Saturday, August 22, 2015

Tuesday, August 18, 2015

Scott Walker will take away your good health insurance, replace it with platitudes

Another Republican presidential candidate, another Obamacare repeal and "replace" plan. Sen. Marco Rubio trotted his out on Tuesday, only to be totally eclipsed by Gov. Scott Walker, who gave what was billed as a "major policy speech" but which contained just the same warmed over Republican ideas Rubio listed.

He starts grandiose:

"On my very first day as president, I will send legislation to the Congress that will once and for all repeal Obamacare entirely and replace it in a way that puts patients and their families back in charge of their health care decisions," the Wisconsin governor said in a speech at a machine parts company near Minneapolis.
Priority number one for the first day (or two? after bombing Iran?) is to kick 19 million people off of their health insurance. Take away millions of dollars in seniors' prescription drug savings. Increase the deficit by repealing the savings the law has realized. Take away all the protections (no more pre-existing conditions) and benefits (preventive care with no additional copays) of the law for everyone who has insurance—employer-sponsored or through Obamacare, Medicare, or Medicaid.

The rest of it? The same old, same old idea. He'd replace tax credits now based on income with tax credits based on age. Healthcare economist Tim Jost reviewed it and says Walker's "tax credits at the level proposed would not begin to cover the cost of decent coverage." And it wouldn't. The largest tax credit goes to people aged 50-64 and is $3,000. The average subsidyfor all age groups in Obamacare in 2014 was $3,312 per person. So, no, $1,200 to someone under age 34 isn't going to be enough to pay for insurance.

He, like every other Republican, would allow insurance companies to sell across state lines. Which would probably lead insurance companies to move to states that had the laxest regulations, allowing companies to sell the crappy insurance that repealing Obamacare would lead to. State-based high risk pools for people with pre-existing conditions? Check. They don't work because they cover sick, expensive people and either are underfunded or have to charge way too much for those sick people to participate. Tort reform? Check. Contrary to Republican belief, healthcare costs aren't high because of providers' liability insurance. Health savings accounts? Check. Because everyone has enough extra money every month to save. Block-granting Medicaid? Check. Turn the program entirely over to the states so that we could have even more inequity among the states, where blue states use the money to try to help the most people and red states siphon it off in scheme to enrich Republican donors.

What Walker totally avoids is doing anything to Medicare. So there's that. Of course, what he does do is repeal the Medicare reforms that have been saving the federal government a lot of money. Larry Levitt, a health policy expert with the nonpartisan Kaiser Family Foundation, identifies this as Walker's biggest problem—it costs too much. "The tax credits would cost the federal government a substantial amount of money, but the plan would repeal all the revenue sources in the Affordable Care Act," he says.

This isn't a serious proposal. Just like all the other Republican proposals—because it is just like all the other Republican plans. A jumble of half-measures that don't add up to any kind of system, and certainly don't add up to a way to bring healthcare costs under control or provide health insurance to everyone.


Aug 18, 2015 by Joan McCarter

Monday, August 17, 2015

Iran deal foes reach new low in fear mongering, claim Iran will nuke US, kill millions

Just when you thought it couldn't get worse than a full-page newspaper advertisement that opposed the Iran deal by conflating Barack Obama with Neville Chamberlain, and thus contemporary Iran with Hitler's Germany. The newest full-page ad from The World Values Network, led by Executive Director Rabbi Shmuley Boteach, breaks new ground in fear-mongering:
We implore you to kill the deal with Iran. Before Iranian nukes kill millions of Americans.
Back up a second. It's one thing to claim that Iran will cheat and attempt to build nuclear weapons after signing this treaty, and that they will succeed. It's another to claim that they will use those weapons against Israel—despite Israel having more than enough of a nuclear arsenal to respond in a devastating fashion, not to mention the response from the U.S. that would almost certainly follow a nuclear attack on its ally. But here we have a claim that Iran will not only make and use nuclear weapons, but will use them against the United States. I'm just going to let the extremeness of that claim sink in.

Never mind that the Iran deal was endorsed by leading U.S. scientists, including "some of the world’s most knowledgeable experts in the fields of nuclear weapons and arms control," as well as three dozen retired admirals and generals, and someone who as late as this spring argued that no deal worth doing could be had with Iran and who was, until a few days ago, the president of an organization called, wait for it, United Against a Nuclear Iran. Here's what UANI's former president, Gary Samore, says now in endorsing the deal: "I'm skeptical that we can reject this agreement and negotiate a substantially better deal within any kind of reasonable time frame."

The only way the opponents of this deal can win is through fear. They certainly can't do it through reason. They offer no feasible alternative to the deal, no path to a better one, no way around the fact that the other five countries who negotiated this deal alongside us will abandon the sanctions if we walk away from it, leaving Iran 100 percent free to proceed however it wishes when it comes to its nuclear program. How exactly would that make things better?

Who would you trust on whether to vote yes: someone who says Iran is not only suicidal, but, I don't know, suicidal squared, or someone who said he couldn't be convinced that the world and Iran could reach a fair agreement—until he saw the agreement now before Congress. The ad under discussion here targeted Sen. Cory Booker. I urge you to tell him and/or your senators and representatives to choose reason over fear, expertise over propaganda, and leadership over demagoguery.

Aug 16, 2015 by Ian Reifowitz

Sunday, August 16, 2015

Top Army General Ray Odierno: Jeb Bush Is Wrong About Iraq War

U.S. Army Chief of Staff Gen. Raymond Odierno said on Wednesday that Republican presidential candidate Jeb Bush was wrong to blame the Obama administration for the current instability in Iraq.

Ahead of his official retirement on Friday, Odierno, the former highest-ranking officer in Iraq and one of the architects of the 2007 troop surge there, sought to set the record straight.

“I remind everybody that us leaving at the end of 2011 was negotiated in 2008 by the Bush administration. That was always the plan, we had promised them that we would respect their sovereignty,” Odierno said during his final press conference at the Pentagon.

a speech on Tuesday at the Reagan Library in California, Bush criticized President Barack Obama and former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton for what he characterized as a premature decision to bring 90,000 troops home.

“So why was the success of the surge followed by a withdrawal from Iraq, leaving not even the residual force that commanders and the joint chiefs knew was necessary?" Bush asked. "And where was Secretary of State Clinton in all of this? Like the president himself, she had opposed the surge, then joined in claiming credit for its success, then stood by as that hard-won victory by American and allied forces was thrown away."

Bush has been quick to blame the current situation in Iraq on the Obama administration as a way to deflect questions about the foreign policy record of his brother, former President George W. Bush. But according to both Odierno and a recent McClatchy articlethe withdrawal timetable was in fact set long before Obama took office. In November 2008, both the U.S. and Iraq agreed that “All the United States Forces shall withdraw from all Iraqi territory no later than December 31, 2011.”

In his speech on Tuesday, Bush also faulted Obama for not pressing the Iraqi government hard enough to extend the presence of U.S. troops in the country. But as McClatchy noted, “the Obama administration was forced to fulfill the departure timetable when the Iraqi government refused to exempt American troops from Iraqi law.”

At a campaign event in Iowa on Thursday, Bush defended himself, accusing the Obama administration of attempting to rewrite history. 
 
"Well look, this is the, this aggressive effort to rewrite history," Bush said. "It was clear on both sides in 2008, at the end of my brother’s term, that there was a need to renegotiate this agreement in 2011. I mean, to rewrite history now, I just think is completely improper, and it didn’t happen, and it could’ve happened for sure, it could’ve happened."
 
"I reject this out of hand, this whole idea that somehow after the surge, that they’re just doing it because the agreement required them to do it," he continued. "I mean, leadership requires you to create a strategy and then act on it. The United States of America can negotiate an agreement of this kind with Iraq. This is ridiculous to suggest it was too difficult to do." 

The business of being anti-union by Mark E Andersen

Writing about labor I end up on some pretty damn weird mailing lists. One would think that as a pro-labor writer I would not receive emails from decidedly anti-union forces. But I do, so as a public service, I am going to write about the email I just received.

First, the subject line—three ways businesses can protect themselves in pro-union times. Seriously? Pro-union times? We have seen right-to-work laws enacted in what had been states known for supporting unions in Wisconsin, Michigan, and Indiana. We have seen Republican governor, and now presidential candidate, Scott Walker rip union rights away from public servants in Wisconsin. These are decidedly not pro-union times as the author of this email suggests:

With the makeup of the NLRB, the two questions are tightly entwined. Though unions comprise only 6.6 percent* of the workforce nationwide, today’s NLRB leans decidedly in the pro-union, pro-employee direction.
(I should note that according to the BLS, Bureau of Labor and Statistics, the author of the email is incorrect about the union percentage nationwide. It is 11.1 percent; the email is citing the private sector figure.)

The NLRB, National Relations Board, is according to their website:

The National Labor Relations Board is an independent federal agency that protects the rights of private sector employees to join together, with or without a union, to improve their wages and working conditions.
I would certainly hope that the NLRB leans in a pro-employee direction, especially seeing as they are supposed to protect the rights of private sector employees.

Head below the fold for more on this story.

The author then goes on to describe the ways an employer can "level the playing field" against the big union boogeyman. The first is what the author calls—The complication of “quickie elections”:

Employers facing an attempt to unionize have an added challenge commonly referred to as the “quickie election” rule. This year, the NLRB slashed the median time between the filing of an organizing petition and the vote by workers on whether to accept union representation from 38 days to 24. The tighter time frame favors unions by giving employers less time to educate employees about the issues and what it means to work in a unionized site.
Breaking this down, the author is whining that employers need that extra fourteen days to "educate" employees about unions. I think he used the wrong word there, I think he meant to use the words lie and spread anti-union propaganda. There is no reason for a union vote to take over a month. That extra time is not leveling the playing field, it is tilting it in favor of the employer.

The author also derides unions trying to create micro-units and states that today’s NLRB:

has flipped the scales, putting the burden on employers to demonstrate an “overwhelming community of interest” between the proposed micro-unit and the rest of the workforce. It’s a difficult case for employers to make, and it opens the door to unions snatching a small group of disgruntled employees to create a foothold in a broader workplace.
Wouldn't it just be easier to prevent your business from having disgruntled employees in the first place? Treat your employees right, compensate them well, and they will likely not be disgruntled to begin with.

Then we have the, "You have got to be kidding me," section of the email:

In most cases, supervisors and managers are the focal point for company communications during a union campaign. Know who they are ahead of time and don’t make assumptions. The last thing you want is a team member expected to communicate the company message becoming part of the potential bargaining unit.
Why wouldn't you know who your supervisors and managers are? If you don't know who they are, that is likely why your employees are attempting to unionize.

These are not "pro-union" times. Union membership in this country is down to 11.1 percent in 2014, extending a decades-long decline for the labor movement.

If we want this country to grow, if we want to have a strong middle class, then we do need a NLRB that leans toward the worker to level the playing field. Today, the field is tilted toward the employer. As workers we need to do all we can to tilt that field back to being level.

Aug 14, 2015 1:30pm PDT by Mark E Andersen



Saturday, August 15, 2015

Joe Biden, 72, 'is considering running for a one-term Presidency with a campaign to unite a divided Washington'


Joe Biden could announce he will run for President, but only serve one term, a respected journalist with links to the Vice President's camp has claimed. 

Carl Berstein said on Friday that Biden could announce a one-term presidency aimed at uniting a divided Washington which would 'light a fire' under the Democratic race.

Berstein added that there is growing anti-Hillary sentiment within the Democratic party as her campaign becomes bogged down in the email scandal, and Biden could tap into that to super-charge his run.

Read more:  

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-3199157/Joe-Biden-considering-running-one-term-Presidency.html


Thursday, August 13, 2015

The George W. Bush email scandal the media has conveniently forgotten

This article originally appeared on Media Matters

Even for a Republican White House that was badly stumbling through George W. Bush’s sixth year in office, the revelation on April 12, 2007 was shocking. Responding to congressional demands for emails in connection with its investigation into the partisan firing of eight U.S. attorneys, the White House announced that as many as five million emails, covering a two-year span, had been lost.

The emails had been run through private accounts controlled by the Republican National Committee and were only supposed to be used for dealing with non-administration political campaign work to avoid violating ethics laws. Yet congressional investigators already had evidence private emails had been used for government business, including to discuss the firing of one of the U.S. attorneys. The RNC accounts were used by 22 White House staffers, including then-Deputy Chief of Staff Karl Rove, who reportedly used his RNC email for 95 percent of his communications.

As the Washington Post reported, “Under federal law, the White House is required to maintain records, including e-mails, involving presidential decision- making and deliberations.” But suddenly millions of the private RNC emails had gone missing; emails that were seen as potentially crucial evidence by Congressional investigators.

The White House email story broke on a Wednesday. Yet on that Sunday’s Meet The PressFace The Nation, and Fox News Sunday, the topic of millions of missing White House emails did not come up. At all. (The story did get covered on ABC’s This Week.)

By comparison, not only did every network Sunday news show this week cover the story about former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton emails, but they were drowning in commentary. Between Meet the PressFace The NationThis Week, and Fox News Sunday, Clinton’s “email” or “emails” were referenced more than 100 times on the programs, according to Nexis transcripts. Talk about saturation coverage.

Indeed, the commentary for the last week truly has been relentless, with the Beltway press barely pausing to catch its breath before unloading yet another round of “analysis,” most of which provides little insight but does allow journalists to vent about the Clintons.

What has become clear over the last eight days however is that the Clinton email story isn’t about lawbreaking. “Experts have said it doesn’t appear Clinton violated federal laws,” CNN conceded. “But that hasn’t stemmed the issue that has become more about bad optics and politics than any actual wrongdoing.” The National Law Journal agreed, noting that while the story has created a political furor, “any legal consequences are likely to prove negligible.”

Still, the scandal machine churns on determined to the treat the story as a political blockbuster, even though early polling indicates the kerfuffle will not damage Clinton’s standing.

Looking back, it’s curious how the D.C. scandal machine could barely get out of first gear when the Bush email story broke in 2007.  I’m not suggesting the press ignored the Rove email debacle, because the story was clearly covered at the time. But triggering a firestorm (a guttural roar) that raged for days and consumed the Beltway chattering class the way the D.C. media has become obsessed with the Clinton email story?  Absolutely not. Not even close.

Instead, the millions of missing Bush White House emails were treated as a 24-hour or 48-hour story. It was a subject that was dutifully noted, and then the media pack quickly moved on.

How did the Washington Post and New York Times commentators deal with the Bush email scandal in the week following the confirmation of the missing messages? In his April 17, 2007 columnPost columnist Eugene Robinson hit the White House hard. But he was the only Post columnist to do so. On the editorial page, the Post cautioned that the story of millions of missing White House emails might not really be a “scandal.” Instead, it was possible, the Post suggested, that Rove and others simply received “sloppy guidance” regarding email protocol.

There’s been no such Post inclination to give Clinton any sort of benefit of the doubt regarding email use as the paper piles up endless attacks on her. Dana Milbank: “Clinton made a whopper of an error.” Ruth Marcus: “This has the distinct odor of hogwash.”

Looking back, it’s curious how the D.C. scandal machine could barely get out of first gear when the Bush email story broke in 2007.  I’m not suggesting the press ignored the Rove email debacle, because the story was clearly covered at the time. But triggering a firestorm (a guttural roar) that raged for days and consumed the Beltway chattering class the way the D.C. media has become obsessed with the Clinton email story?  Absolutely not. Not even close.

Instead, the millions of missing Bush White House emails were treated as a 24-hour or 48-hour story. It was a subject that was dutifully noted, and then the media pack quickly moved on.

How did the Washington Post and New York Times commentators deal with the Bush email scandal in the week following the confirmation of the missing messages? In his April 17, 2007 columnPost columnist Eugene Robinson hit the White House hard. But he was the only Post columnist to do so. On the editorial page, the Post cautioned that the story of millions of missing White House emails might not really be a “scandal.” Instead, it was possible, the Post suggested, that Rove and others simply received “sloppy guidance” regarding email protocol.

There’s been no such Post inclination to give Clinton any sort of benefit of the doubt regarding email use as the paper piles up endless attacks on her. Dana Milbank: “Clinton made a whopper of an error.” Ruth Marcus: “This has the distinct odor of hogwash.”

Last week, the Republican National Committee threw up another roadblock, claiming it had lost four years’ worth of e-mail messages by Karl Rove that were sent on a Republican Party account. Those messages, officials admitted, could include some about the United States attorneys. It is virtually impossible to erase e-mail messages fully, and the claims that they are gone are not credible.

Three sentences from a single, unsigned editorial. That’s it. No Times columnists addressed the topic. By comparison, in the week since the Clinton story broke, the Times has published one editorial dedicated solely to the subject, and no less than five opinion columns addressing the controversy.

Just to repeat: In 2007, the story was about millions of missing White House emails that were sought in connection to a Congressional investigation. Yet somehow the archiving of Clinton’s emails today requires exponentially more coverage, and exceedingly more critical coverage.

Of course, back in 2007 Fox News seemed utterly uninterested in the Bush email story days after the news broke. A search of Fox archives locates only one panel discussion about the story and it featured two guests accusing Democrats of engineering a “fishing expedition.”

From then-Fox co-host, Fred Barnes: “I mean, deleted e-mails, who cares?”


Wednesday, August 12, 2015

CBO to Bernie Sanders: Ending sequester could create 1.4 million jobs

Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) just gave Democratic Leader Harry Reid an extremely useful gift: he asked the Congressional Budget Office to estimate the effects of ending the sequester—the automatic budget caps imposed by the 2011 Budget Control Act. The CBO response should help Reid negotiate a budget deal. Or it would, anyway, if Majority Leader Mitch McConnell really means it when he says he wants to govern.
Easing those ceilings would lead to increased government spending, which in turn would lead to an increase in economic output and higher employment, the CBO said.

"Fully eliminating the reductions would allow for an increase in appropriations of $90 billion in 2016 and $91 billion in 2017," CBO Director Keith Hall wrote in a letter to Sanders.

If Congress reverses the limits in fiscal 2016, for example, the CBO said it could result in the full-time employment of as few as 200,000 more people or as many as 800,000 more people. If the same were done for fiscal 2017, the CBO said it could similarly add as few as 100,000 jobs or as many as 600,000 jobs.

The CBO said sequestration relief would also cause the gross domestic product to grow by as much as 0.6 percent in 2016 and as much as 0.4 percent in 2017.

As many as 1.4 million jobs in two years is a lot of jobs. In a short time frame. Of course, creating hundreds of thousands of new jobs in the last year of President Obama's tenure is probably not something that Republicans would enjoy doing, even if they could claim it as their own victory since they control the Congress. No, they'd far rather toss around some bombs, like shutting down government over Planned Parenthood funding. Because that's just what they do.

At the same time, Sanders has given Democrats something very concrete to point to in what's going to be a huge political fight with real ramifications for 2016. And it's a good political position for Democrats to be in, because it's such a clear, stark contrast. Vote for the party trying to create jobs, or the one shutting down the government to try to take away women's health care.

Aug 12, 2015 9:24am PDT by Joan McCarter



Tuesday, August 11, 2015

Republicans' big plan for 2017: Privatizing Medicare

Medicare just turned 50, which is 50 years too long for the second-most popular public program in history to have survived as far as Republicans are concerned. So they're going to take another stab at ending it and they're doing it in an election year, bless their little, blackened hearts.
For years, Republicans have openly pined for pushing Medicare further into the private sector. But they have been restrained by the practical realities of divided government and the political risks of a plan that Democrats have said would turn the popular insurance program into a voucher system.

Conservatives on Capitol Hill, however, have not surrendered the dream and now are planning to undertake the dirty work to make it a legislative reality. House Republicans will start working next year on drafting a Medicare "premium-support" bill, according to Ways and Means Health Subcommittee Chairman Kevin Brady. […]

Brady said his panel wants to start the laborious work of creating actual legislative text, likely in preparation for 2017 under a new Congress and president at the earliest. This year's House budget endorsed the policy, as it has for several years under Republican control. […]

Asked about any political risk in a presidential election year, Brady emphasized that the bill wouldn't necessarily move in 2016, just that the "hard work" of putting together legislative language would begin.

Because Democrats aren't smart enough to campaign on the fact that this is what you plan to do in 2017 if Republicans win Congress and the White House? Maybe they'll just miss this whole announcement and not realize what Republicans are up to. But don't count on it. And maybe the American people won't find out about it (so maybe you shouldn't be going around doing interviews about it, Mr. Brady).

He'd better hope that's the case because according to the most recent polling on it, done last month by the Kaiser Family Foundation just 26 percent of voters support the idea of vouchers. It's universally hated. Only 31 percent of Republicans support it! And guess who votes? People who love their Medicare the way it is.

Monday, August 10, 2015

Melissa Gilbert Is Running for Congress

The former "Little House on the Prairie" actress is running as a Democrat in Michigan's 8th district, a representative for the Michigan Democratic Party confirmed to ABC News.

"I’m running for Congress to make life a little easier for all the families who feel they have fallen through the cracks in today’s economy," she wrote on her campaign website. "I believe building a new economy is a team effort, and we need to bring fresh voices to the table to get the job done."

Gilbert, 51, who is "particularly attuned to issues confronting women, children and families," according to a press release from the Democratic Party, will be running against against the incumbent, Republican Mike Bishop. The actress lives in Livingston County with her husband of two years, actor and Michigan native Timothy Busfield.

This is her first run for public office.

Sunday, August 9, 2015

Democrats jubilant after chaotic Republican debate

Democratic party seizes on attacks on women’s rights and immigration during first GOP debate that focused attention on dramatic spectacle of Donald Trump.

Democrats seized on Thursday night’s raucous first Republican debate as a helpful turning point in the wider presidential race, claiming a series of attacks on women’s rights and immigration would alienate many moderate voters.

As the conservative establishment reeled from a night of high drama that boosted the profile of several candidates – and attracted record ratings – but also focused attention particularly on Donald Trump, their liberal opponents were in jubilant mood.

“I felt pretty good that we increased the chances that the Democratic nominee whoever it is, will ultimately be elected president of the United States,” Debbie Wasserman Schultz, chair of the Democratic National Committee (DNC), told MSNBC on Friday.

“When you expose America to the extremism that is the Republican party today like they did last night, it’s very evident that there will be a dramatic and clear contrast going into the general election and Democrats are going to show off that we care about fighting for the middle class and they care about taking care of the wealthiest 1%.”

Hillary Clinton, the Democratic frontrunner who was the target of several jibes during the debate, was quick to exploit the attention on more extreme Republican candidates as a fundraising opportunity.

“Watch the #GOPdebate?,” her campaign wrote to supporters. “Bet you feel like donating to a Democrat right about now.” 

“It’s over,” said Clinton’s closest rival, Bernie Sanders, in a tweet that focused on issues that were not covered by the debate. “Not one word about economic inequality, climate change, Citizens United or student debt. That’s why the Republicans are so out of touch.” 

Much of the Democratic response focused on the exchanges between Trump and Megyn Kelly. The Fox moderator questioned comments in which he had referred to women variously as “fat pigs, dogs, slobs and disgusting animals”, only to be brushed off by the billionaire property developer as “politically correct”.

Even Senator Marco Rubio, a more moderate candidate seen as one of the big winners of the night, drew attention to his party’s renewed debates on Planned Parenthood and abortion, appearing to go further than before in arguing against an exception for women who are victims of rape and incest.

The Florida senator doubled down on his comments during an interview with CNN on Friday, insisting that he would always “err on the side of life” even if a woman conceived through rape or incest.
“I personally and honestly and deeply believe that all human life is worthy of protection irrespective of the circumstances in which that human life was created,” Rubio said. “I personally believe that you do not correct one tragedy with a second tragedy – that’s how I personally feel, very strongly about.”

Read more at: http://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2015/aug/07/democrats-jubilant-chaotic-republican-debate



Saturday, August 8, 2015


Wednesday, August 5, 2015

Jeb!: 'I'm not sure we need half a billion dollars for women's health issues'

This video says it all—Jeb!, speaking at the Southern Baptist Convention forum on the issues of Planned Parenthood, a potential government shutdown, and overall funding for women's health issues. Here's the breakdown of what Jeb! endorses:

•Defunding Planned Parenthood: check.
•Shutting down the government over defunding Planned Parenthood: check.
•Cutting overall funding for women's health issues: check.

And here's a partial transcript (emphasis mine):

Questioner: "We have a continuing resolution coming up to fund the government [...] shouldn't we make that an issue and say, 'Not one more red cent to Planned Parenthood'"?

Jeb!: "We should. And the next president should defund Planned Parenthood.

Look, I have the benefit of having been governor and we did defund Planned Parenthood when I was governor. We tried to create a culture of life across the board. The argument against this is, well, women's health issues are going to be—you're attacking... it's a War on Women, and you're attacking women's health issues. You could take dollar for dollar—although I'm not sure we need half a billion dollars for women's health issues—but if you took dollar for dollar, there are many extraordinarily fine organizations, community health organizations that exist, federally-sponsored community health organizations, to provide quality care for women on a wide variety of health issues. But abortion should not funded by the government—any government in my mind. [...]

If I'm president, we're going to respect the Constitution and get back to regular order way where democracy works again—where you submit a budget, you work with Congress, you pass a budget. And in that budget I can promise you there will not be $500 million going to Planned Parenthood."

Duly noted, Jeb! You want to get back to funding abstinence-only programs like you did in Florida because they've proven to be so effective at stopping pregnancies and treating sexually transmitted diseases and a whole host of other women's reproductive health issues.

And just fyi, federal money doesn't fund abortions, except in cases of rape, incest, or life endangerment. So we'll put you on record as supporting women and girls being forced to carry their babies to term even in those horrific situations.


After Being Tough On Clinton Foundation Donors, The Press Protects Koch Donors Anonymity


The curious revelation that reporters from nine news organizations recently attended Charles and DavidKoch's political summit and voluntarily agreed not to identify key donors in attendance provided a helpful look into the double standard that the media often use when covering conservatives vs. covering the Clintons.

Willing to temporarily look away from the donor news behind the Koch brothers push to remake American politics in their billionaire image (and to bankroll the GOP's 2016 nominee), several of the same outlets have spent months this year needling Bill and Hillary Clinton for not being transparent enough about donors to the charitable Clinton Foundation.

To hear much of the press' often fevered coverage of the Clinton Foundation, it's simply unacceptable and downright deceitful to hide the names of wealthy people who give. Yet many of the same class of reporters volunteered not to disclose Koch donors who mingled among journalists all weekend at the five-star GOP summit?

Given that willingness to look the other way, it's difficult to take seriously the media's incessant demands that the Clintons be more transparent about their donors; donors who give to a charity devoted to help poor people around the world, not devoted to electing U.S. politicians, which is what Koch donors are all about. (The Koch brothers, and affiliated groups, are expected to spend $889 million on the 2016 race, after having raised $400 million on the 2012 contests.)

Moreover, the Clinton Foundation has actually done more than most charities do to disclose their donors. Though a few of their affiliates have not revealed some donors (in part because of differing laws in other countries), the charity has gone to great lengths ever since Clinton first became secretary of state: "In posting its donor data, the foundation goes beyond legal requirements, and experts say its transparency level exceeds that of most philanthropies," the Post previously reported.

Yet try to image the universal, all-encompassing, hour-after-hour pundit outrage that would be unleashed if the Clinton Foundation held a political summit this year and demanded journalists hide the identity of key donors who attended. The same Beltway media have no problem with the Kochs hiding 450 of their big, dark-money donors -- and hiding them in plain sight.

The Huffington Post's Michael Calderone spelled outthe obvious ethical troubles raised by stipulations attached to the formerly closed-to-the-press Koch summit, where key Republican politicians were invited to address conservative billionaires:  

The problem is that the ground rules could restrict journalists from reporting what's right in front of their eyes. If, say, Rupert Murdoch, or even a lesser-known billionaire, walked by, they couldn't report the person's attendance without permission. So it's possible journalists end up reporting largely what the event sponsors want, such as fiery speeches and candidate remarks criticizing Democrats, but less on the power brokers attending who play key behind-the-scenes roles in the 2016 election.

By playing by the Koch's rules, the press left itself open to some sizeable bouts of hypocrisy.

Recall that in April, Rupert Murdoch's HarperCollins published partisan author Peter Schweizer's Clinton Cash, a sloppy, book-length attack on Clinton Foundation donors. The book purported (and failed) to show how foundation donations corrupted Clinton's decisions during her time as secretary of state. Media Matters documented nearly two dozen errors and distortions in the book.  

But that didn't stop key outlets such as the New York Times and the Washington Post from teaming up with Schweizer and helping to push his lines of attack. At the time, here's how the Washington Post's Chris Cillizza's defended the immediate embrace of Clinton Cash:

The most foundational principle of covering a presidential campaign (or anything, really) is trying your damnedest to give people the fullest possible picture of the candidates running to represent them.  The more information you have at your disposal then, the better.

Added Cillizza, "We are information-gatherers at heart.

So when the issue at hand was donors to the Clinton Foundation, the Washington Post sounded a clarion call, urging reporters to look at the all the information in order to give readers the "fullest possible picture of the candidates running." (And who might be trying to buy their influence.)

But last weekend, when the issue at hand was Koch summit donors, the Washington Post quietly demurred and apparently concluded not all information needed to be shared with voters.

It seems clear that the Clinton Foundation feeding frenzy sprang from the media assumption that the Clintons are hiding something, they aren't truthful, and they cannot be trusted. As Vox's Jonathan Allen asserted, detailing the press corps'  "unspoken rules" to covering Hillary, "the media assumes that Clinton is acting in bad faith until there's hard evidence otherwise."

By contrast, what explained the pass given to the Kochs? Was it fueled by an inverse press assumption that the Kochs are forthright, they're honorable men, and of course they play by the rules?

If donors are deemed the targets of intense media scrutiny, the press should apply the rules fairly to both sides



Tuesday, August 4, 2015

The Best Of Jon Stewart Taking On Fox News

Jon Stewart has been one the most influential American voices in the last half-century, especially when it comes to calling out Fox News' lies. To celebrate his last week on The Daily Show, here are some of our favorite moments: