persevere. And in so doing, they must be driven not by anger at the thought of who they are fighting against, but by devotion to who they are fighting for: everyone the conservative movement is so content to leave behind.

Bill Maher: New Rule: Smart President ≠ Smart Country?

Bill Maher: New Rule:

Just because a country elects a smart president doesn't make it a smart country.

And before I go about demonstrating how, let me just say that ignorance has life and death consequences.
Take the health care debate we're presently having:

members of Congress have recessed now so they can go home and "listen to their constituents." An urge they should resist because their constituents don't know anything.
At a recent town-hall meeting in South Carolina, a man stood up and told his Congressman to "keep your government hands off my Medicare," which is kind of like which is kind of like driving cross country to protest highways

RUSH on MEDS? Nobody can take him serious!

RUSH LIMBAUGH, RADIO TALK SHOW HOST: No, it's right out of Adolf Hitler's playbook! Now, what are the similarities between the Democrat party of today and the Nazi Party in Germany? Well, the Nazis were against big business. They hated big business. And of course, we all know that they were opposed to Jewish capitalism. They were insanely, irrationally against pollution. They were for two years' mandatory voluntary service to Germany. They had a whole bunch of makework projects to keep people working, one of which was the autobahn. They were against cruelty and vivisection of animals, but in the radical sense of devaluing human life. They banned smoking. They were totally against that. They were for abortion and euthanasia of the undesirables, as we all know, and they were for cradle-to-grave nationalized health care!

"Hitler said he didn't even meat with his cabinet. He represented the will of the people. He was called the messiah. He said the people spoke through him. Do you know that the very first law that Hitler ordained was? Very first law was a law declaring how to cook lobsters. They were to be boiled. That was deemed to be the least painful. The law was sent all around to all the restaurants."

The Obama health care logo is damn close to a Nazi swastika logo. There are far more similarity between Nancy Pelosi and Adolf Hitler than between these people showing up at town halls to protest a Hitler-like policy that's being heralded by a Hitler-like logo. Oh, another similarity. Obama is asking citizens to wrap each other out, like Hitler did.

Gas Hogs

NYTimes:Culling the Gas Hogs

The “cash for clunkers” program seems to be doing its job: people flocked to dealerships to use the rebates and trade in their old vehicles for new, more efficient ones. Dealers estimate they sold nearly a quarter million cars under the plan, almost exhausting the program’s $1 billion budget in about 10 days. The new cars achieved 10 miles per gallon more, on average, than the trade-ins.

This was an encouraging sign that incentives can persuade drivers to ditch gas hogs for smaller and more fuel-efficient cars. Congress was right to add $2 billion to extend the program until Labor Day. But the success of the program cannot obscure the fact that many Americans remain wedded to the guzzlers and that their enthusiasm for smaller, more efficient vehicles is likely to diminish once the clunkers money runs out.

Sales of pickup trucks and S.U.V.’s, which tumbled as gasoline reached $4 a gallon last year, started recovering market share as soon as gas prices receded. In June, before the clunkers program was switched on, about 25 percent fewer pickup trucks were sold than a year earlier. But June sales of compact cars were down by 42 percent. The Ford F-Series pickup, which was briefly bumped last year from its long-standing position as the nation’s top-selling brand, regained its perch.

The fuel-efficiency goals announced by the president in May could be a big step forward: a fleetwide average of 35.5 miles per gallon by 2016, a significant increase from today’s fleetwide average of about 28 m.p.g. These standards will theoretically be reinforced by new limits on tailpipe emissions of carbon dioxide, a greenhouse gas.

But some experts worry that loopholes could yet undermine Mr. Obama’s goals. This has happened before. The original fuel economy standards enacted in the mid-1970s were later weakened by the so-called S.U.V. loophole, allowing carmakers to redefine S.U.V.’s and minivans as light trucks, which face much lower fuel-efficiency standards than ordinary cars. Consumers, enjoying cheap gasoline, flocked to the big vehicles, which soon dominated the market.

Under the Obama plan, cars and light trucks would, as before, be governed by separate standards. But this time the manufacturers should be required to meet an overall target for their entire fleet.

Policy makers could do even more to push consumers in the right direction by giving them a clear financial incentive to buy fuel-efficient vehicles. And that, in turn, could mean a gas tax — the most effective way we can think of to keep fuel prices high enough to make people think twice before buying a guzzler. One study of car sales from 1999 to 2007 concluded that a $1 increase in the price of gas cut the market share of S.U.V.’s by more than 11 percent and raised the market share of compacts by about 17 percent.

Any gas tax scheme should include some mechanism like tax credits to protect low-income consumers. But coupled with the new fuel economy standards, such a tax could take this country a long way toward reducing carbon emissions.

Drivers embrace fuel economy when gas hits $4 a gallon. Some device is needed to encourage them when it drops below that.

Is Bush still relevant?

Politico Andie Coller

President Barack Obama may “own” the economy now — but he’s not ready to let anyone forget who left it to him.

Supporters and defenders of George W. Bush have been waiting for the shot clock to run out on Bush’s critics since before the 43rd president left office; a headline on a Washington Times opinion piece in December trumpeted, somewhat over-optimistically, “Only 26 days left for Bush bashing.” But with six months in the Oval Office behind him and Congress off for its milestone summer recess, Obama shows no sign of letting the prior administration or its advocates off the hook.

At a recent town hall in Raleigh, N.C., Obama ripped his detractors thusly: “You hand me a $1.3 trillion bill, and then you’re complaining six months later because we haven’t paid it all back.” And last weekend, Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner and economic adviser Larry Summers flooded the TV talk shows with reminders that they had “inherited” a $1.3 trillion deficit and an economy “in free fall.”

“The battle for the history is always an essential part of winning the future,” says Republican strategist John Feehery. “From that perspective, I think that is what Obama is trying to do.”

To those who contend that the administration’s regular references to the provenance of its woes is nothing more than a blame game, Democratic strategist Phil Singer replies that the president would have to engage in advanced yoga not to refer to the policies of his home’s prior resident.

“Obama has to talk about it, because it helps explain the agenda that he’s advancing every day,” Singer says. “The legacy of the Bush administration is driving the agenda of the Obama administration.”

If that’s the case, then the task for Team Obama is to walk the line between explaining and complaining, says former Democratic National Committee Communications Director Karen Finney. She agrees that the administration has to put its efforts in perspective, but she notes that it also must be cautious, particularly while people are still suffering from the effects of the economic crisis and unlikely to have much sympathy for anything perceived as whining from the top.

“I think it is very fair to make that point, but I think you have to do a way that acknowledges people’s pain and frustration,” she says. “It is a delicate balance, and I think that’s why it has to be done in a very pragmatic way and not in a way that sounds like an excuse.”

And indeed, lately most administration references to the previous management have been carefully calibrated to convey the message that Obama is taking responsibility for the economy without being responsible for it. Officials don’t speak of “having” problems but of having “inherited” them — and always in the context of what they are doing to try to solve them. And although he alludes to Bush and his impact often, the president has mentioned his predecessor by name only a handful of times in his prepared remarks since taking office.

Democratic candidates for governor in New Jersey and Virginia have been less circumspect. As POLITICO reported last month, both N.J. Gov. Jon Corzine and Virginia state Sen. Creigh Deeds kicked off their candidacies with broadsides against Bush — a strategy that, if effective, will likely encourage other Democrats to follow suit.

Which leaves those who have long chafed at Bush bashing to ask: How much longer can it possibly last?

With respect to Obama, at least, reasonable minds may disagree.

It’s already over, says Feehery — at least in terms of its effectiveness: “My own personal opinion is that six months is an eternity in politics, and it’s never about what happened six months ago — it’s about what’s happening right now.”

It might last another month or two, but that’s it, opines Republican strategist Ed Rollins: “I think you may have a little bit more time, but certainly by September, October, that story’s not going to fly. It’ll be Obama’s war in Afghanistan, Obama’s economy,” he says. “Whether it’s legitimate or not, that’s the way it works.”

The public is already holding Obama responsible, says Democratic strategist Douglas Schoen, who stamps a fall sell-by date on the tactic. “When asked the question, 'Who’s more to blame?' the American people say, ‘Bush is more to blame than Obama — but we’re looking to Obama for solutions.’” Schoen says the strategy may still be useful now, but it won’t be indefinitely: “Do I think they can get through the midterms with that? No, I don’t.”

Not so fast, counters Democratic pollster Paul Maslin; it all depends on what happens between now and then.

“If, next year, as we head into the midterm elections, the economy really starts to turn around, then he’s got a story line that begins with 'We inherited this' that works for him, and there’s no reason why he couldn’t take it all the way through the midterms and even through reelection.”

Or perhaps even longer. Muses Maslin: “Ronald Reagan ran against Washington pretty much the whole eight years, and he was in D.C. the whole time, as the head of our government.”

On the flip side, notes Singer, the political risk to the president is relatively low. “One of the ironies about the Obama administration is, for all of the accusations that it’s all rhetoric and talk, a lot of its success will be determined on nuts and bolts metrics,” he says. “If the economy is stagnant in 2012, people aren’t going to be saying, ‘I’m not going to vote for the president because he only wants to bash Bush.’ They’re going to say, ‘I’m not voting for the president because the economy is stagnant.’”

The main caveat, says Maslin, is that even if the president can safely continue to score points off the previous administration, he should be aware that the buzzer on Bush himself has sounded.

“I’m a partisan Democrat, but even I don’t want to kick him anymore,” he says.

POLITICO updater on stuff!

'THE HEALTH INSURERS HAVE ALREADY WON': That's the Business Week online headline (hat tip, POLITICO's PULSE): 'As the health reform fight shifts this month from a vacationing Washington to congressional districts and local airwaves around the country, much more of the battle than most people realize is already over. The likely victors are insurance giants such as UnitedHealth Group, Aetna, and WellPoint. The carriers have succeeded in redefining the terms of the reform debate to such a degree that no matter what specifics emerge in the voluminous bill Congress may send to President Obama this fall, the insurance industry will emerge more profitable. ... The industry has already accomplished its main goal of at least curbing, and maybe blocking altogether, any new publicly administered insurance program that could grab market share from the corporations that dominate the business.'

AND NOW VIOLENCE: Now that supporters and opponents are showing up, town hall events are getting violent. From the Tampa Tribune, it appears that many opponents were sparked by Fox's Glenn Beck and his 9-12 initiative: 'What was intended to be a town hall discussion on President Barack Obama's health care reform proposal dissolved into a shouting match with shoving and scuffles in Ybor City tonight.

'The event brought home to Tampa the recent phenomenon of angry opponents of Obama's proposal disrupting town hall meetings by Democratic members of Congress during the August recess. 'They're hiding from their constituents. She works for us and needs to listen,' said Karen Jaroch, a Tampa homemaker and organizer for the 9-12 Project, set up by TV commentator Glenn Beck, which had recruited its members to attend.'

FLUSH WITH CASH: Cash for clunkers is flush with cash again. From Manu Raju of POLITICO: 'On the eve of its summer recess, the Senate on Thursday cleared a $2-billion extension to keep the federally subsidized car trade-in program alive, sparing the White House a PR-dilemma after the first $1 billion ran dry in a matter of days.

'After rejecting a series of amendments that would have effectively paralyzed the program, the Senate approved the House-passed bill on a 60-37 vote, taking $2 billion from a renewable energy program to keep the dollars flowing to consumers and car dealerships. Seven Republicans voted for the bill, and four Democrats opposed the measure, which President Barack Obama plans to sign immediately so the clunkers program can keep humming along.'

JUSTICE SONIA SOTOMAYOR: Chief Justice John Roberts will swear her in tomorrow. The Washington Post's Amy Goldstein and Paul Kane capture the moment: 'The Senate, in a vote laden with history and partisanship, confirmed Sonia Sotomayor on Thursday as the 111th justice and the first Hispanic to serve on the U.S. Supreme Court. The confirmation of President Obama's first high court nominee was a milestone for his presidency. But the Senate's nearly 20 hours of debate over Sotomayor this week -- and the fact that only nine Republicans voted for her -- made clear the divisive contours her nomination had assumed since Obama chose her this spring.'

SCOOP: POLITICO's Manu Raju got ahold of a letter from Sen. Kent Conrad to Republican Rep. Darrell Issa regarding Issa's investigation of Countrywide loans: 'Sen. Kent Conrad (D-N.D.) lashed out at Rep. Darrell Issa (R-Calif.) after the Republican congressman pushed the powerful Democratic senator to divulge details about low-interest loans he received from Countrywide Financial.

In letters provided to POLITICO, Conrad has accused Issa of attempting to impugn his name in a GOP inquiry into the Countrywide mortgage scandal. Conrad said that the Senate Ethics Committee is the 'appropriate forum to resolve this matter,' not Issa's Republican staff on the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee. 'It is unfortunate that you chose to damage my good name in your report without giving me the opportunity to provide my side of the story,' Conrad said in the sharply worded Aug. 3 letter. 'But that damage has been done. I now have the opportunity to present my case before the Senate Ethics Committee, a fundamental right you denied me.'

'Shame on you for abusing your power,' Conrad said.

MORE HILL JETS: The Wall Street Journal's Brody Mullins follows Roll Call on the congressional jets story and find's there's even more fancy jets being ordered: 'Congress plans to spend $550 million to buy eight jets, a substantial upgrade to the fleet used by federal officials at a time when lawmakers have criticized the use of corporate jets by companies receiving taxpayer funds.

'The purchases will help accommodate growing travel demand by congressional officials. The planes augment a fleet of about two dozen passenger jets maintained by the Air Force for lawmakers, administration officials and military chiefs to fly on government trips in the U.S. and abroad. ... Geoff Morrell, the Pentagon press secretary, said the Department of Defense didn't request the additional planes and doesn't need them. 'We ask for what we need and only what we need,' he told reporters Wednesday. 'We've always frowned upon earmarks and additives that are above and beyond what we ask for.'

CRITICIZING WH ON FOREIGN SOIL: Politics aren't stopping at the water's edge for Rep. Eric Cantor, as The Hill's Bridget Johnson reports: 'Minority Whip Eric Cantor (R-Va.) took a swipe at President Barack Obama's Mideast policy in Jerusalem on Thursday, telling reporters he was worried about the administration's direction in its attempts to forge a settlement in the region.

'We're here to try and make things better; we are here because we are concerned,' Cantor said. 'We are concerned about what the White House has been signaling as of late in their desire to push through in terms of a Middle East peace plan.' Cantor's comments leave the high-ranking Republican open to Democratic criticism for criticizing the president while on foreign soil.'

CLIMATE CHANGE BALK: John Broder of the New York Times sees a handful of moderate senators ready to block a climate change bill if it ever came to the Senate floor: 'Ten moderate Senate Democrats from states dependent on coal and manufacturing sent a letter to President Obama on Thursday saying they would not support any climate change bill that did not protect American industries from competition from countries that did not impose similar restraints on climate-altering gases.

'The letter warned that strong actions to limit emissions of carbon dioxide and other heat-trapping gases would add to the cost of goods like steel, cement, paper and aluminum. Unless other countries adopt similar emission limits, the senators warned, jobs will migrate overseas and foreign manufacturers will have a decided cost advantage.

'As Congress considers energy and climate legislation,' the senators wrote, 'it is important that such a bill include provisions to maintain a level playing field for American manufacturing.'

LET'S TALK OVER RECESS: They won't be in the Hart Senate building, but they will keep talking, as David Drucker reports for Roll Call: 'The six bipartisan health care negotiators on the Senate Finance Committee adjourned their marathon talks Thursday evening with no last-minute breakthrough before the August recess.

'But the group, led by Finance Chairman Max Baucus (D-Mont.), reported additional progress toward a consensus health care reform bill, and announced that a tentative schedule has been devised for teleconference meetings during the month ahead. Negotiations might also continue in person over the break, Baucus said.

'This was a very good meeting,' he said. 'We are all working very hard, our group of six, on lots of issues -- I mean very hard, and really want to do this right.'