October 23, 2012
When Obama took office we were losing more than 800,000 jobs a MONTH -- and according to FactCheck.org that is Obama's doing, not Bush's.
In a new TV ad, President Obama makes an inflated claim to have added 5.2 million new jobs. The total added during his time in office is actually about 325,000.
In the ad, the president says “over 5 million new jobs” while the figure “5.2 million” appears on screen. But that’s a doubly misleading figure.
* Viewers would need to pay close attention to the on-screen graphic to know that the ad refers only to employment gains starting in March 2010, omitting the 4.3 million jobs that were lost in the first year of Obama’s term.
* And there’s no way a viewer would know that the total counts only private-sector jobs, omitting continuing losses in government employment.
Here is the reality:
The red lines on the left are the Bush months. The blue lines are Obama months. The DOWNward-heading lines on the left side of that huge V shows what was happening before the stimulus turned things around. The right side of that V, where things start getting better, is what happened after the stimulus kicked in.
ALL the job losses that Romney -- with FactCheck.org's backing -- claims occurred because of Obama were in that V. Yes, even after the stimulus turned things around we were still losing jobs, but losing fewer each month, and then breaking into positive territory and staying there.
As for public/private -sector jobs, yes Obama did try to save public-sector jobs and did a good job of that with the stimulus, but Republicans blocked further efforts, and in the state were able to lay off many, many teachers, police, etc.
And according to FactCheck.org, that's Obama's fault, too.
October 14, 2012
In my local paper today
Above-fold front-page headline, story about how public employees are draining the state. They are not tasking vacations, and then getting all their vacation and sick pay when they retire... Getting their vacation pay is draining the state. "No vacations for taxpayers." "They're cashing in by retiring with whopping final paychecks worth, in some cases, more than $500,000 in unused time off."
Page 2, The Kochs' quest - a story about how the Koch brothers are fighting to save America from bankruptcy.
"The country was headed toward bankruptcy, they agreed. Fink told them bluntly that Obama's administration represented the worst of what Charles and David fear most: a bloated, regulation-heavy, free-spending government that could plunge the country into another deep recession. That day, Fink advised two of the richest men in the nation that it would be the fight of their lives to stop the government spending spree and to change the course of the country, starting with the 2012 election."
August 27, 2012
What kind of an idiot would put this in a story about Arctic ice melting due to climate change?
"The melting does, however, offer some potential benefits, including new shipping routes and easier access to oil and other mineral deposits. "
From Sea Ice in Arctic Measured at Record Low - NYTimes.com
August 26, 2012
Any "science" story that begins like this probably isn't worth reading, because the very first sentence gets it just wrong,
SINCE 1900, the life expectancy of Americans has jumped to just shy of 80 from 47 years. This surge comes mostly from improved hygiene and nutrition, but also from new discoveries and interventions: everything from antibiotics and heart bypass surgery to cancer drugs that target and neutralize the impact of specific genetic mutations.
The implication is that people generally died at 47 years old then, and 80 now. But what really happened is fewer babies die now, so at birth the average would be 47 then and 80 now. But people then and now can live to about 80 if they aren't killed by something like childhood illness, war, etc.
Note that this is the same fallacy that propels people to think Social Security is a problem, because life expectancy at birth is greater now. This tricks people into thinking that we pay out Social Security longer...
NY Times: How Long Do You Want to Live?
July 19, 2012
Note -- see the update at end of post, in which the Romney campaign uses astonishingly doctored audio, to make it seem as if Obama said something he never said.
Early in this campaign the Romney team put out an ad with a doctored Obama quote. Now Romney is again claiming Obama said things he never said. The billionaire-corporate-funded right-wing media machine drives the lie to millions. This might well work, which brings up a question: If someone gets into office based on lies, what kind of policies result? Those policies help the people pushing the lies, but do those policies help or hurt us in the real world in the long run?
The Lie The First Time
In November the Romney campaign was caught editing a quote in an ad to make it sound like Obama had said something he never said. The ad portrayed Obama as saying, "If we keep talking about the economy, we're going to lose," when Obama had really said (four years previously), "Senator McCain's campaign actually said, and I quote, 'If we keep talking about the economy, we're going to lose."
The Romney campaign defended this use of lies, saying they are just showing they are willing to do what it takes to win. The Boston Globe reported, "Romney aides even said they were proud of the reaction and suggested that the ad was deliberately misleading to garner attention."
At the time Thomas B Edsall wrote in the NY Times,
"...the spot’s direct duplicity is also the latest step in the transgression by political operatives of formerly agreed-upon ethical boundaries. What was once considered sleazy becomes the norm."
And so the sleazy became the norm for the Romney campaign.
The Lie This Time
The sleazy became the norm, so they're cranking it up. This time, the lie machine is telling people that President Obama said that business owners didn't build their businesses, government did. What President Obama actually said was that businesses did not build the roads and bridges that help them get their products to markets:
Somebody helped to create this unbelievable American system that we have that allowed you to thrive. Somebody invested in roads and bridges. If you’ve got a business -- you didn’t build that.
The billionaire-corporate lie machine version? Heritage Foundation: Obama Tells Entrepreneurs "You Didn't Build" Your Business.
Watch the beginning of this FOX News segment, note how the editing actually shows Obama's mouth moving, before they bring the sound up partway through what he is saying, then listen to the commentators as they pretend this is what Obama actually said. (Of course they know this is not what he actually said, which makes the performance so shocking.)
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The lie is propelled through the right-wing media: FOX News, Wall Street Journal and other Murdoch-owned papers, Limbaugh and the rest of talk radio, Washington Times, Weekly Standard, NewsMax, WorldNet Daily, hundreds of right-wing blogs, etc., and then posted by paid operatives as "reader comments" at local news sites, hundreds of sports and auto and other discussion forums, and many, many other places until it "becomes truth."
Watch the kind of crap that much of the public is hearing from almost every media source many of them are exposed to. Seriously, make yourself watch the whole thing, and then think about how many people watch FOX News or listen to talk radio or read the Wall Street Journal or one of the other newspapers that pushes this stuff, or read right-wing blogs -- and even CNN. There is a huge corporate-billionaire-funded media machine pushing this stuff, and it seems it is almost everywhere now.
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And then, once it "becomes truth" the Presidential candidate repeats it. WaPo: Romney Hits 'Didn't Build That' Obama Remark
Romney: "I’m convinced he wants Americans to be ashamed of success … [but] I don’t want government to take credit for what individuals accomplish” ...
So, once again, the lie machine is working to "kinda catapult the propaganda."
Policies Resulting From Lies
What is the result when policies are made, based on lies?
If you believe that Iraq is refusing to turn over their chemical and biological weapons, and that invading that country will be a "cakewalk," then you want Iraq invaded. We all know how that one worked out.
If you believe that cutting taxes increases government revenue, then you want taxes cut. The real-world result, of course, is huge budget deficits -- and dramatically increased income inequality.
If you believe that President Obama's policies made the jobs emergency worse, then you support the anti-government policies that fired teachers and police officers and cut off unemployment benefits for desperate people. (The last month of Bush's Presidency the economy lost 815,000 jobs. Now it is gaining jobs.)
If you believe that we shouldn't be trying to win a share of the new green industries (lies about Solyndra and saying the Chevy Volt is flammable) then you vote for oil-company-backed policies that leave us dependent on oil and coal and refuse to combat climate change.
Basically, look at the results of most of the policies the country has followed since Reagan, and you get the picture.
You Aint Seen Nothin Yet
And this latest lie is just a warm-up. The corporate-billionaire-funded machine will seriously be in operation in October, just before the election. The lies will be all over the place, and democracy doesn't have an advertising budget.
Update - We Hadn't Seen Nothin Yet
The Romney campaign has released an ad with astonishingly doctored audio -- even more doctored than the FOX video above.
So here’s where this is going. The Romney campaign is out with a new Web video hitting Obama over the “don’t build that” quote. It features a business owner who is angry at Obama for supposedly insulting his hard work. “My hands didn’t build this company?” the man asks. “Through hard work and a little bit of luck, we built this business. Why are you demonizing us for it?”
But the video deceptively edits Obama’s remarks to seamlessly link up two different parts of the speech, removing a chunk in order to make Obama’s remarks seem far worse than they are.
What Did He Really Say?
Here is what the President actually said: (from Monday's post, The Latest Lie: "You Didn't Build That":
President Obama pointed out that businesses did not build the roads and bridges that help them get their products to markets. He said that in the United States we succeed together. Here is the full quote:
There are a lot of wealthy, successful Americans who agree with me -- because they want to give something back. They know they didn’t -- look, if you’ve been successful, you didn’t get there on your own. You didn’t get there on your own. I’m always struck by people who think, well, it must be because I was just so smart. There are a lot of smart people out there. It must be because I worked harder than everybody else. Let me tell you something -- there are a whole bunch of hardworking people out there. (Applause.)
If you were successful, somebody along the line gave you some help. There was a great teacher somewhere in your life. Somebody helped to create this unbelievable American system that we have that allowed you to thrive. Somebody invested in roads and bridges. If you’ve got a business -- you didn’t build that. Somebody else made that happen. The Internet didn’t get invented on its own. Government research created the Internet so that all the companies could make money off the Internet.
The point is, is that when we succeed, we succeed because of our individual initiative, but also because we do things together. There are some things, just like fighting fires, we don’t do on our own. I mean, imagine if everybody had their own fire service. That would be a hard way to organize fighting fires.
July 14, 2012
Back when Bill Clinton was President there was a huge media-swarm controversy because a decade before her husband was elected Hillary Clinton had made $100,000 over ten months by investing in cattle futures. Now, skip forward to 2012. Report after report circulates about a candidate for President who owns a secret company in Bermuda, Swiss and Cayman Islands bank accounts and an IRA containing as much as $100 million -- and who may have filed SEC documents containing false information (a felony). Huge media swarm this time? Not so much.
In the 1970s Hillary Clinton made some speculative investments. Over a period of 10 months she made investments in cattle futures that did well, earning $100,000. Later when her husband was President, the media wanted to find out how she was able to make such a large, huge, ginormous sum from speculative investments.
Take a look at the 350,000-or-so web references to cattle futures trades made by Hillary Clinton way back in the 1970s. This might give you an idea of how big a deal it was back in the mid-90's that Hillary Clinton had made $100,000 (!!!) on speculative investments back in the 1970s. (The number of stories located online is possibly reduced by the fact that the media swarm happened in the mid-1990s -- largely before the Internet.)
Look at the outlets that assigned teams of reporters to investigate: All the TV networks, the Washington Post, New York Times, Newsweek, and all of the rest of the jouranilmalism crowd were all over what was considered to be a major story.
This story was investigated, written about, investigated, written about, and investigated. No evidence of any wrongdoing was ever found -- which many in the media took as clear proof that there had been a massive cover-up.
Today - Not So Much
Today things are different. Compare the magnitude of Hillary's $100,000 profit to the recent disclosure of as much as $100,000,000 -- one hundred million dollars -- turning up in Mitt Romney's IRA which is a personal retirement investment vehicle that is limited to a few thousand in contributions each year. (Remember, the gains made in an IRA are not taxed.) Romney is already retired, and the one completed tax return he has disclosed shows that he currently has an income of approx. $450,000 per week.
So how did $100 million end up an an IRA that is limited to deposits of a maximum $6,000 a year (after you reach a certain age)? How many reporters has each major news organization assigned to find out why he has up to $100 million in an IRA?
Compare Hillary's $100,000 profit to the disclosure that Mitt Romney has a Swiss bank account. A candidate for President of the United States has a Swiss bank account? (And a Caymans bank account? And others?) Why? What is the explanation? How many reporters has each major news organization assigned to find out?
Compare it to the disclosure that Mitt Romney owns a secret company in Bermuda, which was transferred to his wife the day before he had to disclose it, or what it is or does. How many reporters has each major news organization assigned to find out why he has a secret company in Bermuda, and what that company does, how much it pays in taxes and how much money it holds, and why it was transferred to his wife the day before he took office as Governor?
Compare it to the more recent disclosure that after 1999 Romney's company Bain Capital was telling the government and other parties that Romney owned all the shares, was President and CEO and managing the place, but now says that was all a scam and he wasn't really! (That's illegal -- a felony -- by the way.) How many reporters has each major news organization assigned to find out if he lied on his SEC forms? ONE news organization did report this story -- well, actually they reported information originally uncovered by a progressive website and a progressive magazine.
Where Is Our Media?
News media. Information. Informed decision-making in a democracy. Investigative reporting. The public's need to know. What has happened to these concepts? They seem alien in today's media environment.
Our news media's purpose is supposed to be to provide the public with the information that is needed to make informed decision. It is supposed to be investigating our leaders to find out if they are really acting in our interest. Why are they not doing this at this crucial time?
June 3, 2012
Murdoch’s Scandal | FRONTLINE | PBS shows how FOX corrupted UK government. This is a criminal organization, and the response here shows they are intimidating and corrupting media and government. MUST SEE.
They have obviously broken US laws against a US company bribing officials, why will Obama Justice Dept not prosecute for this? Why won't Dems in Senate launch investigations?
May 17, 2012
There is a news report that yet another right-wing billionaire is going to spend even more millions to run even more poisonous, divisive, racist, degrading, insulting, lying, character-assassination ads designed to turn people against government and democracy. And an added bonus (for Republicans) will be turning people away from even voting. They're going to do this because it works -- for them and the billionaires who back them.
A group of high-profile Republican strategists is working with a conservative billionaire on a proposal to mount one of the most provocative campaigns of the “super PAC” era and attack President Obama in ways that Republicans have so far shied away from.
... The $10 million plan ... includes preparations for how to respond to the charges of race-baiting it envisions if it highlights Mr. Obama’s former ties to Mr. Wright...
The group suggested hiring as a spokesman an “extremely literate conservative African-American” who can argue that Mr. Obama misled the nation by presenting himself as what the proposal calls a “metrosexual, black Abe Lincoln.”
Obama is black, black, black, black, black. And in case you miss it, here is Republican Strategist Lee Atwater explaining the Republican strategy:
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.
Just lying -- making stuff up and blasting it out there -- works. In 2010 Republicans spent millions and millions on ads saying “Democrats cut half a trillion from Medicare" and captured the senior vote for the first time, throwing the House over to them. It worked, they spent millions broadcasting lies, they took the House -- and then voted to turn Medicare into a voucher program.
From the post, "Half A Trillion In Cuts To Medicare"
In the 2010 election campaign Republican groups ran millions and millions of dollars of ads promising not to cut Medicare, and to increase Social Security. They campaigned against Democrats for "cutting $500 billion from Medicare" and not increasing Social Security cost-of-living. As a result, for the first time the senior vote went to Republicans.
Here are just a few of the ads that saturated the airwaves, saying that Democrats should be thrown out for cutting Medicare:
And voters were sent flyers like this: (click for larger)
The Obstruct-And-Lie Strategy
Republicans have a huge “noise machine” and they know how to use it. And they really, really don’t care if they are telling the truth or not, they say what they need to say to win.
After years of blocking President Obama's efforts to try to create more jobs, Repubicans are campaigning saying Obama didn’t create more jobs.
After running up huge deficits -- Clinton left behind a surplus, Bush left behind a $1.4 trillion deficit -- Republicans are campaigning that Obama has run up huge deficits.
This summer when student loan rates double because Republicans blocked efforts to keep them from doubling, Republicans will blast out that Obama doubled student loan rates.
Negative Ads Suppress Turnout
The point of running negative ads is not to get people to show up and vote for someone. Negative ads are about turning people off from voting. Negative ads tell people they should not have hope, that anyone they think could be a leader is actually a scoundrel, etc. The point of the millions and millions of dollars that will be spent by Republicans on negative ads this year is to try to keep the kind of surge election that brought so many people out to vote in the 2008 election from happening this time.
The Media Enablers
Republican media outlets like FOX News, the Wall Street Journal and Rush Limbaugh will go ahead and repeat the party line (when they aren't out front creating it). They reach a lot of people, and the rest of the Republican "noise machine"' is very skilled at echoing the lies until they become "truthy." But the rest of the media does not serve as a counterweight, bringing people the facts. As a result almost everyone -- consumers of the right's propaganda and people who think they aren't -- is left misinformed in ways that serve Republicans and their billionaire backers and hurt everyone else.
Greg Sargent wrote the other day in, How Mitt Romney gets away with his lying,
If you scan through all the media attention Romney’s speech received, you are hard-pressed to find any news accounts that tell readers the following rather relevant points:
1) Nonpartisan experts believe Romney’s plans would increase the deficit far more than Obama’s would.
2) George W. Bush’s policies arguably are more responsible for increasing the deficit than Obama's are.
[. . .] The two bullet points above could not be more central to the debate over the debt that Romney’s big speech set in motion yesterday. Yet the vast majority of news consumers who now know that Romney has accused Obama of lighting a “prairie fire of debt” that threatens to engulf our children and our future haven’t been told about either of them.
Sargent writes about how the "mainstream media" for one reason or another won't call out the Republican machine for spreading lies. Again, the result is that almost everyone -- consumers of the right's propaganda and people who think they aren't -- is left misinformed in ways that serve Republicans and their billionaire backers and hurt everyone else.
Update 2: Huge headline at The Drudge Report reads: 'BORN IN KENYA'
Update 3: Rep. Mike Coffman: Obama in his heart 'not an American'
Update 4: Ben Stein speaking on FOX: Ben Stein: Obama's not very smart
Update 5: Romney accuses Obama of character assassination: "Character assassination has become the nature of his campaign," Romney said.
These updates are all from just today, and this is only May.
May 13, 2012
Meet The Press moderator David Gregory is the "Keynote Address" speaker at the upcoming National Federation of Independent Business "Small Business Summit" conference. This is a conservative advocacy group that solidly aligns with Republicans.
Here is a speakers bureau page promoting Gregory for speaking engagements for "$40,001 & up" per appearance.
I have not verified if he is getting paid, but he is doing the "speaking" circuit. A very brief look around finds him at the 2007 American Resort Development Association. The 2006 United States Geospatial Intelligence Foundation (USGIF) symposium, at the Gaylord Palms Resort & Convention Center in Orlando. At the 2010 Milken Institute Shaping the Future conference. 2010 Philadelphia Chamber of Commerce. The Risk Management Association 2011 annual conference.
A few years ago I looked into Chris Matthews' speaking engagements with Republican-aligned lobbying groups. Matthews was doing this regularly, and there was an NBC policy against accepting speaking fees.
NBC's President said Matthews' fees were going to a charity. So assuming this is true and he really was donating the money to a charity, that is still receiving a thing of value. He was speaking before Republican-aligned groups again and again, and spouting Republican positions on the air.
Back to Gregory. Is it still NBC's policy to prohibit speaking engagements for pay?
There is a certain tedium involved with speaking at trade association meetings, so one does it for a reason. I assume the reason he does this is not that he really, really loves speaking to trade associations. Why would someone do it continually, if not for compensation - which I would say includes being given money to donate to favored charities? And if someone is getting compensation of "$40,001 & up" for an hour's work, shouldn't we assume this just might affect what they are willing to say or not say on the air?
Updates on Gregory speaking engagements:
2007 American Forest & Paper Association (AF&PA) and the Sales Association of the Paper Industry
2011 Nantucket Atheneum Geschke Lecture Series
2011 Food Safety Summit
March 25, 2012
In 1949, drawing on a long history of court decisions; on public hearings; and on legislation mandating “equal time” for political candidates, the F.C.C. ruled that holders of radio and television broadcast licenses must “devote a reasonable percentage of their broadcast time to the presentation of news and programs devoted to the consideration and discussion of public issues of interest in the community,” and that this must include “different attitudes and viewpoints concerning these vital and often controversial issues.”
The Supreme Court repeatedly upheld the F.C.C.’s power to make such a rule — but never gave it the power of law. In 1986, a pair of Ronald Reagan’s judicial appointees on the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit, Robert Bork and Antonin Scalia, ruled that the Fairness Doctrine was not “a binding statutory obligation.”
Armed with this verdict, Fowler, who insisted on viewing television, in particular, as not a finite and supremely influential broadcast medium but “just another appliance — it’s a toaster with pictures,” persuaded his fellow commissioners to abolish the Fairness Doctrine. Furious Democrats in Congress passed legislation to codify the doctrine into law in 1987 and 1991, but these attempts were vetoed by Reagan and George Bush, respectively; Democrats have gone on trying to make the Fairness Doctrine law to this day, but have always been stymied by adamant Republican opposition.
Also under Clinton Republicans filibustered.
After that Dems turned into the party they are now, and didn't even try.
March 17, 2012
Watch this shameful NBC Nightly News segment describing studies on the effect of sugary drinks and red meat on heart health. The segment includes statements by soda and meat lobbyists countering what the medical studies have concluded! Shameful!
March 13, 2012
And it is here, in a feat of remarkable imagination, that Cohen deploys what I believe to be (and professionals in the field, please correct me if I’m wrong) a never-before-seen version of the genre, one that might be called the If-Not-Now-Then-Later False Equivalence:So far, the Palin effect has been limited to the GOP. Surely, though, there lurks in the Democratic Party potential candidates who have seen Palin and taken note. Experience, knowledge, accomplishment—these no longer may matter. They will come roaring out of the left proclaiming a hatred of all things Washington, including compromise. The movie had it right. Sarah Palin changed the game.
Well played, sir.
January 19, 2012
Gingrich plays victim. Blames media for what his ex-wife is saying.
Watch out, people, this snake is the worst of the right. Dangerous, just doesn't care what he says. He will destroy everything. So far beyond Bush and Rove...
Even if he doesn't get the nomination, his just being there is whipping the right into a frothing, riotous mass that is going to be very bad for the country and world.
January 14, 2012
In which the NY Times avoids being a "truth vigilante" -- goes to the town of one of the companies in the Romney video, talkes to people who were not affected by what Romney's company did.
This is the Cain defense: there were actually women he didn't harass.
January 9, 2012
Reading my local morning paper, I see that it is a typical day...
Front page story about the exponential growth in the crow population since a 1981 measurement, Counting crows: Number of black birds on the rise in Bay Area ('Eden For Crows' in the print edition), can't find an explanation, but doesn't bring up that the climate here is changing.
The anniversary was marked not only by the traditional rituals of speechmaking and prayers, but also by organized sessions and designated spots for yoga, meditation, hugging, dancing and steel drum playing. There were campaigns promoting civility and community -- people gathered at a park Saturday to sign a "Tucsonans Commit to Kindness" contract -- that were notable in how they avoided any explicit mention of the events of a year ago.
An editorial cartoon blasting "Government Motors" for having a "Fire Sale" of Chevy Volts, showing the entire dealership burnt out from a car fire, doesn't mention that there has not been a single car fire in a Volt, except after a special-circumstances crash test, and the cars are being recalled to fix the potential problem. Compare this with the following numbers for cars that run on ... gasoline:
In 2002-2005, U.S. fire departments responded to an average of 306,800 vehicle fires per year. These fires caused an average of 520 civilian deaths, 1,640 civilian injuries, and $1.3 billion in direct property damage.
What's not in the paper? Anything that informs people of the benefits of belonging to a union. Anything that talks about how our government helps us. Anything that goes up against Big Oil and King Coal and informs the public of just how serious the problems of global warming are and the need for immediate solutions, or that informs the public of the need to move away from oil and coal as our energy source.
In other words, you find very little in today's corporate-owned media that runs up against the agenda of the 1% and helps the 99%.
This is a fully-captured newspaper.
This post originally appeared at Speak Out California.
December 20, 2011
If you take a government program, change everything about it, destroy its core purpose, but keep the same name, is it the same program? Politifact.com says yes, and even goes so far as to say it is "The Lie Of The Year" to say it isn't -- because it still has the same name.
Early this year Republicans voted to privatize Medicare, ending it as a government insurance program, instead giving limited vouchers to people to use to purchase private insurance. Everything about the program would change, and because of the loss of economy-of-scale that government provides the costs to seniors would be much higher while the coverage would be lower. This would effectively end the program.
Americans were outraged by this. People love Medicare, and depend on it. And the cost-shifting these changes would bring mean that the cost to the larger economy would greatly increase. But since government wasn't paying those costs anymore, the pressure to raise taxes on the 1% would go down.
People took up arms that Republicans were trying to end Medicare. Newspaper editorials expressed shock and outrage. Bloggers were angry. Politicians pledged to run against Republicans who voted for this plan to end Medicare.
Enter Politifact.comPolitifact.com's About page says, "PolitiFact is a project of the Tampa Bay Times and its partners to help you find the truth in politics." The look at statements, research the facts, "then rate the accuracy on our Truth-O-Meter – True, Mostly True, Half True, Mostly False and False."
Politifact examined the statements that Republicans voted to "end Medicare" and decided this was a "lie" -- because the program would continue to have the same name. This week Politicat doubled down on this absurd conclusion, saying that claiming the program would end is the "Lie Of The Year."
That's right, they say it is "The Lie Of The Year" to say that a program ends, as long as there still exists a program with the same name.
The KickerHOW did Politifact decide that this is the lie of the year? Digby explains, in Paul Ryan Stuffed The PolitiFact Ballot Box, that Rep. Paul Ryan rigged this by sending people to vote at Politifact. She writes,
Unfortunately, the Villagers will be gleefully using this as proof that their dreamy young idol Paul Ryan is a good guy after all but it's probably a good idea to demand another source for anyone who cites Politifact on the veracity of any claim going forward. This will make it easier on the Republicans in the beginning, since they actually make a profit at their lying, but in the long run it will be for good. Clearly Politifact can't tell the difference between a lie and and a fact and is subject to obvious right wing manipulation.
Richard Eskow: PolitiFiction: A 'Lie Of The Year' Sends Alice Back To Wonderland, "If you thought that the "aspect of Medicare" that directly pays for hospital coverage was Medicare, then apparently you are a very silly person ..."
Others Weigh In
Paul Krugman: Politifact, R.I.P.: "This is really awful. Politifact, which is supposed to police false claims in politics, has announced its Lie of the Year — and it’s a statement that happens to be true, the claim that Republicans have voted to end Medicare."
Steve Benen: PolitiFact ought to be ashamed of itself: "This is simply indefensible. Claims that are factually true shouldn’t be eligible for a Lie of the Year designation."
Jason Linkins at Huffington Post: Politifact Has Decided That A Totally True Thing Is The "Lie Of The Year," For Some Reason
Ben Adler at The Nation: Politifact Peddles Falsehood About Ryan Plan to Privatize Medicare
But Politifact, an independent organization associated with the St. Petersburg Times, chose instead a claim that placed third in their poll, thanks to an effort by Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI) to stuff the ballots. The only problem? The big “lie” is true. "Republicans voted to end Medicare,” by the the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee and other Democrats, is the winner, despite the fact that Republicans did indeed vote to end Medicare when they voted for Ryan’s budget.
John Aravosis at AmericaBlog: Politifact wins own "lie of the year" after letting Paul Ryan rig the results
Conservatives have long excelled at working the refs -- the corporate media. And this week they scored a resounding victory, as PolitiFact, the non-partisan fact-checker, dismissed the results of its readers' poll to declare the entirely truthful statement that House Republicans voted to “end Medicare” as we know it the “lie of the year.”
Politifact.com has ended its credibility.
Full disclosure: Politifact fact-checked the claim in a post of mine that 400 people have as much wealth as half our population, which was picked up by Michael Moore for use in a speech in Wisconsin. In their article they misidentified me, misstated and just got wrong what I sent them, linked to the wrong post, but concluded that the claim is true.
December 19, 2011
When was the last time you saw someone from organized labor in the news explaining why unions benefit the middle class? This chart explains why our "new" is the way it is: Media Consolidation: The Illusion of Choice | The Big Picture
Want to know why Occupy is mocked as "dirty hippies?" See this chart.
Want to know why CEOs are presented as heroes, like sports stars? See this chart.
Want to know why the wealthiest are presented as "job creators?" See this chart.
Want to know why there still has been no explanation or demand for answers for why we went to war in Iraq? See this chart.
November 26, 2011
I went to Occupy Oakland Nov 2 for the "general strike" and maybe 20% of the people there were African-American, another 20% were Hispanic, another 10-15% were other ethnicities. But the Washington Post says I didn't see that: Why blacks aren’t embracing Occupy Wall Street - The Washington Post
November 10, 2011
The conventional wisdom machine in operation: No bailouts, Republicans agree at debate in Michigan
On a day when the stock market plummeted amid fears that Greek and Italian debt might bring European financial institutions to collapse, the candidates each rejected the idea that the United States should intervene to help, arguing that U.S. taxpayers should not be responsible for the missteps of foreign countries and companies and that the Obama administration’s bailouts of banks here two years ago amounted to government overreach.
The fact that a NY Times reporter has been tricked by the Republican misinformation machine, on something as well-known and important as this, is significant.
Note this article has been changed: (was reporter fired?)
This article has been revised to reflect the following correction:
Correction: November 10, 2011
An earlier version of this article incorrectly attributed the bank bailouts of two years ago to the Obama administration. The Bush administration was responsible for the initial bank bailouts, and the Obama administration followed with additional bailouts.
October 20, 2011
Here is how the corporate/conservative movement succeeds in keeping the public misinformed: No reporter will get fired for promoting big corporate interests, no reporter will have career advancement from taking them on.
OK I just got around to reading this. A whole "how come?" story on how the US is an outlier on climate change, why isn't it in the national discussion anymore, and not mentioning Koch Brothers or oil company funding of the conservative movement even once. Sheesh. Whatever Happened to Global Warming? - NYTimes.com
September 26, 2011
One side says, "Never mind the deal we just agreed to, cut this or we'll shut down the government" and the other side says, "This isn't fair, and it hurts people. We can't keep agreeing to pay these ransoms, this has to stop!" Is this "both sides squabbling?" Is this "Congress can't get its act together?" Or is this a group of hostage-takers using media obfuscation of what is going on as cover for a radical strategy to turn people against government and democracy, while the "other side" tries to stop them?
So here we are, another fight looms over shutting down the government. This time the Republicans have taken disaster relief hostage and are using it as a lever to demand we cut even more of what We, the People do for each other, so that the big corporations and the wealthiest 1% can have even more wealth and power. Many in the media are reporting this as "both sides squabbling" but this is not what is happening.
Democracy depends on the public being informed so that they can hold their representatives accountable. So the media has a responsibility to correctly identify, in clear terms, just who is doing what. "Both sides do it" tells people not to bother to vote, that government and democracy don't work, that you should just tune ou and leave it to the plutocrats to run things. Stop it!
"Blame Both Sides" Reporting
The Chicago Sun-Times, in Government on brink of shutdown again blames "Congress", calls it "bickering" and "posturing" and blames "Congress."
More "blame both sides" reporting is found in today's Progressive Breakfast, hiliting this NYTimes story, Flood Victims Getting Fed Up With Congress says the current hostage-taking is "a dispute between Republicans and Democrats in Congress over money for the Federal Emergency Management Agency,"
“Neither side wants the other side to get credit for doing anything good,” Mr. Golembeski said. “Elections are coming up.”
Neither side wants the other to get credit. Nice.
“Members of Congress are playing with people’s lives, not just their own political careers,” said Martin J. Bonifanti, chief of the Lake Winola volunteer fire company. “While they are rattling on among themselves down there in Washington, people are suffering.”
Dear NY Times, "members of COngress" are not doing this. ONE PARTY is doing this. The story offers nothing to counter the quote.
“Members of Congress are intelligent, but they have no common sense,” Ms. Swithers said. “They fight too much. They should be put in a corner and take a timeout and start working together as a team. I’m so sick of hearing Republicans this and Democrats that.”
Dear NY Times, This fight is not "Republicans this and Democrats that" it is Republicans taking disaster relief hostage and using the suffering of the people you quote as a lever to gut programs like green energy.
Norman Ornstein writes about this problem, in What ‘The Washington Post’ Doesn’t Understand About the Looming Government Shutdown,
One of the biggest problems of reporting on our dysfunctional politics has been the reflexive tendency in “mainstream” media to balance, via what is increasingly false equivalence. A glaring example was a front-page, above-the-fold story in Saturday’s Washington Post by Lori Montgomery and Rosalind S. Helderman, titled (in the print edition, though not on the web), “Gloom Grows as Congress Feuds.” The story was about the looming showdown, and possible government shutdown, over disaster relief funding. The piece makes sure to include a comment from House Majority Leader Eric Cantor blaming Democrats, ends with a comment from Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid blaming Republicans, and includes a comment from an independent analyst blaming both.
If you reflexively "blame both" you are not informing the public and you are not serving democracy. There are people who will want to vote for the ones who are trying to help We, the People watch out for and take care of each other. And there are people who will want to vote for the ones who have a strategy in play to eliminate government so that the biggest corporations and wealthiest few can use their wealth and power to have their way. But our media are not letting the public know who is doing what.
Blaming "Both Sides" Is An Anti-Government Strategy
In Goodbye to All That: Reflections of a GOP Operative Who Left the Cult, retiring Republican Congressional staffer Mike Lofgren explains why Republicans try to make government dysfunctional while pushing the "both sides do it" narrative. They do it on purpose as a strategy to make people hate government and democracy,
Far from being a rarity, virtually every bill, every nominee for Senate confirmation and every routine procedural motion is now subject to a Republican filibuster. Under the circumstances, it is no wonder that Washington is gridlocked: legislating has now become war minus the shooting, something one could have observed 80 years ago in the Reichstag of the Weimar Republic. As Hannah Arendt observed, a disciplined minority of totalitarians can use the instruments of democratic government to undermine democracy itself.
[. . .] A couple of years ago, a Republican committee staff director told me candidly (and proudly) what the method was to all this obstruction and disruption. Should Republicans succeed in obstructing the Senate from doing its job, it would further lower Congress's generic favorability rating among the American people. By sabotaging the reputation of an institution of government, the party that is programmatically against government would come out the relative winner.
A deeply cynical tactic, to be sure, but a psychologically insightful one that plays on the weaknesses both of the voting public and the news media. There are tens of millions of low-information voters who hardly know which party controls which branch of government, let alone which party is pursuing a particular legislative tactic. These voters' confusion over who did what allows them to form the conclusion that "they are all crooks," and that "government is no good," further leading them to think, "a plague on both your houses" and "the parties are like two kids in a school yard." This ill-informed public cynicism, in its turn, further intensifies the long-term decline in public trust in government that has been taking place since the early 1960s - a distrust that has been stoked by Republican rhetoric at every turn ("Government is the problem," declared Ronald Reagan in 1980).
They do this on purpose, to turn people against government, and then when people are disgusted and looking the other way they can just grab the loot -- your savings, your retirement, your wages, your common wealth, your rights.
What Can We Do?
There is a session titled Taking Back the Media: Embracing New Media and Using it to Our Advantage at the Take Back The American Dream conference next week. Nicole Sandler, Timothy Karr, Sam Seder and Cliff Schecter will be speaking about how to overcome the corporate-media lock on information.
July 29, 2011
You have probably been hearing about "the debt crisis." I can't open a newspaper or turn on the radio or TV without hearing about "the debt crisis." Well stop calling it that, because that isn't what is going on. There is no debt crisis; the only crisis going on is the threat of several members of the House to vote against raising the debt ceiling if they don't get what their way, thereby sending our country into default. They are trying to get around the rules of democracy and force deep cuts in the things We, the People do for each other while keeping taxes really low for the wealthy.
There is a fight going on in Washington over whether we should have a democracy that works for all of us, or a plutocracy that runs things for the benefit of the already-wealthy. Unable to change public opinion, the conservative Republicans are trying to force changes in who our government is for and who gets to have a say in how things are decided. These ideological conservatives say government "takes money out of the economy" by spending on education, infrastructure, health care, etc. for you and me and our small businesses and startups, and they want that money to instead go to the billionaires and large, multinational corporations that fund their campaigns. As you know, they already voted to eliminate Medicare, and voted for cuts in Social Security, education, infrastructure spending, and all the other things We, the People have decided to do for each other, so we know they are serious about this. They say if they can't have a country that is run their way then we can't have a country at all.
The "mainstream media" has decided to name this fight a "debt crisis." This leads people to think that somehow the country is in crisis over debt, when the crisis is over a few people forcing default if they don't get their cuts. There is no debt crisis. There is a lot of debt, the result of tax cuts, increases in military spending, wars and giveaways to large corporations that have occurred under the Bushes and Reagan. But the way to solve a problem that resulted from tax cuts and military spending increases is to put taxes back where they were before Reagan, and cut the military back at least to where it was when we were fighting the Soviet Union, even though the Soviet Union is long gone.
Giving In To Hostage-Takers Is A Mistake
Last year these conservatives took the unemployed hostage, refusing to keep unemployment benefits going unless we extended the bush tax cuts for the wealthy. The hostage-taking succeeded.
So, having succeeded at taking hostages, the conservatives then took another, even bigger hostage. They demanded big spending cuts, outside of the normal budget process and decision-making mechanisms of our democracy, or they would "shut down the government." The hostage-taking succeeded.
So, having succeeded at taking hostages, the conservatives have taken another, even bigger hostage. This one is the big kahuna of hostages. If they refuse to raise the debt limit the country could go into default, destroying our economy and the economy of much of the world.
The official policy of the US government on hostage-taking is as follows:
“Based upon past experience, the U.S. Government concluded that making concessions that benefit hostage takers in exchange for the release of hostages increased the danger that others will be taken hostage. U.S. Government policy is, therefore, to deny hostage takers the benefits of ransom, prisoner releases, policy changes, or other acts of concession.”
It says that past experience has shown that giving in to hostage-takers "increased the danger that others will be taken." We gave in to hostage-takers, and the result was that more and bigger hostages have been taken. During these "negotiations" every single time Democrats have agreed to their demands it has resulted in their asking for even more.
It was a mistake to give in then, and it would be a mistake to let them get anything from taking hostages this time. If they get rewarded again next time is guaranteed to be even worse.
July 25, 2011
Marketing works - especially when it has a very big budget, is repeated endlessly and goes unanswered. 46% of voters think the media has a liberal bias.
A full 68 percent of voters consider the news media biased, the poll found. Most, 46 percent, believe the media generally favor Democrats, while 22 percent said they believe Republicans are favored,,,
June 3, 2011
May 31, 2011
Will Sarah Palin, Congressman Paul Ryan or Newt go under the bus? This is quite a polemic for our Republican brethren that have always made hay on their brilliant use of language while we Dems contemplated our sleepy intellectualism. Perhaps finally in the aftermath of the failed assassination attempt on Congresswoman Gabby Giffords, the President's irrefutable victories, and the Arab spring -- maybe the forces have finally aligned for the Democrats together with social media to counter balance the megaphone of the Right wing propaganda.
Given that language and propaganda are not working, who will be the first to be thrown under the bus for the greater good of the Republican Party? Will it be Sarah our old pal from the McCain campaign that has built a $25M industry around her 2008 candidacy to the chagrin of the Party elders? Or will it be the "real" Palin appropriately coined as such by the supporters of Michelle Bachman on national television? Or have the women folk run their course in Republican Land? And if so has the time come to "man-up" with a few good, old white conservative male Governors from Conservativeville - like Tim Pawlenty or Jon Huntsman? Or better yet will it be Newt who inappropriately danced on the head of Congressman Paul Ryan and his budget plan -- only to refute it later? Sadly, for the Republicans all of this is off putting for guys like Mitt, or even Governor Chris Christie that appeal to the moderates of both parties.
Admittedly, any candidate, male or female, needs the proverbial brass cajoles, or other such accoutrements to challenge this sitting President after the take down of Osama bin Laden. This factoid together with Obama's recent tough stance on the Middle East clearly levels the playing field. The scare tactics of the past cannot work at this rodeo particularly when bundled with the wholesale lunacy of the Republican leadership on the debt ceiling, Medicare and the budget. Vice President Biden in an LA Times piece summarizes well when referring to the Osama take-down as a "defining moment" for the Obama presidency. Certainly, this together with the broken Republican message machine is having an impact. Terms like "Mediscare" are not getting the same kind of traction as "ObamaCare" did just last year, or the coinage of the term "entitlement" used to pollute a whole generations' thinking on Medicare and Social Security. Of course, Newt and his merry gang of language shapers keep trying to spin, but it is not sticking. Maybe in Newt's case, folks have had enough of those that behave badly, pander family values, but live on the edge of exorbitant wealth. For him it appears that there is just no way to explain away things like the Tiffany's account to the Middle Class. Further is there now cause to wonder if the day has come for Sarah, sweet Sarah, who walks the walk on reality television, but lives shall we say in Palin vernacular, high off the hog.
Indeed, the President and the Party are on the right side of the budget, Medicare, Social Security, national security, jobs and climate change. But can he and the Dems maintain this momentum when the banks, remember those pesky money men, continue to behave poorly. The reality is that folks are as fed up with these fat cats as they are with the empty threats of Right wing rhetoric and the bad behavior of men of a certain age and power whether they represent Hollywood, government or international politics.
Note to the Democratic Party: clean up the banks, the bankers and all of the bad behavior of their ilk and 2012 is a shoe-in, and maybe even 2016. Let's think like Republicans and chart the waters for the next eight years.
April 16, 2011
March 31, 2011
What did people expect would happen when they voted for Reagan, Bush and other conservatives, or supported their policies? In the Holland (Michigan) Sentinel community columnist Ray Buursma writes, American workers got what they deserved. Some of the things he says might resonate with many of us,
Remember the Reagan standard? Are you better off today than you were a decade ago? Two decades? Three? Unless you make more than $380,000 a year, the answer is no. In fact, your standard of living over the last quarter century has actually decreased while millionaires have added 30 percent to their net wealth. Why? Two reasons.
First, hundreds of thousands of manufacturing jobs went overseas while the politicians you elected did nothing to stop them. Yet you continue to elect leaders who offer nothing but tax cuts, as if that would stem the flow of disappearing jobs.
Did you demand your leaders address America’s trade imbalance or continuous outsourcing of jobs? Did you demand your leaders require foreign countries to buy a dollar’s worth of American goods for every dollar of goods they sell here?
No and no. You didn’t bother.
Buursma writes that instead of resenting people who make more because they are in a union, people should join a union and fight for your job, wages and benefits. He continues,
Maybe you’re thinking, “I’m not a union worker, so this doesn’t affect me.”
Stop being stupid. Union benefits provide a standard other companies have to match, or at least come close to. When those benefits are cut, yours are, too. Or do you think you operate in your own little employment vacuum?
Agree or disagree, please click through and read his entire piece.
There is no question that things are not going the way they should be going. We see decline all around us -- all pointing back to the changes made after the election of Ronald Reagan. Tax cuts led to massive debt. Deregulation led to mine, oil and financial disasters that cost us more than deregulation ever saved. The infrastructure is crumbling. It seems like we are entering third-world status.
So is it the fault of American workers that their wages and benefits have declined as jobs are shipped overseas?
I don't blame working people. After all, they're working! So they're busy, and stressed, and focused on work. They can't be expected to keep up with the little details and facts and nuances -- especially when they are attacked daily with a barrage of well-funded and professionally crafted corporate/conservative propaganda!
This assault on information and truth has been going on for decades. Under Reagan there was a dramatic shift toward "market" -- one-dollar-one-vote -- sources of information and away from objective, citizen-oriented democratic -- one-person-one-vote -- sources. This market-sourced information necessarily reflects a conservative/corporate view because it is driven by money and profit instead of humanity and humanity's needs.
Information for Democracy!
How do we counter the corporate/conservative assault on truth? One answer to the problem of getting accurate, objective information is to use (and support) alternative sources that are not offered by the conservative/corporate machine. Here is a list of a few links to alternative news sources. Please send these to relatives, friends, and even post them to conservative forums.
- Campaign for America's Future -- and especially sign up for Progressive Breakfast as well as the afternoon emails.
- Talking Points Memo
- Daily Kos
- Daily Agenda
- Womens eNews
- Reader Supported News
- Common Dreams
- Smirking Chimp
- Mother Jones
- The Nation
- Op-Ed News
- The Progressive
- Think Progress
- In These Times
- American Prospect
- Huffington Post
PLEASE suggest more progressive information and news sources in the comments! And forward this to others.
Added suggestions, not necessarily just news:
AFL-CIO Now Blog
Scholars & Rogues
Crooks And Liars
Black Agenda Report
The Raw Story
Republic of T
Jack and Jill Politics
March 14, 2011
March 3, 2011
There must be something in the spring air. The lunatics, the delusional and the kooks seem to be descending upon us from far and wide: Gaddafi, Charlie Sheen, Julian Assange, and Glenn Beck to name a few. They come at us in all shapes, sizes and ethnicity over the media and political airwaves. Just tune into the television, cable, radio, social networks and even in the halls of Congress. As many have lamented this past week, it's almost impossible to decipher the recent ramblings of Moammar Gaddafi from Charlie Sheen because it all sounds the same. Scary stuff huh when folks like Sheen take to primetime and Twitter for a public meltdown, and a profitable windfall that may have sacrificed his children. You know listening to him was like listening to ranting of the crazy uncle who spent a bit too much time alone in the attic drinking lighter fluid, and diddling himself. Yet, the real embarrassment is that the American media's executive producers have not shut down this crass profiteering. We've always known that: Gaddafi was stark raving mad; Sheen was spiraling out of control with drugs and drink to the embarrassment of his father; Assange had fantasies of grandeur; Beck was another foul mouthed profiteer picking at the underbelly of America's prejudices; and the new members of Congress were grandstanding while smiling for the television cameras. Alas, we may have finally reached a dangerous level of toxicity from the blitzkrieg of ratings driven dribble passing as American news coverage.
January 1, 2011
This is what happens when oil companies dominate an economy ... and media career paths.
Story in my local paper today: Electric car sales far from electrifying and likely to stay low
Sales so far have been microscopic, and they're likely to stay that way for some time because of limited supplies.
GM sold 250 to 350 Chevy Volts this month, and Nissan's sales totaled fewer than 10 Leaf sedans in the past two weeks.
OK, now with the stage set, with the public believing that electric cars are a total flop, something they would NEVER want to look at, comes the reason:
It will be well into 2012 before both the Volt and Leaf are available nationwide. And if you're interested in buying one, you'll need to get behind the 50,000 people already on waiting lists.
Next story, No One Goes To Maude's Diner
... because it's too crowded.
This is what happens at a newspaper during the holiday shift, when the newsroom staff has been cut back to part-time, low-pay novelists and the editors are all on break.
Then he felt the blood, running warmly down the sides of his head. He began to think of his husband, his dogs, his cats.
"At first I knew that I was dying, then when I didn't die right away, I thought it's gonna be slower," Vlad said. "But somebody was watching over me."
Under his knit hat, on Friday he tenderly showed the two bloody holes -- one where the bullet entered his scalp and another where it burst out.
That night, Joseph was running for the front door with his friend to escape when he heard the pop. He knew then that the intruders had either shot his husband or Maya or Vito, their dogs. Joseph tried to keep calm. He had to think.
One of the men caught Joseph and his friend, grabbed Joseph by the shirt and punched him in the head.
They dragged Vlad into the same room. Vlad asked Joseph if he was bleeding. Joseph lied, telling him it wasn't that bad. Blood was gushing from his head, dripping off his chin. Vlad said his whole left side was going numb.
It all happened on a dark and stormy night.
December 15, 2010
WikiLeaks raises some of the most poignant questions of our time about the power of cyber warfare, the role of hackers, and the future of the Internet. It is not a coincidence that Madame Secretary of State Hillary Clinton has created a whole new effort to explore and fight cyber terrorism. In fact, WikiLeaks and Assange may represent the first of the wholesale anarchists using today's information highway to do battle. Consider that instead of taking to the streets in protest, this generation may take to the Internet to wage their battles and carry their message. We are living a time represented by the power of Facebook that links over 500 million people together. And if this is true, we may have unleashed a whole new generation of cyber warlords on the world's information centers.
Many of our brethren are writing about democracy, liberty and the freedom of information pivoting off what they believe WikiLeaks stands for. Julian Assange has been elevated to the "Man of the People" as filmmaker Michael Moore contributes to his bail fund, and the Huffington Post sets up a whole section devoted to whistleblower Fantasy Land. You know, we all need something valiant to believe in during the difficult days of Obama. The obnoxious wealthy are dancing on the heads of US lawmakers. The banks are still doing the Texas two-step, and the Middle Class continues to suffer in silence with simmering rage. There are two deeply divisive wars. China is rising and scaring the heck out of us. The liberals of the Democratic Party continue to act like toddlers, and Sarah Palin is making hay laughing all the way to her off-shore accounts. So Julian Assange, or whoever is backing him, could not have picked a better moment of discontent. They are evoking new archetypes of good and bad in a world that is increasing grey.
Assange is the anti-hero. He has been personified as a man with no country who is a metrosexual kind of guy willing to risk it all to uncover the truth. Yet, we don't really know much about this man, or what makes him tick. Is he really the wizard behind or the curtain, or there really someone or something else pulling the strings. Is he a hacker extraordinaire, or just a man that is a brilliant online community organizer? In fact and most importantly, what does it mean to be a hacker? Are hackers by definition anarchists, or is it just Julian that wants to topple the establishment at any cost. Or are there droves of these cyber-sleuths trolling the black lands of the Internet looking for back doors into silos of information? Remember Assange was a cryptologist of sorts which is the super duper folks that develop the ways to tunnel into software code. And it may be fair to assume that these same hackers were probably responsible for the DOS (Denial of Service) attacks on Visa, Master Card and others. And if this is true then who is really pulling the strings since these were very, targeted attacks on specific corporations that shut out the money flow for WikiLeaks? The bottom line is that we still don't know how the WikiLeaks information is gathered and/or obtained. Does it come from this new breed of whistleblowers, such as Private Manning that had a rare blend of tech talents and access? If so; does this new breed even resemble our beloved archetypical whistleblowers circa Daniel Ellsberg, or even Erin Brockovich? And I ask again, have we grappled with the ramifications of an Internet that is locked down in response to WikiLeaks? Are we ready to usher in a new age of restrictions? This sadly will make the debate around net neutrality seem like child's play if cyber war erupts.
Please note that this post appeared earlier in the day in the Huffington Post.
December 14, 2010
The Washington Post ran a story how hard it is for a family making only $250K a year. Just who could a story like this be written by and for? How many ways does this story mislead its readers? If you want to write about hardship write some stories about and for the rest of us!
Over the weekend the Washington Post carried a story labeled as a "Fiscal Times" piece, Where does $250,000 a year go? Summary:
It's the annual income that President Obama and others have repeatedly used to define what it means to be "rich" in America today. ... Just how flush is a family of four with a $250,000 income?
... The bottom line: Living in high-tax areas on either coast can leave our $250,000-a-year family with little margin.
Richard Eskow hit the nail on the head in his post, A Quarter Of A Million Little Pieces: Pete Peterson & The Washington Post Have A New Fiscal James Frey, writing,
This "analysis" was written by someone named Karen Hube, and it's based on two phony premises: First, that "President Obama and others have repeatedly used (that level of income) to define what it means to be 'rich' in America today," and second, that it's a hardship to get by on $250,000 a year.
(Please read Richard's post, because he gets into what the Fiscal Times is, and why it carries stories like this one.)
The story claims that President Obama and others label them as "rich" because $250K would be the lower borderline if the Bush “tax cuts for the rich” expire. But this misleads readers because the family making $250,000 will NOT see any tax increase at all. If you understand how tax brackets work you know that only amounts above $250K get taxed the additional 4.6%, so someone making $250,001 will pay an additional tax of $0.046. Yes, that’s right, four point six cents. The amounts become large only with very (very) high incomes, but those incomes are so high that the additional tax is still almost nothing. A person making $1,000,000 would pay an additional tax of $2,875 a month on their $83,333 a month of income. (Sorry, it's hard to write a number like that without shouting.)
So Who Is The Story For?
Just who is going to feel the pain of the people who "only" make $250K? The Joneses in the story actually have retirement savings and life and disability and health insurance! They have student loans to pay off because they went to expensive universities and they will have the high expenses to send their kids because their kids will, too. 98% of us understand that when we read this story. Since anyone who makes less than $250K is going to know better from their own experience than to believe what they read in this story, who is this story written for? Hint: the Washington Post is in ... wait for it ... Washington!
What about the rest of us? If $250K a year -- the borderline for entering the top 2% -- leaves the Joneses "with little margin" then shouldn't there be 49 articles for every article like this, explaining how people who make less than $250K are doing -- since that is almost all of us? Shouldn't there be 49 articles about how 98% of us are not getting by, and have no margin at all?
The story tries to make an anti-government point by claiming that taxes are squeezing the Joneses, complaining that the Joneses "only" take home $173K after all taxes (incl cell phone tax). (That is "only" $14.4K a month take-home.) But a careful reading shows that the opposite might be the case. It might really be limited government that is squeezing them:
College Costs: One of the factors in the cost analysis is college costs. They are paying off high student loans, and are getting ready to send kids to expensive collected. But college costs are so high because we have less government, because of tax cuts. This is clearly true in California, for example.
Child Care: Child care costs are high because government is "limited" in our conservative on-your-own society.
Health Care: The Joneses health insurance bill is another product of our on-you-own limited government here. Health care is covered anywhere else.
Retirement: The Joneses are saving a lot for their retirement. This drain on their income is high because in conservative America you are on your own. Corporations got rid of most pensions through the 401k scam, while the Social Security system is inadequate.
There are many other areas where limited government pouts a squeeze on people: insufficient transportation options and high energy costs due to fossil-fuel reliance among them.
They Did One For The Rest Of Us
To their credit the Post also has a story this weekend, In the U.S., Christmas remains a great divide, but the story misses the point by blaming the recession for the difficulties regular people face,
A new division is emerging in America between those who have moved on from the recession and those still caught in its grip.
This holiday season, those two worlds have been thrown into stark relief: At Tiffany's, executives report that sales of their most expensive merchandise have grown by double digits. At Wal-Mart, executives point to shoppers flooding the stores at midnight every two weeks to buy baby formula the minute their unemployment checks hit their accounts. Neiman Marcus brought back $1.5 million fantasy gifts in its annual Christmas Wish Book. Family Dollar is making more room on its shelves for staples like groceries, the one category its customers reliably shop.
But many, many people with jobs are having a hard time buying baby formula, too, these days. It was like this for more and more people before the recession. In fact, many say that is why there is this bad economy. Where I live people go through my recycle bin looking for cans - and were doing so before the recession. People living on Social Security are having a very, very hard time while the people making $250K "with little margin" can talk casually about cutting the program in order to avoid having the cap lifted causing them to pay a bit more into the system.
The Post story attributes the divide to the “grip” of the recession and not to the problems caused by policies that have led to our intense concentration of wealth. The problem is that our economic system for thirty years has been increasingly rewarding a few at the very top, and not the rest of us. Tax cuts, bailouts and bonuses for them, government cutbacks and stagnant wages for us.
But flawed as it is, that is one down, only 48 more stories about the other 98% to go to catch up with the one about getting by on only $250K.
October 30, 2010
September 29, 2010
The Clinton Global Initiative this year was a place where politics converged with philanthropy. Since inception, this venue has been the change agent for philanthropic work throughout the world. The commitments made have been massive and have provided millions worldwide with clean drinking water, mosquito nets, eye glasses, vaccines, and education-- among many others. This Foundation can be credited for ushering in new social philanthropic models involving private industry, the wealthy and government working together with non-profit organizations.
Remarkably, the topics at CGI this year spanned Empowering Girls and Women (see the prior post) to market-based solutions, clean tech, jobs, manufacturing and world peace. What an extraordinary venue it was where the participants could experience a panel with the Crown Prince and Deputy Supreme Commander of the Kingdom of Bahrain, Prime Minister of the Palestinian National Authority, and the President of Israel discussing rebuilding the region after peace. Where else and with whom else other than former President Bill Clinton - could one see and hear such a constellation of world thinkers cutting across the issues of our time. Many of us bloggers, writers and journalist bustle through the high security and put up with the fanfare --just to be inspired and sustained for the coming year.
It was a rare gift from the universe to be able to hear the Middle East session up close. It is curious that there was not enormous media coverage of this landmark discussion because all the bad stuff gets air time. Even CNN's Fareed Zakaria this Sunday morning did not mention it. Rather he focused on the fabricated photograph of the President of Egypt from the White House for the Arab press. It is perplexing because here sat the leaders of those enmeshed in the real peace talks. In this small room, they and former President Clinton were talking gracefully with one another about rebuilding the region. Only the former President could command such authority and respect. Remember, it was Bill Clinton that attempted peace between Israel Prime Minister, Yitzhak Rabin and Palestine Liberation Organization Chairman Yasser Arafat so long ago. It was that fateful handshake on the White House lawn that in many ways led to the assignation of Rabin. And it is now Madame Secretary of State Hillary Clinton that is officiating the peace talks today. Perhaps this is a forbearing for things to come later this year. If they can talk peaceably in front of Bill Clinton, maybe there is hope for a just and final resolution. Few of us get to see our dreams come to fruition, but it appears that the Clintons both have long reach, big memories and staying power. All this woman can say is - may it be.
August 23, 2010
The things that people "know" are very different from the "reality-based" things those of us reading a blog like this know, and those things seem to always, always serve the corporate right.
I have been away on vacation. While away I have been talking to "regular" people who are outside of the circles many of us who follow progressive blogs and news closely live in. The particular group I spent time with might not fairly represent "regular" people but whenever I spend time talking to people who are outside of our highly-informed circles, whether it is talking to relatives, doing call-in radio shows or just talking to people I meet I come away very discouraged by the things that most people "know." The corporate right has been very effective at spreading an anti-government, anti-democracy narrative that, when believed, puts their interests on top.
Some of the things that people "know" that I heard in one form or another on my trip include:
1) Government caused the financial crisis. A lot of people know this, and a lot more have heard it repeated over and over. Government forced banks to give mortgages to poor people and minorities. Taxes and government spending "take money away" from and generally harm the economy.
2) Obama bailed out the banks. The most a lot of people know about the stimulus is that it was a lot of money and it went to bailing out the banks. Obama's massive spending increase (Democrats "tax and spend") is the cause of the deficit and the government is at risk of going bankrupt.
3) Corporations (plutocracy) are always more effective and efficient than government (democracy). Government messes up everything that it touches.
4) "Entitlements" are welfare and are destroying people's independence and work ethic. People think the government will solve their problems so they don't turn to themselves. Illegal immigrants immediately get welfare and have lots of babies on welfare and this is why states are going bankrupt.
5) Social Security is going broke and won't be there for younger people.
Of course all of these are just wrong, and of course acting on these beliefs leads the country to results that are terribly destructive to the economy and people's lives while a few at the top make out very very well for themselves. I'm not going to spend any time here getting into how much is wrong with each of these. I do want to get into why people believe these things.
So many of us -- by "us" I mean people likely to be reading this -- spend our time in somewhat insular information environments, where the blogs and other information sources we read and the people we talk to tend to follow news closely, and to be very highly informed with "reality-based" information. But "regular" people do not follow the news closely, and the "news" they get does not come from the same places as the news sources you and I carefully seek out.
Why The Right Controls The Narrative
It's simple. The corporate right controls the narrative because they make an effort to do so, and the forces of We, the People democracy, community and caring humanity do not. (Peace love and understanding, truth and happiness.)
Corporations and conservatives have invested a ton of money in a huge ideological message machine because they understand marketing. There is FOX News, Rush Limbaugh and the rest of talk radio, Drudge Report, a vast, vast Astroturf operation and all the rest of the right's propaganda operation. It is very, very well funded. They have constructed an effective narrative and they repeat it and repeat it and repeat it and repeat it -- and then they repeat it.
But there is also the corporate-owned "mainstream" media that largely echoes and often directly transmits the right's narrative. First, they echo these anti-government themes. Then, as with the current anti-Muslim "ground-zero mosque" frenzy they carry the things that distract from the real issues. Why? Because it serves their interests, too. If people are focused on distractions instead of looking at the real causes of their economic woes it is all the better for the real causes of their economic woes: namely the big, monopolist corporations.
(Does the mainstream media reflect corporate interests against those of the rest of us? Without going into detail here is a simple test: When was the last time you saw, heard or read someone on TV, radio or in a newspaper explain the benefits of joining a union?)
Meanwhile progressives and the forces of democracy are barely reaching out to regular people at all. We seem to focus our efforts mostly on elections, and do very little between elections to persuade the public that there are benefits to them of a progressive approach to issues. (And never mind our political leaders who repeat and reinforce the right's frames and narratives.)
A big part of this is that it takes a lot of money to reach out past our circles. But we sure do seem able to come up with money for elections. In fact the return on investment of reaching people outside of the election cycle should be obvious. We wouldn't have to raise and spend so much money in the election cycle if we were making the case that progressives bring more benefits to regular people, because then regular people would be more inclined to vote that way in general.
I plan to write more about this.
I think I did an OK job going into more detail on the things people "know" and why in this video from the Netroots Nation panel, The 2010 Elections: Channeling the Power of Jobs, Populism and the Angry Voter. Use the bar to slide this to the 40:00 minute mark, and watch for about 5 minutes.
And, while I'm showing videos, here is Love, Peace & Happiness by the Chambers Brothers. (I can't get it out of my head since writing "Peace love and understanding, truth and happiness" above...)
August 5, 2010
The Social Security and Medicare Boards of Trustees today released their report on the Status of the Social Security and Medicare Programs. Here is what it says:
Social Security Just Fine Until At Least 2037
The summary of the report says, "The financial outlook for Social Security is little changed from last year. The short term outlook is worsened by a deeper recession than was projected last year, but the overall 75-year outlook is nevertheless somewhat improved..." and is otherwise fine until at least 2037 with no changes.
It is just fine forever, in fact, if we do something simple like raise the "cap" on earnings that are taxed to pay for the program. (That's right, when you make more than a certain income level you stop paying the tax!) Compare that to the military budget. We spend more than $1 trillion on military and related programs each year - more than every other country combined - and unlike Social Security that is completely "unfunded," and adds to the deficit.
Medicare Outlook Improved Substantially
The report also says, "The outlook for Medicare has improved substantially because of program changes made in the [Health Care Reform Bill]"
Those Are The Facts
Those are the simple facts: everything is fine. Everything will be fine. There are some things that should be changed to make them even more OK than they are. They are good programs that demonstrate that government works.
So What's The Problem?
The Social Security program collects money via the "payroll tax." Much, much more money -- trillions -- has been collected than needed to be paid out to cover the coming retirement of the "baby boomers," and the extra -- the "trust fund" -- was invested in US Treasury Bonds.
Under Reagan and then both Bushes that money was borrowed from the trust fund and used to give huge tax cuts to the wealthy. (Clinton was paying it back but Bush II cut taxes again for the wealthy.) Now those boomers are beginning to retire, and the trust fund money that was borrowed and given out to the rich is needed back to cover their retirement. The obvious solution is to get the money from where the money went. But those who it went to are trying to stop the obvious from happening. They say we should cut benefits, make us retire at 70, anything to keep them from paying back what is owed to the retirees.
Oh, and there is another conservative complaint about Social Security. Social Security is very successful and popular, and is a constant, living proof that government of the people, by the people and for the people works and works really well. Among a certain crowd, that just can't be allowed to stand.
So now, let the anti-tax, anti-government conservative bamboozlement begin.
Let The Bamboozlement Begin
The anti-government conservatives are using several approaches to undermine public confidence in the program (and therefore government). MoveOn.org has a "Top 5 Social Security Myths" page up that is worth looking at.
Myth: Social Security is going broke.
Myth: We have to raise the retirement age because people are living longer.
Myth: Benefit cuts are the only way to fix Social Security.
Myth: The Social Security Trust Fund has been raided and is full of IOUs.
Myth: Social Security adds to the deficit.
Please go to the website to learn the truth about these myths. And please answer with those facts when you hear people spreading these myths.
Let's see how the conservatives are doing at spreading myths today, and how the mainstream media covers it:
Heritage Foundation: Once Again, the Social Security Trust Fund Has No Money in It
Washington Times: Social Security in the red for first time ever (Note - that's only if you don't count the interest that the trust fund earns. Just more bamboozlement.)
That's just a quick sampling. Compare what these headlines lead you to believe to the facts above. When was the last time you saw a headline that reads, "Massive military budget causes huge federal deficit"? Right. Bamboozlement, plain and simple. Expect to see a lot more like these. Don't fall for it.
Social Security Is Not Broken
Social Security is not broken. If we fight the myths and the anti-government lies it will be there for all of us.
Here is a statement by Nancy Altman, co-chairman of the Strengthen Social Security Campaign, a coalition of 60+ organizations, representing over 30 million Americans:
“Every year, the trustees’ reports become an excuse for fear mongering by those who should know better. This year, the news is especially good for Medicare, thanks to the enactment of health care reform. The news for Social Security is even better, revealing once again that Social Security’s promised benefits are fully affordable without benefit cuts and without increasing the retirement age. Poll after poll reports that’s what the American people want. Unfortunately, we know there are some in Washington, including a few members of the Administration’s fiscal commission, who will use this report to try to advance their agenda of cuts to Social Security benefits, including rising the retirement age. Politicians should stop scaring the American people. Social Security is strong and should be strengthened, not cut. The reality is the biggest threat to Social Security is the politicians in Washington who continue to play politics with this issue.”
Send a message to the politicians: No increase in the retirement age. No privatization. No Social Security cuts. Go to ourfuture.org/nosocialsecuritycuts.
July 14, 2010
The American Dream is what is at stake for the Obama Administration, and they know it. This is the dirty, little secret that can longer be contained -- it is escalating, cannot remain hidden, and may have significant political ramifications for the 2010 elections. The atrocity of the past years is this broken promise with the people, and it is deeply affecting the way they think, behave, vote and live. Moreover, it could begin to explain the groundswell response to candidate Barack Obama in 2008. The power of his words helped them believe that the dream was recoverable. He exemplified what was possible through education and hard work in his meteoric rise through American politics to the Oval Office. Further and more importantly, it also explains why we are now suffering such profound political despair reflected in the dropping poll numbers.
The middle class, for its survival, needs life to return to a semblance of "normalcy" - a time when they didn't know how to spell the word "deficit" and didn't have to care. They want their retirement savings back so they don't have to work until they drop. They want a bank account that makes more then one percent interest. They want to know what their health insurance premiums will be this year and in ten. They want to know if their kids study, and if they save and sacrifice, that their lives will be better. They want their kids to get good jobs, and they want to hold onto our own jobs. And with despair and anger they realize that despite the heroic work of the Congress with this President in passing landmark legislation in all of these areas -- they still are not safe. Economic ruin may still be right around the corner, and makes it hard to sleep at night.
You know we've all been hoodwinked and sold a bill of goods about the sanctity of the middle class in this country. It is a basic tenet of our lives, and made us different from other countries. The ranks swelled over the last decades after FDR to the present. But now for the first time since the Great Depression, the middle class is at risk of tipping over once and for all. They are not coming out of the financial, housing and environmental crises intact. Interest rates have ratcheted up on the family home, maybe there's a balloon payment on the mortgage and its impossible to refinance under the "new" programs; savings have virtually no interest and are drying up; pensions have evaporated; health insurance premiums are basically unaffordable until 2014 if then; schools are overcrowded and on the decline; there are no jobs except in China and they don't speak Mandarin; and unemployment is still at 9.5% -- higher in key areas throughout the country. The new legislation is riddled with loopholes, as all legislation can be after laborious compromises and extensive details. What is different is that each of these loopholes is flagrantly being exploited by the banks, the credit card companies and the health insurance companies. For example, many of the unemployed cannot qualify for COBRA because their companies failed which is code for closed their doors. COBRA is not available when a company terminates their health insurance plan, and 2014 is a long way off when you need health insurance coverage now.
Frankly, this is not what the middle class signed up for. It was not part of the implicit promise made to them. As a result, they are angry (enter stage right the Tea Party to exploit this vulnerability), and depressed (evidenced in the lackluster June election voter turnout). This is a deadly combination that could seal the deal on the November elections for the big, bad guys. Yet somehow the middle class and its Democrats must rally again and rise above the collective depression (no pun intended). We cannot let the brilliant and effective message machine of the Republican Party lull them into universal amnesia -- forgetting all the wrongs of the past. Remember these are the same guys (Bush and Cheney) that put the nails in the coffin cementing the potential extermination of the middle class. These same guys two weeks ago even blocked the extension of unemployment benefits while they frolicked on vacation. How could they do that to working families in this country? The extension passed the House before the break, but was filibustered in the Senate. And given all that, imagine life when we essentially give away the House because we are too depressed to vote or disorganized to keep these seats.
I will take liberal Speaker Nancy Pelosi any day over anti-choice, sanctimonious Republican Representative John Boehner as Speaker of the House. That would be a bad dream that just keeps on giving. This threat should be enough for the White House to saddle up and come out with a plan, a message (remember "hope and change"), and leadership to deliver - not the White House Press Secretary Gibbs message yesterday. David Gregory of Meet the Press has gotten so very good and Gibbs just walked into a fiasco announcing the potential lose of seats in the House. It was as bad as giving away candy instead of feeding the homeless, and maybe that's why White House Special Advisor, David Axelrod, was so snarky with CNN's Candy Crowley during the next hour on the Sunday morning political shows because it sure didn't make any sense.
Snarky or not, we all know Obama and his team are awful busy with the economy, the oil spill and a few dozen Russian spies, but we need them to reach out to that disenfranchised middle class again, aka big voting block. After all, Obama is the master communicator and we know that he can do it because he has done it before to win in 2008. And now the stakes may even be higher. If we allow 40 seats in the House to go asunder and a few more in the US Senate -- we can start waving bye-bye to the American Dream, the middle class, economic recovery, and maybe the Supreme Court for the next couple of decades.
Please see my Pearltree for some of the reference materials with more to come. This is a new tool to organize and share materials on the web. In full disclosure, I advise them as they build out the new features of this platform.
Note, an earlier version of this article appeared this week on the Huffington Post.
May 16, 2010
Really? Both parties do it?
In a column devoted to highlighting Republican extremism, the Post writer just had to say, "Both parties have been undergoing ideological cleansing." The observation was both wrong and superfluous.What examples show "both parties" do it? Pennsylvania, where a Democrat is running in a primary against a Republican who switched in order to "get votes." Apparently it is extremism to run an actual Democrat in a Democratic Party primary.
And Arkansas, where Lincoln has taken tons of cash from corporate interests and blocked the President's agenda, and the Chamber of Commerce and other Republican groups are running ads for her.
April 13, 2010
The job of the news media is supposed to be to inform, not misinform. But Tuesday's Washington Post story, Obama team points to smaller deficit numbers, makes this claim about the cause of the huge $1.4 trillion budget deficit for FY 2009.
The federal deficit was large when Obama took office, but it ballooned as the administration launched an ambitious stimulus program to soften the economic downturn, which was eating tax revenue and prompting increased spending on safety net programs.
But this just isn't the case, and it is vitally important that the public understand the real facts so they can make decisions about solutions. The New York Times, The Washington Post's competitor, offered a more honest explanation of the cause of the massive deficits, and even included a great chart. In last year's How Trillion-Dollar Deficits Were Created the Times pointed out that only $145 billion of the huge $1.4 trillion 2009 deficit was spending on the stimulus program and only another $56 billion was from other Obama programs. This is a fraction of that $1.4 trillion deficit of Bush's last budget year.
Obama did not "balloon" the deficit, as the Washington Post claimed. It was tax cuts for the rich, Iraq and military increases, Wall Street bailouts and other conservative policies and/or consequences of failed conservative policies.
Conservatives claim that President Obama "tripled the deficit" and point to the huge 2009 budget deficit as proof. The fiscal-year 2009 deficit, as reported in October was, indeed, about triple the prior year's borrowing. But the 2009 budget was the last budget year of the prior, conservative administration. It is just one more demonstration of the failure of conservative policies.My post used material from the conservative Cato Institute to back up the point.
Basic math: A budget year that ends 8 months into a President's first year wasn't that President's budget.
The public needs to know the real causes of the borrowing. If the cause was previous conservative policies, that leads to one set of solutions. If the public instead is led to believe the borrowing was caused by the incoming administration's efforts to solve that problem, they will be misled into possibly supporting policies that will just make the problem worse.
April 11, 2010
Have you seen
Media Behaving Badly | MediaFAIL?
April 9, 2010
This weekend, CNN is giving four hours of free airtime to the leading propagandist fanning the flames of deficit hysteria, Pete Peterson, along with his lackeys. Bloggers and online activists are joining today to promote this action:
Click here to demand CNN stop giving free airtime to deficit crazies this weekend – And if they do go ahead with this programming, tell them to provide balance to Pete Peterson's deficit hysteria. Give equal time to defenders of Social Security, Medicare and public investment.
Roger Hickey discusses the CNN/Peterson Foundation deficit program with Dean Baker of the Center for Economic and Policy Research.
CNN plans to air Peterson's thoroughly debunked propaganda movie "I.O.U.S.A," – and then his acolytes will have free reign to spread their usual lies about Social Security, Medicare and government in general without any fiscal expert to challenge them and give a different point of view.
How do we know? Because CNN did the exact same thing with "I.O.U.S.A" last year. No debate. Just Peterson's propaganda.
Is this how "the most trusted name in news" should cover the debates on retirement security, job creation and fighting poverty?
We have just one day to get CNN to balance it's programming.
Whose voices will be shut out this weekend?
The nation's leading economists who are urging our government to use deficits today to invest in long-term prosperity – such as Paul Krugman, James Galbraith and Dean Baker.
The fiscal experts who have repeatedly said Social Security is sound and broader health care reform will protect Medicare.
All of you who voted for an active government to invest in our future.
While you are kept silent, who does CNN give the microphone to?
A multimillionaire Wall Street mogul who wants our government to slash investments while millions are losing their jobs. This guy had no problem taking tax cuts for the wealthy that caused our deficit problems – and his Wall St buddies crashed the economy.
NOTE: Peterson is holding an April 28 “Fiscal Summit” to once repeat his “way forward” out of the deficits caused by tax cuts for the wealthy and the financial crisis caused by Wall Street and the bankers. On the program: President Bill Clinton and former Treasury Secretary Bob Rubin, who deregulated the financial system, profiting Rubin’s Citibank – until the system melted down. Also on the program, Alan Greenspan, the former Fed Chief who presided over the deregulated banking system. These are the people Peterson chooses to lecture the rest of us about why we need painful austerity. This weekend’s CNN programs are just a setup for April 28.
We are in the midst of a great debate over the direction America should take.
"The most trusted name in news" should be the place where we have the debate, not where one opinion is deemed to be absolute truth.
We already have a cable news network that does that. We don't need another unfair, unbalanced channel
Speak out today. Don't let Pete Peterson take over the debate about our future.
March 16, 2010
I haven't been able to watch CNN for years. Now they just get worse.
"Feminazis?" "Ugly feminists?
Seriously, why not just watch Fox news if you want to expose yourself to horrible right-wing crap?
March 1, 2010
Last week the Washington Post ran an op-ed with the curious headline, “The Green Jobs Myth.”
Oil and coal lobbyists everywhere, well-aware that most people only read headlines and a few paragraphs at most, were giving each other high-fives. You see, a headline like this “propels the propaganda” that anything remotely environmentally-conscious “costs jobs.” And being in the Washington Post, it signals that the “powers-that-be” are officially poo-pooing the concept.
The op-ed begins by setting up a straw man to knock down. It claims that the Obama administration has the “assumption that a "clean-energy" economy will generate enough jobs to mitigate today's high level of unemployment … and to meet the needs of future generations”, But seriously, has anyone, anywhere, ever said that new green jobs alone will solve the jobs crisis? Just asking.
The basis for the headline’s premise that green jobs are a myth was that installing smart electric meters means there will be fewer meter-readers employed. Well duh! But this op-ed -- with its curious headline -- uses some curious math to reach its conclusion that automating meters means fewer meter-readers will be employed. It claims that only 400 installation jobs would be created to install 20 million meters, 1600 if the rate of installation is increased. Huh? Then it gets better. To calculate how many meter-reader jobs will be lost it claims that meter-readers only read 30 meters an hour, causing 28,000 meter-reading jobs to be lost.
Now, I was already sold on the idea that automating meters means fewer meter-readers would be employed, but come on! Clearly the Post is betting that most people don't read past the first few paragraphs if they're thinking this kind of "let's play tricks with math" will just slip by.
Curiously, the op-ed doesn’t mention that people will be employed to manufacture these 20 million smart-meters! How many jobs will be created to manufacture 20 million smart meters? The op-ed doesn't say. perhaps saying how many would negate the curious title.
How Many Green Jobs Are There?
But never mind smart meters. If we’re going to talk about green jobs we need to talk about the jobs that would be created by:
- retrofitting every building and home in America to be energy efficient, and the management, supply chain, transportation, tools, etc.
- manufacturing, installing and maintaining wind turbines
- manufacturing, installing and maintaining rooftop solar installations
- manufacturing, installing and maintaining solar power generation facilities
- everything associated with biofuels, geothermal power generation, nuclear power, advanced batteries, hydro power, carbon sequestration, carbon credit trading and transportation alternatives including building an advanced high-speed rail system connecting every major city in the country.
Think about the huge number of jobs all of this involves – and the huge payoff to our economy. And remember, these will all be in addition to the existing energy infrastructure, for now.
I suspect that the reason we see curiously misleading op-eds like this one in outlets like the Washington Post is that all of these coming technologies mean lower profits for the big, monopolistic oil and coal giants.
They can try to stop the green manufacturing revolution but it is coming. The question is, do we let op-eds like this one stop it from being Made in America?
February 25, 2010
A month ago while covering the arrest of James O'Keefe after his attempt to tamper with the phones at Senator Mary Landrieu's office the New York Times repeated conservative misinformation that smeared ACORN, and is now refusing to retract their "reporting."
James O'Keefe previously had released videos that purported to show ACORN employees supposedly advising a "pimp" on how to evade the law. These videos were widely publicized in conservative outlets as part of a larger conservative campaign to destroy ACORN, because the organization registers poor people to vote. Usually-careful major media outlets like the New York Times then picked up the "story" from these conservative outlets and repeated the false accusations against ACORN.
An an example of how the Times has repeated the misinformation, this Times story, High Jinks to Handcuffs for Landrieu Provocateur, contained the following:
Mr. O’Keefe made his biggest national splash last year when he dressed up as a pimp and trained his secret camera on counselors with the liberal community group Acorn — eliciting advice on financing a brothel on videos that would threaten to become Acorn’s undoing.
In fact, O'Keefe was NOT "dressed as a pimp." He represented himself as a candidate for Congress who was trying to help women who were being exploited. He then doctored the resulting videotapes to make it appear that ACORN acted improperly. He only dressed as a "pimp" when publicizing his videos, using the racist stereotype to amplify his false claims. This preposterous 1970's blaxploitation-movie costume seemed to resonate with media outlets like the Times. (The woman who played the "prostitute" in the videos has herself been videotaped verifying that O'Keefe DID NOT wear a "pimp" costume.)
Compare the impression left by this NY Times story with other independently verified facts of the case as explained in : ACORN Report Finds No Illegal Conduct, which describes former Massachusetts Attorney General Scott Harshbarger's investigation of the accusations. Among the investigation's conclusions,
The videos that have been released appear to have been edited, in some cases substantially, including the insertion of a substitute voiceover for significant portions of Mr. O'Keefe's and Ms. Giles's comments, which makes it difficult to determine the questions to which ACORN employees are responding. A comparison of the publicly available transcripts to the released videos confirms that large portions of the original video have been omitted from the released versions.
The Brad Blog has taken the lead with efforts to get the NY Times to retract their reporting. From yesterday's post, Exclusive: NYTimes Public Editor Declines to Recommend Retraction for Multiple Erroneous Reports on False ACORN 'Pimp' Story,
We've spent the last several weeks here reporting and demonstrating how the O'Keefe/Breitbart ACORN video hoax was exactly that --- a political partisan scam that was publicized uncritically by the New York Times, and dozens of otherwise reputable outlets.
Despite the Times' repeatedly misreporting that O'Keefe was dressed or posed as a "pimp" while meeting with ACORN employees in those videos, and even after being shown in no uncertain terms that he did not, the Times' Public Editor has declined to recommend the paper retract its reporting on this story.
The next day, in NYT Public Editor Accuses The BRAD BLOG of 'Political Agenda' on Par With ACORN Smear Artists, Hoaxsters Breitbart and O'Keefe, New York Times Public Editor Clark Hoyt offered the following stunning statement,
The story says O’Keefe dressed up as a pimp and trained his hidden camera on Acorn counselors. It does not say he did those two things at the same time
Also at this Brad Blog post are links to a number of other blogs following this story.
You can take action by clicking through to: Tell the NY Times: retract anti-ACORN reportage.
February 22, 2010
I wrote a post a few years ago, Who Is The Crazy Person In The Room? that California's Debra Bowen used in her campaign stump speech. It was about how if you try to describe to people who do not follow news very closely what is going on with the Repubicans these days, they'll think YOU are being crazy and extreme.
This is one area where I feel "mainstream" news outlets like the New York Times and major broadcast networks are failing their readers/viewers. Someone who only gets their news from those sources is not being informed about what is really going on inside the Republican party, and just how extreme things have gotten. These news outlets feel they have to "present both sides of the argument" so they won't be accused of being "the liberal media." Imagine the howls if they described a typical Ann Coulter or Glenn Beck speech and the audience reaction - and then pointed out that she is not on the fringe but is standing next to perhaps Dick Cheney or Mitt Romney on the stage! And readers just would not believe it if they carried the transcript from even a minute of Rush Limbaugh.
For example, this weekend AP wrote about the many flat-out untruths that Mitt Romney told in his speech at the conservative CPAC convention: Analysis: Untruths have consequences in politics. But they had to make it a "both sides do it" piece. To accomplish that, the piece equates a speech by a senior Republican Party leader, one of their candidates for President, with a pseudonymous "liberal" blogger.
"While Romney and fellow Republicans were filling the air with red-meat distortions, liberal Democratic activists were torturing facts online as they wrote commentary about the conservative gathering."
So what example is given of "liberals" torturing facts?
"And so it was this week, when liberal bloggers reacted to the CPAC distortions with false attacks of their own. On the Daily Kos Web site, one blogger noted the standing ovation given to "the self-confessed war criminal Dick Cheney."
The "false attack" against Cheney? The blog post reported that Cheney himself said on ABC's This Week the other day, "I was a big supporter of waterboarding" -- a war crime for which the United States government has prosecuted people.
So a senior Republican Party leader and Presidential candidate telling whoppers is equated with a guy on a blog who points out that Cheney said he had in office approved of torture.
February 15, 2010
Did you notice how coverage of Toyota dried up right after Toyota dealers pulled some ads and threatened to pull more?
February 9, 2010
Last month I posted NYT Propels Anti-ACORN Propaganda,
The NY Times ran a story today about the "high jinks" of the right-wing smear artist O'Keefe, repeating the smears on ACORN, without mentioning the investigations that concluded his ACORN videotapes were doctored and that ACORN employees did nothing wrong.
The Times reported as fact that O'Keefe was "dressed as a pimp" - he was not, he was representing himself as a candidate for Congress - and that ACORN employees gave advice on setting up a brothel - when an investigation concluded that the videos were "heavily edited" and had "substitute voicovers" inserted to make it sound like ACORN employees said things they did not.
Brad Friedman pressed the Times on this. The Times said it "stands by" the story and cites FOX News as their source.
Go read the whole thing - it's really quite stunning.
January 30, 2010
Hat tip: The Big Picture
January 1, 2010
My local newspaper runs the Mallard Fillmore comic strip. Today's strip tells readers they shouldn't read newspapers.
This is brilliant thinking on the part of the big corporate owners of the news media. Cater to the right, which wants to destroy the news media. The right tells people not to trust the media. People stop reading newspapers. Brilliant. Business. Model.
November 23, 2009
With the national debt now topping $12 trillion, the White House estimates that the government’s tab for servicing the debt will exceed $700 billion a year in 2019, up from $202 billion this year, even if annual budget deficits shrink drastically. Other forecasters say the figure could be much higher.Just wrong.
According to the US Treasury, the interest on the debt was $451 billion in 2008. I'm not clear on the 2009 number yet, but it may actually be lower due to lower interest rates.
This changes the character of the entire NYTimes story, which claims interest could soar to over $700 billion "up from $202 billion." A climb from approx. $450-500 billion just doesn't sound as scary. The conclusions I guess we are supposed to draw are stop helping the unemployed, don't reform health care. (But of course ignore the $1 trillion military budget, more than the rest of the world combined spends.)
And by the way, this is the Reagan/Bush debt they are writing about. Obama has added very little to that.
November 16, 2009
"China on Monday accused the United States of increasing protectionism..."Think about it, the country with the massive trade surplus accuses the country with the massive trade deficit of being "protectionist." Call it The Audacity Of Projection.
Our trade opponents have learned that all they have to do is shout the word “protectionist” and their American enablers will quickly run from doing anything that might help American companies and workers. But what happens later, when the consequences start hitting home? Do the "free trade" shouting, foreign-competition enablers take the blame and accept responsibility when Amercan dollars are spent overseas and American workers lose jobs and American factories close? Who could have known that they would point the finger at the President instead of themselves?
Here is what I am talking about:
On February 8, 2009, during the debate over the stimulus package, the conservative Washington Times joined the "free trade" chorus, denouncing the package's proposed "Buy American" requirements as the same kind of "protectionism" that conservative mythology says caused the Great Depression: EDITORIAL: How to cause a depression,
...Tucked within the economic stimulus bill the House passed last week was a clause requiring state and local public works agencies to buy American iron and steel for their reconstruction projects, and the Senate expanded it to all manufactured goods.Conservative free-traders got what they demanded. In response to these and other cries of “protectionism!” the Senate backed away from the Buy American clause, changing it to vague language requiring that the money be spent in ways consistent with existing treaties.
[. . .] The stimulus bill has a way to go before it reaches Mr. Obama's desk, but if strong "buy American" mandates are present at that time, he will have no choice but to veto the bill. Otherwise, he will be forever known as Barack H. (Hoover or Hawley) Obama.
Since this wording gives the President some discretion in how the money is spent conservatives started demanding the President spend it ... outside of the country. For example, a Washington Times editorial on March 24, EDITORIAL: The Mexican-American War of 2009, ended by blasting President Obama for wanting American stimulus dollars to stimulate America's economy:
"Wasn't Mr. Obama going to be the "international" president who was going to get the rest of the world to love us? The path to improving relations does not involve destroying jobs in other countries as well as in our own."So now it turns out that many stimulus dollars are being spent according to the wishes of the "free trade" conservatives, with money to purchase wind turbines creating jobs in Europe and China, and who could have known, the very same free-trade conservatives are JUST OUTRAGED that President Obama is sending American stimulus dollars out of the country! For example, a Washington Times editorial on November 13, EDITORIAL: Stimulus creates jobs in China, begins,
Of the $1 billion in clean-energy stimulus money spent since the beginning of September, $850 million has gone to foreign wind companies. It doesn't take a bunch of experts at a hastily planned "jobs summit" to discover this isn't the way to bolster employment in America.Yes, how DARE they not require that American stimulus dollars be spent in America! This from the very same Washington Times editors who earlier in the year demanded exactly that.
Indeed, the 11 U.S. wind farms that received stimulus money from the Treasury have imported 695 of the 982 wind turbines to be installed, creating 4,500 jobs overseas. That's far more overseas work than the stimulus money has created in the United States.
Who could have known that conservatives would attack President Obama for the consequences of giving in to conservative demands??!! The Washington Times was against protectionism before they were for it. Call it The Audacity Of Hypocrisy.
The lesson to be learned here is to stop listening to these conservative, "free trade" clowns. They are only interested in making the rich richer at the expense of the rest of us and will say whatever advances that goal. We should start just doing what is right for the country, our workers, our factories, our companies and our jobs.
November 14, 2009
In the intro to tonite's NBC Nightly News with Lester Holt, led with "Sarah Palin's Book, you can't get it yet, but we've got it."
The second segment of the "news" broadcast was entirely Palin and her book. It started with all the "buzz' about the book, just a huge puff piece, calling it a "juicy political tell-all. The book names names and exposes what really happens in the back rooms of a national political campaign." Holt even held the book up to show to the audience! Then the segment went through different reasons to buy the book... Holt even letting the audience know that she has a bus tour coming up.
You just can't buy advertising like that! Someone will get footage up so you can see this amazing "news" report.
You might remember that on October 11 NBC Nightly News with Lester Holt John Harwood had a story claiming the White House views supporters of gay rights, etc. as the "internet left fringe" and "those bloggers need to take off their pajamas, get dressed and realize that governing a closely divided country is complicated and difficult."
Palin's book is published by a company owned by ... Rupert Murdoch, NBC's competitor. But when it comes to promoting the far right, they're all on the same page.
October 17, 2009
How can conservatives argue that:
1) Liberals dominate the media
2) Restoring the "Fairness Doctrine" will get rid of conservative voices in the media
October 15, 2009
Our Media Need a Fair and Balanced Doctrine by Brad Friedman, at the Commonweal Institute blog.
September 23, 2009
ACORN corruption is no trivial matter$55 billion?
In his interview with George Stephanopoulos on Sunday, ex-ACORN attorney President Barack Obama denied any knowledge of that organization having received over $55 billion in federal funding. He stated he had not paid attention to such trivial matters as he had bigger issues to deal with. That the liberal media swallow such indigestible fodder is reinforced by the Nick Anderson cartoon (Opinion, Sept. 21). Like our president, this gullible cartoonist views the ACORN corruption as an nonevent stirred up by contentious conservatives.
In the last 15 years ACORN has received a total of $53 million - with an 'M' - in funding from the government. That comes to $3.5 million a year. That amount is more than 1000 times less than SJ News readers would now believe. Almost all of this is to "ACORN Housing" for providing assistance with low-income housing programs -- things like helping poor people fight off foreclosures.
August 10, 2009
I haven't heard very many voices, prominently featured, explaining to the general public what the bill really does. President Obama is out there laying out general principles, and then there are a million conservative voices saying all kinds of stuff. Maybe because there isn't a bill yet.
So you can't really blame some people for coming to some of these conclusions. You and I say it sounds ridiculous to say these things but to a lot of people who don't really understand a lot about how things really work, when all they hear is one side of the story they're going to go with the only thing they hear.
The only thing that really matters - gets through to millions and millions - is what is on TV and radio. Sure, in a democracy it is the job if the news media to inform the voters. But in the 1980s our broadcast news media was released from the obligation to serve the public interest and they immediately stopped serving the public interest. Pro-government legislators seem to have just given up on fixing that. Go figure.
When the opposition is able to define you before you do, then you have lost the battle. The pubic is going to figure that the truth lies somewhere between the extremes they hear. And those are that on the one side the government is going to set up death panels to decide who gets to live, and on the other side the government is going to take over the entire system and ration care. So it must be somewhere between those.
July 31, 2009
July 22, 2009
Here is an example of the basic problem of today's insular, childish, gossip-focused news media.
WHO has to wait? Obama HAS health insurance. HE doesn't have to wait. THE REST OF US CITIZENS HAVE TO WAIT.
The needs of the citizenry and informing the citizens isn't the concern. It isn't even on the radar. The reaction to a post like this is "what is he even talking about?" The gossip, the process, the confrontation is the concern. Finding an "angle" to drive the corporate concerns of the media owners and the career of the report is the concern.
July 8, 2009
This post originally appeared at Speak Out California
Today's San Jose Mercury News has a front-page story, California leaders in no hurry to break budget impasse. From the story,
Despite plunging tax revenues, Wall Street's unwillingness to loan the state money and billions of dollars worth of IOUs hitting mailboxes, California's leaders are displaying a seeming lack of urgency to close the state's $26.3 billion deficit.
Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger and legislative leaders blew past a supposedly ironclad June 30 deadline to pass a new budget...
Blew past? The legislature did pass a budget fix last week, but the Governor vetoed it! This choice by the Governor led to the state needing to issue IOUs.
To their credit (I guess) the San Jose paper hinted at the veto in an editorial a week ago, Governor didn't need to push state over the edge, writing,
In rejecting a stopgap fix for the budget on Tuesday, the governor and GOP leaders have accelerated a budget meltdown that pushes the state deeper into debt."
Talking to people involved, I pick up a sense that passing a budget fix after the Governor said he would veto it was pointless, so not worth mentioning. But isn't that for the voters to decide? Many would say that passing the fix, especially at the last minute after all negotiations had failed and the state was going over the cliff was the responsible thing to do, also known as governing. This put a budget fix on the table and available for use to avoid the calamity and cost of IOUs, rating downgrades, etc. The Governor had a clear choice at that point, and chose to take the state over the cliff. The voters should have been told, not kept in the dark that the Governor made that choice.
Meanwhile, the other side still refuses to offer up any plan of their own, still insisting that the Democrats fix the budget entirely with cuts to services that the public needs and take the blame for that. They refuse to allow any plan that asks oil or tobacco companies to pitch in. They claim the wealthy will "leave the state" if asked to pitch in an additional $40 a week. They make up stories about companies leaving the state (but can't name any). But it is not reported that the Republicans refuse to offer a plan or engage in serious negotiations. It is as if the Republicans are expected to not be serious, so it's not worth reporting that they aren't serious. The voters should have been told.
The system of democracy depends on the voters being informed so they can apply pressure as needed and remove officeholders who are not doing what the voters want them to do. But none of this works if the citizens have no way of learning simple facts, like that the legislature did govern responsibly and pass a budget fix, which the Governor vetoed. The voters should have been told.
Click through to Speak Out California.
June 20, 2009
Do read this by dday and then watch the video below. Health insurers refuse to stop denying coverage to people after they get sick. Testifying to Congress they said, "No" they will not stop this. Watch the video.
If you know about this at all it is because you read blogs. The corporate media outlets refuse to let the public know about this. You can come up with a number of reasons, but the fact is that they are not reporting on this story.
Since the media will not report on this, you have to. Send the video to people and explain to them what it means. Health insurance companies refuse to stop "rescission" which is denying insured people the coverage they have paid for -- after they get sick. This is why we need at the very least a "public option" in health care coverage. Demand this.
June 16, 2009
Remember a couple of years ago when the media echoed the Repubican accusation that any vote against war funding was a vote against "supporting the troops," and against america?
But It's OK If You Are Republican (IOKIYAR): TheHill.com - In reversal, GOP balks at war funding
So, will there be a media firestorm?
House Republicans are preparing to vote en bloc against the $106 billion war-spending bill, a position once unthinkable for the party that characterized the money as support for the troops.
For years, Republicans portrayed the bills funding the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan as matters of national security and accused Democrats who voted against them of voting against the troops.
In 2005, Rep. Tom Cole (R-Okla.) went so far as to say sending troops into battle and not paying for it would be an “immoral thing to do.” And just last year, more House Republicans voted for the war supplemental bill than did Democrats, who opposed the legislation because it did little to wind down the military effort in Iraq.
But Republicans say this year is different. Democrats have included a $5 billion increase for the International Monetary Fund (IMF) to help aid nations affected by the global financial crisis.
May 23, 2009
A company called OpenTable went public this week, and its share price went up 59%,
Online restaurant-reservations system OpenTable Inc. dished out the best IPO performance since late 2007, delivering a 59% gain in its trading debut.This first-day rise in the price is presented by the business media as a good thing, worded as "best performance" and a good first-day close, demonstrating again how the business media favors corruption over competence.
Shares of the San Francisco company on Thursday closed at $31.89 apiece on the Nasdaq Stock Market, well above its initial offering price of $20.
Investors would have to go back to December 2007 to find a better first-day close, from Orion Energy Systems Inc., which rose 65% during its debut.
You see, what this first-day rise in price tells us is that the underwriters grossly underpriced the stock, which the business media did not explain. The company should have gone public for $30 a share, which the market demonstrated, rather than the $20 a share that the underwriting companies allowed insiders to buy at on the opening. The way this racket works is that insiders get the special $20 price and can sell at the $30-35 price later in the day. The company, however, only received the $20 per share it offered, cheated out of the $30 it clearly should have received. Others got rich at their expense.
May 16, 2009
When the Republicans were preparing to invade Iraq people were out in force in demonstrations. According to BBC News, on Feb 15, 2003, hundres of thousands of people demonstrated against the coming invasion in the United States - 250,000 just in San Francisco, and as many as 10 million people worldwide.
The U.S. corporate press -- at the time complicit in the invasion preparations -- barely covered these demonstrations, so most Americans did not know that there was a great deal of opposition to the coming invasion.
Fast forward to today. President Obama is going to speak at Notre Dame - a Catholic university. A dozen or so right-wingers are protesting because Obama believes that women should have the right to make their own health care decisions. And this is almost the only thing in the news. You cannot turn on the corporate cable news channels or the corporate radio without hearing about the huge controversey about the President coming to speak.
April 24, 2009
[. . .]
(1) Any policy that Beltway elites dislike is demonized as coming from "the Left" or -- in this case (following Karl Rove) -- the "hard Left."
[. . .]
(2) Nobody is more opposed to transparency and disclosure of government secrets than establishment "journalists."
[. . .]
(3) The single most sacred Beltway belief is that elites are exempt from the rule of law.
March 25, 2009
It seems the big news from the President's press conference is that "he didn't call on me." THAT is what the big Washington reporters choose to write about, instead of, you know, ... reporting the news.
March 22, 2009
Earlier, I noted that the Washington Post failed to quote a single labor representative in its Employee Free Choice article today, though it quoted three CEOs. Turns out the AP is even worse. This article doesn't quote any labor sources, though it does quote a Starbucks spokesperson, the vice president of the anti-labor National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation, a Whole Foods spokesperson, a Chamber of Commerce official, a representative of the anti-labor Coalition for a Democratic Workplace, and "Washington labor lawyer Jay Krupin."Click through to follow links and read the rest...
. . . Here's a 2000 restaurant industry newsletter that says Krupin "represents a range of restaurant and other foodservice companies dealing with unions" and quotes him calling unions a "cancer":
When was the last time you saw or heard someone in the corporate media talking about teh benefits of joining a union?
March 20, 2009
You don't know what you don't know.
In 1998 Saturday Night Live aired this video about corporate control of the media. The network censored it, preventing it from being shown on the later broadcast on the West Coast.
What else do people "know" or not know, as a result of corporate control of the information channels? For example: When was the last time you saw anything on corporate media promoting the benefits of joining a union?
When was the last time you heard through corporate media that democracy is a better way then corporate decision-making to govern the country?
President Obama was sworn in two months ago. Here's a short clip from Media matters about the "honeymoon" he enjoyed:
March 12, 2009
They will be showing where the money goes in the spring, as the agencies start reporting in.
Has your local newspaper, TV or radio news told the public about Recovery.gov, or are they instead telling people what Britney is wearing?
February 23, 2009
File this under Why People don't Bother With Newspapers and their Aging Conventional-Wisdom Columnists Anymore
George Will must have a new client: Exxon. He wrote a column denying global warming, filled with stuff that was just wrong. Some of the "sources" he cited have demanded that the Post print corrections, because Will flat-out misrepresented their positions and reports.
The Washington Post and George Will refuse to print a correction to the misinformation.
Go read Think Progress: When will the Washington Post issue a correction for George Will's error-filled global warming denial column? They show that the aging Will is now recycling 1992 columns.
Hilzoy at Washington Monthly, The Washington Post's "Multi-Layer Editing Process",
If Will actually read these two articles, it's hard to see how he's not being deliberately deceptive by citing them as he did. If, as I suspect, he just got them from some set of climate change denialist talking points and didn't bother to actually check them out for himself, he's being irresponsible.Matthew Yglesias, Washington Post Stands By Climate Change Denialism,
This started as a problem for Will, his direct supervisors, and the Post’s ombudsman. But now that the Post as a paper is standing behind Will’s deceptions, I think it’s a problem for all the other people who work at the Post. Some of those people do bad work, which is too bad. And some of those people do good work. And unfortunately, that’s worse. It means that when good work appears in the Post it bolsters the reputation of the Post as an institution. And the Post, as an institution, has taken a stand that says it’s okay to claim that up is down. It’s okay to claim that day is night. It’s okay to claim that hot is cold. It’s okay to claim that a consensus existed when it didn’t. It’s okay to claim that George Will is a better source of authority on interpreting the ACRC’s scientific research than is the ACRC. Everyone who works at the Post, has, I think, a serious problem.Ezra Klein at American Prospect: GEORGE WILL EMBRACES PALIN-ISM and WHERE DOES GEORGE WILL GET HIS GLOBAL WARMING FACTS?
And just out from Think Progress' Wonk Room: George Will’s ‘Global Cooling’ Column Is Almost Old Enough To Vote with Matter of Fact -- a PDF fact sheet from Think Progress
Chris Matthews says that the stock market is a "scorecard" for how Obama is doing. And he says Americans are going to be really mad at Obama because "their" stocks are just going down and down.
Barack Obama didn't elect George Bush, and then elect him again even after it was obvious that a criminal conspiracy was dismantling the government and was looting the treasury. And it was the corporate media that enabled this, not Barack Obama.
So now the problems are really bad. Really bad. And not just the economic problems, the climate problem might be even worse than the economic problems.
Barack Obama has been in office one month now. We are all going to have to grow up, make sacrifices, stop being consumers and start getting involved, and pitch in to solve the country's problems.
And you, with your million-plus-dollar paycheck, if you can't grow up, just shut up. Really.
February 17, 2009
Media Matters took a look at media coverage of the Recovery/Stimulus package: (It passed, by the way.)
They also released some facts and figures: (Click through for links)
JUMPING ON AN INCOMPLETE LEAKED CBO REPORT
In January, Media Matters noted several media figures falsely suggesting that a partial Congressional Budget Office (CBO) analysis of the economic recovery plan was in fact a full analysis of the bill and falsely suggesting that in that analysis, the CBO found that, in the words of The Washington Post, "the majority of the money in the Democratic plan would not get spent within the first year and a half." According to the CBO's most recent analysis of the entire bill, 74.2 percent of the total package would be spent within 19 months.
MISLEADING COVERAGE ON NEW DEAL
In December, Media Matters documented columnists Mona Charen and George Will cherry-picking unemployment figures to assert that the New Deal did not reduce unemployment, continuing a trend among conservative media of attacking the New Deal and President Roosevelt in an attempt to discredit Obama's stimulus plan. Both Charen and Will ignored that unemployment fell every year of the New Deal except during the 1937-38 recession and that economists have said that it was a reversal of New Deal policies that contributed to rising unemployment in 1937-38. This cherry-picking of data continued as Obama's economic recovery package moved through the legislative process, with a number of conservative media figures making similar claims.
AMPLIFYING REPUBLICAN FALSEHOOD ON ACORN
Echoing "fast facts" released by House Minority Leader John Boehner's office, a number of media figures falsely suggested that $4.19 billion of the stimulus would go to ACORN, referring to the $4.19 billion in the bill for "neighborhood stabilization activities." This falsehood persisted after the Conference bill was released (except now purportedly appropriating only $2 billion). As Media Matters documented, the bill does not mention ACORN or otherwise single it out for funding. Moreover, ACORN has denied that it is eligible for "neighborhood stabilization funds," and has stated that it does not intend to apply for them.
FALLING INTO A REPUBLICAN MOUSE TRAP
Many in the conservative media eagerly advanced the false claim that the economic recovery package contained $30 million to protect the salt marsh harvest mouse in House Speaker Nancy Pelosi's district. The story was traced back to an email from a Republican staffer that said an unnamed federal agency, when asked how it would spend its share of the stimulus money, said that $30 million would go toward wetland restoration - including work to protect the salt marsh harvest mouse. That same staffer later conceded that "[t]here is no language in the bill that says this money will go to this project."
PROPOGATING HEALTH IT FALSEHOOD SPEARHEADED BY RUSH LIMBAUGH
The week that Congress voted on the Conference version of the economic recovery package, Media Matters documented Rush Limbaugh leading several conservative media outlets in parroting former New York Lt. Gov. Betsy McCaughey's falsehood that a provision in the House-passed version of the bill grants the government authority to "monitor treatments" or restrict what "your doctor is doing" with regard to patient care. In fact, the provision in question contained no such language. It grants authority to establish an electronic records system so that doctors can access complete and accurate medical information "to help guide medical decisions at the time and place of care."
FALSELY CLAIMING UNDOCUMENTED IMMIGRANTS ELIGIBLE FOR TAX CREDIT
Following a Drudge Report headline reading "HILL REPUBLICAN: STIMULUS GIVES CASH TO ILLEGALS," Media Matters documented several examples of the media falsely claiming that undocumented immigrants without Social Security numbers could be eligible for tax credits included in the economic recovery package. In fact, the legislation specifically disqualifies anyone without "a social security number issued to an individual by the Social Security Administration" from eligibility for the Making Work Pay tax credits. The Drudge Report headline had linked to an Associated Press article that cited a single anonymous "top Republican congressional official," and the article was amended four hours later, making clear that the GOP official's claim was false. Even after this correction, several media figures and outlets repeated the falsehood.
December 5, 2008
What if we had financial reporters based in Michigan? What if the people we see, hear and read from the corporate media were paid the national average, and didn't get health insurance?
Would policymakers have a different perspective? Would we have pledged $7.4 TRILLION to the black hole of financial companies? Would we already have health insurance?
December 1, 2008
It is official that we have been in a recession since the end of 2007.
So I am hearing people on the news channels saying that because most recessions do not usually last longer than this, it must be almost over, just about to get better.
It literally burns to hear this stuff.
WE are all in the pot like the proverbial frog. And when the water boils and everyone is dead, they'll say, Oh, Yes, we see that the water really is warming up.. (I stole that line from Ron S)
November 26, 2008
I keep hearing on the TV that "people on the left" are upset with Obama for putting former Clinton admin people (experienced people) into positions in his administration. Of course not one of them ever names names of those "people on the left." I haven't heard ANYONE say that. That is just stupid.
Shut up! Go divide the Republicans and leave the rest of us alone. Go criticize some CEOs or something. Sheesh!
November 19, 2008
Cable news channels are filled with people with not enough information trying to fill up a whole lot of time. Basically they don't have much to say. Why does anyone watch this stuff?
October 8, 2008
Why was I subjected to a debate moderator telling us "everyone agrees" that Social Security is broke -- when it's just not true?
Wasn't that out of place for a debate moderator to say? Is the job of a debate moderator to inject right-wing anti-government propaganda into my head?
September 4, 2008
When the Democrats had their convention ABC and CBS constantly cut away to give "analysis" by Republicans and a few Democrats. During the Republican convention ABC and CBS have analysis by ... Republicans only.
Neither ABC nor CBS aired analysis from Democrats, Democratic strategists, or progressive media figures during their live coverage of the second day of the Republican National Convention on September 2 (the first day of the networks' live coverage of the convention). By contrast, both networks aired analysis from Republicans and conservatives, as well as from Democrats and progressives, during coverage of the second day of the Democratic National Convention on August 26.
By the way, when was the last time you heard about the benefits of joining a union from ANY corporate media outlet?
August 3, 2008
The Washington Post has an article making fun of the idea of global warming, that coincidentally manages to coincide with the oil industry/Republican Party "Drill Now" advertising campaign. Global Warming Did It! Well, Maybe Not.. It begins by mocking people concerned about the planet,
Somewhere along the line, global warming became the explanation for everything. Right-thinking people are not supposed to discuss any meteorological or geophysical event -- a hurricane, a wildfire, a heat wave, a drought, a flood, a blizzard, a tornado, a lightning strike, an unfamiliar breeze, a strange tingling on the neck -- without immediately invoking the climate crisis. It causes earthquakes, plagues and backyard gardening disappointments. Weird fungus on your tomato plants? Classic sign of global warming.Here is an example of the logic of this piece,
Last week, we saw reports of more wildfires in California. Sure as night follows day, people will lay some of the blame on climate change. But there's also the minor matter of people building homes in wildfire-susceptible forests, overgrown with vegetation due to decades of fire suppression. That's like pitching a tent on the railroad tracks.Right, building homes in forests causes the fire season to start several weeks early, the snow pack to be half normal, vegetation to be drier, and a vast increase in the number of fires.
Did Exxon pay for this article? SOMEone pays this guy's salary, for this awful, cynical, insulting stuff. Or has the writer just attended too many cocktail parties with industry lobbyists?
July 29, 2008
Go help Media Matters put a great ad on the air:Take the Pledge: Hold the Media Accountable
July 28, 2008
Media Matters has a study of 1700 guest appearances on cable news channels that shows that the people represented are largely white and male. Other Media matters studies showed the same on the Sunday news shows.
Media Matters for America examined four programs on each of the three cable news networks during prime time, and recorded the gender and ethnicity of every guest who appeared during the month of May 2008 -- nearly 1,700 guest appearances in all. The results demonstrate that, at least in prime time, whatever effort the networks have made to increase the diversity of their guests have borne little fruit. Although there may be more African-American political analysts appearing during the daytime hours (particularly on CNN and MSNBC) in prime time -- when the audiences are largest -- white men continue to dominate.And let me point out thatyou will never, ever see someone explaining the benefits of joining a union on corporate media outlets.
Key findings include:
* In total, 67 percent of the guests on these cable programs were men, while 84 percent were white.
* MSNBC featured the greatest gender imbalance, with 70 percent of its guests being male. CNN and Fox News were not far behind; each of those networks featured 65 percent male guests.
* Fox News was the whitest network, with 88 percent white guests. CNN and MSNBC were close behind, with both featuring 83 percent white guests.
* Latinos were particularly underrepresented. Though they now comprise 15 percent of the U.S. population, they made up only 2.7 percent of the guests. The worst of the three networks on this score was MSNBC, which featured only 6 prime-time appearances by Latinos during the entire month (out of a total of 460 guest appearances).
* A number of ethnic groups were shut out entirely, or nearly so, on some networks. During this month, there was only one appearance by an Asian-American on MSNBC, and only one on Fox News. Across all three networks, there were only four appearances by someone of Middle Eastern descent.
* Though white men make up only 32 percent of the population, they made up 57 percent of the guests on prime-time cable during this period. The host of every single prime-time cable show is white, and all but two (Greta Van Susteren of Fox News and Campbell Brown of CNN) are men.
June 18, 2008
Here's another illustration of the reasons people are turning away from corporate media and toward blogs, YouTube, etc.
Why We're Gloomier Than The Economy - washingtonpost.com,
Ask Americans how the economy is doing, and their answer is stark: It is not just bad, it is run-for-the-hills terrible. Consumer confidence is at its lowest level in almost 30 years. Only 12 percent of Americans think the economy is in good shape. On the Internet, comparisons to the Great Depression are widespread.OK. First, the jobs lost in the last recession never came back, so we're just starting from where that one left off.
But the reality is different. According to most broad measures of how the economy is doing, it's not all that grim.
. . . But so far, the economy is holding up better than it did during the last two recessions in 1990 and 2001. Employers haven't shed as many jobs, the unemployment rate is still relatively low, and gross domestic product has kept rising. Things are nowhere near as bad as they were in the Great Depression, or even during the severe recession of 1982-83. The last time consumers were this miserable, in May 1980, the jobless rate was 7.5 percent and inflation was 14.4 percent. Now those numbers are 5.5 percent and 4.2 percent respectively.
Second, if you read blogs you know that the ACTUAL inflation and jobless rates -- if measured the way they were in 1980 -- are much higher than 5.5 and 4.2 percent. MUCH higher.
This has left economists trying to figure out why Americans' perceptions are so much more negative than the data analysts use to measure how things are going.So the well-paid economists and Wall Streeters and Washington Post reporters are sitting behind their desks wondering why all those people out in the real world are yelling that tings are bad. THEY just don't see it, so things must be fine, and all those people out in the real world are just making shit up.
I mean, THEY don't get told every day to accept longer hours for less money because their jobs could be outsourced in a minute if the boss gets even slightly displeased with the amount of "Yes, Sir!" you're putting out. THEY certainly don't care if bread is approaching $5 a loaf.
June 6, 2008
The new owners of the Tribune Co., which publishes the L.A. Times and the Chicago Tribune (among other papers), are going to be making widespread changes to their 12 publications, including massive layoffs, and balancing content and advertising in a 50/50 ratio on news pages, according to the New York Times, in an article entitled: Tribune Co. Plans Sharp Cutbacks at Papers.
Here's the "logic" they're using:
...the struggling company has looked at the column inches of news produced by each reporter, and by each paper’s news staff. Finding wide variation, they said, they have concluded that it could do without a large number of news employees and not lose much content.
This makes about as much sense as measuring computer programmers by how many lines of code they produce. In other words, none at all. Based on what I read in the article, you can kiss goodbye to serious journalism at any of these newspapers.
Mr. Michaels [chief operating officer] said that, after measuring journalists’ output, “when you get into the individuals, you find out that you can eliminate a fair number of people while eliminating not very much content.” He added that he understood that some reporting jobs naturally produce less output than others.
Yeah, sure. He "understands". That's why his metrics emphasize quantity over quality, and he puts a newspaper that has won 37 Pulitzer prices (the LAT) in the same category as one that has won two (the HC).
The Los Angeles Times produced 51 pages of news for each journalist there, while the figure for two other Tribune papers, The Baltimore Sun and The Hartford Courant, is more than 300 pages.
In other words, the staff at the LAT are bleeped.
Surveys show readers want “maps, graphics, lists, ranking and stats,” [Mr. Zell, chief executive officer and chairman] wrote. “We’re in the business of satisfying customers, and we will respond to what they say they want.”
Who the BLEEP do they think bothers to pick up a newspaper at this point? High school dropouts?!?
June 4, 2008
So will we start seeing more than one or two black people on TV now? How about Hispanics? Once in a while maybe?
May 17, 2008
Get ready for a new kind of attack in this year's campaign.
More and more I am hearing about doctored audio and video circulating. For example, on May 9 conservative news outlets were pushing a story that was based on an audio clip that "spliced and doctored an NPR interview of Al Gore in order to allege that Gore said something which he did not."
On May 15 ">CNN edited a video clip of Obama communications director Robert Gibbs to remove from the middle of a paragraph his statement about Bush's Defense Secretary calling for talks with Iran the day before Bush said Obama was an "appeaser" for saying exactly the same thing.
The right and corporate media are becoming more comfortable with this tactic, so check and double-check everything you are hearing to be sure it is true before you let it influence your thinking.
And watch your backs.
May 16, 2008
Last week security guards working at Kaiser Permanente facilities in California went on strike to protest illegal anti-union activities on the part of their employer, Inter-Con Security. Instead of hiring security guards directly in California, or using a union-friendly security contractor, Kaiser contracts with Inter-Con. The strike lasted three days.
A few local TV news broadcasts covered the story, and there were a few newspaper articles announcing that there was going to be a strike. But there was almost no actual coverage of the strike except on progressive sites and labor outlets. What's up with that?
Why does the media barely cover labor issues?
Of course, when I write "the media" here I mean the newspapers, TV and radio that we usually call the "mainstream" media and lots of us call the "corporate" media. This is where most people get the news and information that forms the basis of their opinions and understanding about what is happening - and why it is happening. And therefore for most people the information presented by this mainstream or corporate media necessarily forms the basis of their voting decisions, their opinion poll survey answers, and their overall acceptance of and consent for actions conducted in their name by government and other institutions of society.
When things are repeatedly reported in "the media" as problems, most people begin to become concerned and perceive that these "problems" need to be somehow "solved." We see cycles of this development of public concern. In recent years, for example, the media has done a great deal of reporting on the problem if children being kidnapped. And there is a great deal of concern about this among parents -- to the point that societal patterns are changing and children rarely are allowed out of the house unaccompanied. Fewer and fewer children walk to school, go to parks alone, etc.
In reality child kidnappings are extremely rare, which makes this a case study of the power of the major media to sway the behavior of the entire country. Over the years similar media-driven concerns about drugs, shark attacks and satanic cults have created waves of national hysteria.
If actual threats held sway, car accidents, guns, and other real threats would receive much, much more public attention and concern.
The other side of this ability to drive public attention is the power to hide real problems. The national debt is approaching ten trillion dollars, and interest on that debt is approaching half a trillion dollars per year, but is rarely mentioned as a concern. The military budget is greater than the military spending of all other countries in the world combined, much, much higher than when we faced down the Soviet Union, while a lot of people are making a whole lot of money from it with little public scrutiny. (This is not even counting Iraq/Afghanistan spending.) But this is never brought up.
And then there is the problem that labor unions are trying to address. This is the domination of our government by big-business interests and the accompanying concentration of wealth into the hands of a very few people at the expense of the rest of us. Workers like the Inter-Con security guards who are trying to organize to demand even minimal pay and benefits are absolutely invisible in today's mainstream/corporate media. The illegal tactics being used - with the assistance of the Bush administration - are not covered by today's mainstream/corporate media. But what else would you expect, as the media becomes further and further concentrated into the hands of a few very, very large corporations? Do you think for a minute that a large corporation would allow any kind of pro-labor stories to be carried on news media that it owns?
You hear that the reason for this is that "labor is declining." Well there are a lot more members of unions in this country than there are Fellows at neo-con think tanks, but you sure do hear from them a lot in the mainstream/corporate media. There are a lot more members of labor unions than there are members of the far-right Christian Coalition, but you sure hear a lot about their concerns the corporate media. And there are a lot more people who work for a living in jobs that pay too little, don't provide adequate health care or sick leave or other benefits and need to hear about the benefits of joining unions. That's for damn sure.
In fact any coverage of the plight of these security guards is necessarily pro-labor. When you hear about their living and working conditions you will understand what I mean. My next post will be about that, so stay tuned.
I encourage you to visit StandForSecurity.org.
I am proud to be helping SEIU spread the word about this strike.
Chris Matthews on Hardball went after a right winger for mindlessly repeating talking points, clearly demonstrating that the right winger didn't have even a clue what he was saying. Good for him. It is worth watching if only because it is so very rare to see a right winger held accountable.
April 23, 2008
On a 56-42 vote, mostly Democratic supporters of the bill fell short of the needed 60 in the 100-member Senate to clear a Republican procedural hurdle and move toward passage of the bill."a Republican procedural hurdle." Wow, that's some fancy wording in this "news" article. In fact the wording is designed to block the information about what happened here from reaching the reader.
What happened here is that the Republicans FILIBUSTERED the bill that would bring fair pay to women for the same work.
On September 18, 2006, Pastor John Hagee — whose endorsement Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) said this past Sunday he was “glad to have” — told NPR’s Terry Gross that “Hurricane Katrina was, in fact, the judgment of God against the city of New Orleans.” “New Orleans had a level of sin that was offensive to God,” Hagee said, because “there was to be a homosexual parade there on the Monday that the Katrina came.”
Hagee is McCain's preacher.
Will this also be on every news channel, repeated over and over, 24/7, for the next several months? Will reporters hound McCain with questions about his preacher? If not, then what is it that is different between this preacher and Obama's?
April 19, 2008
Following the right-wing-framed questions ABC presented the Democratic candidates with in this week's debate, here is a look a tomorrow's interview with Sen. McCain -- at The REAL McCain: Less Jobs, More Wars.
April 9, 2008
There was a huge media frenzy demanding that Hillary Clinton release her tax returns. And, of course, she did.
But McCain didn't. There is not a mention in the media of that, however. Of course.
January 26, 2008
Think about this: When was the last time you heard, read or saw anyone in the major media explain the benefits of joining a union?
When the first edition of The Media Monopoly was published in 1983, critics called Ben Bagdikian's warnings about the chilling effects of corporate ownership and mass advertising on the nation's news "alarmist." Since then, the number of corporations controlling most of America's daily newspapers, magazines, radio and television stations, book publishers, and movie companies has dwindled from fifty to ten to five.Think about that. Five corporations control almost everything that most people in the country "know."
Again, think about this: When was the last time you heard, read or saw anyone in the major media explain the benefits of joining a union?
So, do you think these five corporations are using this near-total control of information for their own benefit, or not?
January 22, 2008
I get so tired of press stories about rich people written by well-paid comfortable people. What relevance do these stories have for regular people?
Example: in the story Thinking Twice About That $400 Handbag - New York Times,
"You had a lot of people who graduated to a level of consumption they could not really afford," said Adrianne Shapira, a retail analyst at Goldman Sachs. "Two-hundred-dollar pairs of denim were plausible when home values soared, but now $100 jeans are looking more reasonable."Do you see what is wrong in that paragraph? You can't afford $200 jeans, so you have to settle for $100 jeans?
That is Just. Not. Getting. It. REGULAR people NEVER DID buy $200 jeans. Regular people go to Costco and pay $15 for jeans. And now the economy is forcing them to cut back on the $15 jeans.
Dear New York Times: I might start paying attention to you again when you're writing about people who wear $15 Costco jeans.
December 31, 2007
[. . .] The insider political media is now embedded with, and morphed into, the insider political classes to the point where they part of the same beast. The insider political reporters have moved beyond the courtiers that Stephen Colbert so brilliantly satired two White House correspondents dinners ago; and have fully joined the home team of the insider Washington establishment.Go read - it's great.
This class decided a year ago which candidate was inevitable, and which candidates were exiled into the insider media gulag, destined to disappear as though they never existed.
By any standard, Joe Biden, Bill Richardson and Chris Dodd stand at the top of the list in presidential qualification, stature, substance and a lifetime of depth and achievement. A reasonable person might conclude that each of these three, has equal or greater qualification to be president as any of the three leading Democrats.
[. . .] Who do these people think they are, that during most of the presidential debates, the three candidates with such vast experience had to virtually ask permission, to sandwich a few seconds of their views, into the most boring, shallow, vapid, pointless debates that any serious democracy could possibly conduct at such a momentous time in our history?
Regarding the last Iowa Democratic debate, who do these sainted Iowa debate organizers think they are, that Alan Keyes gets prime participation in the Republican debate while Dennis Kucinich is banned from the Democratic debate?
I cannot even show minimal professional respect; only an idiot would give Keyes prime exposure while treating Kucinich like a Guantanamo detainee; and the idiots that made this decision have far too much power, in Iowa and nationally, for the health of our democracy.
December 20, 2007
Here we go again. The wingnuts will believe anything. It's sort of fun to watch, except that they have guns and power.
See Redstate | Okie Attorney General Bans Christmas. Seriously. Except if you read the story they point to the Oklahoma Atty General didn't "ban Chrsitmas" -- a wingnut group says he did with no evidence. Turns out from the story that some obscure HR person at a university may have done it - not the state Atty General as claimed. And the news source for this? "a visiting journalism fellow at The Heritage Foundation. " Heh.
And of course, other extremely gullible wingnuts jump on board to catapult the propaganda, as they say... Unfortunately they are giving out the Atty General's phone number, so readers can harass and intimidate him.
The whole point being, of course, to rile up the "wackos" (as the conservative leaders refer to the Christians). But this year it might backfire on them. The "conservative movement" is extremely threatened by candidate Mike Huckabee - but he is the primary beneficiary of their efforts to stir up religious strife.
Update - To his credit Captain's Quarters actually checked out the story - after posting - learned it isn't true, and posted an update. Others, however, join in echoing the lie - even adding more phone numbers and e-mail addresses to harass.
December 18, 2007
Do you think the media is corporate-controlled, and offers only one viewpoint? Well, you ain't seen nothing yet.
Despite intense political pressure, the Federal Communications Commission is expected to approve a proposal Tuesday that will allow broadcasters in the nation's 20 largest media markets to also own a newspaper — overturning a 32-year-old ban.Hmm ... this would be in place just in time for the next election. I wonder which party these corporate-controlled news outlets will be pushing? Hmm...
Republican Chairman Kevin Martin says his plan is a "relatively minor loosening" of the rule, but it has received a considerable amount of opposition.
On Monday, 25 senators, including four Republicans, sent him a letter threatening that if he goes ahead with the vote, they will move legislation to revoke the rule and nullify the commission's action.
Update - It's done. FCC Votes To Relax Cross-Media Ownership Rule,
The Federal Communications Commission voted on Tuesday to loosen media ownership restrictions in the 20 biggest U.S. cities, despite objections from consumer groups and a threat by some U.S. senators to revoke the action.
December 17, 2007
Yesterday, The New York Times (Sunday edition) devoted almost a full page of its Op-Ed section to a number of short essays written by economists, Wall Street analysts, scholars and fellows at various "think tanks" (both liberal and conservative) government advisers (past or present) and prominent business people (many of these folks fit into more than one category, by the way). The question they were all asked to address: Are We in a Recession?Go read.
[. . .] Oddly enough (well, not really, I just like to use the word odd in all its varieties when discussing serious purveyors of news and public opinion such as, for example, The New York Times) there was one significant group of individuals who apparently were not asked to contribute to this discussion by answering the question posed by the Times' editors, as to whether "we" are in a recession (and I'm using we here in the same sense as that term is used in the phrase "We the People" in the Preamble to the Constitution of the United States of America, rather than limiting it to any "subset" of said "we" such as financial institutions, economists, investors, fellows at well known non-profit educational and policy foundations or highly compensated, highly educated, and highly intelligent people offered the chance to present their opinions on the Op-Ed pages of The New York Times). Can you guess who those people might be, the ones whose opinions were deemed unsuitable for inclusion alongside all of these well spoken and well informed worthies the Times chose to answer this question of serious concern to all Americans?
And what do you think, are "we" in a recession now? Leave a comment.
December 6, 2007
When are progressives going to stop being all shocked and surprised that the corporate media are working hand-in-hand with conservatives to further the conservative/corporate agenda? Face it, people, it's just the way it is. Times have changed. Stop being so chocked and awed by it.
November 27, 2007
In the Democratic CNN/YouTube Presidential primary debate CNN included questions like,
"I'd like to know, if the Democrats come into office, are my taxes going to rise like usually they do when a Democrat gets into office?"This question reinforced the Republican-spread conventional wisdom about "tax and spend" Democrats.
But CNN promises not to do any such thing for the upcoming Republican debate.
November 8, 2007
I've long noticed that Fox's MySpace is a soft-porn enterprise. Now Brave New Films is taking on Fox News for the same.
Watch the video:
Go here for a petition :FOX Attacks Decency with Bill O'Reilly Leading the Way
Demand "a la carte" cable television.
Under current law, you cannot opt-out of FOX. You are forced to put money in FOX's pockets every time you pay your cable bill.
The best way to keep FOX out of your home is to force cable companies to offer "a la carte" cable, where you only pay for the channels you want. A la carte will lower your cable bill, prevent inappropriate programming from entering your home, and will keep your money out of FOX's pockets.
November 5, 2007
Why does Fox News put Moonies on as authorities?
Why don't other "competing" networks call them on things like this?
October 1, 2007
In today's paper - San Jose Mercury News - Cigarette tax would hurt poor. This is an AP story. It begins,
Congressional Democrats have chosen an unlikely source to pay for the bulk of their proposed $35 billion increase in children's health coverage: people with relatively little money and education.This is what is considered "news" in corporate America.
... The program expansion passed by the House and Senate last week would be financed with a 156 percent increase in the federal cigarette tax, taking it to $1 per pack from the current 39 cents. Low-income people smoke more heavily than wealthier people in the United States, making cigarette taxes a regressive form of revenue.
Democrats, who wrote the legislation and provided most of its votes, generally portray themselves as champions of the poor.
I'll have more on the idea that taxes "hurt" peoplelater...
September 21, 2007
The Republicans have a strategy of using the filibuster to block everything the Democrats try to do, and then telling the public that the Democrats are letting them down. As a result of this strategy there have never in history been as many filibusters. Is this news? Apparently not.
Some days it seems like the major media is complicit in Republican political strategies.
July 31, 2007
This is really funny:
July 30, 2007
David Neiwert writes about Bill O'Reilly of FOX News in Orcinus: Bill O'Reilly, hatemonger. He has a number of quotes from O'Reilly himself, including "Well, I want to kill Michael Moore" and "Mexican wetbacks" and talking about a "final solution" for dealing with Arabs.
July 26, 2007
Become a Fox Attacker. Help identify FOX News advertisers (national and local) for the database. Then let advertisers know what is being said on FOX News. This is not a boycott, it is letting advertisers know what is being done with their advertising dollars.
Fight back! Become a Fox Attacker.Thanks to Brave New Films.
Fox is not a legitimate news channel. They consistently misrepresent facts, manufacture terror, and slander progressives.
We're fighting back by identifying and calling all of FOX's advertisers. All of them. Particularly local advertisers who probably have no idea the kind of hatred their money is supporting.
We’re fighting back by identifying and calling all of FOX’s advertisers. All of them. Particularly local advertisers who probably have no idea the kind of hatred their money is supporting.
This is not a boycott. We are simply calling advertisers and informing them about FOX. And making Bill O’Reilly’s life a living hell.
I've just become a proud "FOX Attacker". Now you can too. It's not a boycott. It's simply calling advertisers and informing them what FOX says. FOX can't survive that. Have a blog? Then help spread the word.
July 25, 2007
Over at All Spin Zone, “Welcome Back Bob. Now, STFU.”
Bush welcomes back Bob Woodruff, a reporter injured by a bob in Iraq. The Woodruff asks a questions, and Bush says,
“Just because I recognized you, Bob, doesn’t mean I’m going to answer your questions here.”As All Spin Zone puts it:
(Of course, CNN obediently left out that part of the exchange in their report.)
In other words: “Thanks for being here as a prop for me, Bob, now shut the fuck up.”
July 24, 2007
Progressive bloggers talk to each other. Conservatives talk to the public.
For example, Bush and the Republicans recently renewed their claim Iraq attacked us on 9/11 and that is why we invaded that country. Their politicians, pundits, talk-show hosts, bloggers, news anchors, op-ed writers, letter-to-the-editor writers and others all said it, using largely the same "tested" words and phrases, on the radio, in the newspapers, in their blogs and on their TV channels. Progressive bloggers responded with the truth, but who did they reach?
The right talks to the public, and it works. Support for Initial Invasion Has Risen, Poll Shows,
Americans’ support for the initial invasion of Iraq has risen somewhat as the White House has continued to ask the public to reserve judgment about the war until at least the fall.And other lies continue as well. Just today, for example, from the right-wing Heritage Foundation, The War in Iraq: Answers to Frequently Asked Questions,
[. . .] However, the number of people who say the war is going “very badly” has fallen from 45 percent earlier in July to a current reading of 35 percent...
[. . .] The poll’s findings are in line with those of one conducted last week by The New York Times and CBS News.
While WMD were not found, some may have been moved to Syria in the convoys of hundreds of trucks that crossed the border just before the U.S.-led intervention and during the first few weeks of fighting.Right, blame Clinton. But it was Clinton who did something about Iraq's WMD, and tried to do something about al Qaeda before 9/11, not Bush. Remember the "aspirin factory?"
[. . .] If the U.S. pulls out of Iraq before it has a stable government capable of defending itself, the likes of bin Laden will have a safe haven from which to attack the U.S. again.
[. . .] If we stand back and allow al-Qaeda's terrorists to succeed, they will turn Iraq into a base for attacking us, just as they turned Afghanistan into a base for attacking us. The Clinton Administration decided that the U.S. had no stake in the civil war in Afghanistan in the 1990s. Only after the Taliban allowed al-Qaeda to operate from its territory did we discover—too late—that we did have a stake there.
Progressives need to start reaching the general public with the truth as well as each other. We need to start working together to fund and build the organizational infrastructure to develop and test messaging, then coordinate the use of messaging, train speakers, employ pundits, develop media channels, etc.
July 8, 2007
Organizers say Live Earth's internet audience may have been as many as two billion people*. But how is it reported today? Earth underwhelmed by environment pop extravaganza ,
They rocked the world, but as the clean-up at nine climate change gigs around the globe begins, many wonder if the galaxy of pop stars did much to change it.Murdoch's Times of London had this ready, Live Earth fails to pack large-scale punch, and Murdoch's Fox News was ready with this one, reminiscent of the energy-use smear on Al Gore that came out the day after he won the Oscar for An Inconvenient Truth (see part 2 also), 'Green' Means Money, Not Environmentalism to Madonna,
U.S. and British media were generally underwhelmed on Sunday by Live Earth, the mega-concert organized by former U.S. vice president and green campaigner Al Gore, which, though built on the model of Live Aid and Live 8, created a less positive buzz.
Madonna had better clean up her business before she starts cleaning up the world.
... Madonna, who seems to be on top of all her many business endeavors, has actually invested about $2.7 million dollars in companies that are creating the destruction that Live Earth is trying to raise awareness about. She has invested in several companies named as the biggest corporate polluters in the world.
.. The companies include Alcoa, Ingersoll Rand, Weyerhaeuser, and several others associated with oil exploration, digging, and refining including British Petroleum, Schlumberger (a chief competitor of Halliburton), Devon Energy, Peabody Energy, Emerson Electric, Kimberly Clark and Weatherford International.
... one has to wonder why Madonna has put even a penny into the company if she has any feeling for environmental causes. But that's an inconvenient question for the material girl as she prepares to close the Live Earth show live from London.
Nice try, but people do understand the problem and are going to continue to pressure the government for action.
*P.S. MSN reports 9 million streaming, AOL reports 5 million. AND,
Control Room, producer of Live Earth and Live 8, said it found that the on-demand streams in the days after the Live 8 had the most impact, especially after clips were passed around by e-mail.So two billion seems high, but one heck of a lot of people did and will tune in for sure.
Live 8 was streamed by users more than 100 million times in the six weeks following the shows.
Live Earth is predicted to be three times bigger with organizers expecting more than 80 percent of the viewership will be on-demand in the days after the event.
June 25, 2007
The right has launched a pre-emptive attack on the Fairness Doctrine.
Contradiction alert: if the right says the media is dominated by liberals, why would they oppose a doctrine requiring presentation of differing points of view? Oops!
The Conservative Voice: The Nazification of the American Left,
..Given their desire to censor, even to prohibit, conservative speech, it is clear that American liberals are much more in tune with Goebbels than with our cherished First Amendment rights. ... Imagine what Goebbels could have accomplished if he’d had what American fascists have had at their disposal for decades: four major television networks – ABC, CBS, NBC, and CNN – with a stable of star-quality propagandists, such as Walter Cronkite, Dan Rather, Tom Brokaw, Peter Jennings, Bill Moyers, Keith Olbermann, and Rosie O’Donnell, in their pocket. ... George Soros, the anti-American billionaire who now owns a controlling interest in the party ...Drudge is pushing it, too
June 22, 2007
Free Press and The Center for American Progress have teamed up to produce a report on tal radio that is very interesting. The Structural Imbalance of Political Talk Radio. Some excerpts from the summary:
...in recent years, Americans listened on average to 19 hours of radio per week in 2006.And what options are presented to the public by these stations?
Among radio formats, the combined news/talk format (which includes news/talk/information and talk/personality) leads all others in terms of the total number of stations per format and trails only country music in terms of national audience share. Through more than 1,700 stations across the nation, the combined news/talk format is estimated to reach more than 50 million listeners each week.
* Our analysis in the spring of 2007 of the 257 news/talk stations owned by the top five commercial station owners reveals that 91 percent of the total weekday talk radio programming is conservative, and 9 percent is progressive.Yikes! This study demonstrates that consumers are not allowed choices of different opinions and analisys. These stations are licensed to use public airwaves. By limiting choices in this way, are they serving the public interest?
* Each weekday, 2,570 hours and 15 minutes of conservative talk are broadcast on these stations compared to 254 hours of progressive talk—10 times as much conservative talk as progressive talk.
* A separate analysis of all of the news/talk stations in the top 10 radio markets reveals that 76 percent of the programming in these markets is conservative and 24 percent is progressive, although programming is more balanced in markets such as New York and Chicago.
Is it a licensing issue? Again, from the study,
Ownership diversity is perhaps the single most important variable contributing to the structural imbalance based on the data. Quantitative analysis conducted by Free Press of all 10,506 licensed commercial radio stations reveals that stin, from the study,ations owned by women, minorities, or local owners are statistically less likely to air conservative hosts or shows.
In contrast, stations controlled by group owners—those with stations in multiple markets or more than three stations in a single market—were statistically more likely to air conservative talk.
June 14, 2007
At about 12:30pm Pacific I turned on the TV and clicked over to CNN for a minute. On the screen was a reporter interviewing Barbara Walters, because Walters was the only journalist who had interviewed Paris Hilton in jail.
That’s it. That's news in America. This news wasn't even news about Paris Hilton, it was news about the news interviewing Paris Hilton.
So I got on the internet and visited BBC News to see what news is like in England today. They are covering boring stuff, like the Hamas-Fatah war.
Al Jazeera is covering that, the Iraq mosque attacks, the assassination in Beirut, North Korea ... boring.
Nothing about Paris Hilton so I guess I'll go back to CNN.
May 28, 2007
Rick Perlstein notes the rise in Right-Wing Terrorism, and the major news media's failure to connect the dots.
May 23, 2007
I saw Al Gore talk at a book signing for his book, The Assault On Reason, in Marin County (north of San Francisco) this evening. He was supposed to talk for a short time, take questions and sign books, but he just got going an gave one of the most inspired, intelligent and I think historically important articulations of the current threat to the American experiment and our democracy that I have heard. He was just on fire.
Gore says our country’s problems go beyond the manipulations and corruptions of Bush and Cheney. He talks about what has happened to this country that we could have ever allow a Bush and Cheney and their lies and evasions and incuriosity to take the reigns of our government – and allowed them to stay there after it became clear what they are about. And he has some very insightful things to say about the historical forces that brought us where we are, and how they might guide us through this.
At times he sounded like a guru, talking about “truthforce,” about how honesty enables us to see clearly without the distortions and distractions that come from constant TV exposure to trivia like gossip about Paris Hilton and Britney and work to push deadly situations like the Iraq war and global warming from our discourse. This is a man who has thought about what is happening to us, and who has the vision and experience to come up with some answers.
He asked how could not just the President, but the Congress, the media and the rest of our system of checks and balances and watchdogs have let Iraq – which he called the worst strategic blunder in our history – happen? How could he public have been fooled into thinking that Iraq had anything to do with 9/11? It’s not just Bush who did that – it’s all of us. Bush is just a symptom. We are ALL responsible for the decisions our country makes. So we all have to get involved and start fixing this broken system. Democracy is not a spectator sport.
I have only had time to read excerpts from Gore’s book, The Assault On Reason, but I predict that the conversation it fuels will be fundamentally and historically important. Buy this book! And listen for news of Gore coming to your area, or appearing on TV, to talk about this subject. The guy is just on fire and I think that fire could catch and spread and help bring about the changes we need.
It’s late or I would write more. I am inspired. (does it show?) I hope that a video of this evening’s talk surfaces soon. I'll post about it if I learn of one.
May 7, 2007
I came across this New York Magazine interview with Mike Gravel, and it is one more example of why mainstream, grassroots people are turning away from the "traditional" media. Many are turning to blogs.
The star of last week's Democratic presidential debate was a fringe contender Mike Gravel, 77, a former Alaska senator, who became a blogosphere sensation for saying that it should be a felony for Dubya & Co. to stay in Iraq.OK, let's take this step by step. Why is the word "fringe" in there? Next, that is not what the guy said. He said the following,
We need to find another way. I really would like to sit down with Pelosi and with Reid, and I would hope the other senators would focus on, how do you get out? You pass the law, not a resolution, a law making it a felony to stay there. And I'll give you the text of it.And then, of course, is the nasty ending:
And if you're worried about filibuster, here's what you do tactically. They can pass it in the House. We've got the votes there.
We've got the votes there.
In the Senate, let them filibuster it. And let Reid call up every -- at 12:00 every day to have a cloture vote. And let the American people see clearly who's keeping the war going and who's not.
Do you think Dennis Kucinich is angry you're stealing his thunder as the left-wing fringe candidate?"Left-wing fringe" Right.
Stop that. I'm not the far-left fringe candidate, and please don't write that. We've had somewhat of a testy conversation in this interview, and now we've got to end this.
So there's a Neiman Macrus ad and a Delta Airlines ad on the page. Their media kit says they have 90,000 unique visitors per day. (yeah, right.) Their rate card says there is a $20,000 minimum to run an ad there. The Neiman Marcus ad has a $40 CPM which means they pay $3600 each day so those supposed 90,000 unique visitors can hear about how Americans who oppose the Iraq war are the "left-wing fringe".
I don't charge nearly as much for an ad, and I don't insult readers. Except certain ones. You know who you are.
I don't know what it's going to take to kill the "teenagers in their pajamas" stereotype but I suppose I should be grateful. If these people were any less lazy and stupid we wouldn't have a readership.Exactly. The reason blogger have readers is because the "traditional" media is not serving the public interest.
In the above-referenced post, Jane quotes from the 2006 Blogads Readership Survey:
The median political blog reader is a 43 year old man with an annual family income of $80,000. He reads 6 blogs a day for 10 hours a week. 39% have post-graduate degrees. 70% have contributed to a campaign.Here's the thing. News is now a business, not a public service. There is a fundamental conflict between serving the larger public good and being a business. It is one or the other, not both. It is foolish to have any other expectation.
The only way to change that is to mandate that the media act in the public interest.
April 30, 2007
This is just offensive: Wag the Blog: What's Next for Democrats on Iraq - The Fix,
Some Democratic strategists fret that by turning the Iraq debate into a war of words on funding for the troops, an idea which Americans generally still support, the party could watch a political winner turn into a loser at the ballot box in 2008.We passed 100 American soldiers dead so far this month. How many Iraqis? How many "contractors?" How much closer is the Middle East to a regional conflict breaking out?
Today's Wag the Blog question asks The Fix's community to sound off on what the Democrats' best next move is -- politically -- when it comes to the debate over the war.
Should Democrats escalate the current standoff and provoke a showdown with the White House over funding? Or should Democrats compromise in hopes of negotiating some sort of timeline for withdrawal? If they pursue the former strategy, will it risk turning off moderate voters who will be key in next year's presidential and congressional races? And if it's the latter, will the vocal liberal wing of the party revolt, attacking congressional leaders seen as too moderate on the war issue.
Remember the issue is not which argument makes the most sense from a policy perspective, but rather which one is the savviest from a political viewpoint.
And "some Democratic strategists" and the Washington media crowd want to talk about who it's helping politically.
April 13, 2007
Are times beginning to change - a little bit? An actual mention of Media Matters in the newspaper!
While radio shock jock Don Imus was hanging up his cowboy hat and getting canned Wednesday from his MSNBC TV show and then Thursday from CBS for a racial slur made a week earlier, the Washington, D.C., organization Media Matters for America was scratching a notch on its belt.
In its third year, the non-profit with 50 employees and a budget of $3 million to $4 million was getting its biggest recognition so far for its efforts to "monitor, analyze and correct conservative misinformation."
Over three years, and to the ire of the conservatives it targets, the group had reported some 15 other examples of racist speech by the popular in-the-Beltway host, as well as countless corrections to reports in major media outlets, from the New York Times to Fox News. But even it was surprised that the Imus incident was the spark that caught fire.
"We were the first to draw attention to the comments a week ago," said Jamison Foser, the organization's managing director. "We focused a great deal of effort to make sure that people understood this wasn't an isolated incident, as he was claiming afterward."
April 7, 2007
Is it just me, or does it seem to you like the media is much more in the tank for Bush and the right since the election?
On another subject, does it seem to you that the US Attorney scandal has faded from the news with nothing being done, leaving in place US Attorneys who let Republicans and corporate criminals off the hook, while investigating or indicting Democrats? My prediction - if these US Attorneys stay in place, the lead-up to the 2008 election will include LOTS of news stories about Democrats being investigated and indicted, and no stories about Republicans being investigated at all.
April 1, 2007
How many ways can one news outlet demonstrate that it is out of touch with the public in one week?
March 23, 2007
I was on a panel at UC Berkeley this week with some political reporters from TV and newspapers. (I will write more about this soon.) I represented the voice of the people - the scary bloggers.
One question was about the concentration of media into fewer and fewer corporate hands. I said that one result is that you no longer see union voices represented in the major media, and that you will never hear the case for why people should join unions and the benefits people receive from union membership, and that this amounts to outright censorship. You just can not expect corporations to allow this case to be presented. This really upset the journalists. The audience - US Berkeley students heading to summer intern jobs in Washington - loved it.
One of the panelists offered that the reason you don't get the union viewpoint is that so few Americans are members of unions. It was worded, "How many Americans are members of unions?" I responded, "How many Americans work for a living?"
Then I asked, "How any Americans are CEOs?" One of the panelists offered that the decisions CEOs make affect all of us, so it is important to cover the viewpoints of CEOs.
What I wish I had said was, "Shouldn't it be the other way around? Shouldn't the decisions all of us make affect CEOs? Isn't that how a DEMOCRACY should operate?"
March 15, 2007
The vast majority of American voters believe media bias is alive and well – 83% of likely voters said the media is biased in one direction or another, while just 11% believe the media doesn’t take political sides, a recent IPDI/Zogby Interactive poll shows.Even 17% of Democrats believe the media is left-wing.
... Nearly two-thirds of those online respondents who detected bias in the media (64%) said the media leans left, while slightly more than a quarter of respondents (28%) said they see a conservative bias on their TV sets and in their column inches.
... While 97% of Republicans surveyed said the media are liberal, two-thirds of political independents feel the same, but fewer than one in four independents (23%) said they saw a conservative bias.
March 1, 2007
By Dave Johnson and James Boyce
There's a tragic but true old expression that a lie can make it half way around the world before the truth can even get its pants on. Sadly, this has been proven true again this week with the $mear attack on Vice President Al Gore and his energy consumption.
Today, we noticed that the lie has made it to Germany. How did this happen and, more to the point, why does it continue to happen?
As Media Matters continues to speak out about every single day - and we all owe them thanks - the corporate media in America absolutely fails to serve the interest of the public. How could they spread this lie? How does a small, unknown organization with a $100,000 budget issue a press release containing a $mear on a respected former Vice President of the United States and have their lie echoed around the world within hours? Pathetic. (Just look at their IRS form! No officers, directors or trustees? Very little information? A P.O. box? Is it normal for an organization to spend that high a percentage of their funds on "meals?") One reporter asking one question about this group, or about the facts behind Gore's energy use, and the story is over. But they didn't.
Furthermore, it's our collective fault. As we noted in our post a few days ago, no one should have been surprised when Al Gore was attacked for the positive press he and his movie received last weekend. An Inconvenient Truth was sure to win an Oscar. Gore would then speak to a billion people about the problem of global warming. The well-funded global warming denial industry would respond, and $mearing people is their standard method of attack. They destroy our leaders.
And yet, there was surprise and a lack of preparation to fight back. How many times will one of our leaders be attacked and be marginalized before we get it through our thick heads that this is a pattern? How many times will this happen before we start to do something about it?
Al Gore was mocked as "ozone man". Max Cleland destroyed. Howard Dean screamed out of town. McGovern, Carter, Mondale, Dukakis, and Bill Clinton $meared and $meared and even impeached. Then the lies about Al Gore during his campaign against Bush. Then John Kerry swiftboated. Now Hillary Clinton and Barak Obama and John Edwards attacked. They destroy our leaders.
And not only are the targets of the attacks often caught off guard, but the Democratic institutions and leaders are often nowhere to be found when it happens!
Where was the Democratic National Committee on Tuesday and Wednesday as these lies gained hold? Where was any Democratic-oriented Group? There were the progressive bloggers, Media Matters and CAP's Think Progess and very few others -- the usual suspects -- and this is all that Gore and our other leaders have watching their backs. They sure aren't watching each other's.
Last fall, we (James, Dave and Taylor Marsh) worked together on The Patriot Project. We struggled mightily to raise money to help veteran candidates like Joe Sestak, Patrick Murphy, Charlie Brown, Jack Murtha and Chris Carney. We raised money online but traditional donors didn't help us. The progressive bloggers are also largely unfunded and are the targets of strategic marginalization attacks themselves. The progressive donor base continues to play it safe and avoid controversy, funding the large, stale, DC-based "traditional" organizations.
And the attacks continue.
When John Kerry was the focus of the machine when he botched his joke, the wingnuts misrepresented what he said and pretended outrage, the right's online sites echoed and amplified the smear, the Drudge Report spread it widely, Limbaugh blasted it out, and then the networks dutifully picked it up and spread the lie to the rest of the country. And not only did no Democrat come to his aid, some actually piled on.
When Nancy Pelosi was $meared with the lie that she "demanded a luxury jet" the wingnuts misrepresented what she said and pretended outrage, the right's online sites echoed and amplified the smear, the Drudge Report spread it widely, Limbaugh blasted it out, and then the networks dutifully picked it up and spread the lie to the rest of the country. But how many leading Democrats and organizations joined forces to protect her?
How many similar episodes have we seen in just the last few months? Where are the Democratic institutions? Where are the other Democratic leaders? Don't they understand that they're next?
And this week here was Al Gore getting blind-sided and the silence was deafening. One more sad but clear example of what ails our party and our leaders.
It is a tragedy.
First the wingnuts came for Bill Clinton,
I remained silent;
I am not Bill Clinton.
When they made up stuff about Gore,
I remained silent;
I am not Gore.
When they lied about John Kerry
I didn't speak up for him;
I complained about how he ran his campaign.
When they came for me,
there was no one left to speak out;
I am a Democrat.
February 23, 2007
I glanced at "The Note" this morning to get the Washington Insider view of things.
"See the Democrats in Congress not falling into the Republicans' trap (yet) and avoiding a stop-the-war strategy that will (fully) open them up to charges of abandoning the troops. As they tinker with various legislative efforts to achieve their goal of bringing American troops home, Democrats have three main goals: (1) appease their base; (2) keep their coalition together; and (3) most of all, pressure enough Republicans to demand that the President change course. Oh: and: as a political matter, is the surge working?"I have to give them credit for saying right at the start, "to achieve their goal of bringing the troops home." But the rest of it? The rest of it is about the politics of it. In fact the entire rest of today's Note is about "the politics" of everything - which is to say, about nothing.
The DC media perspective is about the politics. The blogger perspective is about what is happening in the real world. A lot of people are content to argue about politics and positions. I guess it's easier, emotionally, than thinking about the real world.
Here are some things going on in the real world:
Those people in Iraq are D.E.A.D.
That national debt is Money. That. We. Owe.
Houses and buildings Will. Be. Under. Water. from global warming.
Every single day that the posturing continues more people die in Iraq, more carbon goes into the air, more money is owed.
It really is this simple.
February 13, 2007
Another day, another right-wing lie spreads through the media and across the country...
The current $mear on Speaker Pelosi is a case study in how the right-wing $mear machine operates. The right has been working to spread a lie that Speaker Pelosi “demanded” a “luxury jet” to fly herself and “supporters” and “contributors” around. The lie is effective because it ties a current event to a deeper, long-term resentment narrative about “limousine liberals” that the right has been pushing for years. It is spreading across the country because it is passed through a prepared pipe to the places where the general public receives their information.
The facts are simple: since 9/11, for obvious security reasons, the Speaker of the House of Representatives (who is next in line behind the Vice President to become President) has flown on government rather than commercial aircraft. Speaker Pelosi is from California, so with the House now back to a five-day workweek the Sergeant-at-Arms of the House of Representatives requested a jet that can make it to California non-stop. According to the Sergeant-at-Arms,
"The fact that Speaker Pelosi lives in California compelled me to request an aircraft that is capable of making non-stop flights for security purposes, unless such an aircraft is unavailable."That is the entire story, period. But the right’s propaganda machine has been working to blow this up into a story that supports their “limousine liberal” resentment narrative, adding various embellishments with each passing day. According to this narrative, liberals are rich “elitists” from the coasts who think they are smarter and generally superior to the “regular people” in “the heartland.” This is meant to create a resentment backlash, bringing votes to conservative candidates so they can get into office … and give tax cuts to rich elitists.
Over several days, the “Pelosi plane” story has been expanded into a fable that has Speaker Pelosi “demanding” a “floating pleasure palace,” a “luxury 757” with two beds, a bar, and 40 first-class seats, so she can “transport her political cronies, favorite Members of Congress, congressional staffers, friends and relatives.”
An interesting point to note about this story is that such government planes do exist. The Bush administration has actually purchased such planes for use by executive branch officials and military brass. But this “use of luxury aircraft at taxpayer's expense” is not objected to in the retelling of this story. The objection is to their use by Speaker of the House Pelosi in particular. So perhaps part of the right’s anger driving this issue can be laid to authoritarian resentment about a member of Congress - “the People’s House” - a female Speaker, no less - being “demanding” enough to possibly gain use of one of “their” luxury planes.
As so many $mears do, this one originated with the Reverend Moon's Washington Times and was quickly spread across the right's echo chamber. Though the Reverend Moon preaches that Christianity must be “torn down” because he is the true Prophet and our “True Parent,” the Christian Coalition again joined forces with him to condemn Pelosi,
Christian Coalition of America condemns the new Speaker of the House of Representatives, Nancy Pelosi, Democrat from San Francisco, for trying to get luxurious travel paid for by the American taxpayers. Is a first class seat on a commercial jet no longer good enough for Speaker Pelosi? Nancy Pelosi is demanding that the Air Force provide her with a large jet on demand - “Pelosi One” - so she can transport her political cronies, favorite Members of Congress, congressional staffers, friends and relatives back and forth to her district in San Francisco every week.Others joined forces with Moon’s efforts. The New York Post wrote in the story,
AIR-OGANT NANCY, DEMANDS 22G-AN-HOUR JET OF SAME TYPE VEEP GETS,
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi is demanding regular use of the military's "Lincoln Bedroom" in the sky - a luxurious aircraft of the same type that carries Vice President Dick Cheney and First Lady Laura Bush on official trips, officials said yesterday.Far-right outlets like NewsMax echoed and amplified the $mear. The Republican Party itself put up a web page titled, “Non-Stop” Nancy Seeks Flight Of Fancy, claiming,
In a development that has some Republicans and defense officials fuming, Pelosi recently asked the Pentagon to give her access to the Air Force's super-opulent C-32 for flights to her San Francisco home and other official trips.
The floating pleasure palace is a reconfigured Boeing 757 stored at Andrews Air Force Base with Air Force One and the rest of the fleet of executive aircraft.
The aircraft has a game room, stateroom, showers, a communications center and seats 42 to 50 people, according to the Air Force.
It costs taxpayers $22,000 an hour to operate, according to military and congressional sources.
“It will be a flying Lincoln Bedroom,” said House GOP Whip Rep. Roy Blunt (R-Mo.).
“This shows an unprecedented sense of entitlement. This is a symbol of hypocrisy, this is a symbol of excess and this is a symbol of arrogance,” said a member of the House Republican Conference.
Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) Wants Non-Stop Military Aircraft For Herself, Staff, Family, And Other Members In California DelegationAnd right-wing talk radio has, of course, echoed the $mear all day, every day.
But the right’s “echo chamber” reaches far beyond newspapers, TV and radio. People receive information in lots of ways, and the conservative machine has studied them and puts them to use. Online message boards and e-mail chain-forwarding, for example, can be a useful barometer of right-wing smear-planting operations. The same wording repeated at many boards often indicates that something is going on. The number of examples resulting from a Google search for the phrase “Nancy Pelosi's Gas Guzzling 757 Flying Bedroom”, for example, demonstrates that this may be occurring.
Note: The author of this message requested that it not be archived. This message will be removed from Groups in 4 days (Feb 16, 2:21 pm).Many similar examples can be found across the Internet. A Google search for the terms “Pelosi” with the term “757” already yields over 160,000 results. A quick check shows that a substantial number of the listed results are about this particular story.
The list of things Nancy Pelosi (allegedly) wants with relation to her air travel just gets funnier and funnier every day. Each new day someone comes up with something wilder she allegedly is asking for. So here's the Top Ten List of what Nancy Pelosi wants:
10. Hot male strippers as pilots
9. Young gay nubile boyz as flight attendants
8. Hot lesbian oil wrestlers for inflight entertainment
7. Nonstop supply of recreational drugs
6. Wall-to-wall mattresses for Democratic Party orgies
5. An olympic sized swimming pool
4. Dubya's bronzed balls mounted in a trophy case by the plane door
3. A Boeing 747 - previously the largest commercial plane in the world
2. An Airbus A380 - the current largest commercial plane in the world
1. The Space Shuttle!
“Heartland” newspapers piled on, picking up the “limousine liberal” narrative. The Evansville Courier Press, for example, in and editorial titled Air Pelosi, The Issue: House speaker demands airliner-sized jet, writes,
… She is demanding - and, given her style, “demand” is the correct verb - that the Pentagon supply her with an airliner-size jet, the military version of a Boeing 757, to fly her to and from her San Francisco district.Even though no facts supported Reverend Moon’s smear, the $mear quickly migrated to the corporate media, as documented by Media Matters and Think Progress, with CBS News (and here), Nightline, CNN, NBC’s Today, MSNBC, and , as the right's Media Research Center bragged, others. (Media Matters covers this topic in detail here.)
… One Republican-allied group weighed in, decrying the “42 leather business-class seats, a fully enclosed stateroom for Nancy Pelosi, stewards who serve meals and tend an open bar, and other such luxuries aboard.”
Maybe that's a little overwrought, but Pelosi should know from what happened to the House Republicans last November that voters resent what they saw as the GOP's overweening sense of entitlement and privilege.
Right-wing weblogs also helped spread the story. The weblog GOP Bloggers, in Democrats Weak on America's Enemies, Tough on America's Armed Forces, wrote,
If these matters weren't so serious, it would be humorous to watch the Democrats wield their power in the clean, non-corrupt and open way they advertised prior to the election.The weblog Redstate, in the post, Roy Blunt on "Pelosi One", wrote,
In case you have not heard, Nancy Pelosi is trying to take advantage of her position and force the military to provide her with a 50 passenger plane which would be about the size of a Boeing 757.The weblog Right Wing News, in the post Queen Nancy’s Plane, amplifying yet another Washington Times story on the subject, wrote,
[. . .] For those of you who still do not believe Pelosi and Democrats are obessed with power I would ask you to think again.
At first, it was hard to pay attention to this scrap between the military and Nancy Pelosi over how big of a military plane she'd get, but when it gets to the point where Pelosi wants to inconvenience the troops so she can shuttle her political supporters around the country with her, that's a little much.The "military weblog" Blackfive, in the post BLACKFIVE: Pelosi's Air Force wrote,
[. . .] If it were up to Nancy Pelosi, the troops getting ready to go overseas would sit and wait for a larger plane while she had the military ferry her and her campaign contributors across the country on junkets. The military is not a taxi service.
Coming from perhaps the least military friendly district in America, it is a little disgusting to watch Nancy Pelosi shamelessly try to use her new power to get as many toys and perks as possible.Particularly revealing about these weblog posts are the comments they elicit. For example, one commenter writes,
She has basically put the Air Force on notice that she and an entourage must be transported at a moments notice in the largest and most luxurious manner possible. She shunned the C-20 that Speaker Hastert used as insufficient for her needs. It's a Gulfstream IV FFS, a luxury jet that billionaires fly on. But Speaker Grandma needs more. She wants her own military 757 and a crew of 14 to handle her and up to 50 guests, family, and hangers on.
The idea that Speaker Granny is too lofty to stop in Podunkia somewhere and gas up her Gulfstream IV is pathetic.Another writes,
They'd have to stop somewhere in "flyover country," and exposure to how the real America lives would be too much for HM Queen Nancy to handle.Note the "heartland resentment" narrative.
Other comments illustrate anti-democratic authoritarian resentment,
She should be happy the Pentagon makes jets available to her in the first place.And,
They despise the military, unless and until THEY need them.Another commenter resorts to eliminationist threats, writing,
…Just throw her out in mid-air. Murtha, what a fat, bloated stuffed shirt. He really f'd himself, he needs a grenade stuffed down his throat.So there you have it. Another day, another right-wing lie told and re-told. This is the pipe. At one end you have the strategic, coordinated $mear pushed out to the public. Coming out the other end you have the street-level reaction: resentment and threats of violence.
A final note - Newsweek today continues the circulation of the lie, complete with conservative narrative reinforcement, writing, (with a big, red down-arrow):
"Sure Hastert had military jet, but seeking bigger one (to go nonstop) makes her sound like a 757 liberal."
February 9, 2007
Before 1987 the government required that our broadcast frequencies be used in the public interest. Broadcasters were required to present a diversity of information and opinion. This was because it was understood that it was essential to democracy that the public receive diverse ideas and information.
In 1987 the Reagan administration removed the requirement that our broadcast frequencies be used in the public interest. They said that “the market” (a few people with lots of money) rather than the public (the public) should decide the best way to use this public (public) asset.
No longer required to act in the public interest, the media immediately ceased acting in the public interest. Instead they, of course, began to advance the profit interests of the corporatocracy, exactly as was predicted back when the requirements that the broadcast media act in the public interest were imposed. That is what "the market" means. The market serves the market's interests, not the public's.
The results are obvious - we no longer hear the ideas of, for example, labor leaders. (For just one example out of hundreds of examples.) We do not see comprehensive, informative, investigative documentaries on the problems facing society. We do not hear news that harms the interests of advertisers - or media companies and the companies that own them. (When was the last time you heard about the benefits of being a union member on a TV show? What percentage of broadcast time is used for commercial entertainment purposes rather than informative or educational topics?)
People who complain about "the media" and expect them to be impartial, neutral, informative and/or objective and balanced - or otherwise act in the public interest - do not understand the difference between required to act in the public interest and not required to act in the public interest. If you require them to, and enforce that, they will occasionally act in the public interest. If you do not, they will not -- and expecting them to is entirely misunderstanding the conflict between the requirements of "the market" and democracy.
This has been an episode of medium-length answers to simple questions.
January 29, 2007
Never say "pilotless drone." Ever. There can be consequences. This guy might call you up and leave a message on your voicemail.
He needs to start a blog.
January 23, 2007
Big-time media guy blogs and gets every fact wrong. Commenters point it out. Big-time media guy then writes a post saying, "the left is as full of unthinking Ditto-heads as Limbaugh-land."
Please, please, please go read the comments!!! Please!
Seriously, take some time off. Maybe take a refresher at a local community college. Or maybe look into one of those air conditioner repair courses. It's supposed to be a lucrative field.and
Wow-comparing fact-based commenters to unthinking dittoheads form Limbaugh-land. That's going to win you some friends.
What is this assumption that people are from "the left" when they point out errors?
January 22, 2007
Just the headline: Fragile Hopes for Bipartisan Rescue of Social Security - New York Times
"Rescue?" The Social Security trust fund is solvent - no problems at all. But the NY Times story talks about "the long-term fiscal problems in Social Security."
This framing of "going broke" and needing "rescue" comes from a long-term strategy to get rid of Social Security by portraying it as a "ponzi scheme," "going broke," "needing to be fixed," etc. This strategy was laid out in a 1983 Cato Institute document. The document even describes the strategy as "Leninist."
Do not be fooled. There is nothing wrong with Social Security, it is not "going broke," there is no need to "fix" it. It is solvent, and will continue to provide retirement, disability and other benefits to Americans without changes.
January 10, 2007
MySpace, owned by Fox News, refused to allow Common Cause to run an ad opposing media consolidation.
Update - I originally posted the ad with a link so others could get the ad and post it. Then I visited the Common Cause blog and learned that they are paying some sites to run the ad. Which made me realize they were making fools of all of us who ran it for free - a trick to get free PR from dedicated progressives, while paying the big sites. So I took it out of this post.
MySpace shouldn't have refused the ad and supposed progressive organizations should stop exploiting dedicated progressives.
January 3, 2007
Did you know that TV and radio stations are using YOUR common airwaves and are therefore required to serve the public interest?
The Oregon Alliance to Reform Media, or ARM, has filed a petition at the FCC to deny its renewal of all the commercial TV station licenses in Portland, Ore., saying its coverage of elections does not meet the FCC's standard of public-interest service, which is to meet the needs of the community.Of course, this is the BUSH FCC, so they'll just refuse to do anything. But maybe if we alert the public and make enough noise... now that there is oversight, maybe the Congress will work to force the Bush FCC to enforce the law.
The group uses as supporting material a study from the Campaign Media Legal Center that found that, in the four weeks prior to the election in 2004, less than 1% of newscasts were devoted to coverage of state elections, about 9% to ballot issues and less than 1% to local elections.
The group claims the study covered "substantially all of the regularly scheduled locally produced news available in Portland."
The group argues that the FCC must at least designate the license challenge for hearing--something it rarely does--saying that its petition raises "substantial and material questions of fact" that make that designation mandatory.
Of course, the FCC can also conclude that the evidence does not meet that burden of proof, as it did recently in denying a license challenge to Chicago commercial stations over minority issues.
December 20, 2006
In The Blog Mob, Assistant Features Editor Joseph Rago doesn't like democracy -- not one bit. He thinks what you read should be controlled by gatekeeper "journalists." Himself, namely.
He says blogs are mostly awful, appalling, boring. He says "The petty interpolitical feuding mainly points out that someone is a liar or an idiot or both." So at least we know what he is afraid we will discover if blogs write about him and the rest of the WSJ editorial page.
I suspect the online WSJ needs traffic and is "trolling for hits." Accommodate them - go read it.
December 19, 2006
In the new corporate-owned America a newspaper owner tells people in the newsroom what to print. They quit - or are fired when they won't do what the owner wants because they consider it unethical. Journalists write about the story and are sued for libel and "product disparagement." See Publisher of Santa Barbara paper sues journalist over AJR story
A local barber puts a sign in his shop window supporting the workers, and is threatened with a lawsuit. See Santa Barbara News-Press Owner Threatens Hair Stylist Over Sign
December 14, 2006
A quick comment on all the big-name pundits and Washington insiders who criticize "the bloggers" and question their legitimacy: Anyone can start a blog.
Here is what I am saying. When you criticize "the bloggers" and question the legitimacy of what they are saying, you are questioning the concept of democracy itself. ANYone can start a blog -- so everyone is a blogger. If it makes you uncomfortable that the rabble is allowed to speak and express their opinions you need to think about your own understanding of and commitment to democracy. The blogs that reach prominence do so through an entirely democratic process - people have chosen to read or echo what is being written on them.
It's not the bloggers you have a beef with, it's the blogs themselves -- the tool that lets the public have a say.
November 28, 2006
I submitted an op-ed to a major newspaper, advocating restoring the Fairness Doctrine. The editor wrote back saying he was rejecting it because he can't think of any examples of bias or unanswered attacks on broadcast media. Heh. I'll submit it to a different paper - maybe one with an editor that owns a radio.
November 17, 2006
And watch the TV pundits reaction as they strive to shape America's opinion.
It's modern America -- in The Propaganda Age.
November 9, 2006
It is time to restore the Fairness Doctrine!
How many of you have heard of the Fairness Doctrine? Public broadcasters are licensed to use OUR airwaves. It used to be that in order to be licensed they were required to serve the public interest. One part of that public interest was to present a balanced view of different political viewpoints and to cover controversial issues of public importance. This "Fairness Doctrine" requirement was intended to protect the public from the possibility of moneyed interests buying up all of the information sources, leaving the public hearing only their viewpoint.
There was also a personal attack rule, which required stations to notify people or groups who were attacked on their broadcasts and give them the opportunity to respond on the air. And, candidates were given the opportunity to respond to attacks or endorsements of opponents.
Ronald Reagan's FCC stopped enforcing and then got rid of the Fairness Doctrine. Congress restored it but Reagan vetoed that. Under President George HW Bush Congress again restored it but it was vetoed. Then, under President Clinton the House passed it but the Republicans in the Senate blocked it with a filibuster. In the last six years Republicans controlled the House, Senate and Presidency and were quite happy with broadcasters presenting only a narrow corporate viewpoint, and allowing personal attacks to go unanswered.
It is time to restore the Fairness Doctrine!
Restoring the Fairness Doctrine would open up America's "marketplace of ideas." It would help to restore civility to our public discourse. It would help restore our democracy.
If the Fairness Doctrine were restored we would begin to see a variety of issues covered by the broadcast media, from a variety of perspectives. Currently we only see subjects that the corporate world is interested in, covered from a pro-corporate perspective. Imagine the effect on the country if the public were exposed to a variety of viewpoints on issues like trade, consumer protection, sustainability, unions, health care, global warming and energy, religion, the environment, nutrition, and SO MANY other issues!
Imagine the effect on our civic discourse if stations had to give time for a response to everyone that Rush Limbaugh or Ann Coulter smeared on the air!
It is time to restore the Fairness Doctrine!
November 8, 2006
In his press conference Bush just acknowledged lying to a group of conservative reporters last week, to their face, about Rumsfeld. Wow. He said something along the lines of, "I said that because I wanted you to think so-and-so" and that lying ""and it was the only way I could get you onto another topic." He made them look like fools and patsies in front of the press corps. I wonder if that will have repercussions?
Update - So another reporter asked him to clarify, and he is saying it (lying) was the right decision to make because injecting it (that there would be a change) into the media would harm the morale of the troops...
And he's talking about reporters trying to trick him and get him to say things... Wow.
Update - OK, the transcript,
You and Hunt and Keil came into the Oval Office and asked me to question one week before the campaign. Basically, are you going to do something about Rumsfeld and the Vice President? The reason why is I did not want to make a major decision in the final days of the campaign. The only way to answer that question, and get it on to another question, was to give you that answer. The truth of the matter is as well, that is one reason I gave the answer. The other reason why is I had not had a chance to visit with Bob Gates yet. I had not had my final conversation with Don Rumsfeld yet at that point. I had been talking with Don Rumsfeld over a period of time about fresh perspectives. He likes to call it fresh eyes.
I'm watching Speaker-to-be Nancy Pelosi's press conference. CNN cut it off. Fox cut it off to show Lieberman...
We have a LOT of work to do.
November 3, 2006
It was just two months ago that Democrats rolled out the Real Security Act of 2006, a plan whose legislative description left no doubt that Democrats had a plan, saying that it was designed "to provide real national security, restore United States leadership, and implement tough and smart policies to win the war on terror."Go read the whole thing!
"The Real Security Act of 2006 marks a major change from status quo Bush Republican policies that have left America less safe than it must be," said Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) in introducing the plan. "Unveiled against the backdrop of a new White House media offensive, the legislation spells out the tough and smart path to make America more secure and to deal more effectively with threats that confront America at home and abroad."
These days, you would never know that such a plan exists for two reasons. The first it that it was killed by the Senate GOP leadership on September 13, 2006 on a roll-call vote that went almost straight down party lines. The same Republicans who killed the Democratic plan now walk around saying the Democrats have no plan.
The second reason that the Democratic strategy is so hard to find is that the corporate media continues to let the no-plan nonsense go unchallenged because, I suppose, it would be too much like real work to read the 528-page piece of security legislation that the Democrats tried to pass.
October 19, 2006
Thom Hartmann writes over at Huffington Post on Why Air America Matters,
There are times when doing the profitable thing is also doing the right thing.Go read.
That's certainly what Roger Ailes and Rupert Murdoch thought when they lost an average of $90 million a year for about five years before the Fox News Channel became profitable. It's what Reverend Moon believes, as his Washington Times newspaper lost hundreds of millions of dollars and, according to some reports, even today continues to lose money.
October 18, 2006
From October 12-17, CNN aired 3,361 words about allegations that Senate Democratic Leader Harry Reid (NV) improperly reported a land deal in which he made $700,000.
Seventeen different CNN transcripts in the Nexis database include mention of the Reid land deal -- and that doesn't even count October 18, when CNN has aired at least one more lengthy segment on the deal.
By comparison, CNN has aired only 65 words about a land deal in which House Speaker J. Dennis Hastert (R-IL) made nearly $2 million, a story which was first reported by the Chicago Sun-Times on June 15. By contrast, the Reid land deal first broke a week ago, when the Associated Press reported on October 11 that Reid had made $700,000 "on a Las Vegas land sale even though he hadn't personally owned the property for three years."
October 16, 2006
This piece originally appeared on The Patriot Project
Wade Zirkle, Executive Director of Vets for Freedom Action Fund was invited last week to present a “free speech” commentary segment on the national TV “news” show CBS Evening News With Katie Couric. There is a problem with this. Vets for Freedom Action Fund is a “527” group – a campaign organization that appears to exist soley to support one candidate – Joe Lieberman’s Connecticut campaign for the Senate. So Zirkle’s presentation was not “commentary,” by definition it was a campaign speech supporting a partisan cause, delivered to a national audience a few weeks before an election.
CBS identifies Vets for Freedom Action Fund as a “bipartisan” organization. But it is not. Vets for Freedom Action Fund is entirely founded and controlled by Republican Party-aligned individuals, and its formation follows a pattern of formation of Party-aligned front groups for election-campaign purposes. In the August post Behind the Front: The Creation of Vets for Freedom, Patriot Project exposed Vets for Freedom as a Republican front group. From that post,
This "non-partisan" organization’s website was designed by The Donatelli Group/Campaign Solutions, which previously had worked with the infamous Swift Boat Veterans for Truth, as well as the White House-associated Judicial Confirmation Network, yet another well-financed, party-affiliated front group. Other Donatelli Group/Campaign Solutions clients include Bush-Cheney 2004, The Republican National Committee, the 2004 Republican National Convention...
The "non-partisan" Vets for Freedom originally had a privacy statement on their website that read, "We may from time to time share the information our visitors provide with other Republican candidates and other like-minded organizations."
The "non-partisan" Vets for Freedom included William Denman "Wade" Zirkle, who had helped run Republican Jerry Kilgore's 2005 campaign for governor of Virginia, and was campaign manager for Republican Todd Gilbert's 2005 race for the Virginia House of Delegates.
Because Vets for Freedom is a political, Party-affiliated election-campaign "527" organization supporting Joe Lieberman’s Senate Connecticut bid, CBS’ contribution of several minutes of airtime may be an improper corporate campaign contribution.
Additionally, the appearance of Vets for Freedom Action Fund on a national nightly-news program bestows unwarranted credibility on Vets for Freedom. In the minds of voters, this elevated their party- and candidate-supporting advertisements to a different level.
However, beyond the impropriety of CBS making this contribution, there may also be a question whether this contribution violated Federal election law. Federal election law prohibits corporate-paid 527 advertising within 30 days of an election if it mentions a candidate. While the CBS/Vets for Freedom “free speech” advertisement did not directly mention Joe Lieberman by name, the fact that Vets for Freedom Action Fund exists entirely for the purpose of supporting this one candidate brings into question whether this was a candidate-support advertisement.
September 15, 2006
Watch Sen. Ted Kennedy supports Net Neutrality and rate it up so more people see it.
September 11, 2006
Summary: In a "Free Speech" segment on the CBS Evening News, Rush Limbaugh attacked unnamed critics who are "not interested in victory" over what he termed "Islamofascism" and who do not conform to his definition of "patriotism," specifically those who "are more interested in punishing this country over a few incidents of Abu Ghraib and Guantanamo Bay than they are in defeating those who want to kill us."The new Republican/PFA ad message: "These people want to kill us."
September 10, 2006
After writing the post below I replayed the new Republican/PFA ad and noticed something. The ad says,
“Many times before 9/11 al Queda attacked America and we took little action."Interesting how this lie exactly corresponds to the theme of ABC's Path to 9/11. Interesting how the ad is rolled out at the same time.
September 9, 2006
ABC's Path to 9/11 doesn't just fictionalize - it intentionally tells the public the very opposite of what happened. It doesn't just broadcast the right-wing myth that Clinton was responsible for 9/11, it also misleads the public into thinking that the Bush administration was trying to prevent the attacks. But in fact the Clinton administration was "obsessed" with preventing terrorism and the Bush administration ignored terrorism.
According to Joe Conason at Salon, in The Sept. 11 that never was,
The movie shows ... Condoleezza Rice demoting Clarke in January 2001 when she takes over as national security advisor. Clarke tries to warn her that "something spectacular" is going to happen on American soil, and she assures him that "we're on it," which they assuredly were not.This is pure right-wing propaganda, following the Republican campaign theme.
Indeed, the script downplays the neglect of terrorism as a primary threat by the incoming Bush team -- and never mentions the counterterrorism task force, chaired by Vice President Dick Cheney, that never met for nine months before 9/11. The famous Aug. 6 presidential daily briefing, which warned the vacationing Bush that al-Qaida intended to strike here, is given due attention. But the movie then shows Rice telling her associates that "as a result of the Aug. 6 PDB, the president wants to take real action" against al-Qaida. But the 9/11 Commission report's section on the PDB clearly states that the August warning was not followed up on by Rice. [emphasis added]
Update - Orcinus has more.
Here's what the "Path to 9/11" claims American Airlines did on the morning of September 11. According to Disney/ABC, American Airlines had Mohammad Atta at its ticket counter and a warning came up on the screen when he tried to check in. The AA employee called a supervisor who kind of shrugged and said, blithely, just let him through. The first employee, shocked, turned to her supervisor and said, shouldn't we search him? The American Airlines supervisor responds, nah, just hold his luggage until he boards the plane. The scene is clearly intended to make American Airlines look negligent.We now know that David Horowitz is involved in this smear, and that Horowitz has been working on a long-term strategic effort to rewrite history and shift blame for 9/11 away from Bush and the Republicans and onto Clinton.
Only problem? It never happened.
We also know that the reality was that the Clinton administration was "obsessed" with preventing terrorism, and that the Bush administration ignored it, and went on vacation after receiving a warning alert titled, "Bin Laden Determined To Attack Within US."
September 8, 2006
At Think Progress, Gore On Path to 9/11: ‘It Would Be Fundamentally Irresponsible To Air Such Distortions’. Gore's statement:
By all accounts, “The Path to 9/11″ is riddled with inaccuracies and contains material that directly contradicts the factual findings of the 9/11 Commission. I am deeply concerned that ABC is considering going forward with their plans to broadcast this so-called docudrama. The lessons from the events leading up to that tragedy are too important to trivialize, and it would be fundamentally irresponsible to air such distortions.
September 6, 2006
ABC is attempting to spread a lie and manipulate the public to vote for Republicans in the coming election. George Bush let 9/11 happen -- and to cover themselves they launched a campaign to blame Clinton. Now ABC is "propelling the propaganda."
Down the left column (should be at the top) is a TAKE ACTION section. Go do everything they say. Right now.
September 5, 2006
Here is an opportunity to watch a strategic narrative develop in real-time. Remember the other day when the Republican National Committee had a picture of Howard Dean with a Hitler mustache? Maybe that was a tip-off of something coming. The Republicans are trying to make the public think that liberals hate Jews.
A few days ago several bloggers noticed a flurry of anti-Semitic comments suddenly showing up at their blogs. It was obvious that the next step would be widespread circulation of right-wing stories about those anti-Semitic liberals...
And, right on schedue: HATEFUL 'MOVE' VS. JOE By MAGGIE HABERMAN - New York Post Online Edition: News,
A string of anti-Semitic rants about Sen. Joe Lieberman have popped up on the liberal MoveOn.org's open forum Web site, drawing criticism from the Anti-Defamation League.And of course, the chorus chimes in, here, here, here, here, here, here, and I'll add as they show up...
The type of hatred evinced by MoveOn.org and by George Soros is dangerous.Right Voices, MoveOn.org and Hateful Jewish Slurs Aimed At Joe
Free Republic, MoveOn.org: Hot-bed for Anti-Semitism
OK, the larger echo chamber is kicking in now:
Update - Will we see this in the right-wing media? ADL Welcomes MoveOn.org's Responsiveness in Removing Anti-Semitic Messages,
The Anti-Defamation League (ADL) welcomed the responsiveness of MoveOn.org Political Action in removing anti-Semitic messages that had been posted on the Action Forum on their Web site.
In response to a letter of concern, Eli Pariser, Executive Director of MoveOn Political Action, has been in direct contact with ADL. He indicated that MoveOn.org found the comments abhorrent and had them removed.
ADL is pleased with Mr. Pariser's responsiveness to our concerns and believes the matter has been resolved satisfactorily.
Seeing the Forest is joining The Spotlight Project. This will enable you to forward an individual post that you think is important to several journalists by name, with your comments. Following every STF post, at the end of the line that starts with "Link to this," you will see a "Spotlight" link. Click that link, and you are taken to The Spotlight Project, and all the information about the particular post comes there with you. You then can choose which specific journalists you would like to send the post to with your message attached.
May I suggest that you start with this post about ABC's right-wing 9/11 propagana show. Click "Spotlight" in the line that follows the post, beginning with "Link to this". (Yes, the line in which the second item is "Tip Jar," where you can leave a few dollars when you like a post.)
This Spotlight demonstration page explains further.
An upcoming ABC 9/11 "docudrama" contains right-wing-planted propaganda, including a lie that the Clinton administration refused to kill bin Laden. We need people to act on this. Click this link.
In fact, Clinton had authorized killing bin Laden. In fact the Republicans BLOCKED Clinton's anti-terrorism efforts. In fact, Bush received a memo titled Bin Laden Determined To Attack Inside the US and went on vacation instead of doing something about it.
Meanwhile, ABC distributed info on the show to right-wing outlets only. Digby has more,
When this was revealed, the lefty bloggers who asked ABC for copies so that they might see it too, were told that they would have to wait until this week. Obviously, none of us will be able to screen it until Wednesday at the earliest and probably not even then.
... Smells of agenda, indeed. Obviously,since only some people have had a chance to watch the movie and guage its accuracy, it's difficult to know.
When challenged to explain why the right-wing blogosphere is abuzz with praise for the film, director David Cunningham responded that "we are also being accused of being a left wing movie that bashes Bush" — a claim for which there is absolutely no evidence. I searched Technorati for mentions of the film and found 260 references, mostly from conservative websites, every single one of which had nothing but praise for the film. And although I found numerous examples of conservative pundits and bloggers who reported seeing pre-broadcast screenings, no leftist pundits or bloggers had been given a chance to see it...Also - ABC not allowing progressive bloggers on a press conference call about the show.
September 2, 2006
I think the fashion industry is a good analogy for the out-of-touch pundit and political insider class. Take a look at what the insiders think we're supposed to look like. It really does resemble what the Washington Conventional Wisdom crowd wants us to think like.
Let's start with Christian Dior with that special look for meeting his parents:
But wait! There's more!
Here is the new office attire we'll be wearing next year:
And for casual Fridays:
And from Givenchy, a new look in makeup, for when you want to impress that special guy:
And for the men, the "emperor's new clothes" look from Calvin Klein:
They really DO think we're dicks!
August 22, 2006
Yesterday while driving I tuned into KGO, a local ABC talk-radio station. The host was talking with a woman guest about Bush, Iraq and the coming election. The nature of the conversation led me to wonder which Bush-administration official he was talking with, as she argued the positive points of every single White House talking point. After a while it got so bad that I figured it had to be Bush propagandist Karen Hughes, back on the circuit.
I shouldn't have been, but I was really surprised to discover that the guest was ABC White House reporter Ann Compton, sounding very much like a Republican Party official. "Apologist" is the word that comes to mind.
August 18, 2006
Tonite The People Choose 2006 is launching has launched. Go see it! Think of it as a political YouTube for "citizen journalists" -- inviting regular people around the country to submit videos you make about your local Congressional races. Anyone can go to the site and view the videos, and use them on blogs, etc. Some of these will end up broadcast nationally on Dish and DirecTV.
It won't be publicized for a while because there won't be a lot of content yet. You are getting advance notice.
It launches tonite but yYou can go upload now. So if you're into making videos, or if you want to see what other people - regular people - have to say about this election, go visit.
August 14, 2006
You know that our news media situation has gotten pretty bad when foreign news outlets run stories about it. This British news story, America's one-eyed view of war: Stars, stripes, and the Star of David, discusses how America's news coverage of Israel/Lebanon has deteriorated to pure propaganda dissemination.
The media, more generally, has left little doubt in the minds of a majority of American news consumers that the Israelis are the good guys, the aggrieved victims, while Hizbollah is an incarnation of the same evil responsible for bringing down the World Trade Centre, a heartless and faceless organisation whose destruction is so important it can justify all the damage Israel is inflicting on Lebanon and its civilians.
Rolando H. Santos
Executive Vice President and General Manager, CNN Headline News
One CNN Center
Atlanta, GA 30348
Dear Messrs. Klein and Santos:
I am writing to express my great concern over an incident that occurred on your network Friday, August 11, 2006. As the Think Progress weblog noted, during a discussion on CNN Headline News of the recent Connecticut Senate Democratic primary won by Ned Lamont, anchor Chuck Roberts asked: "Might some argue, as some have, that Lamont is the Al Qaeda candidate?"
One expects to hear this kind of hyperbolic rhetoric -- which also perfectly plays into the Republican Party's baseless smears of Democrats as soft on national security -- coming from the likes of Rush Limbaugh, Ann Coulter, or Michael Savage. CNN, however, is supposed to be a legitimate news organization.
Mr. Roberts might have a defense if it were actually the case that people were calling Mr. Lamont "the Al Qaeda candidate." But as Arianna Huffington pointed out on CNN's own Reliable Sources yesterday, the smear appears to be entirely the creation of Mr. Roberts. We note that Mr. Lamont's opposition to the Iraq war is shared by a majority of the American people; we hope it is not common practice among CNN anchors to refer to most Americans as Al Qaeda sympathizers.
I presume you have a sincere commitment to responsible journalism and accountability within your news organization. We at Media Matters for America, along with your viewers, would like to know what action you intend to take in response to this incident. Will CNN be issuing a retraction? Will Mr. Roberts be offering Mr. Lamont an on-air apology? Will some disciplinary action be taken against Mr. Roberts?
We eagerly await your response.
President and CEO
Media Matters for America
August 12, 2006
In recent weeks we have been treated to a press firestorm over the Connecticut Democratic primary, in which the "netroots" DARED to run a candidate against Senator Joe Lieberman, and beat him. The insider press and political system is in absolute SHOCK that this could happen, with a good dose of anger at the voters for daring to go against their wishes. (Never mind that a far-right candidate beat a moderate candidate in Michigan's Republican primary -- for some reason that is different and remains unreported.)
You might also have noticed that since the primary, the press has paid far more attention to Lieberman - the loser of the primary - than to the winner. This is because the Republicans are promoting a wedge narrative intended to split the Democratic Party. By amplifying the voices of disgruntled Lieberman supporters, the Repubicans hope to keep a segment of the Democratic Party from voting this November.
In illustration of my point, contrast this firestorm to the situation with the upcoming Rhode Island Repubican primary. Lincoln Chafee is an old-style Republican Senator from Rhode Island. By "old-style" I mean he precedes the Christian Right/conservative movement takeover of the Republican Party and remains independent of The Party's corruption machine. And the far right is not happy about that, so they are running a candidate against Chafee in Rhode Island's upcoming Republican primary. You would think the "on the surface" similarities would drive press coverage, but the opposite is the case. (I say "on the surface" because in this case it is actual radicals running a candidate against an incumbent, where in Connecticut the opposition candidate actually had a more centrist voting record than the incumbent.)
Since its inception in 1999, the group has spent millions to help dozens of conservative Republicans win seats in Congress - often at the expense of more moderate party members. The Club's president, former Rep. Pat Toomey, nearly defeated Pennsylvania Sen. Arlen Specter in 2004.Learn how the American system operates now. Keep an eye on this one -- compare and contrast the coverage and commentary.
This year, the group's top priority is defeating Chafee, who angered many Republicans by voting against President Bush's tax cuts and then casting a write-in vote for the president's father in the last election.
... Republicans who support the Club say its refusal to compromise its ideology gives it credibility.
"They're not about getting more Republicans elected, they're about getting real Republicans elected," said Jerry Stacy, spokesman for Sharron Angle, a Club-endorsed House candidate in Nevada.
August 11, 2006
With a longer-term view of what's happening in Lebanon.
"What a silly person you are." "No justice no peace."
July 28, 2006
Americans need to understand that the rest of the world is seeing very different images on their news broadcasts from what we are seeing here. VERY different.
Also, go watch Mosaic - excerpts from Middle Eastern news shows.
Just go watch a bit, and then try to reconcile what you see with what we are getting here from the news. The consequences to all of us are enormous.
July 25, 2006
I'm not sure how many people are aware of the LinkTV network. (You might have seen their coverage of YearlyKos.) LinkTV is available if you have satellite, like DirecTV and Dish -- but you can also visit them online. Over at LinkTV there is a show called Mosaic, with some great Middle East news coverage offering perspectives you can not get from American corporate TV. You can watch the stream of last night's Mosaic, with translated clips from Lebanese, Israeli, UAE, Al Jazeera, Algeria, Iranian and Gaza news broadcasts covering the fighting going on. It is fascinating to get these viewpoints and coverage of events so important to all of us and to the entire world. You can always watch archives of Mosaic at this page.
Recently there have been two extended coverage specials, and another extended coverage special tomorrow. highlight clips from the specials are available here.
Mosaic Special Report: Insight into the Middle East. This live call-in special showcases Link TV’s team of journalists and Middle East experts answering your questions and e-mails about what’s really happening in the current crisis. Wednesday’s program will be aired at 7 to 7:30 p.m. (Pacific Time) and 10 to 10:30 p.m. (Eastern Time) on DIRECTV ch. 375 and DISH ch. 9410. The program will be followed by Link TV’s Peabody Award-winning original program Mosaic, which draws on reports from 28 Middle Eastern news broadcasts to provide context, analysis and a look at the stories you never see on American TV.There's also a new Mosaic blog.
To watch the first evening of our extended Middle Eastern coverage, Mosaic Special Report: Insight into the Middle East from July 20, 2006, click here.
Daily episodes of Mosaic are available at no cost online.
Link TV is also offering a special emphasis on the Mideast throughout our daily schedule, including a rotation of reports and documentaries such as Me and the Mosque, Occupied Minds and International Dateline: An Eye For An Eye, which features a report from Dateline’s Thom Cookes from the city of Haifa and his on-the-spot assessment of why things have gone the way they have.
(Disclosure - I am doing some unpaid consulting with LinkTV.)
July 11, 2006
Here we go.
It's based on the Right's call to murder journalists. This has been around a while.
Seriously, watch your backs.
July 9, 2006
Shorter Digby: The Republicans have been and are finalizing a purge of their moderates. Therefore the media narrative is that the Democrats are purging their moderates.
Remember the Seeing the Forest rule: when you see a Republican accusing others of something, it means they are probably doing that thing.
July 7, 2006
Half of America insulted, called traitors, a daily occurrence now in the corporate media...
Bob Geiger, The "Liberal Media" on MSNBC,
And on it went, including their own version of analysis on Osama bin Laden in which Carlson opined that "every American will rejoice when that guy suffers and goes to hell" only to have Scarborough sneer "except for the Democratic party."
July 6, 2006
I tried to watch the video linked from NORAH O'DONNELL GROSSLY CARICATURES ANTIWAR POSITION ON IRAQ.
But I can't. It only lets you watch if you are using Microsoft's Internet Explorer. I use FireFox. Great. Corporate power used to force me to use a product.
So I powered up Internet Explorer, and this is really worth watching, as much to see how the corporate press treats Americans who disagree with Bush, as anything else. "Fringes, extremist" etc...
You hear about concentration of media into a few corporate hands -- watch this video to see what that means. It's similar to what happens when you allow an operating system to become a monopoly.
June 22, 2006
Not content with the current rapid pace at which corporatism is overtaking democracy, FCC to review media ownership rules,
The Federal Communications Commission voted yesterday to review its media ownership rules, though the panel's two Democrats objected that the process won't ensure enough public comment on proposals.What's the point? Everything ALREADY sounds like Fox News.
With a Republican majority in place after a vacancy had produced months of deadlock, the panel reopened the disputed issue of limits on the number of radio and television stations that one owner can have and the limits on cross-ownership between newspapers and broadcasters. The rules are of great concern to giant media firms in an era of mergers and convergence of print and broadcast media inside companies.
I can't really say much about this except it's just silly. Someone needs to retire.
I've been thinking that big media doesn't even think of itself as informing the public in a democracy - it's just political entertainment. A commercial enterprise, period... The blogs come in to fill a vacuum.
Update - ">Peter Daou says it better than I can, today. Actually, he quotes a right-wing blogger who said it better.
"Tough sh*t! So after thirty years of writing this stuff in a bubble, you're finally getting feedback from people who are pissed off. Deal with it."
June 21, 2006
The Republican-controlled Senate refused Wednesday to raise the minimum wage, rejecting an election-year proposal from Democrats for the first increase in nearly a decade.See the narrative: The Democrats only offered the proposal as an election-year tactic, the Republicans opposed it on principal.
... Republican critics said the minimum wage was a job killer, not the boon to low-wage workers portrayed by Democrats.
Fact: The Democrats offer this every year, and the Repubicans always block it. Fact: Jobs INCREASE every time the minimum wage is increased because we live in a consumer economy and more people with more money to spend increases activity. Fact: No one employs more people than they need to employ, so a small increase in wages does not cause layoffs - as the results of minimum wage increases have ALWAYS shown.
June 20, 2006
Sen. John McCain (affair, divorce), former House Speaker Newt Gingrich (affair, divorce, affair, divorce), and former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani (divorce, affair, nasty divorce). Together, they form the most maritally challenged crop of presidential hopefuls in American political history.SO, will the press give Republicans the same treatment they give Democrats? Did Bush get the same treatment Clintodid? HA!
Until relatively recently, a self-confessed adulterer had never sought the presidency.
[. . .] Despite the scandalous details, whether the press will air them is still an open question. When it comes to personal morality, liberal commentators have long argued that the press has one standard for Democrats and another for Republicans (and another one entirely for the Clintons). It's possible that the mainstream media will fail to apply the same scrutiny to the known transgressions of Gingrich, Giuliani and McCain as the Times did to rumors about Hillary Clinton's husband.
June 17, 2006
Ann Coulter hasn't lost any of her 100-plus newspaper clients, or the support of her syndicate, Universal Press Syndicate, despite her nasty remarks in her new book about 9/11 widows and her comment in an online interview implying that, perhaps, U.S. Rep. John Murtha (D-Pa.) should be "fragged."Even though parts of her recent book were plagiarized. And she continues to appear on network television. The very media people she talks about killing put her in front of a national audeince!
A Universal spokesman said there were no discussions going on there about dropping the columnist.
[. . .] Editors, she pointed out, have chosen not to run certain "Doonesbury" or "Boondocks" cartoons, which come from the liberal side of the spectrum. Asked if any paper had ever decided not to run a conservative column or cartoon, she said, "If it's happened, we don't know about it."
[. . .] The Universal columnist has also "joked" about killing other people, including Arabs, Muslims, and U.S. Supreme Court Justice John Paul Stevens, and suggested that blowing up The New York Times building might be a good idea, especially if the reporters and editors were still inside.
A while back, in the post Juan Cole denied position at Yale for criticizing Bush, Ashleigh Banfield fired from MSNBC for criticizing one-sided media coverage, I wrote,
Suppose you want a career in media, want to rise up, want to buy (or keep) a house and car, have health insurance etc., how does your brain digest this news?Not just media, but people understand that MANY careers at this point depend on not letting on that you oppose the Republican machine. The signals are sent.
Watch your backs.
Update - I neglected to point out that NBC, the network that fired Ashleigh Banfield for criticizing media one-sidedness, refuses to say they will keep Coulter off the air, even after she called for killing a US Congressman, and members of the media.
June 16, 2006
After listing just some of the disgusting things Ann Coulter has contributed to the national discourse, Atrios writes,
There's nothing these people can say which will stop the mainstream media from putting them on.I would like to add to this that "our side" CAN'T say ANYTHING that is able to reach the public.
I was on a conference call with Democratic Minority Leader Pelosi yesterday, during which she outlined some of the things she has been doing and saying. The thing is, there is almost not way you would know what "the Democrats" have been saying if you don't hear it from her directly, or read lots and lots of blogs. You don't hear about it on TV. It is occasionally in the newspapers -- but no one reads newspapers anymore.
America's "marketplace of ideas" is not a marketplace at all, it is a rigged system. It is rigged entirely in favor of the corporate viewpoint. When was the last time you head or saw someone discussing the benefits of joining a union, or perhaps an open discussion of what it would mean to nationalize the oil companies? What ARE the merits for, and arguments against, such an idea anyway?
Did you just snort coffee out of your nose when I wrote "nationalize the oil companies?" Is the very IDEA of someone saying such a thing so far beyond imagination? More to MY point - is that somehow more far-out of an idea than Ann Coulter being invited on national TV over and over again to say the things she says? But we're USED TO that sort of thing on TV - we expect it - but we no longer expect rational discussion of how we as a democratic society should manage our commonly-owned resources.
Anyway, what I am trying to get at is that there are signals that are sent out to a society about what is and is not acceptable public discourse. Putting Ann Coulter on TV is a signal from which the public infers what can and can not be considered. Dick Cheney appearing on stage with Ann Coulter is a signal. President Bush refusing to meet with the Black Caucus or NAACP is a signal. NOT ALLOWING rational discussion of unions and allocation of public resources is a signal. More on this later.
June 9, 2006
For the record, the NY Times story has an out-of-context portion of what was said. The converstation was that there were more press and politicians than people attending - which of course was true because yesterday was the "pre" day. YearlyKos didn't officially start until later with Kos' talk. In a longer conversation I said that because I had posted something about Nancy Skinner on my blog 10,000 more people are here now just for that one small piece of it.
My point was about the virtuality of all of this - the community around YearlyKos is very large, even if only some of us can afford to attend in person. This is an important part of what is happening with the "netroots" experience. The NY Times can try to make that look silly if they want to - we're here.
Here's a pic from Markos' talk:
May 25, 2006
Eric Boehlert's great book Lapdogs has an entire chapter dedicated to ABC's The Note. Before reading this book I did not know how influential The Note is. From the book,
It is impossible to overstate the behind-the-scenes influence of The Note. Whereas ten or even five years ago a serious examination of the Beltway press might put the work of New York Times's D.C. bureau under a microscope and dissect it for clues to media trends and emphasis, today it's The Note the most succinctly speaks for the political press elite, and whose body of work deserves close attention.Boehlert goes on with examples of The Note's influence. And then he goes on to show how The Note has a Republican/conservative "conventional wisdom" anti-Democrat bias.
The other day I wrote about how The Note was carrying on Republican smears, writing,
Democrats have to root root root for bad news. And no bad news source is better for the Democrats' election prospects than the bad news from Iraq.But The Note today tops itself, and comes out blatantly in support of Republicans over Democrats. From The Note today:
A majority of the minority will be in their hearts for higher taxes, universal health care, a heightened emphasis on civiil liberties, and a dramatic and swift reduction of troops from Iraq. They know it, the RNC, NRCC, NRSC, and The Note all know it — the Democrats just have to hope that the American people don't find out until February.Can they be more blatant?
May 17, 2006
[Richard] Stengel, who is 51 years old, had worked at Time in several different capacities, including national and culture editor and also editor of Time's web site, Time.com. Most recently he was head of the National Constitution Center, a Philadelphia-based museum and nonpartisan think tank focusing on civic issues.Media Transparency's research on National Constitution Center funding shows they receive substantial support from the Richard and Helen DeVos Foundation,
Richard DeVos is co-founder of Amway Corporation and owner of the Orlando Magic (2004), and served as the finance chairman of the Republican National Committee.Some information about Amway, from Amway's GOPyramid Scheme, by Bill Berkowitz,
According to Scheibeler, some Republicans received as much as $100,000 for appearing at an Amway event. "After accepting speaking fees, [House Speaker Newt] Gingrich arranged a reported last-minute modification in a comprehensive tax bill that allegedly provided a $283 million tax break to just one company -- Amway. One report called the tax break a $283 million payoff," investigative reporter Evelyn J. Pringle pointed out in a piece on Amway.Oh please take the time to read that whole article! And follow the Council for National Policy link.
... Billionaire Richard DeVos, who appears regularly on the Forbes magazine list of richest Americans also owns the National Basketball Association's Orlando Magic and has been a member of the highly secretive Council for National Policy. ... For more than 35 years, the DeVos family has been a major benefactor of both the religious right and the Republican Party.
Other significant National Constitution Center funding comes from the F.M. Kirby Foundation. If you go to the page titled "The Conservative Movement Starts At Young America's Foundation" and scroll to the bottom, it says "© 1995-2006 Young America's Foundation F.M. Kirby Freedom Center"
I report, you decide. And send a few bucks to Media Transparency for making this research available.
Update - I'm not saying Mr. Stengel is a right-winger. This post reports on some of the funding of the National Constitution Center, where he was CEO. Meanwhile, Eric Alterman writes,
A massive congratulations to my friend Rick Stengel, who, depending on who you talk to, was the best point-guard in the history of Scarsdale High School. He’s done a few things since, here. And Jim Kelly went out with real class, didn’t he? (Now about how about a few liberal columnists?)
May 16, 2006
Summary: Following President Bush's speech on immigration, CNN aired a special edition of Lou Dobbs Tonight that consisted largely of a roundtable discussion moderated by show host Lou Dobbs, with four other white men as guests: conservative syndicated columnist Tony Blankley, Republican strategist Charlie Black, CNN senior political analyst and American Enterprise Institute resident fellow William Schneider, and CNN host Wolf Blitzer. Missing from the discussion was the perspective of a Democrat, a progressive, a woman, or a Latino.Why would any Latinos, women, Democrats, representatives of unions, Progressives or young people be invited on TV to talk about immigration?
Go look at the picture, too.
How many of you are familiar with Link TV - Your connection to the world? It's a channel on DIRECTV and DISH Network, and some cable systems.
LinkTV is NOT corporate-controlled! Among other great shows they have a show called Mosaic: World News From The Middle East,
Mosaic features selections from daily TV news programs produced by national broadcasters throughout the Middle East. The news reports are presented unedited and translated, when necessary, into English.(Follow the link to see a show.) They also show great world music videos.
Mosaic includes television news broadcasts from selected national and regional entities. Some of the broadcasters are state controlled and others are private networks, often affiliated with political factions. These news reports are regularly watched by 300 million people in 22 countries all over the Middle East.
Go explore their site -- more here and more later.
May 4, 2006
Turns out I had only seen about half of Stephen Colbert's Correspondent's Dinner talk. You can see it all at Video Dog - Salon.com.
It is really, really funny. I really don't understand how anyone - except, of course, Bush - can say it wasn't funny.
May 2, 2006
How many remember the 1996 Telecom Bill? This was the "deregulation" bill that dramatically increased cable TV rates and increased concentration of owership of media outlets.
Well, they're at it again, this time going after your right to record radio and TV broadcasts: Net neutrality missing from sweeping telecom bill,
ncluded in the massive proposal is, however, one requirement sure to please the recording industry: authorization for the FCC to start the process of outlawing digital over-the-air radio and digital satellite receivers sold today that permit users to record broadcasts. Those would be supplanted with receivers that will treat as copy-protected anything with an "audio broadcast flag" in the future.Also in the bill, changes that would allow telecom companies to control what you see on the internet:
... His legislation would order the FCC to ban digital TV tuners, such as ElGato's EyeTV 500, that let users record over-the-air broadcasts and save them without copy protection.
Net neutrality, for instance, has become a rallying cry recently for Internet and software firms and liberal advocacy groups (and even one or two conservative ones) that say strict FCC regulations are necessary to protect the Internet. Net neutrality refers to the idea of the federal government preventing broadband providers from favoring some Web sites or video streams' connection speeds over others.
Don Imus was the speaker at the 1996 Correspondent's dinner and his talk insulted President Clinton along the lines of the ongoing "conservative movement" narrative. Whitewater, Susan McDougal getting payoffs, Clintons getting indicted, missing billing records... The press had a field day -- coverage everywhere. NY Times, TV Notes;Imus in the Spotlight,
Perhaps the only person more delighted than Don Imus about the flash flood of publicity following his spicy speech at a Washington dinner last week was Mike Wallace of CBS.This is no big deal, except when compared with this week's press response to Stephen Colbert's appearance Saturday. The only way to describe the press response is: intentional blackout. The New York Times, for example, wrote an article about the dinner and did not mention Colbert in the article at all. A scan of Google News (at the time this post is written) finds almost no coverage outside of the blogs.
Why is there such an obvious difference in the coverage given Bush in general, compared to the coverage given Clinton? The press coverage of President Clinton led to his impeachment, even when all of the Republican-initiated investigations found he had done nothing wrong. In contrast the press continues its blackout of coverage or even discussion of possible crimes committed by President Bush.
In 1987 Ronald Reagan ordered the FCC to abolish the Fairness Doctrine, which required broadcast media to provide balanced coverage of issues. Majorities in the Congress voted to restore the Fairness Doctrine and were blocked by Republican vetoes and filibusters. (Any time you hear a Republican complain about the "liberal media" ask them why it is Republicans, not Democrats, who oppose the Fairness Doctrine.) Following that, Republicans began to allow fewer and fewer large corporations to control more and more of these information channels. (PLEASE click the links. More here and here.)
Before these changes you would see representatives of Labor, Democrats, anti-war, religions other than far-right Christianity, and other now-banned viewpoints. One particular viewpoint you would see expressed was a concern that concentrated corporate ownership of the channels of information would harm democracy. That viewpoint is also banned now.
It used to be considered essential to democracy that the public had access to information. The pubic used to have the right to demand diversity of opinion in the media. Now even expressing such ideas is banned.
Do you think "banned" is too strong a word? Tell me when was the last time you saw or heard these viewpoints expressed? When was the last time you heard a representative of Labor expressing that employees should join unions?
April 15, 2006
In a classic "hit piece" titled The Left, Online and Outraged, the Washington Post gets revenge on liberal bloggers. Maryscott O'Connor "wonders what she should scream about this day..." Others quoted are blog commenters and The Rude Pundit.
Remember, the Post is the paper that recently hired a far-right blogger because they felt they needed to "balance" their centrist/right perspective. The liberal blogs discovered that the guy was a conservative-movement professional, and then that he was a plagiarist as well and the Post was embarrassed. So here is the payback.
March 24, 2006
I'm old enough to remember seeing the footage on the news, and wish I could find a source for it so you could see it, too.
February 20, 2006
Go read MyDD :: Reporters: The Right-Wing Hates You and then send it to anyone you know who works in a news organization in any capacity.
February 16, 2006
Eric Alterman writes about how America's one-sided news coverage hurts the country. Yesterday new Abu Grahib photos were released. Few American news outlets are giving the photos promenent exposure. But in the Arab regions they get round-the-clock coverage. Americans think we're in Iraq to "fight for our freedom" and base their voting decisions on the limited or erroneous info they receive from the news outlets.
The U.S. media keeps the country in the dark about things everybody else in the world knows, then Americans, in their ignorance, vote for people who promise to do things that make no sense whatever, except in the context of their own (understandably) confused notions about what might make sense.
[. . .] Get it now? The whole world is looking at these pictures and they are inspiring who knows how many Arabs to enlist in the jihad against the United States (just as the CIA warned us before this lunatic war). But Americans are blissfully ignorant of the evil perpetrated in their name and hence, make the same mistakes over and over.
February 12, 2006
For those of you who read a lot of blogs and think there is a big Republican corruption scandal unfolding in Washington, here's a tip about what is going on in the outside world. The entire page 3 of the San Jose Mercury News today - the second front page - had this story: Probe links Reid, lobbyist.
The big story accidentally left out that Reid voted against what Abramoff wanted.
February 1, 2006
It gets worse every day. At AMERICABlog, Pentagon trying to censor top US political cartoonist. I'm not even going to quote from it, just go read it.
This is THE MILITARY DIRECTLY THREATENING A NEWSPAPER on behalf of the Republican Party. This is WAYYYY beyond unprecedented. This is past "find a safe refuge in Canada" time. This is a serious WATCH YOUR BACKS!!!!
Update - the threats keep-a-coming!
You are an enemy of this country. Your day will come.
Does anyone remember the weeks of headlines when Hillary Clinton's former law firm was accused of shredding documents? (It was just another false accusation).
So how does that coverage compare to today? Here's something to compare: From Leak prober got supersecret files,
Fitzgerald's letter says that "we have learned that not all email of the Office of Vice President and the Executive Office of President for certain time periods in 2003 was preserved through the normal archiving process on the White House computer system."Never forget that a few major conservative corporations own and control all major media outlets.
Through Talking Points Memo
Update - Digby, too.
January 31, 2006
When Washington Post ombudsman Deborah Howell published the false claim on January 15 that Republican lobbyist Jack Abramoff gave money to Democrats, the paper got a loud, swift and public lesson in the new realities of online interactivity and instant accountability. It was like watching a woolly mammoth being hauled shrieking and dripping with ice-age detritus into the twenty-first century.Go read the rest.
This lesson came in large part from the blogosphere, in the form of comments made on the newspaper's web site, and in posts made to political weblogs, such as DailyKos, Eschaton, and my own blog, Firedoglake. The collective daily readership of the largest political blogs now runs in the millions. We are news and politics junkies, instantly able to recite the last six jobs of Senate staffers, and the names of reporters who cover every beat. We follow politics in real time, and have zero tolerance for the kind of sloppy mistake Howell made. Hundreds of us swarmed to the site and immediately made our feelings known.
January 29, 2006
January 26, 2006
January 25, 2006
At the Open Letter To Chris Matthews blog there is a new push, asking readers to contact MSNBC, and a few of their advertisers, asking Chris Matthews for an apology for comparing people like us to Osama bin Laden.
6. What will it take for you to call off your protest?We are trying to stop this "Democrats = Terrorists" mantra now, before it becomes even more dangerous.
Chris Matthews and the senior management of MSNBC need to publicly apologize for comparing American critics of the war in Iraq to terrorist Osama bin Laden, and both must commit to stop functioning as an adjunct of the right-wing noise machine and to start acting like objective journalists.
The President launched this campaign, using "the language of treason", saying that Democrats are providing "comfort to our adversaries." The usual suspects then began to echo the charge, saying that Democrats = Terrorists.
Then a supposedly responsible journalist on a supposedly major media outlet compared Democrats to bin Laden, and we decided we have had enough.
If you have had enough of this, make a stand. Visit Open Letter to Chris Matthews and add YOUR voice to this effort.
Another day, another Alito Confirmation Seems All but Assured headline.
"The media" is The Party. The Party is the media.
January 20, 2006
What kind of corporate ethics justify the kind of tripe that passes off as political commentary over our public airwaves? Phil Donahue's show was cancelled even though his ratings were ticking upwards If Phil Donahue can be cancelled for political ideological reasons, then Chris Matthews should be cancelled as well.
Somerby has a partial transcript of Tweety's humilating command performance on the Imus show. Somerby's Daily Howler archives on Tweety contain pages of links to his journalistic malpractice. What boggles the mind is how this type of journalistic bottom feeding can slip under the radar of all of the self appointed M$M ethics nazis who whine about the ethics of bloggers.
Who's kidding who? Tweety and Michael Savage are ideological brothers by different mothers. They pollute America's airwaves with toxic waste and should be fined by the FCC for violations of public indecency. How is some poor schmuck saying "Fuck" more offensive than what Tweety and Savage put on the airwaves on a daily basis?
January 16, 2006
In case you didn't know, Al Gore gave a major, major, historical speech today.
Peter Daou discusses the press reaction, beginning with,
If a tree falls in a forest... A former Vice-President of the United States delivers a major speech accusing George W. Bush of breaking the law.Go read.
Glenn Greenwald explains that Bush followers are not conservatives.
January 11, 2006
Steve at The News Blog writes about Color free magazines. An important subject - why is the media predominantly white, reflecting and reinforcing a white viewpoint and white perceptions of the world? Go read.
December 29, 2005
I read this yesterday and it's still on my mind today, so I'm bringing it to your attention. Steve Gilliard's It's about character, Jeff is one of the better smackdowns in blogdom.
December 28, 2005
Hat tip to Matt Stoller at MyDD for his Around The Blogs post. Of special interest to STF readers a brilliant analysis by Steve Clemons of an L.A. Times editorial,
On a related note, Bob Geiger at the Yellow Dog Blog explains how DLC Democrats destroy democracy and why he took down and ad for BillandHillary:
I live in New York and have had a sidebar banner promoting the reelection of Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton on my blog since sometime last summer. I removed it yesterday.
December 24, 2005
eriposte noticed my post about The Myth of the Liberal Media Goes Scientific. eriposte points out an entire series about the liberal media myth that included a smackdown of the UCLA study:
I just want to mention that I already published an even more detailed analysis and debunking of the paper early this year. Key excerpts were also published here at The Left Coaster as part of my series on How The Liberal Media Myth Is Created.
I'll be perusing the entire series this weekend and encourage STF readers to do the same.
December 23, 2005
Paul Rosenberg has written a diary that he cross-posted to MyDD from My Left Wing, 'Liberal Media' Myth Goes 'Scientific'. In a nutshell, Rosenberg deconstructs a study released by UCLA that could just as easily been written by a right wing think tank.
The "surprising" conclusion of this "scientific" study is that Fox News is a "centrist" news outlet and Matt Drudge "leans left." Needless to say, the methodology of the study left a lot to be desired. As Rosenberg points out:
[The authors] reflect a common attitude of beginning with an ideological outlook, and then looking for data to support it.
December 19, 2005
John at AmericaBlog asks, Did Bush domestic spy program eavesdrop on American journalists? and makes a pretty convincing case that this is what is going on.
December 12, 2005
The L.A. Times has a feature article about Crooks and Liars today.
If Howard Dean and Dennis Kucinich types make it to the White House and Congress, will you keep a lookout for liberal crooks and liars?
I've thought about this often, and I would say yes. Power has to be questioned.
Well, duh. It would have been a better question if Mark Ehrman had posed the question about Hillary Clinton, instead of Dean and Kucinich. A typical example of the M$M propensity to be fair and balanced instead of truthful.
December 2, 2005
Doug McIntyre is a conservative talk show host with a difference. I refer to Doug as a Lou Dobbs conservative and he is a principled interviewer. Two days ago Doug ripped into a right wingnut religious conservative wacko, because their complaint about a boycott against Target had no merit.
Doug is tough and fair with all of his guests. Tune in
Posted at 7:33 A.M. PST
November 29, 2005
It's like living in the old Soviet Union where the press reported only what the government allowed, and all was propaganda. Now they are rallying around the Republicans. Expect worse as the pushback gets underway.
Just a few examples, from just today....
Antiwar activist Cindy Sheehan and her book publisher are upset about Associated Press and Reuters photos that allegedly presented a misleading impression of her book signing last weekend in Texas.
... Photos of the event, carried widely on the Web, and then picked up by conservative blogs, seemed to imply that the book signing was a bust. The photos showed Sheehan looking dejected, sitting at a table, with no one in the tent except for a couple of photographers. The AP caption simply read: “Anti-war activist CindySheehan waits for people to show up at her book signing near President Bush's ranch on Saturday, Nov. 26, 2005 in Crawford, Texas.”
The Washington Post, which carried Evan Vucci's AP photo, noted that at a protest the same day Sheehan had addressed a crowd of only about 100. “In the morning,” the Post observed, “Sheehan signed copies of her new book, being published this week, for an even smaller crowd,” although it cited bad weather as a possible factor.
But in a statement today, Sheehan accused “right-wing” sites of “spreading a false story that nobody bought my book at Camp Casey on Saturday. That is not true, I sold all 100 copies and got writer's cramp signing them. Photos were taken of me before the people got in line to have me sign the book. We made $2000 for the peace house.”
From tomorrow's Times ...And,Though some Republican officials said Democrats in Congress were equally guilty of questionable behavior, including lobbyist-paid trips and underreporting of campaign contributions, they acknowledged that Republicans, because they control the White House and Congress, are being held to a higher standard by many voters. They also expressed shock and embarrassment at the extent of Mr. Cunningham's wrongdoing, which the president described on Tuesday as "outrageous."
...Chris Matthews tonight on Hardball. Chris verifies that DC corruption is a bipartisan issue.And more there.
Leave more examples in the comments.
November 28, 2005
I hope you all stop in every day at BuzzFlash - Daily Headlines and Breaking News. And tell your firends and relatives, too.
Of course I assumed you already visit Raw Story several times a day.
Who is at the top of your list?
Update - I was going to links to news, non-blogs. Anyway, commenters add:
Truthout was already up there
Hullabaloo and Eschaton, All Hat No Cattle, Bag News Notes, Crooks and Liars, and the Daou Report
Yellow Dog Blog
Steve Gilliard, Once Upon a Time, Talking Points Memo
The Next Hurrah
Of course, I recommend every blog on the blogroll over on the left. ESPECIALLY the ones you haven't heard of. That's where the FRESH perspective comes from. That's where the story you haven't heard about comes from. Try to make a habit of checking out a new blog every week or so.
A STF reader pointed me to this excllent article published by the New York Review of Books, "The Press: The Enemy Within". It is an in depth analysis of the shortcomings and liabilities and economic pressures that shape and limit the ability of the American press to effecitvely report on the world around us, or as the author puts it: "the structural problems that keep the press from fulfilling its responsibilities to serve as a witness to injustice and a watchdog over the powerful."
This is in depth background material. Nothing terribly new here, just assembled in one place and coherently analyzed. We all know that overseas reporting by major American television networks has shrunk to almost nothing... but it helps when you can frame this in terms of specific numbers (per his figures re: CBS's current and former staffing of it's international news bureaus).
November 14, 2005
Carlson suggested the creation of a cable channel that caters to liberals. But "going after a lefty audience would be futile, Wright said. 'For some strange, probably genetic, reasons' -- we're pretty sure that was a joke -- 'they don't listen to a lot of radio and they don't watch a lot of television.'"Atrios wrote, "Uh, maybe we don't watch a lot of TV news because it's all conservative?"
To which I say Big DUH!!!! Liberals don't listen to Rush Limbaugh or Michael Savage or Sean Hannity or watch FOX or (most of) MSNBC or any of the other right-wing slime that is the media these days. DUH!!!
November 3, 2005
The Washington Monthly, through Atrios, talks about an Editor and Publisher story about how the new CBS polls shows that the public is taking the PlameGate story very, very seriously. More seriously than Whitewater, Iran/Contra, even Watergate.
- Plamegate: 86% important 12% not important
- Clinton-Lewinsky: 62% important, 37% not important
- Whitewater: 49% important, 45% not important
- Iran-Contra: 81% important, 19% not important
- Watergate: 78% important, 22% not important
October 15, 2005
Judy Miller talks about what she told the grand jury investigating the leak of the identity of Valerie Plame, covert CIA agent: My Four Hours Testifying in the Federal Grand Jury Room - New York Times. (See also The Miller Case: A Notebook, a Cause, a Jail Cell and a Deal).
She is clearly describing (herself) obstructing justice, but in a way that will be hard to prove. Where there are notes that show she discussed the agent with Libby, she gives other reasons those notes might be there or "can't recall" why they are there. Where there are no notes it's "can't recall" and no useful information.
My notes indicate that well before Mr. Wilson published his critique, Mr. Libby told me that Mr. Wilson's wife may have worked on unconventional weapons at the C.I.A.
Note the use of the word "may." He "may" have told me is not useful in trial testimony.
My notes do not show that Mr. Libby identified Mr. Wilson's wife by name. Nor do they show that he described Valerie Wilson as a covert agent or "operative," as the conservative columnist Robert D. Novak first described her...But elsewhere she says,
On one page of my interview notes, for example, I wrote the name "Valerie Flame." Yet, as I told Mr. Fitzgerald, I simply could not recall where that came from, when I wrote it or why the name was misspelled.Could not recall. Right. Later,
Mr. Fitzgerald asked me about another entry in my notebook, where I had written the words "Valerie Flame," clearly a reference to Ms. Plame. Mr. Fitzgerald wanted to know whether the entry was based on my conversations with Mr. Libby. I said I didn't think so. I said I believed the information came from another source, whom I could not recall.Could not recall. And again,
Mr. Fitzgerald asked if I could recall discussing the Wilson-Plame connection with other sources. I said I had, though I could not recall any by name or when those conversations occurred.Could not recall. And another example of covering for Libby here:
Mr. Fitzgerald asked if I had discussed classified information with Mr. Libby. I said I believed so, but could not be sure.In other words, in case another witness said so, better say something vague but not provable. Nothing, however, that could be used as trial testimony.
Another point, where notes of a conversation with Libby identify Wilson's wife:
I told Mr. Fitzgerald that I was not sure whether Mr. Libby had used this name or whether I just made a mistake in writing it on my own. Another possibility, I said, is that I gave Mr. Libby the wrong name on purpose to see whether he would correct me and confirm her identity.This is a person being evasive to a grand jury, and providing cover stories for a person she obviously knows committed a crime. She is committing the crime of obstructing justice, but has been carefully coached on how to avoid indictment herself.
I also told the grand jury I thought it was odd that I had written "Wilson" because my memory is that I had heard her referred to only as Plame. Mr. Fitzgerald asked whether this suggested that Mr. Libby had given me the name Wilson. I told him I didn't know and didn't want to guess.
Does Judith Miller have too many convenient lapses of memory for us to believe her, even though Fitzgerald is giving her a pass? For anyone who still thinks she is going to be indicted, please understand that her lawyers would have carefully vetted this article before they allowed her to send it in to the Times. If Miller was in jeopardy from Fitzgerald, there would have been no article.Firedoglake will have more later. Arianna on "can't recall",
This is as believable as Woodward and Bernstein not recalling who Deep Throat was…Political Animal, AMERICAblog,
So President Bush ordered the White House staff to cooperate fully, tell everything they knew, and waive any reporter privileges they had. Scooter Libby turned around and behind the President's back told Judy Miller, ignore the president and don't accept my waiver.BuzzFlash:
Bill Keller's "Ace Reporter," Judith Miller, Claims She Can't Remember Who Told Her the Name of a CIA Operative. That's Some "Ace Reporter."Brad DeLong,
If Cheney and Bush had been taking care that the laws be faithfully executed, they would have told Libby to turn himself in more than two years ago. They didn't.James Wolcott,
The Publisher and Editor of the New York Times: Guilty of negligence.Think Progress,
For two pieces that comprise over 8700 words, there isn’t much useful information conveyed.The Moderate Voice,
It is certainly QUITE unusual for a journalist to forget who gave them a KEY part of info in a major story — let alone one that has legal implications.The Next Hurrah,
Okay, having read through everything a few times, I see nothing that makes me trust the NY Times, Keller, Abramson or Miller more now than a few hours ago before this went on-line. What am I missing? Does the coverage of this entire story suddenly get substantially better? Prove it.Buzzmachine,
She blames her sources for getting WMDs wrong, Libby for going to jail, and her editors — who stood by her at cost to them — for her unheroic welcome. In a phrase: what a case she is.All Spin Zone connects dots.
Later - Now Firedoglake has,
Come on! You had 85 days to sit on your butt and do nothing but think about this case, and you can't remember who first told you the name of the CIA NOC at the center of this mess? You have to be kidding me if you think any of us are buying that, let alone Patrick Fitzgerald.
I mean, honestly, there are memory lapses. And then there is just plain idiocy and obstruction. I'm voting for the latter.
September 30, 2005
Reuters has told the US government that American forces' conduct towards journalists in Iraq is "spiralling out of control" and preventing full coverage of the war reaching the public.I wonder how much of this has to do with Armed Forces Radio piping the Rush Limbaugh show in to the troops every day? If you listen to Rush you know that he spouts a daily diatribe about how the mainstream media is engaged in a treasonous conspiracy to undermine the country's efforts in Iraq, even going so far as to say that they want our troops to be killed because it makes Republicans look bad, etc. Someone stationed in Iraq and listening to enough of that...
The detention and accidental shootings of journalists is limiting how journalists can operate, wrote David Schlesinger, the Reuters global managing editor, in a letter to Senator John Warner, head of the armed services committee.
The Reuters news service chief referred to "a long parade of disturbing incidents whereby professional journalists have been killed, wrongfully detained, and/or illegally abused by US forces in Iraq".
September 8, 2005
In case the media doesn't report... here is another Democrat speaking out, Rep. Nancy Pelosi (who yesterday called Bush "dangerous.":
Democrats working to ensure security
Rep. Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.)
September 7, 2005
Four years ago, our nation suffered the worst attack in our history. What happened Sept. 11 was not simply an attack against America; it was an assault on our democracy. In the immediate aftermath, we saw Americans overcome grief and devastation to demonstrate that the values that unite us are greater and more enduring than anything that divides us.
It is in this same spirit of unity and accord that Congress came together last week to pass the much-needed supplemental spending bill for victims of Hurricane Katrina, sending a clear and unmistakable bipartisan signal that we would do everything in our power to recover and rebuild after this horrendous natural disaster.
In the coming weeks, we have an opportunity to continue in that spirit, and to do more to make America safer. Sept. 11 is hallowed ground, and the actions of Congress must be guided by that recognition, with a real commitment to a safer homeland. It is an opportunity we cannot afford to miss.
In the past four years, we have learned a great deal about our own vulnerabilities, and we have seen the vulnerabilities of others exposed around the world, most recently in the horrific subway attacks in London. Yet many of the gaps in our security remain unaddressed. Unfortunately, Republicans in Washington continue to ignore the vulnerabilities in our own country while refusing to allocate the resources to make us safer.
House Democrats have made clear our homeland-security principles, which include protecting our police officers and firefighters by guaranteeing that they have the tools they need in the case of a terrorist attack, eliminating gaps at our borders and securing rail and mass transit.
True security also demands energy independence; anything less compromises our freedom. Before the August recess, the Republican-led Congress passed an energy bill full of billions of dollars of giveaways to profit-rich oil companies at the expense of the interests of average Americans, a bill that does nothing to lower skyrocketing gas prices and next to nothing to move us toward greater energy autonomy. Democrats offered and will continue to fight for a different vision: an energy policy for the future that will reduce gas prices, reduce our reliance on foreign oil and reduce pollution.
Security also means standing up for the security of our men and women in harm’s way. Our troops must have the equipment they need to do their jobs effectively and safely. It means war must always be the last option, not the first; that we never send our troops into battle without the most careful consideration, as our national security is directly tied to the level of respect we command on the global stage. It means telling the American people the truth about what is happening in Iraq and having a realistic strategy for success.
Instead of listening to the American people, congressional Republicans have persisted in their abuse of power by shutting down ethics enforcement and stifling House debate. They continue to threaten to undermine Social Security, which has stood for the dignity and independence of millions, with a debt-creating privatization plan. And they have failed to address the economic anxiety that is felt by middle-class Americans. In the process, they proved that they are woefully out of step and out of touch with American values and interests.
Democrats stand united for the American values of hope and opportunity, a strong and secure middle class. That’s why we are working to meet the needs of Americans in retirement: preserving Social Security and protecting the pension benefits that working families have been promised.
Democrats want to offer Americans expanded opportunities for financial security and have introduced AmeriSave, an initiative to provide America’s working families with the tools they need to achieve retirement security without burdening future generations with national debt. This fall, we will work to expand and improve existing retirement accounts.
To expand prosperity, Congress must work to create jobs nationwide. Leadership demands that we make a sustained investment in the education, innovative technology and small businesses of today that will lead to the jobs of tomorrow, and Democrats are prepared to do it. With this commitment, the potential of American minds and the strength of American hands will overcome challenge after challenge, just as they always have.
Democrats return to Congress ready for more discourse and less discord, for progress and prosperity. It is these values of hope and optimism that Americans expect and deserve from their national leaders.
Pelosi is the House minority leader. [emphasis added]
Because you rarely see democrats speaking out in the media - it doesn't mean they aren't speaking out. It just means you don't see it in the media:
Reid Floor Statement on Katrina Commission
Remarks as prepared:
Mr. President, there are many things we don’t yet know about the government’s response to Katrina, but two things are clear to us all: the federal government’s response was unacceptable and the victims and all Americans deserve to know why.
Following 9/11, preparedness for national emergencies was supposed to be a priority for this government. Americans were made to believe the government was doing everything it could to prepare for terrorist attacks, natural disasters, and other national crises. Katrina makes it clear this government has failed. We must find out why immediately to make sure the devastation caused by Hurricane Katrina never happens again. When we faced a similar situation after September 11, Democrats and Republicans came together and established an independent, blue-ribbon Commission. Republicans now apparently want a different approach. Yesterday, the Republicans unveiled their proposal to investigate the events of last week. They called it a "bipartisan commission." Although I have no details on this proposal, what little I do know raises serious concerns about whether their proposal will provide Americans the answers they deserve. One, it’s not bi-partisan. An investigation of the Republican Administration by a Republican-controlled Congress is like having a pitcher call his own balls and strikes. Second, it does not provide a role for committees. We have a committee structure in place to investigate matters like this. After 9/11, these committees played a key role in investigating events. We have excellent chairmen and ranking members in the Senate, and they should be permitted to exercise their responsibilities. Finally, we have seen what happens when this administration – or any administration - investigates itself. The American people will not get the real answers they deserve. These are serious concerns about the Republican approach. Americans deserve answers independent of politics. That’s why Democrats and Republicans preferred an independent commission for investigating 9/11, and we should be following that model now. [emphasis added]
September 2, 2005
Crooks and Liars has the video and the transcript:
Cafferty transcript, CNN, 9/1/05:
“The thing that’s most glaring in all this is that the conditions continue to deteriorate for the people who are victims in this, and the efforts to do something about it don’t seem to be anywhere in sight. I want to read you something, Wolf. This is a quote from an editorial:
‘A better leader would have flown straight to the disaster zone and announced the immediate mobilization of every available resource. The cool, confident intuitive leadership Bush exhibited in his first term, particularly in the months following 9/11, has vanished.’
Now that’s not from some liberal rag; that is an editorial from one of the most conservative newspapers in the country, New Hampshire’s Union Leader.
I believe I just heard Stephanie Miller refer to a Jack Cafferty rant comparing the slow response of Bush and the Republican Congress to Hurricane Katrina with their rapid response to Teri Schiavo. Congress returned on a Sunday and Bush immediately cut his vacation short.
Too bad New Orleans doesn't have any cute, sympathetic white girls in distress.
August 17, 2005
This NY Times story, State Dept. Says It Warned About bin Laden in 1996 ends with this:
"The thinking was that he was in Afghanistan, and he was dangerous, but because he was there, we had a better chance to kill him," Mr. Scheuer said. "But at the end of the day, we settled for the worst possibility - he was there and we didn't do anything."It accidently forgot to include this:
Clinton strikes terrorist basesMore here,
THE United States launched cruise missile strikes in Afghanistan and Sudan yesterday against centres allegedly linked with the terrorist bombings of two American embassies.
With about 75 missiles timed to explode simultaneously in unsuspecting countries on two continents, the operation was the most formidable U.S. military assault ever against a private sponsor of terrorism.Oops, the Times accidentally left that part out...
... Clinton and his national security team linked both sites to Osama bin Laden, the exiled Saudi millionaire tied by U.S. intelligence to the twin bombings on Aug. 7 in Kenya and Tanzania. The bombings killed 12 Americans and nearly 300 Africans.
... The president made no apologies for ordering the strikes without permission from Afghanistan or the Sudan, saying, "Countries that persistently host terrorists have no right to be safe havens."
... Clinton presented several reasons for the decision to act swiftly and forcefully, rather than to punish bin Laden through the means of diplomacy and law. Repeatedly he said bin Laden presented an imminent threat, quoting his pledge this week to wage a war in which Americans were "all targets."
August 15, 2005
Through The Left Coaster: The Left Coaster: Great Timing - Newsweek Says That Bush Really Cries And Cares About Dead Soldiers.
Newsweek has an article about how Bush cries over the dead soldiers. Hold your stomaches, this is major emotional praise-Dear-Leader-propaganda:
President Bush was wearing "a huge smile," but his eyes were red and he looked drained by the time he got to the last widow, Crystal Owen, a third-grade schoolteacher who had lost her husband in Iraq. "Tell me about Mike," he said immediately. "I don't want my husband's death to be in vain," she told him. The president apologized repeatedly for her husband's death. When Owen began to cry, Bush grabbed her hands. "Don't worry, don't worry," he said, though his choking voice suggested that he had worries of his own. The president and the widow hugged. "It felt like he could have been my dad," Owen recalled to NEWSWEEK. "It was like we were old friends. It almost makes me sad. In a way, I wish he weren't the president, just so I could talk to him all the time."This is Newsweek providing cover for Bush over the Cindy Sheehan fiasco. There just is no other way to see this. Expect to see more of this, everywhere -- that's how they work.
[. . .] As he spoke, Ascione could see the grief rising through the president's body. His shoulder slumped and his face turned ashen. He began to cry and his voice choked. He paused, tried to regain his composure and looked around the room. "I am sorry, I'm so sorry," he said.
Steve at Left Coaster writes,
Well, it’s clear to see what the White House got for beating the stuffing out of Newsweek earlier this year over the Koran desecration stories.
As soon as Cindy Sheehan started doing some damage to Bush’s image as a wartime leader, we could expect to see this: a story from the mainstream media telling us that Bush really does care and that he cries in private when he visits with the families of the fallen at military bases.
August 11, 2005
In Briefing Book Baloney George Will tries to deflect the truth about his role in the 1980 election, blaming Jimmy Carter.
In 1980 the Reagan campaign had an agent in the White House, who stole the breifing book that Carter's staff had prepared to help him prepare for his debate with Ronald Reagan. (Since then I have wanted to write a novel about foreign spies using ideological Republicans to infiltrate the White House, making them think they were doing it for "the cause" but it looks like Iran beat me to it.)
George Will used the book in his role as Carter's stand-in for Reagan's debate preparations. Imagine, a supposed "journalist" who doesn't report what would have been one of the bigest stories of the decade - a campaign infiltrating the White House and stealing documents! Imagine the conflict-of-interest as Will appeared on TV commenting that Reagan won the debate without disclosing his role in the debate preparation! And imagine the ethics of this person ever working again in journalism!
So what does Will write now? That the accusation is that "Reagan had it because this columnist gave it to him." But that was never anyone's accusation! Based on knocking down that he was the thief, he calls the story "a fable." After what he did, he has the audacity to write a column attacking Jimmy Carter!
And the Washington Post lowers the bar even further by printing this.
August 10, 2005
The press is actually starting to report the news.
August 7, 2005
It apppears that the L.A. Times has put together an informative blog. The general discussion on their blog is incredibly lame, but they have a running series of daily round-ups of opinions from newspapers and bloggers.
Jonathan Turley wrote an editorial, The Faith of John Roberts highlighting and questioning Roberts' statement that he would have to recuse himself if a case came up that violated the teachings of the Catholic Church:
Renowned for his unflappable style in oral argument, Roberts appeared nonplused and, according to sources in the meeting, answered after a long pause that he would probably have to recuse himself.
It was the first unscripted answer in the most carefully scripted nomination in history. It was also the wrong answer. In taking office, a justice takes an oath to uphold the Constitution and the laws of the United States. A judge's personal religious views should have no role in the interpretation of the laws. (To his credit, Roberts did not say that his faith would control in such a case).
I've got a real problem having four Catholics on the Supreme Court. I hope Democratic Senators have the moral courage to raise this question, but I doubt it.
The L.A. Times has an interesting webpage up with a whole series of comments by notable law professors from last week. It took quite a while for my first post to clear their approval process, but the forum appears to be pretty wide open. It looks to me like the L.A. Times had some pretty naive ideas about how easy it would be to attract comments to their blog.
Stop by A Moot Point and let them know how stupid their opinions are.
August 4, 2005
It just keeps getting better and better. From Salon (day pass for 30 second commercial), For Judy Miller, a prison jumpsuit but no award:
As Editor & Publisher reports, the society's First Amendment committee voted narrowly to give Miller the prize to honor her for going to jail to protect her source in the Valerie Plame case. But in an e-mail message this week, ASJA president Jack El-Hai said that the ASJA board has voted unanimously to reject the committee's recommendation. El-Hai cited opposition from the society's membership, "*a feeling that Miller's career, taken as a whole, did not make her the best candidate for the award*" and "divided opinions on the board over whether her recent actions merit the award."A feeling? How about an objective analysis of her recent escapades as a Bush WMD sockpuppet? How was that any different than what Jason Blair did?
July 27, 2005
July 25, 2005
The M$M and the Bush administration have been lying about the conclusions of the SCII report for quite some time. It turns out that the SCII report supports Joe Wilson's broad conclusions about Iraq's efforts to purchase yellowcake from Niger and/or Africa.
eriposte over at The Left Coaster has actually read the SCII Report. Damned clever idea if you ask me. Uranium from Africa and the Senate (SSCI) Report - Part 1:
This is the first part of the series I introduced earlier today focusing on the findings on the "uranium from Africa" issue in the whitewash Senate Report - the report by the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence (SSCI). This part addresses the following question:Isn't that interesting. That is exactly the opposite of the impression I've gotten from reading the M$M fairy tales about the SCII Report. What is even more surprising is that I have not heard a single Democrat rush to Joe Wilson's defense and correct the record.Did the conclusions of the Senate Report really provide justification for the claim that Saddam Hussein was in fact recently seeking significant quantitites of uranium from Africa?Without any doubt, the answer is a resounding NO.
Even Bob Somerby has been misled by media reports about the conclusions of the Senate Intelligence Committee report about the veracity of Joe Wilson's claims and the conclusions of The Butler Report.
To see why, let's first note the exact words used by George W. Bush in the 2003 State of the Union (SOTU):The British government has learned that Saddam Hussein recently sought significant quantities of uranium from AfricaBefore we get into the innards of the Senate Report on this claim, let me make an important observation. I've already shown that the British government, in reality, learned no such thing. The British may have claimed that Saddam sought uranium from Africa, but a reasonably critical review of their claims reveals them to be bunk -- and this was known before the start of the Iraq war.
(click through for links)
Having said that, let's review how the Senate Report did not really substantiate Bush's claim (note that all bold/italicized text in quotes are my emphasis, not the Senate Report's emphasis).1. The CIA and the British Government's claim
2. The Senate Report's own conclusions
3. The position of the CIA at the time of Bush's SOTU claim
4. The position of the CIA soon after Bush's SOTU claim
5. The position of INR prior to Bush's SOTU claim
6. The position of the State Department soon after Bush's SOTU claim
Here's one sample of what eriposte uncovered by actually reading the SSCI Report:
On October 2, 2002, the Deputy DCI testified before the SSCI. Senator Jon Kyl asked the Deputy DCI whether he had read the British white paper and whether he disagreed with anything in the report. The Deputy DCI testified that "the one thing where I think they stretched a little bit beyond where we would stretch is on the points about Iraq seeking uranium from various African locations. We've looked at those reports and we don't think they are very credible..." [page 54]
On October 4, 2002, the NIO for Strategic and Nuclear Programs testified before the SSCI. When asked by Senator Fred Thompson if there was disagreement with the British paper, the NIO said that "they put more emphasis on the uranium acquisition in Africa that we would." He added, "there is some information on attempts and, as we said, maybe not to this committee, but in the last couple of weeks, there's a question about some of those attempts because of the control of the material in those countries. In one case the mine is completely flooded and how would they get the material..." [page 54]
eriposte has much, much more.
July 20, 2005
[Just slightly reworked to change the format of links and include the article's title in the body of the letter. In my view, the referenced article is a classic example of how the dominant the conservative think tanks are in today's media discourse - even in the "capital" of "liberalism", the hometown paper can't find a single "progressive" source to quote. I cc'd the article to the Chronicle's Reader Representative. -Thomas]
I just read your article in Sunday's paper, CASUALTY OF WAR: THE U.S. ECONOMY... I'm wondering why you couldn't find a single "left of center-right" economist, think tank representative, or private sector critic to quote as a source in this article.
You quote talking heads from the Cato Institute, and the Heritage Foundation, two institutions which just barely qualify as "non-partisan", and certainly have a definitively "conservative"/"libertarian" ideology.
You quote "The Center for Strategic and Budgetary Assessments" and "Center for Strategic and International Studies", both of which are "non-partisan", but which are part and parcel of the American governmental establishment (one of them has a former CIA director on its board, the other is lead by a former deputy Secretary of Defense).
Quoting a single Congressional Democrat among several conservative dissidents in no way constitutes a balanced article. I respectfully request that you cultivate a broader diversity of sources!
It also lists Gene Sperling, whose biography says, "He served in the Clinton administration as the President’s National Economic Adviser and Director of the National Economic Council."
Surely either of these gentlemen could have provided equally interesting commentary on the economic implications of the war in Iraq from a non-conservative point of view.
If you want to get really "radical", why not quote someone from the Institute for Policy Studies:
"For more than four decades, IPS has transformed ideas into action for peace, justice, and the environment. The Institute has strengthened and linked social movements through articulation of root principles and fundamental rights, research and analysis on current events and issues, and connections to policymakers, academics, and activists at all levels. As a multi-issue think tank that has worked with the movements that shaped the late 20th Century, from Civil Rights onwards, we offer a cross-cutting analysis with a historical perspective."
Not exactly the Cato Institute - but certainly something different from the "usual suspects". As a "left of center" Green, I feel left completely out when news coverage by the paper I subscribe to consists of arguments among various factions within the right (with a comment or two from the occassional moderate Democrat tossed in for flavor).
[Dear STF readers - If you have comments on The Chronicle's coverage, standards or accuracy, please call Dick Rogers, the readers' representative, at (415) 777-7870. Written comments can be e-mailed to email@example.com, faxed to (415) 442-1847, or addressed to Readers' Representative, c/o San Francisco Chronicle, 901 Mission St., San Francisco, CA 94103. You can write the author of the above referenced article at firstname.lastname@example.org]
July 18, 2005
Brad Delong and Bob Somerby do a wonderful job of keeping us posted on the crimes and failures of our major media. However, they do not ask much about the reasons for these crimes and failures. (DeLong, of course, is always asking "Why, oh why?", but he never goes beyond that-- it's purely rhetorical).
DeLong still pretends to believe that it's just a problem of individual incompetence and bad hiring, but there's really been a systematic pattern or error, and the slant is consistently rightward. Somerby recognizes that there is a pattern, but he doesn't ask why this is happening either.
Obviously it's is a management problem. The Washington Post and the New York Times, for example, have been especially disappointing to mainstream liberals. Arthur Sulzberger, Jr., is the chairman both of the New York Times Board of Directors and the New York Times Executive Board. Donald E. Graham is the chairman of both the Washington Post Board of Directors and the Washington Post Executive Board.
There's no mystery. The reason why these two newspapers are incompetent, dishonest, and slanted to the the right is because these two men want them to be that way. The reason the well-paid tools who write for these newspapers write and think so badly is that even the smart ones know that Arthur Sulzberger, Jr. and Donald E. Graham want them to write badly and dishonestly. The rhetorical questions can now stop.
"Isn't there more to the question than this?" you may ask. Yes, probably. That's why, below the fold, I've put links to the official websites of the two newspapers, together with complete lists of their various boards. I'm sure that people smarter than me can tell us who the other key players and evil geniuses are.
This is all stuff that Chomsky, Nader, and their ilk tried to tell the Democrats ten or twenty years ago. The rightwing takeover of the Democratic Party was an enormous disaster, and we (the American People) may never recover from it.
People tried to tell them.
Update: Not much response. Obviously everyone is terrified of Graham and Sulzberger: The Untouchables.
* John F. Akers
* Brenda C. Barnes
* Raul E. Cesan
* Lynn G. Dolnick
* Michael Golden
Vice Chairman, The New York Times Company
Publisher, International Herald Tribune
* William E. Kennard
* James M. Kilts
* David E. Liddle
* Ellen R. Marram
* Thomas Middelhoff
* Janet L. Robinson
President and Chief Executive Officer
* Henry B. Schacht
* Arthur Sulzberger, Jr.
Chairman, The New York Times Company
Publisher, The New York Times
* Cathy J. Sulzberger
* Doreen A. Toben
* Arthur Sulzberger, Jr.
Chairman, The New York Times Company
Publisher, The New York Times
* Janet L. Robinson
President and Chief Executive Officer
* Michael Golden
Vice Chairman, The New York Times Company
Publisher, International Herald Tribune
* Leonard P. Forman
Executive Vice President and Chief Financial Officer
* Martin A. Nisenholtz
Senior Vice President, Digital Operations
* Solomon B. Watson IV
Senior Vice President and General Counsel
* Hussain Ali-Khan
Vice President, Real Estate Development
* R. Anthony Benten
Vice President and Treasurer
* Rhonda L. Brauer
Corporate Secretary and Senior Counsel
* Philip A. Ciuffo
Vice President, Internal Audit
* Jennifer C. Dolan
Vice President, Forest Products
* Ann S. Kraus
Vice President, Compensation and Benefits
* James C. Lessersohn
Vice President, Finance and Corporate Development
* Catherine J. Mathis
Vice President, Corporate Communications
* Kenneth A. Richieri
Vice President and Deputy General Counsel
* Neal Roberts
Vice President, Organization Development
* Stuart P. Stoller
Vice President, Process Engineering and Corporate Controller
* David A. Thurm
Vice President and Chief Information Officer
The New York Times Company and The New York Times
The New York Times
* Scott Heekin-Canedy
President and General Manager
* Bill Keller
* Gail Collins
Editor, Editorial Page
* Donald E. Graham
Chairman of the Board and Chief Executive Officer,
The Washington Post Company
Chairman, The Washington Post
* Warren E. Buffett
Chairman of the Board, Berkshire Hathaway Inc.
* Barry Diller
Chairman and Chief Executive Officer, IAC/InterActiveCorp
* John L. Dotson Jr.
Former President and Publisher, Akron Beacon-Journal
* George J. Gillespie, III
Attorney, Member of Cravath, Swaine & Moore LLP
* Ronald L. Olson
Attorney, Member of Munger, Tolles & Olson LLP
* Alice M. Rivlin
Visiting Professor, Georgetown University
Senior Fellow, Brookings Institution
* Richard D. Simmons
Former President and Chief Operating Officer, The Washington Post Company
* George W. Wilson
President, Concord (N.H.) Monitor
WASHINGTON POST EXECUTIVES
* Donald E. Graham
Chairman of the Board and Chief Executive Officer,
The Washington Post Company
Chairman, The Washington Post
* Patrick Butler
* Diana M. Daniels
Vice President, General Counsel, and Corporate Secretary
* Ann L. McDaniel
* Christopher Ma
* John B. Morse, Jr.
Vice President, Finance and Chief Financial Officer
* Gerald M. Rosberg
Vice President of Planning and Development
* Daniel J. Lynch
* Wallace R. Cooney
* Pinkie Dent Mayfield
* John F. Hockenberry
July 14, 2005
Now, if a reporter's right to shield her sources arises from the public's need to know information, then Judith is going to jail for the exact opposite reason - because she wants to make sure the public doesn't know information that it is in the public interest to know.
... If a powerful government official is using the press to smear his enemies; is using the press to insert lies in order to sell a war; or is using his position to break the cover of undercover agents who are working to make sure I don't get killed in a nuclear explosion one day; the information I need is who that man is and who is aiding him in doing these things. That's the public interest.
July 9, 2005
The simple truth is that the M$M is only part of the problem. How is it possible that with DeLay, Cunningham and Abramhoff all up to their eyeballs in blatant corruption, not a single Democrat, in either the House or the Senate, has seen fit to file a complaint?
From David Sirota's online Magazine, Sirotablog, Why America Needs Less Mindless Conformity:
Think about it for a second. If you are in Washington, D.C.'s Republican/Democratic Establishment circles, it is considered nothing short of disgusting or fringe to think we should, for instance, set an exit strategy in Iraq, or renegotiate the corporate-written "free" trade deals that are wreaking so much havoc on our middle class.
If you are in business, you are considered weird for keeping in mind anything other than the bottom line, no matter what laws and ethics you have to break.
If you are in media, you are considered a freak if you suggest reporting on serious issues instead of Michael Jackson, if you suggest putting on air anyone other than the same tired, old, out-of-touch Beltway pundits who regurgitate the same idiotic talking points.
That's an excellent capsulation of the Elite Corporate Consensus. The M$M and both political parties are dominated by a corporate mindless conformity that makes Big Brother proud. O'Reilly is just more brazen about his obsequious surrender to mindless pablum for the masses than Matthews and Russert. They all drink from the same cup of M$M conformity.
. But as San Francisco Chronicle columnist Mark Morford tells us, conformity is exactly what the powers that be want - and is exactly what we shouldn't give them.
Money quote from Morford on the Conformity Consensus:
And truly, this mind-set is the national plague, a fate worse than death.
How did this guy get hired? Somebody at the S.F. Chronicle forgot to drink the Corporate Consensus Kool-Aid:
Work hard and the world respects you. Work hard and you can have anything you want. Work really extra super hard and do nothing else but work and ignore your family and spend 14 hours a day at the office and make 300 grand a year that you never have time to spend, sublimate your soul to the corporate machine and enjoy a profound drinking problem and sporadic impotence and a nice 8BR mini-mansion you never spend any time in, and you and your shiny BMW 740i will get into heaven.That sounds exactly like what my company wants me to do for $40 grand a year, an apartment and a shiny new Hyundai.
This is the American Puritan work ethos, still alive and screaming and sucking the world dry. Work is the answer. Work is also the question. Work is the one thing really worth doing and if you're not working you're either a slacker or a leech, unless you're a victim of BushCo's budget-reamed America and you've been laid off, and therefore it's OK because that means you're out there every day pounding the pavement looking for work and honing your resume and if you're not, well, what the hell is wrong with you?
Back in the day they said you are what you eat. Today you are what you do for a living.
Our culture allows almost no room for creative breaks. There is little tolerance for seeking out a different kind of "work" that doesn't somehow involve cubicles and widening butts and sour middle managers monitoring your e-mail and checking your Web site logs to see if you've wasted a precious 37 seconds of company time browsing blowfish.com or reading up on the gay marriage apocalypse.
This is where Morford works in his money quote:
And truly, this mind-set is the national plague, a fate worse than death.
One of the primary chains to identical office cubicles inside identical concrete cubicles is health insurance:
Giving up her respectable gig was insanely stressful and wracked with doubt. Leave a honest job? Give up paid health care? Have no reliable source of income for months on end? Trade calm stability for risk and random chance? No way, most people say. And of course, it was the absolute best choice she could've made. Time instantly became more fluid and meaningful. Mental clutter vanished. Possibility grinned.
America is not a Christian nation. Our true religion is Consumerism, which American Puritanism has absorbed and regurgitates from pulpits and televangelist broadcasts every day of the week and twice on Sunday as The Prosperity Gospel. In America even religion is big business. God is your CEO and Greenspan is Pope. He demands slavish sacrifices at the corporate alter. Or does He?
But the truth is, God, the divine true spirit loves nothing more than to see you unhinge and take risk and invite regular, messy, dangerous upheaval. This is exactly the energy that thwarts the demons of stagnation and conservative rot and violent sanctimonious bloody Mel Gibson-y religion, one that would have all our work be aimed at continuously patching up our incessant potholes of ugly congenital guilt, as opposed to contributing to the ongoing orgiastic evolution of spirit.
I've heard a rumor that Jesus is coming back and he's really pissed off at the money changers worshipping Mammon in Mega Churches. How can we help Him turn the tables on the money changers in the temple?
It is not for everyone. It implies incredibly difficult choices and arranging your life in certain ways and giving up certain luxuries and many, many people seemed locked down and immovable and all done with exploring new options in life, far too deeply entrenched in debts and family obligations and work to ever see such unique light again. Maybe you know such people. Maybe you are such people.
But then again, maybe not. This is the other huge truism we so easily forget: There is always room. There are always choices we can begin to make, changes we can begin to invite, rules we can work to upset, angles of penetration we can try to explore. And if that's not worth trying, well, what is?
Where would Jesus work?
Stirling Newberry at BOP News takes the next step with The Market Place of Idiots, that features first Bilmon:
Billmon burns the Aspen Institute. I'm a long time non-fan of the Aspen institute, which often seems to be about wrapping the brown stuff the Republicans sell in green paper. The energy policy coming from there is so bad, that I think I could make a case that one would do better just converting the bullshit that comes out of the Institute into biodiesel.Media consensus annointed journalist pundits brown nosing and hobbing the nob with corporate appointed intellectual pundits to define and proscribe "new ideas" while they exchange bodily fluids. I think I understand why Michael Kinsley, Newt Gingrich and Thomas Friedman are considered deep thinkers by the D.C. consensus.
Newberry follows up with Alterman:
The reality is that these conferences aren't about ideas. Ideas often are developed in intense isolation, they are about teaching powerful people to manage change, which often means co-opt or kill it. They are, in effect, giant Groupthink Gropes about what the next stampede of ordinary people is going to be about. What the next panic button issue or story is going to be, and how to calm the heard and sell praerie patties to buffalo.
Alterman once again deconstructs the myth of a liberal media, that curiously adopts an instinctive conservative D.C. consensus on virtually every issue, in spite of factual evidence to the contrary:
A Pew Research Center for People and Policy poll conducted in May 2005 throws this misperception into high relief, confirming a trend that has remained unchanged for decades. If the media were genuinely interested in accurately portraying the values of ordinary Americans, some of these numbers might receive some coverage. The poll shows that on most of the most important social issues facing Americans today, the public mind is much further to the left than it is the right.Rose colored blinders are required to imagine that the M$M lives up to a journalism standard of reporting the truth:
So has the country moved to the right during recent decades? Well, perhaps it has, on certain issues, but nowhere near as much as the media would have us believe. At a time when Congress, the Executive Branch (and soon the Supreme Court), the opinion media, talk radio and the like are all singing from the same conservative hymnal, it's almost a miracle that Americans have retained their progressive values. But they have, and it's about time the media woke up and dealt with it.
Crooks and Liars steered me to Duncan Black's smackdown of journalism standards, Journalism 101:
If the responsible media wants to elevate and professionalize journalism to a greater extent, I'm all for it. However, if they want to do so they'd be a lot more productive training their guns on the Limbaughs and O'Reilly's and numerous syndicated columnists etc... etc... than on "citizen journalists" or bloggers or whatever. To America, Bill O'Reilly is a journalist.
The line between journalism/commentary/opinion/analysis/propagandist/hack was completely blurred by the mainstream media itself long before bloggers came along.
I'll credit CJR for trying to hold the line and pretend there is still a semblance of journalism standards, but from my perspective whatever standards do exist are practiced primarily in the breach.
Crooks and liars also picks up on Andrew Sullivan's smackdown of the latest Instapundit endorsement of the suggestion that the media could end the GWOT without firing a shot by just not covering terrrorist acts. If the media ignored them, terrorists would simply go away:
" But the notion that we should somehow not cover mass murder, or that it's equivalent to misbehavior at sporting events, or that the only reason for covering it is "ratings/profits" is nutty.....We need to see the atrocities these fanatics commit, however appalling, however vile. The job of the media, even in wartime, is to relay facts, not to skew coverage for purposes of morale.
Is "relaying facts" one of the standards that journalists are supposed to have? I guess that explains the massive media coverage of the Downing Street Memo. Was media darling Judith Miller relaying facts when she helped the White House hype WMD stories? Is Judith Miller in jail for relaying facts or covering up a White House scandal?
Ignoring real news and terrorism is already an M$M journalism standard. The vast majority of the 675 terrorists acts committed last year were studiously ignored by the MSM. Faux News and the MSM both give more coverage to runaway white girls and celebrity trials and tributions than they do to terrorists. They also provide more in depth coverage of Hollywood than they do of Baghdad.
The practice of journalism standards in the breach has been on prominant display by the failure of the M$M to cover the Downing Street Memo, Black Box Vote Fraud and Republican corruption. Glenn Reynolds just wants the M$M to take their current standards one step farther.
July 6, 2005
The First Amendment is not designed to protect the government from accountability.Update - Through The Daou Report, I found both Light Up The Darkness,
"This case is not about a whistle-blower," Fitzgerald added. "It's about potential retaliation against a whistle-blower." As Judith Miller’s attorneys attempt to portray her jailing as a threat to freedom of the press and the ability of journalist’s to expose government corruption, it’s important to remember the words of Mr. Fitzgerald. She is covering up for government corruption, not working to expose it.and Joe Wilson (Mr. Plame) at TPM Cafe,
[. . .] The difference is as clear as night and day. Exposing corruption. Complicit in corruption.
The sentencing of Judith Miller to jail for refusing to disclose her sources is the direct result of the culture of unaccountability that infects the Bush White House from top to bottom. President Bush’s refusal to enforce his own call for full cooperation with the Special Counsel has brought us to this point. Clearly, the conspiracy to cover up the web of lies that underpinned the invasion of Iraq is more important to the White House than coming clean on a serious breach of national security.Later, found Democratic Underground: Rove is Not a Whistle-Blower! Rove is Not a Source!,
"Rove" is not the journalists' source. "Rove" is a high government official who abused his power in order to intimidate a whistle-blower, because he didn't like what Wilson wrote in the New York Times.
(That second link is to the old Blogger site, which isn't working well. (It's Blogger...) Search the page for "Bill Stewart" to see the post.)
July 3, 2005
This is a well-written, fair story. I have to congratulate these right-wing talk-show hosts for taking a risk and putting themselves where their mouths are. Good for them.
I wonder what will happen if this is for real and they actually DO get away from the carefully-guarded hotels? Are they really going to try to go places without military escorts, or is this just a lie? And if they really are going to try to do that, I hope they're right that Iraq is better than is being reported. If something happens to one of these high-profile people while in Iraq it could have a devastating effect on anti-terrorism efforts.
In Aggressive Prosecutors, Mary compares Matt Cooper and Judith Miller asking for home detention, to Susan McDougal's treatment by Ken Starr:
And for some of us, the fact that Judith Miller will be prevented from enacting her trade of providing right-wing lies and conspiracy theories will seem like some level of justice has finally prevailed. Will we get to see her sporting the chains and orange jump suit that Susan wore? Susan spent 18 months behind bars, whereas Judith who was responsible for creating lies that cost the lives of over 1700 US soldier deaths and thousands of innocent Iraqi deaths faces a total of 4 months. I do hope she enjoys her time off without access to her cell phone and the internets. Too bad Chalabi won't be able to reach her to feed her his latest con.
June 26, 2005
From Parade Magazine's Personality Parade in today's Sunday paper. (Onine archive not yet ready.)
Paris Hilton's sister Nicky, is a blond by birth, but is now a brunette.
For Nicky, going dark was tricky, because the color often looks flat, as it did on Renee Zellweger. Nicky's colorist, Jeff John of Beverly Hills' B2V salon, does her hair with a two-step process, then seals the color with a shine-enhancing glaze also favored by Teri Hatcher.Also, Federal Reserve Chairman Alan Greenspan,
...is on record as saying America's retirement system must be fixed to take into account the coming surge of retirees. He believes that benefit cuts in Social Security "will almost surely be at least part of the solution." He also approves of the creation of private accounts but says they have to be introduced in a cautious, gradual way.This is how it's done. This is how to reach America with a message.
(I swear that I was really only going to blog the first part of this, as a joke post. I was tying and glancing at the page when I saw the right-wing Social Security plant.)
June 21, 2005
The "poo flags" article below tipped me off to this story: "Clear Channel cedes responsibility for ‘Bush: Our leader’ billboard to local market" (source: "The Blue Lemur"). We can thank "our" media for this being a "story", because:
The Orlando Associated Press bureau said they had seen at least one sign but didn’t plan a story. They suggested that the signs would only become a story were there a public response to the billboards, and that the county in which they were situated would probably meet the signs with “a warm response.”
How nice. So, if I pay for a giant billboard in Santa Cruz with a picture of Dubya, saying, "Commander in Thief" (or something equally pithy), it isn't newsworthy, because the people in Santa Cruz county would probably meet the signs with a "warm response"?
June 7, 2005
If you are ever going to appear on TV, or know anyone who does, or will be speaking where the press will question you, read Daily Kos :: Interview Skills 101--Surviving the Fox Hunt. This is exactly the kind of media training people on the right receive. Read it and then you'll recognize some of the tricks they use.
I believe we can teach ourselves to use aggressively simple communication tactics in support of the truth more effectively than Rs can use those same tactics to deceive and destroy. But first we must accept the fact that this strategy works and study it until we can thoroughly understand and adapt it.
May 27, 2005
A lot of bloggers, readers here and commenters at other blogs complain that the Democrats don't speak out enough. I think what is going on is that they are speaking out, every day, and the media is not covering it. Meanwhile the Right gets full-time media coverage of their crap. For example, John Conyers has been posting regularly at Daily Kos. (This and this, just today.) And Senator Reid said this today: Reid Lays Out Reform Agenda,
Time and again, the American people have seen George Bush and the Republican leadership choose between their partisan interests and the people's interest. And every time, they have chosen an ideological agenda over an American agenda.They ARE speaking out. Tell me, do you see any of this covered in the press?
[. . .]Six moths have passed since this Republican Congress began and here's their record:
They spent precious days trying to overturn constitutional principles.
They tried to overturn the decisions of courts and duly elected legislatures in order to insert themselves into one family's tragedy in Florida.
They all-but disbanded the House Ethics Committee in order to protect the Republican leader from scrutiny -- but then were forced to reverse themselves under public pressure.
But perhaps the greatest abuse of power is to have the ability to help but choose to do nothing.
(Through NDN Blog)
May 18, 2005
In the May 23rd issue of Newsweek, Mark Whitaker has an editorial wherein he explains, in great detail, the basis upon which the magazine made its original report regarding desecration of the Qur'an at Gitmo. The magazine also devotes a feature length article to a detailed account of what "went wrong".
Here's an excerpt from the article, explaining what happened:
"On Saturday, Isikoff spoke to his original source, the senior government official, who said that he clearly recalled reading investigative reports about mishandling the Qur'an, including a toilet incident [emphasis mine]. But the official, still speaking anonymously, could no longer be sure that these concerns had surfaced in the SouthCom report."
The editorial states that Newsweek ran the article past two other Defense Department officials, one of which declined to comment, the other of which did not challenge the specific allegation in question.
This is "aggressive" reporting - the magazine took a risk (limited number of sources, limited amount of background investigation) and got burned when their source failed to completely back up his or her original statement. The original report was made, based on the facts as they were known at the time - "facts" that turned out to be not so "factual", at a later point. The original decision to publish was probably less than wise, given the nature of the allegations and the current political environment, but not terribly unusual or irresponsible.
To be sure, there is a substantial difference, from a REPORTING perspective, between an anonymous government official saying they've seen unspecified reports documenting a problem, and the same official saying that he or she has seen the problem reported on in a specific document... these are two different stories; the former would be reported in a completely different fashion, with significant disclaimers as to the credibility of the report in question, than the latter (in fact, it might not even be reported at all, without a specific document to attach the allegation to).
But from our perspective as citizens in a democracy (and that of followers of Islam), the specific report in which this information is embedded matters little - much more important is the fact that reports are circulating within our government which state that the problem (desecration of the Qur'an by government personell) is real. Newsweek, and the anonymous official in question, have not retracted the claim that such reports exist.
There is a value in "aggressive" reporting like this, reporting that takes risks - often, it is the only way to get important information into the hands of the public that would otherwise never be heard.
Here's a personal story for you, illustrating just that point, out of the days of my youth (this was about 1989, give or take a year):
I was taking the bus home from an event, and never having taken the route in question before, wound up getting off quite a bit sooner than I should have. Miles and miles away from home, in fact. So there I am, standing at a bus stop in West Los Angeles in the late afternoon, when this guy in a sports car pulls up to me and says, "Hey! Do you need a ride?"
Being young, male, and naive, I said, "Sure." The guy in question started talking my ear off as soon as I got in the car... said he'd just closed a major deal, and had been celebrating with a couple of Long Island Iced Teas (it took me quite a while to realize that said drinks were alcoholic, and that the guy was drunk).
Somehow or other, the discussion turned to his experience as a Green Beret, piloting helicopters in Honduras. First he told me about the refugee camps in Honduras (whether the people in them came from Guatemala or Nicaragua, I'm not sure), about how they would crowd up against the fence whenever he and his buddies came near, and about how they felt sorry for the folks, so they'd toss them rations and other food items from their vehicles... which often resulted in fights as desperate individuals scrambled for the items in question. I was naive, so it surprised me that the U.S. was somehow overseeing refugee camps in Honduras.
Then he dropped a bomb on me, something that totally outraged me and blew my mind, something that clearly troubled this guy as well:
He'd spent most of his tour of duty flying helicopters in and out of El Salvador... carrying sealed orders that could not be opened until they were ten minutes over the border... sealed orders that directed the Green Berets he dropped off, inside El Salvador, to assassinate public officials in small villiages and towns that were thought to be sympathetic to the FSLN.
I was stunned, to say the least. This blew away anything else I'd ever heard about our activities in Central America, and I was familiar enough with the issues in question to realize that any such missions were highly highly illegal. If true, this was page one, top of the fold news. After I figured out the guy was drunk, I talked him into dropping me off at a convenience store somewhat closer to home, and wound up catching a bus the rest of the way.
The next day, I picked up the phone and called the Los Angeles Times, asking to be connected to whoever was responsible for covering events in Central America. The reporter I spoke to, and I remember his words almost exactly, said, "We've heard allegations of this sort from far more credible sources than a drunken Green Beret. But no one is willing to go on the record, so we can't publish them."
This blew my mind even further... they knew, already, but hadn't published anything... what other stories were circulating among those in the know, I wondered (and still wonder), that we knew nothing about, and would never see the light of day, simply because they didn't rise to the standard of journalism required by a major newspaper (or other media organization)?
Is the story my drunken Green Beret told me true? Seems likely (at least to me, based on what I heard). Will the public ever know for sure? Probably not.
Where do we draw the line, as a democracy, between "aggressive" and "irresponsible" reporting? How far back is the line being redrawn in the minds of reporters and editors as a result of the condemnation heaped upon CBS and Newsweek? What stories are we not going to hear about as a result?
Back to the story at hand, which raises the following questions in my mind:
a) did someone in the administration get to the source in question?
b) what DOES the SouthCom report actually say... has anyone in the media (or Congress) seen a draft (one composed and printed prior to these events)?
c) what OTHER reports might the individual in question have seen that raise these concerns? are we ever going to see them (in whatever form they existed prior to the controversy)?
May 16, 2005
...a White House trying to decapitate another news organization.AND, I might add, The Party will use Newsweek's retraction to deflect any, repeat, ANY charges concerning an atmosphere and policy of torture. Just watch. It will be like the "Dan Rather memo" incident -- which The Party used to convince the public that the "liberal" media made up the entire story of Bush shirking his National Guard duty. The actual story of Bush and the National Guard hasn't been mentioned anywhere since.
CBS was harshly, harshly criticized for trying to maintain that the essence of their story was true even if the origins of one memo were questionable. CBS didn't get that The Party was out to destroy them no matter what they did. They rolled over and appointed a Republican operative to run an "investigation" that didn't even consider the accuracy of the story. The result was that CBS is effectively destroyed. Damned because they did.
So Newsweek, thinking it was learning a lesson from CBS' holding out didn't try, rolled right over and retracted the story, even though the essence of the story was accurate. Now the entire Party propaganda apparatus is working to destroy Newsweek. Damned because they didn't.
Yesterday I blogged about a "Mallard Fillmore" comic in my local newspaper that tells readers not to trust or read newspapers. The paper continues to carry the strip - and lose readers. Maybe that's what "getting it" means in this new environment of Party ideological intimidation.
ABC is one media outlet that clearly "gets it." They refused to run United Church of Christ advertisements welcoming everyone into their church. But last week they allowed far-right Focus on the Family to run ads on their network. That is what The Party wants from the media, and that is what it will get.
Update - For press people who think they can somehow gain favor with The Party, here is an example of the Right's sentiments about the press:
The desire to promote their agendas at the expense of the truth or our safety provides a measure of comfort to our enemy, who hopes to divide us from within.Providing "comfort to our enemy?" Let that serve as a warning about what The Party has in mind for you. Watch your backs.
May 15, 2005
I just sent this letter to the San Jose Mercury News:
The Mallard Fillmore comic strip tells your readers not to trust (and therefore not to read) your newspaper. I'm curious how this furthers your business model.
May 4, 2005
Chris Bowers is asking his readers to Pull The Plug on PBS
April 5, 2005
The trials and travails surrounding the making of this film (and the original story itself) demonstrate the frightening level of control that ultra-conservative Christian morality police have over our media production infrastructure.
"HEART of the BEHOLDER is based on the true story of how a young couple was ruined by a group of religious fundamentalists because they were the only video store owners who dared to carry Martin Scorsese's controversial film, The Last Temptation of Christ. The couple stood up against relentless harassment, intimidation, and even death threats. When the couple refused to buckle, the religious zealots blackmailed the District Attorney into destroying their business and family."
Turns out the D.A. frequented prostitutes... and one of them wound up joining one of the religious groups harassing these folk, and telling them all about his secret life. Pretty effective blackmail material.
As you can imagine, the Christian right isn't particularly eager to have this sordid tale of unethical behavior by their fellow believers given any prominence, and they've been doing anything and everything possible to prevent these people from successfully making and/or distributing this film. Now that the producers have actually succeeded in producing it (on a shoestring, for less than $500,000), they are trying to get it into film festivals... and elements of the Christian far right are organizing to prevent this.
Amusingly enough, the producer is a Fox employee, the "Vice President of Broadcast Standards and Practices for Fox Cable Networks in Los Angeles", doing this on a waiver. I guess not all the folks working for the masters of the dark side are evil. :)
Visit the Heart of the Beholder web site for more information.
April 1, 2005
So, I pick up The San Francisco Chronicle as I walk out the door this morning, and what do I see plastered across most of the front page? "A's NEW ERA". Mass coverage on the sale of the Oakland A's baseball team to various and sundry investors.
As is my habit, I start reading the paper from the back pages (where the "real" news is) and what do I see on page A17 (second to last page)? "U.N. Study: Earth's Health Deteriorating" ... the AP article available through the SF GATE web site doesn't have the most alarming statistic (the viability of 60% of the world's ecosystem services are threatened), but you can see it as the lead paragraph on the latest entry on the Millenium Ecosystem Assessment web site. It appears that the print article in today's Chron was based on this release.
Here's the lead paragraph I'm talking about... hell, here's the three lead paragraphs:
A landmark study released today reveals that approximately 60 percent of the ecosystem services that support life on Earth – such as fresh water, capture fisheries, air and water regulation, and the regulation of regional climate, natural hazards and pests – are being degraded or used unsustainably. Scientists warn that the harmful consequences of this degradation could grow significantly worse in the next 50 years.
“Any progress achieved in addressing the goals of poverty and hunger eradication, improved health, and environmental protection is unlikely to be sustained if most of the ecosystem services on which humanity relies continue to be degraded,” said the study, Millennium Ecosystem Assessment (MA) Synthesis Report, conducted by 1,300 experts from 95 countries. It specifically states that the ongoing degradation of ecosystem services is a road block to the Millennium Development Goals agreed to by the world leaders at the United Nations in 2000.
Although evidence remains incomplete, there is enough for the experts to warn that the ongoing degradation of 15 of the 24 ecosystem services examined is increasing the likelihood of potentially abrupt changes that will seriously affect human well-being. This includes the emergence of new diseases, sudden changes in water quality, creation of “dead zones” along the coasts, the collapse of fisheries, and shifts in regional climate.
Let's have a vote: which is more important?
1. A change in ownership for the Oakland A's.
2.A declaration by 1,300 scientists from 95 countries that human impacts on the planet have made "changes [that] have resulted in a substantial and largely irreversible loss to the biological diversity of the planet", to quote Walter Reid, director of the Millennium Ecosystem Assessment.
I'm willing to be I know how most of you will answer. Why isn't this front page news?
Is the Chronicle afraid of being seen as playing "Chicken Little"? Does it think the average reader won't give a damn? Do they think that the average reader would be unable to understand that the Earth's ecosystems are overstressed and some of them are on the virge of collapse? Or would it be too upsetting to the powers that be (corporate and governmental) to see the evidence of their collective malfeasance and mis-stewardship splashed across the front page?
... probably not. Setting aside the more paranoid of interpretations, it seems to me that the American newsroom has a major cultural problem - stuff like this just isn't "news". News is "dramatic", fast-developing, "personalized" and personality driven... Terry Schiavo's husk passing on is news... studies showing the 55 year old men without health insurance are 40% more likely to die than those with it are not. There's no immediate crisis, no fast breaking story to continually update... sure, there is a "human interest" angle that might result in a feature, but it isn't worth a headline or a series of stories from different angles. Or... could it be?
"World's Primates On The Verge of Extinction: Defenders Call It Genocide", "Antarctic Ice Pack Breaking Up: Shipping Threatened, Sea Levels May Rise Significantly", "Water Tables Sinking Rapidly Across Planet, Food Harvests Threatened"', "Energy Demand From China Threatens To Drive Prices Through Roof", "Asian Pollution Blocks Western State's Progress Cleaning Up Air"... are headlines like these not attention grabbing enough?
What would happen if a major U.S. newpaper started putting ecological news like this on the front page of the paper nearly every single day... how long would they be able to keep it up? Indefinitely? (there's certainly enough news of the sort to do this on a regular basis) ... would circulation crash? (I somehow doubt it.) Would advertising disappear? (Probably not - the capitalist will sell you the rope you use to hang him.)
How much would it cost for "the left" to buy a leading newspaper in a major media market and start running headlines like this? While a pretty intensive session with Google was unable to pin down any specific numbers, it seems reasonable to assume that one could be bought for $200 million. Seems like this would be a cost-effective investment.
Or could we do this even more cheaply ... by making this "news" ourselves, among the blogging community? Could we flog the story of the looming death of the planet into the mainstream media, like we've done with so many other stories? Or do we, ourselves, not see this as "news", as "blog worthy"?
Hmm... it seems the verdict is split. I was about to start sobbing uncontrollably, when Daypop and Blogz produced one and zero hits respectively, when Technorati saved the day and produced 29 hits. 26 in the last 24 hours or so. Of course, a number of them are folks ranting about how the most important aspect of this is how it promotes "free markets", but most of the others seemed to "get" the idea that this is a significant report. ... maybe the blogsphere simply needs time to react? I hope so.
I guess I'm not alone in my thoughts on this... Jumping on the Bandwagon has also commented about the lack of coverage in major media about this.
Two more tidbits:
a) wonder why your newspaper seems so threadbare?
Read this article (found it while poking around for info for this one): Valuation of the newspaper publishing industry
Here's a choice quote: "successful companies have reduced total payroll costs from 40% of revenues to 30%" (the Times-Mirror company is cited as an example)
b) totally off topic: John C. Danforth (conservative Republican former Senator from Missouri) says, " Republicans have transformed our party into the political arm of conservative Christians"... and that this is not a good thing.