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Archive for October 23rd, 2010

Late Late Night FDL: Welcome To My Nightmare

Posted in Main Blog (All Posts) on October 23rd, 2010 4:49 am by HL

Late Late Night FDL: Welcome To My Nightmare
Alice CooperWelcome To My Nightmare, on The Muppet Show.

Alice CooperWelcome To My Nightmare, on The Muppet Show.

Grab your popcorn, put your feet up on the seatback in front of ya, and aim your spitballs at the ushers please. This is Late Late Night FireDogLake, where off topic is the topic … so dive in. What’s on your mind?


Bad Guys of the Foreclosure Crisis

Posted in Main Blog (All Posts) on October 23rd, 2010 4:48 am by HL

Bad Guys of the Foreclosure Crisis
The crisis over faulty or fraudulent paperwork in mortgage foreclosures—which is either a big deal or a humongous deal, depending on which experts you believe—is the fault of arrogant, greedy lenders who played fast and loose with the basic property rights of homeowners. By Eugene Robinson

The crisis over faulty or fraudulent paperwork in mortgage foreclosures—which is either a big deal or a humongous deal, depending on which experts you believe—is the fault of arrogant, greedy lenders who played fast and loose with the basic property rights of homeowners.


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Frank Dwyer: Republicans Have a Jobs Plan That Will Put America Back to Work and Continue Our Prosperity, and It Doesn’t Involve Raising the Damn Minimum Wage!

Posted in Main Blog (All Posts) on October 23rd, 2010 4:47 am by HL

Frank Dwyer: Republicans Have a Jobs Plan That Will Put America Back to Work and Continue Our Prosperity, and It Doesn’t Involve Raising the Damn Minimum Wage!
I’m a businessman. Want more jobs? Treat our workers as if they’re Chinese!…

Karen Bass: Speaker Emeritus Bass: Remembering a Friend and Colleague
Assembly Speaker Emeritus Karen Bass (D-Los Angeles) issued the following statement today regarding the passing of Senator Jenny Oropeza: “At today’s rally with the President…

Bill Clinton Races To Help Democrats, Treading Where Obama Won’t
WASHINGTON — Bill Clinton, out of the Oval Office for nearly a decade and once considered a political liability, is campaigning for Democratic candidates at…


Media Matters: Wishing for Obama’s assassination won’t get you fired from Fox News

Posted in Main Blog (All Posts) on October 23rd, 2010 4:46 am by HL

Media Matters: Wishing for Obama’s assassination won’t get you fired from Fox News

The media topic of the week was the firing of Juan Williams by NPR over his remark that he gets “nervous” around “people who are in Muslim garb” on airplanes.

Williams’ firing comes weeks after CNN canned Rick Sanchez for remarks about Jon Stewart and Jews in the media. In both cases, news organizations made personnel moves in response to perceived violations of their editorial standards.

Yet when it comes to cable ratings leader Fox News, it’s hard to tell whether any editorial standards exist, and what – if anything – would get you reprimanded by the network.

Unlike other media outlets, Fox News has a pattern of failing to seriously discipline employees for on-air transgressions. And in positioning itself as an alternative to traditional news media, that’s probably how Fox News likes it.

Take the case of Fox News contributor Liz Trotta. During a May 2008 segment on the Democratic presidential primaries, Trotta actually remarked that she wished somebody would “knock off” both Osama Bin Laden and then-candidate Barack Obama:

TROTTA: The vast right-wing conspiracy blame has been undermined by her [Clinton’s] evasions, by her outright lies, if I may say, by her pandering, by her race-baiting, and now we have what some are reading as a suggestion that somebody knock off Osama – Obama – well, both if we could. 

It bears repeating what Trotta did – she expressed her hope that someone assassinates Obama. The next day, Trotta appeared on Fox News to do damage control, telling Bill Hemmer that she is “so sorry about what happened yesterday and the lame attempt at humor. I fell all over myself, making it appear that I wished Barack Obama harm or any other candidate.”

The fallout? Nothing, apparently. Trotta is still a Fox News contributor, and appears in a weekly segment offering commentary.

More recently, Fox & Friends co-host Brian Kilmeade made the clearly false claim – twice – that “all terrorists” are Muslim. Following outrage over his remarks, Bill Shine, Fox News’ senior vice president of looking the other way, said Kilmeade would “clarify” his comments and claimed that Kilmeade actually meant to say that “all terrorists” involved in the 9-11 attacks were Muslim. Of course, this explanation was completely bogus, as Kilmeade referenced non-9-11 targets when he made the same comment on his Fox News Radio program later that day.

This wasn’t the first time Kilmeade has gotten in trouble for remarks on race and religion. Kilmeade issued an apology over his remark that “we keep marrying other species and other ethnics and … the Swedes have pure genes, because they marry other Swedes.” Kilmeade has also repeatedly made inflammatory remarks about Islam and Muslims.

Additionally, Kilmeade’s Fox & Friends program was forced to retract the false assertion that Obama “was educated in a madrassa” – one part of the web of internet conspiracy theories claiming Obama is a secret Muslim with a fake birth certificate. In May 2008, Fox & Friends was forced to issue an apology after it repeated as fact an online parody news report of a school prank that included fabricated quotes.

And during a July 2008 show, Fox & Friends altered photos of New York Times reporters they disliked — the journalists’ teeth had been yellowed, their facial features exaggerated, and one journalist’s hair was moved further back on his head.

The fallout? The hosts of Fox & Friends, Kilmeade included, are still standing. In response to the Times incident, Fox News’ vice president of shrugging, John Moody, reportedly “said the incident will not result in any official standards adjustments.” Why? “Moody told the assembled press that the morning program is ‘an entertainment show that does some news.'”

Media Matters documented this week that Fox News has a payola problem. Contributor Dick Morris again used his position as a Fox News “political analyst” to tout and solicit donations for the Republican-aligned group Americans for New Leadership weeks after they began paying him thousands of dollars. During his appearances, Morris did not disclose that he was receiving money from the group. To the contrary, Morris lied that he’s been working for the Republican Party “without compensation.”

Morris has also suggested that violence against government officials could be justified. In early 2009, during a long conspiracy theory about a “super-national authority” that will oversee U.S. financial institutions, Morris asserted that President Obama’s policies are “internationalist” and that “[t]hose crazies in Montana who say, ‘We’re going to kill ATF agents because the U.N.’s going to take over’ — well, they’re beginning to have a case.”

The fallout? Morris is one of the most frequent on-air commentators on Fox News.

Fox News strategic analyst Ralph Peters once asserted of Pfc. Bowe Bergdahl, who was captured by the Taliban in June 2009 and appeared in Taliban propaganda videos: “[W]e know this private is a liar; we’re not sure if he’s a deserter.” Peters added that if he is a deserter, “the Taliban can save us a lot of legal hassles and legal bills.” NBC’s Jim Miklaszewski subsequently reported that the Pentagon said Peters’ comments “could endanger” the captured soldier.

Peters still appears regularly on Fox News.

Fox News contributors Doug Schoen and Frank Luntz, meanwhile, have touted and defended the work of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce – without mentioning that the GOP-aligned group is their client.

Such behavior extends to Fox’s “straight news” division. In February 2009, anchor Jon Scott essentially committed on-air plagiarism by trying to pass off a GOP press release as his own research (typo and all). When Scott was caught, he apologized – for the typo.

While students might have faced a suspension or expulsion, Scott suffered no apparent consequences — to the contrary, he ironically hosts Fox News’ media ethics program.

And we haven’t even gotten to Glenn Beck. While over 100 advertisers have reportedly abandoned Beck’s Fox News program, Fox News has stuck with Beck despite his history of violent rhetoric, bizarre conspiracy theories and promotion of anti-Semites. Rupert Murdoch even agreed with Beck’s statement that Obama is a “racist,” causing MSNBC.com’s First Read blog to write about Beck, “What’s most amazing about this episode is that what Beck said isn’t a fireable or even a SUSPENDABLE offense by his bosses. There was a time when outrageous rants like this would actually cost the ranters their jobs. But not anymore; if anything, it’s now encouraged.”

Fox News has made noise about having editorial standards. Last year, it promised to implement a “zero tolerance” policy regarding errors – then appeared to throw the policy overboard when subsequent errors were found.  

In another telling incident, Fox News executives yanked Sean Hannity from trying to tape his show at a Cincinnati Tea Party event which charged admission and had “all proceeds” benefiting the organization. Fox News execs were reportedly “furious,” but The Los Angeles Times noted that “it does not appear that [their concerns] have resulted in any serious disciplinary measures taken against any staffers involved” and a spokesperson told the Times and NY Magazine that it wouldn’t discuss the matter any further.

Since April’s tea party incident, Hannity has used his program as a non-stop fundraising and promotion tool for favored Republican candidates like Ohio’s John Kasich and New York’s John Gomez, among others.

For those keeping score about what won’t result in serious disciplinary action when working at Fox News: wishing for Obama’s assassination; appearing to legitimize physical threats against soldiers and law enforcement officers; failing to disclose that you’re touting your business clients; trying to financially enrich conservative organizations and candidates; plagiarism of a partisan source; and fundraising on-air for a conservative group without disclosing that they’ve paid you thousands of dollars.

Why the lack of standards? Perhaps it’s that Fox News has long defined itself by being the opposite of their competition.

The “mainstream media,” according to Fox News, is purportedly liberal. Fox’s programming, therefore, has to be stacked with conservative hosts and commentators to “balance” out the competition. And other news organizations, apparently, are too focused on restrictions and standards. On Fox News, they don’t care about you making “mistakes.”

“Here you have an ability to do stuff, and then they can always rein you in,” Kilmeade told the Los Angeles Times in October 2008. “But I know I’m not going to get reprimanded.”

“When we make a mistake reading the news headlines, whereas at a [broadcast] network you’d probably get fired, instead, we’re like, ‘Eh, we screwed up,’ ” Fox & Friends’ Gretchen Carlson similarly told the Times. “And I think that’s disarming.”


NYT Pulls Back Curtain On Corporate Donations To Chamber

Posted in Main Blog (All Posts) on October 23rd, 2010 4:45 am by HL

NYT Pulls Back Curtain On Corporate Donations To Chamber
The Chamber of Commerce, as a non-profit “business league” in the eyes of the IRS, is legally allowed to withhold the names of its donors from public filings. So it does. The names of Chamber donors, and the amount they donate, are so secret that when the New York Times set out to find out who they were, it didn’t find much.

Fox’s Pro-Williams Muslim ‘Expert’ Believes Most Muslims Want To Impose Sharia
Fox News, as part of their extensive coverage of the Juan Williams controversy, today lamented that “so much of this debate has excluded the opinion of the Muslim community” before turning to a Muslim –who publicly accuses 80 percent of American mosques of being radical and anti-American — to respond.

County Clerk’s Office Dismisses Voter Intimidation Allegations In TX
Earlier this week, the Harris County (Texas) Democratic Party forwarded 14 complaints about poll watchers during early voting in the county, including allegations of voter intimidation, to the Harris County Clerk. But the County Clerk’s office, run by a Republican, says they looked into the allegations and found nothing wrong.


Will GOP Face A Major Blowback This Year Due To Secret Corporate Funding?

Posted in Main Blog (All Posts) on October 23rd, 2010 4:42 am by HL

Will GOP Face A Major Blowback This Year Due To Secret Corporate Funding?


Butchery Classes and Parties: How Much Do You Want to Know About How Your Meat Gets to Your Plate?

Posted in Main Blog (All Posts) on October 23rd, 2010 4:41 am by HL

Butchery Classes and Parties: How Much Do You Want to Know About How Your Meat Gets to Your Plate?
Watching chefs’ glistening blades slash fat, muscle and bone is the grotesque new fad in high cuisine.


The Feds New Bubble (Masquerading As A Jobs Program)

Posted in Main Blog (All Posts) on October 23rd, 2010 4:40 am by HL

The Feds New Bubble (Masquerading As A Jobs Program)
The latest jobs bill coming out of Washington isn’t really a bill at all. It’s the Fed’s attempt to keep long-term interest rates low by pumping even more money into the economy (“quantitative easing” in Fed-speak). The idea is to…

What The Palestinians Want
Not to be missed: This week’s little column in Haaretz by Palestinian Authority leader and sometime negotiator Nabil Sha’ath. He is not the most popular of leaders in the West Bank; he’s grown curiously rich, and was never a man…


Support For Veterans Shows Sharp Partisan Divide

Posted in Main Blog (All Posts) on October 23rd, 2010 4:39 am by HL

Support For Veterans Shows Sharp Partisan Divide
According to an analysis by the nonpartisan Iraq & Afghanistan Veterans of America Action Fund, Republicans in Congress have dramatically failed to support our troops after they come home. IAVA’s 2010 Veteran Report Card, based on the key veterans’ legislation that came to a vote during the 111th Congress, exposed a sharp partisan divide on […]

According to an analysis by the nonpartisan Iraq & Afghanistan Veterans of America Action Fund, Republicans in Congress have dramatically failed to support our troops after they come home. IAVA’s 2010 Veteran Report Card, based on the key veterans’ legislation that came to a vote during the 111th Congress, exposed a sharp partisan divide on the level of support for Iraq and Afghanistan veterans, as MSNBC’s Rachel Maddow tabulated yesterday. Of the 94 elected officials that earned an A or A+ rating from IAVA, 91 were Democrats. Of the 154 officials who received a D or F, 142 were Republicans:

Maddow also noted that U.S. Senate candidates Sharron Angle (R-NV) and Ken Buck (R-CO) have called for the privatization of the Veterans Affairs hospital system, even though it provides the best quality of care in America, as our veterans deserve. Watch the segment:

Revealed: More Corporate Donations To The U.S. Chamber?s Partisan Attack Fund
Today, the New York Times builds on research published by ThinkProgress by noting that the U.S. Chamber of Commerce is mostly funded by a small group of large corporations. The Chamber has tried to lie about its identity for years, absurdly telling the media that it represents 3 million businesses. Then after being caught with […]

Today, the New York Times builds on research published by ThinkProgress by noting that the U.S. Chamber of Commerce is mostly funded by a small group of large corporations. The Chamber has tried to lie about its identity for years, absurdly telling the media that it represents 3 million businesses. Then after being caught with no proof of such membership, it modified that number to 300,000 — but then claimed small businesses were the true driver of the Chamber’s member rolls. But the Times correctly points out that in 2008, the Chamber received the bulk of its donations from only 45 companies, including firms like Goldman Sachs, Edward Jones, Alpha Technologies, Chevron Texaco and Aegon.

Many corporations pay regular dues to the Chamber, but pitch in more during election cycles or particular lobbying campaigns. For instance, on top of its regular $100,000 commitment of yearly dues, health insurance giant Aetna joined other health insurers to funnel $20 million to the Chamber to kill health reform. Similarly, Fox News parent company News Corporation gave an additional $1 million to the Chamber for its attack campaign this midterm election. While ThinkProgress forced the Chamber to acknowledge that it receives foreign funds to its 501(c)(6) account used for attack ads, the Chamber refuses to disclose any of its other donors or how exactly it funds its nasty attack ads. Using public corporate records, ThinkProgress has found more dues-paying members of the Chamber. The numbers below reflect a bare minimum, and in many cases these corporations have paid ten times the amount of their regular dues to the Chamber in the past two years:

Microsoft’s corporate disclosures state that the company paid the Chamber up to $999,999 in 2009 and up to $999,999 in 2010 in its minimum dues.

Procter and Gamble paid the Chamber $3.2 million in 2009.

– Outsourcing giant CSC, which specializes in IT outsourcing, paid the Chamber at least $100,000 in 2009 and $100,000 in 2010.

Intel paid the Chamber at least $100,000 in yearly dues ($100,000 in 2010, and what appears to be $100,000 in 2009).

– Drug company Merck paid the Chamber $234,000 in 2008, and still counts itself as a dues-paying member of the Chamber.

– Utility company Dominion Resources gave the Chamber $100,000 in 2009.

– On the Chamber’s Egypt Business Council website, Apache Corporation, British American Tobacco, The Blackstone Group, The Boeing Company, Cargill USA, CitiGroup, The Coca-Cola Company, ExxonMobil, Google, Microsoft Corporation, PepsiCo, Intel Corporation, Monsanto Company, Pfizer Inc, Philip Morris International combined committed an additional $375,000 to the Chamber for 2009-2010.

Earlier this year, U.S. Chamber of Commerce CEO Tom Donohue admitted to ThinkProgress that CitiGroup, a bailed out financial conglomerate that still has not paid back taxpayer TARP funds, is a dues-paying member of the Chamber. Many bailed out banks are in fact dues-paying members of the Chamber. A Huffington Post crowd-sourced study of the Chamber found that there are dozens of other large corporations that have indicated membership in the Chamber, but have refused to confess their level of involvement. The Chamber has shilled for BP, and Donohue said after BP’s spill that taxpayers should pay for the clean up. Indeed, BP admitted membership, but has not disclosed how much they pay to the Chamber.

As a ThinkProgress investigation found, at least 80 foreign businesses have been paying the Chamber at least $885,000 in yearly dues for the last two years. The money went directly to the Chamber’s 501(c)(6), the same account the Chamber is now using to run a $75 million attack campaign against Democrats. As we have shown, many of the foreign corporations have a direct stake in American public policy; for instance the Chamber has been the most vigorous lobbying operation in DC to promote outsourcing of American jobs. Of course, many other corporation join the Chamber to benefit from its right-wing corporate lobbying campaign, like keeping corporate tax loopholes open (Chamber members CitiGroup, ExxonMobil and Bank of America already paid no corporate income taxes last year) and maintaining the status quo on energy policy so the fossil fuel industry can emit carbon pollution free of charge.


Lois Romano’s campaign highlights

Posted in Main Blog (All Posts) on October 23rd, 2010 4:38 am by HL

Lois Romano’s campaign highlights
Say What? ” I don’t have any problem with wealthy people getting a tax cut. I mean, for real. I mean, these are good guys.” – Vice President Biden, on extending the Bush-era tax cuts By The Numbers The latest surveys from the hottest governor’s races : 8 Points by which Democrat Jerry Brown leads…

Trail mix
The Democratic National Committee outraised the Republican National Committee $11.1 million to $4.2 million in the first 13 days of October, according to reports filed with the Federal Election Commission on Friday.

The Fix: Dem candidates — What health care reform bill?
If House Democrats sustain major losses on Nov. 2, the health care law passed earlier this year is likely to be a big reason.