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Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Beck invents facts to attack food safety bill

From Media Matters:

Glenn Beck distorted a Congressional Budget Office cost estimate to claim that food-safety legislation would mean "higher taxes for you," baselessly claimed the bill would drive up food costs, and underplayed concerns about food safety. Beck demonized the legislation as a George Soros-backed effort to "control you."

Beck distorts CBO report to claim legislation means "higher taxes for you"

Beck: Food Safety Modernization Act "will mean higher taxes for you." During the November 29 edition of his Fox News show, Glenn Beck claimed that the Food Safety Modernization Act is "going to mean higher taxes for you as well. Congressional Budget Office estimates between $1.4 billion and up, between 2011 and 2015." Beck said the bill represented a George Soros-backed effort to "control your food" and "control you." [Glenn Beck, 11/29/10]

FACT: CBO said the bill would "increase spending subject to appropriation" -- not taxes. In its cost estimate of the Food Safety Modernization Act, the CBO wrote, "CBO estimates that implementing the bill with the manager's amendment would increase spending subject to appropriation, on net, by about $1.4 billion over the 2011-2015 period, assuming annual appropriation action consistent with the bill." [Congressional Budget Office, 8/12/10]

FACT: CBO said the bill would authorize collection of fees from food manufacturers -- not "higher taxes for you." In its cost estimate, CBO reported:

S. 510 would amend and modify the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act to authorize the FDA to collect fees to help defray some of the FDA's costs of performing food safety activities. The bill would create new fee programs including: a facility reinspection and recall fee program for mandatory recalls, an importer fee program for voluntary qualified entities, and a fee program to support accreditation of third-party auditors.

The legislation also would authorize the FDA to collect fees for food (including animal feed) export certificates under the current export certification program. Fees are currently collected for drugs and devices that are issued export certifications.

Fees authorized by the bill would be collected and made available for obligation only to the extent and in the amounts provided in advance in appropriation acts. As a result, those collections would be credited as an offset to discretionary spending.[Congressional Budget Office, 8/12/10]

Beck baselessly claims bill will result in higher grocery prices

Beck: The cost to "you at the grocery story" is "expected to be hundreds of millions of dollars every year." From the November 29 edition of Fox News' Glenn Beck:

BECK: Cost to the private sector -- you know, you at the grocery store? Now, they haven't calculated that yet, but it is expected to be hundreds of millions of dollars every year.

FACT: Michigan State University professor says bill "isn't likely to make a huge dent" in food prices. As Media Matters documented, Craig Harris of the Food Safety Policy Center at Michigan State University reportedly said that the bill is unlikely to raise consumers' food costs:

Although costs of food production may rise as a result of the bill, the amount isn't likely to make a huge dent in most large food companies' profits, Harris said, so the added costs shouldn't trickle down to the consumers. For small companies and local farmers, the bill includes exemptions and special accommodations, recognizing that some companies may not be able to keep up with the costs of adopting new safety practices.

Beck underplays food-safety problem

Beck: "Is there a big problem" with food safety "that I don't know of?" From the November 29 edition of Fox News' Glenn Beck:

BECK: Congress is working hard to make sure that the food that you eat is completely safe. Now, you might be thinking to yourself, "Glenn, I think my food is already safe." But that's just how stupid you are. They know better in Washington.

Apparently, our food is very unsafe. That's why tonight, the Senate is scheduled to start voting on S510, the FDA Food Safety Modernization Act. It is fanta-- it's gonna be so modern, what they're doing. May I ask you, who on the planet has a safer food supply than we do while feeding 300 million people? Is it China? Is it India? Is it -- oh, is it Great Britain? Ooh, Sweden? Oh, no.

Is there a big problem that I don't know of? I mean, I know that, you know, we could always make things better here. There was a problem with spinach a couple of years ago, and then guacamole or avocados, or something. I think that was quickly resolved -- minimal to no interruption of our normal food supply.

[...]

BECK: We could always improve, but there will be never be a perfect system with zero problems, will there?

FACT: GAO declared federal oversight of food safety a "high-risk" problem. From a 2007 Government Accountability Office report that was part of its series on "high-risk problems":

Each year, about 76 million people contract a food-borne illness in the United States; about 325,000 require hospitalization; and about 5,000 die, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. In addition, agriculture, as the largest industry and employer in the United States, generates more than $1 trillion in economic activity annually, or about 13 percent of the gross domestic product. The value of U.S. agricultural exports exceeded $68 billion in fiscal year 2006. An introduction of a highly infectious foreign animal disease, such as avian influenza or foot-and-mouth disease, would cause severe economic disruption, including substantial losses from halted exports. Similarly, food contamination, such as the recent E. coli outbreaks, can have a detrimental impact on local economies. For example, industry representatives estimate losses from the recent California spinach E. coli outbreak to range from $37 million to $74 million.

A challenge for the 21st century is how several federal agencies can integrate the myriad food safety programs and strategically manage their portfolios to promote the safety and integrity of the nation's food supply. In numerous previous reports, we have described the fragmented federal food safety system in which 15 agencies collectively administer at least 30 laws related to food safety. The two primary agencies are the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), which is responsible for the safety of meat, poultry, and processed egg products and the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), which is responsible for virtually all other foods. Among other agencies with responsibilities related to food safety, the National Marine Fisheries Service in the Department of Commerce conducts voluntary, fee-for-service inspections of seafood safety and quality; the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) regulates the use of pesticides and maximum allowable residue levels on food commodities and animal feed; and the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) is responsible for coordinating agencies' food security activities.

The food safety system is further complicated by the subtle differences in food products that dictate which agency regulates a product as well as the frequency with which inspections occur. For example, how a packaged ham-and-cheese sandwich is regulated depends on how the sandwich is presented. USDA inspects manufacturers of packaged open-face meat or poultry sandwiches (e.g., those with one slice of bread), but FDA inspects manufacturers of packaged closed-face meat or poultry sandwiches (e.g., those with two slices of bread). Although there are no differences in the risks posed by these products, USDA inspects wholesale manufacturers of open-face sandwiches sold in interstate commerce daily, while FDA inspects closed-face sandwiches an average of once every 5 years.

This federal regulatory system for food safety evolved piecemeal, typically in response to particular health threats or economic crises. During the past 30 years, we have detailed problems with the fragmented federal food safety system and reported that the system has caused inconsistent oversight, ineffective coordination, and inefficient use of resources. [Government Accountability Office, January 2007]

CNN’s Anderson Cooper calmly destroys birther logic

By David Edwards

CNN's Anderson Cooper came prepared Monday to an interview with a Republican Texas state representative who questions President Barack Obama's citizenship.

Rep. Leo Berman(R-racist right wing dickhead) has introduced a billthat would require any candidate for president or vice president of the United States to provide his or her birth certificate to the Texas secretary of state.

"This bill is necessary because we have a president whom the American people don't know whether he was born in Kenya or some other place," Leo Berman, who has represented the 6th District of Texas since 1999, told the Lubbock Avalanche-Journal.

"I don't know anything about President Obama," Berman told Cooper Monday.

"There's a certificate of live birth, which is what the state of Hawaii sends out," Cooper explained. "Why isn't that good enough?

"Well, because it's not an original birth certificate. It doesn't show the parents' place of birth. And, also, we know for certain that President Obama's father was born in Kenya. Since he was born in Kenya, in -- that was a British protectorate. President Obama was born in 1961. And with his father being a British citizen, at least, President Obama, we think, holds dual citizenship," Berman replied.

"Well, actually, technically that's not correct," Cooper said. "He may have been born with duel citizenship because of the technicality of his father being under the British -- a British subject, being from Kenya, but he automatically lost that in -- at the age of 23."

According to the British Nationality Act of 1948, a person loses his or her citizenship if it isn'tclaimed by the age of 23.

"And the Hawaii state health director has acknowledged that, back in 2008, she has -- and I quote -- 'personally seen and verified that the Hawaii State Department of Health has Senator Obama's original birth certificate -- certificate on record, in accordance with state policies and procedures,'" Cooper continued.

"The governor of Hawaii, who is a Republican, was quoted as saying: 'I had my health director, who is a physician by background, go personally view the birth certificate in the birth records at the Department of Health. We issued a news release at the time saying the president was, in fact, born at Kapi'olani Hospital in Honolulu, Hawaii. And that is just a fact,'" he explained.

"Well, my question to you, then, Anderson, is, why -- did you see it? I would like to see it," Berman said.

"You can go and see it. The nonpartisan fact-checking organization FactCheck.org, they -- they looked at it. It has a raised seal. They say it's legit," Cooper noted.

In August 2008, FactCheck.org confirmed that it had examined and verified Obama's birth certificate.

Then Cooper wanted to know if Berman had applied the same test to Republican presidents.

"[H]ave you seen George W. Bush's transcripts from college?" Cooper asked.

"I could see anything I want from George W. Bush," Berman replied.

"Actually, sir, you couldn't... President Bush refused to release that information from Andover and from his time at Yale," Cooper said.

Ignoring that question, Berman repeated a debunked internet rumor that Obama traveled to Pakistan in 1981 during a ban on US citizens traveling there. "Where are the president's passports and his travel records which got him to Pakistan in the early '90s, when no U.S. citizen could get to Pakistan at all?"

"I respect you," Cooper interrupted. "And I respect, certainly, your service to this country, but where do you get your information? Because that -- that -- what you have just said is factually incorrect."

"Sir, he traveled to Pakistan in 1981, and -- when he was a student. And -- and, actually, Americans could travel to Pakistan then," Cooper added.

"In fact, I -- we have an article from The New York Times from 1981 from the travel section about the joys of traveling in Pakistan. You needed a -- American citizens, I think they needed a 30-day visa, but American citizens could go and travel in Pakistan. That's just an Internet rumor that you're spreading," he said.

"Sir, just, of the points you -- of the points you have raised, the factual points to -- I mean, you're basing legislation on stuff that's basically just rumors and stuff that's been proven to be false," Cooper noted.

Cooper has been praised for his calm and competent handling of Berman.

"Watching, it’s clear just how often exchanges like this don’t happen on cable television, which given it’s 24 hour cycle would suggest a luxury of time," wrote Mediaite's Mark Joyella "And beyond that, Cooper’s preparations–so clearly his own and not fed by earpiece–prove he’s somebody who sets himself apart from talking point parrots who populate most other shows on cable."

"This is a journalist doing his job, and doing it very, very well," he concluded.

For their part, birthers have resurged in the past few weeks. Berman filed his bill requiring presidential candidates to produce a birth certificate.

Former Republican Congressman John LeBoutillier released a fictional book that he says uses "real things" like Obama's grandmother once claimed she was present for his Kenyan birth.

Last week, Lou Dobbs, who has defended birthers in the past, announced he would be hosting a show on Fox Business News.

On Monday, the Supreme Court Justices rejected a lawsuit that claimed Obama was not a US citizen because his father was a citizen of the British crown.

This video is from CNN's Anderson Cooper 360, broadcast Nov. 29, 2010.

Tea Party Nation President Says It ‘Makes A Lot Of Sense’ To Restrict Voting Only To Property Owners

By Zaid Jilani

Every week, the Tea Party Nation hosts a weekly radio program, calling itself a “home for conservatives.” Two weeks ago, Tea Party Nation President Judson Phillips hosted the program and discussed changes that he felt should be made to voting rights in the United States. He explained that the founders of the country originally put “certain restrictions on who gets the right to vote.” He continued, “One of those was you had to be a property owner. And that makes a lot of sense, because if you’re a property owner you actually have a vested stake in the community. If you’re not a property owner, you know, I’m sorry but property owners have a little bit more of a vested interest in the community than non-property owners”:

PHILLIPS: The Founding Fathers originally said, they put certain restrictions on who gets the right to vote. It wasn’t you were just a citizen and you got to vote. Some of the restrictions, you know, you obviously would not think about today. But one of those was you had to be a property owner. And that makes a lot of sense, because if you’re a property owner you actually have a vested stake in the community. If you’re not a property owner, you know, I’m sorry but property owners have a little bit more of a vested interest in the community than non-property owners.

Listen to it:

Phillips is advocating a policy of voter disenfranchisement that has its roots in the 18th century. When the United States was first founded, ownership of property was one of the requirements to vote in most elections. Many of these restrictions were phased out by the 1820s and replaced with requirements that the voter pays taxes. By 1850, these requirements, too, were phased out. Nashville Scene blogger Betsy Phillips calls the Tea Party Nation president’s idea a “frivolous proposal designed to stoke intergenerational antagonism — as if the people who are older and can afford a home are somehow better citizens than the 18-year-olds who are going off to war to die for our country.”

Unfortunately, numerous major conservatives have advocated for rolling back the voting rights of Americans. Supreme Court justice Anthony Scalia, Gov. Rick Perry (R-TX), Rep. Paul Broun (R-GA), and Sen.-elect Mike Lee (R-UT) have all advocated for repealing the 17th Amendment, which would end direct election of U.S. Senators and return Senate elections to the purview of state legislatures. (H/T: Tea Party Nationalism)

Rep. Shadegg Scoffs At The Fact That Jobless Benefits Are A Benefit To The Economy: ‘No, They’re Not!’

By Pat Garofalo

Unless Congress acts today, unemployment benefits will expire for 2.5 million Americans, with unemployment above nine percent and five unemployed workers competing for every available job opening. If Congress, as expected, does nothing, this will be first time in the last forty years that benefits have expired with unemployment so high.

According to calculations by the Congressional Budget Office, Moody’s Economy, andmyriad other economists, unemployment benefits are the single best way to pump money into the economy and generate economic activity, as the unemployed are very likely to spend all of the benefits they receive (thus moving money into local businesses). But during an interview with MSNBC’s Mike Barnicle today, Rep. John Shadegg (R-AZ) scoffed at the notion that unemployment benefits help the economy. “Unemployed people hire people? Really? I didn’t know that,” Shadegg jeered:

BARNICLE: What about the fact that unemployment benefits pumped into the economy are an immediate benefit to the economy? Immediate…

SHADEGG: No, they’re not! Unemployed people hire people? Really? I didn’t know that.

BARNICLE: Unemployed people spend money Congressman, ’cause they have no money.

SHADEGG: Aha! So your answer is it’s the spending of money that drives the economy and I don’t think that’s right. It’s the creation of jobs that drives the economy…Actually, the truth is the unemployed will spend as little of that money as they possibly can. Job creators create jobs.

BARNICLE: Have you ever been unemployed? Have you ever been unemployed?

SHADEGG: Yes, I have.

BARNICLE: What did you do with the money? Save it?

Watch it:

At the same time that he was dumping on the unemployed, Shadegg called for extending all of the Bush tax cuts without paying for them, joining a slew of Republicanlawmakers who care more about tax cuts for the very wealthy than unemployed Americans about to lose the last strand of safety net that they have available.

Shadegg never managed to explain why all of the job creators he cites would create any jobs if households aren’t spending money. In that vein, MarketPlace noted today that “when unemployment checks stop, it’s felt right away by businesses like gas stations, apartment operators, and grocery stores.” And as the Center for American Progress’ Heather Boushey and Jordan Eizenga found, “the workers losing benefits have an average weekly benefit of a little over $290 per week, which translates into a total loss of about $2.5 billion dollars in benefits over December. This is equal to about one in seven dollars of the gain in retail sales seen between December 2008 and December 2009.”

As The Wonk Room noted, some economists estimate that allowing benefits to expire could cause economic growth to “fall by one half to nearly 1 percentage point,” as well as throw hundreds of thousands of people into poverty. And while Shadegg joked that he will be unemployed come January since he is retiring from Congress, next year he will be eligible for a federal pension (if he opted for one), as he is turning 62 and served on Capitol Hill for more than five years.

Smithsonian Museum Removes An LGBT Art Exhibit After GOP Threatens To Defund It

By Tanya Somanader

Last month, the Smithsonian’s National Portrait Gallery (NPG) unveiled “the first major museum exhibition” exploring gender and sexual identity in American culture. With 105 major works by artists like Georgia O’Keeffe and Andy Warhol, “Hide/Seek: Difference and Desire in American Portraiture,” the NPGpioneered a show that “celebrates gay and lesbian art and delineates its place in the history of American painting and photography.”

But it appears that a celebration of anything LGBT-related cannot exist without inciting right-wing backlash. In yesterday’s release of its expose, the conservative CNS News complained that the exhibit featured images of “male genitals, naked brothers kissing, men in chains, [and] Ellen DeGeneres grabbing her breasts.” The report saved particular scorn for a four-minute video exhibit that included a depiction of ants on an image of Jesus. Entitled “A Fire in My Belly,” the exhibit was intended “to depict thesuffering of an AIDS victim” but, instead, set off a firestorm of religious indignation and outcry over the Smithsonian’s federal funding.

After the Catholic League deemed the exhibit an “assault on the sensibilities of Christians” and demanded the government defund the NPG, the Republicans were quick to pile-on. Decrying the exhibit as an “in your face perversion paid for by tax dollars,” House Appropriations Committee member Rep. Jack Kingston (R-GA) demanded a look at the NPG’s budget, advocating for “calling them up in front of the Appropriations Committee, asking for some resignations, auditing all their budget – all their books.” The House GOP leadership seconded the outrage and Kingston’s call for a Congressional probe into the museum’s funding:

And Incoming House Majority Leader Eric Cantor, R-Va., called it an“outrageous use of taxpayer money and an obvious attempt to offend Christians during the Christmas season.”

“When a museum receives taxpayer money, the taxpayers have a right to expect that the museum will uphold common standards of decency. Themuseum should pull the exhibit and be prepared for serious questions come budget time,” Cantor said through a spokesman.

Incoming House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, said he condemned the use of taxpayer money for the exhibit but would not call for the removal of the exhibit.

“American families have a right to expect better from recipients of taxpayer funds in a tough economy,” Boehner said…”Smithsonian officials should either acknowledge the mistake and correct it, or be prepared to face tough scrutiny beginning in January when the new majority in the House moves to end the job-killing spending spree in Washington.”

In the face of such right-wing brow-beating, the NPG has decided to remove the video exhibit. In a statement released this afternoon, the NPG Director Martin Sullivan said, “I regret that some reports about the exhibit have created an impression that the video is intentionally sacrilegious. In fact, the artist’s intention was to depict the suffering of an AIDS victim. It was not the museum’s intention to offend. We are removing the video today.”

It is important to note that, as is common with recent GOP arguments, Republican bluster over NPG’s federal funding doesn’t actually hold water. While 55 percent of the Smithsonian budget is federally funded, those funds are only used to “pay for the buildings, the care of collections exhibited at Smithsonian venues, and museum staff.” Museum exhibits are funded solely by private donations, including “Hide/Seek.” But regardless these facts, history proves that, despite the NPG’s hope, conservative outrage will lead institutions to remove whatever is deemed offensive, regardless of what it may celebrate.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Holly Jolly Wednesday: Leroy Anderson Sleigh Ride

M.C.L comment: To supporters, fellow lefty bloggers and readers(especially my right wing lurkers I must be doing something right if you're leaving nasty comments) I would like to say thank you for the support and I hope guys have a kick ass Thanksgiving.

Fox Reporter: Ailes E-Mail Sought To 'Silence Me' In Discrimination Claim

by Joe Strupp

A Fox News reporter who has filed a federal claim of retaliation for an age and gender discrimination suit against Fox contends that CEO Roger Ailes sought to silence her in 2008 with a staff-wide e-mail urging employees not to complain.

In a declaration filed Nov. 19 in U.S. District Court in Washington, D.C., Catherine Herridge cited an e-mail sent by Ailes on Feb. 8, 2008, to employees that hinted complaining staffers were free to work elsewhere.

The portion of the Ailes' e-mail cited in the court filing:

...The best things about those days [the early days of Fox] were the...lack of complaints...But today I sometimes hear too much selfish complaining, petty whining, and a desire to have what someone else has... As I have always said, negative people make positive people sick...you should note that there are no locks on the outside of the doors keeping us here. I would never want to hold anyone back. I decided many years ago that I did not ever want to work with unhappy people because life is too short and the first 100 years in the ground is just the beginning...If you are happy, your work experience will be fulfilling and your colleagues will like you. If you are not happy, your fellow employees will avoid you... . Some people actually find it easier to achieve success than to handle it well once they have it.

The declaration was part of the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission's formal response to a Nov. 4 Fox motion to dismiss the case.

The original lawsuit brought by the EEOC on behalf of Herridge was filed Sept. 16.

The initial complaint stemmed from Herridge's claim that Fox officials retaliated against her for filing internal complaints against Fox for alleged age and gender discrimination back in 2006.

In her latest declaration, which appears to tie Ailes' e-mail to the internal investigation, Herridge states that after claiming she was losing assignments and potential anchor slots because of her age (43) and her gender she was the subject of retaliation.

Her declaration states, in part:

Beginning in or around December 2007, Senior VP [Dianne] Brandi began an internal investigation on behalf of Fox, into the allegations of discrimination that I made.

Around January 15, 2008, I restated my age and sex discrimination complaint to Ms. Brandi. Ms. Brandi told me that if I did not like how things were going that I was free to go (sic) the EEOC. Later, around February 7, 2008, I e-mailed Ms. Brandi and questioned her about her investigation and expressed concerns that Ms. Brandi's investigation was neither thorough nor impartial. Ms. Brandi had informed me that she had promised to keep CEO Ailes fully informed about her investigation into my discrimination complaint. The next day, February 8, 2008, CEO Ailes sent a company-wide email (the email was sent to the entire company, not just the D.C. Bureau).

Fox did not immediately respond to a request for comment Wednesday morning.

Herridge adds in her declaration:

I received the email and felt that it was in direct response to my continued complaints of age and sex discrimination. I also believed that it was meant to silence me. However, I did not confront CEO Ailes about the e-mail to confirm my suspicion because I was intimidated by the e-mail and since Ms. Brandi had previously instructed me not to contact CEO Ailes directly regarding my complaint or the investigation.

She stated in the filing that Brandi later notified her on March 17, 2008, that Fox had found no evidence of discrimination.

Fox host Napolitano is a 9-11 Truther: "It couldn't possibly have been done the way the government told us"

by Eric Hananoki

Yesterday, Fox Business host and Fox News senior judicial analyst Andrew Napolitano revealed himself as a believer in the conspiracy theory that the government is lying about the attacks on September 11. Speaking on a leading conspiracy show, Napolitano said that it's "hard for me to believe that" World Trade Center building 7 "came down by itself" -- a central tenet of 9-11 conspiracy theories -- and claimed that "twenty years from now, people will look at 9-11 the way we look at the assassination of JFK today. It couldn't possibly have been done the way the government told us."

Napolitano made his remarks on the radio show of Alex Jones, who is widely viewed as the leader of the conspiracy theory that the 9-11 attacks were an inside job. Jones describes himself as "one of the very first founding fathers of the 9-11 Truth Movement" and his website features a section for 9-11 conspiracy theories.

Popular Mechanics notes, "Conspiracy theorists have long claimed that explosives downed World Trade Center 7, north of the Twin Towers." The publication, which frequently debunks 9-11 conspiracy theories, added that a "report from the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) conclusively rebuts those claims. Fire alone brought down the building, the report concludes, pointing to thermal expansion of key structural members as the culprit. The report also raises concerns that other large buildings might be more vulnerable to fire-induced structural failure than previously thought."

The New York Times noted in 2008 that "the collapse of 7 World Trade Center -- home at the time to branch offices of the Central Intelligence Agency, the Secret Service and the Giuliani administration's emergency operations center -- is cited in hundreds of Web sites and books as perhaps the most compelling evidence that an insider secretly planted explosives, intentionally destroying the tower."

Napolitano has long appeared on the program of Jones, who has been criticized by the Southern Poverty Law Center and the Anti-Defamation League, among others, for outlandish conspiracy theories. However, as Jones himself indicated, this appears to be the first time Jones has discussed his pet cause with Napolitano on-air.

As Media Matters has documented, Napolitano's previous Jones appearances have been marked with conspiracy theories about the government and the "New World Order." For instance, Napolitano and Jones have agreed that Obama will "start a wider global war" to "be a prince," and discussed whether a powerful banking cartel linked to "world government" would "collapse the economy" and use that "as an excuse for martial law." Napolitano also told Jones of Texas secession: "That time has come. That may actually happen" because of the actions of the government.

Jones and Napolitano appear to have a close relationship and regularly praise each other.

Napolitano has previously hosted Jones on his Freedom Watch program when it was on FoxNews.com. It now airs daily on Fox Business - a development Jones repeatedly cheered during the interview. Napolitano has promised Jones that he will host him on his Fox Business program.

Napolitano has dabbled in 9-11 Truth discussion before. In March, while still on FoxNews.com, Napolitano hosted truther Jesse Ventura, who was given an unchallenged platform to push 9-11 conspiracy theories. At the conclusion of that interview, Napolitano wondered if "someday we will look on 9-11 the way we look on the JFK assassination today, that is, where people who question the government's involvement will be mainstreamed, rather than looked upon as an extremist fringe." Napolitano also hosted Ventura in October on Fox Business; during the interview, Ventura said he was investigating the "alleged Pentagon plane" attack, to which Napolitano replied, "we'll be watching."

Napolitano and Jones' discussion referenced a segment about WTC building 7 by Fox News host Geraldo Rivera, who hosted a group of family members of 9-11 victims asking the "NYC city council to investigate" the official account about building 7. Rivera, who has been outspoken against 9-11 conspiracy theories, said at the conclusion that he was "much more open minded" about 9-11 questions because of the involvement of 9-11 families and architects and engineers.

Napolitano later discussed the segment with Geraldo on his Fox Business program. Asked if he doubted the official conclusion about building 7, Geraldo said: "I think that it is highly unlikely that our government would do anything nefarious on a scale of this epic nature. However, the building does appear to come down in a way that is reminiscent of a controlled demolition."

Napolitano's belief in 9-11 conspiracy theories may make things awkward with his Fox News colleagues - especially Glenn Beck -- who have denounced 9-11 conspiracy theories and those associating themselves with anyone making them.

The following is Jones' discussion with Napolitano about 9-11:

JONES: OK finally, man because I've never raised this with you, because it's a subject I just leave alone with folks because I don't want to cause people problems. But you brought it up with Geraldo Rivera, who says he is concerned about building 7, and I want to put the question you put to him to you. I mean, what do you think of Geraldo Rivera coming out -- what do you think of 7?

NAPOLITANO: It's hard for me to believe that it came down by itself. I was gratified to see Geraldo Rivera investigating it. I am gratified to see that people across the board are interested.

I think twenty years from now, people will look at 9-11 the way we look at the assassination of JFK today. It couldn't possibly have been done the way the government told us.

JONES: Well, I want to tell you this. You've got a lot of courage, Judge, and so does Geraldo Rivera. I don't agree with him on some of his more liberal political views, but I do resonate with his courage, and I resonate with yours, and I already had the highest respect for you, but now the thermometer just broke. And the mercury -- geysering out of it right now. Judge, you are a great American, and I just can't wait till your show is number one on Fox Business, when you're on regular Fox full time, because no army can stop an idea whose time has come.

After the interview, Jones praised "awesome" Napolitano for his 9-11 Truth views and criticized the "George Soros publications" who would "persecute" Napolitano:

Jury finds Tom DeLay guilty on all counts

By The Associated Press Former U.S. House Majority Leader Tom DeLay — once one of the most powerful and feared Republicans in Congress — was convicted Wednesday on charges he illegally funneled corporate money to Texas candidates in 2002.

Jurors deliberated for 19 hours before returning guilty verdicts against DeLay on charges of money laundering and conspiracy to commit money laundering. He faces up to life in prison on the money laundering charge.

After the verdicts were read, DeLay hugged his daughter, Danielle, and his wife, Christine. His lead attorney, Dick DeGuerin, said they planned to appeal the verdict.

"This is an abuse of power. It's a miscarriage of justice, and I still maintain that I am innocent. The criminalization of politics undermines our very system and I'm very disappointed in the outcome," DeLay told reporters outside the courtroom. He remains free on bond, and his sentencing was tentatively set to begin on Dec. 20.

Prosecutors said DeLay, who once held the No. 2 job in the House of Representatives and whose heavy-handed style earned him the nickname "the Hammer," used his political action committee to illegally channel $190,000 in corporate donations into 2002 Texas legislative races through a money swap.

DeLay and his attorneys maintained the former Houston-area congressman did nothing wrong as no corporate funds went to Texas candidates and the money swap was legal.

The verdict came after a three-week trial in which prosecutors presented more than 30 witnesses and volumes of e-mails and other documents. DeLay's attorneys presented five witnesses.

"This case is a message from the citizens of the state of Texas that the public officials they elect to represent them must do so honestly and ethically, and if not, they'll be held accountable," Travis County District Attorney Rosemary Lehmberg said after the verdict.

Prosecutors said DeLay conspired with two associates, John Colyandro and Jim Ellis, to use his Texas-based PAC to send $190,000 in corporate money to an arm of the Washington-based Republican National Committee, or RNC. The RNC then sent the same amount to seven Texas House candidates. Under Texas law, corporate money can't go directly to political campaigns.

Prosecutors claim the money helped Republicans take control of the Texas House. That enabled the GOP majority to push through a Delay-engineered congressional redistricting plan that sent more Texas Republicans to Congress in 2004 — and strengthened DeLay's political power.

DeLay's attorneys argued the money swap resulted in the seven candidates getting donations from individuals, which they could legally use in Texas.

They also said DeLay only lent his name to the PAC and had little involvement in how it was run. Prosecutors, who presented mostly circumstantial evidence, didn't prove he committed a crime, they said.

DeLay has chosen to have Senior Judge Pat Priest sentence him. He faces five years to life in prison on the money laundering charge and two to 20 years on the conspiracy charge. He also would be eligible for probation.

The 2005 criminal charges in Texas, as well as a separate federal investigation of DeLay's ties to disgraced former lobbyist Jack Abramoff, ended his 22-year political career representing suburban Houston. The Justice Department probe into DeLay's ties to Abramoff ended without any charges filed against DeLay.

Ellis and Colyandro, who face lesser charges, will be tried later.

Except for a 2009 appearance on ABC's hit television show "Dancing With the Stars," DeLay has been out of the spotlight since resigning from Congress in 2006. He now runs a consulting firm based in the Houston suburb of Sugar Land.

M.C.L Comment: Hey Tommy don't drop the soap ya right wing bastard.

Washington Post Continues Media Whitewash Of Radical GOP Rep.-Elect Allen West

By George Zornick Over the weekend, NBC’s Meet the Press featured Rep.-elect Allen West (R-FL) without mentioning the offensive Islamophobia that West made central to his congressional campaign, nor the long history of extreme statements and associations that made West a Tea Party star.

Today, the Washington Post continues the mainstream media’s absolution of West’s extremism in a profile titled “Allen West, one of two black Republicans just elected to House, goes against grain.” Among the many issues that the author Krissah Thompson glosses over or ignores, the section about West’s abuse of an Iraqi man is the most troubling. Thompson writes:

West was charged by military authorities and forced to retire after firing a handgun near the head of an Iraqi police officer during an interrogation in 2003. The officer was suspected of having information about attacks on U.S. forces in the area. West admitted wrongdoing and paid a fine. His case became a cause celebre for conservative media personalities, and 95 members of Congress signed a letter to the Army secretary in support of him.

Thompson doesn’t mention that “military prosecutors said [West's] actions amounted to torture and violated articles 128 and 134 of the Uniform Code of Military Justice.” The actual facts of the case are much more disturbing than Thompson describes:

According to an investigation and by West’s own admission, he walked into an interrogation room and placed a gun in his lap. If the Iraqi detainee didn’t talk, West told him, then West would have to kill him. The detainee insisted he knew nothing about a plot against West. The lieutenant then allowed his soldiers to beat the man. The detainee was then dragged outside, supposedly for his execution. But West fired over the detainee’s head. At that point, the detainee gave West information that may or may not have been helpful — the detainee told the New York Times he made something up just to save his life. In that same article, West admits he may have been wrong about there being an assassination plot.

And like Meet the Press, the Post completely ignores the clear vein of Islamophobia that ran starkly through West’s campaign this year. West has said that Islam is “a totalitarian theocratic political ideology, it is not a religion.” He believes that jihad is an a core of being Muslim, saying of a radial Islamists’ interpretation of the Quran, “this is not a perversion. They are doing exactly what this book says.” And west is proud of these beliefs — he has said that “[u]ntil you get principled leadership in the United States of America that is willing to say that,” we won’t be able to “secure Western civilization.”

When West says bigoted things about Islam, like that war and terror are dictated in the Quran, he often claims that “I don’t care about being popular.” It’s unlikely he would be — unless the mainstream media continues to hide his extreme views.

Florida Woman Dies After Medicaid Program Outsourced To Private Insurers Denies Her Liver Transplant

By Zaid Jilani One of the most destructive practices of private health insurance companies is the practice of denying care to customers for frivolous reasons. Earlier this year, the Department of Health and Human Services started including denial rates on its information section about health insurance companies on HealthCare.gov, in an effort to inform the public about this practice by the industry.

It was this practice of frivolous denials that ended up costing Jacksonville, Florida woman Alisa Wilson her life. For months, Wilson, her family, and the surrounding community had been pleading with her HMO to approve coverage for a liver transplant. Although Wilson was enrolled in the state’s Medicaid program, she was not guaranteed care because she was “forced to join a private plan as part of a Gov. Jeb Bush-era experimental overhaul of the program,” meaning she had to deal with a private, for-profit insurance company to get her care, not a government agency accountable to the public.

Bush’s overhaul made “Florida the first state to allow private companies, not the state, to decide the scope and extent of services to the elderly, the disabled and the poor, half of them children,” the New York Times reported in 2005, as the move was being considered. “[N]o one is proposing changes as far-reaching and fundamental as” Bush, the Times noted.

After “scores of e-mails and…the help of a Florida state legislator,” the HMO, Sunshine State Health, finally gave in and approved coverage for Wilson two weeks ago. Yet her health was too severe for surgery by then. On Friday evening, Wilson passed away:

Alisa Wilson, 37, died Friday at 8:50 p.m. after a lengthy battle with an undisclosed liver disease, said her father, Eric Wilson. “Her liver was gone,” Wilson said. “There was no more left. She needed that transplant two weeks ago.”

About a week and a half ago, attorneys working on Wilson’s behalf said the insurance obstacles had been worked out. By then, however, her health was too shaky to risk going under the knife. “If they did it months ago, my daughter would be alive now,” her father said.

Representatives for Sunshine State and the Florida Agency for Health Care Administration, which manages Florida’s Medicaid program, said they couldn’t speak to the specifics of the case, citing privacy laws.

Unfortunately, it has become increasingly common for states to outsource their Medicaid programs to be administered by private health insurance companies that have little accountability to the public compared to public programs like Medicare. A 2010 Kaiser Family Foundation report found that “All states except Alaska and Wyoming have some portion of their Medicaid population enrolled in managed care” — where Medicaid pays out to private organizations like Managed Care Organizations that contract with HMO’s — and “managed care is the dominant care delivery system in most state Medicaid programs. Forty-six states and DC have more than half their enrollees in managed care; in 20 of these states, over 80% of the Medicaid population is enrolled in some form of managed care.”

While the recently passed health care law is doing much to curb some of the worst abuses of the health insurance industry, one of the best ways to help people avoid these practices of the private health insurers is to offer them an alternative like a Medicare-style public health insurance option. As a part of her deficit reduction plan, Rep. Jan Schawkowsky (D-IL) proposed a robust public health insurance plan that would be offered to Americans. Not only would it operate cheaper and not committ the same abuses as the private insurance industry, it could cut the deficit by as much as $10 billion during its first year of implementation alone.

Palin: ‘Obviously, We’ve Got To Stand With Our North Korean Allies’

By Alex Seitz-Wald In recent days, former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin has hinted in her clearest language yet that she is seriously considering a run for the presidency in 2012. Many observers have argued that Palin could never

win because of her embarrassing lack of expertise, knowledge, or interest in foreign policy. Her appearance on Fox News host Glenn Beck’s radio show today, captured by Oliver Willis, suggests they may be right:

CO-HOST: How would you handle a situation like the one that just developed in North Korea? [...]

PALIN: But obviously, we’ve got to stand with our North Korean allies. We’re bound to by treaty –

CO-HOST: South Korean.

PALIN: Eh, Yeah. And we’re also bound by prudence to stand with our South Korean allies, yes.

Listen here:

Palin misspoke, but this was hardly the first time. While malapropisms can and should be forgiven for frequent public speakers, it’s worth remembering what happened the last time America elected a candidate known for gaffes.

Beck And FreedomWorks Campaign Against Fred Upton: ‘Light Bulbs Are Just The Beginning’

By Brad Johnson A war is brewing among the right wing over the chairmanship of the House Committee on Energy and Commerce, which has jurisdiction over health care, climate policy, and energy policy. Rep. Fred Upton (R-MI) is the leading contender, but Rep. Joe Barton (R-TX) is seeking a waiver from Republican leadership to retake the gavel, while Reps. John Shimkus (R-IN) and Cliff Stearns (R-FL) are also in the hunt. Although the candidates are lockstep in opposition to the Obama agenda and in their intention to launch witch hunts against climate science, Upton is a relative moderate, having admitted in the past that greenhouse emissions should be reduced. In contrast, Barton — who famously apologized to BP this summer — is fully aligned with the

oil and gas industry, with $1,482,630 in lifetime contributions.

Now this internal fight has exploded into a Tea Party battle royale. FreedomWorks, run by veteran GOP lobbyist Dick Armey, has launched Down With Upton, a website attacking “Big Government Republican Fred Upton” for a record “full of votes for more regulation, more spending, and more taxes.” In an email announcing the campaign, FreedomWorks cited Glenn Beck’s warning that “light bulbs are just the beginning”:

Fred Upton, currently considered the front-runner for chairmanship of the critical House Energy and Commerce committee, is far out of step with the Tea Party movement, the GOP and the American people as a whole. You may have heard Glenn Beck talking about Fred Upton introducing a bill to ban incandescent light bulbs in favor of so-called “environmentally-friendly” alternatives. The truth is, Fred Upton has a Big Government record a mile long, and light bulbs are just the beginning.

Upton has already reneged his position on light-bulb efficiency, telling Politico “he’s not afraid to go back after an issue he once supported but that has come under withering assault on the conservative airwaves, including on Rush Limbaugh and Glenn Beck’s talk shows.”

There was, in fact, no bill to ban incandescent light bulbs. Because of the advanced light-bulb standards Upton helped pass in 2007, “the incandescent bulb is turning into a case study of the way government mandates can spur innovation,” the New York Times reported last year. “There have been more incandescent innovations in the last three years than in the last two decades.”

The Tea Party movement is increasingly attacking American innovation and 21st-century jobs on all fronts: Rush Limbaugh is leading the charge against the breakthrough Chevy Volt, Republican governors are killing high-speed rail, Glenn Beck is cooking up conspiracy theories about smart grid technology, Sen. Lamar Alexander (R-TN) is trying to kill the wind industry, and the entire right-wing movement is convinced green jobs are going to destroy the United States economy.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Snyder's Stance on Gas Taxes Will Cost Michigan Thousands of Road Construction Jobs

By wizardkitten/Blogging for Michigan Peter Luke pointed out right after the election that the Republicans will now be forced to take responsibility for what happens next concerning budget decisions that weigh on Michigan's economy...
The benefits of divided government for the Republicans was that they were able to defer difficult decisions with the best of them. When those decisions weren't deferred, Republicans were able to sit back while the Democrats put up the nasty votes to raise revenue. If voters were unhappy about it, Democrats led by Gov. Jennifer Granholm could take the blame. And though Democrats often bailed when Republicans cast the tough votes to reduce spending, Granholm's signature on the end product made her chiefly responsible.

It was a win-win for the Republicans, but Tuesday's results mean the responsibility of governing will be all theirs. Democrats likely to be buried in the minority for a few election cycles appear inclined to let the Republicans discover what happens when the thrill of victory begins to fade.

Consider the thrill fading as of... now! Since Mike Bishop and the Senate Republicans refused to address the issue of federal matching funds and road construction jobs back when it was first brought up almost one year ago...

Matt Marsden, press secretary for Senate Majority Leader Mike Bishop, R-Rochester, said, "We do recognize that there's issues there, that we need to deal with that, and it will be dealt with before 2011. But I'm not sure that a tax increase, across the board, is the answer."

Oops! Ran out of time. Maybe shouldn't have made that promise, eh Senator Bishop? Even threats from the Michigan Chamber of Commerce couldn't move the Do-Nothing Republicans to act on the problem, so now the loss of nearly 8,000 road construction jobs will be put on Rick Snyder's tab. Let's thank the DNews for reviving the story today...

MDOT is predicting funding losses of $120 million to $160 million per year from 2012 to 2015. If it can't come up with matching funds, it could mean the loss of $575 million to $800 million in federal funds for each of those years.

"That will mean not fixing 600 bridges, the cancellation/postponement of 180 road projects covering 385 miles of roads. Plus, we will cancel maintenance projects slated for more than 600 miles of roads," MDOT's Shreck said. "In 2011, our budget will provide 15,800 construction jobs; but in 2012, that will drop to under 8,000 every year until at least 2015."

And what is getting to be a very predictable and vague non-answer from the Snyder camp is issued in return...

Gov.-elect Rick Snyder has repeatedly indicated he is not in favor of a gas tax hike, said his spokesman, (Bill) Nowling.

"It's not something we need to focus on," Nowling said. "It could bog us down from making tougher tax decisions, like how do we make the overall tax situation in Michigan more palatable so Michigan is a place where businesses can locate and grow?"

Yeah, well, you would have thought that the Republicans had an answer to the "overall tax situation" before they canned the SBT way back in 2006 and then proceeded to stall on the issue for months...

Bishop said lawmakers have plenty of time to work on alternatives to the state's Single Business Tax, which will die at the end of 2007.

"We don't want to rush to any conclusions, and certainly there are a lot of ideas out there," Bishop said of a new business tax. "But this is all too important to rush to a final decision too quick."

... but then came up with the MBT, hailed it a success, until they hated it for a campaign issue in 2010 of course, and now we find they still don't have a solid plan for business taxes and how they relate to the overall budget difficulties. So, wave bye bye to thousands of jobs and millions of dollars, and hello to crappy roads that will get more expensive to fix as time goes on. "Business" surely can't be happy with this development. Will the Chamber re-issue their threats anytime soon?

Chickens. Roost. You know the drill. Although we should just get this over with, secure the federal funding and all those jobs by and raising the gas tax already, it might be fun to watch the Republicans twist in the wind from their own revenue obstruction tendencies. Maybe Luke was right, and the Dems can just hold back for a bit - or better yet, start pointing the simple truth about Republicans and lost jobs out to the press.

After all, isn't job creation what this was all about?

M.C.L Comment: Already check off road construction but Mr.Snyder and Republican "leadership" where are the jobs?