Anima at The Daily Kos is furious at the idea that the insurance lobbyists (or the "murder-by-spreadsheet industry") will get a "public option" stripped from the health bill. But the metaphors are a bit distasteful:
How unbelievably infuriating it will be if we get a watered-down, junk bill and then have to listen to Rahm tell us how it's a "victory." Yes, let's give the American people a nice, big glass of urine on the rocks and call it the most delicious lemonade they done ever tasted!...
Terry Jeffrey walked away the winner on Hardball this afternoon. Despite being double-teamed by Chris Matthews and Salon's Joan Walsh, the editor-in-chief of our sister publication CNSNews.com had the others admitting that the Obama admin has gone too far with the cult-of-personality way it's pitched the president's speech to schoolchildren.
But that didn't prevent Matthews and Walsh from unsubtly accusing PBO's opponents of racism, archly claiming that the motive for the opposition to the president is his "background."
New York Times Executive Editor Bill Keller penned a letter to the New York Review of Books, in reply to a Michael Massing article on the Internet and the news business. After defending his paper's Internet presence, Keller found a blog he actually likes, praising left-wing blogger-journalist Josh Marshall, who operates the Talking Points Memo blog.
I've long been an admirer of the best practitioners of Web journalism, including many of the familiar faces Massing introduces to the Review's readers. My respect for Josh Marshall, to cite everyone's favorite example of a serious journalism venture born online, is all the greater because his success remains, so far, a rarity and a struggle.
In today’s L.A. Times director Oliver Stone discusses his upcoming documentary “South of the Border,” about the “warmhearted” Hugo Chavez. [emphasis added]:
Oliver Stone is shown warmly embracing Hugo Chávez, nibbling coca leaves with Evo Morales and gently teasing Cristina Elizabeth Fernández de Kirchner about how many pairs of shoes she owns. …
“I think he’s an extremely dynamic and charismatic figure. He’s open and warmhearted and big, and a fascinating character,” … ”But when I go back to the States I keep hearing these horror stories about ‘dictator,’ ‘bad guy,’ ‘menace to American society.’ I think the project started as something about the American media demonizing Latin leaders.
Guys like Stone are forced to rationalize that the American media is right-leaning in order to avoid their head exploding due to an acute case of FacingTheTruth-itosis. But maybe the doc will be more critical than we’re led to believe in this article. During their warm embrace, it’s possible Stone whispered hard-hitting questions in Hugo’s ear about reports such as this from the not-so-conservative Human Rights Watch.
Over at Daily Kos, bloggers aren't merely mourning Ted Kennedy's death. Some are declaring that this moment is the time for health "reform," and the only obstacle is Republicans who killed New Orleans and laughed about it. The blogger "cskendrick" declared on Wednesday:
The acrimony surrounding health care reform is not the litmus test of our Republic. This test we took not so long ago - and we failed this test utterly.
How did we fail? We let the Republicans kill a major U.S. city. We let them laugh about it and walk away. We all failed New Orleans. We failed its rights, its lives, its health, its rightful place in our compassion. I was resistant to the message not so long ago but it is true - We. All. Failed. NOLA. The Republicans failed it gladly and boldly. The Democrats failed to take them to task for this abomination.
Former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin has been out of office over a month and there are still those working at major media outlets that just can't get over their obsessions with dissecting everything the former GOP vice-presidential nominee does.
Gabriel Malor at Ace of Spades HQ has a great "name that party" catch today. Malor noted that at least three major news outlets all failed to note the high-powered Democratic Party ties of one Hassan Nemazee, a businessman arrested this morning on a charge of bank fraud against Citigroup:
The 10-paragraph entry by Havana-based news producer Portia Siegelbaum amounted to an electronic birthday card for the Communist dictator.
No Castro critics, domestic or foreign, were cited in the story, although Siegelbaum made sure to note how a "U.S.-based religious group, Pastors for Peace" got to hang out on Wednesday with the aging despot.
Yet Siegelbaum failed to note the leftist political bent of Pastors for Peace, describing it merely as "an anti-embargo organization." The Web site for Pastors for Peace, a project of the Interreligious Foundation for -- wait for it -- Community Organization (IFCO), insists that its purpose is:
Remember when the children of public figures were off-limits in the day-to-day hand-to-hand combat of political warfare?
It's a rule that didn't just applied to the underage children of politicians, but the adult children. Witness the 2008 suspension of MSNBC's David Shuster for suggesting then-presidential contender Hillary Clinton's 28-year-old daughter Chelsea Clinton was being "pimped out" by the campaign.
But maybe that rule only applied to Democrats. When it comes to liberal pundits attempting to score cheap points against conservatives, especially ones they loathe like Rep. Michele Bachmann, R-Minn, all bets are off. In an Aug. 12 column, Minneapolis Star Tribune columnist Jon Tevlin, citing a hateful anti-Bachmann blog, decided it appropriate to beat up the two-term congresswoman using her son Harrison's decision to participate in the government program Teach for America (TFA). TFA is one of the programs under the AmeriCorps umbrella.
Topside Update, 2:15 p.m.: Imagine that -- Roxana Mayer was also an Organizing For America "host" during the Texas primary last year.
Anyone visiting here even semi-regularly knows that the establishment media consistently fails to determine the legitimacy of people who "say the right things." Further, when someone else, often a blogger, digs and finds the truth, the reporters and publications involved may sometimes grudgingly acknowledge it, but even then usually incompletely; and more often than not, they won't give credit where due.
This all-too-typical scenario has played out in the past two days in the case of a certain Roxana Mayer. In two posts (here and here), LA-area blogger Patterico, best known for his relentless skewering of the target-rich environment known as the Los Angeles Times, exposed Ms. Mayer, who claimed to be a doctor when she spoke at a town hall meeting held by Houston Congresswoman Sheila Jackson Lee (and who later hugged her, as seen at the top right), as a leftist fraud.
As Patterico noted in the title of his second post, Mayer's mantra ought to be "I’m Not a Doctor But I Play One at Town Hall Meetings." Patterico also showed that Mayer was also a Texas Obama delegate at last year's Democratic Convention.
At first, the Houston Chronicle took Mayer's word that she is a doctor, failed to investigate her bona fides, and reported the following:
The media is so dramatically conservative in Washington, D.C. that Grover Norquist outranks former Democrat presidents, vice presidents, and presidential candidates in the booking order. So claimed the Daily Kos blogger known as "Dengre" in a post on "The bias we fight." Be amazed:
And as we fight we need to know that we start every round of every battle at a disadvantage. If you are a liberal or a progressive you are always a dirty f***ing hippie --- always a weak-ass panda in this Bourgeois Town. And Conservatives are always the voice of power with access to any media outlet they wish to use. Grover Norquist can get on any show he wants to be booked on and he will always be treated as a serious player. Al Gore, Howard Dean or Jimmy Carter will never be given the respect that the inside-the-beltway crowd gives Norquist and the rest of his merry band of conservative think tank thieves. The gap is big.
Grover Norquist is a serious Washington insider, but let's not suggest that if he threw a huge anti-Gore concert to laugh at the hype over global warming, NBC would broadcast it for 75 hours. He also hasn't guest-hosted the Olbermann show like Howard Dean just did.
Liberal bloggers this week have once again given credence to those who complain that bloggers lack credibility, attacking Michelle Bachmann over routine congressional floor actions.
Bachmann, who was holding the floor for the Republicans Monday afternoon, delayed a vote on a bill recognizing Hawaii’s 50th anniversary of statehood due to lack of quorum.
Apparently Bachmann’s delay for an evening vote proves she is an “Obama birther,” someone who believes that Obama was born in Kenya. After all, as Chris Steller of the Soros-funded Minnesota Independent said, “It’s hard to interpret Bachmann’s maneuver as anything other than her first foray into birtherism.”
When historians look back to identify the pivotal moments in the nation's struggle against obesity, they might point to the current period as the moment when those who influenced opinion and made public policy decided it was time to take the gloves off.
So what's the biggest obstacle to Mideast peace? Hamas terrorists who refuse to accept Israel has a right to exist? Perhaps the Iranian government that finances anti-Israel terror operations? Neither, according to Time's Joe Klein (shown at right in file photo), who insists in a July 20 Swampland blog post the fault lies with Israel:
Benjamin Netanyahu's phony flexibility on a two-state solution was always transparent--and it's now becoming apparent that Israel is the prime impediment to progress in the Middle East. Over the weekend, the State Department asked Israel's Ambassador Michael Oren to convey U.S. displeasure over continued Israeli settlement expansion in Jerusalem, which Netanyahu rejected out of hand.
Although Netanyahu and his coalition government won their February election -- some three months after Obama won his and just weeks after his inauguration-- fair and square, Klein makes clear he has no use for the will of the Israeli people and the decisions of their duly-elected government if and when they peeve the Obama administration:
At least one media outlet is bucking the field's bleak economic outlook: The left-wing blog Talking Points Memo. On Monday, Noam Cohen reported in the New York Times that TPM has received funding from outside investors that will result in a doubling of staff, and may include some veteran mainstream journalists.
The political news Web site Talking Points Memo this weekend completed a round of investment, of $500,000 to $1 million. The move is intended to increase the number of employees, to roughly 20, from the current 11, in the next 10 months.
The financing is the first part of a three-year plan to increase the site's staff to 60 employees, Joshua Micah Marshall, the site's founder, said in an interview at his offices on West 20th Street in New York.
Marshall, who in TPM's early days (the blog was launched during the Florida recount fight of Election 2000) was less reflexively anti-Republican than today, has beefed up the once-humble blog to include TPM café, a discussion site, and TPM Muckraker, an investigative site almost exclusively devoted to conservative scandal-mongering.
Although the established media often rails against bloggers, Marshall is an exception. As Cohen reported back in February 2008, Marshall won the media's George Polk Award for legal reporting for his work on the Bush administration firing eight U.S. attorneys under what TPM and other liberals claimed were politically motivated circumstances -- a perfectly legal effort that was nonetheless considered scandalous by mainstream media.
In the 1990s, the Clinton administration waged a more ardent and aggressive public-relations battle against the tobacco industry than they did against Osama bin Laden. Daily Kos blogger "Bill in Portland, Maine" takes his militaristic whimsey to Winston-Salem, North Carolina today, imagining the invasion and occupation of a cigarette manufacturer:
Overall, thirty two percent of active-duty military personnel smoke, compared with 20 percent of the U.S. population in general. Because of that, there's a movement afoot inside the Pentagon to ban the use of tobacco because it's killed so many of our troops. I have another suggestion: let's invade and conquer the facilities of RJ Reynolds. After all, their WMDs have cost us more in lives and treasure than Saddam ever did. Plus Saddam didn’t recruit kids with a cartoon camel that thought he was cool but was actually a dick.
This sounds like a bad John Cusack movie. He also blamed Team Bush for increased nicotine addiction:
You know, liberals should be celebrating. Their man, The Won, is in the White House. They have control of both the House and the Senate, and legislation such as cap and trade and nationalized health care may well become reality - European socialism without having to leave the comfort of home. The Brave New World is on the way. Rejoice in mediocrity for all!
So why are they so grumpy? I suppose it’s because the idea that anyone might stray from the reservation is anathema to them, and this little thing in our Constitution called the First Amendment kind of gets in the way of collective happiness and singing Kumbaya around the campfire.
Republicans, particularly those who are the biggest fans of Gov. Sarah Palin, are stuck in the vestiges of the 1984 "white-bread fantasy" of Reagan's "Morning in America," huffs Time magazine's Joe Klein in a July 6 Swampland blog post on "Sarah Palin's America":
All this talk about Sarah Palin's constituency being "real Americans" raises the question, yet again, of who the unreal Americans are. Last September, when the Governor burst upon the scene like a head-on collision, I wrote that Palin's America--white folks, small towns, traditional values--was a Republican fantasy, a vestige of Ronald Reagan's "Morning in America" hornswoggle in the 1980s. (This fantasy was reinforced by John McCain's fetishizing of Joe the Unlicensed Plumber.)
Real America is much different from, and more interesting than, that white-bread fantasy, a problem the Republican Party--the party of immigrant bashing--will be wrestling with for the immediate future.
Klein conveniently omitted that 2008 presidential nominee Sen. John McCain was hardly an immigrant basher, heavily criticized by conservatives in the GOP for his push for amnesty for illegal immigrants. What's more, it was President Reagan who signed the last amnesty bill in 1986, another inconvenient fact that cuts against Klein suggesting Reagan was a quasi-racist xenophobe.
As if to bolster his own cosmopolitan credentials with which to better slam Gov. Palin as provincial, Klein casually dropped a reference to a party he recently attended in the Islamic Republic of Iran:
"Last night on this show, I stirred up an angry hornet's nest in the blogs, you know, when I criticized their mean-spirited negativity, bashed them for hiding behind their cowardly cloak of anonymity," Kneale said. "And, I called them dickweeds, a form of pond scum. Well, they have howled with outrage throughout the blogosphere. Blog sites like Dealbreaker, Gawker, Huffington Post, the Business Insider, Zero Hedge and more have incited an online mob to rush to their defense."
Clearly, the most important takeaway from ABC's low-rated White House forum on health care was President Barack Obama's admission that he would go outside the constraints of a nationalized system to get the "very best care" if necessary for his own family.
Editor's Note: The following was originally posted to Andrew Breitbart's Big Hollywood blog on June 24. Perhaps of greatest note to NewsBusters readers is Tapson's reporting on the pronouncements of Daily Beast contributor and UC Riverside professor Reza Aslan that "There is no such thing as Sharia."
While Iranian-American protesters packed streetcorners in Westwood last Saturday afternoon in support of the revolution currently playing out in the streets of Tehran, an historical drama about stoning in Iran got underway at the Los Angeles Film Festival mere blocks away.
For the few who don’t know by now, The Stoning of Soraya M. is based on French-Iranian journalist Freidoune Sahebjam’s bestselling book, which relates the true story of a woman in a remote Iranian village, in the years after the 1979 Khomeini revolution, who is falsely accused of adultery and stoned to death by a mob desperate to cleanse themselves of this affront to their collective honor and to their religion. It’s not only a gripping story in its own right, but it shines a harsh spotlight on the almost unimaginable reality that the barbaric punishment of stoning still exists in the Iranian law code, despite a largely nominal 2002 moratorium, the result of pressure from Western human rights groups.
(Full disclosure, even though I’m not reviewing the film here: I’m close friends with the filmmakers Cyrus and Betsy Nowrasteh, I provided Mpower Pictures with a bit of research on the project, I’m friends with other cast and crew and producers associated with the film, and I think stoning is bad. So don’t take my word for it when I say SorayaBig Hollywood’s John Nolte will be the most important, affecting film you’ll see all year. Instead seek out the multitude of reviewers who recommend the film, including and then see it for yourself.)
Following Saturday’s screening was a panel discussion, not so much moderated as simply hosted by Iranian novelist Khaled Hosseini, author of the bestselling The Kite Runner, who personally selected the film for the L.A. Film Festival. The panel also included Soraya’s writer-director Cyrus Nowrasteh, starring actress Shohreh Aghdashloo, and Dr. Reza Aslan, billed as an Islamic scholar.
As if the press hasn’t already been fawning over Obama enough, the White House resorted to coordinating a question with the Huffington Post at today’s press conference.
Against White House protocol, the communications department contacted Huffington Post blogger Nico Pitney and asked him to query Obama on the specific subject of Iran for the second question of the press conference.
The protesters admire our freedom, but they are appalled--and insulted--by our neocolonialist condescension over the past 50 years. The reformers, and even some conservatives, consider Ahmadinejad the George W. Bush of Iran--a crude, unsophisticated demagogue, who puts a strong Potemkin face to the world without very much knowledge of what the rest of the world is about. This was an anology [sic] that came up in interview after interview, with reformers and conservatives alike.
Klein doesn't explicitly reference the "axis of evil" remarks in then-President Bush's 2002 State of the Union address as an offense, although he quite probably has it in mind. Yet a review of the relevant passage from that speech shows Bush was dead-on and arguably eerily prophetic about the iron-fisted repression that the world is witness to presently on the streets of Tehran (portion in bold is my emphasis):
In today's "Truly Delicious Irony" segment, the Federal Trade Commission, just months after so-called journalists decided who should win a presidential primary and subsequent election, is going to begin going after bloggers who make false claims about products and/or don't fully disclose conflicts of interest.
Whenever Oscar-winning filmmaker Michael Moore releases a new documentary the reaction in the press is typically jubilant. Rave reviews. Fawning interviews which rarely ask tough questions. Oscar buzz aplenty.
But this time could be different.
Moore’s last film, “Slacker Uprising,” didn’t go straight to DVD. It went straight to download. Now, Moore’s catching heat from Movieline.com, the online film magazine which routinely taunts conservative targets like Gov. Sarah Palin. The site’s new Moore-related post swats the filmmaker for a less than sharp attempt at marketing his upcoming film about the country’s economic collapse. The movie blogger sets up his critique here:
In the midst of his June 16 Swampland blog screed leveled against the "unhinged" Sen. John McCain for his criticism of President Obama's low-key response to the Iranian election, Time magazine's Joe Klein [shown in file photo at right] also worked in a comparison of hardliner Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's support base with former U.S. President George W. Bush's core supporters:
It is not even clear that Ahmadinejad--who has significant backing from the sort of people who support Republicans here (the elderly, the religious extremists) plus a real following among working-class Iranians--would have lost this election, if the votes had been counted fairly. (I tend to believe that they weren't counted at all, but that's just my opinion.)
Twelve days earlier, Klein more subtly made the Ahmadinejad/Bush connection in a comparison that favorably compared Iranian presidential candidate Mir-Hossein Mousavi to Bush's 2004 rival Sen. John Kerry (emphasis mine):