WSJ: Tea Party Leader Admits Political Activities, Proving The IRS Was Right

In a fluff piece on the head of the Tea Party Patriots, Jenny Beth Martin, the Wall Street Journal contends that the recent IRS pseudo-scandal has reinvigorated the Tea-publican movement. Never mind that their own poll shows that only 37% – of Republicans – support the Tea Party. The gist of the article’s analysis rests on the improved fundraising they have enjoyed since the GOP has fanned the phony scandal.

Tea Party
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Indeed, the Tea Party Patriots raised more than $20 million last year, which makes their complaint about the IRS scrutiny ring rather hollow. Martin complains that not having tax-exempt status was “a disincentive to some potential donors.” Perhaps a bigger disincentive might be that they spend 85 cents of every dollar raised on additional fundraising. Or maybe donors weren’t impressed with the fact that their candidates (e.g. Akin, Mourdock, Angle, O’Donnell, Paladino, etc.), are mostly losers.

Martin told the WSJ that “the big donors…wouldn’t give to us without our nonprofit status.” She either doesn’t know, or is deliberately lying about, the fact that the IRS permits organizations with pending applications to solicit tax-exempt donations. She also made a remarkable admission that pretty much destroys her entire argument that her operation deserves tax-exempt status at all.

Martin: “It was harassment, pure and simple, to weaken us going into the 2012 election,”

Really? If your concern is that you will be hampered going into an election year, then your activities are unambiguously political and the IRS should immediately deny your application. Martin’s confession that election outcomes are what is driving the alleged harassment is the best argument that the IRS was right to apply stricter scrutiny to her group and others like it.

Not that this would be the first indication that the Tea Party is an overtly political operation and, in fact, nothing more than an arm of the Republican Party. GOP candidate for President, Newt Gingrich called the Tea Party “the militant wing of the Republican Party.” The corrupt Tea Party Express co-hosted a GOP primary debate on CNN. It’s hard to get more political than that.

The WSJ noted the hard times that the Tea Party endured after their brief brush with fame:

By the 2012 election, the tea-party movement was in decline. Its members failed to show up to the polls in sufficient numbers, and many Senate challengers with tea-party backing were defeated. Rep. Michele Bachmann, chairwoman of the House Tea Party Caucus, barely retained her seat.

When Mrs. Martin toured chapters in California earlier this year, they told her they wanted to drop “tea party” from their names because its brand was tarnished. Mrs. Martin was presiding over a national office full of empty desks and dwindling volunteers and donations—a period she refers to as “frightening” and “disheartening.”.

This is further evidence that their tax-exempt status had nothing to do with their misfortune, because there was no difference in their status in 2012 than in 2010. The dust up over the IRS was itself a purely political tactic, engineered by Rep. Darrell Issa and his GOP cronies in the House of Representatives. And, of course, hyped by their PR division, Fox News. The success of that tactic was heralded by Martin who told the WSJ that “From that moment, the tea party has roared back to life.”

Today the Tea Party is still an unpopular scam devised to advance the interests of the Republican Party and to enrich its principals. It enjoys an outsized measure of influence because GOP leaders in congress are too cowardly to challenge it. But anyone who thinks the Tea Party is a legitimate grassroots operation is being willfully ignorant of the facts – which kind of explains why they still support the Tea Party.

Stephen Colbert Takes On The Totalitarian Bicyclista Conspiracy (Video)

When a member of the Wall Street Journal’s editorial board speaks out about the imminent threat to America’s freedom posed by subversive bike riders, you sure hope that somebody is listening and is prepared to act. Thank God for Stephen Colbert.

Stephen Colbert
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The Journal’s Dorothy Rabinowitz took to the airwaves to warn America about the these vile bicyclistas and the government stooges who enable them. While she declined to speculate on what is in “the mind of the totalitarians running this government,” she pointed out that…

“We now look at a city whose best neighborhoods are absolutely…“begrimed” is the word…by these blazing blue Citibank bikes.”

Exactly! It’s an abomination that must not be tolerated by freedom-loving patriots. Colbert quickly recognized the wisdom in Rabinowitz’s criticism and leaped to her defense. He astutely noted that nothing begrimes a community more than a row of two-wheeled, people-powered, vehicles that eschew the fossil fuel that is the blood coursing through America’s oily veins. Colbert lamented what would become of our neighborhoods if the bicyclistas get their way:

“Now when you’re ambulating about the historic West Village, a gaudy blue rack of bikes will take away from the simple beauty of the Cherry Boxxx Discount Dildo Shop.”

Well said. That’s the way to stand up to these peddle-pushers who, like their comrades in the drug trade, are determined to make us all slaves to a perverse and anti-American lifestyle “choice.” And it’s only a matter of time before the bi-cycle Mafia slides down that slippery slope and openly advocates gay-cycle decadence that will rip apart the fabric of our culture.

Watch the video and prepare to be outraged.

Wall Street Journal Exposes Fox News Lies About Benghazi and Susan Rice

For several weeks Fox News has been spearheading a smear campaign against U.N. Ambassador Susan Rice for comments she made on Sunday news programs about Benghazi. The actual substance of her comments was specifically limited by her qualification that the information was evolving as investigations continued. Nevertheless, Fox falsely portrayed her as having misled the nation. And further, they accused the President of conspiring to alter intelligence reports in order to downplay the involvement of Al Qaeda in the attacks.

Fox Nation Benghazi

Today there is a report in the Wall Street Journal that obliterates the dishonest reporting that has been plastered on the airwaves on Fox for weeks.

“The officials said the first draft of the talking points had a reference to al Qaeda but it was removed by the Central Intelligence Agency, to protect sources and protect investigations, before the talking points were shared with the White House. No evidence has so far emerged that the White House interfered to tone down the public intelligence assessment, despite the attention the charge has received.”

The WSJ story corroborates earlier reports about what Gen. Petraeus told members of congress in closed-door meetings: That the CIA was responsible for the revisions and approved them before they were distributed to the White House. It also exonerates Amb. Rice from the allegations that she did anything inappropriate in her public appearances.

The significance that this report was published in the Wall Street Journal cannot be understated. The Journal is the kingpin of Rupert Murdoch’s news empire. The fact that it is openly contradicting his other news outlet, Fox News, is a powerful condemnation of the cable network.

Now it remains to be seen if Fox News will broadcast a retraction of the lies they have been promulgating about Rice and recant the disparaging coverage of speculation about an appointment to succeed Hillary Clinton as Secretary of State. It will also be interesting to see whether John McCain, Lindsay Graham, and other Rice bashers will offer their apologies.

Karl Rove Inadvertantly Argues Against His Own Fundraising Machine

The Wall Street Journal, once a respected financial news publisher before Rupert Murdoch got his hands on it, is now the home of rabidly partisan propagandists who seek only to advance self-serving political agendas. One of those is former Bush flack, Karl Rove.

Karl RoveIn an op-ed today, Rove addressed the intricacies of modern campaigning and passed along some of the lessons he has learned from a lifetime of electioneering. But in his haste to demean President Obama as a profligate spender obsessed with winning reelection, Rove ended up making a convincing case for campaign finance reform, including eliminating SuperPACS like his own Crossroads GPS.

The op-ed opened with Rove regurgitating a few well-known, and widely debunked, out-of-context misrepresentations of the President’s remarks. In rapid succession he rattled off what he called Obama’s “problematic statements:”

  • “You didn’t build that.” Where Obama was actually referring to roads and bridges, not private businesses.
  • “The private sector is doing fine.” Where Obama was correctly making a relative comparison of the private sector to the public sector.
  • “We tried our plan and it worked” Where Obama was referencing the success of the Clinton era policies as opposed to the failure of the GOP’s years under Bush’s policies.

The GOP is laying the entire foundation of their campaign on these deliberate lies, and it is not surprising to see Rove commence his editorial by highlighting them. What’s surprising is what comes next. Rove squeezes out some faux sympathy for the President’s exhaustive workload. He goes into some detail enumerating the stressful itinerary of a candidate for the White House.

Rove: Many people don’t fully appreciate how much of a drain it is on a candidate—involving travel, a speech or two, private meetings with particularly energetic (or obnoxious) money bundlers, and always plenty of advice. Most fundraisers also include a long photo line where the candidate grips and grins for dozens, sometimes hundreds, of photographs.

I observed first-hand how difficult it was to wedge 86 fundraisers onto President George W. Bush’s calendar over the 14.5 months from May 16, 2003 (when he filed for re-election) through July 2004.

Indeed. Raising money for a viable presidential campaign is a back-breaking endeavor that diverts the candidate’s attention from other pressing matters, whether they be communicating with voters, developing policies and campaign platforms, or fulfilling any other duties outside of the campaign, like running a country.

Unfortunately, fundraising is a fact of campaign life. No one, including Rove, would suggest that a candidate could neglect this duty and still have a chance of winning. This is more true than ever in the post-Citizens United era where corporations and wealthy individuals have been freed to make unlimited (and sometimes undisclosed) contributions to candidates. The new electioneering environment forces candidates to spend more time and effort on soliciting donations than ever before. These observations are powerful evidence for why reform is such an imperative. Corporate cash and secret bankrolls have no place in democratic elections and they only make the practice of fair elections more difficult. Thanks for pointing that out, Karl.

Ironically, Rove is a prominent advocate of Citizens United. He is also a major beneficiary of it via his network of political action committees. Rove has boasted that he intends to raise and spend hundreds of millions of dollars this election cycle. So, in effect, Rove is cashing in on a practice that he admits is detrimental and places undue burdens on office-seekers. He further admits that, despite Obama’s best efforts, he is still trailing Romney and the GOP, largely because of Rove’s own prowess at hauling in boat loads of bucks from billionaires with aspirations to buy election outcomes.

If we were to take Rove’s initial points seriously, the country would rise up against Citizens United and the flash flood of cash that it unleashed on the electoral process. Without meaning to, Rove has made an excellent case for overturning CU and restoring the democratic principle of one-man-one-vote, rather than one-dollar-one-vote. But Rove doesn’t take his own arguments seriously because he is too heavily invested in the windfall he receives both personally and for the benefit of his GOP pals. As usual, he is demonstrating the brazen hypocrisy that is typical of his species of parasite.

The Wall Street Journal: Standing Up For Poor, Defenseless Billionaires

When Rupert Murdoch bought the Wall Street Journal there was anxious speculation about what would become of the respected financial clarion. Many critics (myself included) predicted that the paper would devolve into a partisan tool for the advancement of Murdoch’s uber-conservative agenda. Now we have confirmation of the worst of our reckoning.

A few weeks ago, the Journal’s Kimberley Strassel wrote a column complaining about an Obama campaign web page that identified a few of Mitt Romney’s wealthy donors and described their inherent interests in helping Romney to buy the presidency. Strassel’s take at the time was a departure from rational thought as she dredged up delusions about McCarthyism and enemies lists. She portrayed the introduction of Romney’s contributors as an attempt to intimidate them, as if being branded a Romney supporter was in itself an insult from which they must be shielded.

The truth is that Strassel was acting as a defender of the super-rich who prefer to operate in anonymity in order to achieve their self-serving ends. And while criticizing wealthy Republicans was tantamount to treason, she had no such sympathy for the likes of George Soros or George Clooney who somehow deserved the exposure and criticism they endured. Strassel is nothing but a mouthpiece for her boss, Murdoch, who is rushing to aid his aristocratic comrades. That explains how Strassel’s looney observations traveled so briskly from the Journal to Fox News and other right-wing media.

But apparently her article didn’t do the trick. So yesterday she followed up with another piece that sought to shelter one particular Romney supporter from the slings and arrows of outrageousness due to his vast fortune. Frank VanderSloot is the CEO of Melaleuca, an Amway-ish multi-level marketing enterprise. He has been described as an ultra-conservative and virulently anti-gay activist who generously spreads his wealth in pursuit of his politically narrow and socially constricting goals. [For a revealing look at VanderSloot see Glenn Greenwald's excellent and in-depth essay in Salon].

The focus of Strassel’s new column is her dismay that VanderSloot is the subject of research by presumably Democratic operatives. Once again, the notion that wealthy power-players should be exempt from scrutiny is the core of her complaint. She even begins her article by saying…

“Here’s what happens when the president of the United States publicly targets a private citizen for the crime of supporting his opponent.”

First of all, VanderSloot is not what any objective person would describe as just a “private citizen.” He is a prominent, big-money backer of political issues and candidates and he is the national finance co-chair of the Romney campaign. That makes him a very public person whose activities are relevant. Strassel’s position is that he is off-limits for public discourse despite making himself a notoriously vociferous spokesperson for his conservative views. This is a common stance from the right wherein they assert that they can say anything they want about anyone, including slanderous attacks on the President, but if the targets of these attacks dare to respond they are guilty of intimidation and suppression of free speech.

Just as with her previous column, this one also made the journey from print to television. Fox News committed significant airtime to the story. Megyn Kelly interviewed Strassel in one segment of her program, then came back with another segment pitting a couple of political analysts against each other. Later, Neil Cavuto did a report on the subject for one segment, and returned to “interview” a couple of right-wing, Fox legal contributors. That’s a lot of airtime to devote to protecting a billionaire from having to be accountable for his political actions.

Poor Frank VanderSloot. What a burden it must be for him to have people discover what he’s up to with his campaign spending. And what a blow to his dignity that he should have to answer questions from the peasants he is seeking to control through disbursement of his wealth. It’s a good thing he has Rupert Murdoch, and the Wall Street Journal, and Fox News to cover for him because he surely doesn’t have any means of defending himself. He can now join the Koch brothers who were aided by the Murdoch Machine earlier this year when the Journal gave space to their attorney, Ted Olsen, to make largely the same arguments that Strassel is making about McCarthyism, just because they experienced some push-back for their right-wing advocacy.

It’s startling how thin-skinned these billionaires are. With all of their financial resources, media access, and Washington connections, they still cry like babies when confronted. And it’s pathetic what the Wall Street Journal has become as it seems to be destroying it’s reputation for the sake of a few wealthy patrons.

Obama-Phobia: Wall Street Journal, Fox News Revive Nixon’s Enemies List

The classic symptoms of obsessive paranoia are exhibiting themselves again in the psyches of delusional right-wingers. The villainous shadows they conjure up in every corner of their warped minds betrays how desperately sick they have become.

The latest blood vessel to burst in these over-anxious conservative foreheads is displayed in an article published yesterday in the Wall Street Journal, the once respected financial paper that Rupert Murdoch has transformed into another of his tabloid rags. The item’s headline blared ominously that, “The President Has a List” (cue spooky music).

OMG! Is he checking it twice? The article’s author, Kimberley Strassel, seems to be alleging that President Obama has usurped the powers of Santa Claus and is preparing to rain a frosty judgment down on Republicans who were naughty this election year. They know who they are, and now, with his new North Pole Initiative, so does Obama. He even knows when they’re asleep and/or awake.

The article’s sub-head went into a little more panicky detail saying, “Barack Obama attempts to intimidate contributors to Mitt Romney’s campaign.” That’s a pretty scary thought. What will become of our democracy if powerful political players go around harassing the financial backers of their opponents? It could end up instigating slanderous attacks on private citizens who merely want to participate in the democratic process. The GOP would never contemplate doing such a thing to backers of Democrats. Notice the respect with which they always regard George Soros and Barbara Streisand. Nevertheless, Strassel rolls out the big guns with allusions to the famously paranoid Richard Nixon:

“Richard Nixon’s ‘enemies list’ appalled the country for the simple reason that presidents hold a unique trust. Unlike senators or congressmen, presidents alone represent all Americans. Their powers—to jail, to fine, to bankrupt—are also so vast as to require restraint. Any president who targets a private citizen for his politics is de facto engaged in government intimidation and threats.”

Exactly! So if mega-wealthy conservative activists drop boatloads of cash into dishonest campaigns designed to demonize the President as an anti-American, Marxist, alien, aligned with Al-Qaeda, the President and his supporters should just shut their mouths and permit those poor billionaires to do as they please. If God didn’t want filthy rich robber barons and corporations to pervert democracy he wouldn’t have given them the Citizen’s United Supreme Court decision.

The source of this bubbling cauldron of conservative angst is a web site that the Obama campaign operates to counter the abundant feces-flinging from the right. It is produced by Obama’s “Truth Team” and consists entirely of disseminating documented information with the ghastly purpose of helping people to make informed decisions. In particular, there is an article titled “Behind the curtain: A brief history of Romney’s donors” that reveals who is bankrolling Romney’s campaign and what their motivations might be. It begins by saying…

“As the presumptive GOP nominee, Mitt Romney is relying on a cadre of high-dollar and special-interest donors to fund his campaign. Giving information about his real policy intentions and high-level access for cash, Romney and Republicans are working hard to pull in as much money as they can from wealthy lobbyists, corporations, and PACs.”

No wonder the right is worried. We certainly can’t have people going around telling the truth about wealthy special interests who are trying to help Romney buy this election. And even though none of the atrocities Strassel mentions in her column (“to jail, to fine, to bankrupt”) are occurring, it’s bad enough that truthful biographies and affiliations are being brought into the light of day.

Adding to the cacophony of crazy is Rupert Murdoch’s cable crew at Fox News. Neil Cavuto took up the very same topic as Strassel’s WSJ story (by coincidence, I’m sure) and engaged in a profound exchange with Fox legal analyst Lis Wiehl:

Cavuto: Called out for shelling out. Private donors to Mitt Romney outed on an Obama campaign web site. The site ripping their record, even saying that they’re betting against America by giving cash to Romney’s campaign. Is this legal?
Lis Wiehl: It may be. I went on the web site today. It is frightening. I mean, I don’t like to get on any list, unless it’s a birthday party list or something like that, but a Nixon enemy list, McCarthyism…

First of all, Cavuto and Wiehl are just plain delusional in speculating that there is anything illegal about posting truthful information about political donors. And while Cavuto is just an idiot, Wiehl is a lawyer and should know better. Secondly, the web site does not say that Romney donors are “betting against America by giving cash to Romney’s campaign.” It says they are betting against America by outsourcing American jobs, closing American factories, and unlawfully foreclosing on American homeowners. Then they take their tainted winnings and parlay them into Romney’s Wheel of Nefarious Fortune. But the best example of the looming dementia on the part of these dimwits is Wiehl’s allusion to her sterling investigative skills. She seemed so proud of herself for navigating the byzantine maze that Obama’s functionaries constructed to hide their true identities. She bragged to Cavuto that…

Wiehl: You’ve got to through a few links. It’s not that easy. I’m not a computer person, but I did manage to do it myself.

Here is the maze of deception through which Wiehl had to rummage:

Obama Truth Team

How on earth did she ever discover the real source of this web site? Only a crack investigator with Wiehl’s superior legal experience could have figured out how to scroll to the bottom of the page. Those Obama web developers are mighty crafty, but no match for Wiehl.

This isn’t the first time that the Murdoch empire has attempted to associate Obama with Nixon and McCarthy. A couple of months ago the Wall Street Journal published an article by Ted Olsen that accused the President of similar list crimes. On that occasion it was the infamous Koch brothers who were being set up for presidential attacks. It’s too bad that the billionaire Koch brothers are so defenseless that they have to resort to having their lawyer (Olsen) be given space in the Wall Street Journal to whine about being criticized by the president they have vowed to destroy.

It’s also a little ironic that the right is so vociferously disturbed by tactics made popular by people they now regard as heroes. Both Nixon and McCarthy have been the beneficiaries of recent rehabilitations by their fellow Republicans. We even have GOP stars like Allen West declaring that commies are running rampant through the corridors of congress. McCarthy would be so proud. And Glenn Beck sanitized Nixon’s enemies list by saying that it was “just about who’s not coming to state dinners.” Yet conservatives will still site these historical scumbags in a negative sense if they think they can tarnish the President with it. Oh what a tangled web…..

The Wall Street Journal Uncovers Obama’s Enemies List

When Rupert Murdoch bought Dow Jones, the parent company of the Wall Street Journal, most observers were properly concerned about how he would go about destroying the paper’s legacy. The speculation leaned toward obvious predictions of more overt bias inserted into the news pages, as well as dumbing down the articles by shortening them and diluting the journalistic content with tabloid sensationalism and a reliance on dubious sources. But I’m not sure anyone predicted this:

Today’s issue of the Journal contained an article purporting to reveal President Obama’s “Enemies List.” The author, Theodore Olsen, paints a disturbing picture of a vengeful White House bent on destroying innocent, patriotic Americans who want nothing more than to run a business, create jobs, and bring energy to America.

The ominous list that has Olsen so upset seems to have only two names: Charles and David Koch. And coincidentally, Olsen, an attorney, represents the Koch brothers. So the Wall Street Journal handed over their editorial page to the Koch brothers’ lawyer for the purpose of accusing the President of carrying out some sort of vendetta against them.

For a lawyer, he doesn’t try very hard to make his case. The article alleges several times that the President has personally, or via his direction, made the Kochs “targets of a campaign of vituperation and assault.” However, he doesn’t provide a single example to support his claim. The article begins…

“How would you feel if aides to the president of the United States singled you out by name for attack, and if you were featured prominently in the president’s re-election campaign as an enemy of the people?”

The only problem is that that never happened. If Obama ever uttered the name of the Koch brothers, I can’t find it. It would not surprise me if they were mentioned by aides, but most likely while defending the President against attacks on him. I challenge Olsen to present his evidence that anyone in the White House ever characterized the Koch brothers as enemies of the people.

On the other hand, the Koch brothers created and bankrolled the Tea Party, an AstroTurf, corporate funded, pseudo-movement, that incessantly disparages Obama as a communist, a Nazi, a Muslim, an atheist, a Kenyan, and a Manchurian agent whose mission is to deliver America to its enemies and/or Satan. The Kochs are also the money behind numerous think tanks and organizations whose purpose is to destroy the presidency through propaganda or outright manipulation and suppression of the vote. One such organization is the American Legislative Exchange Council which drafts bills and then pays GOP legislators to carry them in state houses across the country.

Olsen attempts to inoculate the Kochs from criticism by portraying them as merely private citizens going about their business. The absurdity of that depiction is downright surreal. To suggest that because the Kochs do not hold public office, that they are not an integral part of the political landscape in America, is akin to suggesting that because Charles Manson did not hold a weapon, that he is not guilty of murder. The Kochs are the masterminds and financiers of the most prominent attack groups on the right that are trying to bring the Obama administration to a crashing end. It is a role they assumed voluntarily and enthusiastically.

Olsen’s article drops names of some historical villains that he asserts have something in common with Obama. He cites Richard Nixon, who actually did have an enemies list and abused the power of his office in order to punish the people on it. But Olsen cannot seem to find even one example of Obama doing anything similar. He just brings up the Nixon name to deceitfully tie it to the President. Then Olsen does the very same thing with Joe McCarthy, who orchestrated a campaign of red-baiting that ruined the lives of countless innocent people. Again, Olsen offers nothing to show any connection to Obama. He just likes to use their names in the same sentence in the hopes of having the infamy rub off.

The article continues with ad hominem use of contentious rhetoric like “the exercise of tyrannical power” and “stand up against oppression” to falsely convey the impression that Obama is attempting to “demonize and stigmatize” the Kochs. But nowhere does Olsen justify such language.

Like many conservatives, Olsen holds a perverse definition of free speech wherein conservatives are permitted vast leeway to spew any and all slander that they like, but if the other side seeks to respond they are guilty of stomping on the rights of the right-wingers. If the Kochs want to play the political game, and by the evidence of their prodigious spending they obviously do, then they cannot complain when the victims of their assaults fire back. The Kochs are not waifs who wandered unaware onto a battlefield. They know what they are doing and they have vast resources to plot their designs on society. They even have the support of the Wall Street Journal who will publish the screeds of their attorneys on the editorial page as if it were there personal diary. What more do they want?

Message to the Kochs: Either stop disseminating self-serving propaganda and fomenting hostile division in America, or be prepared if your victims decline to roll over, or STFU.

Wall Street Journal On The GOP: If They Don’t Want To Lose, They Shouldn’t Run With Losers

Bret Stephens, the deputy editorial page editor for the Wall Street Journal, published an article this morning that begins…

“Let’s just say right now what voters will be saying in November, once Barack Obama has been re-elected: Republicans deserve to lose.

The column is an indictment of the whole Republican field, but with an emphasis on Mitt Romney and Newt Gingrich. Stephens is no fan of President Obama either. He leads off with a litany of laments having to do with things that Stephens says don’t matter, but conveniently leaves out any of the administration’s accomplishments. And it all leads up to this…

“Above all, it doesn’t matter that Americans are generally eager to send Mr. Obama packing. All they need is to be reasonably sure that the alternative won’t be another fiasco. But they can’t be reasonably sure, so it’s going to be four more years of the disappointment you already know.”

Stephens goes on to compare the GOP field to a “terminal diagnosis” and says that neither Romney nor Gingrich are fit to be a serious Republican nominee. Then he turns his animus to Republicans who declined to enter the race (Daniels, Ryan, Christie, etc.) and blames them for the loss looming in November. It’s a loss that Stephens regards as inevitable. And he is crystal clear as to what he believes is the reason that Obama is certain to be reelected:

“…the U.S. will surely survive four more years. Who knows? By then maybe Republicans will have figured out that if they don’t want to lose, they shouldn’t run with losers.”

That is uncannily close to my own analysis of the GOP race. However, I’m not a deputy editor of the Wall Street Journal. Conservatives of all stripes are bemoaning their presidential slate this year. They know that Romney is a poor representative in an election year where the wealthy 1% are considered aloof and out of touch. And Gingrich is regarded as toxic to Republican’s hopes for both the White House and their hold on the House of Representatives.

You know it may be time to pack it in when Rupert Murdoch has come out against both GOP campaign leaders:

Uh oh. Who does that leave for Murdoch to support? Santorum? Paul? Obama? Or are we headed for a brokered convention? That would be sweet. I’m keeping my fingers crossed.

HEY FOX NEWS: We Didn’t Start The Class War Fire

The top headline today on Fox Nation is a conspicuously slanderous lie (as opposed to their conventional slanderous lies): Oakland on Fire: Obama Gets Class War He Asked For.

Fox Nation

First of all, not only has Obama never asked for a class war, he has never even expressed support for the Occupy movement that the Fox Nationalists are inferring is a class war. This has been a disappointment to progressives who want the President to go beyond acknowledging the frustration of the protesters and the 99% of the nation whom they represent.

More importantly, the class war theme has been beaten to death by right-wingers intent on blaming the American people for the obscene economic disparity that is the work of wealthy corporations and their benefactors in Congress. If the elitist One-Percenters are afraid (and they should be) of the rampaging hordes approaching their villas with torches and pitchforks, then they should stop behaving like robber barons and start acting like patriots. They should care more about their country and fellow citizens than they do about hoarding wealth, ripping people off, and destroying the economy.

As Billy Joel said (sort of), “We didn’t start the [class war] fire,” but we’ll be more than happy to finish it, and we will prevail. Revolution is in our DNA. It’s how we gained liberty from lords and monarchs a couple of hundred years ago, and we will do it again. And this time many of the lords are actually on our side. The enemy isn’t really the Upper Crusties, it’s the conservative media and politicians acting on behalf of a minority of ultra-rightist neo-fascists (and that is not a reference to Hitler, but to the actual definition of fascism, which Mussolini called “corporatism.”). With respect to the foregoing, the best thing I can do in response is to just reprise an article I wrote a few days ago on this very subject:


CLASS WAR VICTORY! The Wealthy Have Surrendered, So Who’s Still Fighting?

“Conservatives say if you don’t give the rich more money, they will lose their incentive to invest. As for the poor, they tell us they’ve lost all incentive because we’ve given them too much money.” ~ George Carlin

The national debate triggered by the Occupy Wall Street protests has given the wealth gap a renewed focus in the public arena. And with good reason. That gap is wider today than it was just prior to the Great Depression; wider, in fact, than it has ever been. The brutality of that economic disparity has thrust our nation into a bitter and persistent recession. But it has also inspired millions of Americans to step forward and demand reforms that not only restore fairness, but readjust the balance of political power.

Conservatives regard this new activism as a declaration of class war. But it’s important to note that they only call it war when we fight back. The war was already in progress and, as Warren Buffett said, “We (the rich) are winning.” Now a new survey reveals that Buffett is not the only one-percenter that is fighting on our side. The Wall Street Journal (ironically) is reporting that…

“A new survey from Spectrem Group found that 68% of millionaires (those with investments of $1 million or more) support raising taxes on those with $1 million or more in income. Fully 61% of those with net worths of $5 million or more support the tax on million-plus earners.”

We can also count Bill Gates amongst the one-percenters who advocate more progressive taxes.


[Note: The same segment from ABC's This Week was posted on Fox Nation with a headline that perverts reality beyond all recognition: "Bill Gates Knocks Down Obama's Millionaire's Tax." Gates did no such thing. He continues his remarks saying that taxing millionaires by itself will not solve the debt problem, but no one is suggesting that it will. And his support for taxing the rich more is clear and unambiguous.]

When two-thirds of the people that will be affected by a tax increase support the increase, it begs the question, who are the opponents? For the answer you need look no farther than the Office of the Speaker of the House of Representatives:

John Boehner: “[T]here’s nothing that’s disappointed me more over the last 8 weeks than to watch the President of the United States basically give up on the economy, give up on the American people.” [...] “People are frustrated, and that’s why the House has been focused all year on trying to create a better environment for job creation in our country.”

Boehner is wrong about Obama. The President has not given up on the economy or the American people. He has given up on Boehner. And Boehner’s assertion that the House has been focused on creating jobs is laughable. He and his Republican troops have done nothing but obstruct progress on every legislative attempt to stimulate job growth. In fact, they have been working hard to recast the issue as one that is centered on those they call the “job creators.”

House Republicans have a web site at jobs.gop.gov. The funny thing about the site is that it has no content whatsoever that addresses the plight of workers or the unemployed. The site isn’t really about jobs at all, as the heading makes abundantly clear: The House Republican Plan for America’s Job Creators. That’s an admission that the Republican agenda for jobs is really just an agenda for business owners and corporations. Click through to their plan and you will see a short list of proposals that hew narrowly to tax cuts for business, deregulation, and deficit reduction. It’s the same tired parade of failed policies that Republicans put forth as their solution to everything. None of those policies will produce jobs and, more importantly, they aren’t even what small businesses, the biggest driver of jobs, say that they want.

A new Gallup poll asked small business owners “What would be a primary motivation or reason for hiring any new employees?” The top three responses, representing 63% of respondents, were all related to demand.

“Small-business owners point to increased revenues (27%), an improving economy (20%), and growth or expansion of their business (17%) as their top motivations for hiring new employees in 2012.”

This survey affirms the analysis of most economists who agree that companies do not expand hiring when their taxes are cut or regulations are relaxed. They hire when they need to satisfy increased demand or exploit an economic opportunity. The Wall Street Journal surveyed a group of economists and concluded that…

“The main reason U.S. companies are reluctant to step up hiring is scant demand, rather than uncertainty over government policies, according to a majority of economists in a new Wall Street Journal survey.”

Once again, that’s the conservative Wall Street Journal reporting. It’s fair to presume that the economists the Journal surveyed were not from some sleeper cell of de-thawed Bolsheviks. In addition to this widespread agreement by experts that the GOP fixation on tax relief for the Upscalers is fiscal folly, the popular sentiment on Main Streets across the nation overwhelmingly favors making those who have benefited the most contribute more to restoring our country’s economic health. After all, the rich are the only ones who have not been called upon to share the sacrifice.

Shared Sacrifice

When the big picture is unfurled there are conclusions to draw that are too obvious to ignore. The American people support raising revenue via taxes. Economists agree that demand, not tax relief, drives job creation. And a majority of millionaires believe that their own tax rates are too low. Yet Republicans in Congress continue to stonewall. The intransigence of the GOP serves no constituency and has no discernible benefit politically. The only plausible return for their bullheadedness is in the form of financial support from a deep-pocketed minority of one-percenters who simply cannot abide one more cent in taxes.

That’s the naked truth that Boehner & Co. are having such a hard time defending. That’s why the Occupy movement has captured such a broad swath of public support. And that’s why it is all the more peculiar that the media still fails to present these issues honestly, and that many in the Democratic Party, including the President, have not unambiguously acknowledged the voice of the people and joined the fight for economic justice. If the wealthy have conceded that the people’s position is the one that ought to prevail, then where are the people’s representatives?

CLASS WAR VICTORY! The Wealthy Have Surrendered, So Who’s Still Fighting?

“Conservatives say if you don’t give the rich more money, they will lose their incentive to invest. As for the poor, they tell us they’ve lost all incentive because we’ve given them too much money.” ~ George Carlin

The national debate triggered by the Occupy Wall Street protests has given the wealth gap a renewed focus in the public arena. And with good reason. That gap is wider today than it was just prior to the Great Depression; wider, in fact, than it has ever been. The brutality of that economic disparity has thrust our nation into a bitter and persistent recession. But it has also inspired millions of Americans to step forward and demand reforms that not only restore fairness, but readjust the balance of political power.

Conservatives regard this new activism as a declaration of class war. But it’s important to note that they only call it war when we fight back. The war was already in progress and, as Warren Buffett said, “We (the rich) are winning.” Now a new survey reveals that Buffett is not the only one-percenter that is fighting on our side. The Wall Street Journal (ironically) is reporting that…

“A new survey from Spectrem Group found that 68% of millionaires (those with investments of $1 million or more) support raising taxes on those with $1 million or more in income. Fully 61% of those with net worths of $5 million or more support the tax on million-plus earners.”

We can also count Bill Gates amongst the one-percenters who advocate more progressive taxes.


[Note: The same segment from ABC's This Week was posted on Fox Nation with a headline that perverts reality beyond all recognition: "Bill Gates Knocks Down Obama's Millionaire's Tax." Gates did no such thing. He continues his remarks saying that taxing millionaires by itself will not solve the debt problem, but no one is suggesting that it will. And his support for taxing the rich more is clear and unambiguous.]

When two-thirds of the people that will be affected by a tax increase support the increase, it begs the question, who are the opponents? For the answer you need look no farther than the Office of the Speaker of the House of Representatives:

John Boehner: “[T]here’s nothing that’s disappointed me more over the last 8 weeks than to watch the President of the United States basically give up on the economy, give up on the American people.” [...] “People are frustrated, and that’s why the House has been focused all year on trying to create a better environment for job creation in our country.”

Boehner is wrong about Obama. The President has not given up on the economy or the American people. He has given up on Boehner. And Boehner’s assertion that the House has been focused on creating jobs is laughable. He and his Republican troops have done nothing but obstruct progress on every legislative attempt to stimulate job growth. In fact, they have been working hard to recast the issue as one that is centered on those they call the “job creators.”

House Republicans have a web site at jobs.gop.gov. The funny thing about the site is that it has no content whatsoever that addresses the plight of workers or the unemployed. The site isn’t really about jobs at all, as the heading makes abundantly clear: The House Republican Plan for America’s Job Creators. That’s an admission that the Republican agenda for jobs is really just an agenda for business owners and corporations. Click through to their plan and you will see a short list of proposals that hew narrowly to tax cuts for business, deregulation, and deficit reduction. It’s the same tired parade of failed policies that Republicans put forth as their solution to everything. None of those policies will produce jobs and, more importantly, they aren’t even what small businesses, the biggest driver of jobs, say that they want.

A new Gallup poll asked small business owners “What would be a primary motivation or reason for hiring any new employees?” The top three responses, representing 63% of respondents, were all related to demand.

“Small-business owners point to increased revenues (27%), an improving economy (20%), and growth or expansion of their business (17%) as their top motivations for hiring new employees in 2012.”

This survey affirms the analysis of most economists who agree that companies do not expand hiring when their taxes are cut or regulations are relaxed. They hire when they need to satisfy increased demand or exploit an economic opportunity. The Wall Street Journal surveyed a group of economists and concluded that…

“The main reason U.S. companies are reluctant to step up hiring is scant demand, rather than uncertainty over government policies, according to a majority of economists in a new Wall Street Journal survey.”

Once again, that’s the conservative Wall Street Journal reporting. It’s fair to presume that the economists the Journal surveyed were not from some sleeper cell of de-thawed Bolsheviks. In addition to this widespread agreement by experts that the GOP fixation on tax relief for the Upscalers is fiscal folly, the popular sentiment on Main Streets across the nation overwhelmingly favors making those who have benefited the most contribute more to restoring our country’s economic health. After all, the rich are the only ones who have not been called upon to share the sacrifice.

Shared Sacrifice

When the big picture is unfurled there are conclusions to draw that are too obvious to ignore. The American people support raising revenue via taxes. Economists agree that demand, not tax relief, drives job creation. And a majority of millionaires believe that their own tax rates are too low. Yet Republicans in Congress continue to stonewall. The intransigence of the GOP serves no constituency and has no discernible benefit politically. The only plausible return for their bullheadedness is in the form of financial support from a deep-pocketed minority of one-percenters who simply cannot abide one more cent in taxes.

That’s the naked truth that Boehner & Co. are having such a hard time defending. That’s why the Occupy movement has captured such a broad swath of public support. And that’s why it is all the more peculiar that the media still fails to present these issues honestly, and that many in the Democratic Party, including the President, have not unambiguously acknowledged the voice of the people and joined the fight for economic justice. If the wealthy have conceded that the people’s position is the one that ought to prevail, then where are the people’s representatives?

The Wall Street Journal’s Tone-Deaf Defense Of Murdochalypse

MurdochalypsePerhaps we shouldn’t be surprised, but Rupert Murdoch’s Wall Street Journal has published a self-serving op-ed that seeks to separate itself from the travails of its corporate parent, News Corp. The Journal argues that anyone who thinks there is any carryover from the UK scandal is overreaching. Never mind that the head of the Journal’s Dow Jones division, Les Hinton, was carried over to the states from his British perch at News International and has already resigned as a result of his association with the disgraced enterprise.

The op-ed takes a decidedly arrogant approach in suggesting that they, for some unexplained reason, are above it all and should not be tarnished. They regard the whole affair as a legal matter that is limited to the UK and that the real problem is the malfeasance of Scotland Yard for not properly investigating the crimes involved. The Journal’s editorial conveniently leaves out any mention that part of the problem with the police investigation is that they were on the receiving end of bribes from News Corp.

The only thing more grating than their arrogance is their victimehood. Apparently the only controversy is that the rest of the media world is ganging up on the long-suffering Wall Streeters and their bosses:

“It is also worth noting the irony of so much moral outrage devoted to a single media company, when British tabloids have been known for decades for buying scoops and digging up dirt on the famous. Fleet Street in general has long had a well-earned global reputation for the blind-quote, single-sourced story that may or may not be true.”

It’s not only Fleet Street. The “blind-quote, single-sourced story that may or may not be true,” is the standard operating procedure for Fox News. But why is the Journal so surprised about the moral outrage devoted to News Corp when it, so far, is the only party accused of hacking into people’s phones? And it is the only party, so far, accused of bribing the police for dirt on the famous. By the way, that is very different than the practice of “buying scoops” from private sources that the Journal is attempting to conflate with paying off the police.

The obvious attempt to muddy the discussion continues when the Journal addresses the critical of issue of relationships between politicians and the press:

“The British politicians now bemoaning media influence over politics are also the same statesmen who have long coveted media support. The idea that the BBC and the Guardian newspaper aren’t attempting to influence public affairs, and don’t skew their coverage to do so, can’t stand a day’s scrutiny.”

Here is where the op-ed deliberately tries to steer away from the real problem. Even if we were to concede that the BBC and the Guardian seek to influence public affairs through their coverage, the activities that are being “bemoanded” are those where News Corp seeks influence through intimidation and/or alliance with politicians, not via their reporting (which, of course, they do as well).

Next we see the editorial take another stab at victimhood with an unusual kicker aimed at a favorite bogeyman of News Corp, Julian Assange.

“We also trust that readers can see through the commercial and ideological motives of our competitor-critics. The Schadenfreude is so thick you can’t cut it with a chainsaw. Especially redolent are lectures about journalistic standards from publications that give Julian Assange and WikiLeaks their moral imprimatur.”

First of all, I don’t know of any mainstream news organization that has given WikiLeaks their moral imprimatur. For the most part Assange has been roundly castigated and, so far as Fox News is concerned, he is regarded as a traitor who should face a firing squad. But the Journal is being stunningly hypocritical in that they themselves have adopted the Wikileaks model in an attempt to emulate its success. That is the express mission of the Journal’s Safehouse web site. Unfortunately, there is nothing safe about Safehouse, which does little to protect one’s anonymity. So unless you have some perverse desire to be ratted out, arrested, or sued, stay as far away from this un-Safehouse as possible.

Finally, the Journal launches into a defense of allegations that the U.S. could prosecute News Corp under the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act. But somehow they spin off such a prospect into an attack on their First Amendment rights. The implication is that any prosecution of a media entity for any crime whatsoever violates the Constitution. That’s a rather broad reading. The Journal complains that…

“Applying this standard to British tabloids could turn payments made as part of traditional news-gathering into criminal acts. The Wall Street Journal doesn’t pay sources for information, but the practice is common elsewhere in the press, including in the U.S.”

Is the Journal asserting that payoffs to police officials is an act of “traditional news-gathering?” In most places that’s a violation of law enforcement ethics and it is the reason that the commissioner of Scotland Yard resigned yesterday.

Moreover, the Journal’s closing argument is that the pursuit of criminal activity on the part of the press has, in the past, netted individuals who were not initially suspects. The example given in the editorial is that of Robert Novak who had participated in the outing of CIA operative Valerie Plame. The Journal notes that others, including reporters at the New York Times, were swept up in the scandal. So What? That’s wonderful! Is the Journal suggesting that the press should keep its collective mouths shut because they might get drawn in themselves? That would be the duty of an honest, ethical press. Report the news – the truth – regardless of self-interest.

It’s as if the Journal is threatening its rivals to stay out of this mud fight lest they get dirty themselves. Really? That’s their defense?

Wall Street Journal Launches Its Own WikiLeaks

The Wall Street Journal has gone into competition with WikiLeaks. They just launched the web site Safehouse where they are soliciting secrets that would ostensibly expose fraud and abuse. The site asks visitors to send in “newsworthy contracts, correspondence, emails, financial records or databases from companies, government agencies or non-profits.”

The interesting thing about this is that it puts the Wall Street Journal in the position of emulating an avowedly anarchist enterprise. I happen to believe that WikiLeaks serves a useful purpose by promoting transparency in public institutions, despite their controversial tactics. There is a role for that in the media as well, but the tactical approach should be consistent with the standards of journalistic ethics.

In that regard the Journal ought not to be encouraging people to break the law. And that is, in effect, what they are doing. The contributions they are seeking are likely to be private materials that are proprietary and confidential. By providing these materials to the Journal, the sources are exposing themselves to legal liabilities. The Journal implies that submissions can be made anonymously, but a reading of the terms of service reveals that the Journal “cannot ensure complete anonymity” and that it “does not make any representations regarding confidentiality.”

In addition, the terms of service, to which you are assumed to have agreed, stipulate that your use may not “violate laws, regulations or rulings, infringe upon another person’s rights, or violate the terms of this Agreement.” Consequently, after taking the risk of providing the data, the Journal sets you adrift legally by holding themselves harmless in the event that your disclosures were unlawful. And to drive home that point they state explicitly that “Dow Jones is not responsible to you in any way for any loss, damage, civil claims, criminal charges, or injury that result, directly or indirectly, from your use of SafeHouse.” So they get all the benefit, but you take all the risk.

It is that sort of disclaimer that differentiates Safehouse from WikiLeaks. Anything you provide to WikiLeaks is completely anonymous without your having to request it. The ghostly, non-profit site exists in a quasi-legal state that protects whistle-blowers without disclaimers and exceptions. The Wall Street Journal exists to make money and spread the rightist ideology of its owner, Rupert Murdoch. That makes dealing with Safehouse a precarious proposition.

Other news organizations are already entering this field. The New York Times and Washington Post are said to have projects in the works. al-Jazeera has already launched its Transparency Unit, which has none of the conditions of Safehouse. Therefore, there are far better options for nervous whistle-blowers than the one offered by the Journal. And remember, the Journal is part of a media empire that includes disreputable outfits like Fox News, the New York Post, and the Times of London.

I would be wary of trusting the Journal in any case due to the general hostility of the right toward WikiLeaks, whom many on the right regard as agents of espionage. There are conservatives who have publicly called for the execution of Julian Assange, WikiLeaks’ founder. The possibility of the Journal’s editors taking your data and turning you in is not difficult to imagine. With all of their legalese drafted to protect themselves, it doesn’t seem like a particularly safe house.

[Update] Due to the universally negative reception for Safehouse, the Wall Street Journal was forced to issue a press release in response. It said in part…

“There is nothing more sacred than our sources; we are committed to protecting them to the fullest extent possible under the law. Because there is no way to predict the breadth of information that might be submitted through SafeHouse, the terms of use reserve certain rights in order to provide flexibility to react to extraordinary circumstances. But as always, our number one priority is protecting our sources.”

Obviously protecting their sources is not their number one priority because in the sentence just prior they admit that the reservation of “certain rights” takes precedence over the protection of sources. And exercising those rights puts the source at risk. So unless you have some perverse desire to be ratted out, arrested, or sued, stay as far away from this un-Safehouse as possible.

Wall Street Journal: Sarah Palin Is An Idiot

Sarah PalinOK, the Wall Street Journal didn’t really say that Sarah Palin is an idiot, but they proved it in an exchange that leaves no other conclusion. The following tale of deceit is particularly interesting because both sides are members of Rupert Murdoch’s media family. The WSJ is the gem of financial newspapers, and Palin is the star of Fox News. So Palin is not being attacked by some “lamestream media” hack. This thwacking comes from the most respectable source that Murdoch commands.

The intra-News Corp cat fight began when prepared remarks Palin will make at a trade association conference were released by the National Review. Her speech will address recent actions taken by the Federal Reserve with which she takes issue. She orders Fed chief Ben Bernanke to “cease and desist” and oddly suggests that the U.S. should follow the economic lead of Germany. That’s odd because she and her rightist comrades generally portray anyone who offers European solutions to American problems as socialists and traitors. But here is where she proudly demonstrates her monumental ignorance of economic affairs:

Palin: [E]veryone who ever goes out shopping for groceries knows that prices have risen significantly over the past year or so.

There’s only one small problem with that statement. It simply isn’t true. It’s as false as death panels; as dishonest as $200,000,000 a day trips to India by the President; as unscrupulously fraudulent as “palling around with terrorists.” In other words, it’s just another day for Sarah Palin. Sudeep Reddy of the Wall Street Journal stepped up to correct the Tea Party Queen by presenting some actual facts:

Reddy: Grocery prices haven’t risen all that significantly, in fact. The consumer price index’s measure of food and beverages for the first nine months of this year showed average annual inflation of less than 0.6%, the slowest pace on record (since the Labor Department started keeping this measure in 1968). Even if you pick a single snapshot — say, September’s year-over-year increase in prices — that was just 1.4%, far better than the 6% annual increase for food prices recorded in September 2008.

Not content to leave dumb enough alone, Palin calls Reddy’s facts and raises some more lies. She took to her Facebook page to accuse Reddy of failing to read his own paper. Then she offers this quote from a recent WSJ story to support her position that food prices have risen in the past year:

Palin: The article noted that “an inflationary tide is beginning to ripple through America’s supermarkets and restaurants…Prices of staples including milk, beef, coffee, cocoa and sugar have risen sharply in recent months.”

Notice that ellipsis Palin inserted after “supermarkets and restaurants?” Here is the complete segment with the portion she edited out in bold:

WSJ: An inflationary tide is beginning to ripple through America’s supermarkets and restaurants, threatening to end the tamest year of food pricing in nearly two decades.

Prices of staples including milk, beef, coffee, cocoa and sugar have risen sharply in recent months. And food makers and retailers including McDonald’s Corp., Kellogg Co. and Kroger Co. have begun to signal that they’ll try to make consumers shoulder more of the higher costs for ingredients.

So Palin just happened to cut out the part that affirmed that price inflation has been “tame.” And she also excised the context of the staple costs that have risen, which the Journal story makes clear was at the producer level, not the prices consumers pay. The point of the article that Palin quoted was that prices may rise in the future, but they have not risen in the past year as Palin claims.

Palin went to great lengths to ridicule Reddy and the Journal for what she regards as shoddy reporting. But upon closer examination it is Palin (who supposedly has a degree in journalism) who is mangling the truth and deliberately misrepresenting the content of the articles she cites. On her Facebook page she notes that…

Palin: Ever since 2008, people seem inordinately interested in my reading habits. Among various newspapers, magazines, and local Alaskan papers, I read the Wall Street Journal. [...] Now I realize I’m just a former governor and current housewife from Alaska, but even humble folks like me can read the newspaper. I’m surprised a prestigious reporter for the Wall Street Journal doesn’t.

Now Palin may be just a former half-term governor, a quitter, a ghost-written book hustler, and a current reality TV star, but even wealthy, narcissists like her can spew falsehoods and propaganda. Judging from the evidence above, if Palin can read a newspaper her comprehension skills (or her respect for the truth) are abysmal. And her attempt to malign “a prestigious reporter for the Wall Street Journal” has not only failed, but has blown back into her face.

Rupert Murdoch Epitomizes Hidebound Culture

Dateline: Wall Street Journal, October 8,2010.
If Schools Were Like ‘American Idol’ . . .
BY RUPERT MURDOCH

Over the past few years, I have often complained about a hidebound culture that prevents many newspapers from responding to the challenges of new technology. There is, however, another hidebound American institution that is also finding it difficult to respond to new challenges: our big-city schools.

Is that so? Rupert Murdoch’s op-ed in today’s Wall Street Journal is apparently his prescription for improving America’s ailing schools. Unfortunately, he has locked up his own opinion behind a paywall that prevents anyone who has not subscribed to his service from reading it. All you get is two paragraphs that contribute nothing to the public discourse on education.

The irony is that while he is complaining about a hidebound culture, he is simultaneously demonstrating it. The concept of erecting paywalls to secure content online is firmly rooted in the past. Modern media theory recognizes that certain types of information cannot be corralled and apportioned for fees. That is particularly true for news which no entity can own.

What Murdoch has succeeded in proving here is that his paywall not only fails to produce revenue, it suppresses the information he intends to distribute. And he ties it to the success of his own American Idol, a television program that, unlike his newspapers, can be received entirely free of charge. The result of this illogic is that he is making himself less prosperous and less influential at the same time. And he is doing nothing to help our educational system or the young people who rely upon it. Nice work, Rupert.

Fox News And Right-Wing Media Synergy

The Wall Street Journal published an article this morning profiling pollster Scott Rasmussen. The column was written by the Journal’s John Fund, who is also a Fox News contributor. The article’s subject, Rasmussen, is also a Fox News contributor whose surveys lean reliably to the right, which makes him a favorite of the conservative press.

So what we have here is one of Rupert Murdoch’s columnists interviewing one of Murdoch’s pollsters for one of Murdoch’s newspapers to promote contributors to one of Murdoch’s television networks. And wouldn’t you know it, the article was effusively complimentary to Rasmussen. However, it has no more significance than a Keith Olbermann editorial praising Rachel Maddow in the NBC employee newsletter. Here is how Fund leads off:

“Thanks to the shifting tectonic plates of American society, polls have come to dominate our politics as never before, and Mr. Rasmussen is today’s leading insurgent pollster.”

The reason polls have come to dominate our politics is that outlets like Fox News seek to trivialize current affairs by overdosing on horse-race data and ignoring, or misrepresenting, the more substantive issues that people really need to know about. Fox is famous for hyping tabloid fare like the current pseudo-controversy over the mosque in New York. Then they supplement their non-story with polls about the mosque in New York story that adds nothing to their viewers’ store of useful knowledge.

It is that state of polling domination that Fund praises Rasmussen for as the “leading insurgent pollster.” I have no idea why a pollster would be complimented as being an insurgent, but it does tend to certify the widely held view that Rasmussen is an activist with an agenda.

It isn’t hard to find evidence of Rasmussen’s bias. If you take a look at the RealClearPolitics aggregation of polls, Rasmussen invariably reports numbers that are far more favorable to Republicans and conservatives. That predetermined result is built into his methodology. And just to make sure he gets the results he wants, he will also skew his survey’s questions to assure a rightward slant. Markos Moulitsos of Daily Kos has done some detailed analysis on Rasmussen’s (dishonest) game And I previously documented Rasmussen’s phony index wherein he invents something he calls The Political Class, but is really just a fake metric to create artificial comparisons between groups of respondents that don’t exist.

Fund cites Rasmussen’s Political Class index and seems to be impressed with its fantasy results. But Fund is no better at math than Rasmussen. He says that…

“Before the financial crisis of late 2008, about a tenth of Americans fell into the political class, while some 53% were classified as in the mainstream public. The rest fell somewhere in the middle. Now the percentage of people identifying with the political class has clearly declined into single digits, while those in the mainstream public have grown slightly.”

What I’d like to know is how an index with just two options adds up to only 63% (10% Political Class plus 53% Mainstream)? there is no “Other” in the survey. It seems that 37% of respondents fell into a black hole. What’s more, the change Fund cites where the political class has “clearly declined into single digits,” would only have had to move down 1 point. That corresponds to his assertion that the mainstream grew slightly. However, in most polls, that minute a change would be regarded as statistically insignificant and within the margin of error. So what is Fund’s point?

It is also worth noting that the Political Class in Rasmussen’s index constitutes a mere 7% of the total group polled. This makes the comparison even less worthy of consideration. It means that in a poll of 1,000 people, 50% of the Political Class is only 35 people, or 3.5% of the total. Nevertheless, Fund eagerly cites a series of additional results based on this nonsense that Rasmussen says “has real significance.”

Rasmussen has little credibility amongst his peers in the polling game. His entire reason for being is to pump out polls that put Republicans and conservatives in a positive light and to disparage Democrats and liberals. The goal is not to inform, but to influence and shape public opinion. That’s why he is such a frequent guest on Fox News.

And that’s why his reputation is getting polished by his colleague John Fund and the Wall Street Journal. It’s also why Murdoch has gone to such great lengths to own all his own newspapers, TV networks, and pollsters.

The Breitbart Saga Whines On (And On)

Poor Breitbart
Cowardly Andrew BreitbartThe chronically choleric Andrew Breitbart now sees himself as the aggrieved party in the Shirley Sherrod affair that he instigated. This pathetic attempt to curry sympathy is uncharacteristic of Breitbart who ordinarily blusters his way through criticism and fiercely attacks his critics. Why the change in behavior? Could he be worried about Sherrod’s forthcoming lawsuit? This is what he told Newsweek:

Newsweek: Can you understand how this has been difficult for her to get caught up in that?
Breitbart: As difficult as it probably was for her, it’s been difficult for me as well, especially to hear her hurl an accusation of racism at me, when my motivation is absolutely pure and is driven by a desire for this country to move beyond its horrid racist past.

Was his motivation “absolutely pure” when he posted a deceptively edited video and portrayed Sherrod as a racist? Breitbart also admitted to Newsweek that the video took Sherrod out of context, and given two separate opportunities to apologize, Breitbart declined and made excuses instead. That didn’t stop him from expressing his desire to meet with Sherrod in private. If she takes him up on that she had better go wired for sound and video. I bet she could get some juicy clips.

The Wall Street Jackal
It’s interesting that Sherrod’s announcement the she intends to sue Breitbart has not been reported as a news item on Fox News, so far as I have been able to determine (if someone has evidence of such a report, please pass it along). But what Fox may be trying to sweep under the rug, the Wall Street Journal has taken on in the form of a defensive editorial by the editor of their online op-ed pages, James Taranto.

Taranto begins by surmising that Sherrod’s lawsuit would probably fail. His reasoning centered on his assertion that she was a public official and involved claims about the performance of her public duties. Sherrod was indeed an employee of the Department of Agriculture. That may make her a public official of sorts, but she was clearly not a public figure. By Taranto’s logic anyone working for the Post Office would be exempt from protection against defamation. Furthermore, Taranto was wrong in stating the the incident involved claims about the performance of her public duties. There was nothing of the sort in Sherrod’s speech before the NAACP. She was relating events that occurred 24 years earlier, before her employment with the USDA.

Finally, Taranto implied that it would be difficult for Sherrod to prove malicious intent on Breitbart’s part. It seems to me that Breitbart’s malice is fairly evident. By his own account, he had the video for months but never attempted to ascertain its validity or acquire an unedited version before posting it. Plus, he confessed to Newsweek that he knew it was out of context. Add to that his lack of remorse and his defiance in the face of evidence that his actions were defamatory, and you have a pretty good case for malice.

Taranto found it strange that Sherrod “issued this threat” of litigation before the National Association of Black Journalists. But Sherrod did not issue a threat. She answered a question. Taranto continued to be confused by the applause Sherrod received when she indicated her intention to sue Breitbart. This spurred Taranto to ask…

What kind of journalist would applaud the threat of a defamation lawsuit?

How about a journalist who takes pride in his work and is offended by pseudo-journalists who tarnish the profession? Taranto went on to make this absurd claim:

Journalists have an institutional interest in maximizing the scope of First Amendment protections, and that means keeping it as hard as possible for plaintiffs to sue for defamation.

I have no idea where he came up with that bit of lunacy. Reputable journalists who refrain from defaming people have no problem with defamation suits. It is part of the process of keeping them honest. Taranto’s argument would have gun owners opposed to laws against murder. But just as most gun owners support laws against murder, most journalists support laws against defamation.

Steele Interrupted
A scheduled fundraising event by Michael Steele’s Republican National Committee that was to feature Breibart has been “postponed.” The event was to be held at the swanky Beverly-Wilshire Hotel in Beverly Hills in just two weeks. This last-minute cancellation is curious considering the complex logistics in putting together a high-profile affair like this. It may or may not have had anything to do with Breitbart’s participation and the embarrassment that may entail, but when you also know that Steele backed out of an appearance before the same convention of black journalists that Sherrod attended, it does raise suspicions.

Uni-Tea: More Like Whi-Tea
Breitbart was a featured speaker at the Uni-Tea rally in Philly yesterday. The event was designed to promote the racial and ethnic diversity within of Tea Party. They did manage to assemble a pretty diverse roster of speakers, but reports from the field say that the crowd, which was far smaller than expected, contained few people of color. Thus, Breitbart spent twenty minutes assuring the predominately white Tea Baggers that they weren’t racists. I’m sure they feel better now.

Coming Attractions
Look for Breitbart’s highly anticipated appearance at the National Tea Party Unity Convention in Las Vegas in October. This event was originally scheduled for mid July, but was postponed due to lameness. Also appearing will be Sharron Angle, Lou Dobbs and Joseph Farah of WorldNetDaily. This lineup up just screams unity.

Following that, Breitbart is amongst the seafarers embarking on a three-hour eight day post-election cruise sponsored by the National Review. If you ever dreamed of being shipmates with Breitbart, as well as Karl Rove, Phyllis Schlafly, Jonah Goldberg, Tony Blankley, Scott Rasmussen, Thurston Howell III, and more, then you probably awoke mopping up sweat. By the way, isn’t Rasmussen supposed to be a non-partisan pollster?

FYI: Here is a composite view of the National Review Cruise’s itinerary and the path of the Gulf oil spill:

Looks like they’re taking the scenic route.

White House May Cancel Wall Street Journal

Rupert Murdoch has been constructing his pay walls as a means to squeeze more revenue from his newspapers. By most accounts it is failing as viewership declines on the web sites of his newspaper properties.

In response to this failure Murdoch has doubled-down on greed by jacking up the price for news clipping services, including the one used by the White House. Politico reports that the Wall Street Journal will raise its fees by half a million dollars. The White House responded by saying…

“Obviously, we’re not paying $500,000. This is taxpayer money,” the official said. “We have no idea how we’re going to handle this. We may have to drop [The Journal].”

Considering the fact that anyone in the White House could subscribe to the Journal for $140.00 a year, this seems like a remarkably shortsighted and stupid policy. What’s more, it could motivate the White House to favor other news outlets, for interviews and other media releases, whose bundled clippings they can receive at a reasonable rate. Why would they want to deal with the Journal if their access to the stories was more difficult to obtain and dissemination might be restricted?

There is a stench of desperation about this. Murdoch has not made a successful business decision in years. The Fox Business Network is floundering; MySpace is almost invisible; the pay wall has not been adopted by peers; even the Wall Street Journal purchase resulted in staggering losses. Without Avatar and Fox News, News Corp would be a basket case. And Fox News has been losing viewers as well.

Now that the Journal is writing off some major clients like the President, it may just be a matter of time before they fall of their own bloated weight. I wonder where people like Glenn Beck and Sean Hannity would go if there were no Fox News to coddle them?

WSJ: The Alien In The White House

The right-wing media long ago cemented its status as a shrill, extremist platform for failed conservative positions, pundits, and politicians. Often it melded all three into its version of super-troopers, peddling partisan rhetoric and propaganda. Fox News, not surprisingly, is the best example of this with their employment of media-politico crossovers like Sarah Palin and Karl Rove.

However, to the extent that some of the more sober purveyors of news sought to maintain an image of seriousness and thoughtful analysis, even that boundary has been breached.

When Rupert Murdoch purchased the Wall Street Journal it was a respected news organization that, at least outwardly, aspired to adhere to established journalistic principles. Murdoch insisted that he was committed to preserving that heritage and that he would not impose his views on the paper’s editorial process. But this morning any aspiration toward ethical journalism was abandoned and replaced with an embrace of the most deranged lunacy straight off of the supermarket tabloid rack.

Dorothy Rabinowitz composed a screed for the Journal that is so devoid of rationality it makes an argument for her family to invoke conservatorship and have her confined to an institution for her own protection. It begins with the title The Alien In The White House. Despite a disclaimer at the end of the fourth paragraph that it has “nothing to do with delusions about his birthplace cherished by the demented fringe,” Rabinowitz has to know that the imagery in her words plants the very message she claims not to be espousing. The demented fringe will devour it with relish. She wants her readers to conjure up thoughts of a foreign, illegitimate, usurper to power.

Fox Nation Obama AlienIn support of this promotion of birtherism, Murdoch’s web site, Fox Nation, republished Rabinowitz’s column with a graphic exclamation point. The visual cues employed here escalate the routine insanity of those who believe that Obama was born in Kenya, to an even more absurd insinuation that he is not even from this planet. At this rate the Weekly World News may sue Murdoch for infringing on their fringiness.

But even the message to which Rabinowitz is laying claim distastefully casts President Obama as something other than a patriotic public servant. In fact, she paints him as borderline treasonous. In her view the President aligns himself with foreigners and pursues their interests and not those of Americans.

“A great part of America now understands that this president’s sense of identification lies elsewhere, and is in profound ways unlike theirs. He is hard put to sound convincingly like the leader of the nation, because he is, at heart and by instinct, the voice mainly of his ideological class.”

Never mind the fact that it was a majority of Americans, not foreigners, who elected him. Rabinowitz imagines that the country has a perception of the President as having a “distant relation to the country.” However, the truth is that she is the one who feels a distance from the mainstream citizens who rejected the policies of her ideological class; the policies that drove the nation into a financial ditch and embroiled it in two costly wars.

Ironically, the first example Rabinowitz offers of Obama’s other-worldliness is that, upon moving into the White House, he failed to find a place for a bust of Winston Churchill. She is literally arguing that by removing the bust of a foreigner Obama is aligning himself with foreigners. That is the level of cognitive disconnect the right suffers from in general. And, of course, had he placed Churchill’s bust on the mantle in the East Room, he would have been criticized for glorifying a foreigner and harassed about why an American didn’t get that spot of honor on the mantle.

It is to be expected that broadsheets like the Weekly World News publish stories about presidents meeting with Venutians, but it represents a devastating collapse of integrity to see the Wall Street Journal treading that territory. And the fact that this nonsense is plastered across multiple Murdoch properties proves that it is his initiative. He cannot pretend to be removed from the hysterical madness that has permeated his enterprise. He is responsible for Rabinowitz’s incoherent daftness, just as he is responsible for Glenn Beck’s fascist evangelism, and Bill O’Reilly’s arrogant racism, and the rest of the crackpot conspiratorialists at Fox.

If Rupert Murdoch ever hoped that by acquiring the Journal he would rehabilitate his reputation, he has fouled that up entirely. Rather than having the Journal’s respected history rub off on him and polish his legacy, he has rubbed off on the Journal and stained it forever. Nice work, Rupe.

ADDENDUM: With regard to the bust of Churchill, Rabinowitz was even more off base than I thought. First of all, Churchill’s bust was on loan from the British embassy and was returned before Obama was inaugurated, so he had nothing to do with it not being displayed. What’s more, Obama put a bust of Martin Luther King in the place where Churchill’s had been. And this is what Rabinowitz is asserting is somehow un-American?

The Right’s Top 25 Journalists?

Tunku Varadarajan, national affairs correspondent for The Daily Beast, has compiled a list of what he and 50 academics, politicians, and journalists, consider to be the top 25 right-wing journalists in America. The most enlightening thing we learn from this list has nothing to do with the ranking of wingnuts in the media. What is truly fascinating is how it reveals their definition of a journalist. Here are the top 10:

  1. Paul Gigot, Editorial Page Editor, The Wall Street Journal
  2. Glenn Beck, Fox News
  3. Rush Limbaugh, Radio Talk Show Host
  4. Peggy Noonan, The Wall Street Journal
  5. Bill O’Reilly, Fox News
  6. Michelle Malkin, Fox News/Blogger
  7. David Brooks, The New York Times
  8. Sean Hannity, Fox News
  9. James Taranto, The Wall Street Journal
  10. Matt Drudge, The Drudge Report

To be fair, placing Paul Gigot at the top of the list recognizes a veteran newsman who spent decades with ink-stained fingers pursuing his vocation as a reporter and editor. While devotedly right-wing in his current role as an editorialist and commentator, he also has the resume of a bona fide journalist. And that makes him the ONLY journalist on the list.

It is nearly hysterical that the 50 unnamed participants in this project elevated Glenn Beck to second place; and Rush Limbaugh to third; and Bill O’Reilly to fifth; and … well you get the idea. What’s more, Varadarajan obviously has a soft spot in his heart for his former employer, Rupert Murdoch. Seven of the top 10 are also Murdoch minions employed by either Fox News or the Wall Street Journal. I wonder if some of the few real journalists at those shops are upset that they were ignored in favor of Sean Hannity and Peggy Noonan?

It is rather telling that an assembly of conservative academics, politicians, and journalists, couldn’t actually come up with names of other conservatives who are actually journalists. One of their selections, Limbaugh, has already responded to the list by declaring that he shouldn’t be on it. At least he is honest enough in this circumstance to admit that what he does is not journalism.

Some of the notable non-journalists on the remainder of the list include raging propagandist Andrew Breitbart (11), serial interrupter Neil Cavuto (14), Coulter clone Laura Ingraham (21), and Marc Morano, a virulent Climate Crisis denier and science skeptic.

Overall, judging from this coterie of cranks, I’m surprised that James O’Keefe and Jeff Gannon weren’t given honorable mentions. Perhaps the panel should be consulted again and made aware of some of these glaring omissions. Remember, Joe the Plumber served as a war correspondent for Pajamas Media. How dare they insult these fine conservatives by failing to honor their contributions to the rightist media.

The Tea Party Delusion

Much has been made this past week about a poll (pdf) by NBC and the Wall Street Journal. It seems that virtually every newsroom in America saw fit to report the astonishing results that showed that the Tea Party movement was viewed more favorably than either the Democrats or Republicans. The poll said that the notorious Town Howlers were viewed favorably by 41% of poll respondents, compared to 35% for Democrats and 28% for Republicans.

First of all, it needs to be noted that establishment politicians are currently about as popular as Rush Limbaugh at a nudist colony (I apologize for the mental image that may have generated). I would venture to say that a Swine Flu Party would be better received than today’s Democrats or Republicans. So Tea Baggers haven’t really got much to be proud of in this respect.

What’s more, in case the press hasn’t noticed, there is no such thing as the Tea Party. It has no candidates or policies to compare with any other party. So the pretense of the comparison is dubious at best.

But the biggest cognitive disconnect in this story is that none of the press accounts that I saw bothered to report the results of another question in the same poll:

14a. How much do you know about the Tea Party movement-do you know a great deal about this, a fair amount, just some, very little, or nothing at all?
  Know a great deal: 7
  Know a fair amount: 22
  Know just some: 23
  Know very little: 25
  Know nothing at all: 23

So 48% of respondents know very little or nothing at all about the Tea Baggers. Boy, they must really be a powerful force in America. I think it’s a lot easier to register positive poll results if half the country hasn’t even heard of you. And this fact was ignored by most of the media as they clamored to position Tea Bagging as a surging movement.

The fact that the Tea Baggers have failed to create a significant presence despite being bankrolled by some of the biggest and wealthiest AstroTurf lobbying organizations in the country (i.e. FreedomWorks, Americans for Prosperity), and having the promotional backing of Fox News, illustrates just how unappealing most Americans regard that brand of disruptive griping.

This is typical of how the press distorts trends. They make an observation from a narrowly defined (and usually conservative) vantage point and then extrapolate that to the broadest scope of interpretation. For instance, take a look at how Glenn Beck is viewed within the prism of the conventional media. He is profiled in the mainstream press as a phenomenon who has taken the nation by storm. He is said to command an army of followers and an explosively expanding multimedia empire.

But the truth is he has a program on Fox News that is viewed by about three million people. That’s fewer viewers than SpongeBob SquarePants and less than one percent of the population. Fox News itself is a big fish in a small media puddle with an average daily audience of about 1.3 million viewers. And more to the point as regards Beck’s popularity, or lack thereof, an NBC/Wall Street Journal poll (pdf) conducted in September revealed that 42% of respondents didn’t even know who he was.

There may be a level of intensity that is driving interest in the rightist agenda, but it is strictly confined to the squeakiest of wheels. That intensity corresponds to the fervor currently on display in Republican circles that now show a significantly higher intention to participate in the coming elections. While this may be a red flag for democrats, it is also a natural pattern for a party that swept into power in the past couple of years and is now experiencing a season of self-examination. There are bound to be disappointments in the interplay of politics. Still, taking all of the data into account, it is fair to conclude that the characterization of a right-wing ascension is an illusion, or more accurately, a delusion of the media. Reports that Beck or Fox News or the Tea Party are assuming greater sway over the public are not borne out by the facts.

In short, when 40 to 50 percent of the public cannot even recognize you or your movement, you are not much of a player. It would be nice if the media would report that.