We should have been profiling on September 12, 2001. The last war this country won, we put Japanese Americans in internment camps; we dropped nuclear bombs on residential city centers. So, yes, profiling would be at least a good start.
Stories to Watch: 10/24/11
Leftovers tonight. Part of the joy of being a good cook is having good leftovers so you don’t have to cook. Now here’s the news…
This one gets a little circuitous, so bear with me. Karl Rove, while literally pointing to a list of candidate gaffes, argues on Fox News that the Herman Cain campaign has “peaked" and that he’s probably run his course as a contender for the GOP nomination. In response, Cain says that Rove’s analysis is “a deliberate attempt to damage me because I am not, quote unquote, the establishment choice.”
Here’s the thing: Cain is probably half-right. Rove is trying to derail his campaign, but not because he’s not “the establishment choice.” It’s because of all the items on Rove’s list. Cain’s a ridiculous clown who couldn’t possibly win against Obama, so the smart thing to do is head this disaster off at the pass.
Speaking candidate gaffes: Herman Cain has reportedly agreed to a one-on-one debate with Newt Gingrich. Not at all sure what the reasoning is here — Newt’s already an also-ran, so this wouldn’t help anyone but Gingrich, and — as feverishly crazy as Newt actually is — he’s still Cain’s intellectual superior. I cannot see anyone walking away from this event thinking, “Now there was a bright move by the Hermanator.”
Michele Bachmann’s New Hampshire campaign implosion goes scandalously public.
American’s don’t think much of the electoral college.
Mittens makes it clear that he’s running as the candidate who’s not insane.
Evidence that not even Herman Cain is taking Herman Cain’s candidacy seriously.
Finally, the President rolls over congress to provide mortgage relief.
The $16 Muffin and Other Beloved Zombie Lies
I’m not a creature of habit, but I try to be. Every night, I try to do the same thing, to make it easier to get to sleep. The Daily Show and The Colbert Report are part of that. I watch them both, which begins the “go to bed” launch sequence. Obviously, this throws me off when there are reruns, but for the most part it works.
So last night I was watching TDS. The guest was Bill O’Reilly, who was hawking some book about the Lincoln assassination that a ghostwriter whipped up for him. Stewart called him out on his ridiculous “Obama’s making it too expensive to be rich" argument and O’Reilly went straight to government spending. What about the $16 dollar muffin?
Stewart admitted that he hadn’t heard about this $16 muffin thing, which isn’t extremely surprising; it was one of those rightwing blogosphere “scandals” with the shelf-life of an unrefrigerated popsicle. Stewart probably missed it because he blinked.
Basically, the story worked like this; an audit from the Inspector General for the Department of Justice found that the Capitol Hilton in Washington overcharged a 2099 Justice Department Legal Training Conference — which O’Reilly described as “a bunch of conferences for pinheads” — for refreshments. The hotel was apparently given a budget and it exceeded it by the slimmest of amounts.
The “$16 muffin” came from a poorly itemized invoice and some quick, back-of-the-envelope accounting — i.e., a bunch of other stuff was listed in a column marked “muffins.” “So did DOJ really pay $16 for muffins?” Kevin Drum wrote at the time. “Of course not. In fact, it’s obvious that someone quite carefully calculated the amount they were allowed to spend and then gave the hotel a budget. The hotel agreed, but for some reason decided to divide up the charges into just a few categories instead of writing a detailed invoice for every single piece of food they provided.”
So how much did this overrun cost the taxpayers? Two cents per attendee — or about ten and a half bucks total. It’s an outrage, I tells ya! And never mind that this isn’t actually a story about runaway government spending, so much as it is a cautionary tale about trusting the private sector to keep costs down. Hilton screwed this one up, not the DOJ. But since it’s only ten bucks, who even cares? I’d be willing to bet that after all is said and done, the hotel will wind up swallowing the overrun, since it’s really next to nothing.
Did O’Reilly know any of this? Maybe, maybe not. If we assume he wasn’t lying when he said the story came from “a bunch of conferences for pinheads,” then we can assume that O’Reilly didn’t dig very deeply into the story in the first place. If his grasp of the story was so weak initially, it’s possible that he never saw the debunking. This would be especially likely if he relied on his own employer to set the record straight.
This is nothing new for rightwing media. They rely on “scandal of the day” reporting to sustain their outrage, so of course most of these “scandals” turn out to be a big wad of nothing. But when that big wad of nothing is revealed to be a big wad of nothing, rightwing media news consumers never find out. Corrections and retractions are an endangered species in conservative news outlets and, in the wingnut blogosphere, they’re almost completely extinct.
Take for example this Daily Caller piece from Matthew Boyle. In it, he claims that court records show the EPA plans to spend $21 billion to hire “230,000 new government workers to process all the extra paperwork.” Needless to say, it’s all crap. Media Matters has the full debunking, but I think I can encapsulate it thusly: Boyle is either an idiot or a liar.
Basically, he relies on court documents to make his claim. And these documents don’t show plans to hire hundreds of thousands of new bureaucrats at a cost of tens of billions. What the documents show is that the EPA ruled out one method of monitoring greenhouse gases because it would require hundreds of thousands of new bureaucrats at a cost of tens of billions. Boyle grabbed some quotes about what the rejected method would cost, then ran with them as if they were the plan. Boyle has the story exactly backwards. He’s just about as wrong as it’s possible to be. I’m going to go ahead and call Matthew Boyle grossly incompetent, because it’s a terrible thing to accuse someone of being a liar. And those are really the only two choices.
But of course this was another “scandal of the day” and everyone on the right was clawing their eyes out over it. Never mind that the EPA doesn’t even have $21 billion to throw around — it only has an $8.7 billion budget — this was true, true, true as far as they were concerned.
And, as far as their readers know, it still is. There is no retraction or correction at Boyle’s steaming pile of what he pretends is journalism. Follow the link and you get the story as it first appeared. A lot of wingnut bloggers and even organizations like Fox News and National Review linked to that story as a source. Anyone who follows those links will think they’ve confirmed the story’s accuracy, when the story is 100% bass-ackward of the truth. Which goes a long way toward explaining why rightwingers tend to believe a bunch of stuff that everyone else knows isn’t true.
Maybe Bill O’Reilly knows the truth about the $16 muffin and he’s just using a debunked story to push his agenda, which would make him a liar. Or maybe he’s just an incompetent hack who has no idea what the hell he’s talking about and relies on rightwing media to get him his “facts.” I don’t know.
But I do know that it’s a terrible thing to call someone a liar.
Stories to Watch: 9/15/11
For a piece for The New Republic, journalist Walter Shapiro sat down and watched “50 hours” of “a full sampling of the Fox News lineup.” He reports back a lot of inanity. “Looking back, it seems like a nine-day hallucination of strident voices, blonde hair, and more pitchmen hawking gold coins than at any time since the heyday of King Midas,” Shapiro writes. A courageous act of journalism, indeed.
How do you pull in a lot of readers? Do what James Carville did and suggest that the time has come for the White House to FREAK THE FUCK OUT!!. If you can get past the histrionic headline and his call for the Obama administration to “fire a lot of people,” the rest of it is pretty solid. Your mileage may very. He may have gone fullblown talking head, but the guy Clinton hired is still in there someplace.
President Obama will not include Social Security reform in his recommendations to the deficit reduction “super-committee.”
BREAKING: Rightwing bloggers are completely insane. They’ve resorted to lipreading to convince themselves that Michele Obama said something awful at the 9/11 commemoration. Haven’t got something to freak out over at a particular moment? Then just make shit up.
House Republicans finally discover a welfare program they like.
Anti-Muslim bigotry at the FBI.
John Boehner is a hypocritical clown.
Finally, Ron Paul’s grasp of geopolitical realities isn’t extremely tight.
News Roundup for 8/30/11
Fox News’ Brian Kilmeade
Headline of the Day-
"Fox News Forces Candidate to Defend Reality."
You might remember a tweet sent out by GOP presidential candidate John Huntsman a few weeks ago. Huntsman, who’s staked out a losing position as the “sane Republican” in the race, decided he’d had enough of the other GOP crazies. “To be clear. I believe in evolution and trust scientists on global warming,” he tweeted. “Call me crazy.”
So, of course, the good folks at Fox & Friends were up to the challenge — specifically pure white ubermensch Brian Kilmeade, who may very well be the dumbest person to ever get a gig on live TV (and that includes this guy).
Basically, Bri-bri took the Rick Perry position that scientists make shit up to score that sweet, sweet grant money. It’s all very stupid, which explains why Kilmeade goes there. This would have to be a massive scam and a hoax unlike any we’ve seen in the history of mankind. As the Washington Post reported, 97% to 98% of all scientists support the idea that global warming has a human cause. But Kilmeade, like Perry, is either unwilling or unable to do the mental heavy-lifting it takes to grasp the enormity of what he’s suggesting (I vote for the latter). Want an idea of how unlikely it is that Kilmeade and Perry are right? It would have to be on the scale of faking the moonlandings, like the nutjob flatearthers believe.
But this is Brian Kilmeade and he is very stupid and this is Fox News, after all. Dumbassery is to be expected. (American Prospect)
-Can’t tell the players without your scorecard!-
Having trouble telling your GOP presidential candidates apart? Try this handy chart!
Click to embiggen
Remember, Mittens is the “sane” one. (Reddit)
"Five Brave Souls Attend Christine O’Donnell Book Signing In Florida."
A glimpse into Sarah Palin’s future. (Wonkette)
News Roundup for 8/5/11
Photo courtesy of a Fox News story about Air Force One
-Headline of the Day-
"Fox Nation shocker: Obama invited black guys to his birthday party."
We’ve all been there. You’re at some party or something and some asshole tells an outrageously offensive racist/sexist/homophobic/etc. joke. Someone at the party calls the jokester out as an asshole and said asshole responds with, “Oh, don’t be so PC!”
That’s why the concept of “political correctness” was invented — to give cover to assholes. It’s the bigot’s version of a Jedi mind trick; “You’re offended? I should be offended, because you’re just being irrationally PC. Go now, and think about what you’ve done.”
And so it is that a Fox headline characterizing President Obama’s birthday party as a “Hip-Hop BBQ” is merely an example of being delightfully politically incorrect. And the accompanying photos featuring nothing but black men is merely a coincidence. No racism here, just good-natured un-PC spin — that coincidentally casts the White House as the host of a stereotypical gangbanger blowout.
According to the story they posted (an aggregated article from Politico that Fox had given a different headline), the party started “with dinner in the Rose Garden, accompanied by ‘The President’s Own’ United States Marine Band. The First Lady and his daughters presented POTUS with a cake, and everyone moved into the East Room for performances that included R&B singer Ledisi, and Herbie Hancock. Stevie Wonder came up at the end and sang a medley ending in ‘Signed, Sealed, Delivered I’m Yours.’”
Notes Alex Pareene, “The Marine Band is my favorite hip-hop group.”
So, other than the fact that the guests included Jay-Z, there was nothing actually hippity-hoppity about any of this. And I’m guessing the cake wasn’t actually barbecued.
In the end, it seems Fox decided that using a bunch of black stereotypes to inaccurately describe a party was just good headline writing. And they decided that because they’re obviously racist assholes.
Oops! There I go being PC again. I should be so ashamed. (Salon’s War Room)
-Fun with rational thought-
Logic is the poetic cliche’s natural enemy.
Click to embiggen
So watch it, bub. (SMBC)
"Limbaugh Says Obama’s Economic ‘Role Model’ Is Robert Mugabe, Who ‘Took The White People’s Farms.’"
Damn, I almost went all PC again. What’s wrong with me? (Media Matters)
News Roundup for 7/29/11
Bill Nye reacts to a question on Fox News
-Headline of the Day-
"Bill Nye Explains To Fox News Moon Volcanoes Don’t Cause Global Warming."
You might think that’s one of Wonkette’s typical comically hyperbolic headlines, but it’s actually pretty damned close to the mark. See, Bill Nye the Science Guy was on Fox to talk about a rare volcano found on the moon. During the interview, the foxbot asked this deeply penetrating question; “Does it go, you know, anywhere close to the climate change debate that’s underway here on earth? I mean, you know, if the moon had erupting volcanoes, a few years, well, a few million years ago, however you want to put it…
you know, it’s not like we’ve been up there burning fossil fuels.”
At which point, Bill blinks and answers with what the report describes as a “blank stare.”
You can understand Nye’s problem here — where the fuck do you even begin? Do you start by explaining that burning fossil fuels doesn’t cause volcanoes or by saying that volcanoes aren’t causing global warming? And, while you’re making this decision, you’re also distracted by the astonishing stupidity of it all. Regardless of where you start, is Copernicus over here even capable of understanding it?
"That’s the last time Fox News tries to invite an actual children’s science teacher on the program," the report surmises. Yeah well, science was invented by commies to launch sputnik and fluoridate water with zombie serum.
Patriots don’t do science. (Wonkette, with video)
-The GOP position on the debt ceiling explained-
See, it works like this:
Hope that clears up any questions you might have. (Whip or Will)
"More Top Democrats Come Out in Support of 14th Amendment Solution."
If you haven’t heard of it, it basically involves the President declaring the debt ceiling hereby raised, getting taken to the Supreme Court, and winning.
Not the worst plan ever. (Firedoglake)
News Roundup for 7/18/11
LEAVE RUPERT ALONE!!
-Headline of the Day-
"News Corp.-owned media outlets say people are overreacting to News Corp. scandal."
Have you heard about the latest “scandal of the month?” Pffft! Something about hacking and phones and who even cares? It’s all way too high-tech for you to understand and it’s just liberal hippies attacking conservative media anyway, so you should probably just ignore the whole thing, all right? Now shut up and eat your Casey Anthony “news.”
That’s News Corp’s take on the scandal rocking a little company called… Let’s see here… “News Corp.” Tempest in a teapot. The Wall Street Journal has an editorial about how everyone’s blowing everything out of proportion. “We… trust that readers can see through the commercial and ideological motives of our competitor-critics,” writes the WSJ editorial board. “The Schadenfreude is so thick you can’t cut it with a chainsaw.”
Oh poor News Corp!
But it was Fox News that really brought the stupid (a safe bet in any situation), with a segment on their morning show that’s such unbelievable bullshit that you wish there was a stronger word for bullshit. Fox & Friends not only wondered what the big deal was, but through very cautious wording, left the impression that it was News of the World that was hacked, instead of being the hacker.
WSJ complains that Murdoch detractors “want their readers to believe, based on no evidence, that the tabloid excesses of one publication somehow tarnish thousands of other News Corp. journalists across the world.”
Oh, you guys are providing us with plenty of evidence. I point you again to the brainless Fox & Friends and their lame attempt to confuse the issue.
If they’re typical of your “thousands of other News Corp. journalists across the world,” then you’ve got nothing worth defending. (Salon’s War Room)
-The things that really matter-
The deadline for raising the debt ceiling is bearing down on us, so House Republicans decided it was time to take on the scourge of curly light bulb last week. Because nothing in the world is more important than giving Americans the freedom to buy crappy, inefficient, money-leaking light bulbs if they so choose. And so, the GOP’s message is this:
Click to embiggen
Any questions? (McClatchy)
"Sarah Palin Movie Boasts Solid 0% Rating On Rotten Tomatoes."
That means no good independent review anywhere. Worst. Movie. Ever. (Wonkette)
Stories to Watch: 6/30/11
I’m heading over to Milwaukee for Summerfest tomorrow, so I’ll be out most of the day. Might get a morning post in before I go, but that’s not certain. Now here’s the news…
Apparently, Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner is considering quittingafter the debt limit debate has been settled.
Mitch McConnell invites the president to visit congress and get yelled at by Republicans. Shockingly, President Obama turns him down.
Steve Benen hits on one of my favorite subjects: the media sucksso hard. This time, the suckage comes in the form of reporting (and non-reporting) of legal battles over healthcare reform.
Bad news for the GOP: polling shows that Americans aren’t buying their “death panel” BS.
Kansas tries to regulate abortion providers out of existence — and will probably succeed. I guess “burdensome regulations” by “big government” are fine when Republicans are doing the over-regulation.
I guess Republicans are tired of humping Reagan’s grave.
You know who’s had a plan for a rightwing propaganda network since the Nixon administration? Would you believe Fox News’ Roger Ailes?
Finally, Ohio seems to think they have a right to everyone else’s water.