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Thom Hartmann: Is Health Care Around The World Better Than in America?

Thursday, April 09, 2009

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"Fair and Balanced" Fox News Aggressively Promotes "Tea Party" Protests

By Media Matters

Despite its repeated insistence that its coverage is "fair and balanced" and its invitation to viewers to "say 'no' to biased media," in recent weeks, Fox News has frequently aired segments encouraging viewers to get involved with "tea party" protests across the country, which the channel has often described as primarily a response to President Obama's fiscal policies. Specifically, Fox News has in dozens of instances provided attendance and organizing information for future protests, such as protest dates, locations and website URLs. Fox News websites have also posted information and publicity material for protests. Fox News hosts have repeatedly encouraged viewers to join them at several April 15 protests that they are attending and covering; during the April 6 edition of Glenn Beck, on-screen text characterized these events as "FNC Tax Day Tea Parties." Tea-party organizers have used the planned attendance of the Fox News hosts to promote their protests. Fox News has also aired numerous interviews with protest organizers. Moreover, Fox News contributors are listed as "Tea Party Sponsor[s]" on TaxDayTeaParty.com. Media Matters for America has compiled the following analysis of Fox News' promotion of the tea-party protests. (Most transcripts are taken from the Nexis database.)

Protests responding to administration policies

While tea-party organizers have stated that the protests are nonpartisan, Fox News and organizers have also characterized the protests primarily as a response to the administration's fiscal policies.

TaxDayTeaParty.com -- which describes itself as the "Online HQ for the April 15th Nationwide Tax Day Tea Party Rallies" -- states: "The Tea Party protests, in their current form, began in early 2009 when Rick Santelli, the On Air Editor for CNBC, set out on a rant to expose the bankrupt liberal agenda of the White House Administration and Congress. Specifically, the flawed 'Stimulus Bill' and pork filled budget."...(Click for remainder.)

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Obama Should Be Ashamed Only Two-Thirds Approve of Him

By Chris Weigant
The Huffington Post


It must be tough to be a member of the media class these days. The inside-the-Beltway crowd is getting more and more frustrated with the public's refusal to go along with the storyline they are trying to sell... oh, excuse me, that should read "tell," shouldn't it? They've been beating the drum of President Obama's supposed failure from Day One, but that rascally public keeps right on giving him roughly two-thirds approval ratings. In fact, his approval ratings have just not budged during the entire time.

So pity the poor media, especially those commenting from the right. Their frustration in not being able to control the storyline on Obama's presidency must be giving them fits. Their most recent attempt at finding the gloomy lining in Obama's silver cloud was that he is the "most polarizing president ever!" They focus in like a laser beam on a Pew Research poll which shows, in essence, that the Republican Party is shrinking down to its core base of very conservative people. Party identification and satisfaction with the Republican Party is at an all-time low, so it's not that hard to understand that whoever's left is going to be pretty committed to the cause, because all the moderates have left. But although this is the logical conclusion to draw from the data, some pundits on the right are trying to shoehorn this in to their overarching "Obama is a failure" theme.

They fail to mention that the same poll showed Obama with a 61 percent approval rating, which is more than twice his disapproval rating of 26 percent. Two polls (CNN and CBS) came out a day earlier than Pew which pegged Obama's approval at a stratospheric 66 percent. These numbers do not fit the storyline, so they are not even mentioned....(Click for remainder.)

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It's All Part of the Conspiracy

By Steve Benen
Washington Monthly

A variety of far-right voices seem quite sincere in their belief that ACORN is going to try to "sabotage" Tea Party events next week. It's not at all clear why ACORN would care, or what ACORN would do to interfere, but some conservatives are apparently quite worked up about it. Fox News' Neil Cavuto even "reported" that the community activism group intends to "infiltrate" the right-wing events.

Adam Serwer decided to pick up the phone to see what ACORN thinks about this.
[O]n the offhand possibility that there was some truth to the idea that ACORN was orchestrating the sabotage of tea party gatherings, (maybe some local chapter had organized a counter-protest or something) I called up ACORN Executive Director Steve Kest and asked him about it. "I saw some mention of this on a blog, I have no idea even what the tea parties are," Kest said. He then asked me to explain to him what the tea parties were having only just heard about them yesterday. When I laughed, Kest said, "Seriously, do you know more about what the deal is here?"
I assume that Malkin & Co. will only see this as further evidence of ACORN's dastardly plot. Sure, the group's executive director says he doesn't know what the Tea Parties are, but that's just what he wants us to think. It's all part of the conspiracy....(Click for remainder.)

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'Douchebag' or 'Tough Guy' - The Incredible Heaviness of Being Newt

By Bill Berkowitz
The Smirking Chimp


Whether courting the Religious Right, converting to Catholicism, clamoring to 'drill here now,' threatening North Korea, or lighting up the Fox News Channel with a steady stream of blather, the more things change for the former House Speaker, the more they remain the same.

In your heart of hearts, you know that only you can save the rapidly declining fortunes of the Republican Party; not John McCain, Sarah Palin, Mike Huckabee, Mitt Romney, Joe the Plumber, or even Rush Limbaugh. To save the Party, you will do and say whatever it takes. If you need to go on bended-knee to Dr. James Dobson, and publicly acknowledge on his radio program that you have not always walked the straight and narrow, you'll do that. If you have to align yourself with the likes of the American Family Association's Donald Wildmon, you'll do that. If you need to call out gays, you'll do that.

The Internet is chock full of stories about your comings and goings. Here's a piece about you jumping on the Tax Day Tea Party bandwagon. There's a host of stories about your conversion to Catholicism.

You're a 24/7 op-ed machine, a news cycle unto yourself as you breathlessly pass out opinions on Sunday morning network news shows or as a regular contributor to the Fox News Channel.

No one would accuse you of being a clothes hound or being coifed stylishly. You aren't cut; no poster child for physical fitness. You tend to be on the rather schlubby side of the species. You've been a sore winner and a sore loser....(Click for remainder.)

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The Daily Left: Ted Stevens' Conviction Overturned

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The Daily Show Mocks Right-Wing Paranoid About Obma

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The Fearmongering Of The Right

By Hunter
Daily Kos


Via a tip from a user, Glenn Beck certainly thinks that mere video games influence behavior:




But he doesn't think that using the "news" as a platform for fearmongering day in, day out might cause unstable elements of society to presume they should take action based on his rantings and the other conservative rantings that so inundate the airwaves. At least, not if the fearmongering is done by Glenn Beck.

This isn't new, of course, and isn't confined to Beck. Media influence on individual actions has been a talking point for twenty some odd years. Conservatives believe Spongebob Squarepants, the PBS show 'Arthur' and one of Teletubbies -- you know, the gay pride one -- can turn kids homosexual, and they so believed that Murphy Brown encouraged single motherhood that a American vice president condemned the fictional character by name. According to conservatives, everything on TV influences behavior, whether it's promiscuity, violence, or thinking that an asexual cartoon sea creature is coming on to you. They think rap music causes violence, video games promote violence, and that Rachel Ray wearing a checkered scarf is a coded signal of terrorism's insidious grip on the Food Network.

But they don't believe that "news reporters" constantly questioning whether the president is really loyal or not to this country might cause some people to take violent action against that president? Or that constant talk of the imminent overrun of America by "one worlders", or government officials attempting to invoke sharia law, while supposing a simultaneous effort to confiscate guns might perhaps influence people to stockpile more guns and anticipate an imminent need to use them?...(Click for remainder.)

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More Immunity Claims on Wiretapping from Obama DOJ

By mcjoan
Daily Kos


In three separate cases in as many months, the Obama Justice Department has used the same arguments that the Bush administration Justice Department used to attempt to stop judicial review of extraordinary rendition and warrantless wiretapping. In the Mohamed v. Jeppesen extraordinary rendition case, the Obama administration reiterated the Bush administration argument that the case should be dismissed to preserve "states secrets." Likewise, in the Al-Haramain wiretapping case, Obama's DOJ used the arguments of the Bush administration to argue, again, that state secrets should prevent the Al-Haramain case--in which the only secret isn't a secret because it was inadvertently shared with plaintiff's attorneys--from moving forward.

Late Friday, the Obama DOJ actually went the Bush administration one argument further, in a third case. In Jewel v. NSA, the Electronic Frontier Foundation is "suing the National Security Agency (NSA) and other government agencies on behalf of AT&T customers to stop the illegal, unconstitutional, and ongoing dragnet surveillance of their communications and communications records." The Obama administration filed its first response [pdf] to the suit Friday, demanding dismissal of the entire suit.

Just a reminder, as pointed out by Glenn; one of the rationales provided by all of those Senators who supported the FISAAA that granted immunity to the telcos was the the avenue of suing the government was still open. Jello Jay wrote: "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 White House's year-long push for blanket immunity covering government officials."...(Click for remainder.)

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Glenn Beck and The Consequences of Crazy Talk

By Bob Cesca
The Huffington Post


Right off the bat, allow me to be perfectly clear: I don't want Glenn Beck or Sean Hannity or any of the other far-right talkers to be silenced or fired, that is unless their corporate bosses decide they ought to be silenced or fired. And if they are, I hope it's for a funny reason -- like Hannity getting caught on a surveillance camera peeing into the break room coffee pot, or Glenn Beck conspiring with Billy Bibbit to steal all of Charlie Cheswick's cigarettes.

That said it's becoming increasingly evident that the recent shooting sprees aren't just isolated incidents, but are actually part of a dangerous trend. And regardless of whether or not there's a direct connection with the usual cable news and talk radio suspects, broadcasters like Beck ought to take responsibility for some of their more incendiary remarks -- remarks which appear to be ginning up the darker, uglier, fanatical tendencies in an already militaristic, jingoistic, reactionary audience.

I don't think I'm alone in this. For example:
...in this day and age where we have a lot of fanatics out there, I find the whole concept unbelievably irresponsible. Did you not think that there are people that are going to see this and maybe take an idea like that and run with it? Did you think about that? [...] You've got to -- do you not have a responsibility to think of the impact, the impressions that could be made on people?
(Click for remainder.)

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The MIT Myth

By Steve Benen
Washington Monthly


The irreplaceable Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-Minn.) wrote an op-ed for the Minneapolis Star Tribune today, showing off her impressive expertise on energy policy. (thanks to reader S.A. for the tip)
President Obama has repeatedly said he will not raise taxes on low- and middle-income families, yet his policies do not match his rhetoric. Take for instance, a new tax he has proposed on the use of energy. It's called cap-and-trade or, more appropriately, cap-and-tax. The tax would require energy producers and businesses to pay to emit carbon emissions in the hope of reducing greenhouse gases. [...]

Any way you look at it, it's low- and middle-income Americans who will pay dearly for this. According to an analysis by the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, the average American household could expect its yearly energy bill to increase by $3,128 per year. Using an analysis by Peter Orszag, President Obama's budget director, that number would be closer to $4,000.
As is often the case with Bachmann, this claim is funnier than most. We already know that there is no M.I.T. analysis pointing to the $3,128 number. The M.I.T. scholar in question has specifically told House Republicans that the number is completely wrong. (Whether Bachmann is ignorant or dishonest is unclear.)...(Click for remainder.)

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Wash Post Publishes Conservative Hit Piece on Obama

By John Aravosis
AMERICAblog


Well that didn't take long. You'll recall that on Monday I wrote about how conservatives were about to take a new PEW poll and twist it against Obama, claiming that he's the most polarizing president EVER, even more so than George Bush?

Well, it's begun, courtesy of the Washington Post.

Now, you'd think the Post would have some issues with publishing, even commentary, that promotes right-wing talking points that have already been debunked. Greg Sargent over at the Post's own Plum Line investigated this newest line of attack on Monday, and got none of than PEW itself to say that the notion that their poll shows Obama to be polarizing is bunk. Here's what the head of PEW's polling unit told Greg:
The fellow who oversees Pew Research’s political polling is disputing the claim, made by some on the right today, that the much-discussed new Pew poll showing a stark partisan divide in Obama’s approval rating proves that Obama is a “polarizing” President.

“It’s unfair to say that Obama has caused this divisiveness or to say that he is a polarizing president,” Michael Dimock, Pew’s associate director, told me in an interview just now.
But that didn't stop the Post from, only 48 hours later, bringing the lie back to life....(Click for remainder).

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Top Bloggers Blast Lead Liberal Groups

By John Aravosis
AMERICAblog


It's a problem that's been building for a while. First, I'll quote Greg's piece, then give you my thoughts below. From Greg Sargent:
Some of the leading liberal bloggers are privately furious with the major progressive groups — and in some cases, the Democratic Party committees — for failing to advertise on their sites, even as these groups constantly ask the bloggers for free assistance in driving their message.

It’s a development that’s creating tensions on the left and raises questions about the future role of the blogosphere at a time when a Dem is in the White House and liberalism could be headed for a period of sustained ascendancy...

“They come to us, expecting us to give them free publicity, and we do, but it’s not a two way street,” Jane Hamsher, of FiredogLake, said in an interview. “They won’t do anything in return. They’re not advertising with us. They’re not offering fellowships. They’re not doing anything to help financially, and people are growing increasingly resentful.”

Hamsher singled out Americans United for Change, which raises and spends big money on TV ad campaigns driving Obama’s agenda, as well as the constellation of groups associated with it, and the American Association of Retired Persons, also a big TV advertiser.
At some point, Democrats - progressives - need to start investing in the future. And by "the future," I don't mean large organizations that have been around for years but haven't accomplished anything in the past two decades. I mean investing in progressives who can kick ass, and have a proven ability to do so....(Click for remainder).

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HRC Exposes National Organization for Marriage’s Fake Ad for Fake Problems

Right-wing group does not have truth on its side, so it hires actors to spew lies; Audition reel uncovered online

By Human Rights Campaign

WASHINGTON –The Human Rights Campaign, the nation's largest lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender civil rights organization, released a statement and a factual rebuttal today on a television spot produced by the National Organization for Marriage and set to run on CNN, the Fox News Channel, and MSNBC in the coming days. In the ad, actors make disproven claims about marriage for lesbian and gay couples.

"What's next for the National Organization for Marriage? Will they hire legendary infomercial pitchman Ron Popeil to hawk their phony agenda?" said Human Rights Campaign Spokesman Brad Luna.  "This ad is full of outrageous falsehoods—and they don't even come out of the mouths of real people."

According to sources, the phony ad is set to run eight times per day in New Jersey, New York, Connecticut, Rhode Island and California. The ad can be viewed here:  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4AzLrn5JVIo

The National Organization for Marriage hired actors to peddle their lies about marriage for lesbian and gay couples. The audition reels can be viewed at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lRjVDZxho54 and http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cwqNFBt33o4

The National Organization for Marriage and Maggie Gallagher is featured on the interactive wall of EndtheLies.org, a new HRC action-based website launched to confront the lies and distortions repeatedly used to defeat LGBT equality measures. National Organization for Marriage was added to the wall after the group created an anti- marriage equality radio ad that played in Vermont, New Hampshire and Maine....(Click for remainder).

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Dear Conservative Teabaggers

By Hunter
Daily Kos


Nobody is trying to stop you from holding your "tea parties." Please stop saying you're oppressed when you're clearly not oppressed. You want to have a tea party? Go ahead! Get to it! Take to the streets, pleasantly aromatic baggies in hand!

We've had a president who decided that he could revoke the citizenship of Americans based on his own say-so -- and no conservatives were worried about their loss of rights. We've had a government assert that it could spy on any communications, without warrant or cause -- and no conservatives took to the streets, alarmed at the threat to their Constitutional protections. We found out we went to war over a weapons program that didn't exist -- oops. We found out that we subjected innocent, though brown, people to imprisonment without recourse, and others to torture so cruel that it rendered them mentally incompetent. We buried the nation in a mountain of debt -- well, them's the breaks. We forked over billions of dollars in giveaways to oil companies that were already making larger profits than any other companies in the history of the world -- hell, gotta keep John Galt in caviar. None of it raised a peep from any of you, you were all fine with it. The government could do no wrong -- except not going far enough.

But if returning to the tax policies that existed before Bush is the thing that's got a bee in your bonnet, claiming the end of the republic is at hand -- go for it. If you've suddenly decided that preventing government efforts to stave off a second Great Depression is the thing you're going to hang your collective hats on, or that saving one of the prime manufacturing sectors still left in the country is a bridge too far, by all means protest. Who's stopping you? Who's intimidating you?

On the contrary, the rest of us find your "tea bagging" to be superbly instructive. It's increasing taxes that gets your goat, and absolutely nothing else. The only Constitutional crisis possible is one that might possibly affect your wallet; offenses to other people's freedoms don't rouse a tenth of the same emotion.

And it stands as a dramatic act of solidarity with conservative leaders in government. Bloviate at every opportunity; remain steadfastly in opposition to everything; suggest nothing; claim that it is not even your responsibility to suggest anything. Like House and Senate Republicans, who have declared sitting on their hands to be an act of supreme virtue and who, when pressed, can only come up with a few terse pages of declarations that the only path forward is to give big businesses more tax breaks, and rich Americans more tax breaks, and eliminate even more regulations on financial behavior -- and that will work this time for sure, in spite of those same exact things bringing the country debt and corruption every other time they have been tried, finally leading to this current brink of economic ruin. No, it seems hard to compete with any acts of leadership as impressive as that....(Click for remainder).

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Thoughts on Bill O'Reilly and Squeaky the Chicago Mouse

By Roger Ebert
The Chicago Sun Times


To: Bill O'Reilly
From: Roger Ebert

Dear Bill: Thanks for including the Chicago Sun-Times on your exclusive list of newspapers on your "Hall of Shame." To be in an O'Reilly Hall of Fame would be a cruel blow to any newspaper. It would place us in the favor of a man who turns red and starts screaming when anyone disagrees with him. My grade-school teacher, wise Sister Nathan, would have called in your parents and recommended counseling with Father Hogben.

Yes, the Sun-Times is liberal, having recently endorsed our first Democrat for President since LBJ. We were founded by Marshall Field one week before Pearl Harbor to provide a liberal voice in Chicago to counter the Tribune, which opposed an American war against Hitler. I'm sure you would have sided with the Trib at the time.

I understand you believe one of the Sun-Times misdemeanors was dropping your syndicated column. My editor informs me that "very few" readers complained about the disappearance of your column, adding, "many more complained about Nancy." I know I did. That was the famous Ernie Bushmiller comic strip in which Sluggo explained that "wow" was "mom" spelled upside-down.

Your column ran in our paper while it was owned by the right-wing polemicists Conrad Black (Baron Black of Coldharbour) and David Radler. We dropped it to save a little money after they looted the paper of millions. Now you call for an advertising boycott. It is unusual to observe a journalist cheering for a newspaper to fail. At present the Sun-Times has no bank debt, but labors under the weight of millions of dollars in tax penalties incurred by Lord Black, who is serving an eight-year stretch for mail fraud and obstruction of justice. We also had to pay for his legal expenses.

There is a major difference between Conrad Black and you: Lord Black is a much better writer and thinker, and authored a respected biography about Roosevelt, who we were founded to defend. That newspapers continue to run your column is a mystery to me, since it is composed of knee-jerk frothings and ravings. If I were an editor searching for a conservative, I wouldn't choose a mad dog. My recommendation: The admirable Charles Krauthammer....(Click for remainder).

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Ed Stein: Invitation

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