Wednesday, October 7, 2015

How McCarthy's Benghazi 'Gaffe' Became Game Changer For GOP -- And Should Be For The Press

As Republicans and their media allies scramble to contain the damage from Rep. Kevin McCarthy's (R-CA) comments on Fox News, where he admitted the allegedly non-partisan Benghazi select committee was created to sabotage Hillary Clinton's political career, note that the other key player in this story is the Beltway press. And like Republicans, reporters and pundits who have feasted off Benghazi -- and the supposedly-related Clinton email story -- now have a chance to come to terms with a new political reality. 

And that reality is that the cover of legitimacy has been blown away. McCarthy's comments revealed a poorly-kept secret and now everyone has to acknowledge their unobstructed view of the crass partisanship in play.

Having handed Democrats such a blunt instrument to attack the GOP's permanent-scandal infrastructure, McCarthy's comments could represent a turning point of sort. My hunch is that many D.C. journalists liked it better when they could pretend the Benghazi and email pursuits were strictly fact-finding missions, but it is now much harder to cling to that farce.

The fact is that for years the Beltway press has had the chance to cast a critical eye on the GOP's Benghazi obsession, to ask pointed questions about the clear abuse of power and the use of taxpayer dollars to advance a political agenda, through a committee virtually subsidizing Republican opposition research for a presidential campaign.

Instead, the press mostly checked any skepticism and was happily recruited to be part of the Republican "scandal" production. The press liked the story the Benghazi committee was trying to tell. (A swirling scandal in the Obama White House. Will Clinton's campaign be doomed?) Much of the press liked being fed morsels of information, which were then nearly always related to news consumers with strong GOP flavoring.

Recall that when Republicans rolled out the select committee last year, much of the Beltway press seemed almost giddy with anticipation, busy suggesting that big troubles lay ahead for Democrats because of looming questions about the Libya terror attack. (Remember when the Benghazi select committee claimed it would actually investigate the Libya terror attack?) Of less interest to much of the political press was the fact that there had already been seven government inquiries into Benghazi and that none had uncovered any administration wrongdoing. In fact, several had completely debunked favorite Republican conspiracy theories. ("Stand down" orders were definitely notgiven.)

So in a way, McCarthy's comments didn't simply reveal the truth about Republican objectives, they also highlighted the press' pliant role. Going forward, journalists have a clear choice: they can finally decouple themselves from the increasingly farcical, and sprawling, Benghazi production, or become more deeply mired in the folly. (It's probably too late, though, for people like National Journal's Ron Fournier, who repeatedly backed all kind of bogus Republican claims about the White House and Benghazi.)

In the wake of McCarthy's accidental accuracy, a handful of prominent media voices have unequivocally stated the truth. At the New York Times, those voices included editorial board member Carol Giacomo: The Benghazi committee is "a partisan witch hunt targeting Hillary Rodham Clinton" and has "shed no significant new light on the Benghazi attack." And today, the New York Times' entire editorial board joined in, calling the Benghazi committee "an insult to the memory of four slain Americans," and urging Republicans to disband the partisan inquisition.

But the Times editorial board has been honest about the committee's true, absurd nature since day one. Whether other media outlets will finally follow their lead remains to be seen.

There's no question that McCarthy's blunder of accidentally telling the truth on national television has changed the political calculus in recent days. McCarthy's campaign to be next Speaker of the House is suddenly in danger of being derailed. Republican allies fear the investigation apparatus is permanently stained. And Democrats on the Benghazi committee, who have complained bitterly about Republican behavior for months, have essentially declared war on chairman Rep. Trey Gowdy (R-SC) and are now potentially moving to disband the committee all together. (They likely don't have the votes to do so, but the Benghazi storyline has clearly changed.)

And with Democrats fighting back, that means the media narrative should, and can, change in important ways. Just look at the nuggets about committee malfeasance that we're now learning: "Gowdy Cancelled All Planned Hearings Other Than Hillary Clinton's After NYT Email Story."

Meanwhile, Clinton released her first national ad of the campaign cycle featuring Benghazi: "The Republicans have spent millions attacking Hillary because she's fighting for everything they oppose." (Vox called the 30-second spot "devastating.") And while it remained unstated, the ad worked as a critique of the press and its Benghazi malpractice as well.

It's true that Democrats on the committee and on Capitol Hill have for years been complaining about the Republicans' institutionalized scandal pursuits, and the way the GOP set up a Congressional infrastructure to feed the press wild allegations and create costly distractions, just like they did during the 1990s under President Bill Clinton.

I suspect much of the press knew the Democratic claims about the Benghazi committee were accurate, but they wanted to carry on with the charade. The press was invested and wanted to maintain the deniability that Republicans provided. (i.e. These are serious endeavors!) They wanted to pretend this circular, dog-chasing-tail Benghazi/email pursuit was presidentially important and required limitless resources.

So a game-changing revelation about the Benghazi committee had to come from a prominent Republican in order to alter the conversation.

And now it has.


Monday, October 5, 2015

Carly Fiorina left a trail of unpaid debts and a screwed-over widow after 2010 campaign

Carly Fiorina's big selling point as a presidential candidate—besides that having a woman attack Hillary Clinton looks better for the Republican Party—is her executive experience and the fiscal responsibility that supposedly implies. But the unpaid bills she left behind for years after her losing 2010 Senate campaign are a reminder of how shaky those claims are. When her campaign pollster died a month before Election Day, Fiorina lavished praise on him and offered condolences to his widow:
But records show there was something that Fiorina did not offer his widow: Shumate’s last paycheck, for at least $30,000. It was one of more than 30 invoices, totaling about $500,000, that the multimillionaire didn’t settle — even as Fiorina reimbursed herself nearly $1.3 million she lent the campaign. She finally cleared most of the balance in January, a few months before announcing her run for president. [...]

Those who waited the longest to be paid were small businesses with a few dozen employees who did the grunt work of the campaign: building stages, sending out mailers, selling polling data. And at least one is still waiting.

While Fiorina tries to shed her image as a job killer who laid off thousands of workers, she might want to talk to her former staffers about quotes like this:
“People are just upset and angry and throwing her under the bus,” said Jon Cross, Fiorina’s operations director for her Senate campaign. “If we didn’t win, why do you deserve to get paid? If you don’t succeed in business, you shouldn’t be the first one to step up and complain about getting paid.”
So the small business that printed and mailed a flyer designed by a political consultant somewhere else shouldn't be paid because Carly Fiorina ran a losing campaign? Because Carly Fiorina failed to do the fundraising she needed to do and wasted money on ineffective advertising and elaborate stages for her own speeches?

The story of Fiorina 2010 should be a warning to everyone doing business with Fiorina 2016, and to voters who are inclined to believe that if she led a major company, she's a good and responsible manager. (Although really, everything about Fiorina's tenure at Hewlett-Packard should be a warning about her management abilities.)

Oct 05, 2015 by Laura Clawson

Sunday, October 4, 2015

Forty years of increased productivity = lower wages

When was the last time you got a decent raise? I know the older woman who takes my order at Panera Bread every morning has not had one in more than five years. Yet, there she is every morning, taking breakfast orders. It was hard not to notice the tip jars that suddenly appeared in front of the cash registers.

Between 1948 and 1973, productivity and compensation went hand in hand. As productivity increased so did compensation. The gap grew during the turbulent economy of the 1970s, and then in the 1980s the gap increased and there was no looking back as wages went down while productivity went up.

While we are bringing more money home than we were 40 years ago, that money does not have the same buying power. Take the minimum wage: In 1967, the minimum wage was $1.40. Today, the minimum wage is $7.25 an hour—which when adjusted for inflation is 12.1 percent lower than it was in 1967.

That is just minimum wage:

Measured in 2014 dollars, the median male full-time worker made $50,383 last year against $53,294 in 1973, according to new U.S. Census Bureau figures.
On average we have lost $3,000 dollars in wages, but why have we seen this decrease? It would be easy to point the finger and Ronald Reagan and trickle-down economics, and while that is likely part of the problem there are many factors involved. Keep reading below to see what they are.
Corporate America’s push to outsource jobs — whether call-center jobs to India or factory jobs to China — has fattened corporate earnings, while holding down wages at home. New technologies have raised productivity and profits, while enabling companies to shed workers and slice payroll. Computers have replaced workers who tabulated numbers; robots have pushed aside many factory workers.
We are no longer competing with other Americans for jobs. We are competing with people all over the world. We have seen entire industries in this country disappear. The garment industry in the United States is for the most part non-existent. Looking back now, it's clear that the "Look for the union label" ads of the late '70s/early '80s were really about saving an entire industry from being shipped overseas.

If you watched the video you could hear the desperation in her voice as she said:

"This is no import, we made this blouse. We belong to the International Ladies Garment Union, and we have sewn our union label right in here. It tells you we are able to do what every American worker wants to do, have a job doing honest work at decent wages. When you see the union label, think of us, making a living, making your clothes right here in America."
Manufacturing jobs like those in the garment industry are long gone as we have transitioned to a service economy. But like the garment industry, we have seen service industry jobs go overseas as well. Call any company and you could be talking to a person anywhere in the world doing a job that used to be done here in the United States. All in the name of corporate profit.

Those of us who still have jobs are working longer hours and taking less time off, and we are not seeing additional compensation for the added productivity, while the price of everything goes up.

The garment industry is long gone and service jobs that can be done elsewhere are being farmed out across the world. Jobs that cannot be farmed out are paid low wages, and of course we also have the gig economy, brought to you by Uber and Lyft. Now Amazon is getting in on the gig economy with Flex. Don't be fooled: The gig economy cannot replace the jobs we have lost, and is really just an excuse for employers to not provide decent wages and benefits to their employees.

The problem for corporate America and many in the 1 percent is that sooner or later, no one will be able to afford their goods and services if this trend continues. All we want—all any of us want—is to have a job doing honest work at decent wages.

 Oct 04, 2015 by Mark E Andersen

Saturday, October 3, 2015

New York Times Editorial Board Member Calls On Benghazi Committee To Disband

member of The New York Times editorial board argued that the House Select Committee on Benghazi is "not a genuine attempt to get the facts behind a tragic incident in which four Americans, including the United States ambassador, lost their lives," but is "a partisanwitch hunt" targeting Hillary Clinton.

On September 29, House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-CA), who is running to replace Rep. John Boehner (R-OH) as the Speaker of the House, toldSean Hannity that one of the biggest accomplishments of the Republican House majority was creating the Benghazi Committee, which he credited with hurting Clinton's poll numbers. Hannity initially praisedMcCarthy and the committee for its "political" strategy, but has since walked back the complements amid backlash. Fox News had largely ignored McCarthy's damning comments, but Fox's Chris Wallace and Juan Williams acknowledged McCarthy "spoke the truth" and that damaging Clinton was "clearly one of the things that Republicans were hoping" would result from the committee.

On October 2, New York Times editorial board member Carol Giacomo attacked the "duplicity and political chicanery" of the committee, which has "shed no significant new light on the Benghazi attack" despite "wasting $4.5 million and conducting one of the longest congressional probes in history." Giacomo concluded by calling on the Republican-led House to disband the committee and suggesting that its Democratic members should resign if they refuse to do so:

It has long appeared that the Republican obsession with investigating the 2012 terrorist attack in Benghazi, Libya was not a genuine attempt to get the facts behind a tragic incident in which four Americans, including the United States ambassador, lost their lives but a partisan witch hunt targeting Hillary Rodham Clinton, the frontrunner for the 2016 Democratic presidential nomination.

Now there is proof of the duplicity and political chicanery behind the creation of the Select Committee on Benghazi. It was ham-handedly exposed by Representative Kevin McCarthy, who, in his quest to become the next speaker of the House, couldn't resist boasting about what he considers his party's major political accomplishment.


Now under heavy criticism for telling the truth and with his bid for speaker at risk, Mr. McCarthy is trying to walk back his remarks, but it won't work.

Despite wasting $4.5 million and conducting one of the longest congressional probes in history, the committee has shed no significant new light on the Benghazi attack. It would be surprising if it did. Several other congressional committees and a panel of outside experts commissioned by the State Department have investigated the attack and the government's response. They concluded that the tragedy was preventable and condemned "systemic failures" at senior levels of the State Department. But none found evidence that Mrs. Clinton, then secretary of state, was specifically to blame or produced any other bombshell to support some wild Republican conspiracy theories. Those earlier probes didn't keep the Republicans from exploiting the issue for political gain by establishing the special committee, whose focus has segued from Benghazi to the fact that as secretary Mrs. Clinton used a private email account. To hear Democratic lawmakers tell it, the Republicans have thoroughly perverted any semblance of a fair process by calling and interviewing witnesses without bothering to include the committee's minority members.

The committee should be disbanded and if the Republican leadership refuses to do that, then the panel's Democratic members should resign. Manipulating government funds for political purposes in this way may well violate congressional ethics rules, as Democratic leader Nancy Pelosi has suggested. There is little reason to expect that Republicans, united in defeating Mrs. Clinton at all costs, care enough to do anything about it.


McCarthy promises Sean Hannity he'll shut down the government. Four times, apparently.

Oh, Kevin McCarthy. Not even elected speaker yet and already promising the radio rubes that he'll shutdown the government over pretty much any issue Sean Hannity can name.
Boehner, to his great credit, didn’t feed the media beast that sought to destroy him. McCarthy, before serving a single day in the speakership, handed his gonads over to the most Limbaugh-like personality on Fox News, who happily placed them in escrow.

Hannity isn’t after McCarthy—who isn’t a particularly quotable guest—for ratings alone. He wants regular progress reports on a different promise McCarthy made to him.

Actually, it was four promises: “Defunding Planned Parenthood, defunding executive amnesty and immigration, defunding Obamacare, and this Iranian deal is an unmitigated disaster that will lead to a modern day Holocaust,” Hannity said, rattling off his top priorities. “Will you tell conservative America tonight that you will fight to the end … to defund those issues and use the power of the purse?”

“Yes, the answer is yes,” McCarthy said.

It's the defund those issues part that's key. Since none of those things are things that the current sitting president will agree to—all of them being predicated on different but related conservative conspiracy theories, and that's even before you get to the "modern day Holocaust" bit—the only avenue available to House Republicans is to attach them to must-pass spending bills and demand that both the Senate and the president acquiesce to them. If the Senate and the president don't agree to them?

The government shuts down.


Four times, actually, presuming McCarthy keeps his "promise" to do it over every individual issue. And we already know where it ends up, because we've already done it; no, Obama is not going to "defund Obamacare" or any of those other things in a futile attempt to keep the government open until House Republicans invent a new demand, and no, the Senate is not going to similarly hand over their own legislative powers, installing a hard-right faction of the House of Representatives as the final arbiter of all American laws and policies from here on out. The must-pass bill will not pass; the government will "shut down," in small part or in larger part; government offices will close, services will be put on hold, and federal workers will stop being paid—again. Eventually the House will have to come to some agreement that the Senate and executive branch can agree to, since our entire system of government requires that agreement by design, and House Republicans will have to cave in and lick their wounds. Again.

Four times, apparently.

So I'm going to go out on a limb here and predict that Kevin McCarthy Is Lying. The alternative is that he's not lying, and really does plan to enter an outright war against the Senate and the president until they bend to this long list of Sean Hannity's personal pet grievances, and I have seen little evidence to suggest Kevin McCarthy is that much of an abject moron. Is he a little bit of a moron, the sort that would brag that the Benghazi! special committee was founded as effort to damage Hillary Clinton in particular? Certainly. But signing on to the Sean Hannity model of government by fiscal terrorism would require a special insanity that anyone who's smart enough to install themselves as speaker would, barring head trauma, be hard pressed to follow through on.

Voter Registration Deadline Nears for General Election

ALBANY, NY (10/02/2015)(readMedia)-- The State Board of Elections today reminds all state residents to register to vote for the November 3rd, 2015 general election. Mail-in voter registration forms must be postmarked by midnight, October 9th and received by a board of elections no later than October 14th to be valid for the upcoming general election. In addition, any person wishing to change their enrollment for the purposes of voting in any primary election to be held in 2016 must do so by completing a voter registration form to be received by a board of elections no later than October 9th.

You can check the State Board of Elections' website ( or contact your local board of elections for more information on what contests will be on the ballot.

The voter registration form can be downloaded from our website: Alternatively, if you have an established account at the NYS Department of Motor Vehicles, you may register online at their MyDMV site. You can also register or find forms at most state and federal government offices. Residents who have moved to a new county within the state are reminded that they must re-register from their new address. Those who are currently registered and have moved to a new address in the same county should notify their county board of elections in writing of their move no later than October 14th.

Persons who are unsure whether they are registered, wish to verify their current address, or find out where to vote, may look-up this information at our website:

New Yorkers wanting to register in-person may do so at their county boards of elections and at many state agency offices throughout the state, but must do so no later than October 9th, to be eligible to vote in the general election.

For more information on registering to vote in New York State, call your county board of elections or 518-474-1953 or visit our website:

Friday, October 2, 2015

Top Gillibrand aide to challenge Rep. John Katko in race for Congress

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Colleen Deacon, who ran U.S. Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand's district office in Syracuse, plans to mount a Democratic challenge to U.S. Rep. John Katko in next year's congressional election.

Deacon, 38, of Syracuse, filed paperwork Thursday with the Federal Election Commission in Washington, D.C., formally declaring her candidacy.

She is the second Democrat to seek the party's nomination for the 24th Congressional District seat, joining Syracuse University professor Eric Kingson, who launched his campaign this summer.

Deacon served as Central New York regional director for Gillibrand, D-N.Y., over the past six years, resigning in the past month to run for Congress. She was paid $58,000 in the last fiscal year.

Before working for Gillibrand, Deacon spent six years working for the city of Syracuse, where she served as press secretary to former mayor Matt Driscoll.

Deacon was unavailable for comment Thursday, but her campaign released a statement about her decision to challenge Katko, R-Camillus.

"I understand the challenges and opportunities facing my neighbors here in Central New York because I've lived them myself," Deacon said. "I have seen – up close and personal – how the issues that get talked about in Washington, D.C., affect real people's lives."

Deacon, a single mother, worked as a waitress when she became pregnant with her son. Since the job offered no health insurance or maternity leave, she turned to Medicaid, food stamps and the WIC program for help.

Deacon said the experience taught her lessons that she would bring to Congress as a representative of families, seniors, veterans and small businesses.

She now enters a likely primary for a seat that Democrats have targeted as one of their top pickup opportunities in the House next year. The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, which lists the 24th District seat among its top 10 priorities, usually does not endorse a candidate until after the primary process.

A DCCC spokeswoman in Washington said Thursday the party had several meetings with Deacon, in addition to other potential candidates who may decide to launch campaigns before the end of the year.

Katko, a first-term House member, will try to become the first Republican to hold the Syracuse-area congressional seat in a presidential election year since former Rep. James Walsh, R-Onondaga, was re-elected in 2004.

Katko defeated former Rep. Dan Maffei, D-Syracuse, in the 2014 election. The Syracuse-area congressional seat has changed parties in the past four elections, making it the top swing district in the nation.

The 24th District covers all of Onondaga, Cayuga and Wayne counties, and the western half of Oswego County including the cities of Fulton and Oswego.

Benghazi, Emails, Planned Parenthood: How D.C. Press Keeps Enabling The GOP's Orchestrated Distractions

Within the span of just twelve hours this week, multiple Republican-sponsored political pursuits partially unraveled in plain sight.

The long-running investigations were the Benghazi select committee and the related probe into Hillary Clinton's private emails, and Republicans' crusade targeting Planned Parenthood. Journalists would be wise to take note of the pattern of plain deception and ask themselves if they want to keep sponsoring these planned distractions.

The first to crumble was the right-wing smear campaign against Planned Parenthood, which was launched this summer and sponsored by Fox News and the Republican Party. Creating a whirlwind of controversy and endless media attention, the undercover sting operation by anti-choice group Center for Medical Progress was even elevated by some to be pressing enough to shut down the federal government.

Tuesday's Congressional hearing about defunding Planned Parenthood was to be the centerpiece of the right wing's orchestrated attack campaign. The problem was that in recent weeks we've learned the gotcha videos at the center of the campaign were deceptively edited. And so far six statewide investigations have found no wrongdoing on the part of Planned Parenthood. That meant the Congressional production was likely destined for failure.

"The entire hearing was premised on a series of mischaracterizations," reported The New Yorker. Republicans were left with little but bouts of bullying in an effort to intimidate Planned Parenthood chief Cecile Richards as she testified.

It didn't work. So after ten weeks, the sustained attack against Planned Parenthood produced no tangible evidence of wrongdoing and no serious damage to the organization. (Of course, despite their failures so far, Republicans are now reportedly considering creating "a special panel to investigate Planned Parenthood.")

Then just hours after the hearing completed, Rep. Kevin McCarthy (R-CA), who's now in line to become the next Republican Speaker of the House, brazenly bragged on Sean Hannity's Fox program about how the Benghazi select committee was responsible for damaging Hillary Clinton's presidential campaign. To which Hannity responded, "That's something good, I give you credit for that."

With one brief Fox appearance, McCarthy laid bare the facts about both the never-ending Benghazi investigation and the related, still-churning email witch hunt: They're both built on politics, plain and simple. The Republicans created a Benghazi select committee in order to try to take out the Democratic frontrunner for president. Period. That's the story.

Sadly, the busted Planned Parenthood, Benghazi and email diversions simply represent the latest creations from the GOP distraction model. Conservatives have been using it, on and off, for two decades -- and the model works best when the Beltway press plays along. It works best if the Beltway press pretends virtually every other Republican-produced scandal pursuit hasn't been a  bust.

Many of the same Republicans who have spearheaded the dishonest Planned Parenthood probe are the same ones leading the charge on Benghazi and the email story. And the press continues to breathlessly quote them as they try to hype these supposed scandals.  

So yes, much of the press has been culpable in the latest Republican distractions since day one. In fact, the press has been playing the same lapdog role for well over twenty years when it comes to endlessly hyping and even marketing orchestrated Republican distractions. These self-contained circus productions that suggest all kinds of Democratic wrongdoing are long on conspiracy theories but short on facts, and leave pundits and reporters breathlessly chronicling the possible downside for Democrats.

One reason these Groundhog Day scenes keeping play out, again and again and again, is due to the fact too many journalists are absolutely wed to the very simple definition of what constitutes news: What are conservatives angry about?

Given that kind of carte blanche to create news cycles, Republicans and conservatives in the media have taken full advantage and have settled into a predictable pattern: Manufacture distractions designed to make life miserable for Democratic leaders; force Democrats to use up energy and resources to swat down endless unproven allegations, and spawn waves of media "gotcha" hysteria fueled by disingenuous leaks.

But here's the thing: it's exhausting. It's disheartening. And it's a colossal waste of time and energy. But this is how the right wing plays politics in America and the D.C. press has shown an unbridled enthusiasm to want to play along; to want to abandon common sense in order to chase GOP-designated shiny objects for weeks, months or sometimes years on end. And then do it all over again when the current distraction disintegrates.

The pattern began in earnest during the 1990s when Republicans became obsessed with personally pursuing the Clintons. Remember the dubious Clinton pardon distraction, the parting gifts distraction, and of course Ken Starr's $80 million Inspector Javert routine.

Charles Pierce at Esquire recently detailed that decade's signature string of orchestrated GOP obfuscations:

To use a more relevant, example, TravelGate was a distraction. FileGate was a distraction. The disgusting use of Vince Foster's suicide was a distraction. Castle Grande was a distraction. The cattle futures were a distraction. The billing records were a distraction. Webster Hubbell's billing practices were a distraction. Hell, the entire Whitewater part of the Whitewater affair was basically a distraction, as was the pursuit of Bill Clinton's extracurricular love life. Kathleen Willey was a distraction. The monkeywrenching of a settlement in the Paula Jones case was to make sure that the distraction that was that case survived. All of these were distractions created to make it difficult for a Democratic president to govern, and the reason I know that is because the people creating distractions were not shy about admitting what they were all about to each other.

Over time, the vast majority of those endless Clinton allegations were proven to be hollow. Yet aided by some regrettable journalism, the relentless scandal culture took hold and managed to damage to the Clinton administration. Indeed, the whole point of the GOP's Clinton distraction model was to create the infrastructure to hound the Democrats.

With President Obama's inauguration, the old model was unpacked, but this time with Fox News playing a much more aggressive role. The results have been an endless parade of diversions and hoaxes designed, in various shapes and sizes, to hamstring a Democratic administration and, more recently, to damage the leading Democratic candidate for 2016.

Here's just a handful of manufactured distractions:


*Benghazi stand down order


*Clinton Cash

*Department of Education official Kevin Jennings

*Economist Jonathan Gruber's Obamacare comment

*Food stamps

*Gibson Guitar raid

*New Black Panthers

*Shirley Sherrod

*Voter fraud

As Media Matters can attest, virtually none of the often-hysterical allegations attached to those distractions were ever proven to be true. Instead, the pursuits imploded under their own weight. Yet too often, these supposed scandals broke out of the Fox News bubble and became mainstream "news."

So when's the press going to get the message and stop enabling these charades?


Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Center For Medical Progress' Deceptively-Edited Videos Are Repurposed By House Oversight Committee

The Center for Medical Progress' deceptively-edited videos have been repurposed by the House Oversight Committee to promote its investigation into Planned Parenthood.

The Center for Medical Progress launched a smear campaign against Planned Parenthood by producing a series of secretly-filmed, deceptively-edited videos that falsely claim to show the women's healthcare provider breaking the law by selling fetal tissue to medical research firms. These claims have been beendebunked several times by experts and independent analysts. Multiple investigations by states and at least one federal agency have also cleared Planned Parenthood of any wrongdoing.

Portions of the videos published by the Center for Medical Progress,which has a history of extreme views, appear in a video published by the House Oversight Committee to promote their September 29 hearing on taxpayer funding for Planned Parenthood:

Top Republican admits Benghazi Committee is all about attacking Hillary Clinton

Kevin McCarthy, likely next speaker of the House, gets a little too honest about what he thinks his party has accomplished with its congressional majority:
“Everybody thought Hillary Clinton was unbeatable right? But we put together a Benghazi Special Committee, a select committee. What are her numbers today? Her numbers are dropping," McCarthy said. "Why? Cause she’s untrustable. But no one would have known any of that had happened had we not fought and made that happen,”
This doesn't come as news if you've been paying attention to how committee Chair Trey Gowdy has dragged out the investigation so that it will continue into the 2016 election year—making it last longer than the 9/11 or Hurricane Katrina response investigations—or how a series of hearings planned for this year haven't happened and instead the committee has focused on attacking Clinton, or how they pushed to interview a longtime Clinton friend about his emails to her and then didn't want to release the transcript, and on and on.

This committee's overwhelming focus is not on what happened in Benghazi, it's on making Hillary Clinton look bad. They've never been very subtle about it, but it's nice to have Kevin McCarthy on the record admitting what the so-called Benghazi investigation is really all about.

7:01 AM PT: Elijah Cummings, the ranking Democrat on the Benghazi Committee, responds:

“This stunning concession from Rep. McCarthy reveals the truth that Republicans never dared admit in public:  the core Republican goal in establishing the Benghazi Committee was always to damage Hillary Clinton's presidential campaign and never to conduct an even-handed search for the facts.  It is shameful that Republicans have used this tragedy and the deaths of our fellow Americans for political gain.  Republicans have blatantly abused their authority in Congress by spending more than $4.5 million in taxpayer funds to pay for a political campaign against Hillary Clinton.”

Sep 30, 2015 by Laura Clawson

Will Planned Parenthood vote cost Rep. John Katko women's support?

WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Rep. John Katko's approval rating among women reached an all-time high last week, only two days before a key vote that could cost him some of that support.

Katko, R-Camillus, voted Friday to cut off federal funding for Planned Parenthood for a year, reacting to a series of videos from abortion opponents who allege the group discussed the illegal sale of fetal tissue from abortions.

Planned Parenthood says it has done nothing wrong, and that the vote by House Republicans was simply an ideologically driven effort from abortion opponents.

Katko promised during his 2014 campaign for Congress that he would not vote to defund Planned Parenthood, but he said the videos made him change his position last week.

One top Democrat in Onondaga County says Katko's vote will likely cost him support from women at the polls next year.

"He's going to break a lot of promises because Republicans are held captive by the right wing," Onondaga County Democratic Chairman Mark English said of Katko. 

"He is going to have to make some choices that are potentially going to harm him with women, and rightly so," English said. "I think people are aware of these types of votes."

Eric Kingson, of Manlius, the only Democrat to announce his candidacy to date for the 24th Congressional District seat, also seized on the issue after Katko's vote.

"We have an obligation to ensure that women and families have access to life-saving health care," Kingson told supporters. "It's clear from his voting record that my opponent doesn't share these priorities." 

Despite his vote last week, Katko said he will not vote with House conservative hard-liners who are threatening to force a government shutdown next week unless Planned Parenthood is defunded. 

CNY Rep. John Katko visits Syracuse Media Group editorial boardU.S. Rep. John Katko 

Katko was among 11 House GOP freshmen who wrote a letter to colleagues Tuesday saying they would not support a shutdown under any circumstances.

Planned Parenthood is already prohibited from using federal aid for abortions, which account for 3 percent of the health services it provides for women. Most of the federal aid to Planned Parenthood helps provide for women's healthcare for the poor. About 78 percent of the organization's clients are women who live below the federal poverty line.

Planned Parenthood is permitted under federal law to provide fetal tissue to medical researchers, and to charge a small fee for the cost of storing and transporting the tissue.

A spokeswoman for Katko said he still supports funding for women's healthcare, and the House bill would have redirected money from Planned Parenthood to other organizations that provide similar services.

"John has been married for over 28 years to a registered nurse who has spent nearly her entire career working in women's healthcare," said Erin O'Connor, speaking for Katko. "There is no denying that access to health services is important to women and families throughout Central New York, which is why John has strongly supported funding for women's healthcare."

She added, "He has continuously engaged with women throughout the district on the most important issues facing our community – growing our local economy, creating jobs, shedding light on the devastating rate of poverty, improving access to pediatric mental healthcare, and addressing the growing heroin and synthetic drug epidemic. John has already delivered bipartisan results in these, and other, priority areas and will continue to fight for all of Central New York in Congress."

A poll taken in the days leading up to the vote last week shows Katko is strongly favored to win a second-term in Congress. Katko has an overall approval rating of 55 percent, compared to 22 percent with an unfavorable opinion. 

The poll commissioned by the National Republican Congressional Committee found Katko's support is strongest among women. Women approve of Katko 56 percent to 19 percent, compared to men who approve 54 percent to 24 percent.

In last year's campaign, Katko managed a dramatic turnaround with women in his successful bid to unseat former Rep. Dan Maffei, D-Syracuse.

Katko initially faced a deep gender gap, with women favoring Maffei by 20 percentage point in a mid-September poll by The Post-Standard/ and Siena College.

By late October, the same pollsters found Katko was favored by women 49 percent to 44 percent after his campaign launched an effort to reach out to women voters that included a TV ad with his wife, Robin. 

In the TV commercial, Robin Katko accused Maffei of lying to women voters about her husband's positions on issues such as equal pay for women, abortion and birth control.


Saturday, September 26, 2015

Carly Fiorina's epic fail on science and everything else

To hear the glowing reviews late last week, Carly Fiorina won the September 16 Republican presidential debate. And by debate, we mean a spectacle of pithy soundbites cranking out revenue like a ratings engine devoid of judges, scoring, and winners and losers.

But as Josh Marshall and others have noted, Fiorina has a habit of just making shit up. Her problems begin when anyone with an Internet connection and reading comprehension skills outside of the cheering squads takes notice:

2) California "destroys lives and livelihoods with environmental regulations"

[B]etween 1993 and 2013, thanks to energy efficiency, the average residential electricity bill in California declined, on an inflation-adjusted basis, by 4 percent, even as bills rose elsewhere in the country. Between 1990 and 2012, the state cut per-capita carbon emissions by 25 percent even as its GDP increased by 37 percent. ... Oh, and California created more jobs than any other state in the nation last year, with the fifth-highest GDP growth rate. And its budget is balanced.
6) "Coal provides half the energy in this nation still"

No, it doesn't. Coal provides 20 percent of the total primary energy used in the US.

Fiorina claims to have seen babies cruelly being kept alive as a tissue farm for Planned Parenthood. In fact no such videoexists. Doctor Professor Pastor Carly Fiorina has also been a regular critic of the Iran nuclear deal on the grounds that . . . something along the lines of Obama should have solved it all his first day in the White House with a single phone call to the Supreme Leader. And of course she plays up her business success when it's been widely reported how she bungled her own big merger between Compaq and HP so thoroughly that she was kicked to the curb by panicked shareholders and fellow executives:
Six weeks after publication of this article that pilloried Hewlett-Packard, the board hired Mark Hurd to replace Fiorina. Only then did the company acquire the management skills needed to take the raw material that was there and transform it into a world leader in technology. In the three years since Hurd became CEO, the results have been truly remarkable.
Still, consider that the current GOP front-runner is a trust fund braggart who thinks China has collaborated with NASA and others to hoax us into believing several hundred thousand super accurate thermometers display local and global temperature inaccurately. Or that fully one-third of the GOP base and at least half of the tea party admit they are or were convinced that the government was going to take over the American state of Texas a few weeks ago. Next to them, Carly Fiorina almost stands out as a scientific savant.