The Amazing Stupidity of Ron Johnson, Part 2

Ron Johnson 1

Wisconsin Senator Ron Johnson has really raised his media profile in the past couple of day. Yesterday he was humiliated by Hillary Clinton during the Senate Benghazi hearings and today it was John Kerry’s turn to make a fool out of Johnson during Kerry’s confirmation hearings for Secretary of State. Sadly, Johnson doesn’t understand that he’s getting all this attention because he’s a complete loon.

Why is this man so obsessed with whether or not there was a spontaneous protest in Benghazi on the day of the attacks on the American consulate there? He can’t even explain why it matters except to say that the American people deserve “the truth.” For Pete’s sake, we didn’t get any kind of investigation of 9/11/2001 for a couple of years after the attacks!

Hasn’t Johnson noticed that even John McCain and Lindsey Graham stopped harping on the protest vs. terrorist attack “issue” after it came out that Susan Rice’s talking points were prepared by the intelligence community and that former CIA Director David Petraeus signed off on them? Unfortunately, Johnson is just too stupid and too full of himself to realize everyone else has moved on.

Wisconsin blogger Ed Garvey got a kick out of the way Hillary handled Johnson yesterday:

Had the Hillary Clinton-Ron Johnson episode been a prize fight they would have called it after a couple of exchanges between the bright, articulate and gutsy secretary of state and Ron Johnson, the inarticulate, not-so-gutsy Wisconsin senator. I almost felt sorry for the guy. He reminded me of a kid who can’t swim being pushed into into the deep end of the pool.

You have to see it to believe it. Advice to Senator Johnson: Spend some prep time before taking on someone much smarter than you. And, dear Ron, your effort to win the debate after it was over placed you in the rube category.

This morning CNN’s Soledad O’Brien tried to get Johnson to explain why after being smacked down by Clinton in the Senate, he ran to right wing media outlets and accused the outgoing Secretary of State of faking emotion over the deaths of four State Department employees in order to evade his (Johnson’s) questions.

Johnson used his amazing stupidity to evade O’Brien’s questions.

During Kerry’s confirmation hearing, Johnson tried to get Kerry to agree to work with him to get “the truth” about the Benghazi attacks.

From Politicus:

Sen. Ron Johnson started his tea party what really happened at Benghazi shitick today, but like Hillary Clinton yesterday, John Kerry was having none of it. Kerry responded to Johnson’s repeat performance of what really happened at Benghazi by asking, “Were you at the briefing at the tapes?” Johnson answered, “No.” Kerry continued, “Well, there was a briefing with tapes, which we all saw, those of us who went to it, which made it crystal clear. We sat for several hours with our intel folks, who described to us precisely what we were seeing. We saw the events unfold. We had a very complete and detailed description.”

Senator Stupid still doesn’t get it, but surely some of his constituents in Wisconsin must be kicking themselves for electing this moron. Back to Politicus:

Johnson and the other tea partiers in Congress are obsessed with Benghazi because they are trying to create a political opportunity to exploit. For them, these hearings aren’t about finding out what really happened in order to make sure it doesn’t happen again. Sen. Johnson and others of his ilk are trying to use the murder of four Americans for political gain.

Sen. Johnson is embarrassing himself and his state, and the only fact that has been uncovered by his line of questioning is that Ron Johnson doesn’t belong in the United States Senate.

I can’t wait to see if Johnson goes running to Politico to brag about how he handled John Kerry.


Please used this as an open thread.


Wednesday Reads: Winter…Sunlight, Monsters and Tolkien

78308149-7d10-4b53-8b07-648b314a268bGood Morning!

Finally…we have a nippy morning here in Banjoland! I love the cold weather, it makes sleeping late in a nice cozy bed even more enjoyable.

There was another shooting late yesterday, this time in Portland, Oregon. Gunman Opens Fire in Oregon Shopping Mall. According to VOA, the gunman shot and killed two people before turning the gun on himself…no final number of wounded as I write this post. I will be sure to update you on this latest shooting as more information comes forward.

Okay…I’ve got plenty of politics for you this morning, if it is okay I will give them to you in link dump fashion. (Honestly, I am still a bit “gun-shy” with WordPress. It may take a few post before I feel comfortable writing a lot of words in these threads. I think it is a slight case of PSTD, from way back in college…when my final thesis went phffft, poof and gone…just as I was printing the thing out on the day it was due. Nightmare!)

Anyway, here are some of the political stories of the last 24 hours:

Soledad kicked some major ass yesterday. She is awesome at her job, which btw is being a journalist and a real savvy reporter. Soledad Grills Jeff Sessions: ‘You Hurt People Who Need Food’ with Food Stamp Cuts

Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-AL) on Tuesday faced tough questions from CNN host Soledad O’Brien for his plan to cut the food stamp program and “hurt people who need food,” including 20 percent of his own constituents in Alabama.

Speaking to Sessions in an interview on CNN’s Starting Point, O’Brien wondered if cuts to the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) should be on the table as part of the so-called fiscal cliff negotiations.

“Absolutely,” Sessions insisted. “This month was a record increase in food stamp participation at a time when unemployment is declining.”

“But there are people who say if you’re doing cuts, you invariably hurt people who need food,” O’Brien observed. “It’s 61 percent of households in your state have children who are recipients of the food program that they’re on.”

Sessions continued to spew his crap, I mean opinion:

“Soledad, this program has been growing out of control at an incredible rate and there are a lot of people receiving benefits who do not qualify and should not receive them,” Sessions remarked. “No child, no person who needs food should be denied that food. Nobody proposes that. We are talking about an amendment that I offered that would have reduced and closed a loophole of $8 billion when we would spend $800 billion was opposed by saying it would help — it would leave people hungry in America, but it would have only eliminated abuses in the program.”

The CNN host, however, pointed out that the Alabama Republican had voted twice to grow the program and the Center for Budget and Policy Priorities had determined that “SNAP has one of the most rigorous quality control systems of any public benefit program.”

“People highlight the program as actually not having a lot of fraud,” O’Brien explained. “Most people who are on it are not somehow working the system. They’re just hungry people.”

Snap for SNAP…Video at the link.

From ABC News, and what looks like the back of Barbara Walter’s head: EXCLUSIVE: President Obama Predicts GOP Will Cave on Taxes

PHOTO: President Barack Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama participate in an interview with ABC's Barbara Walters in the Diplomatic Reception Room of the White House, Dec. 11, 2012.
President Barack Obama and first lady Michelle Obama participate in an interview with ABC’s Barbara Walters in the Diplomatic Reception Room of the White House, Dec. 11, 2012. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)

As the clock ticks toward a tax hike on all Americans in 20 days, President Obama predicted Republicans would join Democrats to extend current rates for 98 percent of earners before the end of the year.

“I’m pretty confident that Republicans would not hold middle class taxes hostage to trying to protect tax cuts for high-income individuals,” Obama said today in an exclusive interview with ABC News’ Barbara Walters.

You wanna bet?

These right-wing Republicans are like bulldogs locked down on a hunk of red meat…they do not give up. Just take a look at these headlines:

Angry with Obama, GOP threatens political war next year – CNN.com

Rick Perry: Outlawing All Access To Abortion Is ‘My Goal’ | ThinkProgress

Yes, threats and promises of all out war to get what they want. Basturds!

In other GOP political news:

H/T to Tennessee Guerilla Women: Michigan ‘Right-to-Work-for-Less’ Bill Copied from Koch-Funded ALEC Playbook

You didn’t think Michigan Republicans had an original idea:

Michigan Passes “Right to Work” Containing Verbatim Language from ALEC Model Bill 

I’ve got to share this political cartoon with you, it can’t wait until our Friday Nite Lite:

Cagle Post – Political Cartoons & Commentary – » Right to Work Pee

Right to Work Pee © Daryl Cagle,CagleCartoons.com,ssGOP,Republican,elephant,urine,union,United Auto Workers,UAW,AFL-CIO,Teamsters,pee

Yup, piss on…piss on!

This latest PPP poll shows that people are sick of the mutant asshole turtle, I mean…Mitch McConnell…he is highly unpopular according to Public Policy Polling

Mitch McConnell is the most unpopular Senator in the country. Only 37% of Kentucky voters approve of him to 55% disapprove. Both in terms of raw disapproval (55%) and net approval (-18) McConnell has the worst numbers of any of his peers, taking that mantle from Nebraska’s Ben Nelson.

McConnell is predictably very unpopular with Democrats (23/73). But his numbers are almost as bad with independents (33/58) and even with Republicans he’s well below the 70-80% approval range you would usually expect for a Senator within their own party (59/28).

If only this disgust toward McConnell would relate in votes against the man.

The reason McConnell does decently well in the head to head match ups despite his poor approval numbers is that even though a lot of Republicans dislike him, most of them would still vote for him in a general election before they would support a Democrat. This is the same phenomenon we saw in Florida and Pennsylvania this year where Bill Nelson and Bob Casey won by solid margins despite middling approval numbers because Democrats that weren’t thrilled with them still voted for them. And although independents don’t like McConnell they don’t like most of the Democrats either, and they support McConnell in every match up we tested.

The PPP article mentions Ashley Judd, go read the rest at the link. (I sure hope Judd does run for McConnell seat in 2014. But my hope is up there with a Hillary run in 2016….I think it is kind of a long shot they will run period.)

Speaking of Hillary, Nate Silver has this to say about Hillary 2016: Why Hillary Clinton Would Be Strong in 2016 (It’s Not Her Favorability Ratings)

Let’s start by stating the obvious: Hillary Rodham Clinton would be a formidable presidential candidate in 2016.

Mrs. Clinton’s credentials as secretary of state, as a United States senator and as a politically engaged first lady would be hard for any of her Democratic or Republican rivals to match. She would have little trouble raising funds or garnering support from the Democratic officials, and she might even come close to clearing the Democratic field of serious opposition.

Be sure to read the rest of Silver’s post.

With the release of The Hobbit later this week, J.R.R. Tolkien is figuring in lots of blog post, like this one from Medieval.net: Beowulf: The Monsters and the Critics

Beowulf: The Monsters and the Critics

By J. R. R. Tolkien

Introduction: In 1864 the Reverend Oswald Cockayne wrote of the Reverend Doctor Joseph Bosworth, Rawlinsonian Professor of Anglo-Saxon: ‘I have tried to lend to others the con-viction I have long entertained that Dr. Bosworth is not a man so diligent in his special walk as duly to read the books… which have been printed in our old English, or so-called Anglosaxon tongue. He may do very well for a professor.’ These words were inspired by dissatisfaction with Bosworth’s dictionary, and were doubtless unfair. If Bosworth were still alive, a modern Cockayne would probably accuse him of not reading the ‘literature’ of his subject, the books written about the books in the so-called Anglo-Saxon tongue. The original books are nearly buried.

Of none is this so true as of The Beowulf, as it used to be called. I have, of course, read The Beowulf, as have most (but not all) of those who have criticized it. But I fear that, unworthy successor and beneficiary of Joseph Bosworth, I have not been a man so diligent in my special walk as duly to read all that has been printed on, or touching on, this poem. But I have read enough, I think, to venture the opinion that Beowulfiana is, while rich in many departments, specially poor in one. It is poor in criticism, criticism that is directed to the understanding of a poem as a poem. It has been said of Beowulf itself that its weakness lies in placing the unimportant things at the centre and the important on the outer edges. This is one of the opinions that I wish specially to consider. I think it profoundly untrue of the poem, but strikingly true of the literature about it. Beowulf has been used as a quarry of fact and fancy far more assiduously than it has been studied as a work of art.

It is of Beowulf, then, as a poem that I wish to speak; and though it may seem presumption that I should try with swich a lewed mannes wit to pace the wisdom of an heep of lerned men, in this department there is at least more chance for the lewed man. But there is so much that might still be said even under these limitations that I shall confine myself mainly to the monsters—Grendel and the Dragon, as they appear in what seems to me the best and most authoritative general criticism in English—and to certain considerations of the structure and conduct of the poem that arise from this theme.

Click here to read this article from the College of Southern Idaho

Click here to read this article from TeacherWeb

Click here to read this article from the University of Georgia

Hopefully one of those three links will work for you. Enjoy it!

And finally, a big hat-tip to Fiscal Liberal, who emailed me these links below…kewl as hell!

First link is to a blog that details the movement of sunlight and weather during the day, via Opentopia – World Sunlight Map

FireShot Screen Capture #358 - 'Opentopia - World Sunlight Map' - www_opentopia_com_sunlightmaprect_html

A world map showing current sunlight and cloud cover, as of Dec 12 2012 02:00 UTC.
This is the rectangular projection. You can also see a more realistic hemispherical projection.
Image provided by die.net.

Click the link to see the updated real/time image.

This next link is to a 19 minute video, OVERVIEW on Vimeo

On the 40th anniversary of the famous ‘Blue Marble’ photograph taken of Earth from space, Planetary Collective presents a short film documenting astronauts’ life-changing stories of seeing the Earth from the outside – a perspective-altering experience often described as the Overview Effect.

The Overview Effect, first described by author Frank White in 1987, is an experience that transforms astronauts’ perspective of the planet and mankind’s place upon it. Common features of the experience are a feeling of awe for the planet, a profound understanding of the interconnection of all life, and a renewed sense of responsibility for taking care of the environment.

‘Overview’ is a short film that explores this phenomenon through interviews with five astronauts who have experienced the Overview Effect. The film also features insights from commentators and thinkers on the wider implications and importance of this understanding for society, and our relationship to the environment.

I’ve embedded the video below…however if you want to see a larger screen image, click on that Vimeo link up top. Hope you enjoy this one too.

That is all I got for you this morning, should be a good start, right? What are you all reading and thinking about today?


Soledad Spins the Spinners Again

Tara Wall was put to the Soledad Truth treatment yesterday. She was unable to defend a contradictory set of statements on Israel and Palestine made by Wall yesterday after Romney’s NeoCon speech.

Here’s the basic gist from Alternet.

The exchange over the Israel/Palestine conflict has attracted the most attention, with O’Brien grilling Wall on Romney’s “contradictory positions.”

The topic of the segment wasRomney’s foreign policy speech earlier today at the Virginia Military Institute.

O’Brien first tried to get into the fine points of Romney’s foreign policy, questioning whether Romney was laying out any different options on Iran than President Obama. O’Brien asked three questions about Iran, but Wall was not interested in getting into specifics.

Then O’Brien turned to the Middle East. O’Brien juxtaposed the remarks Romney made at the infamous Florida fundraiser that was secretly taped, and his planned remarks today. In Florida, Romney said that peace with the Palestinians was not an option because the “pathway to peace is almost unthinkable to accomplish”–meaning a Palestinian state is unthinkable.

But in Virginia, Romney vowed to work for a “democratic, prosperous Palestinian state living side by side in peace and security with the Jewish state of Israel.”

O’Brien asked Wall about these “contradictory” positions. Wall fired back, and said, “the fact is that it’s the president who’s failed.” O’Brien then talked over Wall’s remarks, saying, “Tara, that was an excellent shift, but answer for me about Gov. Romney.”

O’Brien repeatedly tried to get an answer to her question, but it was to no avail. “I’m not going to get into a big foreign policy debate with you here,” said Wall, explaining that foreign policy is not in her purview in the campaign

Wouldn’t it be nice if all the media wouldn’t act like stage props and actually call out campaigns on inconsistencies and lies?

Interestingly enough,Paul Ryan was rude to a reporter in Michigan who was evidently asking unwanted questions about guns and violence. There’s some indication that Ryan actually walked off the interview.

A Michigan ABC affiliate posted video of an animated exchange between Paul Ryan and a local reporter on Monday evening, prompting questions about whether Ryan walked out of the interview.

When it aired, reporter Terry Camp characterized the interview as ending badly, and said Ryan was “not specific in his answers.” Meanwhile, the Ryan campaign said the candidate was asked a “weird question” relating gun violence to tax cuts.

The Ryan campaign said the interview had simply run past its allotted time, but that Ryan didn’t end the interview prematurely. Video of the interview that was posted to YouTube shows an off-camera aide (later identified as Ryan spokesman Michael Steel) calling the interview to a halt while Ryan is standing, still in casual conversation with the reporter while removing his microphone.

“Does the country have a gun problem?” Camp asked Ryan during the interview, held in the library of the Cornerstone School.

“This country has a crime problem,” Ryan responded.

I guess that Republicans expect the “Fox” treatment wherever they go.  Good to know that some reporters keep after them.  I just wish they all would!!


CNN’s Soledad O’Brien Confronts Rep. Peter King on “Apology Tour” Lies (and Red Hot News Updates)

Good Afternoon!

This freak-out by Peter King under pressure from Soledad O’Brien is must-see TV.  I’m surprised he didn’t have apoplexy trying to defend the imaginary“apology tour” meme originated by Karl Rove. I thought I’d put it on the front page, in case everyone hasn’t seen it yet.

Here’s the transcript, thanks to Think Progress.

O’BRIEN: Never once in that speech, as you know, which I have the speech right here. that was — he never once used the word “apology.” He never once said “I’m sorry.”

KING: Didn’t have to. The logical — any logical reading of that speech or the speech he gave in France where he basically said that the United States can be too aggressive. [...]

O’BRIEN: Everybody keeps talking about this apology tour and apologies from the President. I’m trying to find the words ‘I’m sorry, I apologize’ in any of those speeches. Which I have the text of all those speeches in front of me. None of those speeches at all, if you go to factcheck.org which we check in a lot, they all say the same thing. They fact check this and they say this whole theory of apologies…

KING: I don’t care what fact check says.

O’BRIEN: There are fact checks. You may not care, but they’re a fact checker.

KING: No. Soledad. Any commonsense interpretation of those speeches, the president’s apologizing for the American position. That’s the apology tour. That’s the way it’s interpreted in the Middle East. If I go over and say that the U.S. has violated its principles, that the United States has not shown respect for islam, that’s an apology. How else can it be interpreted?

O’BRIEN: I think plenty of people are interpreting it as a nuanced approach to diplomacy is how some people are interpreting it. So I don’t think that everybody agrees it’s apology.

A couple more news updates:

According to Dave Wiegel, speechwriter Matthew Scully, whose draft of Mitt Romney’s acceptance speech was tossed out by Stuart Stevens and Romney may be the main person behind the “backbiting” that is all over the media today. Wiegel:

My friend and former colleague Tim Noah was the first, I think, to notice that you can’t cross Republican speechwriter Matthew Scully. In 1993, after the George H.W. Bush administration ended, Scully revealed that the president “trusted the wrong people.” In 2007, as the second Bush ediface collapsed, Scully wrote an Atlantic tell-all about the administration’s fumbles. Scully dropped so many dimes on Michael Gerson that the floppy-haired speechwriter could have bought a java chip Frappucino. “At the precise moment when the State of the Union address was being drafted at the White House by John and me,” wrote Scully, “Mike was off pretending to craft the State of the Union address in longhand for the benefit of a reporter.”

In Scullyworld, every Republican has the makings of greatness until he’s undone by bad staffers who — in his one, telling character flaw — he’s unwilling to sack.

David Corn has the leaked videos from that fund-raiser Romney thought was private and off the record!

One of the leaked videos from a Romney fund-raiser that I wrote about on Saturday night, has been posted at HuffPo, along with the news that the source of the videos has turned over the original, unedited version to David Corn of Mother Jones. And what do you know? Corn has already posted his reactions, along with additional quotes from the devastating video.

During a private fundraiser earlier this year, Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney told a small group of wealthy contributors what he truly thinks of all the voters who support President Barack Obama. He dismissed these Americans as freeloaders who pay no taxes, who don’t assume responsibility for their lives, and who think government should take care of them. Fielding a question from a donor about how he could triumph in November, Romney replied:

There are 47 percent of the people who will vote for the president no matter what. All right, there are 47 percent who are with him, who are dependent upon government, who believe that they are victims, who believe the government has a responsibility to care for them, who believe that they are entitled to health care, to food, to housing, to you-name-it. That that’s an entitlement. And the government should give it to them. And they will vote for this president no matter what…These are people who pay no income tax.

Romney went on: “[M]y job is is not to worry about those people. I’ll never convince them they should take personal responsibility and care for their lives.”

There is much, much more at the link. I wonder how this will go over with working- and middle-class voters when it appears in their local newspapers?

This is an open thread!


The Press finally Fact Checks, Right Wing Propaganda Outlets get Mad

We’ve been moaning around here about  how so many right wingers get to go on the Fox Right Wing Propaganda Network and spew lies with impunity.  In fact, the hosts themselves spew things that just aren’t factual.  CNN’s Soledad O’Brien is being attacked by Rush Limbaugh and other angry righties for calling shenanigans on John Sununu .  It’s a continuing saga now with Limbaugh stirring up the angry racist and sexist mob.  O’Brien has now responded to his attacks that she might as well wear an Obama Campaign sticker on her forehead because she chose not to accept his taking a CBO report sentence completely out of context. O’Brien shot back with a video that documented her statements and questions using the research of  independent fact check groups.

CNN anchor Soledad O’Brien struck back at critics who objected to her reading from a document printed from what they called a liberal website — yet not citing her source — while interviewing an operative for Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney on the topic of Medicare.

Conservative Media Beating Up on CNN’s Soledad O’Brien (Video)

O’Brien was substitute-hosting on Anderson Cooper 360 on Monday when she was seen flipping through a story from the website Talking Points Memo during a segment with Romney campaign adviser Barbara Comstock. Conservative media, most notably Rush Limbaugh, mocked the news anchor for what they perceived to be a journalistic transgression.

“She never cited it. She just used its contents,” Limbaugh fumed Tuesday. “When she talks to a Democrat, she has no pieces of paper, she needs no guidance.”

O’Brien didn’t deny referring to a TPM document during the show but said she only did so in order to read a quote from Democratic Sen. Ron Wyden of Oregon, a perfectly benign journalistic practice. She also gets information from conservative sources, like RedState.com, she said.

“Editorially, I was not reading off the Talking Points Memo,” she told The Hollywood Reporter on Wednesday. “The memo had an accurate, verbatim quote of what Sen. Wyden said, and when I was talking to Ms. Comstock, she was saying something that was patently untrue.”

O’Brien also answered critics who complain about what they perceive to be a left-wing bias in her reporting.

“I don’t think I show bias in my TV show. I think I am aggressive with people about trying to find the facts behind what they say,” O’Brien said. “Am I a liberal or conservative? I’m neither. Like most Americans, I find politics very frustrating. Like most Americans, I’d like to hear from politicians the facts. That is what drives me.”

You can watch O’Brien’s video at her site.

Yesterday on “Starting Point”, former New Hampshire Governor and senior Romney Campaign advisor John Sununu said this: “When Obama gutted Medicare by taking $717 billion out of it…It’s a reduction in services a reduction in support for Medicare Advantage. That is taking money from the program.”

He added his voice to a growing chorus of Romney supporters, and the candidate himself, making similar claims against President Obama on Medicare.

* RNC Chairman Reince Priebus on “Meet the Press” last Sunday says President Obama “stole $700 billion from Medicare to fund Obamacare. If any person in this entire debate has blood on their hands in regard to Medicare, it’s Barack Obama. He is the one that’s destroying Medicare.”

* On AC36, Senior Romney adviser Barbara Comstock says “We are not stealing the $719 billion that Barack Obama took away from Medicare, from current seniors, from my parents who are retired.”

* And yesterday, Governor Romney says “He cuts the payments that go to Medicare by $700 billion and he uses that to pay for Obamacare.”

But where is this idea that the president’s health care plan guts billions of dollars from Medicare coming from?

A Congressional Budget Office report says “If the Affordable Care Act is repealed, “[s]pending for Medicare would increase by an estimated $716 billion over that 2013-2022 period.”

But that same CBO report says keeping “Obamacare” would not mean a $716 billion decrease in Medicare funding. The cost of Medicare would continue to rise, just not as rapidly. The CBO says this money – Democrats call it savings, Republicans call it cuts – would be achieved mostly through cutbacks in payments to providers and by changes to payment rates in private Medicare plans.

The Romney campaign argues all of this will ultimately lead to reduced access to health care.

“The fact is that he reduces services to Medicare beneficiaries currently on the package,” Gov. Sununu claims in my interview with him yesterday on “Starting Point.”

Independent fact checker Factcheck.org says that’s not true. The site says:

“The law stipulates that guaranteed Medicare benefits won’t be reduced, and it adds some new benefits, such as improved coverage for pharmaceuticals.”

Senior citizen advocacy group AARP, which generally opposes any policies that would negatively affect seniors, tells its members this:

“The health care law strengthens Medicare by protecting and improving your guaranteed benefits and cracking down on waste, fraud and inefficiency. “

And we have the health care law itself, which clearly states this:

“Nothing in the provisions of, or amendments made by, this Act shall result in a reduction of guaranteed benefits under title XVIII of the Social Security Act.”

Chuck Todd also caught the Romney Camp in another lie on so-called cuts to welfare to work provisions.  This time it’s Iowa Governor Terry Branstad doing the lying.

MSNBC host Chuck Todd and Iowa Gov. Terry Branstad (R) butted heads on Wednesday after Branstad accused President Barack Obama of undermining welfare reform.

“The biggest problem I think a lot of people have is the massive expansion of the food stamp program,” Branstad said. “We have more people on food stamps than ever before. They’ve liberalized the rules and a lot of people think they need to tighten that up — just like we reformed welfare in the 1990s, now the Obama administration is trying to undo the work requirement. We think that we need to, instead of trying to put more people on –”

“Well, wait a minute,” Todd interrupted. “Gov. Branstad, I can’t let that go. They haven’t done that. They haven’t undone the work requirements… Where did you get your information?”

But Branstad insisted it was “absolutely true” that the Obama administration had waived the work requirement in the Temporary Assistant for Needy Families (TANF) program. He said liberals and President Barack Obama had “always hated” the work requirement in the law.

“Every charge that has been leveled about this welfare reform order that this President signed — every accusation that has been leveled by some Republicans have been proven to be not true,” Todd said.

The Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) last month encouraged states to experiment with better ways to administer the TANF program, informing state officials that the department was willing to grant waivers to states that wished to opt-out of provisions of the welfare law.

Romney and other Republicans have claimed that the waivers were an attempt to undermine the welfare program’s work requirement. But PolitiFact rated those claims “Pants on Fire,” noting that the waivers were actually “designed to improve employment outcomes.”

Dave Johnson at Alternet suggests that the Romney Campaign actually has a strategy of lying that relies on the press just letting them say what they want to. Read: “Romney’s Campaign Strategy: Lie, Lie, and Lie Some More — Can Democracy Survive with 0% Media Accountability?”.

 The Romney campaign has turned to a strategy of swamping the public with flat-out, blatant lies, one after another, again and again, endlessly and lavishly repeated. They do this because they are making a calculation that it will work! So what is going on? And can democracy survive this assault?The Growing List Of Lies

This week’s lie is the “Obama gutted welfare reform” nonsense. See Bill Scher’s must-read response,  Romney’s Welfare Lie: A Betrayal Of Conservatism . The reporting conveys the Romney message, like this:  Romney accuses Obama of dismantling welfare reform . The lie is driven home by a massive $$-driven carpet bombing of ads.

The next-most recent lies was  the “Obama is trying to keep military families from voting” lie . This lie, repeated over and over, coordinated with outside groups, reinforces the “Democrats are anti-military” narrative.

Before that was  the “You didn’t build that” lie , where the Romney campaign doctored audio  to make it sound as though President Obama said something he didn’t say. (And  got away with it .) This lie, repeated over and over, reinforces the “Democrats are anti-business” narrative.

This one on welfare reinforces the “Democrats take your money and give it to black people” narrative. “We will end a culture of dependency and restore a culture of good, hard work,”  said Romney , promising to make them work good and hard.

Rachel Maddow’s blog has been keeping track of the Romney lies , and it is a loooooong list.

They’ve gone less after Todd however since the race-baiting and misogyny strategy is clearly enhanced through picking on woman and minority O’Brien.  That’s why Limbaugh is having a total hate-filled hey day with what’s clearly a distortion and lie on Sununu’s part. They love hating on the gay and well educated Rachel Maddow.

Ryan Cooper–writing at Washington Monthly--takes note of Romney’s lies and the press response.

On the one hand, the political media has been remarkably susceptible to bullying from the right. Ginned-up hysteria and a gullible, cowardly, lazy press has gotten enormous mileage from the right.

But as I was saying this morning, the Romney camp has been caught somewhat flatfooted already by the newly minted power of the left to influence the discourse. Watch Anderson Cooper pin down Newt Gingrich on this Romney ad. Gingrich does the usual squirming, subject changing, and putting forth a squid-ink fog of misdirection, but when Cooper just keeps bearing down on the fact that the ad is blatantly lying, even Newt is forced to say that the ad is okay because, as Paul says, “Barack Obama and those who work for him are, in Newt’s opinion, the kind of people who would gut work requirements if they could, so therefore it’s OK to say that they are actually doing it, even though they aren’t.” Gingrich ends up sounding like a snake.

In politics, moral arguments are powerful, and true moral arguments even more so. The left will be at their strongest handed this sort of red meat on a platter. And Romney’s straight-up bald-faced lying pushes the Republican ability to strong-arm mainstream journalists to the very limit. It’s a slap in the face whose arrogant contempt couldn’t be more obvious. Romney is saying to the press, “You’re stupid, and gullible, and I dare you to call a spade a spade.”

Now, someone betting on journalistic integrity in this country would lose a lot of money. But a lot of people watch Anderson Cooper. Even Brian Williams couldn’t stomach the ad which edited out the part where Obama was quoting a McCain staffer.

Seems to me that we have a decent shot of getting these lies covered for what they are. Worth a shot, anyway.

I’m going to hit a lecture at a USF just to review  the traditional idea that the media should function as a Fourth Estate.

Access to information is essential to the health of democracy for at least two reasons. First, it ensures that citizens make responsible, informed choices rather than acting out of ignorance or misinformation. Second, information serves a “checking function” by ensuring that elected representatives uphold their oaths of office and carry out the wishes of those who elected them.

In the United States, the media is often called the fourth branch of government (or “fourth estate”). That’s because it monitors the political process in order to ensure that political players don’t abuse the democratic process.

Others call the media the fourth branch of government because it plays such an important role in the fortunes of political candidates and issues. This is where the role of the media can become controversial.

Here’s a chapter from a Harvard Text called “Driving Democracy”.

In particular, Article 19 of the 1948 Universal Declaration of Human Rights states: “Everyone has the right to freedom of opinion and expression; this right includes freedom to hold opinions without interference and to seek, receive and impart information and ideas through any media and regardless of frontiers.” The positive relationship between the growth of the free press and the process of democratization is thought to be reciprocal. The core claim is that, in the first stage, the initial transition from autocracy opens up the state control of the media to private ownership, diffuses access, and reduces official censorship and government control of information. The public thereby receives greater exposure to a wider variety of cultural products and ideas through access to multiple radio and TV channels, as well as the diffusion of new technologies such as the Internet and mobile telephones. Once media liberalization has commenced, in the second stage democratic consolidation is strengthened where journalists in
independent newspapers, radio and television stations facilitate greater transparency and accountability in governance, by serving in their watch-dog roles to deter corruption and malfeasance, as well as providing a civic forum for multiple voices.

In other words, O’Brien, Todd, and Maddow are all doing their jobs which is basically the function of a healthy democracy.  The tools of right wing propaganda can spew whatever they want and have the right to do so.  However, it is the roll of a journalist in democracy to call a misstatement of fact what it is; a lie in servitude to a growing and dangerous plutocracy.