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Archive for September 12th, 2009

The Price of Crisis Relief

Posted in Main Blog (All Posts) on September 12th, 2009 4:46 am by HL

The Price of Crisis Relief
Calculations based on data from the IMF show that per capita spending to resolve the current economic crisis has hit $10,000 per person in the U.S., and an even more staggering near-$50,000 per person in the U.K. The BBC: The world’s largest economies have spent $10,000 for every person in a bid to fix the financial meltdown of the past year. New calculations by the BBC, based on IMF data given to G20 finance ministers, shows these countries have spent a total of $10 trillion (£6tn). The UK and US spent the most, with the UK spending far more, 94% of its GDP compared to 25% in the US. That equates to £30,000 per person in the UK and $10,000 in the US. Of course, most of this bail-out money was in the form of guarantees to the banking system, and as that system pulls out of the crisis, governments stand to recover most but not all of that money. Read more READ THE WHOLE ITEM

Bank Crisis

Calculations based on data from the IMF show that per capita spending to resolve the current economic crisis has hit $10,000 per person in the U.S., and an even more staggering near-$50,000 per person in the U.K.

The BBC:

The world’s largest economies have spent $10,000 for every person in a bid to fix the financial meltdown of the past year.

New calculations by the BBC, based on IMF data given to G20 finance ministers, shows these countries have spent a total of $10 trillion (£6tn).

The UK and US spent the most, with the UK spending far more, 94% of its GDP compared to 25% in the US.

That equates to £30,000 per person in the UK and $10,000 in the US.

Of course, most of this bail-out money was in the form of guarantees to the banking system, and as that system pulls out of the crisis, governments stand to recover most but not all of that money.

Read more

READ THE WHOLE ITEM

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Andrew Reinbach: History Will Judge

Posted in Main Blog (All Posts) on September 12th, 2009 4:45 am by HL

Andrew Reinbach: History Will Judge
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Jamison Foser: Media haven’t learned from their “death panel” mistakes

Posted in Main Blog (All Posts) on September 12th, 2009 4:44 am by HL

Jamison Foser: Media haven’t learned from their “death panel” mistakes

The media’s reaction to Republican Congressman Joe Wilson’s outburst during President Obama’s health care speech to Congress illustrated two bad habits that encourage exactly the kind of political behavior reporters claim to dislike.

First is the media’s reluctance to “take sides” in factual disputes (which is, in effect, siding with the incorrect claim) and their apparent belief that rudeness is a greater sin than lying. Scores of news reports covered the controversy over Wilson’s shouted claim that the president was lying when he said proposed health care reform would not apply to those who are in America illegally — but they focused on the breach of decorum rather than the question of whether Obama or Wilson was correct. (Independent, nonpartisan observers like PolitiFact.com and FactCheck.org have made clear that Wilson was wrong; Obama was not lying.)

Thursday’s broadcast of the CBS Evening News, for example, led with a report about Wilson’s outburst, during which anchor Katie Couric told viewers, “The congressman apologizes, but insists he’s right on the issue.” The report did not contain so much as a hint that Wilson is wrong on the issue: no assessment by CBS News, no reference to independent fact-checkers, not even a line about Democrats saying Wilson is wrong.

Likewise, MSNBC spent much of the day obsessing over the rudeness of Wilson’s comment — and relatively little making clear it was false. During one such segment, MSNBC played two minutes of Wilson talking about his comment, including a lengthy defense of the merits of his claim. Then, more a full minute after the end of the clip, anchor Tamron Hall provided the segment’s only assessment of who was right: “There’s also been a number of fact-checkers who said that Congressman Wilson is wrong, that there was nothing to indicate.” That’s it — that’s all she said. And it got worse. Andrea Mitchell led off her show with a discussion of Wilson’s comments; 28 minutes later, during what was at least the third segment of her show that touched on Wilson’s comments, Mitchell finally offered a tepid acknowledgement that Obama was correct.

Print and Internet coverage wasn’t much better. The New York Times devoted an entire article to Wilson’s comment — an article that took no position on who was right and referred to no independent sources that did so. One Washington Times article quoted Wilson explaining why — according to him — Obama was lying, but omitted not only any of the independent determinations that Wilson was wrong but any comment from Democrats that Wilson was wrong. Then, a little later, the newspaper sent out a fundraising e-mail on behalf of Wilson.

It’s obvious how this is going to play out. Before too long, polls will show a large minority — maybe even a majority — of Americans believe that Democratic reform proposals will provide subsidized insurance for people who are in the country illegally. And when that happens, Howard Kurtz and MSNBC will be gobsmacked. They’ll wonder how this can be, when the media was so aggressive in reporting on Wilson’s false comments. It’ll never occur to them that the problem is their focus on the rudeness of Wilson’s comment rather than the falsity of the comment; that they are to blame for doing a lousy job of fact-checking Wilson’s comment while giving it priceless attention.

That is, after all, exactly what happened with things like Sarah Palin’s “death panel” lie.

The other counterproductive media tic that surfaced once again this week is the tendency of many reporters to insist that no matter how far over the line a member of one political party goes, there’s someone just as prominent in the other party who has done something comparable. This false equivalence serves to justify the worst behavior — “Oh, everybody does it” — thus contributing to the downward spiral of our public discourse.

Take, for example, The Washington Post‘s Dana Milbank. Last seen calling Secretary of State Hillary Clinton a “bitch” (and, shortly before that, calling Huffington Post reporter Nico Pitney a “dick”), Milbank took it upon himself to bemoan the loss of civility in American politics. But he didn’t stop at Wilson’s shouted lie, or the pastor in Arizona who says he’s praying for Obama’s death, or the Republican members of Congress who waved protest signs during the president’s speech to Congress. No, Milbank needed an example of comparable Democratic behavior — you know, for “balance.” So he came up with two: a Democrat who “insisted on making a victory sign with his hand and waving it at Obama,” and another who made what Milbank described as “a fascist salute.”

“Fascist salute”? I don’t even know what that means, and Milbank didn’t explain. But that’s a grossly inappropriate way to describe what Rep. Al Green did — and one that conveniently plays into the right-wing memes that Obama is just like Hitler and Mao. Most of all, it demonstrates the problem with the “both sides do it” school of reporting.

But Milbank may have been outdone by the Politico, which ran an article about Republicans behaving badly — Palin’s “death panel” lie, the birther conspiracy theories, claiming Obama seeks to “indoctrinate” schoolchildren by encouraging them to study. But, Politico quickly added, it isn’t just Republicans who cross the line:

Nor are Democrats strangers to having their crazy uncles take center stage. During the run-up to the Iraq war, for example, Reps. Jim McDermott (D-Wash.), Mike Thompson (D-Calif.) and David Bonior (D-Mich.) famously flew to Baghdad, where McDermott asserted that he believed the president would “mislead the American public” to justify the war. The trip made it a cakewalk for critics to describe the Democratic Party as chock-a-block with traitorous radicals.

President Bush, as you may remember, did mislead the American public to justify going to war with Iraq. But to the Politico, saying so is the “crazy” statement of “traitorous radicals” — and on the level of claiming Obama is a secret Kenyan with a plan to kill your grandmother and indoctrinate your children. According to the Politico, a member of Congress less than 1 percent of the American public could pick out of a lineup correctly saying Bush would mislead the nation about Iraq is comparable to the most recent Republican vice presidential nominee falsely suggesting Obama wants to put your loved ones to death. 

To paraphrase Samuel L. Jackson in Pulp Fiction: It ain’t the same ballpark, it ain’t the same league, it ain’t even the same sport.

Now, what happens when the media refuse to call a lie a lie and insist that, no matter how badly you behave, your political adversaries have done something similar? Right: It encourages politicians to behave badly and lie. The negative consequences are mitigated, and it gets them attention.

Given the way the media covers these things, it isn’t surprising that people who oppose health care reform feel comfortable lying and being disruptive. Why wouldn’t they?

Jamison Foser is a Senior Fellow at Media Matters for America, a progressive media watchdog and research and information center based in Washington, D.C. Foser also contributes to County Fair, a media blog featuring links to progressive media criticism from around the Web as well as original commentary. You can follow him on Twitter and Facebook or sign up to receive his columns by email.


Duvall Denies “Reports That He Had An Affair”

Posted in Main Blog (All Posts) on September 12th, 2009 4:43 am by HL

Duvall Denies “Reports That He Had An Affair”
Mike Duvall denies “reports that he had an affair,” after a hot mic picked up the California GOP lawmaker bragging about sleeping with two different women, one reportedly a lobbyist. Duvall resigned yesterday.





Kentucky GOP Pol Found With Slit Wrists After Shooting Death Of Ex-Fiancée
A former Kentucky gubernatorial candidate is arrested after being found with slit wrists. This morning, his former fiancee, with whom he has a troubled history, was found dead of gunshot wounds.






The Day Before 9/11

Posted in Main Blog (All Posts) on September 12th, 2009 4:39 am by HL

The Day Before 9/11
THIS IS NOT AN ACTUAL LETTER! It’s just indicative of the attitude of Republicans like Dick Armey on the day before the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks.


Rights Groups Sue Authorities for First Amendment Violations in Advance of G-20 Summit

Posted in Main Blog (All Posts) on September 12th, 2009 4:38 am by HL

Rights Groups Sue Authorities for First Amendment Violations in Advance of G-20 Summit
September 11, 2009, Pittsburgh, PA – Today, the Center for Constitutional Rights (CCR) and the American Civil Liberties Union of Pennsylvania (ACLU-PA) filed a complaint in the United States District Court for the Western District of Pennsylvania on behalf of groups seeking to hold peaceful demonstrations in downtown Pittsburgh where the Group of 20 summit (G-20) will take place later this month. The complaint charges the U.S.

read more


Why It Might Be Healthier to Sleep Alone

Posted in Main Blog (All Posts) on September 12th, 2009 4:37 am by HL

Why It Might Be Healthier to Sleep Alone

From the marriage sucks file: The couple that snoozes together, loses together. scientists say sleeping together ruins your health.

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Chipotle- Now 64% Better as They Increase Payments to Tomato Pickers

Posted in Main Blog (All Posts) on September 12th, 2009 4:36 am by HL

Chipotle- Now 64% Better as They Increase Payments to Tomato Pickers
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The Week In Blog: Corporate Campaign Edition

Posted in Main Blog (All Posts) on September 12th, 2009 4:35 am by HL

The Week In Blog: Corporate Campaign Edition

The latest edition of The Week In Blog is up at Bloggingheads.tv featuring Matt Lewis and myself discussing blog reaction to Obama’s health care speech, Rep. Joe Wilson’s outburst, the pending Supreme Court ruling on corporate campaign cash and the attempted boycott of World Net Daily. Watch it below.


Pataki uses 9/11 to claim Obama?s policy ?jeopardizes our ability to continue to effectively protect our country.?

Posted in Main Blog (All Posts) on September 12th, 2009 4:34 am by HL

Pataki uses 9/11 to claim Obama?s policy ?jeopardizes our ability to continue to effectively protect our country.?
Recently, the Guardian interviewed former New York governor George Pataki to discuss the eighth anniversary of 9/11. Pataki, who was in Manhattan when the World Trade Center was hit, used the opportunity to criticize the decision by Attorney General Eric Holder to investigate CIA interrogators who went beyond their legal guidance, saying it “jeopardizes” national […]

patakibushRecently, the Guardian interviewed former New York governor George Pataki to discuss the eighth anniversary of 9/11. Pataki, who was in Manhattan when the World Trade Center was hit, used the opportunity to criticize the decision by Attorney General Eric Holder to investigate CIA interrogators who went beyond their legal guidance, saying it “jeopardizes” national security:

“Placing CIA officials who were acting in the aftermath of the worst attacks against our country and civilians in our history in possible criminal jeopardy years after the fact is in my mind a horrible decision.

“It jeopardizes our ability to continue to effectively protect our country against those who hate us and want to attack us again.”

Oddly, Pataki claimed that his disapproval of the investigation sprung from a concern for the rule of law. “We must make sure we obey the rule of law and act in ways that are not just legal but moral,” said Pataki. “But now, years after the fact, to consider charges is wrong for our country, wrong for our security and wrong for the entire world that believes in the rule of law.”

Gingrich ?Inadvertently? Names Porn Company ?Entrepreneur of The Year? For Stimulating The Economy
This week, Allison Vivas of Pink Visual received a fax from Newt Gingrich’s American Solutions for Winning the Future (ASWF) group, informing her that she’s been chosen for a 2009 Entrepreneur of the Year award by his Business Defense and Advisory Council. From the letter obtained by ThinkProgress: Newt would like to arrange a private […]

gingrichchri This week, Allison Vivas of Pink Visual received a fax from Newt Gingrich’s American Solutions for Winning the Future (ASWF) group, informing her that she’s been chosen for a 2009 Entrepreneur of the Year award by his Business Defense and Advisory Council. From the letter obtained by ThinkProgress:

Newt would like to arrange a private dinner with you at the historic Capitol Hill Club on the evening of October 7, 2009 in Washington. You’ll dine privately with Newt at this exclusive venue and he’ll take the occasion to present you with your well deserved award and have your photo taken together.

This tremendous honor is a testament to your success in building your business and recognition of the risks you take to create jobs and stimulate the economy. As an award winner, you’ll be on the ground floor as Newt and his Council begin the work to turn this country around. … Newt is looking forward to hearing your ideas on getting the economy moving again and getting your feedback on his plans over dinner.

Pink Visual is a porn DVD superstore — not the type of company you’d expect Gingrich would want stimulating the economy. ThinkProgress contacted Gingrich aide Joe Gaylord, who sent the faxed letter to Vivas, but we didn’t receive a response. An ASWF representative reportedly called Pink Visual this morning saying it had “inadvertently” sent the fax to Vivas and was retracting the honor. Pink Visual’s marketing coordinator Q Boyer didn’t buy the excuse:

“Allison was disappointed to receive a call this morning from an ASWF representative stating that the fax had been sent to her ‘inadvertently,’” Boyer told AVN.com. “We’re not entirely clear on how one ‘inadvertently’ sends a fax to the right person at the correct fax number, so our sense is that this is damage control on the part of a group that is having second thoughts about either recognizing the excellent work of a porn company entrepreneur in light of their own conservative political and social orientation, or having second thoughts about their promotional methodology and communication protocols.”

Ironically, on May 17, 1995, Gingrich led a press conference on Capitol Hill announcing the Christian Coalition’s 10-point “Contract with the American Family,” a conservative legislative wish list. One of the items in the contract: restricting pornography. From Gingrich’s comments:

“We are committed to scheduling the hearings, to scheduling the mark-up and to scheduling the bills on the floor,” Gingrich said. “We’re committed to implementing the contract with the family.

Gingrich’s Business Defense and Advisory Council appears to be an outreach to small businesses nationwide. We spoke with Larry Kudeviz, owner of Genesis Press in South Carolina and previous award-winner. Kudeviz said that when he attended the dinner with Gingrich recently, there were about 30 or 40 other entrepreneurs there. He, like Vivas, was surprised to get the award because he had never had any contact with the Speaker. Since the dinner, he has continued to receive e-mail updates from ASWF.

Jarvis Coffin, CEO and President of Burst Media, also received an invitation to attend the Oct. 7 dinner with Gingrich. In a post on the Huffington Post, he wondered how Gingrich’s group found his e-mail address and whether it was breaking FCC rules by sending unsolicited faxes. The outreach by ASWF left a “bad taste in my mouth,” wrote Coffin.

Listed on the agenda for the dinner is time for video testimonies. In the fax Gaylord sent to Vivas, this portion is circled with the note, “Please come prepared to share your thoughts on how we can help your business.” Vivas also received a fax showing a mock award and a replica of the “gavel that changed America” that she would be receiving:

gavelaward