Archive for September, 2010

Obama v. Fox News, a long American tradition

In an interview with Rolling Stone, President Obama was asked a question about the impact and role of Fox News. He responded as follows:

“Look, as president, I swore to uphold the Constitution, and part of that Constitution is a free press. We’ve got a tradition in this country of a press that oftentimes is opinionated. The golden age of an objective press was a pretty narrow span of time in our history. Before that, you had folks like Hearst who used their newspapers very intentionally to promote their viewpoints. I think Fox is part of that tradition — it is part of the tradition that has a very clear, undeniable point of view. It’s a point of view that I disagree with. It’s a point of view that I think is ultimately destructive for the long-term growth of a country that has a vibrant middle class and is competitive in the world. But as an economic enterprise, it’s been wildly successful. And I suspect that if you ask Mr. Murdoch what his number-one concern is, it’s that …

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O’Keefe targeted CNN reporter for depraved ‘prank’

I very much believe — and hope — that nothing is going to top this story in terms of pure strangeness. But the way things are going, that hope may prove to be false.

You may remember James O’Keefe, the conservative hero and “filmmaker” made famous by his ACORN work. Apparently, young Master O’Keefe wanted to find a way to “punk” and embarrass CNN, and to do so he set in motion a plan to lure a CNN reporter, Abbie Boudreau, onto a Maryland houseboat on the pretext of doing an interview.

The boat was to be outfitted with hidden cameras and other items, as detailed in the “equipment list” later acquired by CNN and republished below. O’Keefe then intended to try to seduce Boudreau, on hidden camera, and later release the video as some sort of triumph.

As CNN itself reports:

According to the document, O’Keefe was to record a video of the following script before Boudreau arrived: “My name is James. I work in video activism and journalism. I’ve been approached by CNN for an …

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CBO: Permanent tax cuts bad for economy

CBO Director Doug Elmendorf testified before Congress Tuesday about the long-term economic impacts of making the Bush tax cuts permanent. Contrary to conservative ideology, the CBO’s research and modeling finds that making the tax cuts permanent would REDUCE the nation’s output and income by almost 1.4 percent by 2020, becoming an even bigger anchor on our prosperity in the out years.

Source: CBO

Source: CBO

“Those effects are largely the net result of two competing forces,” Elmendorf writes in his CBO blog. “All else being equal, lower tax revenues increase budget deficits and thereby government borrowing, which reduces economic growth by crowding out investment. At the same time, lower tax rates boost growth by increasing people’s saving and work effort.”

In other words, if government has to borrow huge amounts of money to fund the deficit, that money is not available for private investment in factories, homes, college educations or small businesses.

I’ll have to leave it at that for …

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Founding Fathers would be horrified at today’s Senate

Wow.

Last night, U.S. Sen. Jim DeMint of South Carolina sent a message to his fellow senators, informing them that between now and Election Day, he intended to block votes on any legislation that he did not personally approve beforehand.

And under the arcane, archaic and anarchic “rules” of the Senate, one solo senator actually has the power to do so. Those rules are artifacts of a collegial Senate that disappeared long ago and is never returning, especially if DeMint and others have their way.

For months now, DeMint has made it pretty clear that he intends to challenge Minority Leader Mitch McConnell for de facto if not official control over the Republican Senate caucus come January. This current power play is just another step in that effort.

McConnell, you see, is much too accommodating for DeMint and others like him. In the four years that McConnell has served as Republican leader, they have turned to the filibuster to block Senate votes a mere 257 times, which is hardly …

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For Bishop Long, important words not yet spoken

Bishop Eddie Long stood in the pulpit Sunday morning, looked out over the thousands assembled to hear him speak, and talked of his congregation as a family that gave him great comfort in a time of pain.

Long also spoke fondly of other ministers — his sons and daughters, he called them — who had begun at New Birth Missionary Baptist Church and had left to their own congregations to return home in a show of support and solidarity.

Bishop Eddie Long speaks Sunday at New Birth Missionary Baptist Church. (AP)

Bishop Eddie Long speaks Sunday at New Birth Missionary Baptist Church. (AP)

Yet, after days of awkward silence, Long could not look the members of that family in the face and tell them plainly that he was innocent, that he had not engaged in sex with four young male church members who looked to him for guidance.

As the bishop explained to the congregation, he had been counseled by attorneys not to address the facts of the case.

“It will be tried in the court of justice and dealt with in the court of justice, and please understand, because that’s the …

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Israel lifts ban on settlement growth, killing peace hopes that were long dead anyway

I’ve been deeply pessimistic about the Obama administration’s efforts at peacemaking in the Middle East, and indeed about the prospects of peace in general. By every indication, any chance of a workable two-state solution ended years ago, thanks largely to the continued expansion of West Bank settlements. Today, even if Palestinian leaders were miraculously awarded the courage and authority needed to make a deal with Israel, the “facts on the ground” on the wrong side of the Green Line would make such an agreement impossible.

Which is exactly what they were intended to do.

This week, Israel threw a little more dirt on the coffin when it ended its 10-month moratorium on settlement construction. The decision probably means the end of peace talks with the Palestinians and further strains Israeli relations with the United States and other countries, but to Israel those are small prices to pay .

David Newman, professor of political geography at Ben-Gurion University and editor …

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Fox News, GOP melding into one apparatus

The tight, interlocking relationship between Fox News and the Republican Party has become more and more obvious in the past year. But a new Politico piece raises a couple of interesting consequences to that arrangement:

“With the exception of Mitt Romney, Fox now has deals with every major potential Republican presidential candidate not currently in elected office.

The matter is of no small consequence, since it’s uncertain how other news organizations can cover the early stages of the presidential race when some of the main GOP contenders are contractually forbidden to appear on any TV network besides Fox.

C-SPAN Political Editor Steve Scully said that when C-SPAN tried to have Palin on for an interview, he was told he had to first get Fox’s permission — which the network, citing her contract, ultimately denied. Producers at NBC, ABC, CBS, CNN and MSNBC all report similar experiences….”

As the Politico piece points out, the arrangement is great for Fox. They have the …

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‘cuz the devil knows your weakness, son!

One night, years ago, I wandered into this little jazz club in Seattle, and up on the stage at the end of the darkened room was this chunky little blind white girl, all by herself, playin’ piano and singing.

And she was just ROCKIN’ it!!

I turned to this guy standing at the doorway and gave him a “What the hell is THIS!?!?” look. He looked back at me, grinned and shook his head. He didn’t know what the hell it was either, except that it was damn good.

That girl, it turned out, was a young Dianne Schuur. Here she is doing one of my favorite songs, about Satan’s temptation of one “Reverend Lee.” The choice seems appropriate, given one of the week’s top story lines.

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Well, so much for that ‘New South’ talk, I guess

Two quick points:

1.) Yeah it’s funny, kind of, in a creepy sort of way. For those who may not already know, Dale Peterson is not an actor; he put together similar ads in his bid for the GOP nomination as Alabama’s agriculture commissioner.  Alabama Republicans were perhaps amused, but not impressed; he finished a distant third.

2.) This particular ad was put together by the Republican Governors’ Association, which apparently believes it’s the kind of thing that will be effective in swaying Georgia voters.

Who knows, maybe they’re right. Nick Ayers, the RGA’s executive director, is a Georgian. He ran Sonny Perdue’s 2006 re-election campaign. Paul Bennecke, the RGA’s deputy executive director, used to be executive director of the Georgia Republican Party. So you can’t say they don’t know Georgia, and I’m sure the last thing they want to see come November is their home state governed by a Democrat.

On the other hand, I also remember how insulted Zell Miller used to get over …

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New Birth’s mission: Pursue truth about Bishop Long

Maybe it’s just an ugly scam.

Maybe it’s a well-coordinated, fairly sophisticated conspiracy among several young men to shake down Bishop Eddie Long, a successful, revered leader who has built New Birth Missionary Baptist Church into a powerhouse of Christian service.

Sad as that would be, it would certainly be the better outcome. Because if the opposite proves true and the allegations against Long are valid, the tragedy deepens.

Lawsuits filed this week by three young men who entered Long’s orbit as mere boys allege truly troubling predatory behavior on the part not just of Long but of those close to him. In short, they claim that Long prostituted the faith he preached and the resources of the church he led in order to satisfy his sexual urges with those who had almost no defense against him.

The allegations include claims that Long, an outspoken critic of gay rights and gay marriage, participated in “covenant ceremonies” in which he and young male parishioners …

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