Archive for: May, 2009

CBS’ Bob Schieffer Shows his Right Wing Bias Against Sotomayor

May 31 2009 Published by under Featured News

One of the favorite complaints of Republicans centers on liberal media bias. They claim that the media is biased for Democrats, but today Face the Nation host Bob Schieffier became the latest alleged liberal media member to parrot the right wing’s racist attacks against Sonia Sotomayor.

Here is the video of Schieffer:

Schieffer said, “Let’s get past the bombast. When you come right down to it, there is a point here. If I said to you my experiences as a white man would lead me to make better decisions than your experiences as a white woman, I’d be in a heap of trouble if I said that, wouldn’t I?”

It looks like we can add Bob Schieffer to the growing list of people in the media who never bothered to actually read Sotomayor’s full remarks. Once again, here is what Sotomayor said, “Justice O’Connor has often been cited as saying that a wise old man and wise old woman will reach the same conclusion in deciding cases. I am not so sure Justice O’Connor is the author of that line since Professor Resnik attributes that line to Supreme Court Justice Coyle. I am also not so sure that I agree with the statement. First, as Professor Martha Minnow has noted, there can never be a universal definition of wise. Second, I would hope that a wise Latina woman with the richness of her experiences would more often than not reach a better conclusion than a white male who hasn’t lived that life.”

Here is the paragraph that Schieffer didn’t bother to read, “Let us not forget that wise men like Oliver Wendell Holmes and Justice Cardozo voted on cases which upheld both sex and race discrimination in our society. Until 1972, no Supreme Court case ever upheld the claim of a woman in a gender discrimination case. I, like Professor Carter, believe that we should not be so myopic as to believe that others of different experiences or backgrounds are incapable of understanding the values and needs of people from a different group. Many are so capable. As Judge Cedarbaum pointed out to me, nine white men on the Supreme Court in the past have done so on many occasions and on many issues including Brown.”

Bob Schieffer is yet another example of someone who Republicans have labeled as part of the liberal media bias, but Schieffer ran with a Republican talking point, and couldn’t even be bothered to do the most basic research on the subject. Bob’s question is invalid, because he based on a point that was never made by Sotomayor.

Sadly, it took Republican Senator John Kyl to add context to Schieffer’s question:

Bob Schieffer considers himself a serious journalist, but yet he chose to ask a one sided question that was designed to make headlines. It is one thing for somebody like Glenn Beck to do zero research, but Bob Schieffer knows bettef. On MSNBC, Chris Matthews used the parsed quote during one of the segments of his show last week.

So called liberal media members The New York Times and CNN also ran with stories that didn’t bother to put the quote into its proper context. This makes me wonder if the media has gotten so lazy and thirsty for controversy that they are willing run with unfounded claims by either political party, if it will generate headlines.

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GOP Considering Filibustering Sotomayor

May 31 2009 Published by under Featured News

Sen. John Cornyn (R-TX) was on ABC’s This Week today discussing the nomination Sonia Sotomayor to the Supreme Court. Cornyn said that it is possible that Republicans could filibuster the nomination, but that it is too premature to make that determination now.

When asked about a filibuster by host George Stephanopoulos, Cornyn said, “I think it’s really premature to say that or to speculate. I’m not willing to judge one way or the other, George, because frankly we need to not pre-confirm, and to give Judge Sotomayor the fair hearing that Miguel Estrada and indeed Clarence Thomas were denied by our friends on the other side of the aisle.”

I think Cornyn is giving lip service to filibuster just in case something comes out in Sotomayor’s confirmation hearing. There is also a political angle here. If Cornyn would come out and say that a filibuster is off the table, the Rush Limbaugh wing of the GOP would have gone ballistic. In the same interview, Democrat Chuck Schumer (D-NY) said that Sotomayor is filibuster proof.

In this day and age of American politics, I don’t believe that any nominee is filibuster proof, but as long as Sotomayor satisfies Republican questions about her judicial philosophy, I don’t see her having any problems. What is likely to happen is that the nominee gives a good accounting of herself during the confirmation hearings, a handful of Republicans end up supporting her, and talk radio throws a major hissy fit.

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Mitch McConnell Shows His Fear of Rush Limbaugh

May 31 2009 Published by under Featured News

Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell was on CNN’s State of the Union today, where he revealed that he is afraid of Rush Limbaugh. When asked about Limbaugh’s attacks on Sotomayor, McConnell said he had better things to do than to tell his party to stop calling Sotomayor a racist.

Here is the video of McConnell courtesy of Think Progress:

When asked by host John King if Rush and Newt are making it harder on the GOP by calling Sotomayor a racist, McConnell answered, “They’re certainly entitled to their opinions. … Look, I’ve got a big job to dealing with 40 senate Republicans and trying to advance a nation’s agenda. I’ve got better things to do than to be the speech police over people who are going to have their views about a very important appointment.”

McConnell has better things to do? Wow, what a lame excuse. Why doesn’t he say that, even he, as the Republican leader of the Senate is terrified of getting into a confrontation with Limbaugh? I do agree that Rush is entitled to his opinions, but the Senate GOP leader should have the courage to say that he disagrees with the opinion of a talk show host.

No one is asking McConnell to do anything other than express his opinion, of Sotomayor and is too frightened of Limbaugh to do even that. I think McConnell’s comments are symptomatic of the problems inside the Republican Party. Every time someone claims that Rush isn’t running the GOP, one only has to point to this exchange as proof of his vast power.

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Democrats Promise to Deliver a Healthcare Bill before the End of summer

May 30 2009 Published by under Featured News

Powerful Senate Democrats Max Baucus and Ted Kennedy released a joint statement today saying that they will have a healthcare reform bill ready before the Senate takes its August recess. The fact that Baucus, who opposes single payer, released a statement with Kennedy is a clear sign that single payer is in trouble.

The statement said, “For both of us, reforming the nation’s health care system to cut cost, improve quality and provide affordable coverage remains the top priority on our two committees. We have worked together closely over many months and will continue to do so. We intend to ensure that our committees report similar and complementary legislation that can be quickly merged into one bill for consideration on the Senate floor before the August recess.”

The statement was issued in response to media speculation that Kennedy and Baucus, who is the chairman of the powerful Senate Finance Committee, have been at odds with each other over a single payer healthcare reform plan. Baucus has long been opposed to single payer, and Kennedy has been a long time advocate.

The details of the bill that Kennedy is working on include a requirement that all Americans have health insurance, and an expansion of Medicaid to include the uninsured who earn up to 500 times below poverty level. Baucus has long favored a mixed plan that heavily relies on private insurance. If Baucus and Kennedy could come together on a bill, this would single Democratic unity on the issue.

I think that having the bill done by the August recess is an ambitious goal. However, getting a bill done is only the start of the process. I suspect that unless the bill is very liberal it will have few Democratic defectors. It will still be difficult to healthcare passed and signed by the end of the year, but it is possible. The only thing that could trip up the bill is if Democrats get caught up in an Party feud over the details of the bill.

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The Gawker/Olbermann Battle over Mancow’s Waterboarding Continues

May 30 2009 Published by under Featured News

John Cook of Gawker posted a response today to Keith Olbermann and Mancow’s assertion last night that the shock jock’s waterboarding was not faked. Cook stuck by his claims that the waterboarding was faked for Mancow to get publicity.

Here is the video of Olbermann and Mancow on Countdown:

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Cook responded to Olbermann’s claim that he was being used, and didn’t thoroughly check his sources, “That’s a lie. Our night editor verified Shafran’s e-mail with her directly and included her response in the story. We called Muller to get his side of the story and published it. We called South to get his story, and published it. We e-mailed Olbermann for his comment, and we called his MSNBC publicist for hers. Olbermann is living in a fantasy world where malicious bloggers spread lies about him without doing any legwork. We did more reporting on Muller’s alleged waterboarding than he or his staff did.”

Here is the problem with Cook’s claim. They didn’t call Mancow’s bosses at the radio station. They never checked to see if the radio station set conditions for this stunt. They never called the police to see if they had turned down any requests to carry out the stunt. If he is an investigative journalist, shouldn’t he have sought to verify the facts through a third party source? They verified the emails, but did they check the motives of the emailer, or the permissions granted by anyone higher up than the participants?

The crux of Cook’s skepticism is that Muller has faked things before, so he is probably faking again, “In the end, there are two incontrovertible data points here: That Muller’s publicist called the thing a hoax and said Muller intended to pretend he was drowning, and that the guy doing the waterboarding was by his own admission as unqualified to perform the procedure as one could possibly be. Muller’s attempts to explain away the first one consist of little more than dubious rhetorical loop-de-loops from a professional provocateur and publicity-hound who has provided, over the years, innumerable reasons why he doesn’t deserve the benefit of the doubt. And nobody disputes the second. Even if Muller didn’t deliberately orchestrate this whole stunt from the beginning, it’s clear that whatever happened to him doesn’t qualify as waterboarding in any recognizable sense of the word.”

The problem with Cook’s statement is that there are no published official rules on waterboarding. Technically, as long as it is water and a board, it is waterboarding. The key here is that Mancow Muller never claimed that his stunt was simulating Gitmo, so I don’t see how his stunt doesn’t qualify as waterboarding when there are no established universal techniques. If you could find a proper how to waterboard guide, then Cook’s point is valid.

What this debate comes down to is the definition of waterboarding. I think it is much easier to rig a test to prove that it isn’t waterboarding than it is to fake a real waterboarding. What is really going on here is that Olbermann and Gawker have been fighting with each other for years now. Gawker thinks that Olbermann is an out of control ego maniac, and Olbermann thinks that Gawker is nothing but a half assed gossip site.

As far as who is right on the story of Mancow’s waterboarding goes, it is possible that they are both right. Gawker was correct to point out that this was designed to be a hoax, and this wasn’t a Gitmo style waterboarding. Olbermann is right, because there are no defined step by step criteria for a waterboarding. As long as the person is on a board, and water is flooding into the lungs, it is waterboarding. This is really just the next step in the Gawker/Olbermann feud.

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Olbermann and Mancow Knock Down Waterboarding Hoax Allegation

May 29 2009 Published by under Featured News

On MSNBC’s Countdown tonight, host Keith Olbermann and conservative Chicago morning radio host Erich “Mancow” Muller denied right wing claims that Mancow’s waterboarding had been a hoax. Mancow said that for legal reasons the waterboarding had to be described as simulated, but it was real. Check out the video.

Here is the video:

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All of this started due to Gawker report that Mancow faked his waterboarding for publicity. Mancow said, “I lose and I lose and I lose on this. The far right is mad at me because I said it was torture. The left is mad at me because, well I don’t know they are always mad at me. I can’t win here, but what about the truth? It doesn’t matter. the truth has been lost here. The CIA is very specific, head back water in the nose and mouth.”

He explained the use of the word hoax in his publicist’s email, “Here’s the deal. It’s selective. You have to understand something, Citadel, my parent company, ABC, Talk Radio Network, building security, the Chicago cops came and said you can’t waterboard. You cannot do this. Oh,we’re not, we’re not, and also the word stunt. It is a radio stunt, hoax, stunt.”

Mancow said that anyone who doesn’t go party line faces this same kind of punishment. He asked what about the truth? What happened to Americans able to debate? He said he wasn’t trying to recreate Gitmo. He said that people in both parties say what their parties tell them to say. He said that torture supporters can’t allow this to be out there. He asked how it could be faked.

The idea that this was a hoax that goes against Mancow’s stated opinion on waterboarding is insane. It is desperate spin by those who support torture. If they can’t make a good argument in favor of waterboarding, then they are going to discredit the other side. Gawker got played on this one. Of course, it was real. There are lots of cameras and witnesses to prove it.

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White House Calls Limbaugh’s Duke/Sotomayor Comparison Offensive

May 29 2009 Published by under Featured News

Earlier today, Rush Limbaugh compared Sonia Sotomayor to white supremacist and former KKK leader David Duke, White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs said that Limbaugh’s remark today was offensive and he pointed to the Congressional leaders who have rebuked Limbaugh’s remarks.

Here is the video from Media Matters:

On his radio show Limbaugh said, “She (Sotomayor) brings a form of bigotry or racism to the court. I don’t care — we’re not supposed to say it, we’re supposed to pretend it didn’t happen, we’re supposed to look at other things, but it’s the elephant in the room. The real question here that needs to be asked — and nobody on our side, from a columnist to a TV commentator to anybody in our party has the guts to ask: How can a president nominate such a candidate? And how can a party get behind such a candidate? That’s what would be asked if somebody were foolish enough to nominate David Duke or pick somebody even less offensive.”

Gibbs responded, “I don’t think you have to be the nominee to find what was said today offensive, and I think maybe the best example of that is to look at any number of conservative and Republican leaders who over the past 24 hours have specifically addressed the comments of people like Newt Gingrich and Rush Limbaugh. It’s sort of hard to completely quantify the outrage I think almost anybody would feel at the notion that you are being compared to somebody who used to be in the KKK. It’s amazing.”

Don’t kid yourselves, because the White House loves the fact that they once again get to face off against Rush Limbaugh on an issue, because every time Rush is the voice of the GOP, the Republicans look more extreme and out of touch. If this race baiting continues by Limbaugh and other Republicans, it may end up backfiring and giving more support to Sotomayor.

Limbaugh’s comparison was offensive by design. He is trying to fire up his listeners, and keep himself in the spotlight. However, I think that those on the far right have gone past the point of no return on Sotomayor. They are putting Senate Republicans in a position where they will have to either agree with Limbaugh and look like a bunch of racists, or repudiate Rush. There is also a third option. They could ignore him, which is what I think the majority of them will end up doing.

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Limbaugh: Obama Promotes Only Those Who Hate White People

May 29 2009 Published by under Featured News

Today on his radio show Rush Limbaugh claimed that Barack Obama is making white people the new oppressed minority. He said, “How do you get promoted in a Barack Obama administration, by hating white people.” Rush seems to have forgotten that 8 of the 9 Supreme Court Justices are white, and that Obama himself is half white.

Here is the audio from Media Matters:

Limbaugh said, “We have made progress in civil rights, but now with this. How do you get promoted in a Barack Obama administration, by hating white people, or even saying you do, or that their not good, or whatever. Make white people the new oppressed minority and they are going along with it, because their shutting up. They’re moving to the back of the bus. They’re saying I can’t use that drinking fountain, ok. I can’t use that restroom, ok. That’s the modern day Republican Party, the equivalent of the Old South, the new oppressed minority.”

After saying that race doesn’t matter, Rush called Sotomayor a racist, “I care about whether she’s qualified, and I think she’s disqualified herself. Not only does she lack the often-discussed appropriate judicial temperament, it’s worse than that. She brings a form of bigotry or racism to the court. I don’t care — we’re not supposed to say it, we’re supposed to pretend it didn’t happen, we’re supposed to look at other things, but it’s the elephant in the room. “

This is such a preposterous argument. Rush is complaining that white people are an oppressed minority because only 7 of the 9 Supreme Court Justices will be white if Sotomayor is confirmed. Notice how, Limbaugh is throwing a temper tantrum because the Republican Party is not following his advice. Senate Republicans aren’t going to go down the racial path on this one. They may vote against her based on philosophical opposition, but they don’t think that she is a racist.

Limbaugh’s whole argument is based on the warping of Sotomayor’s wise Latina quote. There is no evidence that she is a racist. Rush’s notion that the GOP should be the party of white rights is a continuation of what we saw in the 2008 campaign. The advocates of the white rights strategy seem to forget that Obama is half white himself. They show their own racism, when they project racist motives on to the president.

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Keith Olbermann and Arianna Huffington Analyze Rush Limbaugh

May 28 2009 Published by under Featured News

On his MSNBC show Countdown tonight, Keith Olbermann expressed concern for Rush Limbaugh’s mental health after the right wing talker declared America a failure because President Obama as succeeding. Check out the video of Arianna Huffington and Keith Olbermann analyzing Rush Limbaugh.

Here is the video:

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Guest Arianna Huffington brought up a really great point when it comes to understanding Rush Limbaugh through the years. She said, “I think, in a sense, if you look at what he has been saying through the years, there has never been any logic to it, because is all about code words. It is about buzz words. It’s about appealing to the worst instincts in his audience, and that is what is really so sad, and kind of dangerous.”

Later she added, “We can’t be expected to understand Rush Limbaugh in normal rational terms, because it is not about the head, it is about the gut. If you carefully look at his words, it words like Obama is raping the private sector. If you are a small businessman you have a target on your back. These are very emotional words that appeal to some very dark fears and anxieties in people going through tough times.”

Huffington said that there is no way that the Republican Party will ever regain majorities in Congress by following Rush Limbaugh. This is why the moderate Republicans have split from him. I disagree with Huffington on one key point. I don’t think Limbaugh is dangerous at all. I think he is akin to a clown performing in the center ring of a circus. Rush is dangerous to those who are within his sphere of influence, which is the GOP, but the nation at large, his is nothing more than the voice of the angry, middle aged, white man.

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Debunking the Obama is Closing GOP Car Dealerships Conspiracy Theory

May 28 2009 Published by under Featured News

Today, Fox News joined the parade of right wing media who claim that Barack Obama is targeting Republican car dealerships for closure, so I think that it is time that we look at some facts to debunk this right wing myth.

It all started in the Examiner with, “Evidence appears to be mounting that the Obama administration has systematically targeted for closing Chrysler dealers who contributed to Repubicans. What started earlier this week as mainly a rumbling on the Right side of the Blogosphere has gathered some steam today with revelations that among the dealers being shut down are a GOP congressman and closing of competitors to a dealership chain partly owned by former Clinton White House chief of staff Mack McLarty.”

Wait a minute, evidence appears to be mounting? This is different from saying that evidence is mounting. Here is what they call evidence, “The basic issue raised here is this: How do we account for the fact millions of dollars were contributed to GOP candidates by Chrysler who are being closed by the government, but only one has been found so far that is being closed that contributed to the Obama campaign in 2008?”

This led Major Garrett of Fox News to report, “There is some concern in the blogosphere that of the of the Chrysler dealerships being closed, a disproportionate number appear to be in which the operators contributed to Republicans. And hardly which contributed to democrats have been closed down. I’m not saying the White House knows anything about this but would you be concerned about any taint of politics in any of the decisions.”

Once again, there is no evidence to back up his claim. White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs addressed the latest GOP conspiracy theory today, by saying that dealership closures are Chrysler’s decision. Here is the video:

Nate Silver over at FiveThirtyEight.com points out, “There is just one problem with this theory. Nobody has bothered to look up data for the control group: the list of dealerships which aren’t being closed. It turns out that all car dealers are, in fact, overwhelmingly more likely to donate to Republicans than to Democrats — not just those who are having their doors closed.”

Silver crunched the numbers, and found that 88% of auto dealers identified themselves as Republicans. Doug Ross came up with 92% as the number of car dealers who donated to Republicans. Could it be that more Republican dealerships are being closed because dealers are much more likely to be Republicans?

Obviously, this couldn’t be the answer because it is logical and makes sense. Instead the right wing media would prefer to believe a conspiracy theory that has no evidence supporting it. This bit of right wing paranoia has been debunked.

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