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By Geoffrey Dickens | July 11, 2011 | 5:10 PM EDT

Six out of seven reporters, called on by Barack Obama at today's press conference, asked a question of the President that came from the left and/or blamed Speaker John Boehner and the Republicans for standing in the way of a deal on the debt ceiling.

Ben Feller of the AP, began the trend of questioning when he asked how Obama was going to deal with Republicans who were "adamantly" opposed to tax increases. CBS News' Chip Reid followed with "isn't the problem the people who aren't in the room, and in particular Republican presidential candidates and Republican Tea Partiers on the Hill?"


By Aubrey Vaughan | July 11, 2011 | 4:43 PM EDT

Correction: The original post incorrectly stated that former Speaker Pelosi had "extravagant use of Air Force One on the taxpayer's dime." While Pelosi did charter military aircraft for cross-country flights at taxpayer expense, Air Force One is the call sign exclusively reserved for the president of the United States.

At a time when the government is facing billions of dollars in cuts to programs that many Republicans deem as wasteful, it seems that the only spending Democrats want to address is Rep. Paul Ryan's expensive taste in wine, even though they have past ignored a number of instances of wasteful Democratic spending on the taxpayer's dime.

Last Friday, Talking Points Memo published a piece criticizing Ryan for sipping a glass of wine from a $350 bottle of Pinot Noir. Onlooker Susan Feinberg, an associate business professor at Rutgers, took pictures of Ryan and his two economist friends sipping the wine before approaching Ryan and asking how he could live with himself for dropping hundreds of dollars on wine while arguing for cuts to programs benefitting the poor and elderly.

By Scott Whitlock | July 11, 2011 | 4:17 PM EDT

MSNBC's Martin Bashir on Monday wondered if Michele Bachmann and Rick Santorum support "a return to the days of slavery" after the two GOP hopefuls signed a pledge on upholding traditional marriage.

Teasing a segment on the topic, the cable anchor mused, "Next, the problem with promises. Did two Republican hopefuls really sign a pledge suggesting a return to the days of slavery?"

[See video below. MP3 audio here.]

By Clay Waters | July 11, 2011 | 3:59 PM EDT

With 14 million Americans out of work, New York Times economics reporter Catherine Rampell is wondering where the left-wing mobs are in the front-page story for Sunday Business, “Somehow, the Unemployed Became Invisible.” The text box imagined a better time: “In the 1930s, Americans did not endure unemployment so quietly.”

(Back on June 18, Rampell agonized over how “one little word” was depriving jobless Arizonans of additional weeks of federal benefits.)

By Terence P. Jeffrey | July 11, 2011 | 3:42 PM EDT

President Barack Obama and congressional leaders seeking to negotiate a deal to increase the legal limit on the federal government's debt, would need to agree to increase that debt by $615.865 billion between now and Sept. 30, just to keep the government going at current spending levels, according to the CBO's latest estimate of the fiscal 2011 deficit and the Treasury Department's latest accounting of the federal debt.

By Eric Scheiner | July 11, 2011 | 3:35 PM EDT

At a White House press conference today, President Barack Obama said that "professional politicians" understand the debt crisis better than "the public." 

By Kyle Drennen | July 11, 2011 | 3:34 PM EDT

During the roundtable discussion on Sunday's NBC Meet the Press, liberal Washington Post columnist Eugene Robinson claimed the fight over the debt ceiling would be a political "winner" for President Obama, prompting host David Gregory to declare that the commander in chief would look like "the debt slayer."

Gregory then turned to chief White House correspondent Chuck Todd and wondered why debt ceiling negotiations broke down. Todd placed the blame squarely on Republicans: "Well, it broke down because Speaker Boehner couldn't get an agreement on taxes. Let's remember, he was not – he did not believe he was politically strong enough in his own caucus to remain leader of the House Republicans....Eric Cantor said no."

By Clay Waters | July 11, 2011 | 2:46 PM EDT

New York Times Executive Editor and "collapsed Catholic" Bill Keller reviewed “Absolute Monarchs – A History of the Papacy” by John Julius Norwich --the cover review for the Times Sunday Book Review. The issue included an editorial note at the front of the magazine confessing the paper’s rough relationship with the Catholic Church (which Times Watch has documented).


Through the years, The New York Times’s coverage of the Roman Catholic Church and the Vatican has received sharp criticism from practicing Catholics -- including the past eight years that Bill Keller has been the paper’s executive editor. Yet Keller, who wrote this week’s cover review of “Absolute Monarchs: A History of the Papacy,” by John Julius Norwich, was raised within the fold.

By Ken Shepherd | July 11, 2011 | 1:11 PM EDT

A proposed "culturally insensitive" traffic law in New South Wales, Australia, could land Muslim women of good conscience in jail for a year, the Associated Press alerted readers in a July 10 story. Essentially the law requires motorists pulled over by police officers to show their faces so that officers can confirm their identity against a driver's license photo.

Failure to do so could result in a fine and/or jail time.

"A vigorous debate that the proposal has triggered reflects the cultural clashes being ignited by the growing influx of Muslim immigrants and the unease that visible symbols of Islam are causing in predominantly white Christian Australia since 1973 when the government relaxed its immigration policy," the AP preached.

But buried deeper in the article was an explanation of why the bill is being considered in the first place (emphasis mine):

By Kyle Drennen | July 11, 2011 | 12:35 PM EDT

In an interview with Tim Pawlenty on Sunday's NBC Meet the Press, host David Gregory cited New York Times columnist David Brooks slamming Republican opposition to tax increases in debt ceiling negotiations as "fanaticism" and proclaimed: "There is this purity test which is no tax increases, no revenue increases at all."

Pawlenty responded by pointing out Brooks's liberal leanings: "Well, with all due respect to, to David Brooks, this is not the time for Rockefeller Republicanism." Gregory continued to push for the GOP to accept tax hikes as part of a deal: "Is that good governing for Republicans who control the House to say, 'Sorry, no tax increases period,' even when they're looking at getting potentially $4 trillion in spending cuts?"

By Tim Graham | July 11, 2011 | 12:31 PM EDT

Julie Moos at reported Monday that reviews are “mixed” for the forthcoming Juan Williams book on his firing from National Public Radio (title: Muzzled: The Assault on Honest Debate, due July 26). But the only review Moos cited was Kirkus Reviews, which hammered at the Williams book as a step backward in the debate: “In the end, about the last thing the civil-discourse cause needs, namely more self-interested preaching to the choir.” The unnamed Kirkus reviewer was snarky:

By Clay Waters | July 11, 2011 | 12:05 PM EDT

President Obama’s budget blueprint may have been unanimously rejected by Congress in late May, but suddenly the president is the courageous, ambitious one on budget talks after issuing new rhetoric indicating a willingness to make cuts in social programs like Medicare.


In his Sunday front-page story, “House Speaker Is Pulling Back On Deficit Deal – $4 Trillion Plan Stalls Over Tax Increase,” congressional reporter Carl Hulse (pictured) continued to shade his own word choices in a pro-Democratic direction. Though the headline accurately stated that the stumbling block in negotiations are Democratic calls for a “tax increase,” Hulse reliably avoided the unpopular phrase in his report. The text box also underlined the idea of Obama the risk-taker: “An attempt at something big that some Republicans found too big.”

By NB Staff | July 11, 2011 | 10:56 AM EDT

After nearly four months of a costly military intervention in Libya to oust leader Muammar Gaddafi, little progress has been made in assuring the quick exit President Barack Obama promised in March.

With no end to the conflict in sight, either, Obama's NATO coalition looks like it could fall apart before Gaddafi's regime does.

Let us know what you think of the US involvement in Libya in the comments.

By Tim Graham | July 11, 2011 | 8:39 AM EDT

It's a laudable thing to mourn the loss of First Lady Betty Ford, but on Monday's Washington Post op-ed page, Post columnist E.J. Dionne is so kind he argued against reality. He praised Betty Ford for telling an interviewer that it would be no big deal if her 18-year-old were having an affair and neither was youthful exploration of marijuana.

Dionne claimed: "That can drive political consultants crazy, but in Betty Ford’s case, it had a positive effect on the country and, I’d argue, on her husband’s political prospects." Dionne can't have forgotten the actual 1976 election results? He didn't really have "prospects" after that.

By Tim Graham | July 11, 2011 | 6:59 AM EDT

Frank Schaeffer has gaudily departed from the evangelical Christian family he was raised in, and how writes hair-on-fire articles about the dangers of the radical religious right. Last week, we found him warning on MSNBC of how Michele Bachmann represents a “theocracy in waiting” from people “who actually hate the United States as it is.”

Unsurprisingly, The Washington Post thinks Schaeffer’s new book Sex, Mom & God deserved a rave review in the Sunday paper, and went to find author Jane Smiley, who once wrote that Ann Coulter’s parents should be ashamed of themselves and that “Americans aren't nice or decent people, and conservative, overtly patriotic Americans are even less decent and less nice.”