Whitebart: Why is the Media Giving Andrew Breitbart a Pass?

I’ve watched the Shirley Sherrod story unfold from pretty early on, and the thing that strikes me now, after watching the umpteenth talking head panel about how the USDA, NAACP, and the White House rushed to judgment (on ABC’s This Week) is how the man who pulled the pin on this hand grenade, Andrew Breitbart, is being given a near-total pass. The lion’s share of this shit sandwich, meanwhile, is being eaten by the Obama administration and the NAACP. Even Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack, despite all evidence to the contrary, has seen his share fed to the administration by virtue of his underling’s bullying name-drop when ordering Shirley to resign. What the fuck is going on?
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Where Are the Black Panthers at Obama Events?

I found out yesterday that yet another guy showed up to a Presidential event with a gun (2 guns, actually).  That brings theblack-panthers_1968 total to, what, 2 million?  Give or take.

The familiar refrain from these armed, conservative opponents of the President is that the 2nd Amendment permits this.  Sure, Chris Matthews had a point about the one guy who referenced “watering the tree of liberty,” but that could have meant anything.  This is totally not about intimidation.

Still, it made me wonder what the reaction would be like if some Black Panthers showed up to these events with firearms.  As fellow displayers of their 2nd Amendment right to bear arms, they could stand right there with their conservative brethren, and perhaps new friendships would emerge.

I suggest the Panthers because I’d like to see some political diversity in these “man-with-a-gun-on-the-street” interviews, and the (New) Panthers are the largest non-conservative group to promote gun ownership that I’m aware of.

Then, weather permitting, both sides could engage in a “David Hasselhoff CD Skeet Shoot” to show off their 8th Amendment rights.

Yeah, it would be a moment of great fellowship, I’m sure.  Hell, I bet there might even be some beret-exchanging.  Most of all, it would be a shining example of Americans putting aside political differences, and finding common ground.

Transcript:President Obama’s Address to a Joint Session of Congress on Health Care

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Americans Overwhelmingly Oppose Pubic Option


The current sticking point on health insurance reform is the public health insurance option, with a majority of congressional Democrats favoring it, a handful of Blue Dogs wetting themselves over it, and the Republicans hallucinating about it.  What’s being left out of the equation in Washington is how the American people feel about it.

Polling on this issue has been misleading.  After a June poll showed 76% support for a public health insurance option, pollsters simply stopped asking that question.  Instead, they’d ask overly broad questions about the overall reform effort, and the headlines were all about “slipping support.” Nowhere was it considered that the “slipping support” might have had something to do with the regular reports of the death of the public option.

When they finally did ask again, 79% of Americans said they favor a public option.

What hasn’t really changed, and what everyone acknowledges, is that almost everyone opposes the pubic option.  That’s the one where the insurance companies have you by the short ones, able to refuse you coverage for a pre-existing condition, deny your services with their own death panels, retroactively terminate you if you get sick and made a mistake on your application, and pretty much just build their profits into whatever coverage you get, because your life depends on it.

The problem is, the public option is the only real solution to the pubic option.  There’s no way to pass regulations strong enough to ensure that you don’t end up with cheap, junk insurance that’s already putting people in the poor house (Try to remember the last time your auto insurance paid for anything).  The public option will serve as that safety net, and despite even more recent rumblings that it’s been left for dead, the President can, must, and will make sure it passes.

President Obama Should Promote Van Jones to ‘Mom Czar’


This should take care of your Van jones.

There is mounting pressure from the right to have the President’s special adviser on green jobs, Van Jones, served up on the ol’ Underbus Platter.  I say he should promote him.  Sure, “Mom Czar” is one idea.  He could be in charge of making sure that all Americans at least listen to their mothers, even if they don’t comply.

I think Jones is uniquely qualified for this, having discovered what happens when you don’t read something before you sign it, but I would settle for any promotion.

Jones is the right wing’s current shrieking point, an Obama appointee who is being targeted because his signature appeared on a 9/11 “Truther” petition.  At face value, it’s weak sauce, but Jake Tapper and others have added considerable water to the now thin broth.

When I first heard about this, I applied the standard righty litmus test: What if this had been a Bush appointee (perhaps signing a Vince Foster petition?)?  I really gave it some thought, and it led me to two conclusions.  First, there would have been a round of blog posts on Crooks and Liars, TPM, Huffington Post, et al, but I seriously doubt anyone would have even asked Bush about it. There are a hundred stories like this that never went anywhere.

My second conclusion was that the media plays along because of Bush.  They let the worst President in history walk all over them for 7 years, catching on only after the rest of us had moved on.  Now, they are applying the level of scrutiny that Bush deserved to Barack Obama.  Normally, you would need a reason to give a shit that a peripheral appointee signed a politically charged petition once, but because the media blew it so badly with Bush, the Spidey sense is tingling.

The right, desperate to erase the Bush stain, starts with the assumption that Obama is worse, then builds the facts around that conclusion.  They forget that Bush earned his dirty diapers.

The President has taken the path of least resistance in these matters in the past, preferring to let controversial aides and appointees step aside to avoid “becoming a distraction.”   Early indications here portend more of the same.  While there has been some wisdom to this in the past, I think this time, the President ought to show the shrill wingnuts who’s boss.  Hell, make Jones the Gun Control Czar, that’ll show ’em.

Postlet #6: Fact-Checking Huckabee and Politifact

Dumbass Mike Huckabee, a guy I used to like, defended his idiotic reading of some of the President’s remarks, and their relationship to just-buried Ted Kennedy.

When diagnosed with terminal brain cancer at age 77, Senator Kennedy didn’t do as President Obama suggested and take a pain pill and ride it home.

Politifact, the RC Cola of fact-checking, tries to set the record straight about the pain pill remarks:

Looking at the full transcript, it’s clear that Obama voluntarily brought up the example of having to choose between a surgery and a pill. But he did so as a hypothetical example of difficult decisions about medical treatment for older patients. He was not advocating, much less requiring, bureaucrats to make a potentially life-ending decision for a centenarian.

“I don’t want bureaucracies making those decisions,” Obama said.

Sure, that’s one way to read the President’s remarks.  But I read it more as a weighing of the medical risk of a surgery on someone of that age, versus a possibly limited reward in extension of life.  Risk dying in surgery to get another 2 years, versus a risk-free year on that pill, you know, a medical decision.  Either way, the President was pretty clear.

“I don’t want bureaucracies making those decisions.”

Sit down and shut up, Huckabee.

Postlet #1: Really? The PhRMA Deal Sucks?


Tonight, I introduce the postlet.  The name might indicate a short blog post, but what it really is is a post that’s short on links and polish, and long on me mouthing off because I am constantly having my time wasted, so I’m really annoyed.  I’m also including a random picture, because I like my posts to have a picture, but I don’t feel like thinking of one that goes with this post.

I’m not going to tell you who has been wasting my time today, because I want you to have the fun that comes with those “blind gossip” items, like, “Who’s the blonde starlet recently seen playing nude backgammon with that married entertainment lawyer?” or “What committee has press people who don’t, y’know, interact with the press?”

On a completely unrelated note, someone in the press is finally noticing how awful the $80 billion PhRMA deal is.  Except not really.  This Fortune article misses everything I pointed out in June, but does point out new awfulness that’s based on details that hadn’t emerged when I wrote mine.  So, add this + this.  Well, I guess now we know all we need to know about that story.

Americans Get President’s Message, Democrats Not So Much

briefing1At today’s White House press briefing, Press Secretary Robert Gibbs cited an NBC poll that shows that shows that only 45% of Americans currently believe in “Death Panels.” He cited this as evidence that the President has been effective in debunking myths about health care reform.

I would argue that 45% is an awfully large number to believe in a health care Sasquatch, but even granting that, the President’s effectiveness at combating myths is cold comfort if the Democrats in congress don’t get the message.  I asked Gibbs what happens to the next health care provision to become the subject of an urban legend:

TC:  On health care, you were talking about Chuck’s poll earlier, that — I mean, the good news that most Americans no longer believe in death panels. But the fact remains that Section 1233 was taken out of the House bill. So what can you do to reassure voters that the same fate won’t befall other provisions of the bill if some rumor like the death panels gets started about the public option?

MR. GIBBS: I don’t — I’m not following the thesis of your — the section that’s been pulled out.

TC:Section 1233 about the end-of-life care.

MR. GIBBS: It’s been?

TC: There was a report earlier this week that it’s been dropped.

MR. GIBBS: Well —

TC: Is that not true?

MR. GIBBS: This is in a Senate Finance Committee bill that nobody has seen? Look, what I’m saying is, I think the President is going out there and explaining what those provisions are and what they’re not — regardless of whether they’re in what section of what bill at what time, I think it’s something that the President has been focused on doing and correcting the record. I think it has more to do with a sustained dialogue in dealing with the misrepresentations as it has whether or not a provision may or may not have been dropped.

While I’m happy to credit the President with quelling some of the “death panel” nonsense, I would be more comforted if he could lend some of his, shall we say, fortitude to his panicky congressional standard-bearers.

Media Eager to Report Death of Public Option


The big story this morning, aside from Mad Men and Michael Vick, is the death of the public health insurance option.  On  TV, on newspaper front pages, and on blogs, various stages of the public option’s demise are being reported.  The basis for all of this pessimistic reporting?  Statements, this weekend, by Press Secretary Robert Gibbs and HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius that the public option is not a deal-breaker.

Ex-sueeze me?  That’s the big news?  This is one of those questions that come up so often at White House briefings, we can all recite the answer like a well-dressed Rocky Horror audience.  “The President strongly supports a public health insurance option, but the main goal is to provide health care reform that results in quality, affordable care for every American.”  (throw toast at Gibbs)

The media has stood ready to stick a fork in the public option since this debate began.  Off the top of my head, there was this July report that Rahm Emanuel had “caved” on the public option by answering this very question.  That story was quickly walked back by the President later that day.

The White House’s strategy seems to have been to “rope-a-dope” on the public option, putting it out there and letting opponents punch themselves out at it.  In the end, the White House doesn’t need the Republicans, or many of the Blue Dogs, to push this through.  The question is whether or not they realize what’s at stake.

An even bigger question is, why is the media so ready to eulogize the public option?  While recent polls have reflected slipping support for health care reform as it is being debated, those same polls either show overwhelming support for the public option, or they simply don’t ask.

There are two obvious answers.  First, corporate influence over the mass media that drives news coverage is always a popular go-to bogeyman, and not necessarily in the tinfoil-y, paranoid sense.  A media culture that intersects so strongly with a corporate culture is bound to reflect those values disproportionately.

There’s also the voracious nature of the 24-hour, 1440-minute news cycle that grants outsized importance to mundanities and inanities, particularly in the entertainment-starved dog days.

The answer is a combination of the two, abetted by desperate and dishonest opponents of the public option and their squeaky wheels.  Look for the White House to spend the day, and the week, pushing back against this.

Hey, Folks, it’s the House Healthcare Bill By Request! Section 312 Subsections B and C


(in radio-guy voice) Welcome to Tommy eh-eh-eh-X’s House Healthcare Morning Zoo! (funny sound effect)  This next request comes from the poster with the most-er, the tweep who will make you weep, Kimberly HANEYYYYY! (cue sexy sax music)

Kimberly writes in “Dear Tommy EH-EH-EH-X!!! (explosion sound effect), please decipher Pg 145 Line 15-17 – in your words, please.”

Happy to do it, Kimmie, so buckle the (BLEEEP) up, baby, ‘cus here..it..COMES! Continue reading