Thursday, March 31, 2011

Live Action Hoaxers Edit Planned Parenthood Tape

Republican Media Promote Latest Lila Rose Hoax Falsely Smearing Planned Parenthood PresidentLink

Discredited right-wing activist Lila Rose is promoting yet another video hoax, falsely claiming to have caught Planned Parenthood officials lying about the organization's work providing patients with access to cancer screenings, including mammograms. But the comments Rose highlights in no way contradict the undisputed fact that Planned Parenthood provides patients with access to these services.
Lila Rose Hoax: Video Proves Planned Parenthood Lied About Providing Mammograms

Live Action: Planned Parenthood "Exposed" Lying About Mammograms. A press release accompanying Live Action's latest video purports to expose Planned Parenthood President Cecile Richards as lying. From the release:

Planned Parenthood CEO's False Mammogram Claim Exposed


A series of new undercover phone calls reveals that contrary to the claims of Planned Parenthood CEO Cecile Richards and other supporters of the nation's largest abortion chain, the organization does not provide mammograms for women.

In the tapes, a Live Action actor calls 30 Planned Parenthood clinics in 27 different states, inquiring about mammograms at Planned Parenthood. Every Planned Parenthood, without exception, tells her she will have to go elsewhere for a mammogram, and many clinics admit that no Planned Parenthood clinics provide this breast cancer screening procedure. "We don't provide those services whatsoever," admits a staffer at Planned Parenthood of Arizona. Planned Parenthood's Comprehensive Health Center clinic in Overland Park, KS explains to the caller, "We actually don't have a, um, mammogram machine, at our clinics."

Opponents of defunding Planned Parenthood have argued in Congress and elsewhere that the organization provides many vital health care services other than abortion, such as mammograms. Most prominently, Planned Parenthood CEO Cecile Richards recently appeared on The Joy Behar Show to oppose the Pence Amendment to end Planned Parenthood's taxpayer subsidies, claiming, "If this bill ever becomes law, millions of women in this country are gonna lose their healthcare access-not to abortion services-to basic family planning, you know, mammograms." [Live Action, 3/30/11]

Rose: "Planned Parenthood CEO's Mammogram Claims Are False." In a post on Andrew Breitbart's Big Government, Rose wrote:

Planned Parenthood CEO's Mammogram Claims Are False

In the wake of undercover evidence revealing Planned Parenthood's abusive and illegal activity, the America's [sic] biggest abortion business unrolled a massive PR campaign to defend its $363-million-a-year taxpayer subsidies. The campaign included TV, print, radio and online ad buys, a big pink bus rolling
across the country, and numerous appearances and opinion pieces by Planned Parenthood spokespersons and supporters (including this gem by PP vice-president of communications Stuart Schear.

Planned Parenthood has been insisting that they provide invaluable health services to "millions" of America women [sic].

Just a few weeks ago, on national television, Planned Parenthood President Cecile Richards said this about Rep. Mike Pence's amendment to defund Planned Parenthood:

"If this bill ever becomes law, millions of women in this country are gonna lose their health care access-not to abortion services-to basic family planning, you
know, mammograms."

Yet this is blatantly false. [Big Government, 3/30/11]

HOAX EXPOSED: Rose's Video Does Not Establish That Planned Parenthood Ever Discussed Mammograms Provided By The Organization

Richards Discussed "Access" To Mammograms Through Planned Parenthood - Not Mammograms Actually Provided By The Organization. In the video at the center of Rose's hoax, Planned Parenthood President Cecile Richards discusses access to health care - including mammograms - not actual health care services provided by Planned Parenthood. Discussing GOP efforts to defund Planned Parenthood during an appearance on The Joy Behar Show, Richards said:

If this bill ever becomes law, millions of women in this country are going to lose their health care access, not to abortion services, to basic family planning. You know, mammograms, cancer screenings, cervical cancer. [CNN, The Joy Behar Show, 2/21/11, via Nexis]

Pro-Life Activist Jill Stanek: Richards Was "Correct." From Stanek's blog:

Richards said:

If this bill ever becomes law, millions of women in this country are going to lose their health care access, not to abortion services, to basic family planning -- you know, mammograms, cancer screenings, cervical cancer.

The fact is not one Planned Parenthood in America performs mammograms. All PPs do are refer for mammograms.

So while Richards was technically correct to add the word "access" before citing mammograms as a service PP provides, I guarantee no one understood her to say anything other than PP performs mammograms, when actually all PP does is merely write down the name of a place to go for mammograms. [, 2/24/11]

FACT: Planned Parenthood Provides Access To Mammograms By Referring Patients To Locations That Perform The Service

Planned Parenthood Website: "A Staff Member At Your Local Planned Parenthood Health Center Can Discuss Breast Cancer, Breast Exams, And Breast Health With You And Help You Find The Services You Need." From's page on breast cancer screenings:

Breast cancer is a serious health concern. After skin cancer, it is the most common type of cancer in American women. It is a leading cause of death from cancer, too. About 200,000 women will be diagnosed with breast cancer this year in the U.S. and 40,000 women will die from it.


If you have questions or concerns about breast cancer, we are here to help. A staff member at your local Planned Parenthood health center can discuss breast cancer, breast exams, and breast health with you and help you find the services you need. [, accessed 3/30/11]

Planned Parenthood Website: "Ask ... Staff At Your Local Planned Parenthood Health Center About Where You Can Get A Mammogram In Your Area." From's page of frequently asked questions about mammograms:

Where Can I Get a Mammogram?

Ask your health care provider, health department, or staff at your local Planned Parenthood health center about where you can get a mammogram in your area. [, accessed 3/30/11]

FACT: Richards Was Correct: Planned Parenthood Does Provide Cancer Screenings

In Addition To Giving Patients Mammogram Referrals, Planned Parenthood Provides Other Cancer Screenings In Its Clinics. According to a Planned Parenthood fact sheet, cancer screening and prevention made up 17% of the services performed by Planned Parenthood in 2008:

Cancer Screening and Prevention -- 17 percent of services in 2008

Pap Tests 915,716

HPV Vaccinations 60,064

Breast Exams/ Breast Care 826,197

Colposcopy Procedures*** 43,285

LOOP/LEEP Procedures*** 2,613

Cryotherapy Procedures*** 1,816


[, September 2010]

FACT: Some Planned Parenthood Clinics DO Provide Mammogram Screenings

Waco, TX Planned Parenthood "Provides Life-Saving Mammogram Screening And ... Diagnostic Testing." From Planned Parenthood's Website:

Through a grant from the local Central Texas Affiliate of the Susan G. Komen Foundation, Planned Parenthood in Waco provides life-saving mammogram screening and abnormal mammogram follow-up diagnostic testing for low-income women.

You may qualify for a free mammogram if you are:

age 40 or over and never had a baseline mammogram
uninsured, low-income
have had a recent gynecological exam

If you are under 40 and have a breast problem with a history of breast cancer in your immediate family, you may also be eligible to participate in the program.

If an abnormal mammogram is detected, funding for further diagnostic testing is available. [, accessed 3/30/11]

Tucson, AZ Planned Parenthood Hosted "Free Mobile Mammography Clinic." From Planned Parenthood's Website:

Planned Parenthood Arizona will host a free mobile mammography clinic, supported by Pink365. Mammography has proven to be the single most beneficial tool in detecting early and treatable cancer. The goal of screening exams, such as mammograms, is to find cancers early before it has a chance to grow and treatment works best. [, 8/07/09]

Nevertheless, Right-Wing Media Amplify Rose's Video Hoax

Red State Accuses Planned Parenthood Of "Not Only A Lie, But A Damn Lie." From a post by Erick Erickson on his blog Red State:

We've heard all the stories before. Planned Parenthood provides breast cancer screening services for poor women. By cutting off funds for Planned Parenthood, we increase the chance poor women will get breast cancer.

New undercover work shows that this is not only a lie, but a damn lie.


Live Action called around to Planned Parenthood offices all across the country asking if women could come in to get mammograms. All of the clinics they called, every single one, said they do not do mammograms. Not only that, they also didn't offer to cover the cost of the mammograms. In fact, as you can see on the video, Planned Parenthood would frequently offer to refer the caller to a different entity altogether that may or may not provide mammograms.

This was a widespread occurrence across the country.

In other words, Congress is funding Planned Parenthood purportedly to provide mammograms and Planned Parenthood isn't even doing that? [, 3/30/11]

The Blaze: "Pro-Life Group Exposes Planned Parenthood Mammogram 'Corruption.'" From Glenn Beck's The Blaze:

Pro-Life Group Exposes Planned Parenthood Mammogram 'Corruption'

It's become part of Planned Parenthood's mantra as conservatives fight to take away the organization's federal funding: doing so would strip women of vital health services like breast exams and mammograms. But what if it wouldn't? What if breast exams and mammograms aren't as widespread as Planned Parenthood would lead us to believe? According to a new video from the pro-life group Live Action, that may well be the case.

In a new set of recordings posted on YouTube, Live Action -- which busted Planned Parenthood for supporting child sex trafficking last month -- reportedly called 30 Planned Parenthood clinics in 27 cities to see if they offer mammograms. None -- not one -- did. [The Blaze, 3/30/11] Mammosham: Planned Parenthood CEO's False Mammogram Claim Exposed. Andrew Breitbart's website featured the Live Action video under the headline "Mammosham: Planned Parenthood CEO's False Mammogram Claim Exposed" and included the following description:

A Live Action actor calls 30 Planned Parenthood clinics in 27 different states, inquiring about mammograms at Planned Parenthood. Every Planned Parenthood, without exception, tells her she will have to go elsewhere for a mammogram, and many clinics admit that no Planned Parenthood clinics provide this breast cancer screening procedure. "We don't provide those services whatsoever," admits a staffer at Planned Parenthood of Arizona. Planned Parenthood's Comprehensive Health Center clinic in Overland Park, KS explains to the caller, "We actually don't have a, um, mammogram machine, at our clinics." [, 3/30/11]

Weekly Standard: "Planned Parenthood President Falsely Claimed Their Clinics Provide Mammograms." From a post on The Weekly Standard's blog
Nice of M'S rose and the right-wing echo chamber to define what "access" means. To them acess means you provide the actual service. To the rest of normal America, access to something means access. If a woman goes to a PP clinic for a breast exam and it is determined that a mammogram might be a goof idea, they provide access. Simple enough for a modestly intelligent person to understand.

Sunday, March 27, 2011

NPR Is Not Left Wing Opposite of Right Wing Media Machine

NPR Is Not Left Wing Opposite of Right Wing Media Machine

Like Jake LaMotta and his brother Joey in the bloody boxing classic Raging Bull, we are gluttons for punishment. So here we are again, third week in a row, defending NPR against the bare-knuckled assault of its critics.

Our earlier pieces (here and here) on the funding threat to NPR have generated plenty of punches, both pro and con. And although most of the comments were welcome, and encouraged further thinking about the value of public media in a democratic society, a few reminded us of the words of the poet and scholar James Merrick: "So high at last the contest rose/From words they almost came to blows!"

Nonetheless, reading those comments and criticisms made us realize there are a couple of points that these two wizened veterans of public broadcasting -- with the multiple tote bags and coffee mugs to prove it -- would like to clarify.

For one, when we described the right wing media machine as NPR’s "long-time nemesis," it was not to suggest that somehow public radio is its left wing opposite. When it comes to covering and analyzing the news, the reverse of right isn’t left; it’s independent reporting that toes neither party nor ideological line. We’ve heard no NPR reporter -- not a one -- advocating on the air for more government spending (or less), for the right of abortion (or against it), for or against gay marriage, or for or against either political party, especially compared to what we hear from Fox News and talk radio on all of these issues and more.

Take, for example, talk jocks John and Ken on KFI-AM Radio in Los Angeles. They beat on California’s state legislature like a cheap pinata. According to the Los Angeles Times, "Within a matter of moments, they refer to various lawmakers as 'traitorous pigs,' 'con artist' and 'Republican dirt bag.' They use gruesome sound effects to suggest the mounting of one legislator's head on a stake -- his entry into the duo's hall of shame."

The personalities, "whose frequent targets are taxes, labor unions and illegal immigrants, not only reach more listeners than any other non-syndicated talk show in California but also have the ear -- and fear -- of Sacramento's minority party."

"'There is nary a conversation about the budget that does not involve the names John and Ken,' said Darrell Steinberg (D-Sacramento), the state Senate leader." And that's true whether what they say is grounded in fact or simply made up wholesale out of flimsy, opinionated cloth.

So what do conservatives really mean when they accuse NPR of being "liberal?" They mean it’s not accountable to their worldview as conservatives and partisans. They mean it reflects too great a regard for evidence and is too open to reporting different points of views of the same event or idea or issue. Reporting that by its very fact-driven nature often fails to confirm their ideological underpinnings, their way of seeing things (which is why some liberals and Democrats also become irate with NPR).

That’s why our favorite new word is "agnotology." According to the website WordSpy, it means "the study of culturally-induced ignorance or doubt," a concept developed in recent years by two historians of science at Stanford University, Robert Proctor and his wife, Londa Schiebinger.

Believing that global climate change is a myth is one example of the kind of ignorance agnotologists investigate. Or the insistence by the tobacco industry that the harm caused by smoking is still in dispute. Or the conviction that Barack Obama is a closet Muslim, and a radical one at that, who may not even be from America.

Those first two illusions have been induced by big business in a cynical attempt to keep pumping profits from deadly pollutants, whether fossil fuels or nicotine. The third, dreamed up by fantasists of the right wing fringe, is in its own way just as toxic and has been tacitly, sometimes audibly, encouraged by certain opponents of President Obama who would perpetuate any prevarication to further blockade his agenda and deny him and fellow Democrats reelection.

None of them is true; rather, they fly in the face of those of us who belong to what an aide to George W. Bush famously called "the reality-based community [who] believe that solutions emerge from your judicious study of discernible reality.'" He told journalist Ron Suskind, ''That's not the way the world really works anymore. We're an empire now, and when we act, we create our own reality."

To the accusers of NPR, the created reality of however they define "liberal" is not the same as what they mean when they call themselves "conservative." If it were, the two would be exact reverse images of each other. Where media are concerned, all you have to do to know this is not the case is to hold them up, side-by-side. If "liberal" were the counterpoint to "conservative," NPR would be the mirror of Fox News, Rush Limbaugh, Glenn Beck, and James O’Keefe, including the use of their techniques as well as content. Clearly it isn’t.

To charge otherwise is a phony gambit aimed at nothing less than quashing the public’s access to non-ideological journalism, narrowing viewpoints to all but one. We know from first-hand experience that any journalist whose reporting threatens the conservative belief system gets sliced and diced by its apologists and polemicists at Fox and on talk radio.

Remember, for one, when Limbaugh, took journalists to task for their reporting on torture at Abu Ghraib? He attempted to dismiss the cruelty inflicted by American soldiers on their captives as a little necessary "sport" for soldiers under stress, saying: "This is no different than what happens at the Skull and Bones initiation... you [ever] heard of the need to blow some steam off?"

The Limbaugh line became a drumbeat in the nether reaches of the right-wing echo chamber. So it was not surprising that in a nationwide survey conducted by the Chicago Tribune on First Amendment issues, half of the respondents said there should be some kind of press restraint on reporting prison abuse. Half or more said they "would embrace government controls of some kind on free speech, particularly when it has sexual content or is heard as unpatriotic." Many of those people came after NPR for reporting what actually happened at Abu Ghraib.

But to clear up one other thing: what NPR also isn’t, is what it could be.

In our support for its much-needed survival, admittedly we may have been a bit fulsome in our praise. Like many commentators who posted after our previous two pieces, as regular listeners we know there is room for improvement, the need for more diverse voices and for more courageous journalism that reports not merely what the powerful say but what they actually do for their paymasters.

Americans need more and sustained reporting on what the journalist William Greider calls "the hard questions of governance" -- those questions of how and why some interests are allowed to dominate the government’s decision making while others are excluded. Who gets the money and who has to pay? Who must be heard on this question and who can be safely ignored? None execute this kind of reporting better than Amy Goodman and Juan Gonzalez’s on Democracy Now!, which, while carried by some public radio and television stations, is not distributed nationally by either NPR or PBS. Public media – radio and television – too rarely challenge the dictum: "News is what people want to keep hidden; everything else is publicity."

Yet in the words of Confucius, better a diamond with a flaw -- a big flaw -- than a pebble without. For all that it provides -- but mainly because it is a true journalistic, rather than ideological, alternative to commercial and partisan broadcasting -- we continue to support government funding of public media until such time as a sizable trust or some other solid, independent source of funding, unfettered by political interference, can be established that will free us to tell the stories America most needs to hear. Short of that we’ll need the courage, as one of our journalistic heroes, the late George Seldes, wrote, "to tell the truth and run."

To the far Right any news outlet that does not push the extreme agenda of modern conservatism qualifies as liberal. Fact based reporting has become the standard for liberalism. What does that say about how conservatives see the world and what constitutes good journalism.

Letter from a School Teacher to Michigan's GOP Legislators

Letter to the Michigan Republican legislators (all except one) who voted to grant Governor Snyder the authority to dismiss locally elected officials and place in charge of school districts and municipalities his personal political appointees:

I can describe myself in many ways. I am a mother, a grandmother, a sister, an aunt. I am a third generation immigrant. I am Catholic. I am educated and hold a master’s degree from the University of Michigan. I am an educator. I am a reading specialist. I am a citizen. I am a voter. I am a union member. I am a homemaker. I am a swimmer. I am a camper. I am a reader. I am informed. I am a Michigander. I am an Ann Arbor teacher.

As I contemplate the actions of Michigan’s new Republican governor and his Republican supporters in the state house and senate, I am astonished, I am appalled, I am disheartened, I am discouraged, I am furious. I feel unrepresented, under attack, disenfranchised.

When you place corporate interests above the legitimate needs and concerns of the people in your state, I will remember, and I have a voice.

When you choose policies that force thousands of children into poverty (Who, with any sense of morality, can do that?) in order to INCREASE corporate welfare, I will remember, and I have a voice.

When you abandon the principle of governance for the common good in favor of showering the elite with more privileges, I will remember, and I have a voice.

When you disseminate propaganda rather than fact-based information and seek to manipulate the public rather than to represent them, I will remember, and I have a voice.

When you choose to make my vote meaningless and cynically go about the business of disenfranchising Michigan’s citizens in favor of gubernatorial dictatorship, I will remember, and I have a voice.

When you gut the public schools, one of the cornerstones of democracy, I will remember, and I have a voice.

When you defund and devalue my school district to such an extent that it cannot maintain excellence, I will remember, and I have a voice.

When you take away my right to bargain my own labor, I will remember, and I have a voice.

When you require professional preparation for teaching, ongoing education to maintain a license, and hold me accountable for the progress of my students, but are unwilling to pay me a professional salary, I will remember, and I have a voice.

When you use democratic institutions, structures and processes to get yourself into office and then join an extremist governor in destroying democratic institutions, structures, and processes so that the citizens of Michigan are stripped of rights and representation, I will remember, and I have a voice.

When you spend my hard-earned tax dollars on your own ideologically-driven agenda rather than on the common welfare, I will remember, and I have a voice.

When you further reduce my modest livelihood and thereby circumscribe the opportunities of my children and grandchildren, I will remember, and I have a voice.

When you abandon the citizens of Michigan to the tender mercies of corporate rule, I will remember, and I have a voice.

When you choose to circumvent democracy in favor of paternalism, I will remember, and I have a voice.

When you protect the privileges and wealth of the few at the expense of the many, I will remember, and I have a voice.

When you prey on the most vulnerable among us to serve up ever more wealth and privilege to the elite, I will remember, and I have a voice.

When you decide it it my job and the job of other hard-working Michigander’s to sacrifice even further in order to protect the wealth and privilege of the elite at all costs, I will remember, and I have a voice.
This teacher is on target as far as the rabid Right's war on working families, but she is mistaken to think she can shame rabid right-wingers into seeing how abhorrent and short sighted their agenda is. Modern Republicans, with a few exceptions have no shame about declaring war on the middle-class.

Friday, March 25, 2011

Conservative Economics - Judging by Their Actions Republicans Want Another Great Recession

Conservative Economics - Judging by Their Actions Republicans Want Another Great Recession

As Wall Street speculative trading on oil helps push up the price of gasoline, threatening to derail the economic recovery, the government agency charged with regulating oil speculation has so far failed to properly do so. The Dodd-Frank Wall Street reform law gave the Commodities Futures Trading Commission (CFTC) new powers to regulate oil speculation, but the Republican members of the commission, along and one Democrat, have blocked the CFTC from writing the rules necessary to exercise this power. Meanwhile, Republicans in Congress are hoping to slash the agency’s budget by a third.

This morning, before an event at the Center for American Progress Action Fund, ThinkProgress asked Rep. Anthony Weiner (D-NY) about the GOP blocking these regulations. Wiener noted that the obstruction on speculation is part of a larger effort to block the regulations necessary for “preventing future problems with economic meltdowns”:

WEINER: Well the Republicans have made it pretty clear the things they’re against, and one of the things they clearly say they’re against is preventing future problems with economic meltdowns. The enforcement agencies that are supposed to enforce the rules of the road — not only of the new regulations that have been passed to protect Americans, but existing agencies [too]. ][...]

Look, the issue of speculation and short selling and the like are complicated issues. … But one thing is very clear to Americans. They understand the idea that the moment there is an international blip, for some reason gas prices almost immediately go up at the pump. And yet it takes months for them to come down. To some degree, there’s just not sufficient transparency in energy markets. And there’s not enough clarify of what’s going on. And one of the thing that Americans need is they need to know that their government regulators are on their job, and if the Republicans have their way, there are going to be fewer of them. And if they further have their way, we’re going to have more bailouts in the future because of Dodd-Frank being undermined.

Indeed, from oil speculation to fraudulent mortgage lending, Republicans have attempted to tie the hands of regulators, and even asked lobbyists how they would want regulations curbed.
Fighting regulation of mortgage lenders seems especially odd in light of Republican efforts to attribute for the housing bubble to Barney Frank, Freddie Mac and Fannie May. The housing bubble was overwhelmingly the fault of private mortgage lenders and Wall Street's trading in derivatives which bet the housing boom would never end. One assumes they are loving America's loss of seven trillions dollars in wealth and a lost generation of jobs so much, they would like a repeat in a few years. By the way, is this some of that new tea bagger conservative populism, to let lobbyist decide what is or is not good legislation.

Libya is not like Iraq - Bush Was Set on Path to War, British Memo Says

In the weeks before the United States-led invasion of Iraq, as the United States and Britain pressed for a second United Nations resolution condemning Iraq, President Bush's public ultimatum to Saddam Hussein was blunt: Disarm or face war.

But behind closed doors, the president was certain that war was inevitable. During a private two-hour meeting in the Oval Office on Jan. 31, 2003, he made clear to Prime Minister Tony Blair of Britain that he was determined to invade Iraq without the second resolution, or even if international arms inspectors failed to find unconventional weapons, said a confidential memo about the meeting written by Mr. Blair's top foreign policy adviser and reviewed by The New York Times.

"Our diplomatic strategy had to be arranged around the military planning," David Manning, Mr. Blair's chief foreign policy adviser at the time, wrote in the memo that summarized the discussion between Mr. Bush, Mr. Blair and six of their top aides.

"The start date for the military campaign was now penciled in for 10 March," Mr. Manning wrote, paraphrasing the president. "This was when the bombing would begin."

The timetable came at an important diplomatic moment. Five days after the Bush-Blair meeting, Secretary of State Colin L. Powell was scheduled to appear before the United Nations to present the American evidence that Iraq posed a threat to world security by hiding unconventional weapons.

Although the United States and Britain aggressively sought a second United Nations resolution against Iraq — which they failed to obtain — the president said repeatedly that he did not believe he needed it for an invasion.

Stamped "extremely sensitive," the five-page memorandum, which was circulated among a handful of Mr. Blair's most senior aides, had not been made public. Several highlights were first published in January in the book "Lawless World," which was written by a British lawyer and international law professor, Philippe Sands. In early February, Channel 4 in London first broadcast several excerpts from the memo.

Since then, The New York Times has reviewed the five-page memo in its entirety. While the president's sentiments about invading Iraq were known at the time, the previously unreported material offers an unfiltered view of two leaders on the brink of war, yet supremely confident.

The memo indicates the two leaders envisioned a quick victory and a transition to a new Iraqi government that would be complicated, but manageable. Mr. Bush predicted that it was "unlikely there would be internecine warfare between the different religious and ethnic groups." Mr. Blair agreed with that assessment.

The memo also shows that the president and the prime minister acknowledged that no unconventional weapons had been found inside Iraq. Faced with the possibility of not finding any before the planned invasion, Mr. Bush talked about several ways to provoke a confrontation, including a proposal to paint a United States surveillance plane in the colors of the United Nations in hopes of drawing fire, or assassinating Mr. Hussein.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Republicans Redistributing Income At Record Levels

Governors are Proposing Further Deep Cuts in Services, Likely Harming Their Economies
Less-Harmful Alternatives Include Revenue Increases and Rainy Day Funds

While nearly every state has cut spending in the past few years, some additional cuts are inevitable for 2012: because of the lingering effects of the long and deep recession, tax collections in most states remain well below pre-recession levels and lag far behind the growing cost of maintaining existing services. But the cutbacks in services that many governors have proposed appear to be greater than necessary. Many of the governors proposing very deep cuts are failing to utilize other important tools in their budget-balancing toolkit, such as utilizing reserves or raising new revenue to replace some of the revenue lost to the recession. Some governors are even adding to the cutbacks needed by reducing corporate taxes or other taxes – an ineffective strategy for improving economic growth that likely will do more harm than good.

Increased federal aid, which played an important role in limiting the depth of cuts in services like education and health care in recent years, does not appear to be available this year. Congressional leaders have indicated that they are unwilling to extend the temporary funding for states first enacted in early 2009 and partially extended in 2010. That leaves states with fewer options, one of which is deeper spending cuts.

A total of 48 states have released initial budgets for the coming 2012 fiscal year. That is all the states that will release budgets this year. The two remaining states — Kentucky and Wyoming — operate on a two-year budget cycle that does not require the release of a full budget this year. A review of the initial budget proposals released in the 48 states shows that:

Nearly all states are proposing to spend less money than they spent in 2008 (after inflation), even though the cost of providing services will be higher. Most state spending goes toward education and health care, and in the 2012 budget year, there will be more children in public schools, more students enrolled in public colleges and universities, and more Medicaid enrollees in 2012 than there were in 2008. But among 44 states which have released the necessary data, 35 states plan to spend less in 2012, after inflation, than they did in 2008, and only two — Alaska and North Dakota — expect to spend significantly more. Total proposed spending would be 9.4 percent below 2008 inflation-adjusted levels. [2]

The majority of states — at least 39 of 48 — are proposing major cuts in core public services. [3]
At least 21 states have proposed identifiable, deep cuts in pre-kindergarten and/or K-12 spending. The governor of Mississippi proposes education spending that fails for the fourth year in a row to meet statutory requirements enacted to ensure adequate funding in all school districts. (The three previous years of underfunding have cost over 2,000 school employees their jobs.) The Texas budget proposal would e liminate pre-K funding for nearly 100,000 mostly at-risk children — over 40 percent of the state’s pre-kindergarten students.
At least 25 states have proposed identifiable, deep cuts in health care. In Arizona, the governor’s budget would eliminate health care for 100,000 poor individuals. Washington’s governor proposes eliminating affordable health care for more than 60,000 low-income residents. Wisconsin’s governor proposes canceling health insurance coverage for about 70,000 people. [4]
At least 20 states have proposed major, identifiable cuts in higher education. Pennsylvania’s governor proposes to cut funding for the state’s system of higher education by more than 50 percent, resulting in less state funding for the higher education system than it received in 1983, the year in which the state established consolidated funding. Arizona would cut state support for public universities by one-fifth; when combined with previous cuts, this would reduce per-student state funding 46 percent below pre-recession levels. California’s governor proposes to reduce funding for the state’s two university systems by $1 billion. For one of those two systems, the University of California system, the cuts would bring nominal spending down to the fiscal year 1999 level — when the system had 31 percent fewer students than it does today.
At least 15 states have proposed layoffs or identifiable cuts in pay and/or benefits for public workers.

At the same time, seven governors facing shortfalls are proposing large tax cuts, mostly for corporations; the loss of revenue from these tax cuts in 2012 means that those states would have to enact even deeper spending cuts to balance their budgets. For example:
Florida’s governor proposes to cut the corporate income tax to 3 percent from 5.5 percent in the coming fiscal year -- costing the state an estimated $459 million in fiscal year 2012 -- and eliminate it by 2018. On the spending side, the governor proposes very large cuts in education, health care and other areas, as described below.
New Jersey’s governor proposes a variety of tax cuts to begin in 2012, including reducing by 25 percent the corporate minimum tax paid by 93 percent of the state’s corporations and increasing to $1 million from $675,000 the amount that can be bequeathed to heirs tax-free. Taken together, these tax cuts will cost $200 million in fiscal year 2012; by 2016, the cost will have more than tripled to $700 million. At the same time, the governor has proposed substantial pay decreases for state employees, applied for a waiver from federal Medicaid rules that likely would reduce significantly the number of people with access to the program, and other state spending cuts.

Arizona’s Governor Brewer proposed a tax package that included reducing the corporate income tax rate to 5 percent from 6.98 percent and reducing commercial property taxes by 25 percent. The package was signed into law on February 17 and will cost the state $38 million in fiscal year 2012, or 4 percent of the state’s 2012 budget shortfall. By fiscal year 2018, the cost of the tax cuts will balloon to $538 million, half of which will result from the corporate tax rate cut.
Florida’s Governor Scott proposes to cut the corporate income tax to 3 percent from 5.5 percent in the coming fiscal year – costing the state $459 million in fiscal year 2012 – and fully eliminating the tax by 2018. He also would reduce motor vehicle fees by $236 million. Together, these cuts equal 19 percent of the state’s projected 2012 shortfall. Scott would also significantly ratchet down Florida’s existing cap on local property taxes, without providing additional state aid to compensate local school districts for their revenue loss.
Maine’s Governor LePage proposes eliminating in 2012 the state’s alternative minimum income tax. In 2013, he would also lower the top income tax rate, for income above about $50,000, to 7.95 percent from 8.5 percent. And in 2014 he would double from $1 million to $2 million the income exempted from the state’s estate tax. These cuts would cost the state $203 million in the coming two-year budget cycle and would widen the two-year budget gap by 25 percent.
Michigan’s Governor Snyder would eliminate the state’s current major business tax, replacing it with a flat 6 percent corporate income tax. Snyder proposes to offset the revenue lost from reduced business taxes by increasing personal income taxes, for example by eliminating of the state’s Earned Income Tax Credit for low-income working families and taxing pension income. In the 2012 fiscal year, these personal income tax increases would not fully offset the business tax cuts, leaving Michigan with an additional $254 million hole to fill in 2012. In 2013 and after, the proposed tax increases would offset the cuts, but provide no additional revenue to help fill the state’s budget gap.
New Jersey’s Governor Christie proposes a variety of tax cuts to begin in 2012, including reducing by 25 percent the corporate minimum tax paid by 93 percent of the state’s corporations and increasing to $1 million from $675,000 the amount that can be bequeathed to heirs tax-free. Taken together, his proposed tax cuts would add $200 million to the $10.5 billion budget gap for fiscal year 2012; by 2016, the cost will have more than tripled – to $700 million.
In North Carolina, Governor Perdue proposes cutting the state’s corporate income tax rate to 4.9 percent from 6.9 percent, beginning in calendar year 2012. This tax cut for corporations would cost the state more than $400 million over the upcoming two-year budget cycle, and eat up 25 percent of the revenue protected by her proposed extension of the state’s current sales tax rate described above. The tax cut is equal to about 10 percent of the state’s projected two-year shortfall.
In Wisconsin, Governor Walker proposes $82 million in new corporate tax cuts. For instance, he proposes allowing corporations to claim as a tax deduction a greater share of the losses they have incurred in past years. Together with other tax cuts enacted with the governor’s support earlier this year, the total revenue loss to the state is about $200 million over the next two year budget cycle, increasing the shortfall that the state will need to close. Walker proposes to cover $41 million of this shortfall by scaling back the state’s Earned Income Tax Credit for low-income working families. A single working parent with two kids and earnings of $25,000 would see his or her annual income tax bill more than double, from $193 to $394.

Job and Pay Cuts for Public Employees

At least 15 states have proposed layoffs or specific cuts in pay and/or benefits for state workers. (These cuts are in addition to workforce cuts already implemented in 44 states since the recession began. Since August 2008, state and local governments have eliminated more than 400,000 jobs.)

Colorado Governor Hickenlooper’s budget would raise the state employee salary contribution by 4.5 percent.
Connecticut Governor Malloy’s budget relies upon $2 billion in personnel related savings over the biennium to be negotiated with the state’s public employee unions. The governor puts forth a number of ideas for achieving those savings including freezing state employee wages, moving state employees to a health plan similar to that provided to federal workers, extending 3 day a year furloughs until the end of the biennium, and raising the retirement age. Malloy warns that failure to reach agreement on how to achieve these savings would result in the dismissal of thousands of state workers, and significant additional program cuts.
Florida ’s Governor Scott would reduce the state workforce by 8 percent, requiring around 8,100 layoffs and the elimination of about 2,000 vacant positions. Scott would also require $5,000 health insurance premium contributions from state employees.
Georgia’s Governor Deal proposes to eliminate about 14,000 state government positions, most of which are currently vacant, requiring about 200 layoffs.
Public employees in Idaho would receive no raises next year, under Governor Otter’s proposed budget.
Governor Jindal of Louisiana proposes eliminating more than 4,100 positions, nearly half of which are currently filled. He also would extend a suspension of merit-based salary increases for state employees for one additional year and increase the amount certain state workers contribute to the state retirement system.
Nebraska’s Governor Heineman offers no pay raises for state employees in FY2012. For some state employees this will be the second year in the row with no pay raise.
In Nevada, Governor Sandoval proposes a 5 percent salary reduction for executive branch public employees, including K-12 and university teachers and staff. He also orders a salary freeze for state employees scheduled for increases.
Governor Lynch of New Hampshire proposes to eliminate 1,100 positions in state government, requiring 255 layoffs. The governor also would eliminate state contributions to public employee retirement accounts, leaving local governments to either pick up another $50 million in retirement contributions, or cut benefits for public workers.
Governor Christie of New Jersey would increase the amount some public employees contribute to their retirement; for a portion of these employees, the increase would more than double the required contribution. He also would eliminate cost of living increases for current and future retirees, calculate pension benefits over more years of income, raise the normal age of retirement to 65 from 60, and rescind a 9 percent benefit increase enacted in 2001. The Governor also would change the way public employees contribute towards their health insurance, requiring that they pay 30 percent of the cost of their health policy instead of making a 1.5 percent salary contribution. (The average state health insurance policy costs about $14,000, which means the average public worker would pay $4,200 instead of 1.5 percent of her or his salary.)
New Mexico’s Governor Martinez’ budget would require K-12 instructors to contribute 1.5 percent of their salaries to their retirement; for all other public employees the contribution would be 3.5 percent of their salaries. Last year, the 1.5 percent salary contribution was imposed upon public employees as a one-time measure. The Governor’s budget would extend the contribution for teachers and more than double it for all other employees.
Governor Chafee of Rhode Island would require many state employees to pay 11.75 percent of their paycheck for their pensions. Currently, state employees pay 8.75 percent and teachers pay 9.5 percent. Chafee also wants to cut salary costs by an additional 3 percent, in part by negotiating further salary and benefit concessions from workers.
South Carolina’s former Governor Sanford, who issued a budget for next year before leaving office, proposed a 5 percent salary reduction for all state employees with annual salaries over $35,000, and would require all state employees to choose two holidays without pay. It is unclear whether current Governor Haley will support these cuts.
According to news accounts, the state’s leading expert on school finance in Texas has estimated that the initial budget’s proposed cuts in state support for public education could force school districts to lay off as many as 100,000 teachers and other education workers. [24] Other cuts in the plan would eliminate almost 10,000 state jobs, such as prison guards and child protective service investigators.
Wisconsin Governor Walker has proposed sweeping changes to state employee policies and pay. In a current year budget bill, Walker proposes to strip many workers of their collective bargaining rights. Many other workers would have their rights seriously restricted. His bill also would require state workers to make a 6 percent salary contribution to their pensions and to pay nearly 13 percent of the average health premium costs, effectively cutting their pay. Walker’s budget proposal for the upcoming budget cycle extends these compensation cuts over the next two years. He would also freeze state employee salaries for the next two years, and cut over 3,000 positions.

Although governors’ budgets often do not delineate which public employees will lose their jobs, most state and local government workers fall into one of the following categories: schoolteachers and other school employees, university workers, police officers, firefighters, corrections workers, highway and transit workers, public hospital employees, public health workers, public utility employees, and parks and environmental workers.
It should go without saying, but many Republicans do not seem to understand, public employees pay taxes and spend their income as consumers. No doubt some job cuts might be a good thing. As Republicans are apt to do, they have gone too far. They are making drastic cuts which are and will continue to delay a full economic recovery.

Saturday, March 19, 2011

Conservative Agenda - Republicans Crash The Economy and Send Bill to the Middle-Class

Conservative Agenda - Republicans Crash The Economy and Send Bill to the Middle-Class
Governor Scott Walker and a gaggle of Republican governors assault the right of workers to bargain collectively in states across the country. Teachers get laid off as school budgets are cut across the country. Colleges hike tuitions and shut down course offerings. Public workers face furloughs, layoff, cuts in health care and pension benefits. Congress is tied in knots about how much and what to cut. And Republican and bipartisan pressure to go after Social Security and Medicare is escalating.

We should be very clear about what unites these stories, for these struggles will say much about what kind of America emerges from the rubble of the Great Recession.

Who gets stuck with the bill for the Great Recession?

From the tea party Republican caucus to the Obama White House, leaders of both parties have moved from worrying about the recovery to worrying about how to pay for the costs of the Great Recession. With 25 million Americans in need of full time work, this is bipartisan folly. With Japan melting down, the Middle East erupting, energy and food prices soaring, housing prices and starts sinking, states and localities enacting brutal budget cuts, it is callously irresponsible, risking a double dip recession that will explode public deficits.

But that's where we are -- focused on who pays for the mess. Wall Street excess and conservative deregulation (by law and lassitude) blew up the economy, causing the Great Recession. The bankers were bailed out. Working families took the hit from the downturn -- in lost jobs, lost savings, weakened pensions, declining home values, pay and benefit cuts.

The recession blew a large hole in public finances at every level. Tax revenues plummeted. Expenses -- from unemployment insurance to food stamps to public health -- rose. Public pension funds suffered investment losses. States and localities face severe deficits with a mandate to balance their budgets. At the federal level, the recession doubled the national debt, and drove deficits up to 10% of GDP (much of this the result of plummeting tax receipts).

Now the question is who pays for the damage?

The Republican position is clear and consistent at every level of government. They want to send the bill to teachers, cops, seniors, kids, the poor and the vulnerable. From Governor Walker in Wisconsin to Governor Kasich in Ohio and across the country, Republican Governors and conservative legislators are pushing for deep cuts in education, jobs programs, and public health programs (particularly Medicaid). They are slashing spending while seeking in many cases to cut taxes for corporations and the affluent.

That's true at the federal level as well. Republicans went to the mat to extend tax breaks for millionaires in December, and now are threatening to close down government to slash spending on education, jobs programs, energy and the environment, and public health for the remaining months of the FY 2011 budget. And for next year's budget, they are girding themselves to take on the core insurance programs -- Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid -- that provide the most vulnerable Americans -- seniors, the widowed, the disabled -- with some modicum of security.

We aren't buying what they are peddling

This agenda is immensely unpopular. Americans have rather clear and sensible ideas about how to cut the deficit. They want Social Security and Medicare protected. They oppose cuts in education. They don't like tax hikes on families that are already suffering pay cuts. With the growing and extreme concentration of income and wealth, voters support tax hikes for the richest Americans, imposing a surcharge on incomes above a million dollars. With Wall Street's casino wrecking ruin, they support taxes on bank profits, and a financial speculation or transaction tax to slow computer driven speculation. With the Pentagon spending about as much as the rest of the world combined spends on their militaries, they'd start with cuts in the defense budget, as well as subsidies for Big Oil and other corporate interests.

The more people become aware of the Republican agenda, the less they like it. In Wisconsin, Governor Walker hoped he could cram his legislation through a legislature under Republican control before people knew what hit them. But when workers mobilized, and Democratic Senators left the state, the voters got a chance to look at the Governor's program -- and his popularity plummeted. The same would surely be true of the public's reaction to the cuts demanded by the House Republicans in Washington, were we ever to have a pitched battle over them.

Dismember the Opposition

That reality requires the second front in the conservative offensive: a frontal assault to weaken the ability of organized people to counter the power of organized money.

Doing the bidding of corporations, banks and the wealthy insures that conservatives will have well stocked campaign coffers and deep independent expenditure money pots that can fund air and ground wars in support of their actions. Citizens United, the ruling written by the conservative gang of 5 on the Supreme Court, opened the floodgates to corporate money. Its effect -- like that of Reagan firing the Patco workers -- was as much symbolic as substantive, making it clear to corporate CEOS that this was the moment to go all in.

But even the most sophisticated Orwellian ad and Astroturf campaigns have a hard time overcoming the opposition of organized people. So conservatives have set out systematically to weaken or destroy the opposition.

That's why core worker rights are under assault in states across the country. This isn't about balancing the budget; it is about weakening the ability of workers to resist. Unions are the most potent opponent of the conservative agenda. With private sector unions weakened by globalization and the all out corporate assault on them over the last three decades, public employee unions -- teachers, cops, fire fighters, nurses -- are the leading edge of the opposition, and the leading target of the new attack.

But it isn't just unions. In states across the country, efforts are underway to strip students of their right to vote on their campuses, hoping to suppress the votes of the young. Various forms of requiring voter ID at the polling booth are being revived, seeking to depress the votes of seniors, minorities and the poor.
Republicans are like some long forgotten ancient tribe who is still hanging on to their cherished superstitions. They refuse to give up on voodoo economics. The belief that we we make sure the wealthy and powerful get even more wealth and power the crumbs will filter down to the rest of us. The Great Recession, two wars put on the Conservative Credit Card, have proved the wealthy and powerful do not use their money to create jobs ( they send those to Asia). They do not invest in our cities. They do not invest in the future and education of America's children. They hoard their money like selfish little rats and complain that regulation to protect consumers and investors is too burdensome. New Hampshire House Approves Tax Cut On Cancer-Causing Cigarettes, Cuts Health And Education Funding

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Conservative Media Pushes Lie That Public Workers Make More Money Than Private Sector

Conservative Media Pushes Lie That Public Workers make More Money Than Private Sector

Huckabee: "Public Union Workers [Make] 30 Percent Better Wages [And] 70 Percent Better Benefits Than Their Private Sector Counterparts." Fox News contributor Mike Huckabee claimed Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker's efforts to end collective bargaining power for public sector unions is important because "he's having to balance the budget." As evidence, Huckabee falsely claimed public union workers make "30 percent better wages" and "70 percent better benefits than their private sector counterparts." [Fox News, Fox & Friends, 2/25/11]

Carlson: Public Sector Workers "Make More Than You Do" And "Won't Even Consider Taking Any Kind Of Cut". Fox News contributor Tucker Carlson said:

Here's, in my view, the politically effective and the true argument. They make more than you do, right, these public sector employees, they can never be fired, their benefits are things you can't even imagine, and by the way, they won't even consider taking any kind of cut in the face of the worst recession in our lifetimes and they expect you to pay for it. You can win that case. [Fox News, Special Report, 3/9/11]

FACT: EPI Found That "Wisconsin Public Employees Earn 4.8% Less In Total Compensation Per Hour Than Comparable Full-Time Employees In Wisconsin's Private Sector." A study published February 10, 2011, by the think tank Economic Policy Institute (EPI) found that when "[c]omparisons controlling for education, experience," and other factors are taken into account, "Wisconsin public employees earn 4.8% less in total compensation per hour than comparable full-time employees in Wisconsin's private sector." [EPI, "Are Wisconsin Public Employees Over-compensated?" 2/10/11]

The EPI report also included a graphic showing the average compensation for public and private sector employees in Wisconsin by education:

The February 18, 2011, EPI post accompanying this graphic stated:

The campaign against state and local workers is often justified with claims that they are privileged relative to their private-sector peers or have somehow been cushioned from the effects of the recent recession and slow recovery. These claims are clearly false.

In Wisconsin, which has become a focal point in this debate, public servants already take a pretty hefty pay cut just for the opportunity to serve their communities (Keefe 2010). The figure below shows that when comparing the total compensation (which includes non-wage benefits such as health care and pensions) of workers with similar education, public-sector workers consistently make less than their private-sector peers. Workers with a bachelor's degree or more--which constitute nearly 60% of the state and local workforce in Wisconsin--are compensated between $20,000 less (if they just have a bachelor's degree) to over $82,000 a year less (if they have a professional degree, such as in law or medicine). [EPI, 2/18/11]

Fox Falsely Suggests State Budget Shortfalls Are Result Of Public Union Collective Bargaining

Kilmeade Suggests That "Union Bargaining Should Be Abolished All Together" Because It's "Breaking The Public Piggy Bank." Fox News' Brian Kilmeade asked, "If union bargaining is breaking the public piggy bank, should it be abolished all together?" [Fox News, Fox & Friends, 2/28/11]

Liz Cheney: Collective Bargaining "Reduces [Local Officials'] Ability To Actually Manage Their Own Budget." On Fox News Sunday, Liz Cheney stated that "when you've got collective bargaining in place and when you've got the benefits that are basically sealed in, and no ability by those local officials to touch those or affect them, it reduces their ability to actually manage their own budget." [Fox Broadcasting Co., Fox News Sunday, 2/20/11, via Nexis]

Wallace Lets Walker Suggest That Collective Bargaining Is Preventing States From Balancing Budgets. Fox News anchor Chris Wallace hosted Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker to claim that state governments are facing budget crises because of collective bargaining. [Fox Broadcasting Co., Fox News Sunday, 2/20/11]

FACT: There Is "No Correlation" Between Budget Shortfalls And Collective Bargaining Rights.

* McCartin: Contention That "We Can No Longer Afford Collective Bargaining" Is "Bogus." In a February 19 New Republic article, Joseph McCartin, an associate professor of history and director of the Kalmanovitz Initiative for Labor and the Working Poor at Georgetown University, wrote that the contention that "[w]e can no longer afford collective bargaining" is "bogus." McCartin wrote, "Contrary to Walker's assertion, there is no direct correlation between public-sector collective bargaining and yawning state budget deficits." [The New Republic, 2/19/11, italics in original]

* Toledo Law Professor: "There's No Correlation Between Collective Bargaining And The State Budget Crises." A February 28 Fortune article quoted University of Toledo College Of Law professor Joseph Slater as saying: "It's easy to paint a portrait of public workers as overpaid, not working very hard and being fat cats on the tax dollar. But there's no correlation between collective bargaining and the state budget crises." [Fortune, 2/28/11]

* Tapper: "There Is No Correlation" Between Collective Bargaining Rights And State Deficits. On the February 27 edition of ABC's This Week, guest host Jake Tapper stated: "There is no correlation, according to statistics, between a state's ability to collectively bargain with its public employees and whether or not they have a budget deficit." Tapper also cited McCartin's New Republic article. [ABC, This Week, 2/27/11]
Right-wing Conservative Republican#1: Oops, we cannot win this argument based on he facts.

Right-wing Conservative Republican #2: Oh that's easy. We just get every bought and paid for conservative zealot on radio, TV, newspapers and the internet to lie. To overwhelm the public with lies. Then lie some more. Once the noise dies down. We lie some more about our first round of lies and talk about conservatives as the poor victims of those mean all powerful liberals.

Right-wing Conservative Republican#1: Oh yea, I forgot. It has always worked in the past, so no reason to have a n honest debate now.

Scary: People Who Watch and Trust Fox News Will Surprise You

Wasserman Shultz: GOP’s Anti-Abortion Bill Is ‘Nothing Short Of A Tax Increase’ On Women And Small Businesses

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

NPR Video by Conservative Zealots Found to Be Highly Edited. Right-wing Media Spits on Basic Journalistic Ethics

NPR Video by Conservative Zealots Found to Be Highly Edited. Right-wing Media Spits on Basic Journalistic Ethics

Last week, Media Matters documented problems with James O'Keefe's video of NPR fundraising executives and pointed out that the "sting" does nothing to undermine NPR's actual news reporting, which even conservatives acknowledge is fair.

Now, we have uncovered new evidence raising questions about whether quotes O'Keefe attributed to an NPR employee are accurate.

First, some context. Glenn Beck's Blaze website and Dave Weigel are pointing to a glaring problem with the story -- key portions of the video are ripped out of context.

O'Keefe's video (and much of the subsequent news reporting) portrayed former NPR employee Ron Schiller as blasting the Tea Parties as xenophobic. Here's how O'Keefe presents Schiller's statement:

SCHILLER: The current Republican party is not really the Republican party. It's been hijacked by this group -- that is --

"AMIR MALIK": The radical, racist, Islamophobic, tea party people?

SCHILLER: And not just Islamophobic but really xenophobic

And here's how The Daily Caller reported it when they broke the story: "The Republican Party, Schiller says, has been 'hijacked by this group.' The man posing as Malik finishes the sentence by adding, 'the radical, racist, Islamaphobic, Tea Party people.' Schiller agrees and intensifies the criticism, saying that the Tea Party people aren't 'just Islamaphobic, but really xenophobic, I mean basically they are, they believe in sort of white, middle-America gun-toting. I mean, it's scary. They're seriously racist, racist people.' "

In reality, the unedited video shows Schiller was attributing that sentiment to two Republicans who he spoke with (the portion O'Keefe omitted is bolded):

SCHILLER: I won't break a confidence, but a person who was an ambassador -- so a very highly placed Republican -- another person who was one of the top donors to the Republican Party, they both told me they voted for Obama, which they never believed they could ever do in their lives. That they could ever vote for a Democrat, ever. And they did, because they believe that the current Republican Party is not really the Republican Party. It's been hijacked by this group that is

"AMIR MALIK": The radical, racist, Islamophobic, Tea Party people?

SCHILLER: Exactly. And not just Islamophobic but really xenophobic.

That's pretty damning. You can watch The Blaze's juxtaposition of the two versions of the video here:

O'Keefe's colleague has defended this dishonest editing by suggesting that Schiller was "clearly agreeing with" the Republicans he cited. The Blaze similarly argues that "[a]t the end, [Schiller] signals his agreement."

The argument that Schiller agreed that the Tea Parties are racist seems to be based on O'Keefe's transcription of what Schiller said next. Here's the text O'Keefe included in the edited video:

SCHILLER: And not just Islamophobic but really xenophobic, I mean basically they are, they are, they believe in sort of white, middle-America, gun-toting I mean, it's scary. They're seriously racist, racist people.

But much of that audio is extremely hard to understand, and it's not at all clear that O'Keefe's transcription is accurate.

Take this portion, for example: "believe in sort of white, middle-America, gun-toting." The way O'Keefe (and much of the media) transcribed it, it sounds like Schiller may be agreeing that Tea Partiers are pro-gun, middle-American, white supremacists.

But listen to the audio again. Can you really hear Schiller use the phrase "in sort of"? I can't. It sounds like Schiller is might actually be saying, "They believe THAT THEY'RE white, middle-America, gun-toting." Alternately, he might be saying, "They believe IT'S sort of white, middle-America, gun-toting." If either of those is correct, it seems highly possible that the "they" Schiller is referring to is the two Republicans Schiller spoke with. In that case, Schiller would simply be saying that these two Republicans view the Tea Partiers as "white, middle-America, gun-toting."

What about Schiller's statement that "They're seriously racist, racist people"? Isn't he calling the Tea Partiers "racist" there?

First of all, it's still not clear that Schiller was saying that in his own voice, rather than attributing it to his Republican sources.

And again, listen to the actual audio without looking at the text O'Keefe added. Schiller's words are barely audible, and it's not at all clear that Schiller even said, "They're seriously racist, racist people." It's possible that he said that -- but it's nowhere near definitive enough for a journalist to assert that as fact.

What did Schiller really say there? I don't know. And unless journalists who took O'Keefe's word for it are 100 percent sure he is correct, it's time for them to start issuing corrections.
If the only way the Right can win whatever it is they think they're fighting - the culture wars, the supposed media bias wars or just the war to smear their political opponents by any means they can - doesn't that say a lot about how far down in the gutter conservatism operates. More here - Further Analysis Finds Deceptive Editing In NPR Scam Video

Top 10 most shocking spending cuts Republicans voted for

2) Emergency Oil Reserves

The GOP budget plan slashed $120.2 million from the Strategic Petroleum Reserve [3], a critical source of emergency oil supplies in case flow is interrupted.

In the wake of the earthquake in Japan, President Barack Obama said the US is "prepared to tap [4]" into the Strategic Petroleum Reserve "should the situation demand it."

6) Prosecution Of Financial Crimes

In the wake of Bernie Madoff, and after big banks apparently got away with suckering people into predatory loans, Republicans voted to cut $2.1 million from the Treasury Department's Financial Crimes Enforcement Network.
Why do Republicans hate the United States of America and the egalitarian principles, the aspirations to goodness and the ideals on which this nation was founded.

Sunday, March 13, 2011

New Jersey Governor Chris Christie is a Darling of Republicans. It That Because He Lies Loud and Often

New Jersey Governor Chris Christie is a Darling of Republicans. It That Because He Lies Loud and Often

New Jersey’s public-sector unions routinely pressure the State Legislature to give them what they fail to win in contract talks. Most government workers pay nothing for health insurance. Concessions by school employees would have prevented any cuts in school programs last year.

Statements like those are at the core of Gov. Chris Christie’s campaign to cut state spending by getting tougher on unions. They are not, however, accurate.

In fact, on the occasions when the Legislature granted the unions new benefits, it was for pensions, which were not subject to collective bargaining — and it has not happened in eight years. In reality, state employees have paid 1.5 percent of their salaries toward health insurance since 2007, in addition to co-payments and deductibles, and since last spring, many local government workers, including teachers, do as well. The few dozen school districts where employees agreed to concessions last year still saw layoffs and cuts in academic programs.

“Clearly there has been a pattern of the governor playing fast and loose with the details,” said Brigid Harrison, a political science professor at Montclair State University. “But so far, he’s been adept at getting the public to believe what he says.”

Mr. Christie, a Republican who took office in January 2010, would hardly be the first politician to indulge in hyperbole or gloss over facts. But his misstatements, exaggerations and carefully constructed claims belie the national image he has built as a blunt talker who gives straight answers to hard questions, especially about budgets and labor relations. Candor is central to Mr. Christie’s appeal, and a review of his public statements over the past year shows some of them do not hold up to scrutiny.

The governor declined to be interviewed for this article. His aides dismissed the notion that he had a problem with accuracy, and noted his unusual willingness to face interrogation — if he is not at a town-hall-style forum, it seems, he is on a television chat show.

Mr. Christie’s communications director, Maria Comella, said, “If a result of him being engaged directly with the people of New Jersey is a story that splits hairs, we’re happy to take that trade-off any day.”

Misstatements have been central to Mr. Christie’s worst public stumbles — about how the state managed to miss out on a $400 million education grant last year, for example, and whether he was in touch enough while he was in Florida during the blizzard in December — and his rare admissions that he was wrong. But Peter J. Woolley, a politics professor and polling director at Fairleigh Dickinson University, said there had been no sign, so far, that these issues had much effect on the governor’s political standing.

“People prefer directness to detail,” Professor Woolley said. “People know it’s not unusual for politicians to take the shortcut in public debate, that they’re not academics who are going to qualify everything.”

Some overstatements have worked their way into the governor’s routine public comments, like a claim that he balanced the budget last year without raising taxes; in truth, he cut deeply into tax credits for the elderly and the poor. But inaccuracies also crop up when he is challenged, and his instinct seems to be to turn it into an attack on someone else instead of giving an answer.

When New Jersey narrowly lost $400 million in the federal Education Department’s Race to the Top competition last summer because of missing data in its application, Mr. Christie held a news conference blaming “bureaucrats in Washington” and said state officials had tried to supply the missing numbers at a hearing. It did not take long for the Obama administration to release a recording showing that, in reality, federal officials had requested the information at the hearing, and the New Jersey team had not had it.

Mr. Christie fired Bret D. Schundler, his education commissioner at the time, accusing him of lying about the hearing. But Mr. Schundler said he had warned the governor before the news conference that what he was about to tell reporters was false.

“His entire point was he likes to be on offense rather than defense,” Mr. Schundler said days later. “He wanted to make this all about the Obama administration’s picayune rules rather than our error.”

A few months later, in November, when the Assembly speaker, Sheila Y. Oliver, a Democrat, and the governor were sparring over pension issues, she said she had requested a meeting with the governor. Mr. Christie called that “a lie.” Ms. Oliver’s office promptly produced text messages from the Assembly staff making the request.

Mr. Christie’s aides said that those messages had been somewhat unclear, and that, in any case, the governor had been unaware of them when he made his remark. But Democrats said the illuminating fact was that the governor, without investigating first, questioned a critic’s integrity.

“Everything is an assault, which makes it hard for adversaries to catch their breath and question the substance of what he’s saying before he moves on to the next thing,” said Assemblyman John Wisniewski, the state Democratic chairman.

“A lot of politicians would react cautiously, but not this governor,” said Professor Harrison, of Montclair State University. “He always wants to stay on the offensive, and he’s not going to say, ‘Let me look into that.’ ”

After the record snowfall in December, Mr. Christie defended his decision to stay on vacation in Florida with his family, saying that he had spoken with the acting governor, Stephen M. Sweeney, during the storm. When Mr. Sweeney, a Democrat and the State Senate president, said they had not talked, the governor attributed his own misstatement to lack of sleep.

Whether he talked with Mr. Sweeney or received a message from Ms. Oliver may be trivial, but Mr. Christie’s very public campaign against the unions has greater consequence. His statements about state workers are critical to his public image and central to his political agenda.

Political analysts, Democrats and even some of his Republican allies say that Mr. Christie could — and sometimes does — make most of his points without resorting to questionable claims. It is beyond dispute that New Jersey is in terrible financial shape, that the governor has made big cuts in spending, that the pension funds are headed for insolvency and that state workers pay little for generous health benefits compared with those in the private sector.

But in going beyond those facts, the governor sometimes wanders into gray areas. In addition to claims about unions circumventing collective bargaining to “get what they want” from the Legislature, he has frequently said that “there are dozens of states in this country” that do not let public-sector unions bargain collectively (there are, experts said, eight); that New Jersey’s last round of union negotiations, under a Democratic governor, were not adversarial (there were heated protests at the State House); and that the vast majority of teachers in the state get free health care (they did until last year).

Professor Woolley, the political scientist and pollster, said that he did not know whether Mr. Christie had embellished any more than other politicians, but that as a Republican in a Democratic-leaning state who promotes himself as a paragon of straight talk, he might need to stick to the truth more than most.
Christie would not be the first serial lying Republican to make a profitable career in politics. Other than his masochistic joy in berating people, Christie is not the new voice on the fringe Right, he is just another cookie cutter wing-nut. he just lies his lies louder than Palin, Romney, Huckabee, Pawlenty, and Gingrich.

Koch Brothers and US Chamber: Polluting Our Earth and Our Democracies
Wisconsin Workers and Enviros Everywhere Face Same Enemy

Among other truths made completely clear by the showdown in Wisconsin: the outsized role of the Koch brothers in American politics.

Charles and David, the third and fourth richest men in America, first gained notoriety in the fall, when a remarkable expose by Jane Mayer in the New Yorker showed how they'd funded not only the Tea Party but also the hydra-headed campaign to undermine the science of global warming, all in the service of even more profit for their oil and gas business.

But it was in Wisconsin that the down-and-dirty details of their operation began to emerge -- they'd not only funded the election campaigns of the governor and the new GOP legislature, but also an advertising effort attacking the state's teachers. They'd helped pay for buses to ferry in counter-protesters. We were even treated to the sight of new Governor Scott Walker fawning over them in what turned out to be a hoax phone call. The Kochs are right up there now with the great plutocrats of American history, a 21st century version of the robber barons.

Friday, March 11, 2011

The Daily Caller Slants NPR Story - NPR Emails Show CEO Refusing Donation from Phony O'Keefe Group

The Daily Caller Slants NPR Story - NPR Emails Show CEO Refusing Donation from Phony O'Keefe Group

Responding to a report that NPR was closer to accepting a $5 million donation from a phony Muslim group than previously acknowledged, NPR released e-mails to TPM backing up their claim that they had refused the money.

In their initial statement after hidden camera footage of their executives lunching with the fake foundation, NPR said that "The fraudulent organization represented in this video repeatedly pressed us to accept a $5 million check, with no strings attached, which we repeatedly refused to accept." The Daily Caller reported Thursday evening on emails in which NPR executives said they were "awaiting a draft agreement" from their legal counsel on the donation, raising the question of how far down the line negotiations had proceeded.

NPR spokeswoman Anna Christopher told TPM via e-mail that the agreement "never got beyond the internal drafting stage - and was never sent. Period." To back up her claim, Christopher provided TPM with four pages pages of emails in which CEO Vivan Schiller, who resigned Wednesday, and her staff discuss a potential donation from MEAC, the fake Muslim group created by James O'Keefe's Project Veritas to infiltrate NPR.

In an e-mail dated March 3, sent by the recently resigned Schiller to Betsy Liley, who appears in the two O'Keefe tapes, and two other staffers, Schiller suggests that MEAC is behaving oddly and that she can't accept a donation without further information -- despite pressure from the group to take the money immediately. She also correctly notes that MEAC's information would have to be provided to the IRS, resolving an issue that Lilely appears to have left unclear in a conversation with a phony Muslim donor depicted in the most recently released video.

"I spoke to Ibrahim," she writes. "He says they ARE a 501c3. And then he added... "I think". I told him we would need to know for sure AND we would need to look at the 990 as we do for any first time donor. He stressed that they want confidentially and I told him what Joyce told me - that it would not need to be reported in the public part of the 990 but it would need to be reported to the IRS, including the name of the donating institution. He had questions on all of the above which I said I simply don't have the expertise to answer but that one of our lawyers could. He repeated again that they want to deliver the check. I said that's very generous but we really need to sort out these issues first. He said is there a problem - and I said I don't know till we can see the 990. He seemed a bit worried that there was some subtext to our hesitation."

In a March 3 e-mail a member of O'Keefe's group posing as MEAC board member, "Omar Kasaam," writes that his group is "eager to help NPR fight back against the sensationalized, ratings-driven corporate media and their relentless efforts to sew mistrust and xenophobia among America's citizens" and says that his group cannot reveal its donors, but is willing to locate the necessary tax forms to move forward.

But the group clearly raises red flags for Joyce Slocum, NPR's General Counsel and Sr. Vice President, who politely informs "Kasaam" the next day that NPR has been unable to find any information on MEAC despite its supposed status as a registered 501c.

"I'm sure you will understand that we need to verify certain information with respect to any organization that proposes to make a significant gift to NPR," Slocum writes, adding that "Unfortunately, we have not been able to locate the necessary information about the Muslim Education Action Center, and so we need to ask that you provide it."
The video O'Keefe and the Daily Beast are showing is highly edited and it is strung together with a dramatic narrative to create an impression of wrong doing. Clearly NPR did nothing improper. The conservative con-artists are at least guilty of extremely poor ethics - badgering NPR to do things it has not done and has a policy against. Without Apologies, NPR is Not Liberal, But They Are Cowards

Right-wing extremists who tried to trick NPR sting also nets right-wing blogger and racist, Pamela Geller? - Several notoriously anti-Muslim bloggers were taken in by a fake radical Islamic website set up by James O'Keefe

"Frothing," "Rabid," "Slobs": The Right-Wing Media's Smear Campaign Of Pro-Union Protesters - if you have to fabricate and exaggerate how good can their case be. They act like innocent angels, but conservatives end up looking like the raging anti-democracy hypocrites they are.

Michele Bachmann's(R) 'bombshell' on a 'hidden' $105 billion in ObamaCare. Bachmann cannot seem to open her mouth without lying. How can $105 billion be hidden when it is in the bill and the bill is on the net for everyone to read.

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

NPR is Liberal? You Must be Kidding.

NPR Finds Right-Wing Crank to Spit on Zinn's Grave

When progressive historian Howard Zinn died on January 27, NPR's All Things Considered (1/28/10) marked his passing with something you don't often see in an obituary: a rebuttal.

After quoting Noam Chomsky and Julian Bond, NPR's Allison Keyes turned to far-right activist David Horowitz to symbolically spit on Zinn's grave. "There is absolutely nothing in Howard Zinn's intellectual output that is worthy of any kind of respect," Horowitz declared. "Zinn represents a fringe mentality which has unfortunately seduced millions of people at this point in time. So he did certainly alter the consciousness of millions of younger people for the worse."

Horowitz's substance-free attack contributed nothing to an understanding of Zinn's life or work, other than conveying that he's disliked by cranky right-wingers. (Horowitz has been best known in recent years for his race-baiting and Muslim-bashing--Extra!, 5-6/02; FAIR report, 10/1/08.) He seems to have been included merely to demonstrate that NPR will not allow praise for a leftist to go unaccompanied by conservative contempt.

Needless to say, it is not the case that NPR has a consistent principle that all its obituaries be thus "balanced." Take its coverage of the death of William F. Buckley, a figure as admired by the right as much as Zinn was on the left. Upon his death in February 2008, NPR aired six segments commemorating him, none of which included a non-admiring guest.
Tortured Justifications for Bad Journalism

NPR Baghdad correspondent Anne Garrels (Morning Edition, 10/26/07) presented listeners with an unusual exclusive: the results of an interrogation conducted by a Shiite militia.

Garrels described being escorted by Mahdi Army members to hear the accounts of three prisoners--supposedly renegade members of the militia. While Garrels acknowledged that “the three detainees had clearly been tortured,” she went on to describe the contents of their confessions as though they contained credible information:

They were trained in roadside bombs and car bombings in Iran. They say they worked for money and that their orders were to attack Americans and sow suspicion and violence between Shiites and Sunnis.

In case this dubious link to Iran wasn’t clear, Garrels later repeats: “Now, once again, they said they’re doing this for money on orders of Iranian agents.”

The lurid details of the prisoners’ accounts made up much of Garrels’ report, despite the circumstances: “There was blood all over their clothes,” she reported. “They were in such bad shape they couldn’t walk. They had to be dragged onto the chairs, and one of them was just sobbing.” Given this brutal treatment, there is no reason to put stock in any part of their statements. As Alfred McCoy noted in his book A Question of Torture, the U.S. Army prohibited torture in part because it produces "unreliable results...and can induce the source to say what he thinks the interrogator wants to hear."

Nonetheless, Morning Edition host Steve Inskeep asked questions, and Garrels provided answers, as though the confessions provided real evidence of Iran’s involvement in Iraq.
Iraq how has diplomatic and economic ties with Iran so tying them together is a moot point. Who made Iraq and Iran so close - Bush and Republicans.

How Public Is Public Radio? A study of NPR’s guest list

Despite the commonness of such claims, little evidence has ever been presented for a left bias at NPR, and FAIR’s latest study gives it no support. Looking at partisan sources—including government officials, party officials, campaign workers and consultants—Republicans outnumbered Democrats by more than 3 to 2 (61 percent to 38 percent). A majority of Republican sources when the GOP controls the White House and Congress may not be surprising, but Republicans held a similar though slightly smaller edge (57 percent to 42 percent) in 1993, when Clinton was president and Democrats controlled both houses of Congress. And a lively race for the Democratic presidential nomination was beginning to heat up at the time of the 2003 study.

Partisans from outside the two major parties were almost nowhere to be seen, with the exception of four Libertarian Party representatives who appeared in a single story (Morning Edition, 6/26/03).

Republicans not only had a substantial partisan edge, individual Republicans were NPR’s most popular sources overall, taking the top seven spots in frequency of appearance. George Bush led all sources for the month with 36 appearances, followed by Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld (8) and Sen. Pat Roberts (6). Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist, Secretary of State Colin Powell, White House press secretary Ari Fleischer and Iraq proconsul Paul Bremer all tied with five appearances each.

Senators Edward Kennedy, Jay Rockefeller and Max Baucus were the most frequently heard Democrats, each appearing four times. No nongovernmental source appeared more than three times. With the exception of Secretary of State Powell, all of the top 10 most frequently appearing sources were white male government officials.
Not that these facts matter. If any media outlet does not have 24/7 right-wing guests and points of view than it is too liberal.

Who Cares If James O'Keefe Is A Lying Creep With A Criminal History? He Hates ACORN And NPR, So What's Not To Like If You're Fox News?
What a coincidence that just as the House has voted to defund the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, including PBS and NPR and the Senate will soon vote on it, undercover ACORN “pimp” James O'Keefe shows up with a new sting video targeting NPR. Since the ACORN sting, O'Keefe has been arrested for allegedly trying to tamper with the phones of a U.S. Senator, the credibility of the ACORN videos have been seriously called into question and O'Keefe reportedly planned to seduce and humiliate a female CNN reporter. But there was almost no mention of O'Keefe's unsavory past and no questioning of the integrity of O'Keefe's latest project – even though Media Matters has already caught one suspicious bit of editing that Fox News either missed or ignored – on either The O'Reilly Factor, Hannity or On The Record, each of which devoted time to the story last night (3/8/11).