Robert Gibbs · Uncategorized

White House Press Secretary Walks Away From “Birther” Question

I have read about the wacko birther queen’s allegations that the POTUS has over 100 different social security numbers.  Now, a question about one social security number in Barack Obama’s name from Connecticut was asked yesterday at Press Secretary Gibbs’ daily presser.



NYC Tornado Warning

New York Tornado Warning Issued: All NYC Boroughs Included In Alert

I’m from New York City and this is beginning to remind me of the climate change movie “The Day After Tomorrow“.  For anyone who doubts climate change is happening, should research the climate history of New York City.  We’ve certainly had tornado warnings in the more suburban areas, but never, to my recollection, within the city itself!  Then again, before two weeks ago, I hadn’t been in NYC for many years.

Huffington Post

New York City is under a tornado watch tonight, Friday, July 23, 2010, until 1 a.m., according to the National Weather Service.

UPDATE: The Weather Channel has upgraded the seriousness of the threat, declaring a tornado warning for New York City based on a “strong supercell” in New Jersey.

The rare tornado watch was issued around 6 p.m. local time.

Per NBC New York, the alert includes the following areas:

Fairfield county in Connecticut, Bergen, Passaic, Essex, Hudson and Union counties in New Jersey, and Rockland, Westchester, Putnam, Orange, Nassau and Suffolk in New York as well as all five boroughs of New York City.

Fox News

Carl Cameron, Fox News Correspondent, Reportedly Says Channel Helps Boost Tea Party

Of course there is no surprise here.  The fact is, Cameron’s acknowledgement that Fox News boosts the Tea Party, simply confirms what many bloggers and progressives have been saying for a while.  Fox News is not a news organization.  It’s a GOP pac!

Huffington Post

A top Fox News correspondent reportedly said he agrees that the channel supports the Tea Party.

The Daily Beast’s Steve Friess reports that he witnessed a conversation between Daily Kos blogger Dante Atkins and Fox News chief political correspondent Carl Cameron at the Netroot Nations conference on Friday, during which Cameron said some people on the channel are boosting the Tea Party and have improperly hyped the Shirley Sherrod story.

Friess says that Atkins had just finished a segment on Fox News about the netroots, and was telling Cameron some of the things he had said on television:

“Cameron…nodded as Atkins repeated comments he made on camera that the Tea Party movement was largely organized by Fox News hosts like Glenn Beck and Sean Hannity.

‘Tell me about it,’ Cameron smirked.

As the conversation continued, Atkins…cited examples of Fox’s undue sway over events. Cameron then offered one of his own.

‘The Sherrod case is an example of some at Fox News trying to have more influence than it probably should,’ Cameron said.

When confronted with his comments, Cameron told Friess that they had been taken out of context, and that he was defending the standards of the channel’s news division. Atkins told Friess that the remarks were accurate and were not taken out of context.

In September, a Fox News producer was caught rallying the crowd at a 9/12 protest.

Right-wing Media

HuffPo Editorial: Timeline of Sherrod Debacle Reveals Disturbing Coordination Between Fox News and Bloggers

Huffington Post Editorial – Alvin McEwen

The Shirley Sherrod debacle was bound to happen sooner or later. With the 24-hour media constantly buzzing and  “senior analysts” of think tanks constantly tossing out inaccurate talking points to fit their positions rather than educating the public, someone was bound to get stung.

The only thing that kept this situation from becoming worse was Sherrod’s will to stand up herself rather than crumble under the glare of negative media attention.

Now, despite the need to constantly harp on the White House and NAACP for the Sherrod debacle (and some of the harping is very legitimate), one cannot deny that the two entities got overcome by a coordinated right-wing swarm that made their heads spin before they even had time to assess the situation.

A timeline by the group Media Matters details how quickly the Sherrod story moved through right-wing circles. A brief excerpt is as follows:

Monday11:18 a.m.*: Breitbart posts Sherrod video, calls her “racist,” claims “Context is everything.”

Fox News amplifies Breitbart’s deceptively edited video

12:13 p.m.: Hoft runs with Breitbart video.

12:55 p.m.: HotAir’s Morrissey: “Breitbart hits NAACP with promised video of racism.”

1:40 p.m. (approximately): Fox Nation accuses Sherrod of “discrimination caught on tape” before she resigned.

1:49 p.m.: Ace of Spades picks up Sherrod story, calls it an example of “your government, working for you.”

3:31 p.m.: Elizabeth Scalia of the blog The Anchoress raises questions about the editing of Breitbart’s video.

4:01 p.m. Ace of Spades reports that CBS’ NYC affiliate picked up Sherrod story, declares, “Breitbart gets results.”

4:28 p.m. (approximately): Sherrod story hits Drudge.

4:50 p.m.: Breitbart tweets to Media Matters: “Tomorrow’s gonna be a long day.”

7:51 p.m.*: Big Government links to a article reporting that Sherrod had resigned and USDA repudiated her remarks.

8:21 p.m.: Allahpundit questions the video’s editing, but says he will “assume Breitbart’s edit is fair to the spirit of her remarks.”

8:50 p.m.: O’Reilly airs Breitbart’s Sherrod video

9:04 p.m.: “Fox News Alert”: Hannity reports that Sherrod has resigned and discusses the incident with Gingrich.


Say what you will about the right-wing, they know how to coordinate. And I don’t think  a “we have to investigate this further” explanation would have stood up under the constant, coordinated buzzsaw of innuendo from talking heads and bloggers eager to take revenge for so-called left-wing abuses. This wasn’t an attempt to get a story — it was deliberate move to score points and the facts be damned.

And yet the rest of the media seems to be intentionally sidestepping any conversations about this interlocking of dubious bloggers and supposedly legitimate newsmen and women to the point of absurdity. Talking Points Memo had this to say today:

It’s much easier to focus on Obama or Vilsack or ‘what it says about race in America’ or whatever other nonsense. Because most reporters are simply cowed by Fox and Breitbart and Beck and the rest of the organized forces of bamboozlement — too afraid, too bewildered, too hapless to apply anything remotely approaching standards in analyzing the fourth estate of which they are the nominal custodians. So what we get is this ‘see no evil, hear no evil, speak not at all’ routine from reporters and journalists who should know better.

It shouldn’t be a surprise. These same people who are sanctimoniously calling out the White House for falling for the conservative blog/Fox News coordinated blitz were some of the same ones who actually defended the so-called news organization last year when the White House took it to task.

Still, irregardless of the how this entire thing ends,  progressives would be wise to not miss the forest for the trees.

The right-wing blitz consumed the White House and the NAACP with the skill of an army of fire ants consuming a grasshopper. And if those two entities fell so easily, imagine who else can be put in a harsh spotlight of lies and innuendo. Who else will fall under the right-wing buzzsaw before they have time to gather up a defense?

There is a small silver lining to the situation. My guess is that this incident will be Breitbart’s signature moment, forever scarring his already highly questionable reputation. That link is severed.

But like some monster out of Greek mythology, the right-wing noise machine remains strong, because for every one Breitbart, there are probably two or three others willing to stoop even lower to take his place.

Editor’s note: Emphasis are mine

President Obama

Apocalypse Not: Are the Dems Really Facing Doom?

I tend to share Mr. Klein’s sentiment.  The reports of the demise of the Democratic majority has been greatly exaggerated!

Time Magazine – Joe Klein

In the midst of the mid-July doldrums, Barack Obama suddenly was beset by a zeitgeist tornado blowing in — hard — from the media and the opposition. A Washington Post headline blared that “6 in 10 Americans Lack Faith in Obama.” The Drudge Report, rippling off the poll, screamed, “CREDIBILITY CRISIS.” The New York Times asked 15 brilliant people to give the sinking Prez advice on its op-ed page. Charles Krauthammer, the neoconservative columnist, argued that the worst part of Obama’s failure was that he was succeeding — he was reversing Reaganism, with legislation like the health care and financial-reform bills. The President’s press secretary, Robert Gibbs, noted, accurately, that the Democratic Party might lose the House of Representatives in the coming elections. This droplet of candor rendered the Speaker of said House, Nancy Pelosi, inexplicably apoplectic. Various commentators began to speculate that it was possible that the Democrats could lose the Senate as well.

Yikes. With all the hyperventilation, it was easy to gain the impression that something was actually happening. In truth, not much was. Take that Washington Post poll, for example. It was true that 57% of those surveyed had only some or no faith in the President’s ability to solve the country’s problems. But that was pretty good compared with, well, everyone else in town: 67% lacked faith in the congressional Democrats, and a mere 72% felt that way about the Republicans. By the way, the lack of faith in the President’s ability to fix the economy seems entirely rational to me: another short-term stimulus burst is needed, and so are long-term deficit-reduction fixes, but both seem beyond the Administration’s capability right now. On the other hand — in the midst of a fierce recession and the oil spill and a massive Republican smear campaign — Obama’s approval rating stood at a buoyant 50%, which was slightly higher than most other polls had him, all of which were higher than Ronald Reagan’s at a similar point in his presidency. (See TIME’s poll: voters like Obama, not his policies.)

It was certainly true that the Democrats were poised to take a shellacking in the coming elections. That’s business as usual; congressional campaigns almost always give heartburn to sitting Presidents. But the intensity of the reflux remains a mystery. The Lost Senate scenario depended on the Democrats’ dropping every last race imaginable — and even as the dire prognostications were being propounded, Harry Reid was rising from the dead in his Nevada Senate race (on the strength of the weird Tea offered by his Republican challenger), a pattern that could repeat itself in other states where the Republicans have settled on test-tube libertarians who want to privatize old-age entitlements, believe that people receiving unemployment insurance are lazy and still have doubts about the legality of the 1964 Civil Rights Act. (See “Harry Reid — The Democrats’ Inside Man.)

Even on the House side, the picture wasn’t entirely clear. A composite index of polls had the Republicans slightly ahead in a generic ballot (albeit with a far more enthusiastic potential electorate). But in the tawdry area of fundraising, a very precise leading indicator of success in congressional races, Democrats were thrilled by the fact that many of their vulnerable candidates — Gabrielle Giffords in Arizona, Chris Carney in Pennsylvania, for example — had significantly outraised their Republican opponents. Here, too, the Republicans were evening the odds by offering strange brews of Tea against Democrats who tended to be solid, moderate Blue Dog sorts. (Several polls had the Tea Party’s initial, mildly favorable public impression turning sour.) (Comment on this story.)

This is not to say the President doesn’t have problems. The public is distressed by the recession and confused by Obama’s solutions. The financial-reform bill that the President signed on July 21 may tourniquet some of Wall Street’s excesses, but who could explain it? The big banks remain intact, with only a byzantine regulatory process standing between them and another bailout. There is no transaction tax to discourage the casino gambling in financial derivatives that fueled the crash. Indeed, the most accessible news from the bill is that one unpopular big (Wall Street) was impinged upon by another (government regulators), who don’t have a fabulous track record when it comes to being outsmarted by the Madoffs of this world. The other headline was that the bill funds 68 government studies, all of which — I’m sure — will be carefully read and implemented. (See “Financial Reform: Obama’s Triumph of Policy Over Politics.”)

This is a “solution” that doesn’t connect with the “problem” perceived by the electorate, which is the government’s affinity for bailouts. “The big guys got taken care of,” says Senator Maria Cantwell of Washington, one of 53 congressional Democrats who lost their seats in the 1994 Republican tsunami, “and everyone else is getting hammered. There is enormous frustration about that, and people tend to take it out on the party in power.”

And so it will surely be this year, though perhaps not the apocalypse the zeitgeist warriors are predicting.


Sharron Angle

Angle holds three-minute press conference, then runs from questions.

This is the woman who wants to take Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid’s seat.   Are all “tea partiers” like this?  Uh, never mind.  That was a rhetorical question.

Think Progress -7-22-10

Yesterday, after “dodging the press” for more than a month, Sharron Angle, the GOP Senate candidate running against Sen. Harry Reid (D) in Nevada, held her first press conference since her primary win in early June. However, it wasn’t much of a press conference because, like another GOP Senate candidate last month, she dodged reporters’ questions and rushed out the door of the building. The Las Vegas Sun reports:

In the warehouse of a family-owned clean diesel manufacturer in Sparks, Angle delivered a three-minute speech on her desire to permanently repeal the estate tax. When invited by the final speaker to stay and answer a few questions, she turned on her heel and rushed out a back door with a small cadre of staff members.

Reporters, including one who is six months pregnant, chased after her, calling out questions on unemployment benefits and other topics she has largely refused to address.

Angle may have been reluctant to answer questions since she spent her last interview calling unemployed Americans “spoiled.” Or perhaps she just knew that she would not have had an opportunity to plug her website and ask for campaign donations.

Health Reform

The Newly Introduced Public Option Proposal Will Reduce the Deficit by $68 Billion

Bring it on…

Think Progress – Wonk Room

Just when you thought the last nail had been driven in the public option coffin months ago, like a phoenix rising from the ashes, the public option has once again returned to Congress. As Noam Levey reported last night, “[c]reating a major government health insurance program was roundly rejected last year, but 128 House Democrats are pushing to reconsider the idea, contending that it would hold down federal spending.” The legislation, HR 5808, is sponsored by Rep. Lynn Woolsey (D-CA) and the 128 cosigners are largely progressive caucus members and include all three chairmen of the committees of jurisdiction, Ways and Means, Energy and Commerce, and Education and Labor.

The Congressional Budget Office (CBO) scored the legislation and noted some promising findings. The public plan, in this form, has always been a deficit reducer and this is no exception. CBO found the proposal would reduce the deficit by $68 billion from 2014 to 2020. Despite likely lower reimbursements than private plans, CBO found providers would likely participate in large numbers because of the number of enrollees. CBO estimates the average public plan premium would be 5 to 7 percent lower than other private plans available within the exchange, making it more affordable to individuals. They also estimate approximately 13 million or one in every three individuals eligible for exchange coverage would chose the public option.

The legislation looks very similar to the original House public option that passed the Ways and Means and Education Labor committees. It is important to remember the public option that passed the full House of Representatives in November of last year looked very different from this initial version. Both the original House bill and the new legislation would create an option for a public plan within the health insurance exchanges beginning in 2014. Providers would be paid Medicare rates plus 5 percent in the initial years. The providers will not be required to accept Medicare to enroll in the program.  Continue reading…


Boehner, Fox’s Shep Smith, And Other Journalists Slam Breitbart For His Race-Baiting Smear Campaign

Uh oh, if John Boehner is chastising Little Andrew, I suppose Fox and Little Andy will bring the race baiting thing down a notch or two.  We’ll see.  On the other hand, they may fire Shepard Smith for his outspoken comments about the entire matter.

Think Progress

This morning, President Barack Obama apologized to former USDA official Shirley Sherrod for her forced resignation based on a highly misleading video produced by right-wing media tycoon Andrew Breitbart. Obama “expressed his regret” in a phone call with Sherrod, which she described as “a very good conversation.” Sherrod also said she is considering suing Breitbart — who has refused to apologize or retract the story — for defamation, noting, “He was willing to destroy me…in order to try to destroy the NAACP.”

But Sherrod isn’t the only one denouncing Breitbart’s deceitful tactics. Speaking to the Daily Caller, House Minority Leader John Boehner (R-OH) called it “unfortunate” that Breitbart “didn’t lay out the whole story, as opposed to a part of it.” “They only put a little piece of the story out there and people make judgments and they rush and they make bad decisions. They make rash decisions,” Boehner said.

Meanwhile, Fox New anchor Shep Smith — whose network breathlessly promoted the smear campaign — slammed Breitbart’s as “widely discredited,” and blasted the White House for acting on its video.  Smith even called out his own employer, saying, “The video, taken completely out of context, it ran all over the Internet, and television, including on this network:”

We here at Studio B did not run the video and did not reference the story in any way for many reasons, among them: we didn’t know who shot it, we didn’t know when it was shot, we didn’t know the context of the statement, and because of the history of the videos on the site where it was posted, in short we do not and did not trust the source. […]

[The White House based its decision on] an edited videotape on a widely discredited website that has had inaccurate postings of videos in the past–edited to the point where the world was deceived. … What in the world has happened to our industry and the White House?

As Media Matters documented, a number of high-profile journalists have joined Smith in condemning Breitbart.  CNN’s Anderson Cooper said Breitbart’s video was “clearly edited to deceive and slander Miss Sherrod.” Cooper added that Breitbart’s efforts to “weasel his way out of taking responsibility for what he did to Miss Sherrod is a classic example of what is wrong with our national discourse.” Politico’s Ben Smith noted that “Breitbart’s sites now have a growing credibility problem.”

Even conservative journalists, like the Weekly Standard’s John McCormack, denounced Breitbart. “Breitbart’s posting of the partial clip, which leaves out crucial information, was unfair to Sherrod,” McCormack wrote. “Sherrod deserves an apology from Breitbart for posting the edited video.” The National Review’s Jonah Goldberg agreed, writing Sherrod is “owed apologies from pretty much everyone, including my good friend Andrew Breitbart.”

However, Breitbart has at least one defender in hate radio host Rush Limbaugh. Limbaugh attacked Shep Smith for “cav[ing]” and said the NAACP should now be spelled “R-A-C-I-S-M,” Limbaugh add.

Re. Alan Grayson

Death threat claims 10 people will kill Grayson

Congressman Alan Grayson says someone sent his office a death threat and now he’s trying to turn that into campaign cash.

For Grayson it’s been a week of fighting words: First, a conservative media critic tweeted that he’d give $100 to anyone who would punch the central Florida Democrat in the face.

Grayson went on MSNBC to respond.

“I just want to let him know that I’d punch back,” Grayson said.

Now Grayson claims someone called his office in D.C. and told the intern receptionist “Ten people are going to kill the congressman within 24 hours.”

In an e-mail, Grayson says he turned over the information to Capitol Police. He ends the e-mail with a link to a site where you can donate money to his campaign.

Below is the letter sent to WDBO from Grayson.

Dear WDBO:

One day, a Republican operative offers $100 to anyone who’ll punch me in the nose.
The next day, I get a death threat.
After Fox News spewed its usual clownish hatred about me yesterday, my office received a call. The caller told our receptionist – a young intern – that “10 people are going to kill the Congressman within 24 hours.” We gave the information to the Capitol Police; they are investigating.
Fox. You’d think that they would have learned their lesson after Dr. George Tiller was killed. And they did learn a lesson: a lesson in killing.
And why? Because I told the truth: the truth that by stalling on unemployment insurance, right-wingers revealed themselves to be heartless, selfish wretches, who have been taking food out of the mouths of children.
Am I the only one who has noticed this? Because if you’re with me on this, I’d like your support. I need your support.
First threatened assault. Then threatened murder. Do you see how they ratchet up the bullying, and try to cow us?
In his poem “The Second Coming,” the Irish poet William Butler Yeats described a time like ours as the “widening gyre.” A time when “the centre cannot hold.”
A time when “anarchy is loosed upon the world.”
A time when “the best lack all conviction, while the worst are full of passionate intensity.” Up to, and including, death threats on Members of Congress.
But we have to stand up, and we have to fight back. Because what is at stake is . . . everything.
Please, support our campaign. Stand with me. Fight back.
Congressman Alan Grayson