Latest from Mike Bates
Strictly as a public service, the mainstream media have long pointed out that those pesky folks who question where Barack Obama was born are your typical knuckle-dragging, mouth-breathing Neanderthals. You know, the type of know-nothings who attend Tea Parties and other such sinister gatherings.
On today's Rick's List, CNN anchor Rick Sanchez brandished those reportorial skills for which he's so famous. He and national political correspondent Jessica Yellin discussed Tuesday's primaries and the "Sarah Palin and the Tea Party influences." Not surprisingly, they agreed they had little impact:
JESSICA YELLIN, CNN NATIONAL POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: Yesterday's elections showed that there was very limited turnout. One of the things we have heard is that the Tea Party movement was going to energize the base, stoke up turnout, especially on the Republican side. And in the key Republican races -- there were two in Indiana especially -- the incumbents won. Now, their margin of victory was more narrow, but the Tea Party movement didn't throw the bums out, as you said.
YELLIN: So, it's still to be determined whether they will have a huge influence in November.
SANCHEZ: Well, I know, but we got one of the first runs where we get to -- where we get to take a look at something like this, the...
SANCHEZ: ... and the -- the -- the polls showed that the turnout was way, way underwhelming. Not only that. The three guys -- or five guys, whatever the number is, the number of guys who actually won last night...
Last week, CNN's Kyra Phillips wasn't all that GLAAD to hear from some of her viewers. As NewsBuster Colleen Raezler reported on Thursday, the Gay & Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation (GLAAD) had issued a "Call to Action" on April 7 urging members to "hold CNN accountable" for an April 6 Newsroom segment "featuring so-called 'ex-gay' activist Richard Cohen."
GLAAD partisans apparently hopped right on their keyboards. On April 8, Phillips expressed her wish "that those of you who sent me vicious e-mails watched my newscast more often:"
Forget those polls, like the current one conducted for CBS News, that show most Americans disapprove of President Barack Obama's health care scheme. And ignore accounts like the one in today's Politico highlighting the grief some Democratic congressmen are getting for voting with Obama on health care. No, focus instead on stories like the one in today's print and Web edition of the Chicago Tribune. "Health insurance reform profiles" is a "look at how the new law will affect four people in different circumstances." And guess what? Every single one of them approves of ObamaCare. Isn't it funny how it just works out that way?
A 56-year-old woman who lost Medicaid eligibility when her children left home says: "Health reform isn't perfect, it's only a first step, but by God it will make a difference to me." A 62-year-old man covered under his wife's policy "is confident the greater changes are all for the good." A 22-year-old male is relieved he'll continue to be carried on his parent's health insurance when he goes to art school. If not for ObamaCare, "I would have either taken the risk and opted out or looked for work instead of going further in school." A 40-year-old- freelance writer confides that he is "was "'thrilled' to see the health care overhaul signed into law."
The mainstream media are having a field day with the Republican National Committee spending contributor dollars for "meals" at a risqué Hollywood night spot. Washington Post columnist Dana Milbank joins in the fun with today's "RNC spends nearly $2,000 at sex-themed Voyeur nightclub." He provides titillating details of what transpires in that joint, and then attempts a quick rewrite of history with, "And Al Gore got in trouble for going to a Buddhist temple?"
That's seriously misleading. It wasn't going to a Buddhist temple in April of 1996 that got Gore into trouble. It was lying about illegally raising money there that raised questions and generated skepticism about Gore's truthfulness. And, in the end, he didn't really get into any serious trouble at all. As reported by the New York Times in August, 2000:
For the third time, Attorney General Janet Reno brushed off the advice of senior advisers and declined to intensify an investigation into Vice President Al Gore's fundraising activities in 1996.
She said she would not appoint a special prosecutor to investigate Mr. Gore's sworn statements that neither his appearance at a Buddhist temple in California in 1986 nor his attendance at several White House coffee sessions were fundraisers.
In both its print and Web editions today, the Chicago Tribune headlines "Republicans walk the line over healthcare outrage." It begins:
In the days surrounding passage of healthcare overhaul legislation, Republican lawmakers have been left to strike a fine balance between harnessing voter outrage and fueling it.
Examples of raw anger have piled up. A call to New York Democrat Louise M. Slaughter said snipers would "kill the children of the members who voted for healthcare reform." Later, a brick smashed her Niagara Falls district office window. Hate messages jammed the lines of Michigan Rep. Bart Stupak, the anti-abortion Democrat whose last-minute support helped cinch passage. Law enforcement offered increased protection to at least 10 lawmakers, a security measure usually only afforded party leaders.
Other incidents targeting Democrats are also included in the 18-paragraph article of over 800 words.
Yet it is not until the penultimate paragraph that a shooting incident at the office of minority whip Eric Cantor (R-VA) is noted:
For a moment on yesterday's CNN Newsroom, it looked like anchor Ali Velshi was again expressing his deep affection for President Barack Obama's stimulus plan. Velshi, who last month sang "Happy birthday, dear stimulus," asked correspondent Josh Levs "Do you love the stimulus bill?" But then Ali thought better and backed up:
VELSHI: You have, after weeks and weeks of working on this, do you have stimulus Stockholm syndrome? Do you love the stimulus bill?
LEVS: You know --
VELSHI: I don't mean that as a political judgment as to whether he thinks it was a good idea, but do you just love the bill and the language and --
LEVS: You learn to love it. You learn to appreciate it.
VELSHI: Yes. You do.
LEVS: I mean, it has really changed our economy, and yes, my mind is a little bit too swimming with it.
VELSHI: But I must be clear, that was not meant to mean that he politically thinks that it's right or wrong.
On CNN's American Morning today, anchor John Roberts pressed one of President Barack Obama's talking points on the Democratic health care plan. Roberts talked with former House Majority Leader Dick Armey, who opposes ObamaCare. Currently the chairman of FreedomWorks, Armey criticized "the audacity of the government mandating to the American people: you must all buy a product that I define for you." Then Roberts went to work:
ROBERTS: But why is it mandate for having health insurance a bad thing? There's a mandate for having car insurance.
ARMEY: Well, first of all, you have to understand, America is a nation that was founded on the concept of personal liberty, that liberty is a gift given to mankind by the Lord God Almighty and it's the duty of governments to protect your liberty.
ROBERTS: Do you have car insurance?
ARMEY: Not to trespass against your liberty.
ROBERTS: Do you have car insurance?
ARMEY: Do I have car insurance? Of course, I have car insurance.
ROBERTS: You have to have car insurance.
Think that the fledgling Coffee Party movement wants bigger government, more social welfare programs and the higher taxes that inevitably accompany them? Well, think again. On CNN Sunday Morning yesterday, we learned that simply isn't accurate. Anchors T.J. Holmes and Brooke Baldwin set up a report from one Coffee Party:
HOLMES: All right. TEA party might have some competition out there. This time yesterday we were telling you about the national kickoff of a new political movement calling themselves the Coffee party.
BALDWIN: Well, they were heading out to coffee shops across the country yesterday. And apparently the turnout was pretty strong, but still we are asking, what is this group really about? Who are these people? These coffee drinkers?
CNN's Pat St. Claire (ph) takes a look at why some activists prefer their politics with a jolt of java.
After a couple of participants at the event identified themselves:
PAT ST. CLAIRE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: The folks gathered at this Washington coffee house Saturday came for more than just a cup of Joe.
Enter the Coffee party. A new organization that also says it wants smaller government and lower taxes, but builds itself as a more civil alternative to the better known TEA party movement, a group known for it's boisterous rallies.
Three years ago, Steve Skvara won the admiration of many in the mainstream media by basically calling for taxpayers to foot his wife’s health insurance. Now he's ba-a-ack! No longer hailed by Chris Matthews or People's Weekly World, he still manages favorable, unquestioning coverage. Today's nwi.com Web site, which bills itself as "the largest and most trusted media company in northern Indiana," carries the article "Health care spark gets a checkup." Written by editorial page editor Doug Ross, the piece starts:
In December, Steve Skvara of Union Township was hospitalized at Northwestern Memorial Hospital for 28 hours in hopes of a clean bill of health. He emerged with a bill for $96,000.
It was pleasant, he said, to have a waiter in a tux deliver his meal, but was that really necessary?
His experience is relevant because it was Skvara who lighted the fuse on the health care debate in which the nation is now embroiled.
It was on Aug. 7, 2007, that Skvara asked the seven Democratic presidential candidates what they would do to get health care to "the woman I love." Skvara explained that he lost much of his pension when LTV collapsed, and he was forced to sit across from his wife at the kitchen table, knowing he couldn't afford her health care.
Do you believe that extending unemployment compensation benefits encourages some people to remain out of work longer than necessary? Don't let CNN anchor Ali Velshi find out. He'll characterize you as unsavory.
On a segment of CNN Newsroom today, Velshi spoke with an economics professor who's examined multiple studies reporting that many people find work shortly before their unemployment checks lapse:
VELSHI: Hey, complicated, complicated question that is at the root of our recovery as a nation; it is about jobs. The average person on unemployment is on it for about six months. You can get up to 99 weeks of unemployment benefits, with the certain extensions that we have passed these days. But the average person is on for about six months.
The question here is are long-term jobless benefits actually leading people to stay unemployed longer? I have somebody here who has actually crunched a few numbers for us. Robert Shimer is a professor of economics at the University of Chicago, and inadvertently has gotten himself piled in with a bunch of unsavories who say -- who like to make the argument that people are choosing not to get jobs. And Robert, you have heard it said. This is the US Chamber -- not the US Chamber of Commerce. I'm sorry, the Club for Growth has said it on this show that it is causing people -- that it's a disincentive for people to go back to work because of unemployment benefits, which I think is a little bit insulting to the millions of people on unemployment. Your argument is it a little bit more nuanced than that.
The New York Times's City Room blog included a Friday piece on the orphaned Web site of Hiram Monserrate, a former state senator who is again running for office. From "When Not to Accept Comments:"
Now, as many will remember, the former Queens legislator was tossed out of the State Senate in February after he was convicted of assaulting his female companion. His vacant seat will be filled in a special election on March 16 — an election in which, improbably, the disgraced Mr. Monserrate is also a candidate, on the newly formed and hopefully (or is it cynically?) named Yes We Can! line. (This proves, definitively, that you can usually find more than enough New Yorkers to take part in any crazy idea you have.)
Candidate Monserrate (Yes We Can, Queens) doesn’t have a Web site for this campaign. But a few disgruntled residents found his old site and left some less-than-friendly messages.
When a political editor declares that U.S. Senator Jim Bunning (R-Ky) makes "even former Vice President Dick Cheney seem warm and fuzzy," you know that the mainstream media are reaching for the long knives. Associate editor of The Hill A.B. Stoddard wrote in yesterday's "Bunning’s gift to Dems:"
Bunning’s blowup was indeed a gift to bewildered Democrats on more than one level. It portrayed Republicans as obstructionists, showed Republicans dissing the unemployed, gave the GOP the face of a mean old white guy that made even former Vice President Dick Cheney seem warm and fuzzy, illustrated how hamstrung Democrats are in trying to pass legislation within the confines of Senate rules, made fellow home-state senator and former friend Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) squirm and distracted from the plans Democrats have to pass healthcare reform with the reconciliation procedure, as well as from Rep. Charles Rangel (D-N.Y.) stepping down as chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee amid ethical troubles. Let’s call that a six-fer.
Unable to defend ObamaCare with reasoning or facts, many of the Democrats at Thursday's health care summit resorted to anecdotes or, as Rush Limbaugh appropriately characterized them, sob stories. The recycling of a dead woman's dentures and a letter from a struggling farmer who just happens to be the brother of a staffer for the Democratic senator sent the letter were the order of the day.
CNN anchor Rick Sanchez must have found such stories compelling. Yesterday, his producer sent out this tweet from Sanchez's Twitter account:
*FRP* (From Rick's Producer) Today Rick's looking 4 hardship stories: financial, med., trouble w/ (BROKEN?) govt., family, etc Keep short, maybe will read on air
Sadly, Rick didn't get any good denture yarns. But he kicked off his Rick's List program yesterday with a few tales of woe:
As a matter of fact, let's go to the Twitter board. This is what you have been saying about this situation with health care, about these politics and these policies that are being discussed.
Look at this one right there in the middle. "Thousands of people are going broke and dying due to the American health care system. The summit was not a game to be won or lost."
ABC's The Note today is headlined "Strange Brews: Conservatives Unite Over Anger, Not Candidates." Author and network senior political reporter Rick Klein writes:
The mood at the Conservative Political Action Conference gathering -- which continues into the weekend in Washington -- is decidedly more upbeat than a year ago. And the Bush name, not to mention the (maybe more popular) Cheney one, is back.
Yet the energy fueling the gathering remains of a shapeless, sometimes dangerous variety.
Readers may reasonably have expected examples of this dangerous energy to follow. Klein goes on:
From the rousing ovations for primary challengers, to a speaker referencing President Obama’s past drug use and deriding homosexuality, to the endless teleprompter jokes (only some of them read off teleprompters), to the general motivating anger that has brought the crowd together -- the big tent isn’t exactly pitching itself.
Over at the most trusted name in news, they sure know how to party when it's called for. That was evident this afternoon on CNN Newsroom when anchor Ali Velshi gushed:
Happy birthday, dear stimulus. Our producer Ben Tinker (ph) baked this cake. It is a stimulus happy birthday -- first birthday cake, which is also a pie chart. It is the birthday of the stimulus. It is actually very --
On his segment of CNN Newroom today, anchor Ali Velshi cited a CNN/Opinion Research poll showing that only a quarter of Americans believe Obama's stimulus program has wasted little or no money. He then set up an interview with a pro-stimulus academic:
Let's talk about this with Kenneth Rogoff, professor of public policy and economics at Harvard University. Ken, you have looked at this very, very carefully. I have to say, back when the stimulus bill was being discussed, most economists fell into the camp of timing and how much to spend. Very few said there is no need for an economic stimulus bill at all. Do you think this was a necessary thing to do a year ago?
Velshi's claim that few economists opposed government spending to stimulate the economy is false. Last January, Frank Ahrens, the Washington Post's business reporter, wrote "Cato Lines Up 200 Economists Against Obama's Stimulus." It began:
The conservative Cato Institute plans to buy full-page ads in The Washington Post and New York Times over the next several days urging President Obama to avoid what it considers excessive government spending as a way to get the U.S. out of recession.
In the form of a letter to Obama, the ad is signed by some 200 economists, including three Nobel laureates -- Edward Prescott and George Mason's Vernon Smith and James Buchanan -- listed prominently at the top.
Certainly there's enough domestic adoration of Barack Obama. A year of consistent failure has done little to diminish Obama's support among the mainstream media, Hollywood celebrities, and academics. Overseas, the fascination with Obama also continues. Associated Press writer Kirsten Grieshaber reports "Obama musical set to open in Germany." The article begins:
A musical about Barack Obama's "Yes we can" election campaign premieres in Germany this weekend, including love songs by the president to his wife Michelle and duets with Hillary Clinton. . .
In all, 30 singers, actors and dancers are to perform in the musical "Hope - the Obama Musical Story" when it opens at the Jahrhunderthalle concert hall in Frankfurt in a bilingual mix of English and German. The audience may recognize that many songs quote from the politicians' stump speeches during the 2008 U.S. presidential campaign.
The venue for the premiere seems appropriate since the optimism of Obamania remains largely intact in Germany, about a year after Obama, an accomplished public speaker, became America's first black president.