Rathergate, Future Math and Drunk Wheelchair Driving

As expected, the right wing of the ‘sphere is howling at the newly-full moon of the moment — in this case, said moon being the report of the independent panel commissioned by CBS to investigate Rathergate.

At The Corner, Jonah Goldberg finds that the conclusions that political bias did not play a factor at CBS a bit hard to swallow. He cites the report:

The Panel is aware that some have ascribed political motivations to “60 Minutes Wednesday“‘s decision to air the September 8 segment just two months before the presidential election, while others further found political bias in the program itself. The Panel reviewed this issue and found certain actions that could support such charges. However, the Panel cannot conclude that a political agenda at “60 Minutes Wednesday” drove either the timing of the airing of the egment or its content.

Adds Goldberg: “Translation: Because we cannot do a conclusive Vulcan mind-meld with Dan Rather and Ms. Mapes to prove they were motivated in part by partisan lust and anti-Bush fervor we must conclude that they were not.”

Lorie Byrd at PoliPundit also found the report “amusing.” Especially the part about political bias.

Evidently the panel found certain actions that could support a charge of political motivation, but could not conclude that political motivation drove the September 8 segment. Read that entire section and then try to resist the urge to say, “Duh. Have you never watched “60 Minutes” before? Did you not just see the entire election year’s worth of unpaid Kerry-Edwards advertising there?”

And Hugh Hewitt is already looking ahead to tomorrow. He asks, “How do you spell ‘whitewash?’”

The most interesting question will be how the legacy newspapers report the whitewash in tomorrow’s editions. Will the reactions of Powerline, Jim Geraghty, Instapundit, RatherBiased, LittleGreenFootballs and other key blogs be reported alongside the self-congratulatory Poynter institute types? It is a fork in the road for every media reporter, will they call the whitewash what it is, or will they participate in the farce?

(For our part, CJR Daily is wondering why the panel took so long to establish the obvious.)

Josh Marshall has bigger things on his mind. He got out his calculator and has been crunching some numbers. Big numbers.

“The Social Security Trustees estimate that over the next 75 years the program faces a budget shortfall of $3.7 trillion,” he writes, noting that is a conservative figure.

Josh is happy to give us a little context. How much will the president’s Medicare drug benefit plan cost over the next 75 years? $8.1 trillion, according to plan trustees.

How much will the 2001 and 2003 tax cuts, if made permanent as the president wants, cost over the same 75 years? $11.6 trillion.

So you add that up and you get $3.7 trillion we need to cover Social Security’s shortfall and $19.7 trillion we need just to cover the costs of the two major domestic policy initiatives of the president’s first term.

And yet Social Security, says the president, is in crisis and destined to chew through the rest of the federal budget.

Why is Social Security getting all the ink, he asks — and answers:

That is because, in the last couple decades, in the culture of Washington — particularly among the elite commentators and reporters (just watch “Meet the Press”) — presuming that Social Security is financially unviable has become a ready shorthand for public policy seriousness, much as many use a basic knowledge of imported wines or a familiarity with classical music to signal refinement.

This is something the president is exploiting. And the defenders of Social Security must find ways to overcome it.

In other big news, Orin Kerr at The Volokh Conspiracy brings us the fascinating tale of a Florida woman charged with drunk-driving — in her wheelchair. Kerr’s sense of outrage evaporates after his blog readers pointed him to the last paragraph of the story, published in Lakeland, Fla., Ledger.

Turns out the defendant had a previous run-in with the law: She was charged with animal cruelty after she was accused of biting the head off a python last May.

In case you want to read about that incident, here’s the original police report, courtesy of Harper’s.

Susan Q. Stranahan

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Susan Q. Stranahan wrote for CJR.