tagged w/ David Corn
Fox News Lies: Baier seemed outraged at the assertion that Fox News has been anything but fair, balanced and accurate in their reporting of President Obama's race and religion... (read more)
http://veracitystew.com/?p=32497Fox News Lies: Baier seemed outraged at the assertion that Fox News has been anything... more
He just can't seem to help himself. He lies in print,in the media and to the American Public!He just can't seem to help himself. He lies in print,in the media and to the... more
by Zach Carter, Media Consortium blogger
Flickr/Gage SkidmoreThe votes are in, and while some close races are still being tallied, there is a clear winner from the 2010 elections: Secret corporate cash.
Such unaccounted for political donations may end up allowing those accused of wrongdoing to go free. As Joshua Holland details for AlterNet, Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission may have provided a lifetime supply of get-out-of-jail-free cards to corporate criminals.
The Kentucky senate race serves as a prime example. The Democratic candidate, Jack Conway, is currently Kentucky’s attorney general. Conway is also currently prosecuting a nursing home for allegedly covering up the sexual abuse of one of its residents.
But that nursing home is owned by Terry Forcht, a millionaire who gives prodigiously to right-wing causes. He poured money into Karl Rove’s organization, American Crossroads GPS, which ran ads backing Conway’s Republican opponent, Rand Paul. Guess who came away with the victory last night?
As Holland emphasizes, the mid-term elections are just how the first phase of the justice system’s corruption plays out. Eventually the mere threat of attack ads could be enough to prevent needed prosecutions. Corporate bigwigs could literally get away with murder, and pay for it only through attack ads.
Think this is bad? Just wait for 2012
As David Corn details for Mother Jones, the Supreme Court’s ruling has put American democracy in grave danger. This year’s big spending is just a warm-up for the 2012 presidential election. Karl Rove has already pledged to keep running attack ads after the mid-terms, and there’s no doubt that he’ll make good on that. As Corn emphasizes, this issue doesn’t just affect how campaigns are financed—it will permanently reshape the very nature of American elections.
The permanent, neverending campaign will become even more permanent and neverending. These big-and-secret-money groups will be working 24/7, opposing and discrediting President Barack Obama and the Democrats in the so-called off-year and then revving up for the 2012 presidential and congressional elections. The negative ads never have to stop.
That, ultimately, is the major take-away from last night’s elections. Not the number of seats Republicans picked up in the House, or the Tea Party’s ability to infiltrate the Senate, but the formal incorporation of American politics. With literally no limits on the amount of money they can spend to influence elections, corporations and secret billionaires are going to be tipping the democratic scales wherever they smell profit.
That means it will be much, much harder for politicians of any ideological stripe to solve society’s problems. The richest corporations have the most political purchasing power, and the companies with the most money are those that have thrived under the status quo—however destructive that state of affairs may be to society at large. This money will go to keeping things the way they are—not toward creating jobs, improving education, expanding access to health care, stopping ecological catastrophe or anything else.
Citizens United 101
We spoke with Jesse Zwick of The Washington Independent about the nuts and bolts of Citizens United and secret campaign cash. In the below video, Zwick details the potential impact of secret money—and how citizens and legislature can curb the effects of this historic ruling.
Bare-bones, anti-Citizens United legislation might still have a shot
So what can be done? Earlier this year, Republicans successfully filibustered legislation that would have forced corporations to disclose their political spending and require front-groups to divulge the identities of their donors. But as Jesse Zwick emphasizes for The Washington Independent, there’s still one more opportunity to push a bare-bones version of the bill through Congress. Democrats will retain their broad Congressional majorities until January 2011, when the candidates elected last night formally take up office. If Democrats see which way the corporate wind is blowing, they’ll flex their political muscles one last time to get a disclosure bill through Congress. There are many things that people are reluctant to do in public that they have the political right to do. If lawmakers can remove the anonymity from corporate and elite political spending, some of the Citizens United damage could be reversed.
If not, 2012 is going to be even uglier than last night.
But wait, there’s more!
* Amie Newman of RH Reality Check reports that a last-minute mailer funded by outside group The Citizens for Responsible Spending attacked Washington state Sen. Rodney Tom, citing his pro-women’s rights and pro-LGBT positions. Tom ended up losing his seat last night.
* California upheld its environmental protection law by defeating Proposition 23, despite the fact that oil companies funneled nearly $10 million to pass the measure, reports Kate Sheppard at Mother Jones.
* As Dave Gilson details for Mother Jones, outside spending worked overwhelmingly in favor of Republican candidates in key races.
This post features links to the best independent, progressive reporting about the mid-term elections and campaign financing by members of The Media Consortium. It is free to reprint. Visit The Media Consortium for more articles on these issues, or follow us on Twitter. And for the best progressive reporting on critical economy, environment, health care and immigration issues, check out The Audit, The Mulch, The Pulse, and The Diaspora. This is a project of The Media Consortium, a network of leading independent media outlets.by Zach Carter, Media Consortium blogger
Flickr/Gage SkidmoreThe votes are in, and... more
by Lindsay Beyerstein, Media Consortium blogger
Don’t look now, but Sarah Palin is back on her death panel kick, just in time for Halloween. No, really, don’t look. It just encourages the former governor of Alaska to recycle the exhaustively debunked allegation that health care reform will involve bringing the elderly and the disabled before “death panels” who will judge whether they are fit to live.
David Corn of Mother Jones caught Palin referencing the thoroughly debunked myth in her latest interview with the conservative website Newsmax. Oh, and she says she won’t rule out a presidential run in 2012.
Boobs against breast cancer
October is Breast Cancer Awareness month. The National Cancer Institute estimates that over 207,000 women will be diagnosed with breast cancer in 2010 and that nearly 40,000 will die of the disease this year. Breast cancer is the second-most common form of cancer in women.
Amie Newman of RH Reality Check notes that even Kentucky Fried Chicken is getting in on the awareness action with pink chicken buckets “for the cure.” This month, KFC is donating 50 cents from each rosy-hued tub of Original Recipe chicken to Susan G. Komen For The Cure, a leading breast cancer advocacy group. The promotion is expected to raise between $1 million and $8 million for breast cancer research and activism. That’s between 2 million and 16 million buckets of chicken. It’s more of a barometer than a donation, really.
The fewer buckets they sell, the more awareness has been raised. Newman notes that KFC’s french fries are an unusually rich source of acrylamide, a probable human carcinogen found in deep fried foods. In a recent study, women with the highest acrylamide intakes were at 43% greater risk for hormone-positive breast cancers.
Some marketers have decided that the root cause of our society’s lack of breast cancer awareness is our lack of breast awareness in general. This doesn’t seem quite right, especially because the breasts most likely to get cancer (those of women over 50) are seldom the breasts featured in the the various “save the gazongas” campaigns we’re subjected to every October.
Martha Pitts of the Ms. Blog wonders whose bright idea it was to “raise awareness” about breast cancer by inviting women to list their bra color as a Facebook status update. Pitts wonders how learning about friends’ underwear will motivate anyone to learn more about breast self-exams or mammograms. According to Ann Pietrangelo of Care2, the latest breast cancer “awareness” meme took a turn for the Dada-esque. This year, women were invited complete the sentence: “I like it on the…” referring, of course to where the Facebook user likes to keep her purse. Obviously, they need a meta-awareness campaign to explain what this has to do with breast cancer.
Monica Potts of TAPPED reminds us that while activists and policy makers are wrangling about access to mammograms, which may or may not improve women’s odds of surviving breast cancer, about 4000 women a year still die of cervical cancer in the US, despite the fact that the disease is almost completely preventable with routine Pap smears.
In other public health news, anti-gay bullying is making headlines all over the country. A series of high-profile suicides by bullied gay youth have riveted national attention on the issue. The statistics are sobering. Suicide is the third leading cause of death among young people, and LGBTQ youth are at significantly higher risk of suicidal behavior than their straight peers.
Nine out of ten LGBTQ youths told researchers that they had been harassed at school and two out of three said they felt unsafe at school because of their orientation, Jessica Strong reports for Campus Progress.
In Minnesota, three gay students the Anoka-Hennepin school district have committed suicide this year and the district is facing increasing pressure to crack down on homophobic bullying. However, not everyone’s on board.
Andy Birkey of the Minnesota Independent reports that the head of a Christian rock ministry called “You Can Run But You Can’t Hide” is opposing the anti-bullying programs, which he considers to be a recruiting tactic for gays, and by extension, child molesters (?!). Birkey also reports that Minnesota’s Republican gubernatorial hopeful, Tom Emmer, has said he won’t sign an anti-bullying bill if he is elected. Emmer has a strongly anti-gay record as a state legislator. The department store chain Target drew the ire of national gay rights groups when it gave a major donation to a pro-Emmer PAC.
Coming out for…
Monday was National Coming Out Day. To mark the occasion, Richard Kim published a piece in The Nation arguing that tougher criminal penalties aren’t necessarily the solution to anti-gay bullying. Bullies are, after all, mirroring the prejudices they see in adult society:
It’s tougher, more uncertain work creating a world that loves queer kids, that wants them to live and thrive. But try—try as if someone’s life depended on it. Imagine saying I really wish my son turns out to be gay. Imagine hoping that your 2-year-old daughter grows up to be transgendered. Imagine not assuming the gender of your child’s future prom date or spouse; imagine keeping that space blank or occupied by boys and girls of all types. Imagine petitioning your local board of education to hire more gay elementary school teachers.
Kim argues that simply heaping more punishment onto bullies is an easy way out for a society that doesn’t want to grapple with widespread homophobia.
This post features links to the best independent, progressive reporting about health care by members of The Media Consortium. It is free to reprint. Visit the Pulse for a complete list of articles on health care reform, or follow us on Twitter. And for the best progressive reporting on critical economy, environment, health care and immigration issues, check out The Audit, The Mulch, and The Diaspora. This is a project of The Media Consortium, a network of leading independent media outlets.by Lindsay Beyerstein, Media Consortium blogger
Don’t look now, but Sarah... more
by Zach Carter, Media Consortium Blogger
After months of modest gains, the U.S. economy lost 125,000 jobs during June. That’s the worst jobs-related news this year. Without serious action soon, the struggling U.S. economy is going to get even uglier. Unfortunately, President Barack Obama’s economic team was slow to recognize the severity of the jobs crisis, and now seems unable to get Congress to actually do something about it.
As David Corn notes for Mother Jones, the recent jobs data is actually much worse than the 125,000 figure implies:
“The economy needs about 150,000 new jobs a month to keep up with population growth and new entries into the jobs market. It needs a lot more than that to make up for the 8 million or so jobs lost in 2008 and 2009.”
Although the economy sluggishly recovered from the catastrophic events of late 2008, economists are warning of a “double-dip” recession in which mass layoffs return. So why is Congress refusing to deal with the jobs crisis in the face of such terrible economic conditions?
Part of the problem, Corn notes, is that Obama didn’t do a very good job selling his economic stimulus package to the public. The bill, which Obama pushed through in early 2009, really did improve the economy—it’s the only reason why the unemployment rate is hovering around 10 percent instead of 12 percent or 13 percent. But by refusing to counter Republican attacks on so-called “wasteful spending” included in the package, Obama failed to show the public how much good the stimulus has done. Instead, the bill is widely perceived as another wasteful giveaway to special interests and akin to the bank bailout.
Spending is stimulus
In reality, government spending is the best way to stimulate the economy during a deep recession. It makes up for the shortfall in spending from consumers who have lost their jobs.
There are all kinds of ways the federal government can spend money to create jobs, including extending unemployment benefits to laid-off workers, providing funding to states to allow them to hire more teachers and cops, and hiring people to build roads and buildings. The government did all of these things with the stimulus package from early 2009, but it didn’t do enough of any of them. The stimulus package was simply spread to thin.
Roots of recession
As Robert Reich explains for The Nation, the recession itself was created by deep economic inequality. By 2007, the wealthiest 1 percent of Americans made 23.5 percent of the nation’s total income. Figures like that had not been seen since 1929, when the richest 1 percent made 23.9 percent of the nation’s total wealth. All of this concentration at the top means that the elite enjoy a disproportionate share of economic gains, but it also sets the entire economy up for massive shocks.
When the rich have all of that money, they have to invest it somewhere. When the majority of citizens are seeing sluggish wage growth, or even a drop in wages, as the U.S. experienced during the Bush years, there aren’t enough valuable assets out there that can absorb that investment. As a result, rich people put their money in speculative asset bubbles. When those bubbles burst, the entire economy can come crashing down, as it did in both 1929 and 2008.
Rampant inequalities around the globe
As Melinda Burns highlights for AlterNet, rampant inequality in not unique to the U.S. More than half of the world’s population lives on less than $2 a day, and decades of conservative economic policies have been unable to reverse that hardship.
One of the best ways to relieve global poverty is also one of the most intuitive—give money to the poor. Brazil has made an aggressive push to cope with widespread poverty by providing $31 billion in pensions and grants to the poor every year. As a result, the nation’s poverty rate has declined from 28 percent in 2000 to 17 percent in 2008, while child malnutrition was cut in half. These policies make good economic sense. When poor people have money to spend, they spend it and fuel growth that benefits the entire economy.
And yet in the U.S., Obama is seriously considering cutting Social Security in order to reduce the federal budget deficit. As Margaret Smith emphasizes for In These Times, Obama has created a bipartisan “debt commission,” and packed it full of ideologues from both political parties who have been fighting for years to slash Social Security.
This doesn’t really make sense, because Social Security is funded by its own dedicated tax revenue, and is sitting on a multi-trillion-dollar surplus created by those taxes. It really can’t do much to reduce the deficit. With interest rates at record lows, lawmakers do not currently have any reason to be worried about the deficit. But if they wanted to take action on it, they’d have to deal with long-term issues like the rising cost of health care, the bloated defense budget and absurdly low tax rates on the rich. Cutting off income for senior citizens won’t help.
Blocking economic stimulus won’t help
And neither will efforts to block short-term economic stimulus. But Obama’s emphasis on the budget deficit plays into the hands of Congressional opportunists who want to block his economic recovery efforts. If we’re told over and over again that the real economic problem is the budget deficit, no money is going to be dedicated to problems like jobs—even if that money would actually help the government’s fiscal position by fueling economic growth.
The American economy is in the middle of an absolute employment crisis. Without strong federal action, it’s going to get worse.
This post features links to the best independent, progressive reporting about the economy by members of The Media Consortium. It is free to reprint. Visit the Audit for a complete list of articles on economic issues, or follow us on Twitter. And for the best progressive reporting on critical economy, environment, health care and immigration issues, check out The Mulch, The Pulse and The Diaspora. This is a project of The Media Consortium, a network of leading independent media outlets.by Zach Carter, Media Consortium Blogger
After months of modest gains, the U.S.... more
by Sarah Laskow, Media Consortium blogger
On July 4th, Americans are supposed to celebrate their independence. We may no longer have to worry about a greedy, distant monarch. But our country is still held in thrall to powerful interests that prize profit over individuals and their freedom—the energy industry comes to mind. As Jason Mark puts it at AlterNet:
“We’re in an abusive relationship and unable to leave our abuser. The plight of the people in Louisiana proves the point. Louisianans have been punched in the face by the hand that feeds them, and yet their biggest worry is that the oil and gas industry is going to walk out the door and leave them.”
Where’s the love?
It’s clear that BP, for instance, isn’t playing carefully with our country or its resources. At Mother Jones, David Corn relates the latest example of the company’s callousness. Its recovery plan had no stipulations about handling even a small storm like the one that stopped clean-up this week. It did, however, include plans to save sea life that hasn’t lived in the Gulf for millions of years. As Corn put it, the company was “prepared for walruses, not prepared for hurricanes.”
The biggest problem, of course, is that BP wasn’t prepared to handle a blow-out to begin with. The leak has gone on for so long that governmental officials are now taking unprecedented measures to protect the wildlife most vulnerable to its effects. Beth Buczynski reports at Care2 that official are going to dig up about 700 sea turtle nests on Alabama and Florida beaches that are at risk from the oil.
“Once the eggs have hatched, the young turtles will be released in darkness on Florida’s Atlantic beaches into oil-free water,” she writes. “Translocation of nests on this scale has never been attempted before.”
No matter how badly these companies treat us, it seems we can’t get rid of them. Take Halliburton. The company has latched its talons into the country and will not let go. It is second only to BP in shouldering responsibility for the Deepwater Horizon spill. As Jason Mark reports for the Earth Island Journal, just before the oil spill, Halliburton took over Boots & Coots, a company that deals with oil-well blowouts; that company now has a contract with BP to help with the relief well.
“Halliburton is essentially making money from causing the accident and then helping to repair it,” Mark writes. “Halliburton’s many-fingered tentacles is just the latest illustration of how powerful the company is.”
Washington isn’t strong enough to fight back against that sort of corporate power. Over the past year, energy interests have whittled down the climate change legislation to a tepid half-step. Right now it looks most likely that a bill that passes will regulate only the utilities sector.
“We believe we have compromised significantly, and we’re prepared to compromise further,” Sen. John Kerry (D-MA) told Politico this week after a White House meeting on the bill.
“If you’re looking for the sorry state of American energy politics distilled into one line, there it is,” writes Jonathan Hiskes at Grist. “Kerry fights harder for clean energy than just about any national politician.”
Still, if anything passes the Senate, Washington will celebrate. As Aaron Wiener explains at the Washington Independent, “For all the disappointment among environmentalists over the repeated compromises Democrats have made on climate legislation to win over moderates, some argue that a utilities-only cap would achieve most of the goals of an economy-wide carbon pricing scheme. The question now is whether Democratic leaders in the Senate can muster 60 votes for even a weakened bill to overcome a Republican filibuster.”
Our friends abroad
On an international level, our governing bodies might be doing a better job, but not by much. Inter Press Service reports that the countries at the meeting promised to scale back taxpayer subsidies of fossil fuels. Even that promise is limited, however. “Countries agree to phase out “inefficient fossil fuel subsidies” but each country decides what those are,” IPS reports. “Some countries like Japan, Australia, Italy and others have already said they don’t have any.”
And at Earth Island Journal, Ron Johnson heard a different story.
Johnson spoke to Kim Carstensen, who leads the World Wildlife Fund’s Global Climate Initiative, who compared this meeting’s report to that of the last G20 summit and found that climate issues had dropped off the radar. “There were eight references to clean energy in the final report from Pittsburgh (the last G20 Summit) and they have been completely vacuum cleaned,” he said. “That is kind of scary.”
In situations like this, it takes massive pressure from outside to move the political apparatus forward. At AlterNet, Heetan Kalan has some ideas about how to progress—reach beyond the environmental community; enlist “doctors, nurses, public health officials and patients speaking out about the connection between consumers of coal energy and their immediate health concerns.” Kalan writes:
“After all, climate change is not solely an environmental problem — it is a human/planetary problem. If we are going to rely on a small base of environmentalists to carry us through this crisis, we are in trouble. Our spokespeople on this issue have to come from a wide spectrum of citizens and leaders.”
Certainly, they have to come from somewhere, and as Steve Benen writes at The Washington Monthly, whoever is speaking on this issue now, they’re not speaking loud enough.
“Lawmakers aren’t facing much in the way of public pressure,” he writes. “The polls look encouraging, suggesting the public is inclined to back the Democratic proposals, but that support hasn’t translated into aggressive advocacy — phone calls to lawmakers’ offices, letter-writing campaigns, district meetings, sizable rallies, etc….If engaged constituents want more, Congress will have to feel considerably more heat than they are now.”
In other words, if America wants to be free of coal, oil, gas, and the energy industry, we’re going to have to fight for it.
This post features links to the best independent, progressive reporting about the environment by members of The Media Consortium. It is free to reprint. Visit the Mulch for a complete list of articles on environmental issues, or follow us on Twitter. And for the best progressive reporting on critical economy, health care and immigration issues, check out The Audit, The Pulse, and The Diaspora. This is a project of The Media Consortium, a network of leading independent media outlets.by Sarah Laskow, Media Consortium blogger
On July 4th, Americans are supposed to... more
By Alison Hamm, Media Consortium Blogger
The United Nations Climate Change Conference (Cop15) turned ugly today when police officers beat back hundreds of demonstrators, including a group of 50 to 100 delegates that were trying to meet with the protesters.
More than 250 people were arrested, including spokespeople for Climate Justice Action (CJA), a global network of NGOs that organized a walkout at the Bella Center today. CJA’s spokesperson Dan Glall told Mantoe Phakathi at Inter Press Service that “as a condition for going back to the negotiations, we demand industrialized nations uphold the Kyoto Protocol, commit adequate funds to adaptation and reduce greenhouse gas emissions significantly.”
OneClimate has video (below) of today’s walkout.
“More than 1,000 people have been arrested, detained and released over the course of the past week,” Jennifer Prediger writes for Grist. “Some were made to sit on freezing sidewalks for six hours in a nasty version of time out. The people who threw rocks and set cars on fire were rightfully detained. But the droves who were dragged in last night for dancing awkwardly in Christiana? Seems like overkill to me.”
The chaos outside reflects the increasing pressure inside the Bella Center, as delegates turn to the United States and China for leadership in the final days of the summit. Together these countries account for 42 percent of the world’s carbon emissions.
In order to finalize a global climate agreement in Copenhagen, both countries need to take a big step forward, as David Doniger and Barbara Finamore report for Grist. For the U.S., this means aid for the world’s poorest and most vulnerable people; for China, this means making steady progress to meet the country’s carbon reduction goals.
The U.S. has already committed to pay its share of a $30 billion fund to last through 2012. “But to lead in Copenhagen, the U.S. needs to back even larger investments to meet these core needs for the longer-term—2015 or 2020,” Doniger and Finamore write. “China has the opportunity to enhance its standing as a responsible world leader by building global confidence in the implementation of its carbon reduction goals.”
But as David Corn reports for Mother Jones, China and the U.S. are apparently “stuck in a standoff.” An Obama administration official insisted that it’s not about the money: “‘We have to get the developing nations into an international agreement,’ the official said… Yet China has forcefully resisted the idea of incorporating their self-professed emissions goals (essentially, slowing the growth rate of emissions) into a binding agreement. China has also repeatedly said that it will not submit its performance to official outside vetting.”
Corn writes, “But with 115 heads of states beginning to arrive, the Copenhagen talks have left some fundamental gaps for the last minute. Even if those gaps are bridged, the resulting agreement could fall far short of what experts say is necessary to redress the dire consequences of rising global temperatures. Just ask the scientists roaming the halls.”
Secretary of State Hillary Clinton arrived in Copenhagen today in a last minute appearance. Clinton has booked a full day of meetings on Thursday and will join President Barack Obama in negotiations when he arrives Friday. Like Obama’s schedule switch at the conference (he originally planned to be there last week and instead will arrive Friday), Clinton’s arrival could indicate the U.S.’s intention to seal a deal by the end of the week.
For live updates of the negotiations and protests, check out The Uptake’s live video stream from the Bella Center.
This post features links to the best independent, progressive reporting about the environment by members of The Media Consortium. It is free to reprint. Visit the Mulch for a complete list of articles on environmental issues, or follow us on TwitterBy Alison Hamm, Media Consortium Blogger
The United Nations Climate Change... more