Friday, January 20, 2006

Curiouser and Curiouser

Remember the post below about the large number of angry liberal and progressive comments on the Washington Post blog? The Washington Post has decided to stop having comments because they were so horrible. From Atrios:

No matter how hard we try to kill them, they keep coming back to eat our brains. Kyra Phillips, just now on CNN:

The Washington Post turned off the reader comments feature on after it was flooded by what the Post describes as personal attacks, profanity, and hate speech. is a site dedicated to sharing news by and about the newspaper. What set off readers was a Sunday column by Post ombudsman Deborah Howell who wrote that corrupt former lobbyist Jack Abramoff gave money to Democrats as well as Republicans. That's true but most of the money went to Republicans.

The bang-your-head-against-the-wall moment is because it is a lie that Jack Abramoff gave money to Democrats. But I want to focus on the earlier bit in the quote, the ones about the thread on Washington Post being flooded by personal attacks, profanity and hate speech.

To let you decide if this is so, I'm posting the first few comments from the thread that caused all the uproar. I have lots more.

Maryland's Legislature has just performed a COMPLETELY MEANINGLESS ACT, in attempting to increase the amount Wal-Mart spends on health care. They simply don't have the authority to do what they purport to have done. ALL State Legislatures have been completely pre-empted from injecting themselves into private sector health plans since 1974, when Congress passed ERISA. The most recent authority for what I am saying is AETNA vs. DAVILA, 542 U.S. 200, (2004). In DAVILA, a unanimous Court held that a Texas statute was pre-empted by ERISA. The Maryland statute is without any effect!!!

Posted by: Peter Parrott | Jan 13, 2006 3:00:26 PM | Permalink

The fact that ERISA pre-empts any attempts by any state legislatures to directly mess with a private sector ERISA plan is not in any way a close call. A recent published Opinion by the Ninth Circuit brushes aside the arguments made against an ERISA health Plan. Cleghorn vs Blue Shield 408 F3d 1222 (9th Circuit, May 23, 2005)(Relying on ERISA and Aetna vs. Davila). The only way for Maryland legislators to effect change in in the Walmart ERISA Plan is to lobby the U.S. Congress, and convince George W to sign the bill. Good luck with that effort!!

Posted by: Peter Parrott | Jan 13, 2006 3:29:32 PM | Permalink

What exactly are the qualifications for the job of public editor because I think I'd do great. I do whatever I am told by anyone in authority, regardless of the facts or reality. Oh, and I can tie my own shoes.

Seriously, Deborah Howell needs to quit and just work for her republican paymasters instead of trying to pass herself off as a journalist. Democrats took money from Jack Abramoff? Where would the proof of that be exactly Deborah? Democrats took money from Indian tribes, which last I checked is hardly illegal.

What is illegal is bilking the tribes of millions of dollars and then funneling it to all branches of the GOP noise machine. Hench the Abramoff indictments which will soon lead to more Republican congressman being indicted. How many FBI personnel are focusing on Democrats taking money from Abramoff?

If Ms. Howell needs work, I hear AccounTemps has some secretary and janitorial openings, positions much more suited to her skill level.

Posted by: Dave | Jan 15, 2006 5:26:13 PM | Permalink

Deborah Howell is a GOP hack. I cannot countenance the Washington Post getting any support from me while she continues to be employed.

Posted by: elliottg | Jan 15, 2006 5:32:56 PM | Permalink

Can somebody at the post please provide the factual basis for Ms. Howells assertion that Abramhoff gave money to Democrats? Because when I check his records with the FEC I can't find a single Democrat on the list. What kind of public editor is this? She consistently shillls for the GOP, and does not seem the least interested in what the actual facts are. It's shameful, and beneath the Post to have such an obvious partisan in a job that is supposed to be anything but.

Posted by: johnetta | Jan 15, 2006 5:36:22 PM | Permalink

Would you please do us all a favor and fire this broad Howell? We don't need anyone else glibly spouting GOP lies. You dig, Clyde?

Posted by: Frank Sinatra | Jan 15, 2006 5:37:34 PM | Permalink

I too would like chapter and verse on Abramoff supposedly giving money to the Democrats. Where would you find that primary source? Quoting others who are mistaken doesn't count. Where is the source???

Posted by: Cee | Jan 15, 2006 5:40:08 PM | Permalink

Could Ms. Howell please provide some evidence for her assertion that any Democrats have taken Abramoff money? Reid and Dorgan? Didn't the money they got come from the Indian tribes? Are the Indian tribes now considered agents of Abramoff? Does Ms. Howell have evidence that either Reid or Dorgan has committed a crime?

One last question. Whose cousin is Ms. Howell that she managed to get hired by the Post?

Posted by: Rusty | Jan 15, 2006 5:44:26 PM | Permalink

First, way to go Maryland Democrats! It's about time someone had the nerve to stand up to that un-American corporate turd Walmart. It is utterly reprehensible to not provide adequate health care to their employees, and completely unacceptable for them to dump the problem (and the cost), on to the state of Maryland.

Second, why on earth is the Washington Post allowing its ombudsman Deborah Howell to get away with allowing these GOP lies to masquerade as "news"? Does it not occur to an editor to actually check the facts in these outrageous stories? I have seen the FEC list of donations made by Jack Abramoff, and there is NOT ONE DONATION ON THERE MADE TO A DEMOCRAT. NOT ONE!

I expect this kind of nonsense from Fox News, aka GOP TV...but I really thought the WaPo was better than that!

Posted by: Kurt | Jan 15, 2006 5:47:40 PM | Permalink

Yeah, Deborah, find the list of campaign money to Congresscritters by Abramoff and post it! He only gave campaign money to Republicans, including GWB. Indian tribes can give money to any congresscritter they wish just as you could. The Tribes who gave money to Abramoff got ripped off. Do try to get some of the story right. This is a Republican scandal, my dear, whether you like it or not.

Posted by: meanoldlady | Jan 15, 2006 5:50:30 PM | Permalink

Deborah Howell wrote in her article "Getting the Story on Jack Abramoff" that Abramoff "had made substantial campaign contributions to both major parties." This is false. In fact, Abramoff did not make any contributions to Democrats.

Worse, Howell fails to understand the context of the Abramoff scandal. Abramoff is a Republican lobbyist, pursuing Republican political interests. He is at the heart of the "K Street Project," a Republican initiative to integrate lobbyists into the political power structure. Thus, the Abramoff scandal is a distinctively Republican scandal.

Covering the Abramoff scandal as if it were a bi-partisan affair does your readers a disservice because the facts belie such an angle. It is bad journalism to search for false equivalency.

Please issue a correction.

Posted by: RatIV | Jan 15, 2006 5:53:28 PM | Permalink

Why does the Post persist in claiming that Abramoff gave money to Democrats? Name one.

The Republican Party is trying to share the guilt by claiming, among other specious concepts, that Democrat Brad Carson is somehow tainted by taking money from the Cherokee Nation. Guys, he IS a Cherokee. Anything wrong with that?

Posted by: egregious | Jan 15, 2006 5:58:42 PM | Permalink

"Abramoff "had made substantial campaign contributions to both major parties."

Sadly, No! Checking facts must take too much time. :(

Posted by: Sadly, No! | Jan 15, 2006 6:00:50 PM | Permalink

According to the Federal Election Commission, Abramoff has given money only to Republicans. Is the Washington Post implying that Abramaff has lied to the FEC? Has given money under the table to Democrats? Isn't that a bit story? Shouldn't it be on Page 1?

2nd, according to the Washington Post, Abramoff has been a close friend of Grover Norquist and Tom DeLay for 20 years, and has been a key figure in Republican Party financing for most of that time. If such a person shovels 95% of his money to Republicans, is it really right to say he has given (or bribed) "both sides"?


Posted by: Cranky Observer | Jan 15, 2006 6:01:57 PM | Permalink

Is Deborah Howell on the take? Has she gotten a sweetheart mortgage on her house? She seems to uncritically publish GOP talking points without ever considering that she might be repeating lies.

Abromoff is a GOP bagman. He has never personally given a dime to a Democrat, yet she has repeatedly parroted the GOP line that he is a lobbyist that works with both Democrats and Republicans. His Indian clients have given Democrats money, but that was true long before Abromoff began representing Indian gaming interests. Brad Carson has gotten money from the Cherokee Nation because he is a CHEROKEE. There is nothing nefarious in the 26K he received. Why would she possibly point to this as an example of dirty money unless she is GOP parrot? Abromoff is under indictment for screwing the Indian Tribes. She is pushing a story that is counter to the facts. Is it obvious to everyone except for her?

I need a paper I can trust. I need a paper that investigates and reports the truth. Blindly repeating information you are fed by political operatives doesn't cut it. Deborah Howell seems like she is on the take or just incredibly gullible.

Posted by: Kenevan McConnon | Jan 15, 2006 6:01:58 PM | Permalink

The Maryland law doesn't do a thing to WalMart's health plan; it simply says that those corporations that spend less than x on health care will be taxed.

Posted by: sj | Jan 15, 2006 6:03:38 PM | Permalink

Deborah Howell wrote in her article "Getting the Story on Jack Abramoff" that he "had made substantial campaign contributions to both major parties."

This is not true.

Please post a retraction for her error.

Posted by: RR | Jan 15, 2006 6:06:56 PM | Permalink

Taking money from Indian tribes is not the same as taking "Abramof money".

Please cite what "Abramof money" went to a Democratic candidate or stop saying it.

My 5th graders need to cite references for assertions but not a major metropolitan newspaper?

Tell us which Democratic candidate precisely has received "Abramof money". No need to vague it up.


Posted by: Charles Rice | Jan 15, 2006 6:08:49 PM | Permalink

Deborah Howell is lying.

Posted by: Gary Morris | Jan 15, 2006 6:09:02 PM | Permalink

Not only should Deborah Howell issue a correction, but she also needs to explain why she brought this disinformation to print.

Was she given this information by someone outside the Post? Did she research this herself?

Most anyone who's seriously following this story knows that Abramoff didn't money to any Democrat. How could she or the Post's editors not know this?

The next time you guys have a meeting about the decline in readership, refer to this whole business, I have a feeling it may be related to that somehow.

Posted by: GMF | Jan 15, 2006 6:09:31 PM | Permalink

The job of public editor is a sacred trust and the holder should uphold the highest principles. Alas, Ms. Howells seems to be little more than a shill for Ken Mehlman. Shameful. Just shameful. Fire this woman.

Posted by: John Chandley | Jan 15, 2006 6:09:57 PM | Permalink

Tell Ms. Howell that it's comfort the afflicted and afflict the comfortable.

Glad I could correct that for you.

Posted by: Jerry Asher | Jan 15, 2006 6:11:19 PM | Permalink

These are angry, yes. But they have a point, and the point is not answered by the Post. Instead, it has decided to cover its ears and go "nanana I can't hear you". So grown-up.