Saturday, July 31, 2010

Media Matters: Conservatives' perpetual dishonesty machine | Media Matters for America

Media Matters: Conservatives' perpetual dishonesty machine | Media Matters for America
I have talked about the Republican Lie Machine before but this post on Media Matters explains in detail the complete absence of truth in a recent hysterical story invented by the ultra-conservative, never in touch with reality, amoral, hate spewing machine that the right wing media has become.

"Glenn Beck and Rush Limbaugh regularly tout their supposed accuracy and often claim their critics never prove them wrong. Fittingly, this in itself is a complete falsehood. Limbaugh and Beck are wrong for a living, but have been rewarded for their perpetual wrongness by assuming the role of the two most important cogs in the conservative media.
Every day, the conservative noise machine -- Fox News, Beck, Limbaugh, and other prominent conservative talk radio hosts and bloggers -- hurl false accusations with the hopes of damaging the Obama administration, Democrats, and progressives politically. Make no mistake: this is the primary motivation for the majority of the stories they promote. Pesky things like "facts" and "reality" are, at best, a trivial concern.
Often, these attacks are baseless, easily debunked, and laughably absurd -- yet conservative media outlets rarely (if ever) offer corrections when they are proven wrong. Instead they either double down on their attacks or simply ignore that they were wrong in the first place and move on to the next overhyped bit of nonsense.
While it may seem like a minor story in the grand scheme of things, one example from this week perfectly exemplifies the utter lack of journalistic standards endemic to conservative media.
Early this week, conservatives were in their usual panic mode over what they claimed was evidence that the Obama administration "backed" or "preferred" the release of Abdel Baset al-Megrahi, the terrorist better known as the Lockerbie bomber. As we pointed out, reports -- often the same reports these conservatives were linking to in order to make their arguments -- indicated that the administration wanted Megrahi to "remain imprisoned in view of the nature of the crime."
Fox News twisted reality to claim that the "U.S. Backed Freedom, Not Prison, for Bomber." Matt Drudge splashed a huge headline across his website announcing that the "White House Backed Release Of Lockerbie Bomber." Pam Geller -- whose deranged rantings have earned her frequent appearances on Fox News and bylines on Andrew Breitbart's "Big" websites, Tucker Carlson's Daily Caller, and the American Thinker -- called for a "special investigation" and a "charge of treason" for Obama.
Rush Limbaugh -- while bragging, as he often does, that he was "executing assigned host duties flawlessly" with "zero mistakes" --claimed that Obama "backed the release" of the Lockerbie bomber because he wanted to "make nice with the Muslim world."
Late Monday, when the State Department released the administration's correspondence with the Scottish Ministry of Justice, it confirmed in unambiguous terms that the administration was "not prepared to support Megrahi's release on compassionate release or bail," and that "it would be most appropriate for Megrahi to remain imprisoned for the entirety of his sentence." They stipulated if he were to be released, he should remain in Scotland rather than risk him receiving an "extremely inappropriate" "welcoming reception" upon being transferred to Libya.
So, after this story completely fell apart, did conservative media figures correct the record and let their readers/listeners/viewers know that the administration did not "support" or "prefer" the release of the Lockerbie bomber?
Of course not ".

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Fraser Failed to Disclose Perry Land Deal — Texas Ethics Commission | The Texas Tribune

Fraser Failed to Disclose Perry Land Deal — Texas Ethics Commission | The Texas Tribune

Gee, I wish I could make an $800,000 profit by knowing the right people. This is the blatant hypocrisy of the R's that preach about "free enterprise" what they mean is conniving and stealing instead of working for an honest dollar.

Fraser Failed to Disclose Perry Land Deal

by Matt Stiles, The Texas Tribune
July 29, 2010

The lawmaker involved in a questionable land deal with Gov. Rick Perry failed to disclose ownership or sale of the property to the Texas Ethics Commission, an apparent violation of a state ethics rules, according to a review of his personal financial statements.
State Sen. Troy Fraser, R-Horseshoe Bay, didn’t list his September 2000 acquisition of the waterfront lot on Lake Lyndon B. Johnson in the disclosure form he filed for that year. He also didn't note a year later the fact that Perry purchased the property from him in 2001, the documents show.
State law requires elected officials such as Fraser, a friend and political ally of the governor, to describe "any and all" interests they or their families have in real property. They also must disclose any proceeds they received when those interests are sold. Failure to file the forms on time can result in civil penalties levied by the commission, though Fraser will not face enforcement because the commission doesn't have the authority to levy fines for a 10-year-old violation.
Fraser, a wealthy investor, listed numerous stock holdings and other financial information on the 52-page filing but omitted the land deal. He was traveling out of the state on Wednesday and was unavailable for comment, said his chief of staff, Janice McCoy, who declined to discuss the issue.
Andy Wilson, a research associate for campaign finance issues at the watchdog group Public Citizen Texas, said the senator's failure to correctly file the forms is no small matter. "The public’s right to know on this is absolute," Wilson said. "Considering that, for most Texans, their homes are the most important thing that they own, I’m surprised that someone would forget to put this on a financial disclosure — especially waterfront property on Horseshoe Bay."
Perry’s investment in the resort property was the subject of a lengthy investigation published Sunday in The Dallas Morning News. The paper reported that the governor may have received an enhanced deal based on personal favors from wealthy friends and campaign contributors. Fraser was central to the deal. Perry’s office has denied any special treatment: The governor told the newspaper that each personal land deal he has made while in office "has been open and honest, and at arm's length." His staff has repeated those sentiments in other news accounts.
Perry’s Democratic opponent in the governor’s race, former Houston mayor Bill White, has pounced on the revelations about the land deal, calling Perry dishonest and the money he made on the property — nearly $500,000 when he sold in 2007 — "ill-gotten gains."
"The questions about why Rick Perry’s close friend hid the transactions are just one of many questions that needs to be addressed immediately," said White’s spokeswoman, Katy Bacon.
Perry's campaign defended the governor's handling of the land deal.
“This transaction was appropriate, conducted at arm’s length, and the governor’s office was fully transparent regarding the matter,” said spokeswoman Catherine Frazier. “It’s clear that Bill White will say anything to distract Texans.”
The News' appraisal concluded that Perry, who purchased the half-acre lot for $300,000, paid $150,000 below market value. When he sold the parcel in 2007 for $1.15 million, that price was $350,000 over market value, the appraiser concluded.
The paper's report also exposed that the land was sold and purchased by wealthy individuals with political connections — and that Perry hired a lawyer he appointed to the Texas Public Safety Board to help fight his property tax appraisal. The story noted conflicting and evolving accounts of the transaction’s details, raising questions among watchdogs.
"The man on the street on this would think that this is a series of deals that smell of special favors being created for elected officials to curry their favor," Ellen Miller, executive director of the nonprofit Sunlight Foundation in Washington, D.C., toldthe News.
Perry's campaign defended the governor's handling of the deal, taking a shot at White
“This transaction was appropriate, conducted at arm’s length, and the governor’s office was fully transparent regarding the matter,” she said. “It’s clear that Bill White will say anything to distract Texans from the fact that he’s not unveiled one new policy initiatives, and that he continues to hide the truth about his business practices and liberal policies.”
If Fraser were to correct the form, he almost certainly faces no sanctions by the Ethics Commission, an appointed body and state agency that oversees lobbying, campaign-finance and ethics enforcement.
The rule requiring timely filing of the forms — which are intended to "strengthen the faith and confidence of the people of this state in state government" — includes what amounts to a two-year statute of limitations, said Natalia Luna Ashley, the commission’s general counsel, who only discussed the requirements and not the specifics of Fraser’s reports.
In general, current law gives the commissioners power to sanction officials for omissions or incorrect filings on the financial forms in response to sworn complaints by members of the public or rival campaigns. They also can fine officials for filing reports late, which would include corrections after commission deadlines.
The law in 2000 and 2001, however, exempted officials from late-filing penalties associated with corrections if they swore they made the mistake or omission in good faith.
Fraser last summer corrected several years of reports that omitted property interests, according to the commission, which never fined him for late or incorrect filings. In the report for calendar year 2008, for example, Fraser neglected to note his own property at Horseshoe Bay.

This article originally appeared in The Texas Tribune at

E.J. Dionne Jr. - In American politics, stupidity is the name of the game

E.J. Dionne Jr. - In American politics, stupidity is the name of the game

"Start with taxes. In every other serious democracy, conservative political parties feel at least some obligation to match their tax policies with their spending plans. David Cameron, the new Conservative prime minister in Britain, is a leading example.

He recently offered a rather brutal budget that includes severe cutbacks. I have doubts about some of them, but at least Cameron cared enough about reducing his country's deficit that alongside the cuts he also proposed an increase in the value-added tax, from 17.5 percent to 20 percent. Imagine: a fiscal conservative who really is a fiscal conservative.

That could never happen here because the fairy tale of supply-side economics insists that taxes are always too high, especially on the rich.

This is why Democrats will be fools if they don't try to turn the Republicans' refusal to raise taxes on families earning more than $250,000 a year into an election issue. If Democrats go into a headlong retreat on this, they will have no standing to govern.

The simple truth is that the wealthy in the United States -- the people who have made almost all the income gains in recent years -- are undertaxed compared with everyone else."

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

BP Will Loom Over Work Safety Hearing | Texas Watch

BP Will Loom Over Work Safety Hearing | Texas Watch

On Thursday, two legislative committees will convene to discuss “third-party liability issues involving workers’ compensation.” Even though the topic of this hearing was set long before the Deepwater Horizon catastrophe, BP puts the hearing in a new light that spurs a second look at our pro-defendant civil justice system and the impact immunity for BP-style disasters has on workers, communities, and the environment. We have a newvideo putting the focus where it should be.
If recent history is any guide, the discussion at Thursday’s hearing will be dominated by lobbyists pitching even more schemes to immunize their clients from accountability rather than how to prevent workplace catastrophes. No doubt, industry groups will call for even more restrictions on the rights of workers who are harmed on the job with proposals to force them into a broken workers’ comp system or some new catastrophic injury plan which will socialize damages, forcing companies that heed safety protocols to subsidize the liability of those that don’t.
None of the lobbyist-driven proposals will prevent needless workplace injuries and deaths or protect the environment.
Texas Watch produced a new web video to remind us all what this is really about. It is about the men and women who have lost their lives because it was cheaper for an industrial plant owner to cut corners on safety than it was to implement proven safety protocols. One way to improve workplace safety is to reverse that calculation, making it more cost-beneficial for industry to protect workers than it is to shirk their duty to keep their workers safe.
Check out the video:

Other posts of interest:

Friday, July 23, 2010

Chamber of Commerce losing battles against Obama

Chamber of Commerce losing battles against Obama
I used to think that the Chamber of Commerce was a friendly group of local business people who came together to help foster new businesses in a community and support each other. I still think that is true on my local level but nationally the US Chamber of Commerce (COC) has become simply another tool of the far right wing R's. They have basically opposed every bill of any significance that Obama has proposed, health care, financial reform, immigration reform, climate change legislation and the list goes on. They have become a malignant force against social justice and sane government. And they have immense clout. They are the largest lobbying organization in Washington. Don't believe the title of this article, the COC has taken big chunks out of all the bills the democrats have gotten passed. The agenda has included:

Stopping Climate change legislation
Taking language that was favorable to unions out of legislation
Watering down the role of the new Consumer Protection Agency in the financial reform legislation
Opposing student loan reforms
They have strongly (as in $ spent) supported so-called "Tort Reform" which let's doctors of the hook for malpractice
They opposed a bill that would have help fund the CHIP program across the country, the most efficient program for making sure all children grow up healthy
They want to "privatize" meaning kill Social Security

According to Source Watch:

The Chamber ranks first in lobbying spending in the past decade, with General Electric ranking second at $161 million, according to the Center for Responsive Politics.[38]

Political Money Line[39] highlighted in February 2005 that the Chamber and its Institute for Legal Reform reported combined spending of $53.38 million for lobbying the Executive and Legislative branches during 2004. According to the watchdog website, "This is the largest twelve-month amount reported spent by any group."

The Chamber reported spending $20,060,000 in the first six months of 2004 and $8,780,000 in the last six months of 2004. They paid forty-five lobbyists in the last six months of 2004 to lobby on thirty-two issue areas, including "Trade, Small Business, Labor, Healthcare, Defense, Appropriations, Tort Reform and other areas."[40]

The Institute for Legal Reform reported spending $10,000,000 in the first six months of 2004 and $14,540,000 in the last six months. They had five lobbyists on the payroll for the last six months of 2004, working on the tort reform issue including "Class Action Fairness, Asbestos Injury Resolution, Legal Reform, and Lawsuit Abuse Reduction."[41]

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Now the R's are after Social Security

Obama vs. 'Big Business': There's an Alternative

What an oracle of the obvious. Giant corporations are essentially legalized criminal organizations. They survive an prosper not by giving value to the consumer but by exploiting their workers and avoiding regulation of their worst actions. Now that Americans actually understand how morally bankrupt these companies are, this guy suggests we negotiate terms with them so we can regain jobs that have been lost because Barack Obama, who has actually been their enabler, has been hostile to them. Meanwhile we progressives need to admit that these greedy, slimy, wealth obsessed plunderers should get tax breaks and regulatory absolution so they can save the economy they just ruined. At my age the calisthenics needed to adjust to such specious, self-interested logic are just not going to happen. I continue to be amazed by the sheer shameless audacity of the business community that keeps claiming that what they just did to our economy wasn't their fault. But then again this is America where no fact goes contorted.
Read the Article at HuffingtonPost

Saturday, July 17, 2010

Americans are getting poorer, and it's going to get worse | McClatchy

Americans are getting poorer, and it's going to get worse | McClatchy

For the life of me I cannot understand why so many people just don't get what's going on economically in this country. We are on our way down folks and it is going to get worse. The gap between the very well off and the poor continues to grow and our middle class continues to shrink. I always get a laugh out of so-called conservatives who shout "class warfare!" when these statistics are pointed out to them. Class warfare has been the republican strategy since Richard Nixon was president. His so-called "Southern Strategy" sought to bring southern state democrats into the fold of the republican party by appealing to their fears of integration, the civil-rights movement and the general upheaval of the country in those Vietnam war years. Here is how Kevin Phillips, Nixon's strategist put it in 1970:

Although the phrase "Southern strategy" is often attributed to Nixon political strategist Kevin Phillips, he did not originate it,[1] but merely popularized it.[2] In an interview included in a 1970 New York Times article, he touched on its essence:
From now on, the Republicans are never going to get more than 10 to 20 percent of the Negro vote and they don't need any more than that... but Republicans would be shortsighted if they weakened enforcement of the Voting Rights Act. The more Negroes who register as Democrats in the South, the sooner the Negrophobe whites will quit the Democrats and become Republicans. That's where the votes are. Without that prodding from the blacks, the whites will backslide into their old comfortable arrangement with the local Democrats.[3]
While Phillips sought to polarize ethnic voting in general, and not just to win the white South, the South was by far the biggest prize yielded by his approach. Its success began at the presidential level, gradually trickling down to statewide offices, the Senate and House, as some legacy segregationist Democrats retired or switched to the GOP. In addition, the Republican Party worked for years to develop grassroots political organizations across the South, supporting candidates for local school boards and offices, for instance.
By the time Reagan was elected in 1980 the pandering of the republican party became more narrowly focused on the far right wing religious activists of the south and economic code words. As Lee Atwater said in a 1981 interview:
Atwater: As to the whole Southern strategy that Harry Dent and others put together in 1968, opposition to the Voting Rights Act would have been a central part of keeping the South. Now [the new Southern Strategy of Ronald Reagan] doesn’t have to do that. All you have to do to keep the South is for Reagan to run in place on the issues he's campaigned on since 1964 and that's fiscal conservatism, balancing the budget, cut taxes, you know, the whole cluster.
Questioner: But the fact is, isn't it, that Reagan does get to the Wallace voter and to the racist side of the Wallace voter by doing away with legal services, by cutting down on food stamps?
Atwater: You start out in 1954 by saying, "Nigger, nigger, nigger." By 1968 you can't say "nigger" — that hurts you. Backfires. So you say stuff like forced busing, states' rights and all that stuff. You're getting so abstract now [that] you're talking about cutting taxes, and all these things you're talking about are totally economic things and a byproduct of them is [that] blacks get hurt worse than whites. And subconsciously maybe that is part of it. I'm not saying that. But I'm saying that if it is getting that abstract, and that coded, that we are doing away with the racial problem one way or the other. You follow me — because obviously sitting around saying, "We want to cut this," is much more abstract than even the busing thing, and a hell of a lot more abstract than "Nigger, nigger."[6][7]

The republican movement has used the poor and racial minorities as scapegoats for selling out to prosperous whites for more than 30 years. Add to that Reagan's personal war on union's and you can see how the rising middle class has stopped rising. There seems to be no effective advocate for the average working man or women. In the 1970's the unions and the democrats were advocates, and yes they went to far. I agree that in the extreme union's are corrupt and opportunistic, but they have also increased worker safety, health benefits and fairness in the workplace all over this country. That is, they helped improve social justice, a concept any self respecting republican spits on today. But you can see from the quotes of Kevin Phillips (Nixon's man) and Lee Atwater (Reagan and George H.W. Bush's man) that the tax cutting the republicans do for the limosine and country club crowd, that put us in our current and continuing economic decline, has long roots in the republican party. The Tea Bagger's are just the latest iteration of the class warfare started by Reagan.


Sunday, July 11, 2010

Josh Raskin - I Met The Walrus

After watching the Rotten Tomatoes TV show on Current TV the other day I forgot to change the channel when it was finished and this video came one. By the end of it I was misty eyed. What a moving, sweet and evocative work of art this is. Fourteen year old Josh Raskin's interview with John Lennon is basically a treatise on whom to trust and rely upon on life's treacherous journey in times of war, the meaning of music and art in one's culture and working for peace by working on your self. The animations are flowing, evocative and perfectly synchronized to the conversation. In total this short video is a brilliant and genuine diamond in a sea of rhinestones.

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

John Robbins: How The GDP Is Leading Us Terribly Astray

John Robbins: How The GDP Is Leading Us Terribly Astray
In a nut shell, a good GDP does not mean that average Americans are doing well financially.
"The number of unemployed Americans has more than doubled in the past two years. Unemployment is now worse than at any time since the Depression of the 1930s. Millions of people have lost their homes to foreclosure. And tens of millions more have lost their savings, their pensions, and their retirement security.

These statistics are grim, but they say nothing of the human toll, the families torn apart and the lives destroyed. The numbers give no indication of the pain, the rage, and the hopelessness that now permeate so many people's lives."

We are becoming a nation that doesn't care about working people, the poor or the disabled. The pure unadulterated meanness that the GOBP party shows toward the 18 million unemployed is breathtaking. These are people who want to work, but can't find a job but the R's tell us that their just lazy.

Paul Krugman, the Nobel Laureate in economics, wrote an opinion piece in Sunday's NYTimes entitled Punishing the Jobless in which he talks about the heartless political calculations of the R party in refusing to extend unemployment benefits.

"There was a time when everyone took it for granted that unemployment insurance, which normally terminates after 26 weeks, would be extended in times of persistent joblessness. It was, most people agreed, the decent thing to do.

But that was then. Today, American workers face the worst job market since the Great Depression, with five job seekers for every job opening, with the average spell of unemployment now at 35 weeks. Yet the Senate went home for the holiday weekend without extending benefits. How was that possible?

The answer is that we’re facing a coalition of the heartless, the clueless and the confused. Nothing can be done about the first group, and probably not much about the second. But maybe it’s possible to clear up some of the confusion.

By the heartless, I mean Republicans who have made the cynical calculation that blocking anything President Obama tries to do — including, or perhaps especially, anything that might alleviate the nation’s economic pain — improves their chances in the midterm elections. Don’t pretend to be shocked: you know they’re out there, and make up a large share of the G.O.P. caucus.

By the clueless I mean people like Sharron Angle, the Republican candidate for senator from Nevada, who has repeatedly insisted that the unemployed are deliberately choosing to stay jobless, so that they can keep collecting benefits. A sample remark: “You can make more money on unemployment than you can going down and getting one of those jobs that is an honest job but it doesn’t pay as much. We’ve put in so much entitlement into our government that we really have spoiled our citizenry.”

Now, I don’t have the impression that unemployed Americans are spoiled; desperate seems more like it. One doubts, however, that any amount of evidence could change Ms. Angle’s view of the world — and there are, unfortunately, a lot of people in our political class just like her."

Representative Ralph Hall is one of these people. He voted against extending unemployment benefits AND against the Wall Street reform law. So I guess he is a lot more concerned about the lying, cheating moneygrubber's on Wall Street than he is with his own folks on main street. It is nothing short of a scandal to behave that way in the worst economic downturn since the great depression

Saturday, July 3, 2010

Cancer survivors skipping medical care – Paging Dr. Gupta - Blogs

Cancer survivors skipping medical care – Paging Dr. Gupta - Blogs
Imagine one of your parents coming down with a cancer that can be treated and perhaps put into remission. Now imagine that your mother, father or your husband decides to skip those vital treatments because they are too expensive. That is what approximately 2 million Americans decide to do every year according to the this study published in the medical journal Cancer. Here is an excerpt:

Even though it puts their long-term health and well-being at risk, "two million U.S. cancer survivors did not get one or more medical services because of financial concerns," says study author Dr. Kathryn Weaver of the Wake Forest University Baptist Medical Center. In general, she says, cancer survivors under the age of 65 were almost twice as likely to delay or forgo all types of care, compared with adults with no cancer history in the same age group.

Hispanic cancer survivors were most likely to skip treatment according to the study. Hispanic and African American cancer survivors were more likely than whites to leave prescriptions unfilled or to forgo needed dental care.

"It reflects differences in insurance coverage in our country," Weaver says. "The people over 65 are often covered by Medicare and have more consistent insurance coverage." But she says even people under 65 who had insurance coverage, would sometimes fail to seek treatment when they needed it.

Friday, July 2, 2010

Thurgood Marshall Jr. - Putting my father, Thurgood Marshall, on trial

Thurgood Marshall Jr. - Putting my father, Thurgood Marshall, on trial
That Thurgood Marshall's son has to defend his father against the likes of Senators Kyl, Sessions, Cornyn and Coburn shows just how low the GOBP has fallen. Thurgood Marshall will go down in history as one of the finest jurists of the twentieth century. In their combined attacks and insinuations Cornyn, Kyl, Sessions and Coburn only demonstrated their bigotry, their profound lack of ethics and their obsequiousness to the rabid right. It was basically hate speech, plain and simple.

Lara Logan, You Suck --

Lara Logan, You Suck --
Just like everything else in our society, the people who reveal the truth about what is actually happening in Afghanistan, in this case, what General McCrystal was saying about the President and his minions, are vilified and subject to retaliation. Lara Logan is cute and I think she has done some good reporting on the great job our troops are doing, but on this she is absolutely wrong. We need to know what is really happening over there and you damn sure can't count on the major network reporters. It was NOT the reporter's job to protect the General from his own words. With her vapid comments about Michael Hastings, the reporter from Rolling Stone, she revealed herself to be more of a marketing expert than a true journalist.
Some choice quotes from the article:

"True, the Pentagon does have perhaps the single largest public relations apparatus on earth – spending $4.7 billion on P.R. in 2009 alone and employing 27,000 people, a staff nearly as large as the 30,000-person State Department – but is that really enough to ensure positive coverage in a society armed with a constitutionally-guaranteed free press?

And true, most of the major TV outlets are completely in the bag for the Pentagon, with two of them (NBC/GE and Logan's own CBS, until recently owned by Westinghouse, one of the world's largest nuclear weapons manufacturers) having operated for years as leaders in both the broadcast media and weapons-making businesses.

But is that enough to guarantee a level playing field? Can a general really feel safe that Americans will get the right message when the only tools he has at his disposal are a $5 billion P.R. budget and the near-total acquiescence of all the major media companies, some of whom happen to be the Pentagon's biggest contractors?

Does the fact that the country is basically barred from seeing dead bodies on TV, or the fact that an embedded reporter in a war zone literally cannot take a shit without a military attaché at his side (I'm not joking: while embedded at Camp Liberty in Iraq, I had to be escorted from my bunk to the latrine) really provide the working general with the security and peace of mind he needs to do his job effectively?"