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Member since: Fri May 8, 2009, 12:59 AM
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Journal Archives

Patterson Tackles Our Dumb News Culture in ‘Informing the News’

This is great book that highlights the role that our modern media plays in helping create the dysfunctional political system that we have. You have a media that has dropped any pretense of objectivity in favor of promoting a false equivalency between the extreme right, on the one hand, and moderates and left of center types, on the other. You need only glance on the front page of Yahoo to see how even internet gateways are being subverted to push a right wing agenda.


This summer The Onion ran a satirical piece purporting to be an op-ed by CNN’s managing editor, Meredith Artley, titled, “Let Me Explain Why Miley Cyrus’ VMA Performance Was Our Top Story This Morning.” Her explanation for why CNN filled the top news slot with the story “Miley Cyrus Did What???” (this was the actual headline; no need to satirize it) instead of reporting on Syria or the unrest in Egypt: “It was an attempt to get you to click on CNN.com so that we could drive up our web traffic, which in turn would allow us to increase our advertising revenue.”

According to Thomas E. Patterson’s new book “Informing the News: The Need for Knowledge-Based Journalism” (Vintage, 233 pages, $15), this kind of thinking is alas, not fiction, but the sort of logic that drives much of mainstream journalism today.

* * *

It’s not just the content, Patterson writes, but the style of reporting that can give the audience the wrong impression of the world as it actually exists. It’s cheaper for news organizations to produce op-eds and opinion-based stories than it is to pursue thoughtful investigative reporting. This matters, Patterson writes, because studies have shown that “exposure to one-sided arguments can lead people to adopt extreme political views. It can also give them a warped sense of what the opposing side believes.”

The other standard journalism technique that Patterson takes to task is the “objective reporting model,” the type of stories in which a journalist interviews one person on one side of the issue and a different person on the other side of the issue, and plays the statements off each other without pointing out whether there’s more scientific evidence supporting one side, for example. In this type of story, the journalist often makes no effort to try to uncover the truth. “The objective reporting model,” Patterson writes, “absolves journalists of their part in the deception.”

Healthcare debate lacks factual arguments against Obamacare

Nice article calling out how the RW continues to ignore facts and how the media continues to help perpetuate RW myths. The thing is that this can pretty much be applied to pretty much any substantive policy discussion.


Healthcare reporters and bloggers I queried in an informal poll confirmed that the ACA elicits unusual fervor among their readers. One who writes for a progressive website says that "Obamacare is only in second place when it comes to hate tweets. No. 1 is Benghazi."

What accounts for the pungent rancor? Here's a rundown:

•The Fox News effect. That's shorthand for the combined impact of the Republican assault on Obamacare and relentlessly negative coverage from the right-wing news media. "As divided as the GOP is, one thing they can agree on is that they hate the ACA," says Timothy S. Jost, an expert on healthcare law at Virginia's Washington and Lee University. "That's an important organizing principle for them."

The campaign involves ceaseless repetition of the mantra that Obamacare is bad, accompanied by almost no explanation why. It's a canny approach, because polls have shown consistently that Americans favor the individual elements of the ACA by a wide margin — the ban on exclusions for preexisting conditions, the closing of the Medicare prescription drug "doughnut hole," tax credits for small businesses to give their workers coverage, and expanding Medicaid all are favored by 65% or more. But "Obamacare," undefined, gets low marks.

David Koch, Donald Trump Lead Wealthy Donors Past Now-Dead Campaign Finance Limit

You can see why the Republican party is suing for the ability to sell out further to the wealthy and eliminate any restriction against unlimited campaign contributions. We are not too far away from realizing the Republican dream of only allowing the wealthy to vote or at least vote in proportion to their wealth.


WASHINGTON -- Some wealthy donors have already blown past limits on campaign contributions to political parties that were voided by the Supreme Court's McCutcheon decision last month.

The court's 5-4 ruling came on April 2, and by the end of that month, at least 41 donors had plowed past the old aggregate limits restricting how much one donor could give to political parties and political action committees. Prior to the court's ruling, donors could only give $74,600 to parties and PACs in one election cycle. Now, they're giving into the six-figures.

Among those taking advantage of the new rules were billionaire conservative funder David Koch, reality television star Donald Trump, two-time Republican Senate candidate and wrestling executive Linda McMahon, hedge fund executive and neoconservative Paul Singer, former Treasury Secretary Hank Paulson and casino billionaire Steve Wynn. The donations were disclosed in reports filed with the Federal Election Commission on Tuesday.

The Republican Party is the biggest beneficiary of the court ruling. The Republican National Committee, the party's central organ, joined the McCutcheon case against the FEC to challenge the aggregate limits to party committees. The majority of donors primed to go past the old limits after the ruling were Republicans. Just six of the donors passing the defunct limits gave primarily to Democrats. One -- John J. Megrue, Jr. -- mixed his contributions between the parties.

NYT Editorial - "The Koch Attack on Solar Energy"

In a way you can see why Koch industries is putting hundreds of millions of dollars into buying their handpicked GOP candidates while also spending millions in attack ads on Democrats. The fact of the matter is that they want Americans to be dependent on fossil fuels notwithstanding the fact that this hurts the environment and causes America to be dependent on foreign oil. It s borderline treasonous where these companies are actively working to increase the USA's dependency on fossil fuels in order to increase their profits.

At long last, the Koch brothers and their conservative allies in state government have found a new tax they can support. Naturally it’s a tax on something the country needs: solar energy panels.

For the last few months, the Kochs and other big polluters have been spending heavily to fight incentives for renewable energy, which have been adopted by most states. They particularly dislike state laws that allow homeowners with solar panels to sell power they don’t need back to electric utilities. So they’ve been pushing legislatures to impose a surtax on this increasingly popular practice, hoping to make installing solar panels on houses less attractive.

* * *

The coal producers’ motivation is clear: They see solar and wind energy as a long-term threat to their businesses. That might seem distant at the moment, when nearly 40 percent of the nation’s electricity is still generated by coal, and when less than 1 percent of power customers have solar arrays. (It is slightly higher in California and Hawaii.) But given new regulations on power-plant emissions of mercury and other pollutants, and the urgent need to reduce global warming emissions, the future clearly lies with renewable energy. In 2013, 29 percent of newly installed generation capacity came from solar, compared with 10 percent in 2012.

Renewables are good for economic as well as environmental reasons, as most states know. (More than 143,000 now work in the solar industry.) Currently, 43 states require utilities to buy excess power generated by consumers with solar arrays. This practice, known as net metering, essentially runs electric meters backward when power flows from rooftop solar panels into the grid, giving consumers a credit for the power they generate but don’t use.

Koch-Linked Firm Devoted to Grooming "Electable" Candidates Signs Up Arkansas GOP Leader

Just in case there was any doubt that the Republican party has become nothing more than PAC for billionaires, the oil industry, and the NRA, you have Koch hand picking who is a Republican candidate.


n January, Mother Jones broke the story of one of the newest affiliates of Charles and David Koch's sprawling political machine, a consulting firm named Aegis Strategic created to identify, recruit, and groom free-market-minded candidates for elected office. Aegis bills itself as a one-stop shop for aspiring politicians, able to handle general consulting, fundraising, direct mail, social media, and more. The firm is run by Jeff Crank, a radio host and two-time congressional candidate who previously ran the Colorado chapter of Americans for Prosperity, the advocacy group founded by the Koch brothers.

When we reported on the firm earlier this year, Aegis Strategic had only one client: Marilinda Garcia, a New Hampshire state lawmaker running for Congress. But new campaign filings show that Aegis has since signed up at least one more congressional hopeful: Bruce Westerman, the former Republican majority leader of the Arkansas state House.

Westerman is running to replace Rep. Tom Cotton in Arkansas' 4th Congressional District. (Cotton is now running for Senate and hoping to oust the incumbent Democrat Mark Pryor. Americans for Prosperity has spent millions of dollars attacking Pryor on the airwaves.) Westerman's campaign paid Aegis $4,000 for strategy consulting in March, campaign records show. (In January, Westerman also tweeted a photo of himself with Brad Stevens, Aegis Strategic's director of candidate identification, with the message, "Caught up with part of campaign team.")

According to Westerman's campaign website, he was the first GOPer to lead the Arkansas House in 138 years. And he wouldn't have been in that position without the help of the Kochs' political network, especially Americans for Prosperity. During the 2012 election cycle, AFP reportedly spent upwards of $1 million in Arkansas on mailers, a bus tour (featuring Cliff from the TV show Cheers), phone banking, and grassroots canvassing. That effort helped flip both the state House and Senate from Democratic to Republican control. AFP figured so prominently in the 2012 cycle that the Arkansas Times named the Koch brothers "Arkansans of the Year."

"The Most Enduring Myth About the Presidency" - Norm Ornstein

A nice article by Norm Ornstein destroying the current narrative of blaming the President for Republican obstructionism.


I do understand the sentiment here and the frustration over the deep dysfunction that has taken over our politics. It is tempting to believe that a president could overcome the tribalism, polarization, and challenges of the permanent campaign, by doing what other presidents did to overcome their challenges. It is not as if passing legislation and making policy was easy in the old days.

But here is the reality, starting with the Johnson presidency…. is drive for civil rights was aided in 1964 by having the momentum following John F. Kennedy’s assassination, and the partnership of Republicans Everett Dirksen and Bill McCullough, detailed beautifully in new books by Clay Risen and Todd Purdum. And Johnson was aided substantially in 1965-66 by having swollen majorities of his own party in both chambers of Congress – 68 of 100 senators, and 295 House members, more than 2-to-1 margins.

* * *

Ronald Reagan was a master negotiator, and he has the distinction of having two major pieces of legislation, tax reform and immigration reform, enacted in his second term, without the overwhelming numbers that Johnson enjoyed in 1965-66. What Reagan did have, just like Johnson had on civil rights, was active and eager partners from the other party. The drive for tax reform did not start with Reagan, but with Democrats Bill Bradley and Dick Gephardt, whose reform bill became the template for the law that ultimately passed. They, and Ways and Means Chairman Dan Rostenkowski, were delighted to make their mark in history (and for Bradley and Gephardt, to advance their presidential ambitions) by working with the lame-duck Republican president. The same desire to craft transformative policy was there for both Alan Simpson and Ron Mazzoli, a Senate Republican and a House Democrat, who put together immigration legislation with limited involvement by the White House.

As for Bill Clinton, he was as politically adept as any president in modern times, and as charismatic and compelling as anyone. But the reality is that these great talents did not convince a single Republican to support his economic plan in 1993, nor enough Democrats to pass the plan for a crucial seven-plus months; did not stop the Republicans under Speaker Newt Gingrich from shutting down the government twice; and did not stop the House toward the end of his presidency from impeaching him on shaky grounds, with no chance of conviction in the Senate. The brief windows of close cooperation in 1996, after Gingrich’s humiliation following the second shutdown, were opened for pragmatic, tactical reasons by Republicans eager to win a second consecutive term in the majority, and ended shortly after they had accomplished that goal.

Conservative heavyweights have solar industry in their sights

I guess the argument is that all those Prius driving, solar panel deploying tree huggers are putting the hardworking real Americans who work for the oil industry out of work. I guess if you have billions of dollars and no conscience you can campaign to keep American dependent on fossil fuels by attacking alternative energy and denying climate change to maintain your stranglehold on American consumers.


*Americans for Prosperity, run by David Koch, shown here, and his brother, Charles, has led the effort to overturn a law in Kansas that requires 20% of the state’s electricity to come from renewable sources.*

WASHINGTON — The political attack ad that ran recently in Arizona had some familiar hallmarks of the genre, including a greedy villain who hogged sweets for himself and made children cry.

But the bad guy, in this case, wasn't a fat-cat lobbyist or someone's political opponent.

He was a solar-energy consumer.

* * *
The Koch brothers, anti-tax activist Grover Norquist and some of the nation's largest power companies have backed efforts in recent months to roll back state policies that favor green energy. The conservative luminaries have pushed campaigns in Kansas, North Carolina and Arizona, with the battle rapidly spreading to other states.

New Yorker - Justice Roberts Defends the Embattled Rich

The billionaire sponsored pity party for the filthy rich continues.


Chief Justice John Roberts’s majority opinion in McCutcheon v. Federal Election Commission, in which the Supreme Court struck down aggregate limits on campaign donations, offers a novel twist in the conservative contemplation of what Nazis have to do with the way the rich are viewed in America. In January, Tom Perkins, the Silicon Valley venture capitalist, worried about a progressive Kristallnacht; Kenneth Langone, the founder of Home Depot, said, of economic populism, “If you go back to 1933, with different words, this is what Hitler was saying in Germany. You don’t survive as a society if you encourage and thrive on envy or jealousy.” Roberts, to his credit, avoided claiming the mantle of Hitler’s victims for wealthy campaign donors. He suggests, though, that the rich are, likewise, outcasts: “Money in politics may at times seem repugnant to some, but so too does much of what the First Amendment vigorously protects,” he writes:

If the First Amendment protects flag burning, funeral protests, and Nazi parades—despite the profound offense such spectacles cause—it surely protects political campaign speech despite popular opposition.

* * *

Roberts’s other argument is a little sad: “That same donor, meanwhile, could have spent unlimited funds on independent expenditures on behalf of Smith.” In other words, aggregate limits wouldn’t foster corruption, because using money to influence a campaign is much easier with the sort of independent expenditures that Citizens United makes possible.

* * *

But then Roberts relies on a very narrow measure of corruption: “Ingratiation and access … are not corruption,” he writes, quoting Citizens United. (There are a number of citations of Citizens United in this decision.) The argument of McCutcheon, in effect, is that a political party itself cannot, by definition, be corrupted: “There is a clear, administrable line between money beyond the base limits funneled in an identifiable way to a candidate—for which the candidate feels obligated—and money within the base limits given widely to a candidate’s party—for which the candidate, like all other members of the party, feels grateful.” The gratitude may only be for a place of safety where donors, assailed by the popular opinion of bitter, poorer people, can find a little bit of solace.

GOP candidates kiss up to billionaire Sheldon Adelson

Of course, the United Supreme Court, engaged in an odd bit of fact-finding by an appellate court that there is no evidence that the campaign finance limits at issue will serve to reduce the risk of corruption. Talk about legislating from the bench. An appellate court can simply disregard factual and legislative findings and substitute its policy perogatives for those of the elected legislative body because the Supreme Court thinks that campaign finance limits in question are not a panacea against corruption.


When Sheldon Adelson, the world’s eighth-richest person, according to Forbes, let it be known that he was looking for a Republican candidate to back in the 2016 presidential race, these four men rushed to Las Vegas over the weekend to see if they could arrange a quickie marriage in Sin City between their political ambitions and Adelson’s $39.9 billion fortune.

Adelson was hosting the Republican Jewish Coalition at his Venetian hotel and gambling complex, and the would-be candidates paraded themselves before the group, hoping to catch the 80-year-old casino mogul’s eye. Everybody knows that, behind closed doors, politicians often sell themselves to the highest bidder; this time, they were doing it in public, as if vending their wares at a live auction.

As The Post’s Philip Rucker reported, Kasich, the Ohio governor, kept addressing his speech to “Sheldon,” as if he were having a private tete-a-tete with the mega-donor (Adelson and his wife spent more than $93 million on the 2012 elections) and not speaking to a roomful of people.

* * *
In addition to Adelson, two of the world’s other top-10 billionaires, David and Charles Koch (combined net worth: $81 billion) are pouring tens of millions into the 2014 midterm elections in an effort to swing the Senate to Republican control. These and other wealthy people, their political contributions unleashed by the Supreme Court’s Citizens United decision, are buying the U.S. political system in much the same way Russian oligarchs have acquired theirs. (Super-rich liberals such as Tom Steyer are spending some of their fortunes to help Democrats, but they are pikers by comparison.) Spending by super PACs, a preferred vehicle of billionaires, will surpass spending by all candidates combined this year, predicts Kantar Media, which tracks political advertising.

Creationists Demand Airtime On Neil deGrasse Tyson's 'Cosmos'

This story just further illustrates how corporate and uninformative our media has become. With the advent of false equivalency being substituted for an objective and unbiased goal in media, we now have creationists demanding equal time to push superstition on a level playing field with science.


Creationist groups have made yet another complaint about Neil deGrasse Tyson's "Cosmos: A Spacetime Odyssey."

Since the show debuted on FOX this month, creationists have not kept quiet about the science documentary series. What's the problem now?

While some have shunned the reboot of Carl Sagan's 1980 PBS series altogether, other creationists now have made a request: equal airtime.

Appearing on "The Janet Mefferd Show" on Thursday, Danny Faulkner of Answers In Genesis voiced his complaints about "Cosmos" and how the 13-episode series has described scientific theories, such as evolution, but has failed to shed light on dissenting creationist viewpoints. He said:

Tyson recently addressed providing balance when it comes to discussing science. In an interview with CNN, the astronomer criticized the media for giving "equal time" to those who oppose widely accepted scientific theories.

"I think the media has to sort of come out of this ethos that I think was in principle a good one, but doesn't really apply in science. The ethos was, whatever story you give, you have to give the opposing view, and then you can be viewed as balanced," Tyson said, adding, "you don't talk about the spherical earth with NASA and then say let's give equal time to the flat-earthers
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