Archive for: June, 2009

Glenn Beck Thinks that the US Bought Alaska in the 1950s

Jun 30 2009 Published by under Featured News

Bad things always seem to happen when Glenn Beck and history collide. The latest example occurred today on FNC’s Fox and Friends, where Glenn Beck claimed that the United States bought Alaska in 1950s so that we could drill for oil. Beck apparently got Alaska’s date of purchase and the year that it became a state confused.

Here is the video courtesy of Think Progress:

Beck was talking about the energy bill when he said, “You know Donald Trump, I want to talk to this guy. When he was on the show just a few minutes ago I was thinking how can you not be laughing at us? How can the world not be laughing at us? We have all these resources. Why did we buy Alaska in the 1950s? We bought Alaska for the resources. And now we say no!”

The term Seward’s Folly refers to the purchase of the Alaska Territory by former Sec. of State, William Seward in 1867. Alaska became a state in 1959. How can anyone take Beck seriously when he thought that the United States bought Alaska in the 1950s? Beck is the Sarah Palin of right wing talk show hosts. I don’t know what’s worse, the fact that Beck knows nothing about history, or that the other two people in the conversation didn’t bother to correct him.

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Wal-Mart Announces Support for Obama Healthcare Reform

Jun 30 2009 Published by under Featured News

In a huge blow to the opponents of healthcare reform, Wal-Mart has come out in support of a mandate that employers provide affordable healthcare to their employees. Wal-Mart is the nation’s largest employer, and its uninsured employees are one of the biggest drains on the healthcare system. Wal-Mart’s position creates a giant crack in the coalition against healthcare reform.

Wal-Mart along with the SEIU, and the liberal Center for American Progress sent a letter to President Obama expressing support for the employer mandate, “As the nation’s largest private employer, the nation’s largest union of health care workers with over one million members, and a think tank that has been a leader on health care policy, we have worked closely in support of health care reform since 2006, when we came together to help break the stalemate that had defined the health care debate for too long. Now, to move the debate forward once again, we are coming together to advance what we believe are important proposals that should be included in the current efforts to reform our nation’s health care system.”

For Wal-Mart this issue is about reducing healthcare costs, “We are for shared responsibility. Not every business can make the same contribution, but everyone must make some contribution. We are for an employer mandate which is fair and broad in its coverage, but any alternative to an employer mandate should not create barriers to hiring entry level employees. We look forward to working with the Administration and Congress to develop a requirement that is both sensible and equitable. Support for a mandate also requires the strongest possible commitment to rein in health care costs. Guaranteeing cost containment is essential.”

Wal-Mart sees the writing on the wall here. The retail giant can either accept the mandate, which would allow them to offer their own healthcare plan to all employees, or they can oppose Obama’s plan, and hope that the Democrats don’t pass stricter rules and mandates. Uninsured Wal-Mart employees cost state taxpayers millions of dollars each year.

If Wal-Mart does agree to offer affordable insurance to their own employees, it would help ease some of the fears that employers would drop their coverage and shift their employees to the public option. For Wal-Mart, this is a chance to get some positive publicity after years of battering for their treatment of employees. Wal-Mart’s support of the employer mandate is the biggest signal yet that real healthcare reform is coming.

(H/T: Think Progress)

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Coleman Congratulates Franken on Senate Win

Jun 30 2009 Published by under Featured News

After the Minnesota Supreme Court ruled that Al Franken should be certified the winner of the 2008 US Senate race in Minnesota, Republican Norm Coleman released a statement conceding the race, and congratulating Franken. Coleman said, “The Supreme Court of Minnesota has spoken and I respect its decision and will abide by the result.”

Coleman said, “Ours is a government of laws, not men and women. The Supreme Court of Minnesota has spoken and I respect its decision and will abide by the result. It’s time for Minnesota to come together under the leaders it has chosen and move forward. I join all Minnesotans in congratulating our newest United States Senator – Al Franken.”

He spoke about the need to focus on the future, “I have never believed that my service is irreplaceable. We have reached the point where further litigation damages the unity of our state, which is also fundamental. In these tough times, we all need to focus on the future. And the future today is we have a new United States Senator.”

The now former senator continued, “I congratulate Al Franken and his victory in this election. He now enjoys the advantage that our Congressional Delegation has over the other 525 people on Capitol Hill: he represents Minnesota. I know the great ideas, the amazing work ethic and the historic ability to come together to get things done in this state will help him greatly, as it has me.”

Some national Republicans were hoping that Coleman would keep fighting, and take his case to the US Supreme Court, but that would have been pointless. Every lower court had ruled against Coleman, so it was extremely unlikely that Supreme Court would rule in his favor. I understand his desire to fight this out, but Norm Coleman did do a disservice to the people of his state, by maintaining the endless challenges. He should have given this up months ago.

The one thing that we can all now be certain of is that Norm Coleman will challenge Al Franken in six years. Franken was able to ride the Obama wave to victory, so it will be interesting to see how he does when he runs on his own. The one benefit in this long delay for Franken is that he has had lots of time to prepare and hit the ground running. I don’t think Franken will be a great senator, but he should be a fine representative for the people of his state.

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Limbaugh Claims the Senate Election in Minnesota was Stolen Like in Iran

Jun 30 2009 Published by under Featured News

Rush Limbaugh reacted to the news the news that Al Franken has been certified the winner of the Minnesota Senate race by the state Supreme Court by comparing the Minnesota recount to the recount in the Iranian presidential election. He claims this election was stolen from Coleman. I believe that Limbaugh loves the GOP more than he loves America.

Here is the audio courtesy of Media Matters:

Limbaugh said, “Look at this from Iran’s press run television, state run media in Iran. Ahmadinejad gains votes in recount, just like in our country. It happened just like in our country. Norm Coleman wins in Minnesota in a recount, so they keep having recounts, and Al Franken wins, so they have the recount in Iran and shazam Ahmadinejad gained votes.”

Of course, Rush’s version isn’t exactly how it happened. Franken won the original recount, and has continued to win recounts as Norm Coleman, likely at the request of the national GOP, has continued to drag this process out. Franken will be the 60th Democratic senator, so the GOP is trying to block seating him for as long as possible.

Can you believe the patriotism of Rush Limbaugh? He is now comparing the democratic process of the United States of America to a rigged election in Iran. The opposition in Iran would love to have had the opportunities that Norm Coleman has had.

Even though it has taken months, the Coleman/Franken contest is an example of democracy in action. I never used to believe the stuff about Limbaugh hating America, but comments like this really make me wonder if he does love the GOP more that his own country.

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Olbermann Calls Limbaugh A Big Bag of Mashed Up Jackass

Jun 29 2009 Published by under Featured News

While doing his Worst Person in the World segment on his MSNBC show tonight, Countdown host Keith Olbermann named Rush Limbaugh one of the worst persons in the world for describing the Supreme Court’s 5-4 decision in the Ricci case as a 9-0 decision. Olbermann called Limbaugh, “a big bag of mashed up jackass.” Check out the video.

Here is the video:

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Olbermann said about Limbaugh, “Look, seriously, Rush if you have fallen off the wagon, or if you feel like you are losing your grip emotionally, I am dead serious about this, get to a doctor, or a clergyman or a shrink, or somebody, if not, what the hell, dude? You’re starting to make stuff up? The Supreme Court votes 5-4 and you decode that as 9-0. So you say you have 30 million listeners a week and I can say no you’ve got none, and here’s why, big bag of mashed up jackass.”

As I wrote previously, Rush and the GOP’s talking point that the court was critical, specifically Ginsburg was critical of Sotomayor, thus it was really a 9-0 decision is not true. Olbermann is correct. Limbaugh and all the other Republicans echoing this claim are making stuff up.

Notice that the Republicans don’t seem to care about what this decision means for the employer/employee relationship. They are instead trying to warp this decision into a tool to use against the confirmation of Sotomayor. Limbaugh can try to spin this decision any way he wants, but I don’t think that is going to have any impact on Sotomayor’s confirmation.

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Bachmann Could Lose Her House Seat Because of Census Paranoia

Jun 29 2009 Published by under Featured News

The Minneapolis Star-Tribune ran a fascinating editorial today, which point out that by urging her constituents not to take part in the 2010 Census, Bachmann may end up costing herself her own House seat, because if Minnesota does lose a House seat, Bachmann seat is a prime candidate for absorption.

The editors of the Star-Tribune wrote, “The 2010 census will likely determine whether Minnesota loses one of its eight U.S. House seats; population determines seat allocation. Political experts agree that a few thousand people not filling out census forms may be all it takes for the state to lose a congressional advocate in the nation’s capital. If Minnesota were to lose a congressional seat, Bachmann’s district appears to be candidate for absorption.”

The editorial continued, “Bachmann has been careful to say that she’s willing to tell the census how many people live in her household, the basic information that will determine whether Minnesota keeps a congressional seat. But that’s a message that’s easily lost in her fear-mongering.”

They also wondered about Bachmann’s priorities, “It’s hard to tell what Bachmann’s priorities are. Is it serving her constituents or taking controversial positions? Her long list of odd comments and lack of substantive legislative accomplishments suggest the latter: a politician interested more in being the face of the fringe element than solving the real-life problems of her north-suburban district.”

It would be ironic if by taking her advice, her constituents actually end up costing Bachmann her House seat. This should make anyone wonder what kind of moron would tell people to do something that would lead to the elimination of her own job. If all it takes if a few thousand people in her district to cost her the House seat, then it is very possible that if Bachmann doesn’t do some damage control, she could have a huge problem.

Bachmann apparently wants to be the poster child for the fringe right, at the expense of serving the people of her district. Her constituents have put up with all of her conspiracy theory nonsense, but Bachmann seems more intent on becoming a national player, then actually accomplishing something legislatively. Bachmann would be getting what she deserved if one of her conspiracy theories came back to bite her in the backside.

(H/T: Think Progress)

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Glenn Beck Defends Bernie Madoff as a Small Fish

Jun 29 2009 Published by under Featured News

On his radio show today, Glenn Beck called Bernie Madoff a dirt bag, but he also defended him as a small fish compared to all the other people out there. Beck said, “Why is this big story? This is the small fish.” Apparently, Beck’s definition of a small fish is not the same as everyone else.

Here is the audio courtesy of Media Matters:

Beck said, “It amazes me how many people are crying and screaming for blood, and the guy is, don’t get me wrong, the guy is an absolute dirt bag, and I think he should go to jail for the rest of his life…Here’s Bernie Madoff going to jail for I hope life, but meanwhile, Freddie and Fannie, it’s clear, really, nobody’s going to jail for Freddie and Fanny? Freddie and Fannie did more to collapse our financial, our housing sector, than Bernie Madoff ever did. Bernie Madoff is a small fish compared to all the other people out there. You got to be kidding me. More than what Congress did? Bernie Madoff?”

Later Beck complained, “Why is this the big story? This is the small fish. This is the manipulation of the entire financial meltdown by the government and the media…Fannie and Freddy where are those people…This guy has turned into Enron. This is not the Enron. This is a small fry in comparison to the other criminals.” Beck also asked why the SEC did not want to look into Madoff’s fraud.

If we were to put the people who really responsible for the economic collapse in jail, we would have to start with the Reagan administration, work through the Clinton administration, and then round out the folks from the Bush administration. Fannie and Freddie did not collapse the economy. Unchecked Wall Street greed collapsed the economy.

The deregulatory culture that allowed the greed to go unsupervised started with Reagan, kept going through Clinton, and reached its zenith with Bush. I love how Beck blamed Congress, but left the Republicans out of this. Fannie and Freddie were carrying out orders from the Bush administration. The Bush administration touted the housing bubble as part of their Ownership Society platform. Fannie and Freddie were not acting alone, so to speak.

Madoff is a big deal, and no he is not a small fish. Beck completely missed the reason why Madoff’s sentencing was important. The public needed to send a message to Wall Street that there will be serious consequences of the previous era of unchecked greed. Beck doesn’t get it, because he refuses to see the real reasons why the economy collapsed. To him, Madoff is a small fish, but everyone else, Madoff is a major criminal.

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Limbaugh: The Supreme Court Found that Sotomayor is a Racist

Jun 29 2009 Published by under Featured News

On The Rush Limbaugh Show, host Rush Limbaugh claimed that today’s 5-4 ruling on the Ricci case in the US Supreme Court was really a 9-0 decision. Limbaugh claimed that Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s dissent criticized Sotomayor, when, she is not even mentioned in the dissent. He also said that the Court found that Sotomayor is a racist. Once again, Rush is inventing facts.

Here is the audio of Rush Limbaugh courtesy of Media Matters:

Rush said, “The Court found that she was indeed a racist. Let me tell you something, this is a 5-4 decision. The driveby’s in the state run media saying it is a 5-4 decision along ideological lines. If you read Ruth Bader Ginsburg, you’ll find out it is a nine zip decision, because even those in the minority found that the Second Circuit botched this totally by not even having a trial. They just found for New Haven in summary judgment. It is a disastrous case.” He also claimed that the scope of the Supreme Court’s ruling was limited because Sotomayor engaged in racist behavior.

Here is what Ginsburg wrote about both of the lower court decisions,” In a decision summarily affirmed by the Court of Appeals, the District Court granted summary judgment for respondents. 554 F. Supp. 2d 142 (Conn. 2006), aff’d, 530 F. 3d 87 (CA2 2008) (per curiam). Under Second Circuit precedent, the District Court explained, “the intent toremedy the disparate impact” of a promotional exam “is not equivalent to an intent to discriminate against nonminority applicants.” 554 F. Supp. 2d, at 157 (quoting Hayden v. County of Nassau, 180 F. 3d 42, 51 (CA2 1999)).”

I read through Ginsburg’s entire dissent, and I can’t find what Limbaugh is talking about, probably because it isn’t there. This isn’t a 9-0 decision, as Limbaugh claimed. It was a much divided 5-4 decision. Rush is trying to use this case to derail the confirmation of Sotomayor to the Supreme Court, but in her dissent Ginsburg states that she believes that the lower courts acted properly by relying on 25 years of legal precedent.

It is interesting that right wingers like Limbaugh applauded today’s decision which was based on conservative judicial activism. What the majority ruling accomplished today was a reversal of 25 years of employment discrimination decisions. Essentially this ruling does not allow employers to voluntarily comply with Title VII if they believe that a test was discriminatory. Under today’s ruling it must be demonstrated that a procedure was intentionally discriminatory.

The majority also stacked the deck, by taking the unusual step of not remanding the case back to the lower court. As Ginsburg wrote, “The Court stacks the deck further by denying respondents any chance to satisfy the newly announced strongbasis-in-evidence standard. When this Court formulates a new legal rule, the ordinary course is to remand and allow the lower courts to apply the rule in the first instance. See, e.g., Johnson v. California, 543 U. S. 499, 515 (2005); Pullman-Standard v. Swint, 456 U. S. 273, 291 (1982). I see no good reason why the Court fails to follow that course in this case. Indeed, the sole basis for the Court’s peremptory ruling is the demonstrably false pretension that respondents showed “nothing more” than “a significant statistical disparity.”

This decision won’t harm Sotomayor’s confirmation. Republicans will try to use this case as a weapon against her, but it won’t work. The Supreme Court did not proclaim Sonia Sotomayor a racist today, but the majority did continue to chip away at the rights of employees and potential employees as they relate to workplace discrimination.

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Hypocritical National Republicans Rush to Defend Mark Sanford

Jun 28 2009 Published by under Featured News

Gov. Haley Barbour (R-MS), Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC), and Mitt Romney all appeared on Sunday morning talk shows, and all said that disgraced South Carolina governor should not resign. The Republicans all claimed that Sanford has a personal problem, and completely ignored the fact that Sanford abandoned his post as governor.

On Face the Nation Gov. Barbour was asked if Sanford should resign. Barbour answered, Well, I don’t think so, but that’s up to the people of South Carolina. But no, I don’t think so.” Host Bob Schieffer followed up by asking about the fact that Sanford went AWOL, and Barbour dodged the question, You know, Bob, I don’t know all the details. But I’ve been in politics a long time. I’ve made it my policy, I just don’t talk about people’s personal problems. I don’t– I don’t think it’s appropriate, I don’t think it’s polite, and I don’t think it– it achieves any purpose.” (Note to all: It is not polite to talk about a governor who vanishes).

Lindsey Graham and Mitt Romney were on Meet the Press, and they also defended Sanford. Graham, who is the godfather of the Sanford’s youngest child said, “I think if Mark can reconcile with Jenny, and that’s not going to be easy, that he can finish his last 18 months. He’s had a good reform agenda. And I do believe that if, if he can reconcile with his family and if he’s willing to try, that the people of South Carolina would be willing to give him a second chance. But he’s also got to reconcile the legislature. If he can get his family back together, I think he can continue out his term and maybe do some good things next year.”

Mitt Romney tried to dodge the question about Sanford going MIA, You know, his, his holding onto that job is really between him and his family and the, and the people of South Carolina. It’s not for people outside the state to make pronouncements on. This is a matter which is really a heartbreaking matter, and that’s what I think you have to focus on. You’ve got a family in great distress. And I’m, I’m really… Well, overwhelmingly the heartbreak is what the public is focused on, and what we should be focused on. And seeing this family become healed is our highest priority.”

The hypocrisy of Barbour, Graham, and Romney is unbelievable. These are people who were calling Bill Clinton to resign over the Lewinsky affair, and Clinton didn’t vanish to Argentina to hang out with his mistress. The affair isn’t why Sanford should resign.

It is the fact that he abandoned the people of his state, and nobody knew where he was for days. Republicans are trying to downplay his neglect of his political duties, and are trying to create sympathy for Sanford.

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Washington Post’s Milbank Calls Nico Pitney a Dick on CNN

Jun 28 2009 Published by under Featured News

After the Huffington Post’s Nico Pitney and The Washington Post’s Dana Milbank engaged in a heated debate about Pitney’s question from an Iranian at President Obama’s recent press conference. According to Pitney when the segment concluded Milbank turned to him and said, “You’re such a dick.” The controversy isn’t about the question, but that a blogger got “the moment” of a news conference.

Here is the video courtesy of Think Progress:

Milbank joined in the right wing chorus of calling Pitney a planted questioner. Milbank accused Obama of rigging the press conference, “But yesterday’s daytime drama belonged primarily to Pitney, of the Huffington Post Web site. During the eight years of the Bush administration, liberal outlets such as the Huffington Post often accused the White House of planting questioners in news conferences to ask preplanned questions. But here was Obama fielding a preplanned question asked by a planted questioner — from the Huffington Post.”

On CNN’s Reliable Sources Pitney said, “From beginning to end there was no planning involved. I was the one who posted that that I was soliciting questions from Iranians. I chose the question. The reason President Obama made that comment is because he was trying to make a point that he was taking a question from and Iranian.”

He then took a shot at Milbank, “It is interesting that Dana, of all people wrote this column very negatively. This is a person, Dana, who when he had a chance to ask Obama a question he approached him in the hall during the campaign and asked him not one, but multiple questions, about how he looked in a bathing suit. I mean that to me is pathetic, and you couldn’t stage manage me into that Dana.”

Pitney then posted on The Huffington Post, that Milbank called him a dick, “The only thing that surprised me was when Dana turned to me after our initial sparring and called me a “dick” in a whispered tone (the specific phrase was, I believe, “You’re such a dick”). Howie Kurtz wrote on Twitter that he didn’t hear it, which is understandable — he was doing the lead-in for the next part of the segment on the ABC White House special. But it happened (I urge Howie to watch the video of the panel during the ABC intro) and it was frankly pretty odd.”

Milbank appears to be a bit of a hypocrite though, because as Greg Sargent pointed out on his blog that Milbank wrote a column full of growing praise about the stagecraft involved in President Bush’s Mission Accomplished moment.

Back then Milbank wrote, “When the Viking carrying Bush made its tailhook landing on the aircraft carrier USS Abraham Lincoln off California yesterday, the scene brought presidential imagery to a whole new level. Bush emerged from the cockpit in full olive flight suit and combat boots, his helmet tucked jauntily under his left arm. As he exchanged salutes with the sailors, his ejection harness, hugging him tightly between the legs, gave him the bowlegged swagger of a top gun. For Bush — who also gave a national address from the carrier and spent the night aboard — it was a bold bid to surround himself with the aura of the U.S. military.”

For as long as there have been press conferences, presidents have been trying to manage them. Milbank’s allegation that Pitney’s was a planted question is not true. The fact that Obama essentially dodged Pitney’s question, hurts Milbank’s claim. If the same question would have come from a traditional media outlet, nobody would have raised an eyebrow.

Milbank seems to be complaining because the question came from a liberal political site. It wasn’t the question itself but the source, which Milbank is griping about. Milbank and Pitney obviously have a problem with each other, but Milbank’s outrage is a bit phony, because he, as well as anyone, understands the deal with presidential news conferences.

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