The Watering Hole – Saturday, Aug 18, 2012 – Soledad O’Brien, GOP Lie Detector

It’s been a while since I had any desire to tune into CNN, but thanks to Soledad O’Brien, there’s a chance slightly better than a snowball’s in Hell that I might start watching again. Soledad has been doing something lately you don’t often see on the TV machine – challenging Republican lies. And boy, do they get testy when you do that. This past Tuesday she nailed former NH Gov John Sununu, a former GHW Bush Chief-of-Staff who resigned after misusing government resources to conduct personal business, over his lie that the Romney Medicare plan is not being turned into a voucher program. Apparently the word “voucher” must not have tested well with focus groups when used in conjunction with Medicare (as opposed to when used with “school choice”) because the Republicans insist that it is not a “voucher program,” it’s a “premium support program.” The government will give seniors a fixed amount so they can go out on the free market and buy their own Medicare plans. That fixed amount in known in reality-based circles as a voucher. Notice how testy Sununu gets when Soledad points out the facts. He starts name-calling, and saying she’s just mimicking the White House. (Actually, she’s mimicking the CBO.) How mature.

The next day, she got in to a heated discussion with Romney Surrogate Liar Tim Pawle-zzzzzzzz.

I’m sorry, with former Minnesota Governor Tim Pawle-zzzzzzzz.

I’m never going to get this post finished if I keep doing that. Try again.

She got into a discussion with T-Paw, who tried to milk an old Washington trick to “prove” his point. The controversy centered around the Washington definition of the word “cut” in relation to spending and budgets. For those who don’t know, whenever someone proposes reducing the amount of money by which a government program will increase spending, it is called, by both political parties, a “cut.” They do it so they can say, “The other guy wants to cut Medicare!” (Or Education, or Defense, or whatever.) They say this even if the actual amount of money to be spent increases! And, of course, both sides do this because they know the American public doesn’t understand what they’re really saying. They hear “spending cuts,” and they think spending will actually go down. It doesn’t. It just goes up by less.

Which brings us to yesterday and an interview with Rep Jason Chaffetz. This time they were back to whether or not the Romney plan is a “voucher” program or a “premium support” program. Like his fellow Romney surrogates before him, Chaffetz just flat out denies the meaning of words in order to claim he’s right and she’s wrong. It’s another favorite tactic of Republicans – just say the opposite of the truth and claim that whatever the other person is saying is “simply not true.” Keep in mind that their goal is not to win the argument, which they can’t because they don’t have the facts on their side. Instead, the goal is to confuse the American people enough so they don’t believe the side that is telling the truth. The fact is that Obama’s plan saves money by reducing fraud, waste and abuse in Medicare spending. So the Republicans want to make people believe anything but that. And that’s pretty much how they approach any political argument.

If Soledad O’Brien keeps this up, I may just start watching CNN again. At least, I will when she’s on.

[H/T Pete, who brought Soledad O'Brien's exploits to my attention.]

This is our open thread. Feel free to discuss any topic you want.

[Cross-posted at Pick Wayne's Brain.]

Mitt Romney – Moral Mendacity or Memory Failure?

During Monday night’s Republican presidential debate, former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney was asked a question about what role FEMA should play in disaster relief and whether or not more should be done by the states themselves.

CNN’s JOHN KING: What else, Governor Romney? You’ve been a chief executive of a state. I was just in Joplin, Missouri. I’ve been in Mississippi and Louisiana and Tennessee and other communities dealing with whether it’s the tornadoes, the flooding, and worse. FEMA is about to run out of money, and there are some people who say do it on a case-by-case basis and some people who say, you know, maybe we’re learning a lesson here that the states should take on more of this role. How do you deal with something like that?

His response was not only confusing, but apparently in direct contradiction to the way he governed Massachusetts.

GOV MITT ROMNEY: Absolutely. Every time you have an occasion to take something from the federal government and send it back to the states, that’s the right direction. And if you can go even further and send it back to the private sector, that’s even better.

Instead of thinking in the federal budget, what we should cut — we should ask ourselves the opposite question. What should we keep? We should take all of what we’re doing at the federal level and say, what are the things we’re doing that we don’t have to do? And those things we’ve got to stop doing, because we’re borrowing $1.6 trillion more this year than we’re taking in. We cannot…

KING: Including disaster relief, though?

ROMNEY: We cannot — we cannot afford to do those things without jeopardizing the future for our kids. It is simply immoral, in my view, for us to continue to rack up larger and larger debts and pass them on to our kids, knowing full well that we’ll all be dead and gone before it’s paid off. It makes no sense at all.

Okay, there are a few problems with this response. First, why is it that Republicans always feel that the private sector can do the government’s job “better”? Exactly what do they mean by that? Notice that John King just lets that slide without asking for any explanation. This is just another example of how the mainstream media that covers politics practices precious little journalism in favor of just letting politicians say whatever the hell they want unchallenged. The only thing that makes any sense to me is that when a Republican claims that the private sector can do something “better” than the federal government, they mean “more profitably.” Of course, the government is not supposed to be doing things “profitably,” they are supposed to do things as thoroughly as possible. They are supposed to serve as many people as possible, not serve some of the people and still have money leftover. if you do that, then you haven’t done your job of serving the People. Government exists to serve the People, not the Private Sector.

Second is the false idea that the states can do everything better than the federal government can. Not so. It’s true that not all one-size-fits-all solutions will work in every state, but that does not mean we have to abandon all federal support. It’s not an either-or choice – either the federal government does things everywhere or it does things nowhere. This is just the same old “States’ Rights” argument from the party that thinks we’re operating under the Articles of Confederation and not the US Constitution. We tried giving the states more autonomy and the results were disastrous. The Founders the republicans love to revere knew this and decided to do things differently.

But the thing that struck me most was Romney’s apparent immorality. He claims that it is “immoral” to “rack up larger and larger debts and pass them on to our kids.” Well, Mitt, if you believe that, then why are you a Republican? Republicans bear the most responsibility for our huge national debt. You were governor of Massachusetts during the Bush Administration when our country ran huge deficits. You said in the debate that borrowing more money to provide disaster relief was “immoral.” Was it immoral when you did it? Flooding and severe winter storms have been a problem for your state, and you accepted federal aid for it in 2004, 2005 (and with your state’s Congressional delegation helping), big-time in 2006 (see here, too), and again in 2007. There may be other examples, but I found those after a brief search of the internets. Was it moral for you to ask the federal government to borrow money to help your state with disaster relief back then?

You also claim that the states can do things better than the federal government, but you also expressed support for an idea floated by the Bush Administration in the wake of their disastrous response to Hurricane Katrina to have the Pentagon (a very federal agency) take the lead in responding to catastrophic disasters.

There is almost no support among the nation’s governors for President Bush’s suggestion that the Pentagon could take the lead in responding to catastrophic natural disasters, a USA TODAY survey has found.

Of the 38 governors who responded to a request for reaction to Bush’s comments, only two backed the idea: Republicans Mitt Romney of Massachusetts and Tim Pawlenty of Minnesota.

Looks like both you and your fellow Republican “T-Paw” got some ‘splainin’ to do, Mitt.

Cross-posted at Pick Wayne’s Brain

CNN: Family Raffles Off House To Save Their Child’s Life

The Thornton family are raffling off a house, in Clayton Co., Georgia, to pay medical bills for Payton’s future transplant.

Another reason why we so desperately need healthcare reform.

To say “my fate is not tied to your fate is like saying, ‘Your end of the boat is sinking’.”

Sanchez Condemns Fox News On Guns & Fear

A statement issued by Eric Holder, U.S. Attorney General on January 15th: “This administration has no intention of doing anything that would affect a states regulation of firearms, or who could carry a firearm..  There is nothing that we have discussed, nothing is in planning, nothing I can imagine that we’re going to be doing in that regard.”

I don’t think Eric Holder left any grey area in that statement.  It is very cut and dry that the Obama administration is not taking anyone’s right to own a firearm away.

CNN Sanchez: Limbaugh Should Have His Mouth Washed Out!

This is a new low for Rush Limbaugh.  I didn’t think he could get anymore disgusting than what he has in the past.  His comments about Prime Minister Gordon Brown are absolutely disgusting.  He should have his mouth washed out with soap!!

Petraeus: Disagrees With Cheney’s “Less Safe” Remarks About Obama

CNN:  Are the American people “less safe” under this new President?

PETRAEUS: Well, I wouldn’t necessarily agree with that. I think in fact that there is a good debate going on about the importance of values in all that we do.

5thstate on Fighting the Good Fight

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I am nominating 5thstate, a regular reader and commenter at TheZoo, for having the most pithy and well written comment I have seen in quite a long time.

Yesterday, we reported that Chuck Todd, an uber Washington elitist, and total Villager, had the audacity to ask what specific sacrifices Obama was going to ask of the American people.  As if many Americans’ now living in tent cities across the nation isn’t enough, as if insurance isn’t pricing people out of things like eating wasn’t enough.

5thstate thought that I should have included Ed Henry in my original post on Chuck Todd because Mr. Henry decided to write a little self-serving piece at his CNN home.  Here is what 5thstate had to say.

Ed Henry, (who looks like the lead contralto of a Glee Club) was the one who asked Obama why it had taken him two days to comment on the AIG bonuses (of about 10 days ago?) to which Obama replied “Because I like to know what I’m talking about before I say anything”.

Despite being bitchslapped by one of the most popular presidents in US history, Ed seems to think he just earned a campaign medal and he’s just written a breathless movie treatment of his ‘story’ for the CNN website:

HENRY [article]: “I was heading into this event with the same strategy: make news on something unexpected (I won’t tell you which topics I was working on cause it would ruin the surprise for a future presser or interview with the president).”

(Great preamble, Ed! So your mission, your duty as a reporter, was to, make news?  And your strategy is to compile what you think are relevant questions about week-old news? The old “element of surprise” gambit, eh? )


The Corps was nervous, cigarettes were shared as a silent bond, each man knowing it might be his last.

We had our orders, but as wet behind the ears Lieutenant I was eager to make my mark if HQ’s strategy didn’t pan out.

I had some plans of my own, but I kept them under my hat…er… helmet hoping to God and Betty Grable I wouldn’t have to use them.

A dog barked in the foggy distance. The low nervous chatter was silenced, the only noises now were the sounds of final weapons checks and last minute twitters and e-mails being pounded out on Blackberries. And then I just waited, for the signal I though would never come…—

HENRY [article]: “The pressure was on now because the president had called on me. Someone handed me a microphone, millions were watching, and it’s scary to think about changing topic in a split second because you might get flustered and screw up.”

(OMG! OMG! I can’t believe it! He’s right there! OMG!)

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Cafferty: “When it comes to fund-raising, is Gov. Sarah Palin the best the Republicans can do?”

Jack Cafferty’s viewers e-mail:

Tony writes:

Pretty much.  Gov. Palin is to the GOP is what Lindsay Lohan is to Hollywood: disastrously newsworthy.  She is their star.  And, like Hollywood celebrities, bad publicity is publicity nonetheless.

Larry from Belton, Texas writes:

Yes, since Anna Nicole died.  And sweet Sarah won’t be the first woman to talk a bunch of old white men out of copious piles of money.

Hostages Found Dead at Jewish Center in Mumbai

Nov. 28 – The bodies of five hostages have been found at the besieged Jewish centre in Mumbai after Indian security forces stormed the building.

Just before before dusk, commandos blew up an outer wall of the centre as they made their final assault on the building where gunmen were holding several Israeli hostages. At least 13 foreigners are among more than 120 people killed in a series of coordinated attacks on India’s financial capital.

CNN Reporter Threatened:

In the second day of the siege in Mumbai, some members of the media are finding themselves in the middle of local anger. CNN’s Sara Sidner is the network’s New Delhi correspondent. Sidner was reporting about the situation at the Taj Hotel when several locals began interrupting her live shot. Sidner would later report, “As we were standing outside a large group of people came around, many of them young, with the smell of alcohol on their breath, frankly. They were standing very, very close and suddenly chaos erupted.”

Update: Israeli experts say Indian forces acted prematurely in Mumbai
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CNN: Jack Cafferty on Sarah Palin for President 2012

According to a new Gallup Poll, Republicans and Republican-leaning Independents most would like to see Sarah Palin run for president in 2012. That’s right…Sarah “I read all the newspapers,” Palin. Former mayor of Wasilla, first-term governor of Alaska and hockey mom. Her interviews with Katie Couric are the stuff of legend. After she and McCain got their clocks cleaned, Governor Palin couldn’t get enough of the TV cameras. They were in her kitchen, her office, virtually every corner of her life. She is now reportedly being wooed to write a book-that would be interesting-or maybe do a TV show.

Here are some of the responses Jack received on his blog, they are really funny:

Anne from Chicago, Illinois writes:

Did I hear you say Palin is writing a book? How is that possible when I’ve yet to hear her complete a proper sentence? Shouldn’t she try reading one first?

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Cafferty – How Long Will You Wait In Line To Vote?

Dawn from Florida on Cafferty’s blog answered:  My husband and I waited 2 1/2 hours to vote early.  About one hour into the wait, my husband started getting antsy and wanted me to remind him why we were wasting our time.  I just looked at him and said “George W. Bush.”  That did the trick.  Many great responses!

CNN: Obama YouTube Videos are the most watched!

Obama Campaign is putting out a video every two hours.  It is incredible!!  Abbi Tatton reports that Barack Obama videos are the most watched.

“There’s Nothing We Can’t Do”

Barack Obama, in the midst of a rainstorm, tells Virginia that only we have have the power to change this country. Go to to get involved before it’s too late.  (This is the most watched video that the campaign put out today.)

CNN: Sanchez schools a Conservative over “Anti-Semitic”

Rick Sanchez’s question: Is Jeremiah Wright Anti-Semitic? He had a conservative talk show host Ben Ferguson on his show. Ben Ferguson was making the assertion that Barack Obama associates with people who are “Anti-Semitic.” To Sanchez’s credit, he remains very calm and methodical throughout. You don’t see a lot of this on cable news. Plus, he was REALLY prepared. For every single claim Ben claim up with, Sanchez had all the exact words used in newsletters & speeches. The end is beautiful, you have to watch the whole thing – he nails him good with a factual source. I can’t give it away.

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CNN: Rick Sanchez Hammered Michael Goldfarb

McCain spokesperson Michael Goldfarb told CNN that Barack Obama hangs around with notable anti-Semites, but when pressed for names couldn’t give any.  Sanchez didn’t back down he kept after him and Goldfarb went silent.

UPDATE: Goldfarb is referring to Rashid Khalidi, who is NOT a terrorist, nor is he an anti-Semite.  See this earlier post on Khalidi. When pressed, Goldfarb named Rashid Khalidi as the first “notable anti-Semite,” but refused to name the second.

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CNN: Drew Griffin To Interview Sarah Palin

UpDate: The video just released. (TRANSCRIPT)

Update II:  Part (2) Drew Griffen interview with Palin.

Mark Halperin had this up on “The Page,” entitled “Palin Declines To Call Obama a “Socialist” in CNN Interview.”

The Alaska Governor instead invokes Joe the Plumber and his view of Obama’s tax plan when asked by CNN investigative reporter Drew Griffin whether she would label the Democratic nominee a socialist.

More — including answers on Troopergate, how she squares with McCain on certain fiscal policies — to air on CNN’s “The Situation Room.”

I checked over to the Washington Monthly – Political Animal to see what Steve Benen’s take on this would be and he had some great points about Drew Griffin the reporter doing the interview.

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Wal-Mart Caught Again With Supplier Accused of Sweatshop Conditions

Wal-Mart Christmas Ornaments made in sweatshops.


This comes on the heels of a CNN report aired on December 13, 2007 of last year, when it was revealed that Wal-Mart Christmas Ornaments were made under deplorable conditions. Children ranging from ages of 12 to 16 years old, making 26 cents an hour which is half of China’s minimum wage.

Business cites a new study released, which exposed Wal-Mart’s auditing program failed to uncover that a supplier of children’s wear are being produced in sweatshop conditions. The factory forced workers to lie to Wal-Mart inspectors about the working conditions. Wal-Mart has, of course, tried to hide this report from the public.

According to Business Week, “Wal-Mart acknowledges that it urged SweatFree Communities several times not to publish its report.”

According to the study, “Sweatshop Solutions? Economic Ground Zero in Bangladesh and Wal-Mart’s Responsibility,” the factory forces workers to toil marathon 19-hour shifts from 8 am to 3 am in order to finish Wal-Mart orders with tight deadlines. “If any worker declines overtime, management harasses him or her mentally or physically,” says Elina, a 22-year old factory helper. The report recounts one incident of a pregnant worker, who was refused leave, and forced to deliver her child inside the factory.

“In response to this report and pressure from our organization, Wal-Mart promises action to make this factory a model for others in Bangladesh,” said Bjorn Claeson, Executive Director of SweatFree Communities, a worker rights organization that authored the report. “We welcome Wal-Mart’s intervention. As one of the most powerful companies in the world with enormous presence in Bangladesh Wal-Mart could have a dramatic positive impact. But the company should recognize that its own low price demands and just-in-time production system is the root cause of sweatshop conditions. To bring about substantive changes in this factory and others, Wal-Mart must be willing to change its own demands.”

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CNN Fact Checks: McCain’s mortgage plan impact to taxpayers

Sen. Obama releases a new ad that focuses on Sen. McCain’s plan for the government to buy individual mortgages.

The Statement:

An ad released Thursday, October 9, by Sen. Barack Obama’s campaign, titled “Tested,” takes aim at Sen. John McCain’s mortgage plan. “McCain would shift the burden from lenders to taxpayers, guaranteeing a loss of taxpayer money,” the ad’s narrator says. “Who wins? The same lenders that caused the crisis in the first place.”

The Facts:

The ad refers to a plan McCain announced during a debate Tuesday night in Nashville, Tennessee. “I would order the secretary of the Treasury to immediately buy up the bad home loan mortgages in America and renegotiate at the new value of those homes – at the diminished value of those homes – and let people be able to … make those payments and stay in their homes,” McCain said.

On his Web site, McCain calls it “an American Homeownership Resurgence Plan.” Under his plan, the government would buy up some troubled mortgages at their full value – meaning the lenders would not take a loss. The government would then renegotiate those mortgages, so that eligible homeowners would be paying rates based on their homes’ current, reduced value.

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Where is Jack Cafferty?

Was it Jack Cafferty’s blistering attack on Sarah Palin that was an instant hit on youtube ?

or was it this comment:

They have stood by and watched their 401(k)s hemorrhage for months. They were also told all weekend by their elected leaders that a rescue plan was on the way. Their elected leaders lied. Again. In the end, politics trumped everything else. Nancy Pelosi gave a speech and that angered some house republicans, and bingo, the whole project went right down the toilet.

Now it’s the Jewish holidays and nothing will happen for a couple more days. And once again, the middle class will take it in the shorts because some Washington moron wanted to make a point. They make me tired.

Fact is: Since October 2nd, when you go to Jack Cafferty’s blog you get this message:

Jack will not be in the Situation Room Today.

When our reader “houseofroberts” asked the question a couple of days ago, I still thought Cafferty’s absence was not out of the ordinary. Personal issues, programming issues, whatever. Now, I’m not so sure.

You can ask CNN what happened to an integer and integral part of the “best political team on TV” yourself here.

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Fox host: RNC Protesters Should Just be Left in Jail…

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“The hosts of Fox & Friends were predictably irate on Tuesday about the alleged anarchists who have been witnessed causing disruptions during the Republican National Convention, while ignoring questionable police tactics and seemingly indiscriminate arrests directed against peaceful protesters and journalists.”

“Gretchen Carlson even appeared to believe that there was no difference between the thousands of orderly protesters and the few dozen individuals who appear in Fox video breaking windows and overturning park benches and litter baskets. “‘Peaceful, family-friendly march’ — is that why I was running for cover into Walmart?” she asked.”

Yes, let’s just forget that sweeping police raids that happened across the city, involving teams of 25-30 officers in riot gear, with semi-automatic weapons drawn, entering homes of those suspected of planning protests, handcuffing and forcing them to lay on the floor, while law enforcement officers searched the homes, seizing computers, journals, and political pamphlets. If that isn’t considered unlawful search and siezure, I don’t know what is. I’d like to see Kilmeade’s & Gretchen’s reaction, if it were them that were forced to lay face down with handcuffs on for 45 minutes while they unlawfully search her home.

Or that, St. Paul was the most militarized American city starting Sunday night, even more so than Manhattan in the week of 9/11 — with troops of federal, state and local law enforcement agents marching around with riot gear, machine guns, and tear gas cannisters, shouting military chants and marching in military formations.

“Steve Doocy explained to her that there was a distinction. “These are some of the protesters, and in a moment you’ll see them start to run,” he said, narrating the video he had shot earlier. “Apparently some of the nitwits, these anarchists behind there, are throwing stuff at some of the police.”

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Breaking News – Just in..

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Yesterday CNN spent a considerable amount of airtime explaining why the liberation of the Farc guerilla hostages was a war crime. It had to look at it twice to half believe what I was seeing. This was worthy to interrupt the running program for a “Just In..” ??

How about the following news?

U.S. forces confirm killing of Afghan Civilians – Breaking News, Just in?

Congress votes 238 to 180 to refer impeachment motion to the judiciary committee – Breaking News, Just in?

Foreign official wants to speak at impeachment talks – Breaking News, Just in?

This is about war crimes, too!

I don’t mean to belittle the protection given to the Red Cross and Red Crescent by the Geneva Convention. The Red Cross and Red Crescent have come to the aid and rescue of uncounted people because of their neutrality. Abusing their symbols is a crime, which endangers aid workers too. However, this mission saved some people from their ordeal. The three links provided above are about an illegal war and about civilians’ lives wiped out in indiscriminate bombing. No word on this on CNN.

PS: My cable provider here in Europe only provides CNN International, no other US networks, so if there there is a network which reported “Breaking News” on one of the points mentioned above, let me know.