Thursday, May 31, 2012

Last Call

Over at Balloon Juice, mistermix notes that WaPo fact checker Glenn Kessler and PolitiFact disagree on last week's statement on President Obama's spending.  PolitiFact called it Mostly True, while Kessler, citing context, gave it three Pinocchios.  They can fight all they want to, but the point is, as mistermix points out, that our fact checkers are pretty much broken anyway when it comes to the most ridiculous liars out there:  Trump and the Birthers.

Some of you disagreed with my view that saying that birtherism was “long discredited” or “long debunked” isn’t good enough, but I think that’s a real symptom of one of the major issues in journalism that fact checking has done nothing to change. Being “discredited” or “debunked” are different ways of saying that a statement isn’t believed by the community, but it’s not a categorical statement that something is false. The statement “the sun rose in the west this morning” doesn’t need to be “debunked” or “discredited’—it’s plainly, verifiably false. If the fact checking movement in journalism were having any real impact, wouldn’t journalists just say that birtherism is, similarly, “false”? It’s a simple, discrete and verifiable fact that Barack Obama was born in Hawaii. Yet four years after the fact checkers called out the birthers, journalists just can’t say that Donald Trump made a false accusation about Obama’s place of birth. It’s a “long-discredited accusation” in the Times and a “long-debunked contention” in the Post. I don’t know where to look to find better examples of the total failure of the fact checking project.

So why aren't Birther statements by Trump and others given "Pants on Fire" and "Four Pinocchios" ratings?  They're relevant political statements being made by campaign surrogates and/or Republican political officials about the President.  They are absolutely the bailiwick of the Kessler/PolitiFact crew.  It would take all of five minutes to write the article, and yet they never get written.

It's not just the fact checkers either.  Journalists simply aren't going to antagonize someone as rich as Trump, period.  It's fine to call the President a liar in "context" but when someone says "Earth's atmosphere is full of deadly methane" or "the speed of light is 4 miles an hour" or "President Obama was born in Kenya" you call them on it.


Dropping The Pretense

FOX News simply declares itself the adjunct of the Romney campaign by airing a 4 minute anti-Obama infomercial on FOX and Friends Wednesday morning.  Even our old friend and current Malkinvania Minister of Defense Cap'n Ed Morrissey is disturbed by the blatant political slant of it, unsolicited.

Should a news organization produce and publish attack ads like this? I know the initial response will be that other news organizations offer biased perspectives and hagiographies of Obama that go well beyond a single video … and that response is entirely valid.  However, we usually criticize that kind of behavior with other news organizations, too. If anyone wanted to look for evidence that the overall Fox News organization intends to campaign against Obama rather than cover the campaign, this video would be difficult to refute as evidence for that claim.

See, all it does is lower FOX to the level of the LAMESTREAM MEDIA, so it's okay.  Bonus "It wasn't our slickly produced campaign ad!" copout:

The package that aired on FOX & Friends was created by an associate producer and was not authorized at the senior executive level of the network. This has been addressed with the show’s producers.

And by "addressed" we mean "gave these outstanding go-getting sunzabitches a raise!" right?

Meanwhile, Romney now has a new campaign video to show all over the country, free of charge.  Remember, FOX is a "news organization" so if the FCC, the FEC, or the DOJ say word "boo" it's OBAMA ADMINISTRATION DECLARES WAR ON FOX, TENS OF MILLIONS OF AMERICAN PATRIOTS.

They're just daring someone to do something about them and they don't give a flying crap.

Syria-ous Opposition

Any hope that China and Russia would move to allow the UN a more robust role in preventing another Houla Massacre was quickly dashed this week as both countries vowed to continue to support keeping the al-Assad regime in power.

China and Russia on Wednesday reiterated their stance against military intervention in Syria despite soaring international condemnation in the wake of a massacre that killed more than 100, including children.

"One cannot take decisions on military operations in Syria by being guided by only emotions," Russian first deputy foreign minister, Andrei Denisov, was quoted as saying by the nation's state-run Itar-Tass news agency.

Denisov was responding to a statement by French President Francois Hollande, who accused Beijing and Moscow of blocking efforts to impose tough measures against the Syrian regime.

China urged the warring sides in Syria to resume diplomatic dialogue and support a peace plan by international envoy Kofi Annan.

"China opposes military intervention and does not support forced regime change," said Liu Weimin, a foreign ministry spokesman. "The fundamental route to resolving the Syrian issue is still for all sides to fully support Annan's mediation efforts and push all the relevant parties to carry out diplomatic dialogue."

China and Russia have vetoed U.N. Security Council resolutions condemning President Bashar al-Assad's regime for attacks on protesters.

"We believe that considering any new measures to affect the situation would be premature for the Security Council," Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Gennady Gatilov told Russia's Interfax news agency.

One has to wonder at this point what al-Assad would have to do in order for new measures to become necessary, but there is room enough for caution here.  Syria would not be Libya and the dynamics of intervention would be significantly different in a number of key ways, most notably with Syria's proximity to Lebanon, Jordan, Iraq and Turkey...and oh yeah, Israel along the Golan Heights.  

Any action in Syria would put Western allies in a serious bind, not to mention Syria is a majority Sunni Muslim nation (75% or so) with pretty much zero Shi'ites, and that's not going to go over well with Iraq or Saudi Arabia (unless both nations decide to look the other way if we go after al-Asaad's Alawite sect to put the Sunnis in power, which would piss off all the Shi'ites.)

The thing is Syria actually has an Army and Air Force, even a Navy (and it's not old Soviet era surplus, either.)  There's a reason why China and Russia are so quick to block intervention, al-Assad has been a good customer.  It wouldn't be a cakewalk, and who knows what would happen with the long borders with Iraq and Turkey.

The great Muddle-Through continues, I guess.

Springfield Hospital Inflates Test Cost By Ten Times

A Springfield mother decided to investigate a charge that seemed ridiculously high.  As it turns out, she is right.  It seems there is a mandatory set of blood tests required on a newborn infant, and the local hospital was charging not over ten times the amount the state charged to process the blood.

She thought the bill from Mercy Hospital Springfield — $665 before insurance for drawing the blood and the tests — seemed high, so she started asking questions. What she found out is that the state lab that does the tests charges hospitals $65.
“I was flabbergasted at how much it was,” said Brown, an Ozark resident. “I think it’s ridiculous. The state charges $65, which even includes the postage.”
Sonya Kullmann, a spokeswoman for Mercy, said the hospital is reviewing the charge for the test to see if it should be changed. The standard fee at Mercy Hospital Springfield for the test is $629 — close to 10 times the charge by the state lab — which includes processing the blood, delivering it to the state lab, receiving the results and billing for the procedure.
Other hospitals ranged from $95 to close to what Mercy charges.

Gee, maybe this is part of the health care crisis.  When they're done screwing over people at their most vulnerable, it only makes sense to go after the people who are likely so busy and drowning in new responsibility that they won't have time to analyze their bill.  Thank goodness this woman is the exception and has brought this to light.

Hero Kicked Off Bus For Protecting Handicapped Girl

On the bus, Rich was shocked by how some of the younger middle school girls were treating a student with mental disabilities.
Rich complained about the bullying to the bus driver, then to school officials, but says the adults took no action.
Rich told Fox 35 about the mean middle school bullies: "They would be mean to her, tell her she couldn't sit on certain spots on the bus. They were giving her food that they put in her mouth. I actually had to tell her to spit it out because she didn't understand."
"When the school didn't do anything, I told the girls, if the school didn't do anything, I was going to do something."
However, that warning got Rich into trouble with school officials, who have now banned her from riding the bus.
Clearly, this kind and protective soul is the real threat.  The school has complained that only one side of the story is being told, but what a side to tell.  If these facts line up, it's hard to imagine what other side could explain how common assault is tolerated but threatening to stop it is punished by banishment.

She did just what we'd want, in a perfect world.  She stood up, she followed the channels, and when those channels failed to protect the innocent she made sure someone did.  She was punished for doing the right thing, at an age when she is learning how to step out and be independent.

Rich isn't in nearly as much trouble as the girl she was protecting.  If the bus driver isn't trying to control the situation, that poor child is at the mercy of the others, now without a buffer to help.

The Parable Of The Fishes And The Loathes

Who would Jesus have the government mass murder?  A Kansas Baptist pastor believes he has the answer...

The pastor of New Hope Baptist Church in Seneca, Kansas says President Barack Obama has gone too far in supporting same sex marriage and it’s time for the U.S. government to begin killing gay men and lesbians.

“Terrorists are dangerous, the economy is a real and present danger,” Pastor Curtis Knapp told his congregation on Sunday. “But there is simply nothing other than the holocaust of the unborn which imperils the safety of our country or places our people in jeopardy as does the leader of the Western world publicly raising his fist at the heavens and declaring that the bedrock institution of society, ordained of God and meant to be protected by the state, is little more than a convention of convenience with the children of Sodom to transform the meaning of something, which is precious to Jesus Christ, and a living picture of his love for the church into a legally protected justification for perversion and a vehicle of hatred aimed directly at that love.”

Knapp went on to read from Leviticus 20: “If there is a man who lies with a male as those who lie with a woman, both of them have committed a detestable act; they shall surely be put to death.”

They should be put to death,” Knapp declared. “‘Oh, so you’re saying we should go out and start killing them, no?’ — I’m saying the government should. They won’t, but they should.”

Kill them all, let God sort them out.  We should totally put these guys in charge of the government and vote in hardcore Republican nutjobs like this so that they can make stuff like this happen.  What's that, you say?  "Morally bankrupt and borderline psychotic"?

Well, sure, but he's a Real American from the heartland, you know.  A real crazy American, that is.

The Texas Standoff

The only moderately close race in Texas on Tuesday was the GOP Senate primary to replace the retiring Kay Bailey Hutchinson, as Gov. Rick Perry's right hand man Lt. Gov David Dewhurst didn't get 50% +1 of the vote in the seven candidate race, meaning there will be a runoff between Dewhurst and Tea Party goofball Ted Cruz on July 31.

The runoff will be held July 31 and is shaping up to be a referendum on which Republican candidate voters perceive as the more conservative: Dewhurst or Cruz. Dewhurst has long led in public opinion polls, but limited government groups are hoping Cruz can pull an upset similar to Richard Mourdock's ousting of 36-year Senate veteran Richard Lugar in Indiana.

Dewhurst says he helped make the Lone Star state one of the country's most conservative, having held the powerful lieutenant governorship since 2003. Cruz, a fiery attorney and populist, counters that the tea party wave that began in 2010 is still going strong.

"Tonight, is a clear message to Washington special interests: don't mess with Texas. Texans want to elect their own United States senator," Dewhurst said. "Today, Republican voters made a choice between a conservative Texas businessman and Washington special interests."

Addressing his own cheering group of supporters in Houston, Cruz said "this is a victory for accountability" and challenged Dewhurst to five debates before the second round of voting. He has vowed to win the runoff, claiming energized Republicans are most likely to turnout in droves for it.
In a subsequent phone interview Cruz said, "we faced what everyone considered to be an unstoppable opponent with unlimited financial resources."

And if you're wondering what Texas Democrats are doing, well, they're there, I suppose.

On the Democratic side, former state Rep. Paul Sadler advanced to a runoff against perennial candidate Grady Yarbrough of San Antonio, who does not even have a campaign website. Yarbrough said in a phone interview that he expected a runoff with four candidates in the race.

Texas hasn't elected a Democrat to the U.S. Senate since Lloyd Bentsen in 1988, so the winner of the Republican primary should easily prevail in November's general election.

That may not always be the case, however.  The Texas GOP knows it.  The next time Dewhurst or Cruz come up for re-election in 2018, it may be a far different story.   Sadly, there's a lot of damage either one of these clowns will be able to do starting in January 2013.  Hutchinson at least rarely sided with the Democrats, especially on women's issues.  These guys?  Forget it.

Cruz is running to the right of Rick Perry's Lieutenant Governor.  That's frightening.


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