Nel's New Day

October 28, 2018

The Travesty Doesn’t End

Many of us have given up on any expectations that Dictator Donald Trump (DDT) will exhibit any compassion or sympathy for people. He claims he is a nationalist, he supports white supremacists, and he jokes about not going to a campaign rally only hours after a racist white man slaughters people in a place of worship because of a “bad hair day.” Fox network lies about events and either covers up or excuses the bigotry and violence of conservatives. In an attempt to exonerate the connection between DDT’s rhetoric and the suspect who sent the bombs, Fox network blurred the stickers/images on the bomber’s van. Yet some of us hope that the mainstream media might present information in a direct way rather than following DDT’s and Fox’s example.

Chuck Todd dashed that hope on today’s Meet the Press when he decided to blame progressives equally to the conservatives, despite the right-wing violent racist diatribes about immigration, Jews, George Soros—the list goes on. This past week, a Nazi walked into a Pittsburg synagogue and killed as many people as he could before he was captured. The police reported that he still spewed his vicious racist rhetoric while they took him to jail. A white supremacist shot and killed two older black people in a Kentucky supermarket because the church was locked, and he couldn’t get inside. He had wanted to replicate the massacre in Charleston (SC). One of the dead men was accompanied by his 12-year-old grandson because they were buying poster board for the boy’s school project. Last week, people waited in fear to see where the next bombs would be sent and whether they would kill people.

When Todd’s guest Rep. Steve Stivers (R-OH) blamed the inability to detect fact from fiction in the media on “older people” who cannot “navigate” social media, Todd agreed. No matter what Stivers said to exonerate Republicans, Todd said, “Right.” Or a version of agreeing. Stivers’ pablum included the need to “keep our dialogue civil” while Republicans refuse to so that and his ability to show “moral leadership. When he said that he hoped that DDT would “continue on that path” of moral leadership, Todd said, “Fair enough.” Then Todd equated the attacks on George Soros as a Jew and the lying about his giving money for protests (although he didn’t mention those facts) to Democratic attacks on Koch brothers with no evidence. He also said nothing about voter suppression, the racist connection between conservatives’ murders to the constant false accusations surrounding the caravan from Honduras, and DDT’s incessant lying attacks on people as he supports white supremacy.

Todd’s biggest pandering, however, came when Todd said to conspiracy theorist Erick Erickson, “You’ve had to deal with conspiracy theories on your site.”  The topic was “civility,” and Erickson’s personal conspiracy theories include smearing Christine Blasey Ford who reported Brett Kavanaugh’s sexual assault, accusing Parkland survivor David Hogg of not being at the school during the mass murder, comparing Planned Parenthood leaders to Nazis, claiming that transgender people are “perverts and the mentally ill,” attacking Muslims by saying that DDT’s ban is “brilliant politics,” stating that gay men in bars wearing certain clothing are asking to be assaulted, and arguing that mass shootings are “so rare.” And more. Yet Erickson claims that it’s the older people who can’t tell fact from fiction in the media.  (Erickson is 43 years old.)

Erickson exonerated DDT in his conclusion is that the blame for increasing violence is “on the American people as a whole…. Society is crumbling around us…. The president’s not the cause, he’s a symptom.” Todd just kept saying, “Right.”

Todd overlooked the fact that the alleged shooter at the Pennsylvania synagogue echoed the lie from DDT and other Republicans that George Soros funded “caravans” of refugees full of ISIS terrorists and called for the same white genocide that DDT and Fox’s Tucker Carlson push. DDT’s white supremacy goes back to his birtherism that led him to the Oval Office. He launched his campaign by calling all Mexican immigrants of being “drug dealers, criminals, rapists” and followed that by promising “a complete and total shutdown of Muslims entering the United States.”

The predominant myth regenerating within the next few weeks until the horror of the shootings dies down but reappearing with the next mass shooting is that of the “lone wolf.” Anyone of color who murders people is a “terrorist,” but a white man is assumed to be mentally unbalanced. The right-wing pundits deny responsibility, and Republicans support them while moving toward the next murders. DDT wins his base with hatred and fear, the fuel useful for more and more violence.

Erickson claims that the U.S. has very few mass shootings, buy white supremacist murders more than doubled in DDT’s first year of office. The first terrorist plot connected to DDT occurred the night of his election.    Arun Gupta has listed several of these, and others can be found here.

Other cover came from VP Mike Pence who said that “Everyone has his own style” and that nothing DDT says can be connected to any acts of violence.

The federal government is exacerbating the problem of domestic terrorism. In April 2009, the DHS tried to issue a report titled “Rightwing Extremism: Current Economic and Political Climate Fueling Resurgence in Radicalization and Recruitment.” GOP politicians attacked the leaked report and forced part of it to be retracted. Parts about tracking and combating domestic terrorists were gutted, including the part of the report that assessed “lone wolves” who hold violent rightwing extremist ideology as “the most dangerous domestic terrorism threat in the United States” bent on “committing violent acts.”  The report noted that “white supremacist lone wolves pose the most significant domestic terrorist threat because of their low profile and autonomy.”

Rick Hasen wrote:

“Things with President Trump are different. He has refused to condemn anti-semitism and racism; he has encouraged chants of “lock her up” against his political opponent Hillary Clinton and against others; he has appeared with, and promoted the views of, those who blame George Soros and the Jews for immigration problems; he calls his political adversaries by demeaning names, especially African-American women opponents such as Rep. Waters. He has done these things even as this violence grows. He praised the body slamming of a journalist by Rep. Gianforte. He has shown no interest in bringing the nation together, suggesting that rather than ‘toning it down’ he could ‘really tone it up.’

“He has pursued a political strategy that is aimed at inflaming his base to try to win the election. He has even complained about how the pipe bombs could hurt Republican election momentum.

“And he has brought many Republicans along with him, such as Kevin McCarthy, soon to be leader of Republicans in the House of Representatives. McCarthy, in a now-deleted tweet, accused ‘Soros, Steyer, and Bloomberg’ of ‘trying to BUY this election.’ Such anti-Semitic tropes have moved from the fringe right wing to the center of the Republican party.”

Thanks to DDT, the GOP that enables him, and far-right media—including Fox network that gives DDT his talking points promoting violence—the United States is a place where people are no longer safe in even ordinary settings such as shopping, worshipping, attending school, seeing a movie, riding mass transit—in short, going out of their house.

Mainstream media like Meet the Press have become complicit in the lack of freedom in the United States because of the increasing violence. The violence will only grow if nothing is done.

August 8, 2016

Stein, Trump – Bad for the Country

Filed under: Presidential candidates — trp2011 @ 9:09 PM
Tags: , , , , ,

Some grumpy supporters of Bernie Sanders keep saying that they’ll vote for Donald Trump and blow up the world or pick one of the two third-party candidates, Libertarian Gary Johnson or Green Jill Stein. Stein supports much of Sanders’ positions, many of them also ones that Hillary Clinton espouses. But many of her claims, such as not taking corporate money, are bogus:

  • Stein’s top five contributors are corporations—AON,  Xoom Global Money Transfer, IBM, Thoughtworks, and UPS.
  • Stein and her husband, Richard Rohrer, are worth at least $3.9 million. Their stock holdings include at least $100,000 worth of Disney, $100,000 worth of Home Depot, and $50,000 worth of Merck.
  • Stein’s personal choice for vice-president is Ajamu Baraka who refers to Sanders as a “white supremacist” and labels Sanders supporters as naive shills.  americablog.com/…
  • Stein is collecting money to run against Elizabeth Warren in 2018, thereby giving the Massachusetts senate seat to the GOP by draining votes from Warren.
  • Stein’s political experience matches that of Trump—i.e., none. An ex-musician and medical professional, she has won one election—a town meeting representative in Lexington (MA)—with 539 votes.
  • Stein matches Trump in foreign policy positions as pro-Russian, follows his “simplistic” approach, and frequently changes her position as in being for Brexit and then against it.
  • Stein opposes mandatory vaccination policies and implied that vaccinations can cause disorders such as autism.
  • Stein claims that wireless signals are dangerous for children despite evidence that FM radio and television provides five times more of RF signals than base stations.
  • Stein’s job is running for office. For example, she raised about $1.3 million for her 2012 campaign, including $370,000 in public funding.
  • Stein has refused to release her tax returns for the past five years.
  • And more.

Sanders urges his followers to vote for Hillary Clinton, and some of his grumpy supporters have said that they will do anything that Sanders wants them to do—except vote for Clinton. If they implicitly believed him, why aren’t they trying to follow him now?

Trump Watch:  This morning, Donald Trump carefully read his plan for “America First” from a teleprompter in a flat, low-energy voice. He plans to drastically reduce taxes, emulating George W. Bush who started today’s deficit by reducing taxes for the wealthy and starting wars. Other goals are to spend billions and billions of dollars on the infrastructure, but he didn’t say where he’s find the money.

Trump promises a moratorium on any new regulations, like Mike Pence supposedly did as governor of Indiana. The purpose was to help the economy, but the state’s GDP growth was behind the national average in 2012, 2014, and 2015 while barely beating the average in 2013. Indiana ranks 38th in the nation for per capita income, and its unemployment rate is above the national average. Pence, unlike Trump and Clinton, supports the Trans-Pacific Partnership.

Trump also promises unlimited deductions for child care which, like his other plans, provides far more help for the wealthiest because they can deduct their nannies. The poorest people, who need help with child care, don’t itemize their deductions. In his promise to bring all jobs back to the United States, Trump struck a cheery note missing at the Republican convention although he talked about how this nation doesn’t “win” anymore.

Trump’s common misrepresentation about Clinton is her support of NAFTA. First Lady when Bill Clinton signed the trade pact into law early in his presidency, Clinton was not in any position to stop the NAFTA trade pact. The law, passed by more Republicans than Democrats, was negotiated and signed by George H.W. Bush. Then House Speaker and current Trump surrogate Newt Gingrich supported NAFTA. And like Trump, Clinton wants to renegotiate NAFTA. Factchecker gave Trump Two Pinocchios for his lie. Trump also repeated his lie that Clinton would immediately change her rejection of the Trans-Pacific Partnership.

Instead of presenting a concrete jobs plan, Trump repeated old lies about how Hillary Clinton killed 100,000 jobs. She failed to get half the jobs she promised because of the George W. Bush economy, but she didn’t “kill” the jobs. The jobs that Trump brags about providing were three decades ago because of his construction in New York, but many of these were for immigrants, some of them undocumented. He also caused bankruptcies in small companies after he failed to pay them for work on his construction projects until they sued to get part of what they were due.

Trump also uses the nation’s visa system to hire foreign workers at low wages, for example, at Florida’s Mar-A-Lago Club which Trump calls home. While the resort worked to get over 500 work visas for workers, it hired only 17 of 300 U.S. residents who applied for work there. “I’m a businessman,” Trump said about the hiring of people who he talks to political audiences about taking jobs of U.S. residents.

Trump repeated—several times—his declaration about “93 million out of the workforce” that Politifact ruled “false” a year ago. It includes everyone of retirement age—65 and older (37.8 million people)—and every teenager at least 16 years old—high schoolers (9.7 million) and college students (5.7 million). Trump’s figure also includes disabled people who cannot work, parents wishing to stay home to take care of children, and people living off investments. The number “out of the workforce” is closer to 21 million: 8.3 million officially unemployed, 6.4 million people who haven’t looked for work recently enough to qualify as being “in the labor force,” and another 6.5 million people working part-time would rather have a full-time job.

Trump consistently gets a “pants on fire” for his lie about Clinton raising taxes on the middle classes. The GOP put a caption saying she wanted to raise taxes under a video of Clinton stating “we aren’t going to raise taxes on the middle class.” Repealing the death tax always gets cheers, but it applies  to only those estates worth over $5.45 million; last year one in 500 estates—0.002 percent—were subject to this tax. Supporters talk about protecting the family farm, and Trump promises that he’ll protect “workers” from this tax. Yet that’s never been a problem for either of these categories. Once again, Trump is protecting his wealth in a speech delivered in poverty-ridden Detroit.

According to Moody’s Analytics, Trump’s economic plan would:

  • Cost the economy over three million jobs;
  • Raise the unemployment rate by 40 percent;
  • Cost $9.5 trillion during the next decade;
  • Increase the national debt by almost 80 percent in two decades;
  • Lead to a recession and global economic panic;
  • Keep child care out of reach for working families.

Trump brags about saving New York City by building expensive structures, but he also cheated the city out of almost $3 million in taxes in just 1986 through “failures in basic bookkeeping, the seemingly sudden adoption of irregular accounting methods, and efforts to stymie officials,” according to a CBS “Moneywatch.” Among missing items for the audit were monthly ledgers detailing over six months of income and expenses—supposedly lost because of a flood in New Jersey and missing in a Chicago office.

More fact-checking on the speech from NBC. Plus a funny analysis from the NY Daily News.

Summary of the GOP’s presidential speech today: Trump thinks Clinton lies, he wants to lower taxes for the wealthy, he plans to do away with all regulations, and he won’t explain how his plans work—like where the money comes from to give to the wealthy. Nothing new as Donald Trump tries mightily to appear presidential.

The second most popular senator in the United States, Susan Collins (R-ME), announced that she will not vote for Trump. She’s joined in this opinion by at least ten other members of Congress and two GOP governors. In addition, 50 top GOP national security officers, mostly from the George W. Bush administration, signed a letter opposing Trump, declaring that he would be “the most reckless president in American history.” In their fervor to keep Trump from being president,  however, most of them stop short of saying that they will vote for Hillary Clinton, leaving the blame on them if he is elected president.

[Note: Conservative host on Meet the Press, Chuck Todd, repeated the myth of Clinton’s dishonesty on yesterday’s program and failed to talk about Trump’s constant lying and the increasing percentage of people who doubt his honesty. A new poll puts Clinton and Trump even on trustworthiness but finds her higher in being temperamentally fit and knowledgeable about the world. After Todd trashes Clinton, he ponders about why people think that Clinton is dishonest. Let’s see: Todd says a large number of people think that she is dishonest, he has conservative guests who repeat what he says, and then he’s confused about the reason for this perception.]

November 29, 2015

Conservative ‘Christians’ Wage War on the United States

 

Black Friday, traditionally known for store sales putting them into the “black,” can now be known for the most recent mass shooting in the far-right “Christian” war on the people of the United States. A 57-year-old white man killed three people, including a policeman, and injured nine more at a Planned Parenthood clinic in Colorado Springs. He was heard to yell “no more baby parts.” The right-wing first called the attack a bank robbery and then said it was done by a “mentally disturbed individual.” The Washington Post called him “adrift and alienated,” and the so-called liberal New York Times called the killer an “itinerant loner.”

The first two GOP candidates who made any comments about the attacks—Ted Cruz and John Kasich—waited for a day and then just prayed for the victims. Cruz had spread anti-PP propaganda and led the charge to close down the government to stop its funding. Marco Rubio and Rand Paul remained quiet and advertised clothing for sale on their websites. Ben Carson was busy visiting a Syrian refugee camp in Jordan where he said that Middle East countries should absorb the refugees who he had called “rabid dogs.” Other predictable comments from GOP candidates trickled in two days later on the Sunday news talk shows. Mike Huckabee who agreed that the killings were domestic terrorism, but he claimed that it was against Planned Parenthood for making pro-life people look bad. He said:

“I don’t know of any pro-life leader—any—if you can tell me one, please correct me — but I don’t know of anybody who has suggested violence toward Planned Parenthood personnel or some act of violence towards their clinics. I’ve not heard that, not from one single pro-life person.”

Out of many, one example is when a pro-lifer shot Dr. George Tiller in the head while Tiller was in his own church. In another, Huckabee proposed using physical force from federal troops to keep women from entering Planned Parenthood.

All terrorists are Muslims, according to conservatives led by Huckabee and Cruz. Jeb Bush said the Middle East had no Christian terrorists. Politicians use the Paris attacks as an excuse to close down the refugee program that saves Syrian people from the jihadists. Donald Trump said that PP is like an abortion factory, and Carly Fiorina joins him in spreading lies about the contents of falsified videos about PP. Rubio tells the world that women get pregnant “just to sell their fetuses to Planned Parenthood,” and Cruz blames the Obama Justice Department for not investigating “Planned Parenthood because they’re a political ally of the president.”

At first, right-wing media declared that the attack’s target was a bank. Deciding the killer started with PP, conservative pundits and their respondents praised the killer as a “hero.” While the tragedy was ongoing, Rep. Adam Kinzinger (R-IL) said that anti-abortion fanatics have “legitimate concerns” about Planned Parenthood.

Declining to admit that the killings were domestic terrorism, Rep. Michael McCaul (R-TX), chair of the House committee for Homeland Security, labeled the PP killings as “a tragedy… It’s, I think, a mental health crisis.” Six years ago, the House GOP members forced Daryl Johnson, the leading expert on right-wing terrorism in the U.S., to resign from Homeland Security because his research was not in accord with conservative beliefs.

Meanwhile, police are calling on Congress for help with domestic terrorism. In his appearance on Meet the Press a week ago, New York Police Commissioner Bill Bratton expressed his opinion about accepting Syrian refugees that is supported by police officers across the nation:

 “[If] Congress really wants to do something instead of just talking about something, help us out with that terrorist watch list, those thousands of people that can purchase firearms in this country. I’m more worried about them than I am about Syrian refugees to be quite frank with you.”

The man who was legally able to have an assault rifle to kill and wound people at the Planned Parenthood has a record of traffic violations, voyeuristic stalking, and domestic violence. After he hit his wife and pushed her out a window, she filed a police record but didn’t press charges. A neighbor woman later filed a restraining order against the man in 2002 because he hid in the bushes beside her house to watch her. He also abused an animal and threatened another neighbor. Thanks to the lax laws in Colorado (and other parts of the nation), he can openly carry an assault rifle because he hasn’t been convicted of these crimes. Earlier this month Colorado laws allowed a man to murder four people before being apprehended.

The right-wing is frantically trying to erase any idea that the killings were religiously and politically motivated, using quotes from his neighbors that the killer wasn’t at all political. Yet he claimed that “Obama is ruining America,” wanted him impeached, and tried to hand out anti-Obama leaflets to people. His cabin sported a cross, and a posting on his Facebook urged people to “Accept the LORD JESUS while you can.”

“Right-wing terrorism is terrorism motivated by a variety of far right ideologies and beliefs, including anti-communism, neo-fascism, neo-Nazism, racism, xenophobia and opposition to immigration.” A large majority of domestic terrorists in the U.S. connect these beliefs to the “Christian Identity” ideology. Like Adolf Hitler, the leaders of the movement persuade followers to commit evil acts in the defense of their God and religion. Rubio’s comments on the Christian Broadcasting Network a week ago represent the prevailing guidelines of the “Christian” conservatives:

“We are clearly called, in the Bible, to adhere to our civil authorities, but that conflicts with also a requirement to adhere to God’s rules. When those two come in conflict, God’s rules always win. In essence, if we are ever ordered by a government authority to personally violate and sin, violate God’s law and sin, if we’re ordered to stop preaching the gospel … we are called to ignore that. We cannot abide by that because government is compelling us to sin.”

The real heroes of the shooting are the people who go to work every day—including the day after the most recent attack—despite the possibility that they may be killed. They are the ones who continue to care for people’s health needs in clinics that can be attacked at any time. Since 1993, eight doctors have been killed; since 1976, over 200 crimes of bombing or arson have occurred at clinics. Since the release of the fraudulent videos, four Planned Parenthood clinics were burned to the ground, and others were damaged or vandalized. This is not a “lone wolf” situation; this is terrorism—Christian radical terrorism in the United States.

A 2012 study by Arie Perliger, professor at the United States Military Academy’s Combating Terrorism Center, shows that “right-wing extremists averaged 337 attacks per year in the decade after 9/11, causing a total of 254 fatalities.”  The toll increased since the study’s release: 305 mass shootings—four or more people shot—have occurred this year as of mid-October. Refusal to recognize Christian terrorism in the United States is killing people.

The GOP Congress legitimizes pro-lifers such as Troy Newman who campaign for violence against women’s clinics and medical people who perform abortions. Donald Trump’s racist remarks have led to attacks and beatings on people of color, and the mainstream media criticize him. Yet the GOP incitement of religious violence continues putting the blame on the perpetrator without recognition of how they provoke these violent acts. Political and religious leaders in the United States routinely call for executing LGBT citizens, Muslims, immigrants, abortion providers, liberals, etc. while allowing unfettered gun ownership. As a result, people in the U.S. live in a terrorist-occupied war zone. Armed and dangerous U.S. citizens represent far more menace in this country than ISIS does.

Of the dozen people shot at Colorado Springs’ Planned Parenthood, several had nothing to do with the clinic. Any one can be impacted by the violence even if they are not a member of a targeted group. Two weeks ago, the GOP candidates were cheering about the attacks in Paris because they thought that the opposition to ISIS would put them in control of the country. Now they have the fallout of domestic terrorism after months of virulent rhetoric. Meanwhile other killings go on as if usual. In the early morning hours before the killings in Colorado Springs, a man shot a waitress in the head after she asked him to put out a cigarette. The woman is dead, and the former firefighter is in a Biloxi (MI) jail.

Those who criticize the “politicization” of the PP travesty fail to understand that they are the ones who surrounded PP with poiltics. After the most recent mass killings, Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT), Democratic presidential candidate, tweeted, “I hope people realize that bitter rhetoric can have unintended consequences,” Republicans, words matter!

[Meet the Press update:  Today Donald Trump stood by his statement that Muslims in New Jersey cheered as the Twin Towers came down on 9/11. On this morning’s news talk show, Trump and Todd devolved into an argument of “I’m right” and “You’re wrong.” Yet neither one alluded to the record of five Middle Eastern men who celebrated the tragedy. All five were Israeli Jews, speaking Hebrew. Another religious group that traditionally celebrates 9/11 is the membership of Topeka (KS)-based Westboro Baptist Church. These Christian terrorists describe 9/11 as “a gift from God” and honor its “anniversary.” Todd wants Trump to tell the “truth,” but he doesn’t bother to find itself for himself.]

September 8, 2015

Davis’ Rejection of LGBT Rights Not Unique

Chuck Todd celebrated his first year’s anniversary on Meet the Press last Sunday with more misinformation. In the interview with Colin Powell, one of George W. Bush’s Secretaries of State, cogently explained why the United States needs to follow through with the proposed Iran agreement. At the show’s end, however, came a discussion about U.S. cause célèbre, Kim Davis, the county clerk who become famous for her refusal to follow the land of the law.

Once again Todd showed his inability to do his research:

“This is the only place in the country that we’ve had this. Meaning that I think a lot of people thought there would be more clerks that wouldn’t do this.”

Doris Kearns Goodwin followed Todd’s lead and said, “All of our country, and other registrars, in other counties, people have gone issuing marriage licenses. And that’s the important thing to understand, that that social movement created an acceptance.” Even revered television journalist Tom Brokaw expressed ignorance about marriage-equality problems since the decision:

“I think acceptance of same-sex marriage is so outrunning the opposition that it’s game over, quite honestly. This was an exception down there.”

What makes Kim Davis unique is that she is the only person who went to jail because of her refusal, contempt of court for not following a judge’s order. Across the nation, however, government officials are refusing marriage services to same-gender couples. Both North Carolina and Utah allow judges to not perform any marriages if same-gender ceremonies violate the judges’ “religious beliefs.” An Oregon judge, Vance Day, is also refusing to perform marriages. He is not required to do so by state law, but he clearly stated that he had stopped marrying people because of his “religious” opposition to same-sex marriages.

Alabama Probate Judge Nick Williams ordered his deputies in Washington County not to issue any licenses at all since the court’s June decision. In Pike County (AL), Probate Judge Wes Allen said that the law does not require county officials to issue marriage licenses.

Immediately after the Supreme Court ruling, Texas AG Ken Paxton told government officials that they could refuse to issue marriage licenses to same-gender couples on religious grounds. Granbury (TX) lost $43,872.10 in attorney’s fees because Hood County Clerk Katie Lang refused to issue a license to residents Joe Stapleton and Jim Cato, partners for 27 years. A federal court judge forced Lang to issue the license, but the settlement of the case cost the taxpayers. Lang’s website states that she doesn’t agree with same-sex marriage, but she is now allowing deputies in her office to issue the licenses.

In Texas, two counties have not confirmed that they will issue marriage licenses to same-gender couples. “We are not going to discuss marriage policy over the phone. If a couple comes in to apply, we will discuss it at that time,” said Molly Criner, a clerk in Irion County, 200 miles northwest of Austin.

Several Kentucky clerks initially refused to issue any marriage license, included the president of the Kentucky County Clerks Association. By now the number is probably down to two clerks—both named Davis. Casey County Casey Davis said that he might be willing to die to avoid issuing a marriage license to a same-gender couple. Kentucky considers it a Class A misdemeanor, a first-degree official misconduct, if “a public servant … refrains from performing a duty imposed upon him by law or clearly inherent in the nature of his office.”

Fifty years ago, white people dominated the media, and black issues were largely underrepresented. On Meet the Press, three straight people decided that discrimination against LGBT people is “game over.” Same-gender couples face discrimination across the nation, and the mainstream media doesn’t report it because journalists are ignorant.

Several GOP presidential candidates have rushed to support Kim Davis. Yet a Supreme Court decision in Garcetti v. Ceballo (2006) limited free speech protections for government employees when they are on the job. Justice Anthony Kennedy wrote that a public official is only protected only when engaged in an issue as a private citizen, not if it is expressed as part of the official’s public duties. Government employers must comply with the central duties of their jobs. As for the states with laws that permit judges their choices of whether to comply with their responsibilities, Katherine Franke, a Columbia University law professor, said that government officials “don’t have a First Amendment right to pick and choose which parts of the job they are going to do.”

cruzDetermined to out-perform Donald Trump, both GOP presidential candidates Mike Huckabee and Ted Cruz rushed to Grayson (KY) when the judge announced he was releasing Davis if she performed her job. Huckabee was front and center while one of his aides blocked Cruz from speaking to the media. (A video of the encounter is available here.)

In releasing Davis, the judge mandated that she “not interfere in any way, directly or indirectly, with the efforts of her deputy clerks to issue marriage licenses to all legally eligible couples.” According to Davis’ lawyer, Davis would go back to work on tomorrow or the next day and “would not violate her conscience.”

More legal problems may come from the rally. Composers for rock band Survivor were offended by the use of “Eye of the Tiger” in the Grayson circus without permission. Jim Peterik wrote:

“I was very surprised and dismayed at the misuse of the song I co-wrote with Frankie Sullivan for Rocky lll. The song has motivated thousands through the years to reach beyond their limits. Its use for the release of Kim Davis does not support my views or my politics. I have contacted my publishers to make sure this usage is stopped immediately.”

Sullivan was more blunt in his Facebook post: “NO! We did not grant Kim Davis any rights to use ‘My Tune — The Eye Of The Tiger.’ I would not grant her the rights to use Charmin!” In 2012, Sullivan sued Newt Gingrich for using the piece during campaign events.

Even Fox network disagrees with Kim Davis’ position. A panel of legal experts agreed that Davis’ attorney, Mat Staver, is “ridiculously stupid” for his claim that the Supreme Court cannot legally strike down same-sex marriage bans. Trial attorney Chip Merlin said that anyone who violates a judge’s order should “expect to be thrown in jail.” Criminal defense attorney Sharon Liko added, “She’s applying for the job of a martyr. She wants to practice her faith by not issuing marriage licenses. Yet, she will not agree to let the deputy county clerks issue marriage licenses even if it’s okay with their faith.”

Fox News host Gregg Jarrett explained:

“When she took the job she swore to uphold the law. We rely on government officials to do that. They can’t just pick and choose what laws they like, which ones they don’t. If they were allowed to do that, wouldn’t that lead to chaos, anarchy and so forth?”

The consensus was that Davis “can either follow the law—she can do her job—or she can get out.”

Staver went on Wallbuilders.com to rile his followers and said that marriage licenses for same-gender couples will “grant a license to engage in pornography, to grant a license to sodomize children or something of that nature.”

Kim Davis is not paying fines or legal fees, and she’s getting her usual salary. Yet the conservative anti-marriage equality group National Organization for Marriage (NOM) is using her name for fund-raising. The group’s statement began, “I am writing you today with a more personal request, something unrelated to NOM. Kim and her family face a very uncertain future.” It goes on to explain that NOM has joined ActRight.com  “to create a special crowdsourcing fund whose proceeds will go directly to Kim Davis” and asks for “a generous contribution to the Kim Davis Fund.” It promises to make funds “available” to her and “to support her family while she sits in jail.” [And continues to draw her salary for not doing her job.

During live coverage of Davis’ release from jail, anchor Shephard Smith spoke up with an amazingly rational assessment of those who support her refusal to issue marriage licenses:

“They set this up as a religious play again. This is the same crowd that says, ‘We don’t want Sharia law, don’t let them tell us what to do, keep their religion out of our lives and out of our government.’ Well, here we go again.”

Discussing the Supreme Court decision legalizing marriage equality, he said, “This is not unprecedented. They did it when they said black and white people couldn’t marry.”

He concluded, “Haters are going to hate. We thought what this woman wanted was an accommodation, which they’ve granted her, something that worked for everybody. But it’s not what they want.”

 

Amazing!

July 27, 2015

Todd Continues ‘Misrepresentations’ on Meet the Press

On Meet the Press this past Sunday, Chuck Todd tried to continue the same hatchet job as the last time that presidential candidate Bernie Sanders (I-VT) experienced the last time he was interviewed. Todd began by addressing the tragic Lafayette (LA) shooting and calling Sanders “pro-NRA.” During Sanders’ answer, Todd also used the same false meme about the United States having enough laws to stop the shooter if they were followed. In fact, the loopholes in the law allowed the shooter to legally buy a gun from a pawn shop in the small town of Phenix (AL) where he lived.

Todd followed up that set of questions by describing what he called an “attack” on Sanders at the Netroots Nation conference by Black Lives Matter activists in Phoenix (AZ) and tried to make Sanders seem indifferent to racial problems. Failing at that tactic, Todd asked Sanders whether he and Donald Trump had similar appeals as a conservative pundit had claimed.

Sanders explained that he voted to ban certain types of assault weapons, to close the gun show loophole, and have instant background checks. With Sanders’ D- rating from NRA, Todd lacked any background for his accusation, but he tends to do research for his interviews. About the situation in Phoenix, Sanders said that he was there to talk about immigration reform but that the people who disrupted the meeting had “a very important issue.” Todd failed to show a clip of the event because Sanders tutored Todd on the intersectionality of poverty and race that fuels racial tensions. Sanders finished by saying that he was not similar to Trump before Todd once again tried to sandbag Sanders with references to Hillary Clinton.

When Todd regained control by safely returning to a largely conservative panel, he called Sanders “defensive” and criticized Sanders for connecting economic and racial issues. The entire panel discussion following Sanders’ interview was about Hillary Clinton. Again Todd failed to correct falsehoods when panel member Sara Fagen said that liberals have moved farther to the left while the right has moved farther in the opposite direction. Todd weakly responded that “not everyone would agree with you” but failed to point out that the left has stayed in the same place while the right has moved far to the extreme.

change in politics

 

This graph shows how Democrats are exactly where they were in 1879 after becoming far more liberal whereas the right has made a dramatic shift to conservativism, especially since Ronald Reagan was elected.

Todd spent over15 minutes addressing Donald Trump—partly describing “funny” ways that current GOP candidates are trying to bring attention to themselves rather than to Trump. When Fagen tried to explain that Trump’s 20 percent choice in New Hampshire , no one pointed out that this number is really high in a field of 16 candidates.

In another interview, this one with GOP presidential candidate John Kasich, Todd appeared non-confrontational and congenial. The discussion was about issues, and Todd stared at Kasich sagely, appearing to agree with all the positions that Kasich espoused. After a simple question about Trump, Kasich said he didn’t want to talk about him, and Todd moved on. There were no questions about Clinton, and Todd seemed to allow Kasich to lead the interview.

Sara Fagen accused Planned Parenthood of selling tissue, a patent falsehood that Todd failed to correct. Neither he nor other panelists made any mention that the doctored videos promoting this lie came from the Center for Medical Progress, an organization with ties to anti-abortion terrorists and stalkers.

The woman allowed to present her two major lies on what was, in the past, a reputable news program was a “top Iowa staffer” in George W. Bush’s 2000 presidential campaign, moved on to be political director on Bush’s White House team, and then resigned 2007 while subpoenaed to testify about the U.S. Attorney scandal under then-Attorney General Alberto Gonzales. Emails show that Fagen was part of the campaign to eliminate high-performing U.S. Attorneys who were replaced by lawyers loyal to her employer, Karl Rove. Eventually, she testified before a Senate panel but concealed many communications under broad executive privilege authorized by George W. Bush. Gonzales resigned in disgrace for this scandal and other indiscretions.

Todd even irritated his conservative base when he predicted that Trump would make Hillary Clinton president if he ran as a third party candidate. That was immediately after he said that he’s “not going to try to predict anything Trump might do.” In his highlighting of Trump, Todd also gave racist and homophobic Pat Buchanan a platform. In 2012, Buchanan lost his place on the NBC network because of his book, “Suicide of a Superpower,” supposedly documenting how diversity and immigration ruin the United States. Todd said nothing about Buchanan’s past except he was a presidential candidate in 1992 and former communications director for Reagan’s White House. Buchanan was allowed to present his xenophobic statements framing immigration as a “massive invasion” and “conquest of the West” by “third-world … border jumpers.”

Sanders sticks to the issues; Todd panders to the right, partly because he is afraid that he can’t get conservatives to come onto his show if he treats them in the same way that he does people on the left. Once again, Todd bashed the major Democratic presidential candidates running against Jim Webb. One of Webb’s campaign team is Kristian Denny Webb, Chuck Todd’s wife.

Unable to find any dirt on Sanders, conservatives have to resort to lying. On National Public Radio, which was more accurate and progressive before the Koch brothers started funding it, host Diane Rehm threw this statement into the midst of a 50-minute interview with Sanders.

Rehm: “Senator, you have dual citizenship with Israel.”

[She didn’t even ask it as a question. Later Rehm said that a listener made the comment on Facebook.]

Sanders: “Well, no, I do not have dual citizenship with Israel. I’m an American…. I’m an American citizen, period.” He was born in Brooklyn to Polish immigrants, and he’s Jewish. But Rehm didn’t quit.

Rehm: “I understand from a list we have gotten that you were on that list. Forgive me if that is —“

After Sanders again denied her statement, she expanded her unsubstantiated falsehood to the entire Congress when she asked, “Are there members of Congress who do have dual citizenship, or is that part of the fable?” Her term “list” is reminiscent of the 1950s when Sen. Joseph McCarthy (R-WI) had a false “list” of Communists that destroyed many people. Rehm’s baseless hearsay is unprofessional and reprehensible, especially on a radio station that my taxes support, but it may be an indicator of things to come in the next 16 months.

Many Republicans are in tune with Sanders’ policies. And that’s members of the GOP, not the entire population:

  • 80%: money has too much influence in our politics.
  • 54%: most of the time candidates directly help those who gave money to them.
  • 81%: campaign finance system needs fundamental changes (45%) or a complete rebuild (36%).
  • 64%: changes are unlikely to be made to reform the campaign finance system.
  • 71%: the amount that individuals can give to campaigns should be limited.
  • 73%: super PAC spending should be limited by law.
  • 76%: superPACs should be required to disclose their donors.

According to the general population:

  • 66%: the distribution of money and wealth should be more even.
  • 67%: the wealth gap between rich and poor is getting larger in the U.S.
  • 57%: government should do more to reduce the wealth gap.
  • 68%: taxes should be raised on those who earn more than $1 million per year.
  • 50%: limits should be put on earnings for corporations’ top executives.
  • 74%: corporations have too much influence on U.S. life and politics.
  • 71%: the U.S. minimum wage should be increased to $10.10 per hour.
  • 80%: people should have paid family leave and 85% paid sick leave.

 

approval

The GOP is rapidly losing approval, especially among Republicans. In a new Pew Research Center poll, only 32 percent had a favorable opinion of the GOP, down from 41 percent only six months ago. Republican approval dropped 18 percent since January from 86 percent to 68 percent, and approval among independents dropped from 37 percent to 29 percent.  Democrats have held steady during the same time, even rising two points. The honeymoon from last year’s election is over.

At the same time, Bernie Sanders is gathering crowds of thousands, even in conservative bastions such as Phoenix (AZ) and Dallas (TX). Sanders’ recent appearance in New Orleans drew five times as many people in the audience as Gov. Bobby Jindal’s announcement of his presidential campaign, and Sanders’ largest audience of 11,000 is larger than any GOP presidential candidate–eleven times as many as those who turned out for Chris Christie.

That’s something else that Chuck Todd failed to mention.

July 23, 2015

MSNBC Goes Farther Right with Chuck Todd

Chuck Todd, the opinionater instead of moderator on NBC’s “Meet The Press,” now has another five hours a week, starting in September, to destroy Democrats in a new show on MSNBC. People who consider the channel to be liberal need to take a good look at it, starting with “The Morning Joe Show.” It’s natural—although upsetting—that the conservative boss for programs would cut “The Cycle,” “Now with Alex Wagner,” and “The Ed Show” in favor of a less learned and more right-leaning host.

Ed Schultz, who lost the time slot given to Todd, often had higher ratings than Chris Hayes in “All In,” but Phil Griffin likes Hayes. Seeing the writing on the wall, Hayes has also been moving right in the past few months. In a vicious circle, MSNBC gradually dumps its progressive hosts, progressive watchers leave the channel, ratings go down, and Griffin blames the ratings on the programming’s “liberal bias” to get rid of more hosts that provided higher ratings. Rachel Maddow is most likely safe, but “Politics Nation” with Al Sharpton will probably be dropped for a more conservative Brian Willliams’ newscast. After missing from broadcasting for six months for his lies, Williams will find a home at the newest conservative channel on television.

Chuck Todd seems unable to ask probing questions, frequently giving his conservative guests a pass and acting as a mouthpiece for corporate media and conservatives. To Todd, this isn’t a problem because he thinks that asking questions is not his job.

Last fall, Todd campaigned for recently elected Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) during a segment on “Morning Joe.” In commenting on a clip showing the refusal of Alison Lundergan Grimes, McConnell’s opponent, to answer questions about whether she voted for President Obama, Todd sneered:

“And Kentuckians expect her to cast a tough vote on anything? Is she ever gonna answer a tough question on anything? You wanna be a U.S. senator? If you can’t find a way to stand behind your party’s president … you can disagree with him but you can’t answer a basic question and you come across looking that ridiculous? I think she disqualified herself.”

The GOP effectively used “disqualified” in their attack ads on Grimes, giving credit to the person viewed as NBC News’ top political man. Jim Newell described Todd’s flip remark as “arrogant and short-sighted commentary,” but Todd blamed Grimes for his blunder and said, “She invited this on herself.”

Todd’s hatchet job on Grimes was very different from his profile of Sen. Joni Ernst (R-IA) when she was running for Congress. Ernst refused to answer any questions from local newspaper boards and wouldn’t even meet with them. While not addressing this, he supported her position on the “Personhood Amendment” that he said would protect “unborn human beings” and “grant all unborn human beings with equal protections.” The definition of “personhood” is “every human being from the beginning of the biological development of that human being,” starting from an egg. Ernst’s and Todd’s amendment would prevent many forms of contraception.

Todd also thinks that correcting lies is not his job as a journalist. When he interviewed Ed Rendell two years ago, the former Pennsylvania governor pointed out that the media had been complicit in spreading lies about the Affordable Care Act. Todd responded:

“But more importantly, it would be stuff that Republicans have successfully messaged against it. They [the media] don’t repeat the other stuff because they haven’t even heard the Democratic message. What I always love is people say, ‘Well, it’s you folks’ fault in the media.’ No, it’s the President of the United States’ fault for not selling it.”

One example of Todd’s failure occurred last May when House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) told host Chuck Todd that “Obamacare made it harder for employers to hire people.” He claimed that it was a “fact” that “any employer in America” will say that. He continued by saying that having Medicaid is nothing because doctors won’t see Medicaid patients. Last year, 75 percent of surveyed employers reported that the Affordable Care Act made no difference in their hiring. Not one major business organization filed a brief to stop the ACA in the King v. Burwell lawsuit heard by the Supreme Court. Todd’s question to Boehner:

“So you don’t see Obamacare as good for the country?”

Todd also gave Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI) a pass in “misrepresenting” economics when he said that he claimed that raising taxes on the wealthy while lowering taxes on everyone else doesn’t work:

In May, Sen. Cory Booker (D-NJ) had to explain why the country needs funding for the infrastructure because Todd didn’t seem to understand that lack of money put into it, for example Amtrack, could cost people their lives.

When he was asked why 62 percent of his guests are white men, Todd said that it was because “you want to put the best people on. You want to put the best, smartest people on.” To Todd, the “best, smartest people” are white men. For almost a year, former Secretary of State James Baker appeared an average of once a month to explain what President Obama was doing wrong in the Middle East. It appears that he’s classified as “smartest.”

One of Todd’s guests, comedian Lewis Black, commented that he didn’t know how hosts kept from “barking” at some guests on their show. Todd explained:

“We all sit there because we know the first time we bark is the last time we do the show. There’s something where all of the sudden nobody will come on your show.”

Todd’s lack of sensitivity was clearly demonstrated a few days after the white man killed nine black people in a Charleston (SC). A segment about gun violence showed convicted murderers—all of them black—talking about their regret. Todd may not have noticed this blunder if guest Eugene Robinson and his show’s audience had not pointed out that murder “is not just an African-American problem.” Yet Todd tried to cover himself by saying that the purpose of Meet the Press is to make people “uncomfortable.”

Chuck Todds’ book about President Obama last year, “The Stranger,” blamed the president for income inequality, instability in the Middle East, and partisan as if he had control over the intentional GOP gridlock in Washington. Other Todd criticisms of the president were his “passive leadership and lack of managerial experience.” The review from the Columbian Journalism Review reported:

“Todd has written a disappointing book, a slab of pedestrian punditry….  On a range of issues, from the stimulus to healthcare reform to Syria, Todd weighs in on how the process looked, while devoting barely a second’s thought to the policy’s merits.”

When presidential candidate Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) appeared on Meet the Press, Todd didn’t ask about Sanders’ call for “political revolution” and instead asked him about Hillary Clinton’s “trustworthiness.” Todd tried to lead Sanders into a comparison of Presidents Clinton and Obama as a lead-in to criticisms about the current presidential candidate. “Do you take her at her word?” Todd asked. Sanders expressed hope that “the media will allow us to have a serious debate in this campaign on the enormous issues facing the American people.” Todd showed that he had no intention of a debate about policy by talking about Sanders’ essay on women’s rape fantasy, written 43 years ago, which Sanders said was a badly written attempt to discuss gender roles in the 1970’s.

At least Todd recognized Hillary Clinton as a presidential candidate, something he failed to do about Sanders. Todd delighted the far-right, including Rush Limbaugh by this statement that has swept the Internet. “Not quite right” will undoubtedly appear in GOP ads:

“Everybody has watched this campaign and we all come to the same conclusion: there’s something just not quite right. You know, is it enthusiasm? I don’t know. Is it her? I don’t know. There’s just something that doesn’t seem to be big, bold, and boom.”

As Todd trashes at least three of the Democratic presidential candidates, he fails to mention that his wife works for another Dem candidate, Jim Webb. Strategist Kristian Denny Todd is on Webb’s campaign team.

The first principle of the Society of Professional Journalists’ Code of Ethics is “Seek Truth and Report It.” Todd fails on both these points. A point under this principle requires good journalists to consider the source’s motives, yet Todd not only allows smear campaigns on his program against Democrats but also joins in.

Todd thought that Sen. Jim Inhofe’s (R-OK) stunt to use a snowball as proof that climate change doesn’t exist was just plain fun. LA Times columnist Michael Hiltzik accused Todd of “pander[ing] to American anti-intellectualism.” He added, “How low can the news departments of our major networks sink?” Farther down, obviously MSNBC has gone several steps lower by replacing a thoughtful show with Todd’s cuteness and softball approach toward Republican lies.

June 22, 2015

Racist Media Shields Racist Killers

 

Conservative faith was front and center last week as every announced and some potential GOP presidential candidates—except Donald Trump—spoke at the Faith & Freedom Coalition’s Road to Majority Summit last week. Especially notable was Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL), who managed to completely ignore the killing of nine black people by a white 21-year-old in the Charleston (SC) church on the previous day. To boost his B+ rating with the NRA, however, he reassured his audience that “if I am president of the United States, we will appoint justices and we will have an attorney general who will protect our second amendment rights.”

Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) did allude to the tragedy by saying that “it appears to be racially driven,” but by Friday he told an audience that Texas defines gun control as “hitting what you aim at.” The next day he said, “There’s a famous saying, praise the Lord and pass the ammunition. There is a reason why the Second Amendment is right after the First.”

Another horrifying response to the white man killing nine black people because of his racist beliefs was a segment on Meet the Press that interviewed three black murderers who expressed regrets in killing someone. Host Chuck Todd described the program “color-blind” and concluded that “passing a law isn’t going to change the culture.” Fortunately, columnist Eugene Robinson was on a panel and told Todd that the video didn’t fit the discussion:

“Right now, we’re talking about a horrific crime committed by a white man, we’re talking about the search for two escaped murderers who are white men.”

The men in the video said they had no intention of killing anyone whereas the killer in Charleston carefully planned his murders of black people. Todd defensively concluded his post by saying, “Meet the Press should make all viewers uncomfortable at some point or we are not doing our job.” His continuation of the stereotype of associating blacks, and not whites, with murderers shows that he fails to understand the white culture of guns in the United States.

In a white wash of the Charleston killer, NBC ran a story of how his relatives saw him as a “sweet kid” who became “painfully shy.” Media consistently projects this image of white kids while presenting black children as thugs. To the media, a white killer is known as a “lone wolf” who lose his path while blacks are born bad or have such bad families that its natural that they would be criminals. Bill Reilly calls the problem “black people’s rejection of education.” While Freddie Gray, alleged to have an illegal switchblade, died during a rough ride to the police station, the white killer of nine people in a Charleston (SC) church was politely returned to Charleston on a private plane after cops gave him a Burger King hamburger. Vanessa Baden Kelly wrote, “I am black and I’ve come to believe we are more violent than others by watching the news [although] 83% of white murder victims are killed by white people.”

After the killer openly announced his racism, conservatives had to drop their idea that the tragedy was a “war on Christianity” and move to another spin. The Fox network blames the killings on the nation’s “cultural diversity.” Frequent Fox guest Rev. Jesse Lee Peterson said on Newsmax that President Obama is at fault because he said that racism still exists in the United States.

After the killer’s words destroyed Sen. Lindsey Graham’s (R-SC) argument that the killer was prejudiced against Christianity, Graham said, “I just think he was one of these whacked out kids. I don’t think it’s anything broader than that.” About the Boston bomber of 2013, Graham had said:

“[Dzhokhar Tsarnaev], in my view, should be designated as a potential enemy combatant and we should be allowed to question him for intelligence gathering purposes to find out about future attacks and terrorist organizations that may exist that he has knowledge of, and that evidence cannot be used against him in trial. That evidence is used to protect us as a nation.”

Both killers are U.S. citizens, but the Boston bomber is a Muslim. What a difference a religion and 3,000 miles make.

The Charleston killer reported that he was influenced by a website from the Council of Conservative Citizens that lists Black on White murders. The name states “citizens,” but Southern politicians, primarily Republican, have been involved with the group with some still in office. The CCC is a renewal of the White Citizens Councils, formed a half century ago to fight school desegregation. Now it spreads false information while funding GOP candidates such as Sen. Tom Cotton (R-AR) and Gov. Scott Walker (R-WI).

Racist billboard

The killer didn’t come out of nowhere. His worldview of racism, white supremacy, and fear of blacks is popular as shown by this billboard. The words come from white supremacist Robert Whitaker’s Mantra that has inspired racial killings, including 77 people in Norway in 2011 and heavily promoted by Timothy Gallagher Murdock on White Rabbit Radio. The Charleston killer’s manifesto is greatly in alignment with the Fox network and other conservatives:

“Blacks were the real racists [in school].”

“It was obvious that Zimmerman was in the right.” (Like many other white people tutored by the Fox network and other conservative media, the stalker and killer of Trayvon Martin is a hero.)

“Black people view everything through a racial lense.” (He quotes Fox and other conservatives who accuse blacks of playing the “race card.” He continues, “The … reason is the Jewish agitation of the black race.”)

“We are told to accept what is happening to us because of ancestors wrong doing, but it is all based on historical lies…”

“Segregation was not a bad thing. It was a defensive measure.” (The killer sees segregation as a way “to protect us from them…. Not only did it protect us from having to interact with them, and from being physically harmed by them, but it protected us from being brought down to their level.”

“I have read hundreds of slaves narratives from my state. And almost all of them were positive.” (The killer believes that slaves thought they were better off in slavery. Rancher Cliven Bundy, who refuses to pay the government for feeding his cattle, was supported by Fox and a number of lawmakers—at least until he stated that black people have less freedom after they are no longer slaves.)

Two subjects that conservatives cannot address in the United States are racism and guns. Following the killings in the Charleston church, President Obama called on the country to take action against mass murders. On the Fox network, Tucker Carlson indicated that the president is a hypocrite because he’s protected by armed people after he said that guns aren’t killing people and that people need guns to save lives. Fox News contributor Jehmu Greene pointed out that his comments were offensive and asked if he was comparing armed Secret Service people to the person who walks into a church and kills nine people. She asked, “Is that literally where we are as a country, to compare that [the president] shouldn’t have protection?” Carlson stuck to his opinion that he shouldn’t be exempt from disarming—a position that President Obama has never taken.

Greene replied:

“The president did not say guns are inherently bad. The president is saying we’ve had this conversation too many times and there is something we can do about it. There was something we could do about it after Newtown, there was something we could have done about it after Columbine.”

Charleston (SC) Mayor Joseph P. Riley, Jr. (D) said yesterday on CNN’s State of the Union:

“It is insane: the number of guns, and the ease of guns in America. It just doesn’t fit with the other achievements of this country. It’s a small- really small group, well-funded–that keeps this issue from being appropriately addressed.”

If people cannot control themselves with guns, then they must be controlled to protect other people. Those who oppose any kind of gun control need to learn that they are destroying the United States.

It is a sad commentary on media in the United States when the best commentary came from the Comedy Channel. Everyone should read the words of Jon Stewart on The Daily Show the day after the killings when he stopped his comedy to talk about the tragedy of the Charleston killings.

September 9, 2014

‘Meet the Press’ Has a Long Way to Go

Martha Routree began moderating  Meet the Press on radio almost 70 years ago, two years before it moved to television. Her format was to invite a leading public figure to face a panel of reporters; Rountree persuaded such luminaries as Sen. Joseph McCarthy, California governor and future chief justice Earl Warren, and President Harry Truman to be on the program. Co-producer Lawrence E. Spivak was a “permanent panelist,” and the television show won at least three awards in six years before Rountree lost the show in a coin-toss to Spivak in 1953. Followed by eight male moderators, she has been the only woman to host the program.

After NBC sent David Gregory, the program’s recent host, packing, it picked another man, Chuck Todd. During the hiatus between Gregory and Todd, Andrea Mitchell, NBC News chief foreign correspondent, and Chris Jansing, NBC News Chief White House Correspondent, both did excellent jobs as substitute hosts. They provided a refreshing change from both Gregory and Todd, who attack progressives and give passes to the conservatives.

When Rep. Mike Rogers (R-MI) lamented the country’s serious problems from ISIS and claimed that they are “just a plane ticket away from the United States,” Jansing asked him, “But we’ve heard the Pentagon say that, right now, they are not in a position to launch an attack on the United States. Is there any credible intelligence that ISIS is either planning that or has the capability to do it.” Rogers said that he disagreed but didn’t have any facts to back his position. Neither Gregory nor Todd would most likely have challenged Rogers.

A year ago Todd said that correcting GOP lies that he repeats is not his job. On MSNBC’s Morning Joe, he agreed that Republicans repeat the party’s false message about the Affordable Care Act, but he blamed the president for not selling the ACA. Todd gives lies the same weight as facts. When Todd made that statement, he was political director for NBC news, meaning that this philosophy was leading the political coverage. Now it will lead Meet the Press.

On his first show last Sunday, Todd  repeated the tired statement about Kentucky’s Democratic candidate for U.S. Senate, Alison Grimes, having “a lot of money” without pointing out that her opponent, Sen. Mitch McConnell, has three times as much campaign funding as Grimes. Todd talked about the horrible gridlock in Washington before he did a puff piece on how well three mayors in the country are working with their elected officials. When two of them, a Republican and an independent, slammed the president by saying they were successful because the executive is in charge of successful cooperation, Todd just sagely nodded. Nothing was mentioned about how the GOP will do everything possible to tear down the president and then blame him for not being bipartisan. When Scarborough said that the midterm elections really don’t matter, everyone again just nodded.

The mayor segment is entitled “Who Needs Washington?” And as Dana Milbank pointed out:

 “We all need Washington. And though it’s standard for politicians to campaign against Washington, it’s a bit cynical for Todd and Meet the Press to be vessels of populist outrage against a Washington media elite of which they are very much a part.

“Washington isn’t dysfunctional because people who live here are out of touch. Washington is broken because of the increasingly belligerent assortment of 537 politicians the rest of the country sends here. The problem is not that Washington is too insular. If anything, Washington isn’t insular enough.

“For most of the nation’s history, lawmakers spent long stretches of time in the capital, getting to know each other as people rather than partisans. The friendships and goodwill they developed helped them to cut the necessary deals. But when “Washington insider” became a political liability two decades ago, politicians began jetting into town for three-day workweeks — long enough to demonize their opponents but not to know them.”

To give Todd a pass, we’ll assume that he was just clueless instead of lying when he cheerfully attacked President Obama for not mentioning “Syria.” Todd directly said, “You’ve not said the word, ‘Syria’ so far in our conversation.” A check of the transcript shows that the president had used the word four times before Todd made his statement.

“… ISIL poses a broader threat because of its territorial ambitions in Iraq and Syria…”

“… And we’ve seen the savagery not just in terms of how they dealt with the two Americans that had been taken hostage but the killing of thousands of innocents in– in Iraq thousands of innocents in Syria, the kidnapping of women the complete disruption of entire villages …”

“… But what is absolutely clear in ISIL, which started as Al Qaeda in Iraq and arose out of the U.S. invasion there and was contained because of the enormous efforts of our troops there then shifted to Syria, has metastasized …”

“We’ve got to do more effective diplomatic work to eliminate the schism between Sunni and Shia that has been fueling so much of the violence in Syria, in Iraq. And so we put together a plan that is compatible with the kind of work that we’re doing now.”

David Letterman honored this gaffe by creating a new segment, “Chuck Todd on It” and pointed out Todd’s mistake. This could become a weekly piece. Letterman’s leaving won’t stop Todd from being a punch line; Stephen Colbert steps up to the plate then.

Todd also falsely accused President Obama of using the term “ISIL” instead of the term “ISIS” because the president wants to avoid the word Syria. Todd said to Andrea Mitchell, who uses the abbreviation ISIL, “Obviously we refer to it at NBC News as ISIS. The Obama administration, president says the word ISIL. The last ‘S’ stands for Syria, the last L they don’t want to have stand for Syria.”

According to the Associated Press regarding AP’s use of ISIL:

“In Arabic, the group is known as Al-Dawla Al-Islamiya fi al-Iraq wa al-Sham, or the Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham. The term “al-Sham” refers to a region stretching from southern Turkey through Syria to Egypt (also including Lebanon, Israel, the Palestinian territories and Jordan). The group’s stated goal is to restore an Islamic state, or caliphate, in this entire area.”

The final “S” in ISIS does not translate to Syria because the word Syria is not in the original Arabic language. Todd claims to be a journalist. He should be ashamed for not being aware of such a simple fact.

In another attack, Todd, like many other conservatives, slammed the president for discussing the beheading of journalist James Foley while President Obama was golfing. During Todd’s gig on the National Journal Hotline, he never objected to George W. Bush golfing in 2002 while he talked about five U.S. citizens being bombed to death. Bush had left for a month-long vacation at his parents’ home in Kennebunkport (ME) two days after a bomb exploded at Jerusalem’s Hebrew University. Two days after that, another suicide bomb blew up in Israel. The following day, Bush took a break from his golfing to say that he was “distressed” and thought that we should “stop the terror.” He finished by saying, “Thank you…. Now, watch this [golf] drive.” He finished his drive and then said, “See you at church.”

To further add to the “good old boys” club, NBC promoted former Rep. Joe Scarborough to senior NBC political analyst and contributor to Meet the Press. Todd may think that Scarborough can provide “robust conversation,” but this ultra-conservative primarily passes along the GOP talking points on his morning fluff show, Morning Joe. One rumor is that he got the job to calm him after he failed to become the host. Scarborough will move Meet the Press even farther to the right than David Gregory did. NBC expects Todd to boost ratings, but Scarborough may be waiting in the wings in case Todd fails.

The only new thing about Meet the Press is the furniture rearrangement, but the program might experience more success by returning to Tim Russet’s format. He used archival tapes to confront a guest who had moved on to another position and then asked about the shift. “Meet the talking points,” critic Jay Rosen called the show then. The same right-wing guests weren’t given the same passes every Sunday. Now GE clearly controls the show, and the television advertising by Koch Industries shown another influence.

Ratings went up this past Sunday; the question is whether it was a fluke to see how Todd would do. His slogan is “it’s not politics that people hate, it’s that they hate the politicians that don’t know how to practice the art of it.” In my case, it’s not Meet the Press that I hate, but the way that the hosts have moderated it since Tim Russert died. Leslie Savan suggests watching John Oliver’s new show, Last Week Tonight. Maybe Oliver could take over the show when NBC isn’t satisfied. Now that would help the ratings and deliver substance.

October 8, 2013

Day Eight of the Government Shutdown: Congress Getting Paychecks

Filed under: Uncategorized — trp2011 @ 8:59 PM
Tags: , , ,

Last week, the House GOP sent this note to the people of the United States:

We have your economy.  If you ever want to see it again, pay very close attention.

You will agree to the following:

A one year delay of Obamacare. Drilling fossil fuels on public land. Tort Reform. While you’re at it, we want you to cut Medicare and Medicaid.

This is not a negotiation. Do what we say or we will shut down the government and default on the national debt.

Signed,

The House GOP Majority

After eight days of federal government shutdown, 70% disapprove of GOP behavior in their holding the country hostage. The shutdown costs at least $300 million a day: that’s almost $1 billion every three days. The shutdown can shave 1.4 percent off economic input. If the shutdown isn’t stopped within four weeks, it can cost the economy $55 billion through the loss of paychecks for furloughed workers ($1 billion a week); reduction in federal spending ($8 billion); shuttered national parks ($76 million); and billions in tax revenue.

The end result is an increase in the federal deficit. Because of the improving economy, the deficit was expected to shrink to its smallest shortfall since before the recession. Now the deficit reverses because of loss of tax revenue and the cost for agencies to implement the shutdown. The last Congressional crisis, over sequestration, resulted in a $4.5 billion in lost revenue, not to mention stagnating consumer spending from the mass furloughs.

A short shutdown history:

The House demanded last spring that if the Senate didn’t pass a budget, senators would not be paid. The Senate passed a budget in April, and, the House GOP blocked any negotiation 18 times. When the deadline of October 1 neared, the GOP made a series of demands to defund or delay Obamacare before passing a budget and keeping the government open.

Dan Froomkin pointed out the problems that the media have caused in its inaccurate reporting about the shutdown. The trend in journalism is increasingly neutrality rather than accuracy. As politicians become more extreme with little or no media criticism, they move farther to the right and become even more extreme. In their attempt to ride the middle of the road, reporters continue to veer to the right to avoid taking sides. MSNBC’s Chuck Todd claimed that fact-checking isn’t the job of a journalist, as if he only needs to be a scribe of what everyone says. As Froomkin wrote:

“The political press should be the public’s first line of defense when it comes to assessing who is deviating from historic norms and practices, who is risking serious damage to the nation, whose positions are based in irrational phobias and ignorance rather than data and reason.

“In the current political climate, journalistic false equivalence leads to an insufficiently informed electorate, because the public is not getting an accurate picture of what is going on. Blaming everyone—Congress, both sides, Washington—is simply the path of least resistance for today’s political reporters. It’s a way of avoiding conflict rather than taking the risk that the public—or their editors—will accuse them of being unprofessionally partisan.

“The shutdown is not generalized dysfunction or gridlock or stalemate. It is aberrational behavior by a political party that is willing to take extreme and potentially damaging action to get its way. And by not calling it what it is, the political press is enabling it.”

A response to Froomkin’s piece recommended that everyone should read Helen Thomas’ book, Watchdogs of Democracy? The Wanting Washington Press Corps and How It Has Failed The Public.

Radio host Mark Levin exemplifies the inaccuracy of the far-right when he said, “This is not the plague. It’s not riots and violence in the streets. There’s some inconvenience, not for everybody but for some people. Some people being furloughed. Some people losing their paychecks.”

He’s wrong, and he should have been called out for this falsehood. The almost 9 million mothers and families who lost their safety network may have gone to churches and private food banks for help, places that are already stretched far too thin to help others. Without money for those who use the safety network, supermarkets suffer great losses in income, and Medicaid spending shoots up because babies need food to be healthy. Other affected people are boat-owners, golfers, gun-purchasers, visa applicants, factory workers, employers who cannot use DHS’s e-Verify program, and people who expect tax refunds. 

Those who are not affected by the shutdown are people who are not veterans, students, or travelers. They need to grow all their own food and take no medications, have no illnesses and live someplace that is not not subject to any pollution. Hopefully, they live in a cave in case terrorists attack. They should have no stocks, savings, etc. in case the financial market decides to crash. They can’t own farms, and they shouldn’t want to purchase any real estate.  Forget owning small businesses–they have no way to get loans or sell anything.

After a few days of shutdown, the GOP figured out that government might be important and picked the most obvious pieces, trying to open those small pieces, even ones that they had fought in the past. House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-VA) said, “We’re trying to ease the pain here.” The ones that they picked are national parks (people complained), cancer research (they have families with serious illnesses), veterans benefits (not having those looks really bad), and disaster relief (there might be a hurricane bearing down on Louisiana but no one knows because NOAA is closed down). Last week, GOP House members dressed in scrubs for a rally urging Democrat senators to provide temporary funding for the National Institutes of Health.

In 2011, Cantor threatened to withhold disaster relief funding without budget cuts to offset its costs, but last week FEMA became one of the seven more essential federal agencies that the House wants to re-open. This week, House Republicans plan to vote for temporary funding for Head Start after trying to cut the program by more than $1 billion in their budget. Many Congressional Republicans have also declared their aids as “essential” workers so that they can keep their offices open.

A major speaking point from House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) has been to have a conference meeting to discuss how to open the government. His complaint is that Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) won’t appoint conferees.  Two days before he started his complaining, however, Reid offered to do just that. Reid’s only condition was that the government re-open during negotiations. Boehner refused.

Tomorrow the House plans to vote on a bill to pay essential federal employees, those who kept working after the shutdown, during the shutdown rather than waiting until the end of the impasse. The House also has a new plan to solve the shutdown problem: a supercommittee of House and Senate members to work out a deal on reopening the government and raising the nation’s $16.7 trillion debt ceiling, which must be done within the next nine days. Remember the last supercommittee, that one in the fall of 2011? That one that resulted in the sequester using a hatchet to make program cuts?  As Rep. Xavier Becerra (D-CA), a member of that supercommittee, said, “There was nothing super about it.”

To make the “supercommittee” even more of a problem, Rep. Pete Sessions (R-TX) indicated that tax reform might be part of the discussion. “We disagree by a trillion dollars of spending and a trillion dollars of tax increase. … I think there is some ground between a trillion dollars in spending and a trillion dollar tax increase. For Republicans not to be able to identify that would be silly,” Sessions said. “We are going to stick to our guns, but it doesn’t mean that people have to deny each other the ability to talk.” A Sessions aide later clarified Sessions is not open to new tax revenue.

What could go wrong?

As blogger Eurobrat wrote:

“When the Republicans first started this shutdown mess, it was about defunding Obamacare.  Since that wasn’t going to happen, it then became about just delaying Obamacare.  Now it’s not about that anymore either, and most Republicans sound like they aren’t quite sure what it’s about, only that they want to get something out of it.

“So before the economy collapses and everything goes to hell, let’s give the Republicans that pony they never got from their parents.  Or a plate of cookies.  A gold star.  One of those participation trophies that says you lost, but you still showed up to the game, so yay!  A kiss on the boo boo to make it better.  An apology from Obama’s election campaign team for being too smart?  More Benghazi hearings, this time with cheerleaders?  Another copy of the President’s birth certificate?

“Is there a little holiday present we can give the Republicans to help end this insanity?  I can think of a lot of things, except for what they really want, which is to see the President impeached, tarred and feathered.  That ain’t happening, guys.  Take the pony instead.”

I’ll chip in for the pony.

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