March 25, 2012

AP, Kasie Hunt Try to Perpetuate ‘Hatchet Job of All Time’ Claim That Santorum Said He Would Support Obama Over Romney

Failure to heed Rush Limbaugh’s Thursday warning relating to another matter (“If I were you, I would regard every AP story, particularly this year, as nothing more than a propaganda piece for the reelection of Barack Obama”) is allowing the Associated Press to perpetuate what I demonstrated on Friday is a totally unsupported falsehood concerning a statement made by presidential candidate Rick Santorum.

What Santorum said was a clearly conditional statement (full context and here): “If you’re going to be a little different, we might as well stay with what we have instead of taking a risk with what may be the Etch A Sketch candidate of the future.” Here is what the AP’s headline writers and the wire service’s Will Weissert twisted things on Friday (saved here at host for future reference, fair use and discussion purposes):

Santorum: Might As Well Have Obama Over Romney

Presidential candidate Rick Santorum on Thursday said Republicans should give President Barack Obama another term if Santorum isn’t the GOP nominee and for a second day compared rival Mitt Romney to an Etch A Sketch toy.

Conservatives and Republicans may not like what Santorum actually said, but that’s not the issue at this blog. The issue is whether what AP wrote is correct. The answer is that there’s no conceivable way you can stretch what Santorum said into what the AP’s Weissert wrote. As I noted on Friday: “the statement is conditional, and that if Romney can demonstrate that he is more than ‘a little different,’ Santorum’s concern is no longer valid.”

As expected from a news organization which, as Rush asserted, seems dedicated to the reelection of Barack Obama over virtually everything else, the AP’s Kasie Hunt doubled down on Saturday in her report (also saved at host) from Louisiana:

Rick Santorum is looking to Louisiana for a much-needed rebound as Republican voters go to the polls Saturday in the state’s GOP primary.

The former Pennsylvania senator is expected to do well in the contest, just a handful of days after a decisive loss to front-runner Mitt Romney in Illinois on Tuesday.

… Santorum spent much of Friday on the defensive, explaining comments he made earlier in the week and insisting he would support the eventual GOP nominee. Still, Santorum says there are similarities between front-runner Romney and Obama that make them indistinguishable on some issues. He caused an intraparty uproar earlier in the week after suggesting he’d prefer a second term for Obama over a Romney presidency.

“Over my dead body would I vote for Barack Obama,” Santorum said as he walked back his original comments less than 24 hours before Louisiana polls were set to open.

Santorum never suggested anything of the kind, but Hunt and AP appear to want his non-existent “suggestion” (note how she “cleverly” moved away from “said”) and his non-existent “walkback” to become part of Campaign 2012 folklore. Unfortunately, many center-right pundits and outlets, either because they allowed themselves to be deceived without going to the tape or because they can’t resist the chance to cynically bash a candidate who isn’t their guy, have parroted what the AP has written. They should know better to presumptively believe anything the AP writes, especially about Republicans and conservatives (and in some cases I believe they do know better, but went ahead anyway).

Santorum, with understandable hyperbole considering the circumstances, characterized the AP’s smear as “the hatchet job of all time” in an interview with Fox News’s Neil Cavuto on Friday.

Whether or not Romney is more than “a little different” from Barack Obama is a matter for debate — and it’s not as if the cause for having the debate doesn’t exist. There are more than a few conservatives who have followed Mitt Romney since his gubernatorial term in Massachusetts who have cited at least a dozen current and historical examples (best compilations are here and here) of where the differences between Romney and Obama are from all appearances either small or non-existent. There is one update to an assertion at the second link: RomneyCare currently has abortions with no copay, not the $50 copay cited.

If the candidate can’t explain them away or acknowledge and apologize for having made serious mistakes, then the concern about whether or not he is more than “a little different” from Barack Obama will remain a topic subject to debate.

What isn’t open to debate is that the Associated Press has brazenly deceived its news users and subscribing outlets, and has shown yet again why it completely deserves to be called the Administration’s Press — or perhaps even better (partial HT to a NewsBusters reader), the Administration’s Propagandists.

Cross-posted at NewsBusters.org.

Evening Newscasts Saw Viewership Decline With Daylight Saving Time’s Arrival, But Were Also Down From Last Year

Filed under: Business Moves,MSM Biz/Other Bias — Tom @ 11:14 am

Big3EveningNewsLogosDuring the week of March 12, after the arrival of Daylight Saving Time, the audience for the evenings newscasts at the Big Three networks dropped precipitously compared to the previous week (by 7.7%) and the same week last year (by 9.0%).

Perhaps the year-over-year metric is an unfair comparison, because during the same week in 2011 the Japanese tsunami drew in ordinarily uninterested viewers. Compared to two years ago, the combined audience was slightly higher (by 2.1%). NBC and ABC were both down slightly, while CBS, recovering from the Katie Couric era and still in a distant third place, showed a double-digit gain. But the three networks were down in the advertiser-prized 25-54 demographic, with CBS eking out a much smaller gain which did not offset losses at NBC and ABC. Here are the numbers:

BigThreeEveningNewsPostDST2010to2012

All three networks have seen the 25-54 component of their viewership shrink compared to two years ago.

The post-Daylight Saving Time total audience drop-offs in 2011 and 2010 were 4.4% and 11.5%, respectively. The respective changes in the 25-54 demographic were +0.7% and -12.7%.

Perhaps it’s isolated, because NBC and ABC have generally increased their audiences by modest percentages since last fall, while CBS has done even better. But given that this is a presidential election year, one might expect year-over-year improvement despite the tsunami’s impact on last year. The prospects for improvement going forward seem dim. Frequent instances of sub-20 million combined audiences seem more than a little likely. If they come, some of the reason will be that audiences have learned that they won’t get fair and balanced reporting from Brian Williams, Diane Sawyer, and Scott Pelley, especially about those electoral contests.

Cross-posted at NewsBusters.org.

WSJ on ObamaCare, Part 2: The Commerce Clause’s Original Intent

Filed under: Economy,Health Care,Taxes & Government — Tom @ 8:45 am

The first half of the Wall Street Journal’s editorial on ObamaCare published yesterday (covered here) pointed out that upholding the law would represent and institutionalize “plenary police powers—regulations of private behavior to advance public order and welfare” — a situation which is so obviously against the spirit and substance of the nation’s Constitution, not to mention the Declaration of Independence which forms its philosophical foundation, that it’s astonishing that any judge or court would consider the law acceptable.

The idea that the Commerce Clause gives the government the ability to regulate every transaction between private parties — which is what the administration is essentially arguing — is directly contradicted by James Madison, in three different quotes:

If Congress can employ money indefinitely to the general welfare, and are the sole and supreme judges of the general welfare, they may take the care of religion into their own hands; they may appoint teachers in every State, county and parish and pay them out of their public treasury; they may take into their own hands the education of children, establishing in like manner schools throughout the Union; they may assume the provision of the poor; they may undertake the regulation of all roads other than post-roads; in short, every thing, from the highest object of state legislation down to the most minute object of police, would be thrown under the power of Congress…. Were the power of Congress to be established in the latitude contended for, it would subvert the very foundations, and transmute the very nature of the limited Government established by the people of America.”

Actually, thanks to Congress’s abandonment of its fundamental duties, it ends up being the regulators who have the power, largely unchecked.

With respect to the words general welfare, I have always regarded them as qualified by the detail of powers connected with them. To take them in a literal and unlimited sense would be a metamorphosis of the Constitution into a character which there is a host of proofs was not contemplated by its creators.”

The Constitution’s creators knew better — not Linda Greenhouse.

It is very certain that [the commerce clause] grew out of the abuse of the power by the importing States in taxing the non-importing, and was intended as a negative and preventive provision against injustice among the States themselves, rather than as a power to be used for the positive purposes of the General Government.”

Madison’s reference is to the original Articles of Confederation, where the states started fighting each other and imposing tariffs on one another.

Now that the law is about to be argued in the Supreme Court, the administration is betraying a singular lack of confidence (as it should, based on the quotes above), as the editorial notes in its second half (bolds are mine):

Another Administration fallback is the Constitution’s Necessary and Proper Clause, which says Congress can pass laws to execute its other powers. Yet the Court has never hesitated to strike down laws that are not based on an enumerated power even if they’re part of an otherwise proper scheme. This clause isn’t some ticket to justify inherently unconstitutional actions.

In this context, the Administration says the individual mandate is necessary so that the Affordable Care Act’s other regulations “work.” Those regulations make insurance more expensive. So the younger and healthier must buy insurance that they may not need or want to cross-subsidize the older and sicker who are likely to need costly care. But that doesn’t make the other regulations more “effective.” The individual mandate is meant to offset their intended financial effects.

Some good-faith critics have also warned that overturning the law would amount to conservative “judicial activism,” saying that the dispute is only political. This is reductive reasoning. Laws obey the Constitution or they don’t. The courts ought to defer to the will of lawmakers who pass bills and the Presidents who sign them, except when those bills violate the founding document.

As for respect of the democratic process, there are plenty of ordinary, perfectly constitutional ways the Obama Democrats could have reformed health care and achieved the same result. They could have raised taxes to fund national health care or to make direct cross-subsidy transfers to sick people. They chose not to avail themselves of those options because they’d be politically unpopular. The individual mandate was in that sense a deliberate evasion of the accountability the Constitution’s separation of powers is meant to protect.

… The Obama Administration and its allies are already planning to attack the Court’s credibility and legitimacy if it overturns the Affordable Care Act. They will claim it is a purely political decision, but this should not sway the Justices any more than should the law’s unpopularity with the public.

The stakes are much larger than one law or one President. It is not an exaggeration to say that the Supreme Court’s answers may constitute a hinge in the history of American liberty and limited and enumerated government. The Justices must decide if those principles still mean something.

From all appearances (I would love to be proven wrong), four of the nine justices already believe that those principles mean nothing. One of them (Kagan) should recuse herself, and won’t. Another (Ginsburg) used to head the ACLU but doesn’t appear to respect the fundamental liberty of a person to conduct one’s own life as he or she sees fit.

As usual, it seems to come down to Anthony Kennedy. Hopefully he’ll remember that the guy who nominated him for the Court is the person who organized a passionate fight against nationalized health care in the early 1960s:

Positivity: Americans speak up for religious freedom at nationwide rallies

Filed under: Health Care,Life-Based News,Positivity — Tom @ 7:00 am

From Washington:

Mar 23, 2012 / 06:04 pm

Men and women of all ages raised their voices in support of religious liberty in the nation’s capital on March 23, speaking out against the federal contraception mandate and joining with those who participated in the Rally for Religious Freedom in locations across the country.

“I think it’s remarkably important because it’s a gateway move by the government,” said Libby Barnes, age 22.

Barnes told CNA that she is “used to the Catholic Church’s teaching on contraception being unpopular.”

But while she has become accustomed to having Church doctrine mocked, questioned and mis

Sunday Off-Topic (Moderated) Open Thread (032512)

Filed under: Lucid Links — Tom @ 6:45 am

Rules are here. Possible comment fodder may follow later. Other topics are also fair game.

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‘Mis-Tweetment’: Roland Martin Tells David Steinberg of PJ Media He Should Get ‘Shock Therapy’ for ‘Mental Health Issues’

Less than two weeks after his suspension for previous intemperate tweets was lifted, CNN’s Roland Martin was engaging in personally insulting “mis-tweetment” again this afternoon with PJ Media’s David Steinberg.

In a series of tweets at around 5 p.m. tonight seen after the jump, Steinberg criticized Martin for spending so much time on the press’s Trayvon Martin obsession — where one person tragically died — while ignoring the impact and meaning of the documents leaked by an unnamed Department of Justice official relating to the Fast and Furious “gunwalking” scandal — as a result of which “at least 300 Mexicans, plus at least two American law enforcement agents” have been killed. Martin’s responses were immature, insulting, condescending — and all too typical of a press corps which, now that it is seeing poll results it doesn’t like, has in certain cases taken to calling voters stupid.

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