Friday, December 31, 2010

Glenn Beck Can't Help Himself The Right-Wing Welfare Queen is a Pathological Liar

Glenn Beck Can't Help Himself The Right-Wing Welfare Queen is a Pathological Liar

In 2010, Glenn Beck repeatedly made up facts on Fox News show -- a barrage of lies that would force any credible news outlet to fire him. Media Matters counts down 15 of the most notable fibs that Beck told this year on Fox News, culminating with the biggest lie of all.
No. 15 The Fed Hoards Its Profits

Beck Complains That "Nobody" Is Looking To Recover The Fed's Profits. During a January interview with Sarah Palin, Beck discussed the Federal Reserve's 2009 profits, and claimed, "Exxon had their record profit a couple of years ago. It was $45 billion. The Fed just had record profit, over $50 billion. No one's having hearings on the Fed. Nobody is looking for a windfall profit tax on the Fed. We can't even open the Fed's books." [Fox News, Glenn Beck,1/13/10, via Nexis]

REALITY: The Fed "Returns Its Profits To The Treasury." The Washington Post reported that the Federal Reserve "will return about $45 billion to the U.S. Treasury for 2009 ... the highest earnings in the 96-year history of the central bank. The Fed, unlike most government agencies, funds itself from its own operations and returns its profits to the Treasury." The Post added that these profits "are good news for the federal budget and a sign that the Fed has been successful, at least so far, in protecting taxpayers as it intervenes in the economy -- though there remains a risk of significant losses in the future if the Fed sells some of its investments or loses money on its stakes in bailed-out firms." [The Washington Post, 1/12/10]
No. 14 Tax Dollars Funded An Art Exhibit Actually Paid For By Private Donors

BECK: "And Then You Have The Tax Dollars Funding This Wonderful Art Display. It's Christmas At The Smithsonian." Beck said of an exhibit at the Smithsonian's National Portrait Gallery, which is titled "Hide/Seek: Difference and Desire in American Portraiture":

Perfect storm. Eroding values. Hard work, sacrifice, thrift, honor, truth, God. As a nation born out of faith in God, how's that going today, huh? Twenty-five percent of those under 30 years of age describe their religion as atheist, agnostic, or nothing in particular. Now, as you get older, it goes down. Thirty to 40 years old, only 19 percent. Ages 40 to 50, 15 percent. If you're over 60, less than 10 percent say that.

And then you have the tax dollars funding this wonderful art display. It's Christmas at the Smithsonian. Here's this wonderful -- oh, look, it's Jesus with ants on him. They describe it as the first major exhibition to focus on the sexual difference in the making of modern American portraiture.

What? You got to be kidding me, right? What does this have to do with the birth of the baby Jesus, and why is he now covered in ants? Whose values are these? And you wonder why there's the breakdown of the family. [Fox News, Glenn Beck, 11/30/10]

REALITY: Smithsonian "Receives Public Funds" But "Does Not Use That Money For Exhibitions." The Washington Post reported:

The exhibition, which opened Oct. 30, was funded by the largest number of individual donors for a Portrait Gallery show. The show, which cost $750,000, was also underwritten by foundations that support gay and lesbian issues.


As part of the Smithsonian, the gallery receives public funds. Overall, the Smithsonian gets about 70 percent of its annual budget from the federal government, but it does not use that money for exhibitions. [The Washington Post, 11/30/10]

No. 13 Obama Did Not Make Oil Spill "Our Priority"

BECK: Obama Did Not Prioritize The Oil Spill. Beck falsely claimed that Obama did not prioritize ending the oil spill in the Gulf:

BECK: What are we doing now with the spill? If this were really about the spill, we would first work on, what? Stopping this!

Before talking about energy and taxes and cap and trade or solar panels or saying, "Don't tell me that we can't fundamentally transform the country into solar panels and green energy." You would stop the oil spill. You would get a tourniquet. This should be our priority. But it's not. [Fox News, Glenn Beck, 6/17/10]

REALITY: Obama Said "Make No Mistake: We Will Fight This Spill With Everything We've Got For As Long As It Takes." During an address from the Oval Office prior to Beck's claim, Obama stated: "But make no mistake: We will fight this spill with everything we've got for as long as it takes. We will make BP pay for the damage their company has caused. And we will do whatever's necessary to help the Gulf Coast and its people recover from this tragedy." [Remarks By The President To The Nation On The BP Oil Spill,, 6/15/10]

REALITY: Obama Had Called The Spill "My Top Priority." During an earlier press conference, Obama said: "Those who think that we were either slow on our response or lacked urgency don't know the facts. This has been our highest priority since this crisis occurred." He also said, " But here's the broad point: There has never been a point during this crisis in which this administration, up and down up the line, in all these agencies, hasn't, number one, understood this was my top priority -- getting this stopped and then mitigating the damage; and number two, understanding that if BP wasn't doing what our best options were, we were fully empowered and instruct them, to tell them to do something different." [Remarks By The President On The Gulf Oil Spill,, 5/27/10]
No. 12 U.S. Sending "Another Trillion Dollars, Your Tax Dollars" Over To Europe

BECK: "Now We Find Out Through The Fed That We Are Going To Do Almost Another Trillion Dollars, Your Tax Dollars, Over To Europe." Discussing efforts by the International Monetary Fund to stabilize European economies, Beck said:

BECK: We also told you that the IMF would bail out Europe. Here we were on this program, oh, I don't know how many months ago. Watch.

BECK [video clip]: We're not only bailing ourselves out, Fannie and Freddie, but now we're trying to bail out Europe as well. The European Union, along with the IMF, is giving $1 trillion to Greece -- $1 trillion. The U.S. contributes 17 percent of the IMF funds.

BECK: OK. So, we told you that, and nobody really paid attention. Now we find out, through the Fed, that we are going to do almost another trillion dollars, your tax dollars, over to Europe.

We also found out that we have sent $3.3 trillion in our bailout, a lot of it went over to Europe, went over to France, went to Germany, Spain, et cetera, et cetera. And we're sending more. [Fox News, Glenn Beck, 12/2/10]

REALITY: The WSJ Reported, "The U.S. Isn't Discussing A Larger International Monetary Fund Contribution To The European Rescue Package." The Wall Street Journal reported:

The U.S. isn't discussing a larger International Monetary Fund contribution to the European rescue package, a U.S. official said Wednesday.

European Commission officials have been discussing whether to increase the EUR750 billion rescue package as a way to handle possible sovereign debt problems in Spain and other countries. A bigger fund would likely include a larger financial contribution from the IMF, which now is committed to spending as much as EUR250 billion on euro-zone rescue loans.

(This story and related background material will be available on The Wall Street Journal Web site,

U.S. Undersecretary of Treasury Lael Brainard is now in Germany discussing the Europe's plans to contain the euro zone's sovereign debt woes. A U.S. official said those talks don't now include a larger IMF contribution. [The Wall Street Journal, 12/1/10]

REALITY: AP Reported That A U.S. Official "Said That An Addition To The IMF Support Package Was Not Something That Was Being Discussed Currently." The Associated Press reported:

A U.S. official, who would speak only on condition of anonymity because discussions were still ongoing, said that an addition to the IMF support package was not something that was being discussed currently.

Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner did dispatch Treasury Undersecretary Lael Brainard, Treasury's top official on international matters, for talks with European officials. Brainard had meetings in Madrid with economic officials on Wednesday and was scheduled to be in Berlin on Thursday and Paris on Friday.

The U.S. "can't afford to let Europe implode," said David Gilmore of Foreign Exchange Analytics. But the reported statement by the U.S. official does not necessarily mean that the U.S. has already agreed to a deal allowing the IMF to contribute more money or that it will pony up more money for Europe itself.

Investors were relieved by the implication that the EU and the IMF might be assembling a larger bailout fund, Gilmore said, because of the threat of there not being enough funds for Spain, should it need a rescue.

A spokesman for the EU's monetary affairs chief Olli Rehn said he had not heard of talks about extending the EFSF fund. [Associated Press, 12/1/10]

No. 11 Beck Time Travels To 1995 To Show George Soros "Didn't Mince Words" In 2004

BECK: In 2004, Soros Called The Election "Not A Normal Election," And Said That "In Periods Of Regime Change, Normal Rules Do Not Apply." Accusing financier and philanthropist George Soros of setting up a "shadow party" to interfere in the 2004 elections, Beck cited David Horowitz and Richard Poe's The Shadow Party and said:

BECK: A shadow party is not a political party, it is a -- at least not in a tangible sense. It works outside the normal electoral system. In 2000, Soros funded one-third of the shadow conventions. Do you even remember these? They were run by Arianna Huffington, the president's favorite source of news. And one of the lead organizers next to her was Jim Wallis, one of the guys who is campaigning against this program, surprise, surprise.

The idea was to parallel the Democratic and Republican conventions -- the shadow convention. Huffington said at the time, the message of the shadow conventions was, quote, "Not left or right, and the answers to these issues are not going to be found in the old ideas of the past. Clearly, the Great Society solution of top-down programs has failed." Top-down programs. "Instead, the answers could be found in the raw power," quoting, "of government appropriations." Wow.

But it was the next election cycle that truly launched the shadow party. In 2004, when Soros didn't mince words, he stated, quote, "This is not a normal election. These are not normal times." And, quote, "I do not accept the rules imposed by others. If I did, I would not be alive today. And in periods of regime change, normal rules do not apply. One needs to adjust one's behavior to the changing circumstances."

By the 2004 election cycle, Soros' shadow party had shaped the Democratic message. Under Soros, the guidance of the shadow-party infrastructure had assumed the coherent shape by early 2004. They were seven extensively independent nonprofit groups, which included that would help the Democrats. Really? [Fox News, Glenn Beck, 11/09/10, emphasis added]

REALITY: Soros Said "I Do Not Accept The Rules Imposed By Others" And "In Periods Of Regime Change, Normal Rules Do Not Apply" In 1995 - Not 2004. Those comments are actually from the 1995 book Soros on Soros: Staying Ahead of the Curve:

KRISZTINA KOENEN (Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung): You have been accused of playing by your own rules and changing the rules when it suits you.

SOROS: I plead guilty. I do not accept the rules imposed by others. If I did, I would not be alive today. I am a law-abiding citizen, but I recognize that there are regimes that need to be opposed rather than accepted. And in periods of regime change, the normal rules don't apply. One needs to adjust one's behavior to the changing circumstances.

Look at the tremendous changes I have gone through on a personal level. Consider my career as a philanthropist. In the beginning, I avoided any personal involvement. I sought to remain anonymous and shunned publicity. Later, when the revolution gathered momentum, I accepted the fact I was deeply involved. After 1989, I actively sought to gain a hearing for my views. That alone was a major change. At the same time, I continued to abstain from doing business in Eastern Europe. Now, I have given that up to. The reversal from my starting point, when I dissociated myself from my philanthropy, is complete. I accept everything that I do, whether as an investor or as a benefactor as an integral part of my existence. And I am very happy about it because in a sense my whole life has been one long effort to integrate various facets of my existence.

There is a remarkable parallel in the evolution of my attitude toward philanthropy and my attitude toward making money. At first, I didn't want to identify myself with my business career. I felt there was more to me than making money. I kept my private life strictly separate from my business. Then I went through a rough patch in 1962, when I was practically wiped out, and it affected me deeply. I had some psychosomatic symptoms, like vertigo. It made me realize that making money is an essential part of existence. Now I am completing the process by doing away with the artificial separation between my activities as investor and as philanthropist.

The internal barriers have crumbled and I am all of one piece. It gives me a great sense of fulfillment. I realize that I cut a larger-than-life figure and I feel ambivalent about that. On one hand, I find it gratifying, but on the other, the sheer magnitude of my activities, both in business and in philanthropy, makes me uneasy. I must admit that I wanted it that way and I probably could not feel all of a piece if I weren't larger than life. It makes me somewhat abnormal and that is the source of malaise. Still, it is better to have abnormal accomplishments than to harbor abnormal ambitions. For the first 50 years of my life, I felt as if I had a guilty secret now it is out in the open and I am proud of what I have accomplished. [Soros on Soros, Pages 145-146, emphasis added]

No. 10 "Every Single American Who Invests" Earns More Than $250,000 Per Year

BECK: President Obama Proposed To Increase The Capital Gains Tax On "Every Single American Who Invests." Beck falsely said that Obama "sought to raise the capital gains tax, which affects every single American who invests, which -- I know that sounds like the big Wall Street fat cats, but if you have a 401(k), that would be you." [Fox News, Glenn Beck, 4/7/10]

REALITY: Obama Proposed Capital Gains Increase Only On "Upper-Income" Earners. The White House budget for fiscal year 2011 called for reinstating the 20 percent capital gains tax rate only on families with income greater than $250,000 and on individuals with income greater than $200,000. [Budget of the United States Government, Fiscal Year 2011]
Besides being a serial liar and character assassin Beck seems to be a coward. he is pants wetting afraid to have a public debate on the issues without relying on lies and urban myths as a crutch. Beck is part of a long tradition of conservative America hating cowards like Rush Limbaugh, Sarah Palin, George Bush, Dick Cheney, Richard Nixon and Ronald Reagan.

Thursday, December 30, 2010

Since Republicans Can Buy Their Way Out of Prosecution Does That Mean They Are Elitest

Dick Cheney's $250-Million 'Get Out of Jail Free' Card

What's the going rate for getting a former vice president off the hook in a major criminal case that involves charges of government corruption and raises concerns about violent wrongdoing and even murder?

If you're Dick Cheney, it's roughly $250 million [1].

That's the amount that Halliburton and its former subsidiary KBR Inc. are reported, by Nigerian officials and international observers, to have paid to get the government of the African country to drop bribery charges against the former corporate CEO and other Halliburton employees and operatives.

Top Nigerian lawyers and newspapers are objecting, and rightly so.

The charges against Cheney and his colleagues go far beyond the usual corporate corruption.

I've been following them for the better part of a decade.

In the biography I wrote about then-Vice President Richard B. Cheney—Dick: The Man Who Is President [2], published in 2004 by New Press—I devoted a good deal of space to the former Halliburton CEO's business engagements in Nigeria.

The section on the dirty dealings in that country by Halliburton [3] during the time when Cheney served as that company’s CEO in the 1990s, argued that: “One of the ugliest stories of Halliburton’s globe-trotting comes out of Nigeria, the oil and gas–rich West African country where the brutal dictatorship of Sani Abacha garnered a good deal of attention for jailing and executing environmentalists—including playwright Ken Saro-Wiwa—who were displeased by its willingness to allow the government’s international oil industry partners to dislocate communities and despoil vast stretches of the countryside. Abacha looked like someone with whom Halliburton could do business. The price that Halliburton and its partners in an international consortium had to pay was high—they are alleged to have paid a $180 million bribe to the Abacha government—but it was a pittance compared with the potential payout. The liquefied natural gas plant they planned to build was valued at as much as $6 billion. Things went swimmingly until the Abacha dictatorship began to crumble and details of its dealings with companies such as Halliburton leaked out.”

By early 2004, in the midst of Cheney’s tenure as the most powerful vice president in American history, French investigators were talking about calling the former CEO to testify regarding his alleged awareness of wrongdoing in Nigeria.

Around the same time, the new government of Nigeria opened an inquiry.

Things move slowly when it comes to corporate crime investigations.

But the Nigerian inquiry finally reached a critical stage this year—for Cheney and for the global quest for corporate accountability.

"We are filing charges against Cheney," Femi Babafemi [4], a spokesperson for Nigeria's Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), announced this fall.

Godwin Obla, prosecuting counsel for the commission, announced in late November that Nigerian officials would bring significant charges against Cheney and officials from five foreign companies (including Halliburton) in relation to the bribery scandal.

Business Week [5], which reported that: “An arrest warrant for Cheney ‘will be issued and transmitted through Interpol,” the world’s biggest international police organization...”

That was no idle threat.

At the time of the announcement, Nigeria had already arrested roughly two dozen officials with Halliburton and its partner companies—Technip SA, Europe’s second-largest oilfield- services provider; Eni SpA, Italy’s biggest oil company; and Saipem Construction Co., a unit of Eni—in connection with alleged illegal payments to Nigerian officials, according to Business Week.

But Cheney and his compatriots did not appear to be interested in clearing their names in a court of law.

After weeks of behind-the-scenes negotiating by Halliburton representatives with the Nigerians—a process that reportedly saw former President George H.W, Bush and former Secretary of State James Baker make calls on Cheney's behalf—the charges against Cheney have been dropped.

Why? Did new evidence of Cheney's innocence come to light?


According to the Associated Press [6], "Nigeria's anti-corruption watchdog, the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, said the charges were dropped on Friday after Halliburton agreed to pay fines up to $250 million over allegations it paid millions of dollars [7]in bribe to Nigerian officials."
Numbers are from citations in the article. It must be nice to be the beneficiary of such an incredible amount of unearned wealth. This is the kind of socialism conservatives practice. They worship at the altar of corporate collectivism. The alter we are all supposed to worship at. Between their lobbyist-corporate-think tank they form a circle of power which control the means of production and all the capital of course - we the people are supposed to be great to be their highly in debt wage slaves.

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

My Parents Were Executed Under the Unconstitutional Espionage Act. Here's Why We Must Fight to Protect Julian Assange

My Parents Were Executed Under the Unconstitutional Espionage Act. Here's Why We Must Fight to Protect Julian Assange

Rumors are swirling that the United States is preparing to indict Wikileaks leader Julian Assange for conspiring to violate the Espionage Act of 1917. The modern version of that act states among many, many other things that: “Whoever, for the purpose of obtaining information respecting the national defense with intent or reason to believe that the information is to be used to the injury of the United States” causes the disclosure or publication of this material, could be subject to massive criminal penalties. It also states that: “If two or more persons conspire to violate any of the foregoing provisions … each of the parties to such conspiracy shall be subject to the punishment provided for the offense which is the object of such conspiracy.” (18 U.S. Code, Chapter 37, Section 793.)

I view the Espionage Act of 1917 as a lifelong nemesis. My parents were charged, tried and ultimately executed after being indicted for Conspiracy to Commit Espionage under that act.

The 1917 Act has a notorious history. It originally served to squelch opposition to World War I. It criminalized criticism of the war effort, and sent hundreds of dissenters to jail just for voicing their opinions. It transformed dissent into treason.

Many who attacked the law noted that the framers of the Constitution had specifically limited what constituted treason by writing it into the Constituton: “Treason against the United States shall consist only in levying war against them, or in adhering to their enemies, giving them aid and comfort” (Article III, section 3). The framers felt this narrow definition was necessary to prevent treason from becoming what some called “the weapon of a political faction.” Furthermore, in their discussions at the Constitutional Convention they agreed that spoken opposition was protected by the First Amendment and could never be considered treason.

It appears obvious that the Espionage Act is unconstitutional because it does exactly what the Constitution prohibits. It is, in other words, an effort to make an end run around the Treason Clause of the Constitution. Not surprisingly, however, as we’ve seen in times of political stress, the Supreme Court upheld its validity in a 5-4 decision. Although later decisions seemed to criticize and limit its scope, the Espionage Act of 1917 has never been declared unconstitutional. To this day, with a few notable exceptions that include my parents’ case, it has been a dormant sword of Damocles, awaiting the right political moment and an authoritarian Supreme Court to spring to life and slash at dissenters.

It is no accident that Julian Assange may face a “conspiracy” charge just as my parents did. All that is required of the prosecution to prove a conspiracy is to present evidence that two or more people got together and took one act in furtherance of an illegal plan. It could be a phone call or a conversation.

In my parents’ case the only evidence presented against my mother was David and Ruth Greenglasses’ testimony that she was present at a critical espionage meeting and typed up David’s handwritten description of a sketch. Although this testimony has since been shown to be false, even if it were true, it would mean that the government of the United States executed someone for typing.

But the reach of “conspiracy” is even more insidious. It means that ANYONE with whom my parents could have discussed their actions and politics could have been swept up and had similar charges brought against them if someone testified that those conversations included plans to commit espionage. Thus, the case against my parents was rightly seen by many in their political community of rank and file Communist Party Members as a threat to them all.

Viewing the Wikileaks situation through this lens, it becomes apparent why the government would seek to charge Assange with conspiracy. Not only Assange, but anyone involved in the Wikileaks community could be swept up in a dragnet. Just as in my parents’ case, the prosecutors could seek to bully some involved into ratting out others, in return for more favorable treatment. This divide and conquer approach would turn individuals against each other, sow the seeds of distrust within the broader community, and intimidate others into quiescence.

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Mitt Romney Twists and Turns for His Role in Obamacare

Mitt Romney Twists and Turns for His Role in Obamacare

A Virginia judge's( a conservative appointed by Bush 43) ruling earlier this month that a key provision of President Barack Obama's health care law is unconstitutional was hailed as a major breakthrough for all segments of the Republican Party save, perhaps, one.

Former Gov. Mitt Romney (R-Mass.), whose own successful dalliance with health care reform in Massachusetts is cited as an intellectual model for Obamacare, stands to gain little from this specific policy topic being at the center of political discourse.

At least that's how the conventional wisdom goes. And in the wake of Judge Henry E. Hudson's decision, there was, as expected, another wave of debate over Romney's own role in championing the individual mandate for insurance coverage -- the provision that was ruled unconstitutional.

Whether this pattern persists through the 2012 elections (should Romney run) depends on the whims of legal processes and the vindictiveness of the rest of the Republican presidential field. Romney, after all, was not the first conservative to champion an individual mandate. The Heritage Foundation did so as well. But the former governor tends to get the preponderance of attention when the conversation turns in that direction.

As the scrutiny mounts, Romney has begun to fine-tune his pitch for why his own plan made for sound policy, but Obama's amounted to an "unconstitutional power grab by Washington," as aide Eric Fehrnstrom put it.

For starters, team Romney has begun arguing that the better indication of his policy preference would be the 2008 campaign's white paper, not the Massachusetts model. The former, as Fehrnstrom noted in a pre-Christmas exchange with the Huffington Post, is a reflection of what Romney would do nationally -- a "federalist approach to health care reform." It doesn't have an individual mandate but, rather, encourages states to deregulate their insurance markets.

"Mitt said repeatedly in the 2008 campaign that his plan was not designed for the nation as a whole," said Fehrnstrom. "He said states may want to copy parts of it, and perhaps improve on its features, but he was very explicit in saying the federal government should not impose a one-size-fits-all plan on the entire nation."

Whether that frees Romney from the burdens of his own health care law is another story. The former governor has been unapologetic about the legislation he passed, but always with the caveat that his was a state-tailored solution. There was, however, a time-period when he seemingly championed the plan as a template for the nation as a whole.

"I'm proud of what we've done," Romney said during a speech in Baltimore in February 2007. "If Massachusetts succeeds in implementing it, then that will be a model for the nation."

Here too, Romney's team has refined, or at least, sharpened its message. The former governor, they argue, never preached an approach in which the national government brought the Massachusetts model to each and every state. Rather, he believed, as Fehrnstrom says, that other states should have the chance to "copy" the model "or improve upon its features." On this, even critics of Romneycare concede the point.

"I don't recall him or he ever advocating it as a federal model," said Michael Tanner, a health care policy expert at the Cato Foundation who once predicted that Romneycare would be a "flop." "I don't know if he said it shouldn't be. He talked bout it being a model for the nation but I don't know if he was implying that the federal government should do it."

And yet, for all the line drawing and needle threading with respect to federalist versus national approaches, the fact remains that when Romney had a chance to write the health care script, he chose an individual mandate. There may be legal differences between a state and the federal government forcing people to buy insurance. But the political distinctions are hardly that clear. And while, empirically, the individual mandate worked in Massachusetts -- reducing the percentage of uninsured down to three -- critics will likely never excuse what they see as its philosophical flaws.

"I actually wrote a paper at the time on the individual mandate and I said the problem for the individual mandate is it removes the only market mechanism people had against the providers, which is refusal to buy their product," said Tanner
Mitt probably has little to worry about. When it comes to powers of denial and rationalizing away inconvenient truths, there is no match for the modern right-wing conservative mind. If conservatives started facing facts they'd be Democrats.

Monday, December 27, 2010

Sarah Palin is Glenn Beck's Puppet

Sarah Palin: Winner Of The 2010 Glenn Beck Misinformer Of The Year Award

In selecting the 2010 winner of the Glenn Beck Honorary Award for Excellence in Misinformation, Media Matters weighed the vigor and meticulous detail the 2009 recipient, Glenn Beck, brought to the craft.

Beck's dedication to fabricating facts to smear those he disagrees with is so complete, we at Media Matters for America decided to name the award in his honor. Thus, it is only fitting that the recipient of the first Glenn Beck Misinformer of the Year Award would embody the spirit Glenn Beck brings to lying, distorting, and smearing; someone who regularly promotes the very same lies and extreme rhetoric as Glenn Beck; someone who truly stands with Glenn Beck.

Sarah Palin announced early this year that she would join Beck and become a Fox News contributor. Within days, Palin sat for what Beck called an "eyeball to eyeball" interview. For the rest of the year, Beck and Palin would share talking points and cross-promote each other's violent rhetoric, falsehoods, and distortions -- continuing a pattern that first emerged in 2009.

Palin "Stands With" Beck

Beck Has A Long History Of Violent Rhetoric That Has Resulted In Real-World Consequences. As Media Matters for America has documented, Beck frequently spews violent rhetoric and pushes conspiracy theories about progressives. Byron Williams told journalist John Hamilton that Beck "blew my mind," adding that Beck is "like a schoolteacher on TV." Williams was arrested after being wounded in a shootout with police, and he reportedly told investigators that "his intention was to start a revolution by traveling to San Francisco and killing people of importance at the Tides Foundation and the ACLU."

Beck regularly attacks Tides on his show. Williams also said that "Beck is gonna deny everything about violent approach and deny everything about conspiracies, but he'll give you every reason to believe it. He's protecting himself, and you can't blame him for that. So, I understand what he's doing."

David Brock Called On Palin To "Stop This Insanity." In an October 26, 2010, appearance on The Last Word with Lawrence O'Donnell, Media Matters CEO and founder David Brock called on Palin to "stop this insanity." Brock explained that Palin is uniquely poised to help scale back Beck's violent rhetoric. [MSNBC, The Last Word with Lawrence O'Donnell, 10/26/10]

Palin Responded On Beck's Radio Show: "I Stand With You, Glenn." Palin later called in to Beck's radio show to reaffirm her support for Beck. From the show:

PALIN: So, you know, when I speak of your love of our Founding Fathers, and how you are helping to educate Americans about respecting our nation's history so that we don't lose what makes America exceptional, and the far, far left mouthpieces, they're twisting and perverting that message. No, what I do, I go back to what Abraham Lincoln said about standing with anybody who stands right. You stand with him when he stands right, you part with him when he goes wrong. I stand with you, Glenn. [Premiere Radio Networks, The Glenn Beck Program, 10/28/10]

Palin Regularly Promotes Beck's Lies and Extremism

Palin Has Appeared On Beck's Fox News Program Three Times. Beck has hosted Palin on his Fox News program on three occasions: on March 18, 2010, January 13, 2010, and January 19, 2009 (Beck's first broadcast on Fox News).

During his January 13, 2010, interview with Palin, Beck read her an entry from his diary:

Tomorrow, I meet Sarah Palin and family for the first time. I'm actually a little nervous -- as she is one of the only people that I can see that can possibly lead us out of where we are. I don't know yet if she's strong enough, if she's well-enough advised, or if she knows she can no longer trust anyone. I don't know if she can lead and not lose her soul. [Fox News, Glenn Beck, 1/13/10]

Palin Wrote Beck's "Time 100" Article. Palin wrote Beck's article in Time magazine's annual issue profiling the 100 "people who most affect our world." Palin wrote:

Who'd have thought a history buff with a quirky sense of humor and a chalkboard could make for such riveting television? Glenn's like the high school government teacher so many wish they'd had, charting and connecting ideas with chalk-dusted fingers -- kicking it old school -- instead of becoming just another talking-heads show host.


His love of the Founding Fathers inspires others to learn and respect our nation's history. Best of all, Glenn delights in driving the self-proclaimed powers-that-be crazy. [Time, 4/29/10]

Palin And Beck Hosted 9-11 Event In Alaska. On September 7, 2010, Palin wrote a note on Facebook inviting followers to join her and Beck at a ticketed event on 9-11. Palin wrote:

We can count on Glenn to make the night interesting and inspiring, and I can think of no better way to commemorate 9/11 than to gather with patriots who will "never forget." Hope to see you there! [Facebook, 9/7/10]

Palin Spoke At Beck's "Restoring Honor" Rally On The National Mall. Palin spoke at Beck's August 28, 2010, "Restoring Honor" rally in Washington, D.C:

I must assume that you, too, knowing that, no, we must not fundamentally transform America as some would want, we must restore America and restore her honor. [C-SPAN, 8/28/10]

Palin: "Lamestream Media: Watch Rerun Of Glenn Beck's Show Today." In a September 13, 2010, post to her Twitter account, Palin wrote:

Lamestream media: watch rerun of Glenn Beck's show today. Listen/Learn/Don't underestimate the wisdom of the people. Times,they r a'changin! [Twitter, 9/13/10]

On That Show, Beck Said, "There's A Lot Of Us" Who Think America Isn't Going To "Continue As A Country." On the show that Palin promoted, Beck said:

We have to set things right in this country. We have to continue as a country. Isn't that our goal? Continue as a country, and there's a lot of us that don't think we will very much longer. Did you see the national debt?

We have to ring the bell, but we have to ring it equally, equally, on all issues. No matter who's in office, we have to ring the bell. But it is important to meet on the battlefield of ideas and engage with each other, actually have a dialogue -- not between one personality and another, but American citizens having a dialogue. You wait until I show you what's happening later on the program. [Fox News, Glenn Beck, 9/13/10]

Palin: Beck "Hit The Nail On The Head" In CPAC Speech. On February 20, Palin wrote on her Twitter account: "@GlennBeck hit the nail on the head in his #CPAC speech: USA is the abiding beacon of freedom & we need 'less Marx, more Madison'!" [Twitter, 2/20/10]

In That Speech, Beck Said That A Liberal "Minority" Has "Hijacked" America And "Progressivism Is The Cancer In America." In his February 20 CPAC speech Beck suggested a liberal "minority" has "hijack[ed]" America, and he claimed that "[o]ur government looks at the American people as the bad guy," that "[e]conomic holocaust is coming," and that "[p]rogressivism is the cancer in America and it is eating our Constitution."

Palin Promoted Beck's Documentary Linking Progressives To Atrocities Of Communism. On January 22, Palin wrote on her Twitter account: "Pls watch Glenn Beck's FOX documentary on Friday to learn about 'manufactured crisis'-mode of govt operatives that lead to harmful proposals." [Twitter, 1/22/10]

Beck Used This Special To Link Progressives To Hitler And Other Dictators. In previewing his documentary on communist atrocities, Beck promised to show what "progressives don't want you to know." Beck opened his documentary by citing Che Guevara, Josef Stalin, and Mao Zedong as "left-wing icons." Beck also suggested that Adolf Hitler was a liberal and claimed that Soviet genocide has been "erased" from history books.

Palin Invited Her "Friends" To Watch Beck Exposé On "Who Is Actually Running The White House." On August 26, 2009, Palin posted a note on Facebook inviting her "friends" to watch Beck. Palin wrote: "FOX News' Glenn Beck is doing an extraordinary job this week walking America behind the scenes of 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue and outlining who is actually running the White House. Monday night he asked us to invite one friend to watch; tonight I invite all my friends to watch." [Facebook, 8/26/09]

During The Shows Palin Highlighted, Beck Told Viewers They Were "About To Lose [Their] Freedom Of Speech" And Suggested There Could Be A Venezuela-Type "Clampdown." During the week of August 26, 2009, Beck's shows regularly featured violent and paranoid rhetoric:

BECK: Is this America? Is it? Ask yourself that question. These are reasonable questions in apparently unreasonable times.

Is this the way we decide how things happen? Do we have these shadow operations with these new czars or advisers or whatever the hell they want to call them, calling the shots? And doing it with a hidden agenda? Doing it slowly, quietly behind the scenes and then, boom! There it is.

You are about to lose your freedom of speech in this country. If you disagree with that, please contact me and tell me how, because I'd like to live in that world. I'd like to believe that. But with everything else I have shown you this week, and then you see the clampdown by somebody who is extolling the virtues of the revolution in Venezuela, I don't know how you see that.

Could somebody, please -- I mean this sincerely -- please explain to me how this isn't anti-capitalist, revolutionary in nature, and anti-constitutional? How is this -- how does this resemble our republic and our First Amendment at all? Please answer that question. [Fox News, Glenn Beck, 8/26/09]

Beck: An Early Adopter Of Palin's "Death Panels" Lie

In 2009, named Palin's claim that health care reform legislation would create "death panels" the 2009 Lie of the Year. Palin popularized the phrase "death panels" in an August 7, 2009, Facebook post. Days later, on August 10, 2009, Beck fully embraced her claim as true.

Palin Introduces "Death Panels" Falsehood. In an August 7, 2009, post on her Facebook page, Palin wrote, "The America I know and love is not one in which my parents or my baby with Down Syndrome will have to stand in front of Obama's 'death panel' so his bureaucrats can decide, based on a subjective judgment of their 'level of productivity in society,' whether they are worthy of health care. Such a system is downright evil." [Facebook, 8/7/09]

Beck On "Death Panels": "I Believe It To Be True." On his radio show, Beck fully embraced Palin's claim that health care reform would establish death panels:

GLENN BECK: So, why is there no more discussion than there is on Sarah Palin and what she said over the weekend that there would be death -- what did she call it? -- a death squad? Or a death --

STEVE "STU" BURGUIERE (executive producer): Death panel.

BECK: A death panel for her son Trig. That's quite a statement. I believe it to be true, but that's quite a statement. She also called health care this -- Obama health care -- "evil." [Premiere Radio Networks, The Glenn Beck Program, 8/10/09]

Palin And Beck's Brazilian Oil Conspiracy Theory

Beck and Palin falsely accused the Obama administration of lending $2 billion to Brazil to benefit foreign oil interests at the expense of the U.S. economy. In fact, Bush appointees to the Export-Import Bank -- not the Obama administration -- unanimously approved the loan, and the funds must be used to purchase U.S. goods and services. Beck falsely claimed the loan was part of a conspiracy by the Obama administration to enrich George Soros. Byron Williams cited this conspiracy theory in an interview discussing his plan to target the Tides Foundation.

Palin: The Obama White House Is "Prepared To Send More Than Two Billion Of Your Hard-Earned Tax Dollars To Brazil So That The Nation's State-Owned Oil Company, Petrobras, Can Drill Off Shore." In August 2009, Palin wrote, "So why is it that during these tough times, when we have great needs at home, the Obama White House is prepared to send more than two billion of your hard-earned tax dollars to Brazil so that the nation's state-owned oil company, Petrobras, can drill off shore and create jobs developing its own resources?" [Facebook, 8/19/09]

Beck: Loan Intended To Help Soros Get Rich While The American People Are "Getting Screwed." Beck advanced the conspiracy theory that the Obama White House was giving money to Petrobras in order to enrich Soros:

BECK: I'm not sure if [Soros] knew that the administration would be making a $2 billion preliminary commitment for Petrobras, for Petrobras, for exploration, just days after he strengthened his investment. Isn't that weird? You see, he's got some connections here, but I'm sure he had no idea what was coming on the other side of the circle? No. It's probably just another one of those bad luck situations for Obama, because this doesn't seem to pass the smell test at all. No. Billionaire investor dumps money into a state-controlled Brazilian oil company; days later the American administration dumps $2 billion into the exact same company. What are the odds, Gilligan?

Let's go here. George Soros starts the Center for American Process with John Podesta. John Podesta, Center for American Progress, selects the Obama transition team. Soros buys $900 million in gasoline powered bras. Then, in a completely unrelated story, BP has their oil spill. But wait a minute, who's this guy? John Podesta. John Podesta is the guy who does all the lobbying for BP? Certainly -- I'm sorry, Tony Podesta -- certainly no relation to John Podesta, other than they're brothers. We'll have to come back to that one later in the show. So then Center for American Progress starts to make Obama policy. This one, we'll show you, laid out by Bloomberg and The Wall Street Journal. One of the policies: cap and trade, which goes right to Crime Inc. and all of the Obama friends with the Climate Exchange in Chicago. That's weird.

Then Obama suspends the deepwater drilling at 1,500 meters. He says "Hey, hey, that's dangerous! Fifteen hundred meters, that's crazy." Petrobras is drilling at 2,777 meters. Obama knows it and loans $2 billion to Petrobras. Last stop, Petrobras shareholders get rich. Oh my gosh, we're back at the beginning: shareholder, Petrobras. Getting rich. You getting screwed. You see how this works? [Fox News, Glenn Beck, 6/21/10]

Bush Appointees At Export-Import Bank -- Not Obama -- Unanimously Approved Loan To Brazil. called the claim "bogus," noting that the Export-Import Bank of the United States approved a "preliminary commitment" to Brazil to finance "their purchases of U.S. equipment, products and services." At the time, "the Bank's Board consisted of three Republicans and two Democrats, all of whom were appointed by George W. Bush." [, 9/18/09]
Palin would like the U.S.A. to think she has a mind of her own. On the contrary there seems to be a chain of bizarre revisionist history, kookiness and conservative fascist-lite extremism. First there are Beck's crazy visions, those visions come out of his mouth as pretend truth and then Palin parrots them.

Saturday, December 25, 2010

Republicans Block Brilliant Economist From Helping With Recession

Republicans Block Brilliant Economists From Helping With Recession

As productive as the 111th Congress was at passing large, important pieces of legislation, it was also a Congress that witnessed “more procedural obstruction under both parties than at any previous time in the past century.” One of the greatest victims of Republican obstruction has been the nominations process. A whole host of President Obama’s qualified nominees have been stalled for inexplicable reasons. Yesterday, the White House announced it would renominate one key member from that list:

President Barack Obama will renominate Peter Diamond to the U.S. Federal Reserve’s Board of Governors, a White House official said Thursday, a day after the Senate left town without voting on the nomination.

But when the next Congress convenes in 2011, Mr. Diamond could find it even harder to win backing from the Senate, where Republicans will have five more seats than they do now.

Peter Diamond, a 70-year old MIT Professor of Economics, is of course notable because, subsequent to his nomination, he was awarded the Nobel Prize in Economics. Republicans, led by Sen. Richard Shelby (R-AL), have ludicrously argued that Diamond isn’t qualified to sit on the Fed Board.

After Diamond was awarded the Nobel, the Senate Banking Committee approved his nomination for a second time, but Shelby continued to object, forcing Diamond’s nomination to languish at the close of this last Congress.The Senate’s inaction leaves one opening on the Fed and “deprives Chairman Ben S. Bernanke of intellectual support in Fed debates over his efforts to reduce unemployment through an expansion of record monetary stimulus.”

The absurdity surrounding Diamond’s process highlights the urgent need for reform of Senate rules and procedure. As ThinkProgress’ Ian Millhiser wrote, “The reason for this [obstruction] is because dissenting senators can force the Senate to waste hours or even days effectively doing nothing in order to pass a single bill or confirm a single nominee.”

Fortunately, the entire returning Democratic caucus has signed onto an effort to make the Senate procedural process more responsive and efficient. “Such a move could come at the start of next Congress, shortly after the Senate returns on January 5th.” The success of Diamond’s nomination may hinge on what happens on that day.
It is more than possible Republicans are intimidated by Professor Peter Diamond. For the last forty years conservatives have created the biggest wage disparity in our nation's history. The wealthiest people in America earn more than forty times what the average workers does - shouldn't such high wages mean they are doing most of the work. Republicans during the Reagan and Bush 43 administrations ran up record deficits - now they claim deficits are a threat to the country. Those same conservatives feel that Professor Diamond might stop just a little of the crazy economic policies that helped cause the Great Recession.

Black and White City on the Bay wallpaper

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Fox Has Another Record Year In Disinformation

Off The Rails: The Year In Fox News Misinformation

As the year comes to a close, Media Matters offers a month-by-month look back at Fox News' most outrageous and factually challenged moments of 2010.

Hume Counsels Tiger Woods To Ditch Buddhism To "Make A Total Recovery." On the January 3 edition of Fox News Sunday, Brit Hume commented on the scandal surrounding golfer Tiger Woods: "He is said to be a Buddhist. I don't think that faith offers the kind of forgiveness and redemption offered by the Christian faith. So my message to Tiger would be, 'Tiger, turn your faith -- turn to the Christian faith, and you can make a total recovery and be a great example to the world.' " Hume's attack on Buddhism was criticized by religious leaders, but endorsed by Hume's Fox News colleagues Tucker Carlson and Fred Barnes. Hume stood by his comments despite the criticism.

Fox Hires Palin As A Contributor. On January 11, The New York Times reported that Fox News had hired former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin as a contributor who "would appear on the network's programming on a regular basis as part of a multiyear deal." Her well-established record of pushing falsehoods notwithstanding, Palin said that she would provide "the fair and the balanced reporting and analysis that voters in this country deserve." One of her first Fox News appearances was an hour-long interview with Glenn Beck on January 13 in which the two misled on the Federal Reserve, and Beck read to Palin from his diary.

Fox Campaigns For Scott Brown. In the run-up to the January 19 special Senate election in Massachusetts, Fox News hosted Republican candidate Scott Brown several times for softball interviews and provided a forum for Brown to raise funds. Fox News personalities like Dick Morris made explicit appeals on Brown's behalf, telling viewers to "please, please help" Brown. Stuart Varney claimed that "your 401(k) could do well" in response to a Brown victory, and Bret Baier compared Brown's candidacy to the "Miracle on Ice."

Fox Campaign Season Heats Up. Following Scott Brown's victory in Massachusetts, Fox began promoting more Republican Senate candidates, like Illinois' Mark Kirk and Florida's Marco Rubio. Several Fox News personalitieslikened Kirk to Brown; Fox repeatedly aired a National Republican Senatorial Committee attack ad on Kirk's Democratic opponent, Alexi Giannoulias; and the network gave Kirk a platform to attack Giannoulias. Fox alsoheavily promoted "political star" Rubio, reporting extensively on his fundraising appeals and speech to the Conservative Political Action Conference. On the February 1 edition of Hannity, Dick Morris solicited GOP candidatesfor Senate, which precipitated Republican Ron Johnson's campaign in Wisconsin.

Fearmongering Over Health Care Reconciliation. Reacting to reports that Senate Democrats were considering using the budget reconciliation process to pass the health care reform bill and circumvent a Republican filibuster, Fox News adopted the GOP framing of reconciliation as a violation of Senate rules, undemocratic, and contrary to thewill of the people. Fox also falsely characterized reconciliation as the "nuclear option" to wrongly accuse Democrats of hypocrisy.

Open Activism Against Health Care Reform. As the health care reform bill moved toward passage, Fox News' opinion and news personalities engaged in open opposition to the bill. Fox news anchors agreed that the bill was unconstitutional and said they would vote against it, while the network's opinion-makers lobbied for the bill's defeat. Commentators like Dick Morris, Glenn Beck, and Mike Huckabee encouraged viewers to contact members of Congress and urge them to oppose the bill, and the network helped to publicize anti-health reform rallies.

Fearmongering was rampant as Fox News compared the bill to a tumor and a nuclear weapon. Fox News also pushed misinformation and falsehoods about health care reform, falsely claiming the bill provided increased federal funding for abortion, promoting a non-scientific "survey" of doctors claiming they would leave medicine if reform passed, accusing Democrats of making "special deals" and offering "bribes" to ensure passage, andattacking the Congressional Budget Office's scoring of the bill.

Glenn Beck's Fiascoes Multiply. Beck devoted his entire March 9 program to an interview with former Rep. Eric Massa (D-NY) after Massa claimed -- without any evidence -- that the Democrats had forced him out of the House because he refused to vote for health care reform. The hour-long interview did not produce any evidence of Democratic wrongdoing -- instead, Massa acknowledged that he resigned under allegations of sexual harassment. Beck concluded the program by apologizing to his viewers: "I have wasted an hour of your time."

Later in the month, Beck went on a tirade against Democratic leaders, like Rep. John Lewis (D-GA), who "wanted to compare themselves to the civil rights activists" as they walked arm-in-arm to the House health care vote. Beck screamed at them: "How dare you!" Lewis is, of course, an icon of the civil rights movement who marched, arm-in-arm, with a group including Martin Luther King Jr. at the Selma Civil Rights March.

Hannity's Tea Party Appearance Canceled. Of the many Fox News personalities appearing at tea party events coinciding with Tax Day, Sean Hannity drew additional scrutiny for the fact that he was set to tape an episode of his Fox News program at an April 15 Cincinnati Tea Party event and charge audience members for tickets, with proceeds going to the tea party group. Hannity's plan was criticized by veteran journalists as crossing ethical lines, and reportedly "furious" Fox News executives yanked Hannity from the event at the last minute. Earlier in the month, Rupert Murdoch, chairman of Fox News parent company News Corp., said that Fox News "shouldn't be supporting the Tea Party."

O'Reilly's Fox News Defense Fails Spectacularly. Responding to Sen. Tom Coburn's (R-OK) suggestion that Fox News perpetuated the falsehood that individuals without health insurance can be sent to prison under the new health care reform legislation, Bill O'Reilly said on April 13: "[W]e researched to find out if anybody had ever said you are going to jail if you don't buy health insurance. Nobody has ever said it. What it seems to me is you used Fox News as a whipping boy when we didn't qualify there." In fact, that very falsehood had been repeated countless times across Fox News' many platforms, including on O'Reilly's own show.

Dick Morris Invents, And Then Retracts, Clinton-Reno-Waco Story. On the April 19 edition of Hannity, Dick Morris claimed that Bill Clinton had told him that he had retained Janet Reno as attorney general because she threatened to "tell the truth about Waco." Morris explained that this story "had never been said before." The next day, Rush Limbaugh picked up Morris' story, claiming that "Reno's appointment to a second term as attorney general was to keep her quiet about the Waco invasion." One day later, Morris appeared on Fox & Friends to walk back the false story, claiming to separate "the facts" from his "conjecture based on the facts."
There is more documentation at the link. Unfortunately Fox has no incentive to change their behavior because their viewers eat up the lies, distortions and raid right-wing conservative spin like pigs at the trough.

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Sen. Tom Coburn (R-OK) Like Many Republicans is One of the Bestest Human Beings

Coburn Will Block 9/11 First Responders Bill, Potentially Killing Its Chance Of Passage
Pressure has been mounting on Republicans to relax their opposition to a bill to would provide health benefits to 9/11 first responders after Senate Republicans unanimously filibustered it earlier this month, but Sen. Tom Coburn (R-OK) told Politico yesterday that he will likely block the measure yet again. Meanwhile, House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-MD) said last night that the Senate must act immediately to complete the bill in order to allow enough time for the House to pass the same version before Congress recesses for Christmas. “[I]if you’re going to send us anything that we need to deal with, send it, frankly, by [Tuesday],” Hoyer told The Hill.

But appearing on Fox News this morning, Coburn defended his decision to obstruct the bill, saying he is upset with the process, and claiming that the bill was never considered by a congressional committee, and that there was never a hearing on it. Watch it:

Despite Coburn’s claim, the Senate Health, Education, Labor & Pensions committee did in fact hold a hearing on the bill in June — and Coburn should know as he sits on that committee.

Last night on Fox’s Red Eye, former Republican Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee urged the Senate to pass the bill immediately, telling the moving story of a friend of his from Texas who volunteered to come to New York City after 9/11, spent a year working there, and is now dying from cancer he contracted while on the job. “There are people who need medical care right now, and frankly, the clock is running out on them. Their lives are fading away, even as we sit here talking about it,” Huckabee said.
Coburn is happy to hold 9/11 responders hostage for one reason - to deal Democrats a legislative defeat. Coburn is one of those conservative Republicans with the kind of values America has come to know - and not have much respect for.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Health Care Reform Lie Of The Year Is One Of Fox's Favorite Health Care Lies

Health Care Reform Lie Of The Year Is One Of Fox's Favorite Health Care Lies

PolitiFact recently named "a government takeover of health care" as its 2010 "Lie of the Year" -- a lie that Fox News hosts and contributors have repeatedly promoted.
PolitiFact: "Government Takeover Of Health Care" Is The "Lie Of The Year"

PolitiFact: "Government Takeover Of Health Care" Is The "Lie Of The Year." In its article declaring "a government takeover of health care" the Lie of the Year, PolitiFact wrote:

"Government takeover" conjures a European approach where the government owns the hospitals and the doctors are public employees. But the law Congress passed, parts of which have already gone into effect, relies largely on the free market:

· Employers will continue to provide health insurance to the majority of Americans through private insurance companies.

· Contrary to the claim, more people will get private health coverage. The law sets up "exchanges" where private insurers will compete to provide coverage to people who don't have it.

· The government will not seize control of hospitals or nationalize doctors.

· The law does not include the public option, a government-run insurance plan that would have competed with private insurers.

· The law gives tax credits to people who have difficulty affording insurance, so they can buy their coverage from private providers on the exchange. But here too, the approach relies on a free market with regulations, not socialized medicine.

PolitiFact reporters have studied the 906-page bill and interviewed independent health care experts. We have concluded it is inaccurate to call the plan a government takeover because it relies largely on the existing system of health coverage provided by employers.

It's true that the law does significantly increase government regulation of health insurers. But it is, at its heart, a system that relies on private companies and the free market.

Republicans who maintain the Democratic plan is a government takeover say that characterization is justified because the plan increases federal regulation and will require Americans to buy health insurance.

But while those provisions are real, the majority of Americans will continue to get coverage from private insurers. And it will bring new business for the insurance industry: People who don"t currently have coverage will get it, for the most part, from private insurance companies. [PolitiFact, 12/16/10]

Fox News' Sammon Directed Fox Reporters To Use "Government Option" Instead Of Public Option

Fox News Boss Ordered Reporters To Use Term "Government Option." As Media Matters reported, at the height of the health care reform debate last fall, Bill Sammon, Fox News' Washington managing editor, sent a memo directing his network's journalists not to use the phrase "public option." Instead, Sammon wrote, Fox's reporters should use "government option" and similar phrases -- wording that a top Republican pollster Frank Luntz had recommended in order to turn public opinion against Democrats' reform efforts. Two months prior to Sammon's 2009 memo, Luntz appeared on Sean Hannity's August 18 Fox News program. Luntz scolded Hannity for referring to the "public option" and encouraged Hannity to use "government option" instead. [Media Matters, 12/9/10]
Fox News Has Repeatedly Promoted The "Government Takeover" Lie

Cameron Uncritically Advances The "Government Takeover" Lie. On the August 12, 2009, edition of Fox News' America's Newsroom, correspondent Carl Cameron reported that protesters at a health care town hall forum held by Sen. Charles Grassley (R-IA) were "angry that Grassley is participating in the negotiations with Democrats out of fear that he might give away the store and let what critics say is a liberal big government takeover of health care advance unabated." [Fox News' America's Newsroom, 8/12/09]

O'Reilly: "If The Government Takes Over Health Care ... More People Will Be Harmed." On the August 19, 2009, edition of Fox News' The O'Reilly Factor, host Bill O'Reilly stated during a discussion of health care reform: "If the government takes over health care ... and begins to tell people when they can live and when they can die and the country goes bankrupt in the process ... more people will be harmed, including poor people." [Fox News' The O'Reilly Factor, 8/19/09]

Fox & Friends: Public Option Is A "Government Takeover"; "Should Technically Be" "Government-Run Health Care." On the October 27, 2009, edition of Fox News' Fox & Friends, co-host Gretchen Carlson said that House Speaker Nancy Pelosi "wants to kick in ... a new name for the public option, which is really government-run health care. That's what the name should technically be." Co-host Steve Doocy added, "Government takeover." [Fox News' Fox & Friends, 10/27/09]

Carlson: "Shouldn't What We Really Call [The Public Option] Is A Government Takeover Of Health Care?" On October 28, 2009, Fox & Friends hosted Frank Luntz to criticize Pelosi's "rebranding" of the public option as the "consumer option." During the discussion, Carlson asked Luntz: "Now we have Nancy Pelosi not wanting to call it the public option. Shouldn't what we really call it is a government takeover of health care? Is that why she now wants to call it the consumer option, to kind of shield that?" [Fox & Friends, 10/28/09]
If a civil modern democracy in which people act out of knowledge and wisdom is only possible if all the people - Fox, right-wing pundits and politicians - adhere to certain standards of behavior, than conservatives Republicans are the opposite of patriotic.

Monday, December 20, 2010

Republicans Never Lie About Taxes and Spending

Republicans Never Lie About Taxes and Spending

It’s difficult to know where to begin deconstructing conservative rhetoric on taxes and spending. It's such a central part of their worldview, and yet it's a view informed by a whole slew of falsehoods that have been repeated again and again during this year's debates over the Bush tax cuts, public spending and the deficit. What follows are nine of the biggest fact-free whoppers that conservatives insist are true.

1. Cutting Taxes Leads to More Money for the Government

Conservatives can't say they oppose popular programs on ideological grounds, and they can't admit they're happy to run up huge budget deficits, so they've come up with the fiction that cutting taxes actually brings in more revenues to finance the public sector.

What's especially brazen about this is that it's usually preceded by debate-stifling phrases such as “as everyone knows,” “history shows us” or “every single time taxes have been cut.”

In 2007, Sen. John McCain, R-Arizona, said, “Tax cuts, starting with Kennedy, as we all know, increase revenues”; Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchinson, R-Texas, claimed that “Every major tax cut we've had in history has created more revenue," and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-KY said earlier this year that the myth represented “the view of virtually every Republican on that subject."

It's also complete nonsense, and it's worth noting that only conservative politicians and pundits make the claim -- economists across the ideological spectrum agree that the argument is cursed by voodoo math.

As Time Magazine's Justin Fox noted in 2007, "Every economics Ph.D. who has worked in a prominent role in the Bush administration acknowledges that the tax cuts enacted during the past six years have not paid for themselves—and were never intended to.” Harvard professor Greg Mankiw, a former chairman of Bush’s Council of Economic Advisers, dedicated a whole section of his economics textbook to debunking the claim.

And in an opinion column in the Wall Street Journal responding to Bush's claim that "You cut taxes, and the tax revenues increase," Andrew Samwick, who served as chief economist on Bush’s Council of Economic Advisers, wrote, “You are smart people....You know that the tax cuts have not fueled record revenues... You know that the first order effect of cutting taxes is to lower tax revenues.”

2. Conservatives' Favorite Economist Proves the Point

As I note in my book, The Fifteen Biggest Lies About the Economy, that falsehood is based in large part on an abuse of “Laffer’s curve,” the conservative media’s favorite economic theorem. The idea, first scribbled on a cocktail napkin by economist George Laffer (according to lore), is pretty simple. It holds that you can raise income taxes to a degree, but when the top tax rate exceeds a certain point, people will go to such extraordinary lengths to avoid paying the piper that the government will actually end up collecting less revenue.

When Dylan Thomas asked a number of experts where the Laffer Curve “bends” for the Washington Post, the economists (he asked some conservative opinion columnists as well) all agreed that a top rate of 50 percent – several went as high as 70 percent – would still fall below the curve. That's important to keep in kind as we debate the merits of letting the top rate return to the 39 percent that prevailed during the Clinton years.

Each time taxes have been cut in the past few decades, it's led to a drop in revenues, which is why people like McCain like to go back to the Kennedy era, when cutting the top rate did spur growth and bring more money into the government's coffers. What they don't mention is that Kennedy cut the top rate from 91 percent to 70 percent, which has no bearing on the debate we're having today.*

3. Taxes on the Rich Keep 'Wealth Producers' from 'Creating Jobs'

We're all familiar with this one. In a New York Post column last week, Fox Business columnist Charles Gasparino claimed that businesses have "been hoarding cash instead of hiring" because of "the likelihood for higher taxes.” Media Matters responded by citing the CBO's finding that "[I]ncreasing the after-tax income of businesses typically does not create much incentive" to hire.

What's noteworthy about the narrative is the degree to which it defies simple common sense. It shouldn't be a matter of debate that only one thing creates jobs, and that's demand for companies' goods and services. The idea that a business that was booming would refuse to hire people and forego expansion because top tax rates might nudge upward is as silly as the idea that a business that has no customers would add new employees because its owners expect taxes to be low.

4. The Opposite: Tax Cuts for Upper Earners Spur Job Growth

Demand creates jobs, and U.S. Demand is way down because American households lost around $15 trillion dollars in wealth during the downturn. So it's important to note that research has shown that when you give a tax break to high-earners, they bank it, and when you give relief to working people, they spend it, increasing demand.

Like other types of public spending, giving cuts to those at the top does stimulate the economy, but very, very badly. According Mark Zandi, chief economist for Moody's, a dollar in tax cuts on capital gains adds .38 cents of economic growth and a dollar in corporate tax cuts brings us just .30 cents worth of stimulus, but a dollar in unemployment benefits gives the economy a boost of $1.63 and a buck worth of food stamps adds $1.73 in stimulus (PDF).

5. Only Half of American Families Pay Taxes

Rush Limbaugh put it this way: “The bottom 50 percent is paying a tiny bit of the taxes.... Remember this the next time you hear the ‘tax cuts for the rich’ business. Understand that the so-called rich are about the only ones paying taxes anymore.”

That's an entirely false narrative that emerges from some rather transparent sleight-of-hand. You have to look at the federal income tax in isolation and then pretend that it represents the government’s entire take. But the reality is that the government isn't financed from federal income taxes alone – far from it. Payroll taxes, for example, represent the biggest tax bite for the average worker.

When you add it all up—state and local taxes, federal taxes, sales taxes and excise fees—it turns out that the rich, the poor, and those in between all end up with about the same tax rate. That’s the conclusion of a 2007 study by Boston University economists Laurence J. Kotlikoff and David Rapson. They summarized, “The average marginal tax rate on incomes between $20,000 and $500,000 is 40.3%, the median tax rate is 41.8%, and the standard deviation of all of those rates is 5.3 percentage points. Basically, most of us pay about 40%, plus or minus 5.3 percentage points.”

6. Americans Are Taxed to Death

This is one of those claims made so frequently that it becomes a matter of faith. But faith doesn't rely on fact, and this one is totally untrue.

In 2008, we ranked 26th out of the 30 countries in the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) in terms of our overall tax burden -- the share of our economy we fork over to the government. The U.S.came in almost 9 percentage points below the average of the group of wealthy nations, and some 20 percentage points below highly taxed countries like Denmark.

7. We're Being Killed by Runaway Government Spending

Public spending has increased with the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, and, temporarily, with the stimulus package. And it will rise in the future as more baby boomers retire. But beyond that, it's important to understand how “limited” our government really is relative to other wealthy countries.

Sabina Dewan and Michael Ettlinger of the Center for American Progress crunched the data and found that between 2004 and 2007, the U.S. ranked 24th out of 26 OECD countries in overall government spending as a share of our economic output. Only Ireland and South Korea, both relative newcomers to the club, had a more “limited government” than we did during that span. Again, we came in around 7 percentage points of GDP below the OECD average -- and almost 20 percentage points beneath that of big spenders like France

8. Conservatives Favor Low Taxes and Limited Government

The Right loves “Big Government” as long as it's pursuing their preferred agenda. What they don't like are the government's most popular functions – assuring a social safety net, protecting consumers and the environment, subsidizing education, etc. They don't want to debate priorities, so they claim an ideological preference for a smaller government while showering tons of money on the military, law-enforcement, corporate subsidies, etc.

That's why the share of the economy represented by government spending (at the local, state, and federal levels combined) has been remarkably consistent during the last 40 years or so, regardless of which party controlled the White House or Congress.

In the two years that Gerald Ford presented budgets, government spending as a share of GDP averaged 31.4 percent; in ultra-liberal Jimmy Carter’s four years, it dropped to 30.7 percent; Ronald Reagan, the patron saint of fiscal conservatism, came into office, and it rose to 32.2 percent. It nudged slightly higher during the first George Bush’s term in office, then dropped to an almost Nixonian 30.3 percent during the Clinton years, before rising to 31.6 percent during the second Bush administration.

Looking at the other side of the ledger, overall government revenues have also remained relatively stable, but the pattern is reversed. The government’s take, as a share of GDP, dropped during the Ford era, rose again under Carter, and fell again under Reagan. Revenues rose by almost 2 percent under Clinton and fell by a percent and a half under George W. Bush. (The only exception: government revenues rose from 27.3 percent of GDP during the Reagan years to 27.6 percent under George Herbert Walker Bush – that was the “peace dividend.”)

Although the government taxes and spends at fairly similar rates, under Republican leadership the nation shells out a bit more for government services and takes in just a bit less in taxes. With a $15 trillion economy, those little differences add up to pretty big deficits, and this, rather than hot school lunches for poor kids, is responsible for a large chunk of our federal debt.

Given that reality, it's a wonder that conservatives have managed to convince the mainstream media and much of the country that they’re the fiscally responsible ones who are always ready to step in and clean up the nation’s budgetary mess.

9. Taxes on Top Earners Are Actually Taxes on 'Small Businesses'

For years, Republicans have pushed the spin that most of the Bush cuts for the highest earners were going to “small business owners,” the proverbial lifeblood of Small Town U.S.A. Then Republican national committee chair Ed Gillespie launched the meme in a 2003 speech, saying that “80% of the tax relief for upper income filers goes to small businesses.”, the nonpartisan campaign watchdog, looked at the claim, which was cooked up by GOP staffers on the House Economic Committee, and concluded that “it’s untrue—and a classic example of a statistical distortion gone amok.” The lie is pretty simple: around 80 percent of the wealthiest Americans report some business income on their tax returns, either from private partnerships (think big law firms) or from “hobby” businesses. And the GOP committee counted everyone who reported even a dollar on Schedule C of their returns as a “small business owner.”

The reality? Less than 2 percent of tax returns reporting small-business income are filed by people in the top two income brackets. As a Washington Post analysis concluded, “If the objective is to help small businesses, continuing the Bush tax cuts on high-income taxpayers isn't the way to go -- it would miss more than 98 percent of small-business owners and would primarily help people who don't make most of their money off those businesses.”

*The "Kennedy tax cuts" were signed into law by Johnson, a year after JFK's assassination.

Joshua Holland is an editor and senior writer at AlterNet. He is the author of The 15 Biggest Lies About the Economy (and Everything else the Right Doesn't Want You to Know About Taxes, Jobs and Corporate America).
This should be considered a truth break from all the conservative nonsense that is rammed down America's throat daily by the mainstream corporate media and AM radio morons.

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Conservative Chamber of Commerce Lobbied To Help GOP Kill Bill To Provide Health Care To 9/11 First Responders

Conservative Chamber of Commerce Lobbied To Help GOP Kill Bill To Provide Health Care To 9/11 First Responders

Last night, the Daily Show’s Jon Stewart skewered Republicans for killing deficit neutral legislation to provide health care to the 9/11 first responders and emergency workers who suffered illnesses from working at Ground Zero. He also mocked the celebrity-obsessed media that has completely ignored the story. Republicans, like Sen. John Thune (R-SD), filibustered the bill because they said tax cuts for the richest 2 percent were a higher priority for Congress. While Republicans quietly snuffed out efforts to compensate 9/11 heroes, they were aided by a quiet lobbying campaign by the powerful lobbying front — the U.S. Chamber of Commerce.

The Chamber fought to help kill the 9/11 compensation bill because it was funded by ending a special tax loophole exploited by foreign corporations doing business in the United States.

The “U.S.” part of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce is a misnomer. As ThinkProgress reported, the Chamber represents dozens of foreign businesses in the United Kingdom, France, Germany, Russia, Bahrain, India, Brazil, and other countries. An investigation of the Chamber turned up recent fundraising documents from the Chamber soliciting foreign contributions to the Chamber’s 501(c)(6), the tax entity the Chamber used to run nasty campaign ads against Democrats earlier this year.

In September, the Chamber sent a letter officially opposing the 9/11 first responders bill, called the “James Zadroga 9/11 Health and Compensation Act of 2010.” The Chamber warned that ending the tax loophole would “damage U.S. relationships with major trading partners” and “aggravate already unsettled financial markets.” A lobbying disclosure filed with the Senate confirms the Chamber contacted lawmakers to help kill the bill.

In typical fashion, the Chamber has not revealed which of its foreign members had asked them to kill the 9/11 bill. As the Chamber CEO explained to the Washington Monthly’s James Verini, the entire purpose of the Chamber is to provide “deniability” to corporations that want to affect the outcomes of elections or of public policy. In 2009, the Chamber secretly used a $86 million donation from the health insurance industry to fight health reform. At the time, the Chamber lied and claimed to the public that they were simply acting on behalf of the entire “business community.”

Republicans are continuing to protest any renewed attempts to pass the 9/11 first responders bill because of the tax issue raised by the Chamber. Yesterday, Sen. Susan Collins (R-ME) sent out a statement that mirrored the Chamber’s opposition to ending the foreign corporate tax loophole.
Holding 9-11 responders hostage so the could make sure people with tons of unearned wealth do not have to pay the same taxes they paid during the Bill Clinton boom years of the 1990s. Not shocking. Very typical of the way the Chamber and right-wing conservatives view how American democracy should work. The conservative movement likes to claim there is no class warfare and Democrats are wrong to use it as an issue. That because they don't want anyone to notice they declared war on average Americans decades ago.

Friday, December 17, 2010

Did Fannie or Freddie Trigger Economic Crisis

Did Fannie or Freddie Trigger Economic Crisis

As the economy worsens and Election Day approaches, a conservative campaign that blames the global financial crisis on a government push to make housing more affordable to lower-class Americans has taken off on talk radio and e-mail.

Commentators say that's what triggered the stock market meltdown and the freeze on credit. They've specifically targeted the mortgage finance giants Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, which the federal government seized on Sept. 6, contending that lending to poor and minority Americans caused Fannie's and Freddie's financial problems.

Federal housing data reveal that the charges aren't true, and that the private sector, not the government or government-backed companies, was behind the soaring subprime lending at the core of the crisis.

Subprime lending offered high-cost loans to the weakest borrowers during the housing boom that lasted from 2001 to 2007. Subprime lending was at its height from 2004 to 2006.

Federal Reserve Board data show that:

* More than 84 percent of the subprime mortgages in 2006 were issued by private lending institutions.

* Private firms made nearly 83 percent of the subprime loans to low- and moderate-income borrowers that year.

* Only one of the top 25 subprime lenders in 2006 was directly subject to the housing law that's being lambasted by conservative critics.

The "turmoil in financial markets clearly was triggered by a dramatic weakening of underwriting standards for U.S. subprime mortgages, beginning in late 2004 and extending into 2007," the President's Working Group on Financial Markets reported Friday.

Conservative critics claim that the Clinton administration pushed Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac to make home ownership more available to riskier borrowers with little concern for their ability to pay the mortgages.

"I don't remember a clarion call that said Fannie and Freddie are a disaster. Loaning to minorities and risky folks is a disaster," said Neil Cavuto of Fox News.

Fannie, the Federal National Mortgage Association, and Freddie, the Federal Home Loan Mortgage Corp., don't lend money, to minorities or anyone else, however. They purchase loans from the private lenders who actually underwrite the loans.

It's a process called securitization, and by passing on the loans, banks have more capital on hand so they can lend even more.

This much is true. In an effort to promote affordable home ownership for minorities and rural whites, the Department of Housing and Urban Development set targets for Fannie and Freddie in 1992 to purchase low-income loans for sale into the secondary market that eventually reached this number: 52 percent of loans given to low-to moderate-income families.

To be sure, encouraging lower-income Americans to become homeowners gave unsophisticated borrowers and unscrupulous lenders and mortgage brokers more chances to turn dreams of homeownership in nightmares.

But these loans, and those to low- and moderate-income families represent a small portion of overall lending. And at the height of the housing boom in 2005 and 2006, Republicans and their party's standard bearer, President Bush, didn't criticize any sort of lending, frequently boasting that they were presiding over the highest-ever rates of U.S. homeownership.

Between 2004 and 2006, when subprime lending was exploding, Fannie and Freddie went from holding a high of 48 percent of the subprime loans that were sold into the secondary market to holding about 24 percent, according to data from Inside Mortgage Finance, a specialty publication. One reason is that Fannie and Freddie were subject to tougher standards than many of the unregulated players in the private sector who weakened lending standards, most of whom have gone bankrupt or are now in deep trouble.

During those same explosive three years, private investment banks — not Fannie and Freddie — dominated the mortgage loans that were packaged and sold into the secondary mortgage market. In 2005 and 2006, the private sector securitized almost two thirds of all U.S. mortgages, supplanting Fannie and Freddie, according to a number of specialty publications that track this data.

In 1999, the year many critics charge that the Clinton administration pressured Fannie and Freddie, the private sector sold into the secondary market just 18 percent of all mortgages.

Fueled by low interest rates and cheap credit, home prices between 2001 and 2007 galloped beyond anything ever seen, and that fueled demand for mortgage-backed securities, the technical term for mortgages that are sold to a company, usually an investment bank, which then pools and sells them into the secondary mortgage market.

About 70 percent of all U.S. mortgages are in this secondary mortgage market, according to the Federal Reserve.

Conservative critics also blame the subprime lending mess on the Community Reinvestment Act, a 31-year-old law aimed at freeing credit for underserved neighborhoods.

Congress created the CRA in 1977 to reverse years of redlining and other restrictive banking practices that locked the poor, and especially minorities, out of homeownership and the tax breaks and wealth creation it affords. The CRA requires federally regulated and insured financial institutions to show that they're lending and investing in their communities.

Conservative columnist Charles Krauthammer wrote recently that while the goal of the CRA was admirable, "it led to tremendous pressure on Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac — who in turn pressured banks and other lenders — to extend mortgages to people who were borrowing over their heads. That's called subprime lending. It lies at the root of our current calamity."

Fannie and Freddie, however, didn't pressure lenders to sell them more loans; they struggled to keep pace with their private sector competitors. In fact, their regulator, the Office of Federal Housing Enterprise Oversight, imposed new restrictions in 2006 that led to Fannie and Freddie losing even more market share in the booming subprime market.

What's more, only commercial banks and thrifts must follow CRA rules. The investment banks don't, nor did the now-bankrupt non-bank lenders such as New Century Financial Corp. and Ameriquest that underwrote most of the subprime loans.

These private non-bank lenders enjoyed a regulatory gap, allowing them to be regulated by 50 different state banking supervisors instead of the federal government. And mortgage brokers, who also weren't subject to federal regulation or the CRA, originated most of the subprime loans.

In a speech last March, Janet Yellen, the president of the Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco, debunked the notion that the push for affordable housing created today's problems.

"Most of the loans made by depository institutions examined under the CRA have not been higher-priced loans," she said. "The CRA has increased the volume of responsible lending to low- and moderate-income households."

In a book on the sub-prime lending collapse published in June 2007, the late Federal Reserve Governor Ed Gramlich wrote that only one-third of all CRA loans had interest rates high enough to be considered sub-prime and that to the pleasant surprise of commercial banks there were low default rates. Banks that participated in CRA lending had found, he wrote, "that this new lending is good business."
Another myth spread by Faux News and conservatives bites the dust. One wonders if conservative Republicans are even capable of differentiating the truth from the bizarre fantasies in their head. This attempt to blame low income Americans is nothing new. According to conservatives working class Americans are lazy and a drain on society. These are the workers who make Gucci loafer Republican able to put their feet up on their desks and brag to their friends about all the wealth they think they're creating. Republicans hate to give credit where due but are always quick to shift blame.