"The Senate's 88 to 5 vote" on a one-year reprieve for middle class taxpayers on the Alternative Minimum Tax (AMT) "blew a $50 billion hole in the Democrats' promise not to pass any spending or tax measure that would add to the deficit," Washington Post's Jonathan Weisman and Jeffrey Birnbaum reported today. The staff writers then rounded up three "conservative 'Blue Dog' Democrats" from the House of Representatives to rail against the Senate for lacking the courage to "take a tough vote," in the words of Rep. Mike Ross (D-Ark.).
But just how conservative are these "conservative" Blue Dogs? Try slightly left of dead-center.
Washington Post staffers Jonathan Weisman and Steven Mufson gaver readers of the December 7 paper an article on a "comprehensive energy bill" that passed the House of Representatives without delving into Republican criticism that the bill lacks any provision to produce or procure more energy domestically, such as from interior and off-shore natural gas and oil reserves.
Weisman and Mufson noted in the lede that the bill will raise "fuel-efficiency standards" and "require increased use of renewable energy sources" and later quickly dispatched with Republican opposition by finely chopping Minority Leader Rep. John Boehner's (R-Ohio) criticism:
Even House Minority Leader John A. Boehner (R-Ohio) -- who assails the measure as a "no-energy" bill and as a tax increase that would raise, not lower, energy costs -- lauded the CAFE (corporate average fuel efficiency) standards as a good and reasonable compromise.
Oh really? On it's "Online Newshour" Web page, PBS -- hardly a right-wing news venue -- gave readers more of Boehner's critical quote:
It must be wonderful to be a Democrat and know that your indiscretions are very unlikely to get much attention by media minions only willing to cover the crimes and shortcomings of folks on the opposite side of the aisle.
Take for example James Michael McHaney, an aide to Sen. Maria Cantwell (D-Wash.) who NewsBusters reported had been arrested last Friday for trying to lure a thirteen-year-old boy into a sexual encounter.
Not only did this get buried on Friday so as likely not to take focus away from Sen. Hillary Clinton (D-NY) looking regal and presidential during that day's hostage crisis in New Hampshire, but also once the Associated Press deigned to actually inform subscribers on Monday that something potentially nefarious had occurred, press outlets either continued to ignore the subject, or buried it nicely so that precious few would be made aware of it.
On the television side, according to LexisNexis, the only outlet which felt this newsworthy was CNN which aired its only report on this matter during the 6:00 AM EST "American Morning" Tuesday:
I'll be live-blogging the press conference (mostly just the questions from the journalists as we're focused on the bias) and if a video update is warranted, we'll post one shortly after the conference concludes:
10:44 closes press conference, leaves podium.
10:41: Mark Silva, Chicago Tribune, says reading Bush's body language he can tell he's "somewhat dispirited." Then he says "the facts have failed you" on things he's telling the American people. Quotes Harry Reid. "Are you feeling troubled... credibility gap?"
10:37: unid'd reporter "Wolf" asks about if Bush's personal relationship with the Democrats in Congress is affecting getting legislation through.
10:35: another unid'd reporter named "Wolf" asks Bush to react to 2008 U.S. presidential race
10:35: reporter asks if he discussed Russian elections with Putin
10:33: unidentified reporter asks Bush if in his conversation with Putin if he asked him to not sell uranium to Iran.
10:30: Baier, Fox News: "What does the vote in Venezuela mean for the U.S.? .... What's your reaction to Chavez opponents winning?"
The "Big Three" networks’ morning shows all ignored Representative John Murtha’s "the surge [in Iraq] is working" comments during a recent video conference. On the other hand, CNN’s "American Morning," during its 6 am Eastern hour "Political Ticker" segment, covered the Pennsylvania Congressman’s apparent shift in opinion.
Murtha, who became a bit of a media darling for his anti-Iraq war stance, recently came back from a trip to Iraq. The Pittsburgh Post Gazette quoted Murtha as saying, "I think the 'surge' is working." Murtha then went on to say that the Iraqis "have got to take care of themselves."
Long-time conservative Republican Congressman Henry Hyde of Illinois, a hero to conservatives for his ideological consistency and efforts to limit abortions, passed away Thursday morning at a Chicago hospital (Chicago Tribune obit with video clips). While ABC and NBC noted his death, at age 83, on their Thursday evening newscasts, and even managed to avoid any pejorative ideological labeling, the CBS Evening News ignored Hyde. But Katie Couric made time to highlight how, in a Time magazine interview, Barack Obama said if he wins he'd give Al Gore a job “in a minute” and a position to Bill Clinton “in a second.” Couric added on Clinton: “Obama said 'there are few more talented people out there.'”
Trent Lott, once a favored whipping boy of the mainstream media for unfortunate and poorly-worded comments at Strom Thurmond's 100th birthday bash, is now being hailed by the Washington Post's Jonathan Weisman as a great statesman as he exits the U.S. Senate.
Weisman's page A4 profile, "As Lott Leaves the Senate, Compromise Appears to Be a Lost Art," paints a picture of a U.S. Senate descending into perpetual gridlock thanks to partisanship. Yet Weisman seems to lay all the blame for partisan gridlock on Republican shoulders, assigning no blame to the Democrats who now control the august deliberative body.:
States once represented by common-ground dealmakers, including John Breaux (D-La.), David L. Boren (D-Okla.), James M. Jeffords (I-Vt.) and Ernest F. Hollings (D-S.C.), are now electing ideological stalwarts, such as David Vitter (R-La.), Tom Coburn (R-Okla.), Bernard Sanders (I-Vt.) and Jim DeMint (R-S.C.).
Only one of those "stalwarts" is a liberal, the socialist professor-turned-politician Bernie Sanders. Other left-wing ideologues like Sens. Russ Feingold (D-Wisc.), Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.), Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.), and of course Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) apparently escaped Weisman's attention.
Indeed, while Reid's Senate is one-half of a Congress with abysmal public approval ratings, Weisman lamented that with the Senate "almost dysfunctional" that "new power centers," such as "pragmatist" dealmakers like Trent Lott "are difficult to find."
Wealthy Americans are becoming increasingly interested in donating to global causes. Since 1997, the rate of global giving has increased steadily at an average of 12.5 percent each year. According to a recent Financial Times story, JPMorgan Private Bank has “noted a rise of about 20 percent over the last year in client interest in overseas donations, with high-net-worth individuals looking to support education, health and economic expansion projects in developing countries.”
And they aren’t alone. Financial planners and international banks have seen similar upswings. It all begs the question—why?
What does this increased giving tells us about Americans?
Smith teased the segment at the top of the show by declaring, "On the record, 21 Democrats officially call for the impeachment of Vice President Dick Cheney, citing deceit in Iraq and covert operations in Iran." This declaration was preceded by a song that CBS managed to find on the internet with the lyrics: "Impeach Cheney first."
The top of the segment featured a report by Chip Reid, who explained, "The resolution accuses Cheney not only of alleged past sins regarding Iraq, but alleged current ones on Iran." Despite Cheney’s "sins," Reid also admitted the unpopularity of the proposal:
On Firday’s CBS "Early Show," co-host Harry Smith began a segment on the controversy over Attorney General nominee, Michael Mukasey’s stance on water boarding with a report from Capitol Hill Correspondent Chip Reid, who exclaimed that:
Water boarding is a highly controversial interrogation technique that simulates drowning...It's been used by interrogators since the Spanish Inquisition. Reportedly, it's been used by the CIA in real life, too, on a small number of Al Qaeda suspects.
In addition to this exaggerated characterization, Reid also made it seem as though the issue of water boarding was a sudden, shocking controversy, rather than an instance of a consensus nominee, well-liked by Democrats and Republicans, being attacked by those who once welcomed him:
Michael Mukasey looked like he was sailing along to easy confirmation as attorney general, until he ran aground on the issue of water boarding...If he is defeated, water boarding will be the issue that made the difference, something no one could have predicted when the hearings began.
On both Tuesday’s "Evening News" and Wednesday’s "Early Show" CBS gave prominent coverage to Nancy Pelosi’s call for the resignation of the head of the Consumer Product Safety Commission, Nancy Nord. In an interview with Nord on Wednesday’s "Early Show" co-host Julie Chen asked:
American parents are upset, they're frightened, they feel like their Halloween and their Christmas is now ruined. They don't know what to buy. Members of Congress are calling for your resignation. Are you going to resign?
The "Evening News" featured a portion of Pelosi’s rant against the Bush Administration, "I'm calling upon the President of the United States to ask for the resignation. It is, after all, his administration, his policy, his appointee." That was followed by reporter Chip Reid’s explanation that "Pelosi says it's clear that Nancy Nord, the Acting Chairman of the Consumer Product Safety Commission, doesn't understand the gravity of the situation because Nord opposes legislation now before Congress that would double the agency's budget over the next seven years to more than $141 million a year." Later, Reid did present Nord’s perspective that "Democrats...want to change the mission of the agency to less testing of products and more litigation against companies."
However, on the "Early Show" Reid again reported from Capitol Hill, but this time followed Nord’s explanation with "Consumer advocates say what's really going on here is the Bush Administration protecting big business at the expense of consumers, a charge the White House vigorously denies." Why the sudden addition of an attack on the administration?
News item: Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, right, is confronted by CodePink member Desiree Sairooz, her hands painted red, as she arrives to testify on Capitol Hill in Washington, Wednesday, Oct. 24, 2007, before the House Foreign Relations Committee
A CNN/Opinion Research Corporation poll released Friday shows the approval rating for all members of Congress sits at a dismal 22 percent, while 75 percent of those surveyed disapproved of the way Congress is handling its job.
The report indicates that just over 600 Americans were asked the following question: Do you approve or disapprove of the way Congress is handling its job? The current poll results, as well as those of a year ago, were listed as follows: Oct. 12-14, 2007 (Approve-22%; Disapprove-75%; No opinion-3%); and Oct. 6-8, 2006 (Approve-28%; Disapprove-63%; No opinion-9%).
Following these results, however, is an extensive list of polling data on congressional approval ratings going back to April 1974 (presumably the oldest polling data available). The historical polling data is labelled "GALLUP CNN/USA TODAY/GALLUP TRENDS." It should also be noted that the polling is not listed on a monthly or yearly basis. Some years had monthly results on the poll question, while other years (particularly in the 1970's) listed as few as one poll per year.
Thursday’s Washington Post front page featured a laudatory profile of hard-charging partisan House Government Reform Committee chairman Henry Waxman. Reporter Jonathan Weisman hailed the liberal veteran from Beverly Hills as a “tireless” bright spot for House Democrats. The only Republican quotes used by Weisman underlined how impressive Waxman was. Ten years ago, when conservative Dan Burton rose to the Government Reform committee chairmanship, a front-page profile was exactly the opposite. Burton was portrayed by fellow Republicans as “this kind of crazy life insurance salesman.”
Weisman’s Waxman profile has a “God, I admire you” tone throughout:
Waxman has become the Bush administration's worst nightmare: a Democrat in the majority with subpoena power and the inclination to overturn rocks. But in Waxman the White House also faces an indefatigable capital veteran -- with a staff renowned for its depth and experience -- who has been waiting for this for 14 years.
These days, the 16-term congressman is always ready with a hearing, a fresh crop of internal administration e-mails or a new explosive report. And he has more than two dozen investigations underway, on such issues as the politicization of the entire federal government...”
Notice Norah O'Donnell glancing down? Although the screen graphic refers to the Lewinsky scandal, the MSNBC anchor was at that moment discussing the Democrats's $1 trillion tax proposal with Rep. Charles Rangel (D-NY). As Chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee, Rangel is the key mover behind the tax plan.
O'Donnell, obviously reading from a document, described the proposal as a plan "to eliminate the alternative minimum tax and ease the tax burdens of most Americans by asking the rich and some corporations to pay more."
A big individual income tax hike is being pushed by Democratic Rep. Charlie Rangel, chairman of the House Ways & Means Committee, but New York Times economics reporter Edmund Andrews failed to capture the import in a slanted front-page business section story Thursday.
The Times manages not to spell out precisely where Rangel's tax-hike proposal would begin to bite on "the wealthy."
"The House's leading Democratic tax writer will propose a sweeping overhaul of the tax code on Thursday that would increase taxes on many people with incomes above $200,000 but cut them for most others.
"The bill, to be introduced by Representative Charles B. Rangel of New York, chairman of the Ways and Means Committee, would also overhaul corporate taxes by eliminating many major tax breaks and lowering overall tax rates.
With pressure mounting, Democratic Congressman Pete Stark finally apologized today for his reprehensible statements on the House floor last week.
In his disjointed anti-war rant last Thursday, Stark shamefully remarked:
You don't have money to fund the war or children. But you're going to spend it to blow up innocent people if we can get enough kids to grow old enough for you to send to Iraq to get their heads blown off for the president's amusement.
Republicans immediately objected, with House Minority Leader John Boehner demanding a retraction and noting that "Congressman Stark's statement dishonors not only the commander in chief, but the thousands of courageous men and women of America's armed forces who believe in their mission and are putting their lives on the line for our freedom and security.''
Given his show's modest ratings, it's unlikely that Keith Olbermann would be in a position to make a multi-million dollar donation to charity anytime soon. But let's imagine he did. Do you think that, in a segment on a related subject, NBC might find a moment to mention Olbermann's generosity?
So do I.
But "Today" managed to get through its report this morning about Rush Limbaugh's auctioning off of the Harry Reid letter . . . without mentioning that Rush has publicly pledged to match the $2.1 million winning bid.
A few days after 9-11, President Bush, in an impromptu moment on the White House lawn, referred to the war on terrorism as a crusade. What does that have to do with the vile claim Rep. Pete Stark (D-Calif.) made this week that Pres. Bush sends our soldiers to Iraq to have their heads blown off for his "amusement"?
Nothing that I can see. But on this afternoon's "Hardball," Chris Matthews dredged up that and a couple other statements from the president's past and staged a segment asking whether they were worse than Stark's line. Note the graphic in the screencap, in which MSNBC absurdly asks "who should apologize, Rep. Stark or Pres. Bush?"
Did I miss the joke? Was there something funny about what Pete Stark (D-Calif.) said on the floor of the House, claiming that President Bush sends our soldiers to Iraq to get their heads blown off for his amusement? Craig Crawford can apparently see some humor in it.
Crawford appeared on today's "Morning Joe," and while the MSNBC political analyst certainly didn't approve Stark's statement, he did try to soft-pedal it, smilingly portraying it as just one more outburst from a congressional scamp.
Americans on both sides of the aisle should be bitterly angry today.
A United States Congressman stood on the floor of the House of Representatives on Thursday and said that kids are being sent "to Iraq to get their heads blown off for the president`s amusement."
As if that wasn't bad enough, the three evening news programs of America's top broadcast networks didn't feel this despicable act was important enough to share with the citizens of our nation.
Frankly, I'm not sure which should anger you more.
Here is a partial transcript of Rep. Pete Stark's (D-Cal.) abysmal statements made on the House floor on October 18, 2007, that America's leading news agencies didn't want you to see (video available here):
In a free-swinging democracy such as ours, rare are the restraints on political speech by our elected representatives. One exception are rules of decorum, such as those governing the House of Representatives that prohibit members from speaking in negative personal terms about their colleagues and other officials.
There is a similar, unwritten rule by which former presidents do not criticize their successors. And while the occasional lapse has occurred over the history of the republic, no president has so thoroughly trashed the tradition as Jimmy Carter, who has made stinging criticism of the Bush administration a virtual art form. Earlier this year, for example, Carter publicly labelled the Bush administration "the worst in history."
A September 12 NewsBusters' item, NYT Misreports Biden-Obama Exchange, detailed a reporting error in the New York Times' coverage of testimony delivered the previous day to the Senate Foreign Relations Committee by General David Petraeus and Iraq Ambassador Ryan Crocker. The news story reported an exchange between Senator Joseph Biden (D-DE) and Senator Barack Obama (D-IL), both Democratic presidential candidates:
The senators were allowed only seven minutes each for questions, a limit that Mr. Biden, as a committee chairman, tried to enforce. But he did not try overly hard to cut off Mr. Obama, perhaps because he did not want to be seen in the ungentlemanly act of silencing a political rival. “Why don’t you try to summarize quickly what you said, O.K.?” Mr. Biden genially asked him as his time ran out.
CNN’s Jack Cafferty, in a "Question of the Hour" segment on Wednesday’s "The Situation Room," offered a loaded question involving President Bush’s veto of a proposed expansion of the SCHIP program. "President Bush has increased the national debt by trillions of dollars. Why would he veto a bill providing health insurance for children?"
Cafferty’s question came 10 minutes into the 5 pm Eastern hour of "The Situation Room." Before he asked that question, Cafferty detailed that President Bush’s veto of SCHIP "was cast very quietly this morning behind closed doors. No fanfare, no news coverage," and the reasons the President listed for his veto. He then added that "this is the same man who will soon go to Congress and ask for another $190 billion to continue that glorious war in Iraq." Cafferty also outlined how under President Bush’s leadership, the ceiling for the national debt has been increased for the fifth time in seven years to $9.8 trillion, and how apparently, President Bush "has borrowed more money from foreign governments and banks since taking office than this country's first 42 presidents combined."
In an uncommon bout of journalistic self-control, the New York Times had thus far ignored the phony controversy over Rush Limbaugh's "phony soldiers" comment on his radio show last Wednesday, remarks wrenched out of context by the far-left Media Matters.
But on Wednesday, congressional reporter Carl Hulse used an action by some liberals in Congress yesterday as an excuse to bring it into the Times news pages in his "Congressional Memo," "Limbaugh Latest Target In War of Condemnation."
"Having abandoned for now their effort to force President Bush to withdraw troops from Iraq, Democrats are not giving ground against a lesser nemesis: Rush Limbaugh.
"With the help of liberal advocacy groups, the Democrats in Congress are turning Mr. Limbaugh's insinuation that members of the military who question the Iraq war are 'phony soldiers' into the latest war of words over the war."
As Brent Baker of MRC/NB has documented, MSNBC has been among the worst MSM offenders in propagating the falsehood that Rush Limbaugh had accused all anti-war military members of being "phony soldiers."
A point of light at that same network this morning, however, as Joe Scarborough and Willie Geist combined to debunk the Media Matters allegation, accusing the organization of using a "phony story about a phony soldier" to go after Rush.
It began at 6:04 A.M. EDT today, during the "Morning Joe" opening coffee klatsch.
DAVID SHUSTER: On Monday evening while guest-hosting the 6 p.m. evening hour, I conducted an interview with Tennessee Republican Marsha Blackburn. The congresswoman spoke at length about a newspaper ad that criticized General Petraeus. In what I believed was an effort to examine Representative Blackburn's priorities, I then asked her to name the last soldier from her congressional district killed in Iraq.
She responded "the name of the last soldier killed in Iraq from my district, I do not know." After that response, I identified who I believed to be that fallen soldier, a Tennessean killed in Iraq last month. But according to Pentagon documents, that young man came from a town inside a neighboring congressional district, not from Representative Blackburn's, and for that, I apologize for that mistake.
With her ratings in the basement, Katie Couric is trying to drive up her appeal by displaying her mastery of the content. But the gaffes can still happen – whether it’s the anchor’s fault or the CBS publicity staff. In the September issue of the promotional pamphlet "CBS News Report" – published locally with ads for the D.C. CBS affiliate WUSA – Couric has several "Katie Couric’s Notebook items." One of them complained that women’s magazines are still accepting ads for "light and luscious" cigarettes: "Congresswoman Lois Katz, who used to be a school nurse, has criticized the hypocrisy of magazines peddling the very health hazard their editorial pages rail against."
The only problem is there is no Rep. Lois Katz. There’s a Rep. Lois Capps (D-Santa Barbara), who’s been in Congress since March 1998, when she replaced her husband Walter, who died of a heart attack the previous fall. She was a school nurse in Santa Barbara.