Saturday, July 4, 2015

Wash. Times Fantasy Of Feds Seizing Clinton Email Server Based On Wildly Misrepresenting Gov't Factsheet

The Washington Times misleadingly cited a government factsheet to claim that a "U.S. policy" could authorize the confiscation of Hillary Clinton's personal email server. In fact, the authority to which the Times refers explicitly notes that its "advisories are NOT binding upon U.S. Government departments and agencies."

On July 1, the Times published an article headlined "Admission Of Hillary's Classified Emails Opens Door For Feds To Seize Her Servers." The report suggested that because some information on Clinton's State Department emails has now been retroactively classified, the NSA could seize the private server on which she stored the emails in order to "destroy" it.

The emails in question are part of a collection of the former Secretary of State's official business correspondence, which was conducted on a non-government email account, and which the State Department is currently reviewing and releasing to the public. According to the Times, the classification of "two dozen" of her thousands of emails could "trigger a U.S. policy that authorizes the government to take control of her private server and sanitize the contents":

The State Department on Wednesday conceded that two dozen of Hillary Clinton's emails did contain classified information, a fact that could trigger a U.S. policy that authorizes the government to take control of her private server and sanitize the contents.

A former senior intelligence official told The Washington Times the policy also requires the government to check other Internet paths her secret information could have taken.

The procedures are spelled out by the National Security Agency's special panel on controlling leaked secrets, called the Committee on National Security Systems. It published a policy, "Securing Data and Handling Spillage Events," that fits Mrs. Clinton's unauthorized private server kept at her home while she was secretary of state, according to the retired officer's reading of the regulations.

But the source responsible for information systems that contain classified information that the Times cites -- The Committee On National Security Systems (CNSS) -- states that although federal officials "are responsible for ensuring that CNSS policies and directives are implemented within their departments or agencies," its advisories "are NOT binding upon U.S. Government departments and agencies." The specific NSA pamphlet the Times also refers to -- "Securing Data and Handling Spillage Events" -- is a best practices "factsheet" for information assurance professionals, not federal "regulations," as the Times erroneously reported.

Furthermore, the Times itself admits at the end of the article that these emails may not, in fact, have been classified at the time they were contained on Clinton's personal server, according to the State Department, making it less likely these best practices would even apply. As Politico reported:

"Portions of 25 emails were subsequently upgraded" to classified, State spokesman Alex Gerlach said late Tuesday. "It is routine to upgrade information to classified status during the FOIA process. ... The information that has been classified today through our FOIA review was sent in 2009. The occurrence of a subsequent upgrade does not in itself mean that anyone did something wrong or violated the law when they sent or received this information."

Responding to similar questions about Clinton's emails back in May, State Department Deputy Spokesperson Marie Harf explained why the emails' classification status was routinely reviewed:

First, it's possible that the degree of sensitivity of certain information could have evolved over time due to changing world events or national security interests. It's also possible the details of our cooperation with other countries would be upgraded if their public disclosure could negatively impact U.S. foreign relations, and it's possible that a candid exchange of views among officials, if publicly released, could have a negative impact on foreign relations. Those are general. I'm not referring specifically to this sentence and a half that was upgraded today. But there are a variety of reasons in the regular FOIA process that this can happen.

USA Today reported in March that Clinton's private server has already been wiped clean.

Blog ››› ››› SERGIO MUNOZ

Friday, July 3, 2015

Americans believe false things about the Civil War because even our textbooks bow to the apologists

Americans believe false things about the Civil War because even our textbooks bow to the apologists
At the Washington Post, Prof. James Loewen writes that the reason so many people believe false things about the Civil War and the Confederacy is because many of our textbooks teach those wrong things to this day.
Teaching or implying that the Confederate states seceded for states’ rights is not accurate history. It is white, Confederate-apologist history. It bends — even breaks — the facts of what happened. Like other U.S. history textbooks, “Journey” needs to be de-Confederatized. So does the history test we give to immigrants who want to become U.S. citizens. Item 74 asks, “Name one problem that led to the Civil War.” It then gives three acceptable answers: “slavery, economic reasons, and states’ rights.” If by “economic reasons” it means issues about tariffs and taxes, which most people infer, then two of its three “correct answers” are wrong! No other question on this 100-item test has more than one “right” answer. The reason is not because the history is unclear, but because neo-Confederates still wielded considerable influence in our culture and our Congress until quite recently, when a mass of politicians rushed to declare the Confederate flag unsuitable for display on government grounds.
Loewen also reiterates a point that cannot be made often enough: Modern notions that the Civil War was fought over ephemeral notions of "states' rights" or other high-minded considerations, as opposed to an unapologetic battle for the right to keep human slaves, is a product of segregationist forces in the civil rights era. It's hardly a coincidence that so many memorials of the war date conspicuously to the days of George Wallace, rather than Jefferson Davis.
For example, South Carolina’s monument at Gettysburg, dedicated in 1965, claims to explain why the state seceded: “Abiding faith in the sacredness of states rights provided their creed here.” This tells us nothing about 1863, when abiding opposition to states’ rights as claimed by free states provided South Carolinians’ creed. In 1965, however, its leaders did support states’ rights. Indeed, they were desperately trying to keep the federal government from enforcing school desegregation and civil rights. The one constant was that the leaders of South Carolina in 1860 and 1965 were acting on behalf of white supremacy.
It's a good read, and a reminder that we shouldn't be surprised that a good chunk of the public doesn't think the Civil War was fought over slavery when a half-century effort has sought to whitewash that history and give it a more noble-sounding sheen. But yes, maybe that ought to be the next thing we take a good, long look at.

Mainstream Media Fail To Question Christie's "Truth-Teller" Persona, Missing Glaring Distortions

NBC's Matt Lauer Fails To Challenge Christie's Vow To Inspire The Country "By Telling The Truth." On the July 1 edition of NBC's Today, host Matt Lauer failed to challenge Christie after he said he would inspire the country "by telling the truth." The aired portion of their interview concluded with the following exchange:

LAUER: What could you do to inspire this country? A country that seems desperate for inspiration? 

CHRISTIE: First off by telling them the truth. I think they think all too often politicians just tell them the version of the truth they think will sell that day. I have never been accused of that. So, I'm gonna tell the truth as I see it. [NBC, Today7/1/15]

Time: Christie's Campaign Launch Audience "Receptive To His Pitch At Compromise And Truth-Telling." In a June 30 article, Time wrote that Christie's audience at his campaign launch speech was "receptive to his pitch at compromise and truth-telling," and prominently featured his self-promotion as a straight talker:

"I'm not looking to be the most popular guy who looks in your eyes every day and figures out what you want to hear," Christie said, acknowledging he wasn't running to be "prom king" or even popular. "I mean what I say, and I say what I mean. And that's what America needs right now." [Time6/30/15]

CNN: Christie Has Cultivated An Image As A "Straight Talker," Saying, "' We Must Tell Each Other The Truth About Problems We Have.'" In a June 30 profile of Christie's campaign announcement, CNN highlighted Christie's "straight talker" public persona, noting that his campaign slogan is "Tell It Like It Is":

"I get accused a lot of times of being too blunt or too direct and saying what's on my mind just a little bit too loudly," Christie said in a video released over the weekend as part of his campaign, which uses the motto "Tell It Like It Is."


In New Jersey, where his approval ratings have suffered in recent months, Christie has crafted an image as an aggressive straight talker. His upfront -- even brash -- style of dealing with those who question him in public has earned the governor both praise and criticism, but could rub voters the wrong way outside New Jersey. [CNN, 6/30/15]

NY Times: Christie "Embracing His Role As A Political Truth-Teller." In a May 22 article profiling Jeb Bush and Christie's efforts to court southern voters, The New York Times said that Christie was "embracing his role as a political truth-teller":

Mr. Christie, embracing his role as a political truth-teller, said Republicans could not take back the White House by nominating "the most charming nominee" and outlined three speeches he had given recently about entitlement spending, the tax code and national security.

Seeking to distinguish himself from the others, Mr. Christie also recalled his role as United States attorney in New Jersey after the Sept. 11th attacks, taking an implied-but-unmistakable shot at Senator Rand Paul of Kentucky, who is leading the effort to block a Senate extension of the Patriot Act.

Mr. Christie said critics of the intelligence-gathering law had "no experience dealing with what I dealt with." [The New York Times5/22/15]

Fortune's Easton: Christie's Proposal To Cut Social Security "Plays Into The Narrative That He's Authentic And Brave And Tells It Like It Is." On the April 16 edition of Fox News' Happening NowFortune columnist and Fox contributor Nina Easton said that Christie's proposal to cut social security benefits "plays into the narrative that he's authentic and brave and tells it like it is." [Fox News, Happening Now4/16/15]

But Christie's Past Statements Are Littered With Falsehoods And Misrepresentations

Christie Lied About Court Ruling On His Pension Reform Plan. On the June 14 edition of ABC News' This Week with George Stephanopoulos, Christie bragged that, "We just won a major court decision supporting the pension reforms that we put into place in 2011." According to the, those reforms were found unconstitutional. [ABC News, This Week with George Stephanopoulos6/14/15;, 6/9/15]  

NY Times: Christie Vowed To Keep Public Employees' Pensions "Sacred," Before Cutting Them. According to a New York Times op-ed, Christie "vowed that he would hold public employees' pensions 'sacred,' and then made cutting those pensions a centerpiece of his new administration." [The New York Times7/1/15]

Christie Falsely Told A Crowd Of Anti-Gun Control Voters That He Had Nothing To Do With New Jersey's Gun Control Measures. In a June 27 op-ed, the New Jersey Star Ledger's Tom Moran pointed out that Christie lied about his own gun control measures in an effort to woo southern anti-gun control voters:

In June in South Carolina, Christie danced for the gun rights crowd by saying this:

"I know there's a lot of perception about my view on gun rights because I'm from New Jersey and because the laws are the way they are. But these laws were being made long before I was governor and no new ones have been made since I've been governor."

Again, not close. Christie signed one law increasing penalties for unlawful possession of guns, another to ban those on the terrorism watch list from buying guns, and a third that required the state to cooperate with the federal criminal background check system. [, 6/27/15]

Christie Misrepresented Ongoing Bridgegate Investigation. In May, Christie told Fox News' Megyn Kelly that there would be no further charges brought in the investigation of the Bridgegate scandal, saying, "The U.S. Attorney said in his press conference a few weeks ago there will be no further charges in the bridge matter. He said it affirmatively three or four times." However, according to, U.S. attorney Paul Fishman implied that the investigation will continue: 

Note how carefully he parsed his words, saying he would not file more charges "based on the evidence that is currently available to us." He's working to make more evidence available by squeezing [former Port Authority official Bill] Baroni and [former Christie Deputy Chief of Staff Bridget] Kelly. Game on.


But this isn't over, not by a long shot.

Fishman was asked about that, too, at his press conference. Here's what he said: "It's like the end of Downton Abbey. You've got to wait for a whole nother season." [Fox News, The Kelly File5/18/15;, 5/1/15]

Megyn Kelly Uses Ann Coulter's Book To Defend Donald Trump's Comments About Immigrants

Fox's Megyn Kelly leaned on Ann Coulter's new racist, anti-immigration book to defend presidential candidate Donald Trump's disparaging comments about Hispanic immigrants.

During his June 16 campaign launch, Republican candidate Donald Trump characterized Mexican immigrants as criminals and "rapists," saying, "When Mexico sends its people ... they're bringing drugs. They're bringing crime. They're rapists." Trump claimed that "the U.S. has become a dumping ground for everybody else's problems."

In an attempt to explain his remarks, which have incited widespread backlash among Hispanic activists and Trump's business associates, Fox host Megyn Kelly turned to Ann Coulter, whose new book, Adios America!echoes white nationalist and anti-immigrant extremist talking points.

On the June 29 edition of The Kelly File, the host cited Coulter's statistics during an exchange with Fox's Howard Kurtz and Geraldo Rivera, in an attempt to rebut criticism of Trump's racist comments:

KURTZ: What a lot of people hear -- even when Trump goes over the top -- they like the fact that he doesn't apologize. They like the fact that he doesn't parse his words like most politicians. The average politician would have backed off and clarified many times by now. But Trump gets away with it because he strikes a chord.

KELLY: Well, I mean, Ann Coulter has got a whole book out right now that makes this point. Now granted, she's not running for president. But she --

RIVERA: Nor would she ever be elected with that point of view --

KELLY:  But she cites data that does support the fact that some, obvious, immigrants who come across the borders do turn out to be criminals, and that's --

RIVERA: I researched it tonight --

KELLY: None? No immigrants turn out to be criminals?

RIVERA: I never said that. Undocumented immigrants commit crimes at a lower rate than the citizen population of the United States.

And on July 1, Kelly hosted Coulter to debate Rivera on the merits of Trump's comments. Coulter argued that the "most important point is these are not people who have a right to be here, so I don't care if they are two rapists," claiming, "It's a fact that only about a third of California prisoners are white."

In her book, Coulter calls immigrants "criminal[s]" and argues that immigration is a "war technique" to change America. In the past, Coulter has described immigrants as "people from backward, primitive cultures," and said that immigrants are a bigger threat to America than ISIS.

According to the Southern Poverty Law Center, Coulter's new book cites a long list of racist and white nationalist extremists, repeatedly referencing the conservative anti-immigration think tank Center for Immigration Studies. Coulter's other sources include Peter Brimelow, the English white nationalist who founded the racist blog VDARE and Robert Spencer, co-founder of the anti-Muslim hate group Stop Islamization of America. In fact, Coulter has credited Brimelow with inspiring her anti-immigration views.

Though NBC severed ties with Trump following his remarks, Fox has continued to rally around the candidate and regular network guest -- Bill O'Reilly even suggested that Trump was "actually highlighting a problem ... that is harming the nation."

Monday, June 29, 2015

Asking Hate Groups About Marriage Equality Isn't Balance, It's Bad Journalism

Media outlets have repeatedly turned to an extreme anti-gay hate group to comment on the Supreme Court's recent marriage equality decision, needlessly exposing audiences to misinformation while failing to hold the group accountable for its track record of dishonesty.

Following the Supreme Court's June 26 decision in Obergefell v. Hodges -- which found that bans on same-sex marriage violate the 14th Amendment of the U.S. Constitution - several media outlets invited representatives from the Family Research Council (FRC) to offer their reactions to the decision.

FRC has been labeled an anti-gay hate group by the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) because it propagates "known falsehoods" about the LGBT community, including linking homosexuality to pedophilia and accusing gay people of trying to "recruit" children. The group has a long track record of making wildly inaccurate policy predictions about the consequences of basic protections for LGBT people.

But despite the group's extremism and without reference to their record, FRC was widely cited by major media outlets in the wake of Obergefell, including NPRThe New York Times, and USA Today.

Spokespersons from FRC were also invited to react to the decision on national television. ABC's This Week invited FRC's Ken Blackwell - who previously blamed same-sex marriage for a mass murder - to discuss the court's decision. On Fox News' The Kelly File, Megyn Kelly offered a platform FRC president and frequent guest Tony Perkins, who has called pedophilia a "homosexual problem." As usual, none of these outlets identified FRC as a hate group or informed their audiences about the organization's history of misinformation.

And during the June 29 edition of CNN's New Day, host Chris Cuomo invited FRC's Peter Sprigg, senior fellow for policy studies, to discuss the decision in Obergefell. Sprigg, whoseprofessional experience before FRC includes serving as a Baptist minister and 10 years as a "professional actor," has previously suggested he'd prefer to "export homosexuals from the United States." But despite his extremism and lack of expertise, Sprigg was given a platform to fearmonger about the consequences of country-wide marriage equality:

Cuomo was aggressive and thoughtful in his pushback, but that didn't stop Sprigg from being able to peddle falsehoods about same-sex marriage, including the myth that Catholic adoption agencies in Boston were forced out of business after the state adopted marriage equality.

The segment highlights the fundamental problem with giving a platform to groups like FRC in the name of "balance." Even media outlets that make good-faith efforts to keep their guests honest typically lack the resources and time to debunk every bogus horror story someone like Sprigg or Perkins will peddle to a national audience. And without hearing a clear and thorough debunk, audiences are likely tobelieve the lies they're told in media reports.

The solution to this problem is relatively easy: If a media outlet thinks it's necessary to quote a hate group with a history of misinformation in a report, it should properly identify the group as extreme and unreliable, like CBS News' Bob Schieffer did in April. Prior warnings, like letting an audience know up front that a group like FRC is disreputable and motivated by animus, significantly reduce the likelihood that audiences will believe their talking points.

Sunday, June 28, 2015

Clarence Thomas Has The Weirdest Dissent To The Marriage Equality Case

WASHINGTON -- Justice Antonin Scalia may have penned the most colorful dissent to Friday's landmark Supreme Court ruling on marriage equality, but his colleague Clarence Thomas wrote the weirdest.

Thomas, alone among the four dissenting justices, seemed to recognize that the legal reasoning he and his fellow conservatives were bringing to bear on same-sex marriage could also apply to interracial marriage. That's a problem for Thomas, because only bigots oppose interracial marriage, and he presumably didn't want his dissent to be seen as window-dressing for hatred. Thomas tried to get around this uncomfortable parallel by arguing that Loving v. Virginia, the 1967 decision that required every state to recognize interracial marriage, wasn't really about marriage after all. Here's what he wrote:

Petitioners’ misconception of liberty carries over into their discussion of our precedents identifying a right to marry, not one of which has expanded the concept of “liberty” beyond the concept of negative liberty. Those precedents all involved absolute prohibitions on private actions associated with marriage. Loving v. Virginia, 388 U. S. 1 (1967), for example, involved a couple who was criminally prosecuted for marrying in the District of Columbia and cohabiting in Virginia, id., at 2–3. They were each sentenced to a year of imprisonment, suspended for a term of 25 years on the condition that they not reenter the Commonwealth together during that time.
In other words, Thomas is saying, the Loving decision was actually about letting interracial couples live together without being arrested. And OK, yes, it's true that Richard and Mildred Loving were criminally prosecuted. But it's ridiculous to claim that the decision overturning their conviction simply decriminalized interracial cohabitation. Here's what then-Chief Justice Earl Warren actually wrote in that case:
There can be no doubt that restricting the freedom to marry solely because of racial classifications violates the central meaning of the Equal Protection Clause ... The freedom to marry has long been recognized as one of the vital personal rights essential to the orderly pursuit of happiness by free men.

Marriage is one of the "basic civil rights of man," fundamental to our very existence... Under our Constitution, the freedom to marry, or not marry, a person of another race resides with the individual, and cannot be infringed by the State.

If you're still not sure whether that decision was about marriage, then consider that it overturned interracial marriage bans in 16 states... kind of like how Friday's decision overturned same-sex marriage bans in 13 states. Thomas can say whatever he wants, but his reasoning here is hard to defend. (Incidentally, Thomas, who is black, is married to a white woman named Virginia, because you can't make this stuff up.)

But wait! The Thomas dissent actually gets weirder! The justice is apparently very upset about the majority of his colleagues writing so much about "dignity" for gay couples. Here's what he has to say about human dignity:

Human dignity cannot be taken away by the government. Slaves did not lose their dignity (any more than they lost their humanity) because the government allowed them to be enslaved. Those held in internment camps did not lose their dignity because the government confined them. And those denied governmental benefits certainly do not lose their dignity because the government denies them those benefits. The government cannot bestow dignity, and it cannot take it away.

Relax, same-sex couples! Your dignity hasn't been compromised by laws against gay marriage any more than slavery compromised the dignity of the Africans who were abducted, exploited, raped and murdered in its name.

Thomas also says lots of weird stuff about the Magna Carta and John Locke's Second Treatise of Government, neither of which is the United States Constitution.

Saturday, June 27, 2015

Michigan Republicans move to block local sick leave and minimum wage laws

One of the things Republicans like to do with control of state government is make sure that cities and towns don't pass any pesky laws improving conditions for workers. We can't have local government ruining all the good work state-level Republicans are doing in keeping workers poorly paid and forced to go to work even when they're sick, can we? Certainly not—and Michigan Republicans are on it. The state legislature has just passed such a bill:
The text of the bill states that “the regulation of the employment relationship between a nonpublic employer and its employees is a matter of state concern,” and stipulates that local governments won’t be given the authority to pass any requirements like minimum wages or paid leave that are higher than what’s already in place at the state level. It now awaits the signature of Gov. Rick Snyder (R). The governor’s office did not return a request for comment about whether he will sign or veto it, but local advocates expect that the will.
These laws are gaining ground quickly, Bryce Covert reports:
If Snyder does sign the bill into law, Michigan would become the 12th state in the country to ban local governments from passing paid sick leave or minimum wage requirements, according to Ellen Bravo, executive director of Family Values @ Work. While just three states had these laws on the books as of 2012, eight have passed them since 2013.
Would it surprise you to learn that ALEC has been pushing such preemption bills?

Paid sick leave is very popular and has built real momentum over the past few years, with four states—Connecticut, California, Massachusetts, and Oregon—now having sick leave laws, along with 18 cities and one county. The vast majority of those laws have been passed in just the last couple years. That fast spread of progress for workers is exactly what makes the issue such a threat to lousy employers and the Republicans who love them. That said, preemption laws have also been used for things like blocking the Denton, Texas, ballot initiative banning fracking in the town. Really, it's a great all-purpose weapon against local governments improving their standards beyond where Republicans want them.

Friday, June 26, 2015

Huckabee Vows To ‘Resist And Reject Judicial Tyranny’ After Same-Sex Marriage Ruling

On Friday morning, Republican presidential candidates disapproved of the Supreme Court’s majority opinion, which recognized marriage as a fundamental right for same-sex couples.

Former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee expressed perhaps the most strident disapproval, urging voters to “resist and reject judicial tyranny.” 

“This ruling is not about marriage equality, it’s about marriage redefinition. This irrational, unconstitutional rejection of the expressed will of the people in over 30 states will prove to be one of the court’s most disastrous decisions, and they have had many. The only outcome worse than this flawed, failed decision would be for the President and Congress, two co-equal branches of government, to surrender in the face of this out-of-control act of unconstitutional, judicial tyranny,” Huckabee continued.

Right-Wing Media Respond To Nationwide Marriage Equality: "We Should Weep For Our Country"

Supreme Court Rules That Bans On Same-Sex Marriage Are Unconstitutional. On June 26, the Supreme Court ruled that bans on same-sex marriage violate the Fourteenth Amendment of the U.S. Constitution. According to The New York Times:

In a long-sought victory for the gay rights movement, the Supreme Court ruled on Friday that the Constitution guarantees a nationwide right to same-sex marriage.

The 5-to-4 decision, the culmination of decades of litigation and activism, came against the backdrop of fast-moving changes in public opinion, with polls indicating that most Americans now approve of same-sex marriage. [The New York Times6/26/15]

"We Do Not Live In A Democracy": Right-Wing Criticizes Marriage Equality Decision

National Review Online's Hillyer: "We Should Weep For Our Country." National Review contributing editor Quin Hillyer responded to the Supreme Court's decision by writing that "[w]e should weep for our country" (emphasis added):

There is absolutely no way for Justice Anthony Kennedy to square today's decision with his ten pages of paeans to states' authority over marriage in the 2013 case of U.S. v. Windsor. None. The damage done to the Constitution and the rule of law in the last two days -- in Burwell regarding Obamacare subsidies, in Obergefell today on same-sex marriage, and in yesterday's housing disparate-impact case as well -- is incalculably high. We should weep for our country, and for its constitutional order. [National Review Online, 6/26/15]

Fox's MacCallum: "What's To Prevent" Three People From Getting Married Now? On the June 26 edition of Fox News' America's Newsroom, host Martha MacCallum said "We're just trying to think about the ramifications, when a precedent is set, what it means down the road, right? So suppose three people say, we want to be a marriage; we're three people, and we love each other, and we want to be a marriage. What's to prevent that, under this?" [Fox News, America's Newsroom, 6/26/15]

Saturday, June 20, 2015

Obamacare Repeal Would Swell The Deficit Even Using GOP's New Math, Budget Office Says

The economist that Republicans handpicked to run the Congressional Budget Office just told Republicans that one of their favorite arguments about Obamacare is wrong.

According to a report the CBO released Friday, repealing the Affordable Care Act wouldn't reduce the deficit, as Republicans have long claimed. It would increase the deficit, by at least $137 billion over 10 years and maybe a lot more than that -- with the effects getting bigger over time.

Of course, that’s in addition to the effect repeal would have on the number of Americans without health insurance. The CBO says the ranks of the uninsured would increase by 19 million people next year.

The agency's assessments matter because the CBO is Washington’s unofficial referee on policymaking. Before passing a law, Congress looks to the CBO and its staff of well-respected, nonpartisan economists to predict how much money a proposal will bring into the federal Treasury and how much it will force the government to pay out. 

Members of Congress also depend on CBO estimates to show them how proposals to alter health care policy will affect the number of Americans who have health insurance, what prices these people will pay for their coverage, and so on.

Read more at:

Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders dominate on Facebook

Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders are dominating the Facebook conversations among all the presidential candidates in some of the most important early primary states, data provided by Facebook for the past month shows.

From May 13 to June 13, Clinton dominated the conversation in Iowa, New Hampshire and South Carolina. Sanders came in second in Iowa and New Hampshire, while Rand Paul came in second in South Carolina.

In Iowa, Clinton had 66,000 Iowans make 289,000 interactions (which Facebook defines as likes, comments, posts, and shares) about her. Sanders had 30,000 Iowans make 153,000 interactions about him for the same time period. Paul had 24,000 people make 98,000 interactions about him in Iowa during that time period.

In New Hampshire during the same time period, Clinton had 32,000 people make 145,000 interactions about her, while Sanders had 23,000 people make 123,000 interactions about him and Paul had 12,000 people make 59,000 interactions about him.

Clinton makes the largest mark in South Carolina, far outpacing any other candidates. From May 13 to June 13 she had 104,000 people make 460,000 interactions about her. In second place was Paul, with 34,000 people making 132,000 interactions about him. Ben Carson comes in third, with 24,000 people making 120,000 interactions about him. South Carolina’s own Lindsey Graham comes in fourth, with 43,000 people making 100,000 interactions about him.

Martin O’Malley barely registers on Facebook in these early states, making the bottom three in each state, never going above 3,000 people or 5,000 interactions.

Read more:

Wednesday, June 17, 2015

Coverage Of Bush's Criticism Of Pope's Encyclical Should Include Candidate's Secret Coal Industry Meeting

Former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush made news on his first official day as a GOP presidential candidate by suggesting that Pope Francis' forthcoming encyclical on climate change could inappropriately push religion "into the political realm" and declaring: "I don't get my economic policy from my bishops or my cardinals or my pope." But the media should be covering Bush's remarks in the context of a closed-door meeting he held with coal industry CEOs earlier this month -- an important piece of information that could shed some light on who Bush is actually getting his "economic policy" from when it comes to climate change.

Bush's June 1 appearance at the Coal & Investment Leadership Forum was first revealed in a May 29 reportby The Guardian, based on materials the newspaper received from the Center for Media and Democracy, a non-profit watchdog group. As The Guardian reported at the time:

The former Florida governor is appearing at the invitation of six coalmining company owners and executives: Joe Craft III of Alliance Resource Partners, Kevin Crutchfield of Alpha Natural Resources, Nick DeIuliis of Consol Energy, Garry Drummond of Drummond Company, John Eaves of Arch Coal, and Jim McGlothlin of United Coal Company.

Between them, the six companies have spent more than $17.4m on campaigns and lobbying since the last presidential elections, according to the Center for Responsive Politics Open Secrets website.

The Guardian further noted that the meeting occurred "at a critical time for the energy industry and for Bush's political ambitions," with the Environmental Protection Agency "expected to finalize new rules for carbon pollution from power plants this summer" and Bush "relatively free of fundraising disclosure requirements until the official launch of his presidential campaign." 

The Washington Post, which also obtained a copy of the event's invitation, similarly reported that Bush met with "top officers of some of the largest coal firms in the eastern United States." And McClatchy reported that the meeting came as the coal industry "is fighting in particular the Obama administration's plan to slash the emissions of planet-warming gases from coal-fired power plants," adding that the industry "considers the regulations part of a 'War on Coal' and hopes the next president will reverse or slow regulations." 

However, much of the initial media coverage of Bush's June 16 comments about Pope Francis' climate change encyclical has not mentioned his appearance at the Coal & Investment Leadership Forum. A notable exception is a June 17 Guardian article headlined "Jeb Bush joins Republican backlash against pope on climate change," which reported that "Bush earlier this month was the sole Republican presidential candidate invited to speak at a $7,500 golfing and fly fishing retreat hosted by coal companies."

The article also noted that a lobbyist for Arch Coal, one of the companies that met with Bush, joined him in preemptively criticizing the pope's encyclical, which will be released on June 18.

Tuesday, June 16, 2015

The Worst Of Donald Trump's Media Commentary

Real estate mogul and reality show host Donald Trump has officially entered the presidential race. For years, Trump has made regular media appearances (particularly on Fox News) to promote his previously-elusive presidential ambitions and push absurd conspiracies, including repeatedly questioning the validity of President Obama's birth certificate.

One of Trump's media platforms is likely in jeopardy due to his announcement -- NBC is reportedly planning to "re-evaluate Trump's role as host of 'Celebrity Apprentice' should it become necessary."

Some of Trump's worst media commentary is below:

Trump Spent Months In 2011 Teaming Up With Fox News To Push Birther Conspiracies. In early 2011, as he was supposedly weighing his own presidential run, Trump breathed new life into the conspiracy theory that President Obama had not released a valid birth certificate and may have been hiding the fact that he was not born in America. Fox News gave Trump a platform on the network to forward his crusade and repeatedly defended him from attacks from other media outlets. After Obama embarrassed Trump by publicly releasing the long-form version of his birth certificate, several conservative media figures somehow decided the entire ordeal was a win for Trump.

Trump Suggested Obama's Long-Form Birth Certificate Was Forged. During an interview with Greta Van Susteren more than a year after the release of Obama's long-form birth certificate, Trump pointed to the "many, many people" questioning the validity of the document. (Trump had previously reportedly told conspiracy website WND that he thought the birth certificate was a forgery.) After Van Susteren pointed to the existence of a birth announcement for the president in a Hawaii newspaper, Trump claimed that report may have been planted:

A few months ago, during an appearance at the annual Conservative Political Action Conference, Trump reiterated that he is not sure whether Obama released "a real certificate."

Trump: Obama Didn't Write His Own Memoir. Borrowing an obscure conspiracy from WND columnist Jack Cashill, Trump repeatedly claimed in 2011 and 2012 that President Obama didn't write his memoir, instead suggesting that the book was actually written by Bill Ayers.

During a 2012 appearance on Greta Van Susteren's show, Trump said, "Who really penned that book, it would be an interesting question for people to figure out ... I think somebody else had a lot to do with that book. I think he wrote the second book, which was certainly not a masterpiece. I'm very good at books, and it certainly wasn't a masterpiece."

Trump: Climate Change Is A "Hoax" Perpetrated By Scientists "Having A Lot Of Fun." During a rant pointing to cold winter temperatures around the country, Trump repeatedly labeled climate change a "hoax," adding, "I think the scientists are having a lot of fun."

As Mother Jones' Jeremy Schulman (formerly research director at Media Mattersnotes, Trump has also repeatedly dismissed climate science on his Twitter account, decrying the "GLOBAL WARMING HOAX" and the "very expensive GLOBAL WARMING bullshit."

Trump Repeatedly Linked Vaccines To Autism. Trump has frequently pushed the link between vaccines and autism despite scientific evidence to the contrary. He said on Fox News in April 2012 of vaccines: "I've seen people where they have a perfectly healthy child, and they go for the vaccinations, and a month later the child is no longer healthy." He later tweeted, "I am being proven right about massive vaccinations--the doctors lied," and "Healthy young child goes to doctor, gets pumped with massive shot of many vaccines, doesn't feel good and changes - AUTISM. Many such cases!

Trump Called For A "Revolution" After Obama's Re-election. In two tweets he later deleted, Trump called for a "revolution."

Trump: "There Is Something Seriously Wrong With President Obama's Mental Health." Trump questioned President Obama's mental health because he didn't cut off flights from countries with active Ebola cases in 2014 (The CDC stated doing so would actually hurt Ebola prevention efforts). Trump called Obama a "psycho" and said "There's something wrong, there's something going on."

Trump: Arianna Huffington Is "Unattractive," And "I Fully Understand Why Her Former Husband Left Her." In a 2012 tweet, Trump claimed that Huffington Post founder Arianna Huffington "is unattractive both inside and out. I fully understand why her former husband left her for a man- he made a good decision."