Now that the firestorm over Shirley Sherrod's firing is beginning to die down, it's worth looking at the specific statements Andrew Breitbart made on national cable TV to justify himself before the full video was released.
His appearance on John King USA on July 20th had a very revealing moment in it, one that's worth looking at in depth.
Every time Breitbart opens his mouth a lie flies out. Beginning at the beginning, and remember, this was before the full tape was released.
BREITBART: It has to -- this tape is about the NAACP. Its race (ph) on debt is about nondiscrimination and when Shirley Sherrod is talking there in which she expresses a discriminatory attitude towards white people, the audience responds with applaud -- with applause and the NAACP agrees with me and it rebuked her and the audience. So the entire conversation about race right now in this country is because the NAACP brought up without evidence, again, and including the false narrative that the "n" word was hurled at three black congressmen, this is asserting that the NAACP condoned racism and was caught on video. And the more video that we've seen that we haven't even offered, there's even more racism on these tapes. This is deeply problematic.
KING: I'm happy to look at those tapes, and I promise I will look at those tapes if you post them, but I want to come back to another -- you say context is everything. We believe facts are important, too --
BREITBART: If that -- if it is the case and it can be shown to me that the incident that she's talking about was done many years ago and not in her current context, but as a reporter you tell me how you confirmed that the incident that she's talking about was 24 years ago? You tell me as a reporter how CNN put on a person today who purported to be the farmer's wife?
What did you do to find out whether or not that was the actual farmer's wife? I mean there -- if you're going to accuse me of a falsehood, tell me where you've confirmed that this incident happened 24 years ago. This is Shirley Sherrod trying to save her job when her problem is with Vilsack (ph) and the USDA and the NAACP, both which have rebuked her and forced her to leave her position.
KING: I think she has legitimate questions as do we for Secretary Vilsack (ph), the NAACP, the Agriculture Department and perhaps even the Obama White House. But did you reach out to her when you posted this to ask her -- I have this tape. I think it shows what I -- what you believe to be damning conduct or questionable conduct. Did you reach out to her and say what incident are you talking about? When did this happen?
Now, when King starts pressing, Breitbart starts squirming.
Grover Norquist hates taxes, but what he hates even more is having 95% of the country getting tax cuts on a day where he wants to excoriate Democrats for...taxing. In his appearance on ABC News' new political show "Top Line", he couldn't really criticize taxes the way he wanted, so he accused the President of lying about his campaign promise not to raise taxes on the middle class. He had to really reach for examples, pointing to the tobacco tax increase passed 16 days into the Obama administration.
NORQUIST: What he didn't mention were all the tax increases that he passed. I mean, he completely missed all the tax increases in the health care bill. And he misspoke -- said something that was not true about his original promise.
16 days in, his promise not to tax middle-income people was a lie,” Norquist said. “Then he comes back with the health care bill, and we count at least seven -- others that are tougher count as many as 12 or 14 taxes that are directed at people earning less than $250,000. It’s a lie. So he lied about lying, and that's unfortunate.”
I could go on for pages about how cynical it is for the likes of Grover Norquist to point to a tax on cigarettes and call it a tax increase and broken promise, but let's move on to his claims about the health care bill instead.
Here's his idea of "tax increases" in the health care bill (via a blog post on ATR.org):
The penalty beginning in 2014 for not having health insurance, a provision originally introduced by conservatives.
The excise tax on Cadillac plans, which is on insurers, not individuals.
Various taxes and penalties on HSA accounts which aren't really taxes or penalties on lower-income wage earners who do not benefit from HSA accounts and have been penalized deeply from their expansion.
An increase in the Medicare tax for single people earning more than $200,000 and married couples earning more than $250,000. I'm not sure how he justifies this as a broken promise, since the promise was always not to raise taxes on the middle class. That increase only applies to earnings in excess of the limit, not all earnings.
The other tax increases aren't increases at all. They're merely an expiration of the George W. Bush Tax Freedom for the Rich Act of 2002, but that doesn't bother Norquist one bit.
It's a fact that 95% of the country paid less in taxes as a percentage of their income. Norquist can't get around that, so he hammers on Democrats for being spenders. Remarkably, ABC's Rick Klein and David Chalian don't bother to clarify Bush's role in jacking up the debt by letting the richest group in this country off the hook for taxes for the past 8 years, for starting 2 expensive wars halfway around the world with no plan to pay for them, or giving away a Medicare drug benefit to seniors without paying for it either.
Yet, for Norquist, the spenders are Democrats. This isn't about taxes, or about spending or about anything closely resembling intellectual honesty. Norquist is the water carrier for the US Chamber of Commerce, the tobacco industry, and the K Street project. He's nothing more than the mouthpiece for these groups, and any others who oppose Democrats.
Yes. Grover Norquist lied about President Obama lying about lying. And that's definitely unfortunate.
Gorver Norquist is one of the major reasons how movement conservatism destroyed our entire political process in America. He was one of the leaders of the College Republicans with jail bird Jack Abramoff and Ralph Reed. He proved to Big Business that he could make money for them if they invested money into politics which would then be targeted at left wing groups that stood for any type of business regulation. Another mantra he lived by was "defunding the left." He, like Karl Rove lives for a one party system.
The chief purpose of these gatherings is to discuss jobs--specifically, the top one or two positions at the biggest and most important industry trade associations and corporate offices centered around Washington's K Street, a canyon of nondescript office buildings a few blocks north of the White House that is to influence-peddling what Wall Street is to finance. In the past, those people were about as likely to be Democrats as Republicans, a practice that ensured K Street firms would have clout no matter which party was in power. But beginning with the Republican takeover of Congress in 1994, and accelerating in 2001, when George W. Bush became president, the GOP has made a determined effort to undermine the bipartisan complexion of K Street.
If today's GOP leaders put as much energy into shaping K Street as their predecessors did into selecting judges and executive-branch nominees, it's because lobbying jobs have become the foundation of a powerful new force in Washington politics: a Republican political machine. Like the urban Democratic machines of yore, this one is built upon patronage, contracts, and one-party rule. But unlike legendary Chicago mayor Richard J. Daley, who rewarded party functionaries with jobs in the municipal bureaucracy, the GOP is building its machine outside government, among Washington's thousands of trade associations and corporate offices, their tens of thousands of employees, and the hundreds of millions of dollars in political money at their disposal...read on
Stephanopoulos asked about the idea floated by Rep. Marcy Kaptur (D-OH), another pro-life Democrat, to hold a separate vote on reinstating the Stupak language on abortion insurance, as a whole different bill. Stupak said that this was one possibility -- but he wanted to make sure such a bill would in fact be signed into law.
"Okay, we pass the bill, it has to go to the Senate. This is an enrollment corrections bill. It has to be passed before the president would sign the Senate bill. So there's a long ways to go," said Stupak. "And you know, dealing with the Senate has been unusually difficult these last two years, so I'm not a lot of confident it's gonna go any farther than the House of Representatives."
This morning, during an appearance on Good Morning America, Rep. Bart Stupak (D-MI) reaffirmed that he might vote for the Senate health care bill if Democrats pass the Stupak abortion amendment as a separate measure. Stupak said that Democrats have shown a "renewed" interest in tying his amendment to the Senate bill:
STUPAK: George, that’s called an enrollment corrections bill. I presented that to leadership about ten days ago. There’s renewed interest in that piece of legislation that I and a number of us are ready to introduce. It’s prepared. Everybody’s looking at it right now. That’s one way, maybe. But we set the deal with the Senate. You give us a vote in the House. We had a vote in the House. It was overwhelmingly 240-194, to keep public law, no public funding for abortion.
It seems to me that if the Senate parliamentarian is indeed insisting that the reconciliation bill address "current law," then that means the Senate bill must be not only enrolled, but signed by the President before reconciliation can be considered, at least in the Senate. I assume the House parliamentarian has no such objection to the House beginning its work (which is curious in itself), since he's apparently allowing the House to consider and pass reconciliation before the Senate bill is enrolled.
He went on MSNBC later with Norah and she first tried to get him to admit that the HCR bill as it stands now does not allow for government funding for abortions, but even with all the facts that she had like the AP and fellow pro-life Dems who are now supporting the bill, he flatly denies it. He calls it a "drastic break from current law for the last thirty three years." Even Allen Boyd is voting yes now.
There are a lot of rumors swirling, but we're hearing that Stupak may very well get his wish since the vote appears to be so close in the House and as a friend emailed:"I knew they would go there because that was the path of least resistance."
Amazingly, despite the fact that the book is so one-sided, it also functions as a peerless guide to exactly what went so very wrong in the credit markets generally, and the mortgage markets in particular, over the course of the last decade. It's not easy to explain synthetic subprime-backed collateralized debt obligations, but Lewis does an excellent job on both the micro level -- what these thing are, and how they worked -- and the macro level -- how the market in such exotica helped to destabilize the entire financial system.
Most impressively, Lewis has backed up his story with an enormous amount of old-fashioned reporting, spending a lot of time with the characters in his book and their families, as well as getting the important complex financial details correct. (Not everybody will understand the grittiest of the details, of course: that's inevitable. But everybody will be gripped by the book's narrative, all the same.) The Portfolio story on which this book is based was a great tale which was sometimes a bit fuzzy on the finance; the book is an even greater tale with the facts nailed down.
The result is that rarest of beasts in a world drowning in financial-crisis books: a new book which actually breaks news.
There's lots more where that came from: this is an assiduously-reported and beautifully-written book. There aren't many reasons to be happy about the global financial crisis, but here's one: that it brought Michael Lewis back to his roots, to produce what is probably the single best piece of financial journalism ever written.
Felix adds much more to his review here. He's really an excellent resource of information. I'm not an economist and too many people on line act as if they are, but I'm doing my research and learning.
You can grab a copy here or any place else that you like. Michael Lewis sat down to discuss with Jon Stewart on The Daily Show last night, you can see the interview here:
Sarah Palin drew a straight line from Alaska to Alberta as she told a sold-out, largely adoring crowd in Calgary that the province gets her message of less government, lower taxes and development of natural resources.
In what was billed as her first Canadian appearance since stepping down as governor of Alaska last summer, Ms. Palin's trademark folksy charm was on full display Saturday night.[..]
The vocal opponent of health-care reform in the U.S. steered largely clear of the topic except to reveal a tidbit about her life growing up not far from Whitehorse.
“We used to hustle over the border for health care we received in Canada,” she said. “And I think now, isn't that ironic?”
Well yes, Sarah, you could call it "ironic" that you feel no compunction about running across the border to avail yourself of the health care you fight and lie and propagandize against to keep your fellow Americans from enjoying. Or you could call it "grossly hypocritical." However, I prefer to think of it as "brainlessly missing the picture" and hoping to take a bunch a tea baggers down with you. If we indeed had "the best health care system in the world", why would anyone go to Canada?
Because it was free? Because you didn't need to decide whether the need for a doctor was important enough to pay the associated costs, even if it meant forgoing a few meals or a payment elsewhere? Because you felt you had a RIGHT to good health and the Canadian government agreed that it is in everyone's best interest?
Was the socialized medicine safety net of Canada frightening? Of course not. It was a social service that Palin used when she needed...even though she presumably paid no taxes into the Canadian system (remember how important it was to the GOP to make sure illegal immigrants couldn't milk the system).
But will any one of her fans or the nut case tea-baggers screaming about how Obama wants to turn us into some socialist state ever put two and two together and realize it's something we should aspire to?
Just further proof that Sarah Palin's political career is entirely due to all these Republican men thinking with their GOPenises.
In an appearance on Imus in the Morning (now airing on the Fox Business Channel, which is why you probably didn't know it was back on the air), Fox News Sunday host Chris Wallace** exposed a little more of his psyche than he probably should have:
WALLACE: We are going to have the first Sunday show interview ever with Governor Sarah Palin. We’ll be down in Nashville with her at the National Tea Party Convention and…I’m excited. First of all, I’m excited to finally meet and interview Sarah Palin. We’ve been chasing her like Captain Ahab and the great white whale for the last year and a half, so it’s going to be interesting to sit down with her and talk. And in addition, I’m interested in going down to the Tea Party convention and get a sense of other than seeing them on TV what they’re…what their platform is, what they’re interested in.
IMUS: When she…when you interview her, will she be sitting on your lap? [laughter]
WALLACE: One can only hope. [laughter]
Ewwww. The dirty old man chuckling made me more than a little nauseated. This is not the first such occasion where Wallace has made really inappropriate statements, as documented by our friends at Media Matters:
There's been chatter among the Tea Party classes the past few weeks about the possibility of a Sarah Palin-Glenn Beck presidential ticket -- even though Beck himself has laughed it off.
But the notion popped onto the airwaves the other morning on Fox & Friends, when Gretchen Carlson gushed, along with Steve Doocy and Brian Kilmeade, about Palin's appearance on Beck's show the day before:
Doocy: One other thing I think we should point out, they did challenge Saturday Night Live to put them on as guest hosts -- together.
Kilmeade: They should take that up.
Carlson: Some people are saying they might be on the ticket together, down the road. Maybe Saturday Night Live will be the first stop.
I'm trying to decide if these people's fantasies would be a dream come true, or our worst nightmare.
Yesterday was Gingrich's fifth appearance on "MTP" just this year. In fact, Newt Gingrich, despite not having held any position in government for over a decade, was the single most frequent guest on "Meet the Press" in 2009 of any political figure in the United States. Literally.
From March to December, Gingrich appeared on "MTP," on average, every other month. No one else in American politics was on the show this often.[..]
Keep in mind, "Meet the Press" didn't have the actual Speaker of the House on at all this year. It also featured zero appearances from all of the other living former House Speakers (Hastert, Wright, Foley) combined.
There's just no reasonable explanation for this. Gingrich was forced from office in disgrace -- by his own caucus -- 11 years ago. What's more, he's kind of a nut -- we're talking about a former office holder who speculated, just last week, about hidden messages from God in snowstorms.
Again and again, the media just proves that informing their viewers is the furthest thing from their collective minds.
Republican pollster Bill McInturff was the keynote speaker on the final day of the America's Health Insurance Plans's state issues conference on Friday morning.
But his speech on how the health care reform debate was playing among the public was interrupted before it even began. A group of protesters began aggressively cheering McInturff for the work he has done for AHIP (he's a hired pollster for the private insurance lobby and, most infamously, was the force behind the 'Harry and Louise' ads in 1994).
McInturff, initially thinking that the cheering was legitimate, thanked the "AHIP officials" in the back of the room for giving him mental encouragement for his speech. He was not being paid for his appearance, he noted.
And then, the protesters -- dressed in business attire to fit into the crowd -- began singing. A relatively lengthy and harmonious rendition of "Tomorrow" from the musical Annie ensued, only with the chorus focused on government-run insurance. "The option, the option, we must have, the option... " went the rendition, in reference to the public plan.
There really wasn't a lot of substance to Alan Grayson's appearance on Hardball yesterday, but it is always pretty delightful to watch Grayson in action anyway. He just says what he thinks and lets the chips fall where they may.
The end got a little over the top, in fact:
Matthews: Dick Cheney—and that‘s how you pronounce his name—was out last night in black tie, along with his—well, his felon former chief of staff, who I think took the bullet for him in that whole matter, perjury and obstruction of justice.
And he wasn‘t out robbing gas stations. His behavior was right there in the office under Cheney‘s leadership. Anyway, the prosecutor in that case said there was a cloud over Cheney‘s head. The—the prosecutor obviously brought the justice to that guy Scooter Libby. He got convicted of a number of counts of perjury and obstruction of justice.
The president even held his nose and would not pardon these guys, wouldn‘t pardon Scooter Libby. Here‘s this guy, with all his inglorious background, out trashing the president of the United States for dithering.
GRAYSON: Well, my response is—and, by the way, I have trouble listening to what he says sometimes because of the blood that drips from his teeth while he‘s talking.
But—but my response is this. He's just angry because the president doesn't shoot old men in the face. Oh, by the way, when he was done speaking, did he just then turn into a bat and fly away?
MATTHEWS: Oh, God. We have got to keep a level here.
Even if this kind of talk horrifies you, the fact that it's coming from a Democrat is actually a relief for those of us who've watched the party perfect its Village-approved Harvey Milquetoast routine the past couple of decades.
It's one of the traits that has really harmed the Democratic brand over that time, because it's led people to believe that they don't really have the courage of their convictions, that they won't stand up and fight for anything, that they don't really believe in anything.
Alan Grayson leaves no such impression. Even if other Democrats go fleeing in horror, he's doing them -- and us -- a real service.