Thursday, February 11, 2010

Did Glenn Beck set up Texas gubernatorial candidate Debra Medina?

Explosive information hit the radio airwaves today as it was revealed that Texas gubernatorial candidate Debra Medina appeared to confirm in an interview that she is a so-called '9/11 truther.' The interview was conducted by Glenn Beck on the radio.

Debra Medina, right, at a debate with Gov. Rick Perry and Kay Bailey Hutchison (AP Photo/Pool,LM Otero).

Immediately the Internet was burning up with quick responses both from Medina supporters and from those who jumped to the conclusion that the candidate had 'outed' herself as part of a movement which believes that the U.S. government had a hand in bringing about the terrorist attack on 9/11.

The transcripts of the interview seem to indicate that those who believe Medina is a 'truther' have been vindicated. However, the audio of the interview, as provided at the link in the first paragraph, seems to portray a slightly different angle.

Beck no doubt believes that Medina admitted to being a truther, as indicated by his follow-up questions and the comments he made on the air after the Medina interview.

Medina herself, however, maintains she admitted no such thing.

To be fair, listening to the audio of the interview seems to confirm Medina's contention. The interview was fast-paced with Beck often interrupting and appearing to overlook the fact that the candidate clearly stated she is not a 9/11 truther, although she admits that the movement has raised some good questions that need to be answered.

And when Medina seemed to indicate that she would not purge her campaign of truthers, if she found any, Beck immediately jumped to the conclusion that Medina 'is a truther.' At that point, the interview was over as Beck essentially wrote off Medina as a viable candidate.

Nothing in the interview indicates that Beck deliberately set-up Medina. His flaw was the sloppiness with which which he conducted the interview and the knee-jerk reaction of branding Medina as a truther.

Beck's question was a fair one. Citizens need to know if their candidates are truthers and why.

However, stating that some truthers have good questions that need to be answered is not tantamount to admitting being part of the movement. Stating that there is no truther litmus test for campaign workers is no indication that a candidate believes that the U.S. government perpetrated the 9/11 attack.

No doubt Medina could have answered Beck's questions more effectively. And Beck could have been much more professional in the manner in which he went about conducting this interview.

Original here

Obama ‘Agnostic’ on Deficit Cuts, Won’t Prejudge Tax Increases

By Rich Miller

Feb. 11 (Bloomberg) -- President Barack Obama said he is “agnostic” about raising taxes on households making less than $250,000 as part of a broad effort to rein in the budget deficit.

Obama, in a Feb. 9 Oval Office interview, said that a presidential commission on the budget needs to consider all options for reducing the deficit, including tax increases and cuts in spending on entitlement programs such as Social Security and Medicare.

“The whole point of it is to make sure that all ideas are on the table,” the president said in the interview with Bloomberg BusinessWeek, which will appear on newsstands Friday. “So what I want to do is to be completely agnostic, in terms of solutions.”

Obama repeatedly vowed during the 2008 presidential election campaign that he would not raise taxes on individuals making less than $200,000 and households earning less than $250,000 a year. When senior White House economic adviser Lawrence H. Summers and Treasury Secretary Timothy F. Geithner suggested in August that the administration might be open to going back on that pledge, White House press secretary Robert Gibbs quickly reiterated the president’s promise.

In the interview, Obama said that putting preconditions on the agenda of a bipartisan advisory commission, which he said he would soon establish, would just undermine its purpose.

“What I can’t do is to set the thing up where a whole bunch of things are off the table,” Obama said. “Some would say we can’t look at entitlements. There are going to be some that say we can’t look at taxes, and pretty soon, you just can’t solve the problem.”

Politically Risky

Many economists, including conservatives such as former Federal Reserve Chairman Alan Greenspan, argue that tax increases will be necessary as part of a broad package to control the deficit, which the White House projects will hit a record $1.6 trillion in the fiscal year ending on Sept. 30.

Obama said the U.S. was faced with a “structural deficit” that was in place before the recession began and that was only made worse by the deepest drop in the economy since the 1930s.

Revenue ‘Mismatch’

“Our real problem is not the spike in spending last year, or the lost, even the lost revenues last year, as significant as those are,” he said. “The real problem has to do with the fact that there is a just a mismatch between the amount of money coming in and the amount of money going out. And that is going to require some big, tough choices that, so far, the political system has been unable to deal with.”

The administration hopes the bipartisan commission will make it easier to produce a comprehensive plan to reduce the budget gap to a sustainable level, often described as 3 percent of the overall economy, by 2015.

The White House decided to set up the group on its own after the Senate blocked a measure to establish a congressional panel whose recommendations would have been guaranteed a vote by lawmakers. Opponents, including a majority of Senate Republicans, complained that the plan would result in tax increases and that Congress wouldn’t have a chance to amend the panel’s recommendations. Under a presidentially appointed commission, Congress could ignore any panel recommendations.

Republican Skepticism

House Republican leader John Boehner has expressed skepticism about the Obama commission and has sought assurances from the White House that its makeup would be bipartisan and not predisposed to tax increases. The Ohio Republican said he is still considering whether to appoint members from his party to the panel after a Feb. 9 meeting with the president.

The Obama administration’s budget already takes that route with its proposed $970 billion tax increase over the next decade on Americans earning more than $200,000 a year, largely by not extending former President George W. Bush’s tax cuts for the wealthy beyond 2010.

Even with those revenues -- and a proposed three-year freeze on some discretionary spending by the government -- the administration still projects a deficit of $752 billion in 2015, equivalent to 3.9 percent of gross domestic product.

That’s above the 3 percent mark that White House budget director Peter Orszag has said is necessary to stop the rise in government debt as a proportion of the economy.

Budget Gap

Analysts say that middle-class taxes will need to be increased because the government can’t raise enough money from the wealthy alone to close the budget gap. “It’s just not possible to get the revenue you need only from this group,” said Joel Slemrod, director of the Office of Tax Policy Research at the University of Michigan.

Going back on his campaign pledge would be fraught with risks for Obama. Former President George H.W. Bush paid a steep political price when he abandoned his 1988 campaign promise not to raise taxes, losing out in his bid for a second term to Bill Clinton.

The Daily Show Mocks GOP Hypocrisy over Obama and Hawaii

On Tuesday’s The Daily Show, John Oliver followed Republicans to the RNC winter meeting in Hawaii, where they continued to talk about fiscal responsibility while enjoying an expensive Hawaiian getaway. The point was that when Obama goes to Hawaii, to the GOP he is an elitist, but the RNC sees no irony in their own behavior.

Here is the video:

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Oliver talked to several Republicans who utter the same talking point that Democrats are out of touch with average Americans, while they lounged around in Hawaii. One meeting attendee claimed that Democrats can’t connect with people because, “They’re more well to do. They had the money to go to Harvard and that kind of thing.”

Later in the segment, Oliver said, “It was basic common sense. In the middle of the recession don’t waste money on programs that we don’t need, can’t afford, or simply look ridiculous,” all the while the video showed him lounging at the resort.”

As usual, the comedic Daily Show was the only program to point out the sheer absurdity of the Republican Party trying to score political points, by talking about Democrats being out of touch with the common man, and fiscal responsibility, from Hawaii where they decided to hold their winter meeting in the middle of a recession.

The worst part about it is that the members of the RNC seemed completely clueless. They talk about Democrats being elitist, but fail to realize that even in good times, average Americans can’t afford a getaway to Hawaii. If Republicans are serious about fiscal responsibility, they could set an example for the rest of America, but holding their winter meeting in Pittsburgh or Cleveland instead of Hawaii.

Original here

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

The Worst Political Ad Ever? This Fiorina Offering Has Got To Be Up There

I have never done LSD -- at least I don't think so -- but I suspect its effect on me would not be much different than how I felt after I watched Carly Fiorina's "demon sheep" attack ad on rival Tom Campbell.

Fiorina, the ex-CEO of Hewlett-Packard, had been the supposed frontrunner for the Republican Senate nomination in California to take on three-term Democrat Barbara Boxer. Campbell, a former congressman who was finance director for Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger -- maybe not the thing one should put on a resume, given the state's economic woes -- entered the Senate race just last month after his bid for the GOP gubernatorial nomination was going nowhere. Campbell has run statewide before -- he got trounced in the 2000 Senate race by Dianne Feinstein (D) and lost the Republican primary for the other seat in '92 -- and so people pretty much know who he is. But I never pictured him as the devil. Or, to be more specific, as a demonic wolf in sheep's clothing.

But that's who he is in the ad in question.

Since Campbell switched races, he has found himself leading in the polls for the nomination. A Public Policy Institute of California survey has him with an 11-point lead over Fiorina, 27-16 percent; state Assemblyman Chuck DeVore, a conservative, trailed with eight percent. A Field poll had Campbell over Fiorina by five points.

This is what apparently led to the Fiorina campaign running the demon sheep ad. In it, she lays the blame for California's financial situation on him, calling him a FCINO -- a Fiscal Conservative In Name Only.

But it's more than a simple, ordinary attack ad. It seems to go way over the top, bizarrely so, as if, well, it was the result of some bad acid trip. I really urge you to watch it yourself (and please avoid operating heavy machinery as you do so):

I think when I first saw the ad I stared at the screen without blinking for the next five minutes, completely motionless. Maybe that's the kind of mistake someone makes when running for office for the first time? Who came up with this concept, anyway?

(For the record, it was Republican media consultant Fred Davis, who also produced the McCain ad comparing Barack Obama with Paris Hilton in an attempt to turn Obama's celebrity status against him. How'd that one work out?)

Apparently I'm not the only one who thinks this ad is, well, from another galaxy.

Time magazine blogger Michael Scherer writes that the "best way" to view Fiorina's "awesomely bizarre new primary campaign ad -- which includes shots of an alien robot sheep, or something -- is by pressing play on your cassette tape of Pink Floyd's Dark Side of The Moon just as you click play on YouTube."

Jason Linkins, writing in the Huffington Post, calls it "expensive and deranged, with fake sheep crawling around with lite-brite eyes in a field, and a terrible, malformed metaphor that actually insults the fiscal conservatives whom everyone wants to win over."

Blogger Chris Matyszczyk, writing in CNET's "Technically Incorrect": "It may well be that Carly Fiorina will make for an excellent California senator. It may well be that her advisers are slapping her (and themselves) on the back because they have finally got her name out of the morass of apparently faceless politicos who are vying for the honor of failing to corral the psychedelic state. But it also may well be that they have propelled an image of Fiorina as something of nasty nutbag who shouldn't be allowed anywhere near the steering wheel of a Prius, never mind that of a state whose recall may have been total, but whose politics should be totaled."

British blogger Lester Haines: "What the remarkable 'demon sheep' seen in the vid has to do with the price of fish is anyone's guess. Still, it's good to see that the Senate race in California is being conducted in the time-honoured US fashion, with fellow party members beating the crap out of each other before they've even faced up to their true political rivals."

Chuck DeVore, who has suddenly become the forgotten candidate in all this, has set up a Web site,, which proclaims it represents the "Society for the Eradication of Demon Sheep From Our Political Discourse."

But who says we're right? She got everyone talking about her ad, so Fiorina must be on to something, no? That's the view of the Christian Science Monitor's Peter Grier, who wonders if there is a "method" to the ad's "madness":

In politics, it's not a good sign when your opponent is directing attention to your ads -- particularly if they attack him by name. But is the Fiorina camp being crazy like a, uh, fox?
Maybe the ad is working. Fiorina has received loads of free media coverage that at least mentions her claim that Campbell is a false fiscal conservative. In a GOP primary, that's a tough charge. And polls show that Fiorina may be behind Campbell at this point, meaning that she needs to do something to shake up the race.
For now, the Fiorina campaign is unrepentant.
"Look, what I like about the ad is first, it's funny, but it's also factually correct," said Fiorina Thursday in response to the controversy.
"Factually correct" and "demon sheep" may be two phrases you never thought you'd see connected. But Fiorina aides promised more such outrageous ads in comings weeks.
I can't wait.

Original here