Jon Stewart takes a look at the "fair and balanced" media coverage of President Obama's press conference.
Archives for April, 2009
For those of you who don't know the actual rules to Rock Paper Scissors Lizard Spock, Sam Kass has a nice diagram right here. Those attending Netroots Nation this summer might also find Sam's "Algorithmic Analysis of the Climate of Pittsburgh, PA" helpful.
Open thread below.
Frank Luntz, the arch-conservative pollster known as the research hammer by which the Gingrich revolution came down hard on President Bill Clinton, wants to take over research for the entertainment industry. And you thought Arianna Huffington did a quick-switch job? “I want to replace Joe Farrell,” said Luntz, wandering the halls of the Milken Institute conference on Monday in Beverly Hills, where he was a featured speaker. Luntz clearly has a lot to learn in Hollywood -- including the fact that Farrell of National Research Group retired a number of years ago. But the pollster and Fox News analyst is serious about making his play. He's bought a home in Santa Monica and is already doing survey work for Universal’s marketing chief Adam Fogelson and speaking to producers about other projects.
Why would he give up pollstering in American politics -- where he has been so successful -- for the movies? Luntz, who sold his company, Luntz Research, to Omnicon in 2005, said he’s had enough of politics. “I’m tired of selling reality,” he said. “Reality sucks. It’s mean. Divisive. Negative. What Hollywood offers is a chance to create a new reality, in two hours time.”
Reality? Ha! Luntz wouldn't know reality if it hit him with a two-by-four. All Luntz has done in his pathetic sell-out, dumbed-down career is create a new reality for the sheep who watch Fox News to buy into.
Hollywood is a PERFECT location for Luntz. All fake, all surface and no substance behind the glitter.
A couple of points about this reassuring L.A. Times article on the swine flu:
As the World Health Organization raised its infectious disease alert level Wednesday and health officials confirmed the first death linked to swine flu inside U.S. borders, scientists studying the virus are coming to the consensus that this hybrid strain of influenza -- at least in its current form -- isn't shaping up to be as fatal as the strains that caused some previous pandemics.
In fact, the current outbreak of the H1N1 virus, which emerged in San Diego and southern Mexico late last month, may not even do as much damage as the run-of-the-mill flu outbreaks that occur each winter without much fanfare.
"Let's not lose track of the fact that the normal seasonal influenza is a huge public health problem that kills tens of thousands of people in the U.S. alone and hundreds of thousands around the world," said Dr. Christopher Olsen, a molecular virologist who studies swine flu at the University of Wisconsin School of Veterinary Medicine in Madison.
Science and public health areas are now so specialized, experts are sometimes misleading because they just don't know what the people on the next floor are doing. (Just because you know about viruses doesn't mean you understand epidemiology, and most reporters don't know, either.) So let's address that "36,000 people a year die from the regular flu" mime that's making the rounds.
First of all, the bulk of those numbers are made up of victims aged 70 and older, people who are already high-risk because they have heart or lung diseases. That's because (despite scientists who've called for more precise methodology) our public health system counts any deaths from natural causes among the elderly during the winter as flu-related. The fact is, we just don't know. It's a guesstimate.
The difference with swine flu is, it's killing people in the 20 to 40 age group. That's unusual. That's why we're so concerned.
So don't feel reassured just yet. Don't panic, but please don't ignore the potential threat of this new flu strain. As I keep saying, there's a middle ground between panic and denial. That's where you should be.
Flu viruses are known to be notoriously unpredictable, and this strain could mutate at any point -- becoming either more benign or dangerously severe. But mounting preliminary evidence from genetics labs, epidemiology models and simple mathematics suggests that the worst-case scenarios are likely to be avoided in the current outbreak.
"This virus doesn't have anywhere near the capacity to kill like the 1918 virus," which claimed an estimated 50 million victims worldwide, said Richard Webby, a leading influenza virologist at St. Jude Children's Research Hospital in Memphis, Tenn.
What he says is factually correct - right this minute. (Actually, by the time you read this, that may no longer apply.) As the Reveres like to say at the public health blog Effect Measure, "You've seen one flu pandemic... you've seen one flu pandemic."
No one knows why or when a virus will suddenly become more virulent. Everyone hopes it doesn't, but the fact is, once it becomes widespread here, it will mutate and anything can happen. So pay attention. Go on with your life, but prepare yourself. (As my favorite saying goes, "Allah will provide, but first tie your camel.")
From The Cafferty File:
In an effort to counter President Obama’s 100th day in office, Republicans are making a push to re-brand themselves as something other than “the party of no.”
Some top party members are announcing a series of town hall-style meetings about their ideas for shaping the country. The group will operate outside of the Republican National Committee and will contrast their policy ideas with the Democrats’. So far — that’s something that’s been lacking.
Members of this “National Council for a New America” include Florida Governor Jeb Bush, Senator John McCain, Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal and Former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney, among others — not exactly a crop of fresh faces.
The group says it’s not a Republican-only forum and will seek to include more than just their ideas; they’re calling on all Americans to participate in their policy debate. The Democratic National Committee is dismissing all this, calling it “more beltway PR gimmicks.”
Meanwhile it’s clear that Republicans need to do something to stop the bleeding. With only about one in four voters identifying themselves as Republicans these days, and a favorable rating of 39 percent, the Republican party is in serious trouble.
Some have even questioned the relevance of the Republican party — should the Democrats get the 60 vote filibuster proof majority in the Senate, while also controlling the House of Representatives and the White House?
Here’s my question to you: What does the Republican Party have to do to improve its image with voters?
Stephen Colbert joined the cable networks in their coverage of the swine-flu outbreak with his own special report titled: "Enemy Swine: A PigCalypse Now, The Coming Oink-Mageddon"
Unfortunately, Colbert's guest from the WHO is sick and can't make it. So he winds up answering questions from viewers and offering his usual, ah, sage advice.
The final question: "How do I get rid of this swine flu hysteria once and for all?"
Remember: swine flu feeds on our fear. All we have to do is stop being scared and follow the rational advice of experts. We've got to start thinking calmly so the panic will starve itself out. Because if we don't, we're all doomed. DOOOOOMED!!!
Sounds about right.
Hardball's Big Number April 30, 2009 from the Mother Jones article Texas, Run by Secessionist Guv, Has Received More Federal Disaster Relief Than Any State.
According to FEMA's website, Texas has been the site of 13 "major disaster declarations" since Perry took office following George W. Bush's departure in 2001. That includes five instances of severe storms and flooding, two tropical storms, one "extreme wildfire threat," and Hurricanes Claudette, Rita, Dolly, and Ike. (Texas received significant federal assistance following Hurricane Katrina, but it did not appear on FEMA's website in the "major disaster declaration" category.)
David Riedman, a public information specialist at FEMA, explained to me that a major disaster declaration is issued when a governor "determines the state's resources are overrun." From that point forward, the federal government, under federal law, is required to reimburse the state for at least 75 percent of the cost of recovery. Help is primarily targeted at rebuilding roads and bridges, debris removal, and repairing damage to public buildings. In the relief efforts that are still under way from the damage done by Hurricane Ike, the federal government is reimbursing Texas for 100 percent of all expenses, according to Riedman.
In fact, since FEMA's record-keeping began, Texas has received federal disaster assistance more times than any other state.
I think this is hysterical. I mean, progressive Pennsylvania Democrats were pretty pissed off when the Beltway pols made the deal that put the anti-choice, radical centrist Bob Casey in the Senate, and over Ed Rendell promising Specter he wouldn't face a Democratic primary challenge. These backroom deals are how a state with a large liberal voting bloc keeps ending up with conservative representation:
Senior Senate Democrats are objecting to the deal Majority Leader Harry Reid made with Sen. Arlen Specter, saying they will vote against letting the former Republican shoot to the top of powerful committees after he switches parties.
Several Democrats are furious with Sen. Reid (D-Nev.) for agreeing to let Specter (Pa.) keep his seniority, accrued over more than 28 years as a GOP senator. That agreement would allow Specter to leap past senior Democrats on powerful panels — including the Appropriations and Judiciary committees.
“I won’t be happy if I don’t get to chair something because of Arlen Specter,” said Sen. Barbara Mikulski (D-Md.), who sits on the Appropriations Committee with Specter and is fifth in seniority among Democrats, behind Chairman Daniel Inouye (Hawaii) and Sens. Robert Byrd (W.Va.), Patrick Leahy (Vt.) and Tom Harkin (Iowa). “I’m happy with the Democratic order, but I don’t want to be displaced because of Arlen Specter,” she said.
Specter’s first full day in Washington after turning the Capitol upside down with his decision to switch parties suggested a lonely future awaits in the upper chamber.
While he received a formal welcome Wednesday to the Democratic Party at the White House from President Obama and Vice President Biden, senior Senate Democrats exchanged phone calls to voice their objections to Reid’s gambit and one lawmaker said Specter should be happy with a committee seat at the “end of the dais.” Meanwhile, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) and two other members of the Senate Republican leadership asked Specter to refund campaign donations.
One senior Democratic lawmaker told The Hill that the Democratic Conference will vote against giving the longtime Pennsylvania Republican seniority over lawmakers like Harkin, Mikulski and Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) when they hold their organizational meeting after the 2010 election.
Under his deal with Reid, Specter would jump ahead of all but a few Democrats when it comes time to dole out committee chairmanships and assignments.
“That’s his deal and not the caucus’s,” the senior lawmaker said of Reid’s agreement with Specter.
(If it only stayed that way)
Seventy years ago, on April 30, 1939 a crowd numbering roughly 600,000 jammed the site of the New York World's Fair and heard FDR declare the World of Tomorrow open. The official theme was Peace and Progress, but that would prove more than ironic as war was closely on the horizon, eventually leading to Germany's invasion of Poland only six months later.
But on April 30th, the future was here and it was bright and wonderful and grand. With towering monuments to technology and the first public glimpse of television, there was a lot to be optimistic for. In that time, the world going to war seemed distant and strange. All these amazing inventions and promises of the future made war seem out of place, an ugly reminder best left alone. For that brief six months, everything seemed possible and the world was cautiously hopeful.
Here are the opening ceremonies, featuring addresses Grover Whelen, Herbert Lehman, Mayor LaGuardia and President Roosevelt, as it happened on April 30, 1939.
(Glimpses of a world with infinite possibilities)