Fox Nation vs. Reality: Gun Lobbyists Don’t Shoot People – Their Kids Do

Today Fox Nation went after Joe Biden’s Gun Violence Prevention Task Force by reporting that one of the members is the father of a young man who was convicted in 2008 of plotting a Columbine-style attack at his school. But that was only half of the story.

Fox Nation

Thomas Nee was president of the Boston Police Patrolman’s Association. He was selected to be a member of the task force due to his life-long career in law enforcement and his 30 year association with Biden. Unfortunately, he also happens to have a son who ran afoul of the law.

Joseph Nee was a teenager when he reportedly conspired with his friend, Tobin Kerns, to commit an assault on the students and faculty of his Marshfield, MA, school. He was convicted and sentenced to nine months, with another two years of probation. The defense noted that it was Joseph who went to the police to report the plot, which resulted in his arrest and that of his friend. Consequently, due to Joseph’s renunciation of the activity and cooperation with law enforcement, no one was ever actually threatened or harmed.

The article posted by the Fox Nationalists featured the sensationalist headline “Member Of Biden’s ‘Gun Control Task Force’ Has Son Convicted Of Planning Columbine-Style Attack.” The clear intent on the part of Fox was to tarnish the task force’s reputation in order to bias public opinion against its work. None of the details were included by Fox or the Breitbart News column which was its source.

Also not included was the fact that the President of the NRA has also had family problems with regard to criminal gun use. David Keene’s son was convicted of shooting at another man in an incident of road rage. The younger Keene was sentenced to ten years in prison for attempted murder.

To the extent that Fox desires to discredit Biden’s task force by publicizing the actions of a single member’s family, the NRA should be similarly liable for the actions of the spawn of its president. If anything, these kids are a warning sign of the potential risks associated with growing up in families where firearms are revered. Both of these fathers were ardent gun advocates and users, and they raised their kids in households where such weaponry was commonplace.

However, neither of these fathers can reasonably be prohibited from involving themselves in the public discourse on gun violence because of the actions of their sons. And this one-sided effort by Fox to impose a form of censorship via smear tactics is unconscionable, unethical, and further evidence of their unfitness to be regarded as a credible news enterprise.

Fox News Escalates Pro-Gun Campaign With Help From Ted Nugent

True to form, Fox News is rolling out a massive PR blitz in favor of the NRA’s “Guns Everywhere” agenda. It’s a free advertising bonanza for gun nuts and rightist politicians who exploit the controversy as a wedge issue. This morning there were fourteen separate stories on Fox Nation in addition to those airing on multiple programs on the Fox News Channel. And in every case the tone mirrored gun worshipers who are willing to tolerate mass murder every so often in order to hang on to their assault weapons.

Ted Nugent

Much of what is giving them their latest case of the willies is an off-hand remark by Vice-President Joe Biden. Speaking about bipartisan meetings with people and groups concerned about the subject, he told reporters that “There are executive orders, executive action that can be taken.” That was all it took to heat up the right to boiling, even though the reality is that there are very few and limited measures that can be implemented in that manner. Biden was merely referencing the fact that his review would be comprehensive, as any responsible approach to such a serious subject should be.

The resulting outrage echoed across the mediasphere with lunatics like Alex Jones threatening an armed rebellion, and NRA board member Ted Nugent comparing gun nuts to Rosa Parks. An item on Drudge made comparisons to Stalin and Hitler. Of course the usual suspects in the pundit and political classes immediately began inciting fears of a tyrannical Obama confiscating all guns and abolishing the Constitution. Among those were Fox’s Charles Krauthammer, who declared any regulation of guns was unconstitutional and would lead to an insurrection, and newly minted Tea Party senator Ted Cruz, who concurred.

It really is impossible to have a rational, productive discussion with hair-trigger crackpots like these inflaming their followers and distorting the facts. They disregard the actual legal precedents with regard to regulation, as well as their own saner associates (i.e. Gen. Stanley McChrystal), and even recent polls that show that majorities of NRA members favor stricter controls on certain types of guns. In this environment it will require lawmakers to focus on the facts and the people’s will, rather than the lobbyists and political opportunists, if we hope to make our country safer.

Fox News Knows Ryan Lost Debate, So They Resort To Distractions And Lies

One of the best ways that experienced debate watchers know when one side has lost is if that side spends most of their time criticizing the moderator and/or the style of their opponent. That’s a clear sign that they believe they came up short on substance. And it’s precisely what Ryan’s side did from the moment the debate ended.

Twitter was buzzing with conservatives whining that moderator Martha Radditz was biased in favor of Biden, even though they had little evidence to cite for that assertion. Much of their complaining reached back twenty years to her 1991 wedding where President Obama was a guest of the groom. They conveniently wipe from their consciousness the fact that Radditz divorced Obama’s pal in 1997 and the unlikelihood that she would be inclined to do a favor for a friend of the friend of her ex-husband.

Fox News leaped to the aid of their client, resuming their role as PR agency for the GOP. And since they were no better able to attack on substance, they obsessively harped on Biden’s demeanor.

Fox Nation - Biden Smiles

They regarded his smiling and laughing as flaws that demonstrated disrespect for Ryan. But seriously, if that’s all they’ve got they might as well admit they were crushed by Biden’s command of the debate. In fact, it was clear that when Biden was laughing it was almost always in response to Ryan saying something that was blatantly false. Biden’s smile was a pretty good sign that Ryan had just lied. And had Biden remained straight-faced you can bet that he would have been castigated by the same critics as dour and unlikeable (sort of like Ryan).

Fox News also made an effort to skew the public reaction to the debate and, true to form, they outright lied. There were two post-debate polls conducted – one by CBS that showed Biden winning 50-32, and one by CNN that put Ryan ahead 48-44. Fox News reported that two polls placed Ryan in the lead.

Fox Nation Debate Polls

The way that Fox arrived at this conclusion was by including an online survey by CNBC. That was actually just a web question that could be answered by anyone who visited their site. It was not a scientific poll. In fact, while the numbers did put Ryan ahead (36-56) when Fox first reported them Thursday evening, later on Friday morning the same poll showed Biden leading (52-44).

CNBC Debate Poll

Nevertheless, Fox was still reporting the older numbers of this non-poll. When Steve Doocy brought it up on Fox & Friends he only mentioned that two polls favored Ryan. Then, when Brian Kilmeade noted a third poll by CBS, Doocy dismissed it saying that it was just a focus group with only 50 people. In fact, CBS conducted a conventional poll with 431 respondents. So Doocy lied to throw out CBS’s real poll while embracing CNBC’s fake one.

Much of the media followed the same course with Politico, The Guardian, The Daily Caller, The Washington Examiner, National Review, and Breitbart Nwes, all characterizing what CNBC posted as an actual poll. This tendency to promote dishonest information fits nicely in the GOP’s new post-truth era. Which brings us back to Paul Ryan, who did his part by dropping at least two lies during the debate that had previously been found to be “Pants-on-Fire” lies by PolitiFact. And not being a slacker, one of Ryans lies was actually the “Lie of the Year” in 2010. Nice work, Paul.

Biden/Ryan Debate: Paul Ryan Reprises PolitiFact’s 2010 Lie of the Year

Pants on FireIt’s not enough for Republicans to merely lie after having set the bar for veracity so low this election season. Consequently, after Romney spent 90 minutes lying last week, Ryan had to aim higher. And boy, did he. He reprised the 2010 Lie of the Year per PolitiFact.

PolitiFact’s Lie of the Year: ‘A government takeover of health care’
Ryan: President Obama, he had his chance. He made his choices. His economic agenda, more spending, more borrowing, higher taxes, a government takeover of health care. It’s not working.

In addition to that, Ryan let loose another PolitiFact Pants-On-Fire lie:

Smallest Navy Since 1917
Ryan: If these cuts go through, our Navy will be the smallest — the smallest it has been since before World War I.

Republicans have been very upset at having been called liars lately. That’s despite the fact that Romney started it even before the first debate by projecting that Obama would lie. But I would advise them that if they don’t like being called liars, they should stop lying.

More Context Mangling By The Romney Camp: Joe Biden Edition

The Romney campaign has made grabbing snippets of President Obama’s speeches and contorting their meaning the central strategy of his campaign. Yesterday they expanded their strategy to include Vice-President Joe Biden.

Fox News on Joe Biden

Fox News and its community web site Fox Nation, leaped on Biden after he delivered a speech saying pretty much the same thing that Obama has been saying for years. The extracted snippet that Fox is blasting as if it were somehow significant is “Yes we do.” Fox then elaborates by placing those three little words next to “want to raise taxes.” But that is not what Biden said. Here is the complete quote in context:

“On top of the trillion dollars in spending we’ve already cut, we’re going to ask, yes, we’re going to ask the wealthy to pay more. My heart breaks. Come on, man. You know the phrase they always use? ‘Obama and Biden want to raise taxes by a trillion dollars.’ Guess what? Yes, we do in one regard: We want to let that trillion dollar tax cut expire so the middle class doesn’t have to bear the burden of all that money going to the super-wealthy.”

Clearly Biden was reiterating Obama’s long held agenda to let Bush’s tax cuts for the rich expire. There is nothing controversial about demonstrating consistency in political ideology, which is what Biden did. Yet Romney, with the help of Fox News, is twisting these comments to imply that Obama is planning to raise everyone’s taxes. They know that isn’t true, which is the definition of a lie. If Romney wants people to stop calling him a liar, all he has to do is stop lying.

Not So Breitbart: Biden Does NOT Address Empty Seats, Nor Jeremiah Wright

The mental deficients at Breitbart News have done it again – twice.

Breitbart News

The picture above shows a packed house at the NAACP conference for the appearance by Vice-President Joe Biden. The speech was well received with the crowd even booing when he announced that he was wrapping up.

Nevertheless, the Breitbrats found a photo that was tweeted prior to Biden’s arrival and decided to post that with an article that said that “Biden Addresses Empty Seats at NAACP Convention.” Obviously, that was not true. The larger photo of an enthusiastic crowd was taken by an actual reporter from Reuters. Not surprisingly, the mysterious editors at Fox Nation (who Fox refuses to identify) re-posted the Breibrat item as if it were certifiable news.

In addition to the false assertion of an empty hall, the Breitbrats sought to portray their fabricated story as a “misstep for a presidential campaign unable to find its footing.”

“The low turnout could be due to weather, as Hawkins suggests, or perhaps it could have been in protest because the NAACP was snubbed by Obama. Or, maybe people didn’t feel it imperative to hear America’s Grandpa ramble on about how much he learned in a Reverend Wright’s church.”

Of course, neither the weather, nor an alleged snubbing, prevented the conferees from attending in force. But what’s worse is the reference to Rev. Wright. That bit was cribbed from Michelle Malkin. As it turns out, Biden was not referring to Jeremiah Wright at all. It never occurred to these goofballs that there might be more than one Rev. Wright in America.

Andrew Breibart’s ghost must be so proud of these idiots.

New York Post Columnist Tells Fox News That Obama Might Kill Biden

Michael Goodwin is a notoriously uber-conservative writer for Rupert Murdoch’s wingnut tabloid, the New York Post. This morning he ventured over to Murdoch’s Fox News studios to be interviewed about the presidential election. When the subject turned to vice-presidents, Goodwin couldn’t resist making a Mafia association with President Obama caste as the Godfather. His prediction is that Joe Biden will be disposed of to make room for Hillary Clinton on the Democratic ticket.

“Joe Biden is the Fredo of the Obama family and I wouldn’t be surprised to see him sent out on a little fishing boat one early morning. […] If it comes close in the summer, if the polls show Obama trailing, he will make the switch. Hillary Clinton will be on the ticket and Joe Biden will be sleeping with the fishes.”

Twice in Goodwin’s remarks he refers to Biden being assassinated in order to reassign Clinton. The “little fishing boat” and “sleeping with the fishes” are both Mafia-speak for mob hits from the iconic Godfather movies.

The outlandishness of Goodwin’s assertions are nearly matched by his incoherent analysis. If Obama were going to ditch Biden he would have done so before having produced warehouses full of Obama/Biden campaign paraphernalia. And making such a switch later in the season would only reek of desperation. What’s more, Clinton has absolutely no incentive to leave her post as Secretary of State, where she is a dominant player on the world stage, for a demotion to vice-president, where she’d be relegated to attending funerals and other ceremonial duties. And the cherry on the top of Goodwin’s nuttiness is that he actually aligns himself with the political analysis of the deceased leader of Al Qaeda:

“Even Osama Bin Laden, in those letters, said that Biden is woefully unprepared to be president.”

When right-wingers praise Bin Laden as an ideological ally something has gone terribly wrong. But the right’s obsession with hostile rhetoric is well documented. They frequently engage in assassination fantasies featuring Obama, and they openly yearn for violent ends to their political adversaries. So it is not surprising to see them project their psychotic behavior onto the President and suggest that he would off his own VP. That’s how the right thinks about these matters, and they assume that everyone else is as emotionally perverse as they are themselves.

This Is A Big Fucking Deal?

President Obama signed the Senate health care bill into law this morning. While it is not the bill I would have written, it was still an historic moment that achieved something that 18 previous presidents failed to achieve.

But for much of the media, led by Fox News, the hot topic of the event was that VP Joe Biden whispered a congratulatory remark in the President’s ear:

“This is a big fucking deal.”

The President’s press secretary, Robert Gibbs, reacted quickly to the growing hysteria in a tweet saying, “And yes Mr. Vice President, you’re right…” But this brewing scandal may yet overtake the frenzy surrounding the health care bill itself. I wonder if the President’s critics were just as incensed when then-VP Dick Cheney told Sen. Patrick Leahy to “Go fuck yourself.” right on the Senate floor?

And let’s not forget the time that Cheney pointed to a New York Times reporter at a campaign rally and whispered to George Bush “There’s Adam Clymer — major league asshole.” To which Bush responded, “Yeah, big time.”

My response to the media reaction to Biden’s remarks: This is a big fucking deal? Really?

Fox News Deception Jumps Completely Off The Scale

Just a month after Fox News was caught reading verbatim from a Republican press release and presenting it as a news story, they have now dipped into territory that is so thoroughly unethical that it boggles the mind.

Media Matters caught a segment hosted by Martha MacCallum wherein she presented a state of affairs that she felt deserved a looking into.:

“Well, after weeks of economic doom and gloom, the Obama administration is now singing a slightly different tune. Take a look at what was said in recent interviews this weekend.”

Thereupon she played a video montage of President Obama and members of his staff saying positive things about the future prospects of our economy. Since Fox News spent most of last week complaining that Obama was too negative, it is ironic that they are now complaining that he is too positive. Would MacCallum prefer that Obama continue the doom and gloom for which she had previously chastised him?

But the bigger problem was that the video montage included a clip a Vice President Joe Biden saying that “The fundamentals of the economy are strong.” MacCallum characterized the whole clip as being comprised of comments made “in recent interviews this weekend.” Except that Biden’s remarks were made six months ago. Even worse, he was not expressing his own opinion that the economy was strong, he was mocking John McCain for saying so. MacCallum and Fox News cropped out the part where Biden said…

“Ladies and gentlemen, I believe that’s why John McCain could say with a straight face, as recently as this morning — and this is a quote: ‘The fundamentals of the economy are strong.‘ That’s what John says. He says that ‘we’ve made great progress economically’ in the Bush years.”

So MacCallum not only lied about when Biden’s remarks were made, she aired a video edited to appear as if Biden had said something when, in fact, he was quoting McCain as having said it.

It is just totally incomprehensible that anyone regards Fox News with any measure of respect.

Update 3/17/09: Twelve minutes into this morning’s program, Martha MacCallum raised the issue about the Biden video. She said that the video was indeed from six months ago and that Biden was quoting McCain. She then apologized for having “gotten it wrong.” While there was no explanation for how something this egregiously misleading occurred, I suppose it’s the best we can expect from Fox News.

Sarah Palin: Back In The Protective Arms Of Fox News

As I predicted, Sarah Palin followed up her debate performance with an interview in the safety of a friendly harbor – Fox News. Carl Cameron managed to get the exclusive post-debate sit-down with Palin, and he doesn’t disappoint.

Cameron started off by eliciting an admission from Palin that John McCain gave her an “atta girl” after the debate. He then sought to uncover whether she felt that she had surprised Joe Biden:

“Did you catch him off guard? Was there eye contact between you and he that he didn’t see?”

That sounds like witchcraft to me. How could there be eye contact between them that he didn’t see? Did she hypnotize him? According to Rich Lowry of the National Review, much of the male TV audience was bewitched:

“I’m sure I’m not the only male in America who, when Palin dropped her first wink, sat up a little straighter on the couch and said, ‘Hey, I think she just winked at me.’ And her smile. By the end, when she clearly knew she was doing well, it was so sparkling it was almost mesmerizing. It sent little starbursts through the screen and ricocheting around the living rooms of America.”

If there were starbursts ricocheting around my living room, I must have been distracted by the burning in my eyes at the thought of Lowry’s perverse infatuation. But getting back to Cameron, his next question addressed Palin’s outright false assertion that troop levels in Iraq are lower now than before the Surge:

CAMERON: There was a lot of criticism that you misstated when you talked about us being at pre-surge levels in Iraq. Walk us through your math and what you were thinking you were talking about.

PALIN: Just — well, as victory’s getting closer and closer, we know that we’re going to be able to draw down those troops. Send them to Afghanistan, not specifically those Striker Brigades or those troops, we’ll have more resources to be able to put into Afghanistan, and start what I believe, and what I believe our commanders have referred to also as, the principles of a surge there also in Afghanistan, in a counter-insurge strategy that should work.

Huh? The only things missing in that response was a bewildered “such as” and a heartfelt “for the children.” Not only did her answer make no sense, it thoroughly ignored the question. Did we hear about how her math brought her to the conclusion that troop levels were below pre-Surge? Nope. Did Cameron bother to follow up? Nope. His next question began by praising her and got sillier after that:

CAMERON: Folks said, wow, that was like Sarah barracuda out there last night. Because it was back and forth and you were taking on Joe Biden. Do you think you surprised him by the way in which you were prepared to sort of go after his record and Obama’s? What was the body language and the psychology between the two of you on that? Because he was sighing a lot. And some folks thought that you kind of exasperated him.

PALIN: Well, again, at least my sort of view was, it was pleasant. And it was a lot of fun.

Cameron appears to be obsessed with whether Palin surprised Biden. But at least he dragged out of her the earthshaking revelation that she had fun. Having failed to get her to psychoanalyze Biden’s sighing, Cameron jumps to her remarks regarding Dick Cheney and the “flexibility” of the office of the Vice President. He asks her what she meant by that:

“That thankfully, our founders were wise enough to say, we have this position and it’s Constitutional. Vice presidents will be able to be not only the position flexible, but it’s going to be sort of this other duty as assigned by the president. It’s a simple thing. I don’t think that was a gaff at all in stating what the truth is. And that is we’ve got flexibility in the position. The president will be directing in a lot of respect with the vice president does. The vice president, of course, is not a member – or a part of the legislative branch, except to oversee the Senate. That alone provides a tremendous amount of flexibility and authority if that vice president so chose to use it.”

Huh? Once again, the bulk of her response was gibberish. The part that wasn’t gibberish was frightening. She actually believes that the vice president oversees the Senate and has authority over it if she chooses to exercise it. Cheney’s machinations notwithstanding, the vice presidency is defined in Article II of the Constitution which outlines the Executive branch of government. The VP has no role in the Senate other than to cast a vote in the event of a tie. But Palin thinks otherwise:

“You know, we might be bleeding our authority over to the Legislative or Judicial branch to do our job in the Executive branch as administers.”

The notion that the Executive branch can simply “bleed” its authority over the other branches of government is both idiotic and dangerous. But, again, Cameron didn’t bother to draw out any further explanation of that stance.

Sadly, this is the best we can expect from the McCain/Palin camp. She will almost certainly decline any press availabilities that expose her to any real inquiry. She did tell Cameron that she wants to do more press saying…

“I look forward to speaking to the media more and more everyday and providing whatever access the media would want. My life is certainly an open book […] I beg to differ with the notion that I was reigned in any way. But, if there was any of that, it’s over. And we got to be out there.”

So as to allegations that she has been kept from the press, it’s over, even though it never happened. And now she promises to provide “whatever access the media would want,” as long as the media is confined to Fox News. Only there will she be given opportunities to spin, lie, babble, and paper over her previous inanities. For example, a few days ago Palin couldn’t provide Katie Couric with either a newspaper she has read or a Supreme Court decision she disagreed with. Cameron allowed Palin a do-over on those questions and Palin rattled off newspapers and case law as if she were a legal historian. You don’t think she used the intervening days to bone up the subjects with notes from her handlers, do you?

Palin still has not held a single press conference and likely will not before election day (See The Palin Watch). So despite her promise to be more accessible, I would advise against holding your breath. You still have so much to live for.

Sarah Palin: Beauty Queen At The Debate

With a brilliant smile and a confident swagger, Sarah Palin faced Joe Biden, and America, in the first and only vice presidential debate. But the face she presented was that of shallow Pollyanna with a woefully insufficient grasp of issues and facts.

Let’s set aside for the moment that she was flatly wrong when she said that there were fewer troops in Iraq than before the Surge. And never mind that she doesn’t know the name of the American commander in Afghanistan. Palin’s big problem was that she outright refused to answer the questions that were asked. Now, that is a venerable debate tactic and, when used skillfully, can be quite effective and undetectable. However, when Palin did it she clumsily announced that she was changing the subject, and then proceeded to deliver her memorized talking points.

What might have been an enlightening exchange between the candidates was severely constrained by a format and a moderator that discouraged direct interaction. The question arises as to whether Gwen Ifill was cowed by allegations that she would be partial due to the upcoming publication of her book on race in American politics. We may never know if that’s the case, but we do know that Ifill was a virtual non-entity on the stage and failed to ask probing follow-ups of either candidate. That could explain why Palin expressed such satisfaction with the event in her closing remarks:

“I like being able to answer these tough questions without the filter, even, of the mainstream media kind of telling viewers what they’ve just heard. I’d rather be able to just speak to the American people like we just did.”

First of all, she wasn’t asked any tough questions and I suspect that that is what she really liked. Secondly, the Mainstream Media to which she refers doesn’t apply filters to her interviews. The Gibson and Couric affairs simply allowed her to speak on her own, and any resultant embarrassment was of her own doing. Thirdly, her impression of speaking to the American people appears to rely heavily on the help she receives from her speech writers and a teleprompter.

Her statement above is a thinly veiled declaration that she intends to have no further association with the media for which she is so dismissive. I predict that she will have maybe one more interview with a reputable national journalist (probably Brian Williams), then will scurry off to the more comforting embrace of comrades like Hannity and Limbaugh and the Washington Times. By November 4th, she will not have had a single open press conference for the entire election cycle.

The fact that she relates so closely to Dick Cheney, whose warped and unconstitutional view of the Vice Presidency she shares, alarmingly foreshadows the sort of secretive cabal she seems even now to be shaping. The last thing this country needs is another administration that aspires to conceal itself and its actions at every turn and reside outside of public view in a secret undisclosed location.

Frantic Conservatives Trying To Ditch The Sarah Palin Debate

Let’s face it. They have a right to be scared. Conservative activists have seen Sarah Palin humiliate herself and her Party repeatedly. She can’t name a single newspaper or magazine that she reads, or cite a Supreme Court decision other than Roe v. Wade, or give an example of McCain’s maverickiness. She doesn’t know who Hamas is. She adopts Obama’s policy toward cross-border attacks in Pakistan (then denies that she did so). And she asserts that her fresh face and new ideas (see Barack Obama) make her a better candidate than Joe Biden because he is just an old guy who has been in the Senate for a long time (see John McCain).

She has still only been permitted to be interviewed twice in the thirty-three days since McCain tapped her for his VP. She is being purposefully sequestered from the media and any serious inquiry into her positions or her past. There have been conservative commentators calling for her to be dropped from the ticket for the good of her Party and the country. And last week McCain suggested that the VP debate be postponed until some undetermined date and replaced by the first presidential debate.

Obviously, they don’t want the debate to proceed. And the latest evidence of that is a new effort to remove the debate’s moderator, Gwen Ifill of PBS. The argument is that Ifill has authored a book that prevents her from being objective. The Breakthrough: Politics and Race in the Age of Obama,” is scheduled to be released January 20, 2009. The book is a study of how…

“…the Black political structure formed during the Civil Rights movement is giving way to a generation of men and women who are the direct beneficiaries of the struggles of the 1960s.”

For the book Ifill interviews Obama, as well as Republicans like Colin Powell. By all accounts, the book is not political advocacy, but an exploration of race in contemporary politics. But the controversy being manufactured by the likes of Fox News, National Review, and Human Events is a thinly disguised attempt to kill the debate. Even if their allegations were valid, it would be very difficult to find a replacement for Ifill literally on the eve of the debate. They would have to find someone who was able to immediately clear their calendar and then would still come to the event unprepared – no research, no questions, no context for engaging the participants. The only viable option would be to delay the debate to some undetermined date, just as they tried to do last week.

This is yet another transparent attempt to sabotage the debate by having it canceled or by preemptively discrediting the results. How convenient to have a reason to disregard the whole affair should Palin, true to form, embarrass herself. This dust up could also have the effect of influencing Ifill’s performance as moderator. She may decide to bend over backwards to avoid the appearance of bias and, consequently, display bias in favor of Palin.

We can only hope that the cynical manipulations of the rightists orchestrating this controversy are not successful, and that Ifill relies on her own sense of professional ethics and not the rantings of frightened partisans.

Fox News Uses McCain Front Group To Blast Obama

A report was broadcast on Fox News today (and published on FoxNews.com) that purported to be an examination of the congressional earmarks of the presidential candidates. As one might expect, the report fell something short of what a reasonable person would call “fair and balanced.”

Correspondent William La Jeunesse’s report only went into detail on earmarks requested by Barack Obama and Joe Biden. The story came complete with on-screen graphics to illustrate his points. But no numbers or graphics were provided for John McCain or Sarah Palin. This deliberately one-sided hit piece would be bad enough all by itself. Unfortunately, the worst part is revealed with a little further investigation. And it gets much, much worse.

The source Fox News used for the research in the story was Citizens Against Government Waste (CAGW), an organization that Fox described as a “nonpartisan, nonprofit group.” In fact, the group is far from nonpartisan. It has publicly endorsed McCain for president and donated $11,000.00 to him or to PACs he controls. CGAW has also worked as a shill to attack McCain opponents in a manner that may have violated election law. It has also been connected to convicted lobbyist Jack Abramoff.

On the board of CAGW is long-time McCain associate, Orson Swindle. They met as cell mates in a North Vietnamese prisoner of war camp where Swindle says that he and McCain “slept side-by-side for almost two years.” Swindle is now the McCain campaign’s veterans liaison and was appointed to his campaign Truth Squad a couple of months ago. He spoke last week at the Republican National Convention. He is also a senior policy advisor at the big DC lobbying firm of Hunton & Williams whose clients include American Express, Eli Lilly, GE, Microsoft, and Wal-Mart.. These duties violate McCain’s own policy of not allowing people working for “independent entities” to serve on his campaign staff.

Taking these facts into account, it should come as no surprise that CAGW awarded McCain a 100% rating, while giving Obama 10% and Biden 0%. The group claimed that Sarah Palin was not included because the ratings evaluate only members of Congress. But they did rate Alaska’s performance in their 2008 Congressional Pig Book (Uh oh, they’re calling Palin a pig) where they said that “Alaska led the nation with $556 per capita ($380 million).” In the 2007 edition they reported that Alaska and Hawaii “have been the top two states in pork per capita every year but one since 2000.” None of that was included in Fox’s report on television or online.

I’m not sure why it still shocks me to hear that Fox News broadcasts fiercely biased reports that abandon every tenet of journalistic ethics. But citing an organization that is known to be supporting McCain, identifying it as nonpartisan, and using it to pummel Obama, is such a blatantly dishonest and disreputable act that in a just world their press credentials would be immediately revoked. It is just infuriating to know that Fox will get away with this time after time without paying a price for their unscrupulous and unprofessional conduct.

The only demonstrated way to effectively punish Fox is to deny them access to Democratic lawmakers, candidates, and officials. When we are united in embargoing the network they have been noticeably distraught. They may puff up their chest and threaten us, as Bill O’Reilly did when he said that “If you dodge us, it is at your peril.” Or they may invoke juvenile tactics like Chris Wallace’s Obama Watch to bully us into compliance. But that behavior just affirms the effectiveness of staying away. They were obviously troubled and desperate, and they can’t maintain a pretense of balance if Democrats refuse to certify their bias by appearing on their tainted air.

Starve The Beast!

What Republicans Think Of John McCain

John McCain has released a flurry of hastily produced ads following the announcement of Joe Biden as Barack Obama’s running mate. The ads feature Democrats, including Biden saying uncomplimentary things about Obama. But mostly they feature the desperation of McCain as he grasps for something with which to prop up his pathetic campaign. The latest ad closes with the tag line, “The Truth Hurts.” McCain is precisely correct about that, though not in the way he imagines. There are some serious problems with this advertising strategy that will shortly become evident.

First, the quotes from Democrats were made primarily when they were competing with Obama for the nomination. Most voters are fully aware that remarks made in the heat of a campaign are quickly retracted and forgotten after a nominee is selected. What’s more, McCain is just as vulnerable to such attack ads featuring Republicans disparaging him and his policies. In fact he is more vulnerable, because there are many instances of Republicans bashing McCain throughout the years who were not political opponents. This video presents just a few examples.

McCain’s problems don’t lie just in what fellow Republicans say about him. His vulnerability also extends to the many ill-tempered rants he has directed at his colleagues. For instance:

  • “Fuck you…This is chickenshit stuff.” Directed at Sen. John Cornyn (R-TX) in an immigration debate.
  • “Only an asshole would put together a budget like this…I wouldn’t call you an asshole unless you really were an asshole.” Directed at Sen. Pete Domenici (R-NM) while marking up legislation.
  • Sen. Charles Grassley (R-IA) to McCain during a debate on MIA’s: “Are you calling me stupid?” McCain: “No. I’m calling you a fucking jerk!”

The media, as usual, is continuing to donate airtime to McCain’s propaganda. The recent ads were announced by the campaign, but they have never purchased air time to broadcast them. The thinly disguised intent here is simply to get the press to contribute free air time to McCain. And the press is complying like the little zombie poodles that they are. Therefore, as usual, it will be up to the blogosphere to enlighten the voting population. So keep spreading the word, because the word is the truth, and, as we all know…the Truth Hurts.

Barack Obama Picks Joe Biden – So Does John McCain

It didn’t take long for news of Barack Obama’s selection of Joe Biden as his vice presidential running mate to stir John McCain’s campaign PR machine. The first comments from McCain’s people were released quickly and contained a fair measure of respect for Biden himself. In fact, they relied wholly on Biden’s assessment of Obama when they were competing for the Democratic nomination:

“There has been no harsher critic of Barack Obama’s lack of experience than Joe Biden. Biden has denounced Barack Obama’s poor foreign policy judgment and has strongly argued in his own words what Americans are quickly realizing — that Barack Obama is not ready to be President.”

Clearly McCain has admiration for Biden’s opinions. So McCain presumably would agree just as vigorously with Biden’s assessment of him.

“John McCain remains wedded to the Bush Administration’s myopic view of a world defined by terrorism […] It’s time for a fundamental change, but that’s going to require more than a great soldier. It’s going to require a wise leader” […] “We cannot keep treading water without exhausting ourselves and more importantly doing great damage to our other vital interests around the world and at home. And that’s exactly what President Bush and a President McCain would be asking us to do.”

Apparently there has been no harsher critic of McCain’s lack of judgment than Joe Biden. McCain can hardly praise Biden’s insight with regard to Obama yet dismiss it with regard to himself. Therefore, McCain must agree that his own world view is myopic, unwise, and damaging to our country’s interests.

McCain’s surrogates on his staff and in the press are also busy spinning the Biden announcement. Most of the criticism falls into two categories:

1) The selection of Biden, with his strong foreign policy credentials, is an admission on the part of Obama that he is weak in those areas.

I’m sure they will apply the same logic when McCain selects, for instance, Mitt Romney, concluding that Romney’s economic skills affirms McCain’s ignorance in financial matters.

2) Biden is gaffe-prone due to his willingness to say whatever is on his mind.

In some circles that is called “straight talk” and is painted on the sides of campaign buses.

There is speculation amongst the pundit class that McCain will shortly have ads on the air featuring Biden saying nasty things about Obama. If I were advising the Obama media team, I would suggest that they do it first – with a touch of humor – and add Biden’s more recent criticisms of McCain. This is the inoculation school of campaign advertising and would take the sting out of McCain’s attempts to exploit remarks made by Biden when he was seeking the party’s nomination himself. And of course, be ready with ads of McCain’s VP choice knocking him down a peg or two. Almost every Republican has in the past year, so it would be easy to compile.

Isn’t politics fun?