By: Steve - May 31, 2015 - 11:00am
The Far-Right Rick Santorum will announce Wednesday that he will launch another bid for the Republican presidential nomination. He will make his formal entry into the race at an event at a manufacturing company in his hometown, Butler, PA.
Many of you might remember Santorum's ridiculous statements during his 2011 campaign, some may not. His frequent comparisons of same-sex relationships to inanimate objects like trees, basketballs and paper towels became a major punchline of the campaign cycle.
Here are ten comments he made that you might have forgot:
1) Putting women in combat is a bad idea because of "emotions that are involved."
2) American culture is being corrupted by "the NBA" and "rock concerts."
3) His top issue in 2012 was opposing "all forms of pornography."
4) Obamacare is (a) like apartheid, (b) a plot to kill the opposition's voters, and (c) the "final death knell" of America.
5) If you don't have an ID, you're trying to rig the election.
6) Even if it survives Obamacare, "our country will fall" because of same-sex marriage.
7) He believes consensual sex between gay people should be illegal.
8) In Obama's America, religious people are on "the path" to being beheaded.
9) After Jerry Sandusky sexual assault revelations, he defended Penn State.
10) Health insurance companies should be able to discriminate against people with pre-existing conditions.
Santorum thinks that way, and most conservatives agree with him, which is scary, because they vote for insane fools like Santorum, he is loved by the far-right, even though he is nuts.
More Progressive Bad News For O'Reilly
By: Steve - May 31, 2015 - 10:00am
Another talking point for O'Reilly just got destroyed, and it's more proof America is moving to the left. For the first time more people are pro-choice then are pro-life.
According to a Gallup poll published Friday, 50 percent of Americans now identify as pro-choice, while 44 percent identify as pro-life. Gallup used the specific terms "pro-choice" and "pro-life" in its questions.
When Gallup began asking the question in 1995, a majority of Americans considered themselves pro-choice, while only 30 percent of adults identified as pro-life. Later, beginning in 2009, a modest shift was observed, indicating a greater share of people who were pro-life.
The shift was primarily a result of a 10-point rise in pro-life Republicans. In a 2009 post, Gallup suggested that the election of a pro-choice president for the first time in eight years had resulted in greater polarization on the issue.
Since 2009, the gap between pro-choice and pro-life beliefs has remained relatively narrow, ranging from a 9-point difference to no gap at all. Over the last six years, the number of Americans who describe themselves as pro-choice has fluctuated between 41 percent and 48 percent. By a slight margin, pro-life has remained the more widely shared position, until now.
The Public Religion Research Institute asked the question in more binary terms and found that 55 percent of Americans said abortion should be "legal in all or most cases," while 41 percent said it should be "illegal in all or most cases."
Gallup also found that Democrats were twice as likely as Republicans to be pro-choice, and that women were 8 points more pro-choice than men. Since 2012, the percent of pro-choice women has grown by 10 points, reaching 54 percent.
Although Americans seem to be shifting left on most social issues, such as same-sex relationships, same-sex marriage, having children out of wedlock, premarital sex and marijuana legalization, the public divide on abortion appears to be an exception.
Gallup surveyed 1,024 adults using live interviews over landlines and cell phones May 6 through May 10.
Hypocrite Ted Cruz Now Wants Federal Money For Texas Flooding
By: Steve - May 30, 2015 - 11:00am
Senator Ted Cruz (R-TX), who called federal disaster relief for Hurricane Sandy victims wasteful, is now hypocritically demanding that the federal government fulfill its obligation and provide disaster relief to Texas.
During a press conference on the deadly flooding in Texas, Cruz said, "The federal government's role, once the Governor declares a disaster area and makes a request, I am confident that the Texas congressional delegation, Sen. Cornyn and I, and the members of Congress both Republicans and Democrats will stand united as Texans in support of the federal government fulfilling its statutory obligations, and stepping in to respond to this natural disaster."
Cruz sang a completely different tune in 2013 when he called federal aid for the victims of Hurricane Sandy wasteful:
Two-thirds of this spending is not remotely emergency; the Congressional Budget Office estimates that only 30% of the authorized funds would be spent in the next 20 months, and over a billion dollars will be spent as late as 2021.Cruz's claim that the Sandy relief bill was wasteful was debunked by PolitiFact, "A big portion of the $17 billion in immediate assistance, more than $5 billion, went to replenish FEMA's disaster relief fund, which may fund relief from future disasters."
PolitiFact also disagrees with some of the math Cruz repeated, "On Jan. 28, it passed H.R. 152, a separate $50.5 billion package. Of that $50.5 billion, $17 billion went toward immediate Sandy aid, while $33.5 billion was for "near- and long-term assistance and mitigation," according to a Congressional Quarterly analysis."
The great irony of the whole Sandy bill fiasco was that the pork came from Republicans like Cruz, who demanded to be paid off to support disaster relief.
According to Forbes, "As it turns out, the pork portions of the Senate bill were not earmarked to benefit Democratic members of the upper chamber of Congress... The answer can be found in a quick review of the states that are set to benefit from the Senate's extra-special benevolence--states including Alabama, Mississippi, Texas and Louisiana."
That would be the same group of Texas Republicans who are now demanding federal disaster relief be immediately sent to their state. Hypocrisy and Ted Cruz are longtime companions, but the larger hypocrisy is bound to come from Republicans who will likely speed a disaster relief bill for Texas and Oklahoma through Congress.
Ted Cruz's position is clear. Disaster relief is only vital when it is for his state.
Red state need is the only real need that counts. Cruz is demanding disaster relief for Texas. If there were any justice, he would be forced to wait just like he made the people impacted by Hurricane Sandy suffer, but since Democrats have compassion for all Americans in need, Texas will be given a luxury that wasn't offered to the victims of Sandy.
Watchdog Group Claims Jeb Bush Is Illegally Fundraising
By: Steve - May 30, 2015 - 10:00am
And of course Bill O'Reilly has not said a word about it, because frankly he is a Republican and he does not care if Republicans violate the election laws, he only cares when Democrats do it.
Calls are growing from watchdog groups for President Obama's Justice Department to launch a federal investigation into what appears to be illegal fundraising by Jeb Bush.
In a letter to the Justice Department, the group Democracy21 argues that Jeb Bush is a presidential candidate, and that his fundraising scheme is a clear violation of the law, "The fact of his candidacy is so apparent, and so overt, that Bush himself has found it hard to maintain what is really the ongoing charade of his purported non-candidacy."
"Bush's proclamations that he is not a candidate are contradicted by the facts and by the applicable law. In all pertinent respects, Bush has been engaging in activities as an active candidate at least since January 2015. He has been traveling extensively to early primary states since January 2015, and has been speaking and organizing in those states."
The letter to Attorney General Loretta Lynch continues, "Bush has also been heavily involved in fundraising for the Right to Rise Super PAC, which is raising funds solely for the purpose of making expenditures to further Bush's presidential campaign. An individual becomes a "candidate" if the individual raises "funds in excess of what could reasonably be expected to be used for exploratory activities or undertakes activities designed to amass campaign funds that would be spent after he or she becomes a candidate."
By these standards, Bush is a "candidate." The fact that he has refrained from formally announcing his candidacy is not determinative. If Bush is raising and spending money as a candidate, he is a candidate under the law, whether or not he declares himself to be one.
Democracy 21 President Fred Wertheimer said, "There are powerful grounds to conclude that the political charade being perpetrated on the American people by former Governor Jeb Bush and his associated individual-candidate Super PAC is illegal. The same is true for other presidential campaigns and their associated Super PACs and we also plan to ask the Justice Department to investigate those as well."
"The Bush scheme, however, appears to be the most blatant and brazen effort to date to circumvent and evade the candidate contribution limits enacted to prevent corruption and the appearance of corruption. The Justice Department has the authority and the responsibility to prevent the 2016 presidential candidates from engaging in the most massive violations of the campaign finance laws in the nation's history. The Justice Department needs to act to protect the integrity of the presidency and our democracy."
The Bush scheme, which Scott Walker and other Republican presidential candidates are using variations of, was illegal from the beginning, but the illegality became obvious when Bush slipped up and admitted that he was running for president.
Bush is trying to use Citizens United to illegally fundraise his way to the White House. Democrats are familiar with the Bush family history of cheating in elections, but Jeb Bush is flaunting his abuse of the law. It is important that people speak out on this issue before Election Day, and not let Bush get away with illegal activities.
O'Reilly Makes A Fool Of Himself Over Gallup Poll Results
By: Steve - May 29, 2015 - 11:00am
It's called denial, and trying to explain away a social trend that happened over year and years with idiotic reasons. None of it made sense, and I would not be shocked to find out O'Reilly is getting a touch of Alzheimers in his old age.
For the first time since Gallup pollsters began tracking, the country is virtually evenly split between those who identify as liberals versus conservatives by 31% to 30%. It's a major drop for conservatives, who in 1999 outweighed liberals two-to-one.
Analysts have cited many factors for the steady, multi-decade rise of self-identified progressives in the U.S., including increased acceptance of same-sex marriage and legal marijuana, but Fox News host Bill O'Reilly has his own theory.
"Only about 50 percent of the American people take the time to understand important issues," he said on his show this week. "Half the country does not; they are simpletons, unwilling and unable to discipline themselves into formulating a philosophy of life."
Which is insane, because 50% of Republicans (if not more) also do not take the time to understand important issues, but O'Reilly acts like only 50% of liberals do not take the time to understand the issues, which is just wrong.
O'Reilly added that those who supported President Obama in 2008 and 2012 must not have "grasped" his policies, and only cast their votes for him "because of his charisma and his historic position as the first black man to achieve the White House."
In other words, O'Reilly is saying the dumb liberals just voted for Obama because he is a Democrat, and black. While not saying a word about all the stupid and misinformed voters who vote for Republicans in every election, that are just as uninformed and clueless as some Democrats, if not more.
The ridiculous comment is just one in a long line of conservatives attempting to rationalize the groundswell of support for the President by questioning the intelligence of Democratic voters.
Mitt Romney infamously said that "47 percent" of Americans vote Democrat only because they want handouts. Georgia Republican lawmakers justified cutting early voting -- which Democratic voters disproportionately use -- by suggesting that those who vote before Election Day are ignorant about the issues and candidates on the ballot.
Yet as the actual data indicates, it's support for a host of progressive policies that has driven this change -- with support rising across the country for same-sex marriage, legal marijuana, abolishing the death penalty, and gun control, among other things.
Though it wasn't included in this poll, support for other progressive policies has also increased, including raising the minimum wage, offering all workers paid sick days, and renewable energy sources.
The Republican Run Senate Has Been A Disaster
By: Steve - May 29, 2015 - 10:00am
A little over six months after winning control of the U.S. Senate in the 2014 midterm elections, Mitch McConnell's GOP majority is proving to be more dysfunctional than ever.
During the 2014 election season, Kentucky GOP Senator Mitch McConnell promised that if his party were given control of the U.S. Senate, he would instill more discipline, and allow bills to undergo a "strong and robust" bipartisan amendment process. However, the Senate fell into disarray over the Memorial Day weekend, with Senators rushing off to catch flights while much critical Senate business remained unfinished.
McConnell has been perplexed by his inability to control members of his own party. The Senate Majority Leader has not even been able to reign in fellow Kentucky Senator Rand Paul. The junior Senator from Kentucky refused to grant an extension to the government's phone data collection program for even a single day.
Unable to outmaneuver the junior Senator from his own state, McConnell had to settle for requesting that the Senate vote next Sunday, in order to prevent the phone data collection provisions from expiring.
Jennifer Steinhauer and Jonathan Weisman at The New York Times noted the irony of McConnell's situation, writing this:
As senators raced for the airport on Saturday after a six-week session that ended in disarray, they left behind a wreck of promises made by Mr. McConnell on how a renewed Senate would operate.It was easy on the campaign trail for McConnell to argue that a Republican majority could govern better than Harry Reid and the Democrats.
However, McConnell has been unable to demonstrate that the Republicans can govern. Talk is cheap, but when it comes to action, McConnell has been confounded by the personal agendas of grandstanding members of his own party.
He has also been outsmarted by Democrats turning the tactics he used while he was Minority Leader against him, now that he is in the majority.
Voters are learning that Mitch McConnell is unable to successfully lead the U.S. Senate as Majority Leader. In 2016, they will have the opportunity to remove him from the Majority Leader position, by voting Democrats back into the Senate majority.
Given McConnell's poor performance as Senate Majority Leader, voters should capitalize on the chance to put him back in the minority, and to put the Democrats back in charge.
Angry Veteran Tells Republicans To Not Thank Him For His Service
By: Steve - May 28, 2015 - 11:00am
The Republican Party has shown little sympathy for U.S. soldiers once they arrive back home, even though they bill themselves as Super Patriots. They have steadily voted against providing medical or financial relief for those that have returned from Afghanistan and Iraq, even though they in fact voted to send troops over there during the Bush administration.
Republicans are also showing no support for non-hypothetical POW Medal of Honor recipients. Veterans are facing a Congress that is working hard to give them as little support as possible.
In a recent post on FaceBook, veteran Jim Adams told the Republicans, 'Don't you dare thank me for my military service.' He goes on to tell them, 'you no longer have that right.'
Mr. Adams tells the Republicans they sent him to war on a lie, and now want to cut his health and food benefits. He reminds them how they are voting against every veteran bill that hits the floor. He tells them he knows they don’t give a damn about him or any other veteran and is insulted that veterans are part of the '47% takers' they do not want to support.
One of the bills the Republicans voted against, and showed their abandonment of veterans for, was the Senate Veteran Bill. This bill would have expanded medical, educational and other benefits for those who have served our country.
Millions of real patriotic Americans spoke out in support of this bill to honor and take care of those who have taken care of us. But it was shot down by Senate Republicans, because they could not use the lives of soldiers as a bargaining chip.
Jim Adams and all other veterans have the right to be fed up with Republicans. Having put their lives in danger to defend a country that can take care of them after they served, but won't, is an atrocity.
Economic Study Shows Why We Need To Raise The Minimum Wage
By: Steve - May 28, 2015 - 10:00am
If you believe Bill O'Reilly, and the other conservative pundits and politicians, you probably believe that the poorest Americans are where they are not because we should raise the minimum wage, but because they're lazy and don't want to work.
There's hardly a day goes by when you don't hear the right-wing talking heads at Fox News parrot the tired old cliches about how America became great because of hard work and we're falling apart as a country, immigrants are taking our jobs, and liberals want to give all your money to lazy people for welfare and food stamps.
America is failing in many ways, but it isn't because of a lack of hard work. America's continual problem with poverty isn't due to laziness, it's because we aren't paying the working poor enough.
Now a new study from the Economic Policy Institute confirms what people like Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren have been saying for years -- we need to raise the minimum wage and pay American workers more. Here's the conclusion of their study, which you can read in its entirety at the link below.
Here is a quote from the study:
That the poverty rate has remained stubbornly elevated over the last three-and-a-half decades is simply a symptom of an increasingly unequal economy, marked by nearly stagnant hourly wages for the vast majority of the American workforce.
The elevated poverty rates we have seen since the 1980s are not the outcome of inevitable and irreversible changes in the economy, but of policy choices that have weakened the position of low- and moderate-wage workers while putting more leverage in the hands of those with the most economic power.
Despite the importance of expanding the tax-and-transfer system to reduce poverty and boost incomes for low- and moderate-income Americans, if nothing is done to change the policies that have led to elevated unemployment and increasing wage inequality, income inequality and poverty will continue rising.
This logically flows from the fact that if increased inequality continues to suppress hourly wage growth for the low-wage workforce, we will need more tax credits and more transfers each year to simply keep after-tax income inequality stable--let alone reversing the upward income and wage redistribution of recent decades.
The increasing economic disparity in the United States isn't because the minimum wage is keeping companies from hiring more people, something I have actually heard many conservatives say. It's not because we haven't given enough tax breaks to the wealthiest people in this country, a tired old message Republicans have been selling us since the beginning of the Reagan years.
Our economic situation comes from the fact that too many Americans are making too little, and despite what conservatives are saying, businesses have no reason to hire workers if people can't afford to buy their products. Earth to right-wing loons, if people do not make enough money to buy the products the corporations sell you have a problem that will never get better.
Raising the minimum wage alone will not lift everyone out of poverty, but it is still an important step. Yesterday, Los Angeles joined Seattle and San Francisco in voting to raise the minimum wage to $15 an hour by the year 2020 and other major cities are considering doing the same. The minimum wage currently has not been properly adjusted for inflation and hasn't been in years, the current federal minimum wage is $7.25 an hour, which is ridiculous.
In 1968, adjusted for inflation, the minimum wage was worth nearly 50 percent more than it is today. Conservatives argue, that raising the minimum wage overnight will cause a lot of economic issues, but it won't be a problem if it is raised over a gradual period in order to allow the market to absorb this change.
More money in the hands of more Americans isn't going to happen via trickle-down economics. If giving more tax breaks to the richest people actually helped create jobs that paid well, we wouldn't be having this conversation right now. Making sure that the average American has more money to spend isn't socialism, is not good economic policy.
O'Reilly Caught Lying About New Gallup Poll
By: Steve - May 27, 2015 - 11:30am
Bill O'Reilly said this:
A new poll by Gallup says that right now in the USA, left and right wing Americans are tied in numbers. It marks the first time since 1999 that conservatives have not outnumbered liberals. What accounts for this shift? Talking Points believes some folks just have their head in the clouds and don't know a thing about the real issues.Notice he says it is a tie, and that people who now say they are liberal must have their head in the clouds and do not know a thing about the real issues. Even though poll after poll shows that it is conservatives who are the most uninformed about the issues. O'Reilly got it all wrong, then lied about the Gallup poll results.
Here is what Gallup actually said:
For the first time since polling began in 1999, Gallup found that there are more social liberals in the United States than social conservatives.
Gallup reported that the number of respondents who called themselves social liberals has increased to 31%, while the number of self-identified social conservatives has fallen to 30%.
Earth to Bill O'Reilly: 31 to 30 is not a tie.
The number of Democrats who refer to themselves as social liberals jumped from 47% in 2014 to 53% in 2015.
The number of Republicans who call themselves socially conservative has declined from 60% in 2014 to 53% in 2015.
Democrats who used to call themselves social moderates are moving to the left while Republicans are experiencing a decline in social conservatives. The polling matches the overall trend in the country.
America has moved left on same-sex marriage, equal pay for women, immigration, and climate change. Issues like the minimum wage and taxes have become both social and economic causes.
The United States is moving to the left. It has been inching leftward on social issues for decades, and the leftward trend is accelerating.
Republicans are nationally unpopular because they are out of step with the rest of the country. One of the main issues within the Republican Party is that candidates continue to pander to an increasing out of touch and shrinking base of social conservatives.
In other words, the older (more conservative) generation is dying off, and being replaced with younger more socially liberal Americans.
The nation's movement left is real and growing. The United States is becoming a socially liberal country, and Republican opponents of these changes are facing consistent defeat as our national leftward social evolution moves forward.
Reality Check: More Republicans Not Qualified To Be President
By: Steve - May 27, 2015 - 11:00am
We are not even close to the heart of the 2016 presidential campaign and I'm already shocked at how idiotic the Republican candidates have managed to make themselves look.
There are the far-right clowns like Ted Cruz and Mike Huckabee who remind people of their insanity every time they open their mouth, but there's also Marco Rubio and Jeb Bush who have recently proven that they can not even handle interviews on Fox News without making themselves look like fools.
And if you are a Republican and you can not handle Fox News interviews, you are really screwed.
Now let's look a little closer at the list. We have Senator Ted Cruz, who is easily the most dishonest politician in our government and someone whose far-right propaganda was so over-the-top that it managed to frighten a little girl in attendance at one of his speeches. And that doesn't even get into the fact that he honestly seems to live in some realm of reality that only exists in his own mind.
Then there's Senator Rand Paul. Who if his father wasn't Ron Paul, none of us would even know who he is. So far his campaign has seemed incredibly immature and he's somehow trying to walk the impossible path between the libertarian ideologies of his father while still pandering to war-loving, LGBT-hating evangelical Christians. He seems to be solid when given a prepared speech, but often comes off looking like a complete buffoon whenever he's forced to actually think on his own.
Next up is Senator Marco Rubio, the guy who somehow managed to give a worse answer to the question, "Was it a mistake to go into Iraq?" than Jeb Bush did. Not only that, he's another one who seems to fumble and stumble anytime he's outside of his comfort zone at Fox News or a staged press conference.
Then we have the so-called Dr. Ben Carson, a guy who literally has no qualifications to be president and doesn't seem to understand a thing about the Constitution. What qualifications does he have to become the most powerful man in the world? None I can think of, he has not even held a public office.
Then there's Carly Fiorina, the woman who almost single-handedly drove HP into the ground. Not only was she horrible at her job, she managed to layoff 30,000 workers while tripling her own salary and buying five new corporate jets. And she was finally forced out as CEO... but only after being given around a $40 million "golden parachute" before leaving.
And then we have the former governor of Arkansas and Fox News host Mike Huckabee. It seems Huckabee believes that legalizing gay marriage is going to bring about some sort of horrific vengeance from God and he's not opposed to standing on top of a mountain to call down fire from heaven on all of those false prophets who would dare oppose his interpretation of the Bible.
Seriously, he actually said that. But don't ask him to give an example of how same-sex marriage has hurt the states where it's currently legal, because then he'll just make an absolute fool out of himself.
Then we have candidates like Jeb Bush, Rick Perry and Scott Walker. In just the last few weeks Jeb has quickly reminded the country just how embarrassing it was having a Bush in the White House and how we damn sure don't need to make that mistake again. In other words, Jeb is not the smart one, he is as dumb as any of them.
Here's some advice for all of these Republican candidates: If someone asks if you would still go to war in Iraq - you say no. I'm not even going to waste time discussing Rick Perry's stupidity since it's been well documented. Even Texans don't want him as president and I have absolutely no idea why he's even bothering to run.
Then there's Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker, the only guy I who I believe can give Jeb a run for his money - though I have no idea why. I'm not going to pretend like I follow Wisconsin politics enough to know a great deal about Walker, but from everything I've come across, I'm shocked that he even got re-elected this past November. As far as I can tell, he is nothing but a far-right union busting loon that has hurt the state and raised their debt.
The state has a huge deficit problem, he's gutted unions, trampled on teachers, the economy in the state isn't all that great and he's not exactly overwhelmingly popular. Not to mention he's proven himself to be a serial liar. It honestly baffles me how so many seem to think he would make a decent president.
When I look at these candidates, all I can do is shake my head. Seriously, is this the best Republicans can come up with? Look, I'm not expecting any of these Republican candidates to come out and win me over on many issues - that's just not going to happen with the ignorance and bigotry that runs the GOP - but can they at least get a candidate who doesn't come off sounding like a babbling idiot every time they open their mouth?
In the current day and age of the Republican party, that honestly might be too much to ask for.
Three New Polls Show Problems For The Republican Party
By: Steve - May 27, 2015 - 10:00am
To anyone with a working brain or even the slightest bit of common sense you know that the Republican party is built on almost all propaganda. When I talk to a Republican I feel as if I’m confined to a world where reality and facts are meaningless, because they just say whatever they've been told to say by someone on Fox News.
And if you give them facts to back you up, they ignore it or claim those facts came from the liberal media, so it's all lies,even when it is from a neutral or conservative source they say it's from a RINO so he is lying too. It's a no win game, no matter what you say they will not believe you, because they heard something different from O'Reilly or someone else at Fox, and they only believe what they hear on Fox.
Which is why I rarely ever talk politics with a Republican, it's a waste of time, and usually someone gets mad then starts the personal attacks and the name calling. And sometimes that is me, which I regret later. I have even lost friends because we started talking politics and it got heated, so I do not talk politics with Republicans anymore, especially friends.
Part of the problem is Fox News because they are brainwashed and as the network’s motto claims, they think they actually are "Fair and Balanced." So, to them, they don't need to question, fact-check or look into anything that's said by O'Reilly or someone else on the network, because they just blindly believe whatever it is that they're told. They never check to see if it's true, and they do not want to, they just but whatever Fox is selling.
It's really a perfect scam to brainwash part of America into voting Republican. To them anything that's not conservative-approved media is "all a part of the liberal media," yet the conservative media rarely reports the facts.
It's a lot like how a cult works. Add these factors together and I can say with certainty that the world of conservative media completely ignored three new polls that are an absolute nightmare for the Republican party, including Bill O'Reilly.
The first poll comes from Gallup and shows a record number of Americans now support legalizing same-sex marriage. At 60 percent, the highest rating Gallup has ever seen on the topic of same-sex marriage, Americans now overwhelmingly support marriage equality. Not only that, but acceptance is up among all three major political groups (Democrats: 76 percent, Republicans: 37 percent, Independents: 64 percent).
What's most shocking is the 37 percent of Republicans who support marriage equality, a number that's up 15 points from 2012 -- and has steadily been increasing for most of the last decade. In other words, loons like Ted Cruz and Mike Huckabee are pandering to a section of Americans that's shrinking, not growing.
Another poll by Gallup also shows that President Obama's favorability rating is at its highest level since 2013 at 53 percent. That's up 11 points from what it was last fall. It seems Republicans having a majority in Congress is making Americans realize just how terrible they actually are. And of course O'Reilly never said a word about any of it, even though he claims to be a non-partisan Independent who is fair to Obama.
Then the next poll from Pew, shows congressional favorability is at an all-time low. According to Pew, only 22 percent of Americans view Congress favorably while a whopping 72 percent view Congress unfavorably. While this poll isn't brand new (it's a few weeks old) they don't run these polls as often as Gallup so these are still very fresh numbers from them.
You never hear about any of this at Fox, ever.
Now think about this, Republicans said that once they got the so-called obstructive Democrats out of the way, Congress was going to become much more efficient? But, nearly six months in, the Republican Congress is more dysfunctional than ever -- and these numbers back that up.
Support for same-sex marriage is at a record high. President Obama's favorability numbers are at their highest level in two years. It took Republicans less than six months to set a new record as it relates to how negatively Americans view Congress -- despite the fact that they now control both the House and Senate.
But like I said, most conservatives will never hear about these results because O'Reilly, Fox News, and the rest of the conservative media will never report on them. They do not want you to know the truth, they want to keep you brainwashed with right-wing propaganda so you will continue to vote Republican based on lies and misinformation.
More Proof America Is A Center Left To Left Country
By: Steve - May 26, 2015 - 11:00am
O'Reilly still claims America is a center right country, even though all the evidence shows he is wrong, and will be even more wrong over time, because America is getting more liberal every year, while the older generation (who is a lot more conservative than younger people) are dying off.
For the first time since polling began in 1999, Gallup found that there are more social liberals in the United States than social conservatives.
Gallup reported that the number of respondents who called themselves social liberals has increased to 31%, while the number of self-identified social conservatives has fallen to 30%.
The number of Democrats who refer to themselves as social liberals jumped from 47% in 2014 to 53% in 2015.
The number of Republicans who call themselves socially conservative has declined from 60% in 2014 to 53% in 2015.
Democrats who used to call themselves social moderates are moving to the left while Republicans are experiencing a decline in social conservatives. The polling matches the overall trend in the country.
America has moved left on same-sex marriage, equal pay for women, immigration, and climate change. Issues like the minimum wage and taxes have become both social and economic causes.
The United States is moving to the left. It has been inching leftward on social issues for decades, and the leftward trend is accelerating.
Republicans are nationally unpopular because they are out of step with the rest of the country. One of the main issues within the Republican Party is that candidates continue to pander to an increasing out of touch and shrinking base of social conservatives.
The Democratic shift to the left on social issues is politically reflected in Hillary Clinton's early moves to stake out liberal social positions after announcing her 2016 presidential candidacy.
The nation's movement left is real and growing. The United States is becoming a socially liberal country, and Republican opponents of these changes are facing consistent defeat as our national leftward social evolution moves forward.
And as usual, O'Reilly never says a word about this poll, because it proves him wrong and he can never admit America is a center left country now, and moving more left all the time.
Mike Huckabee Is Now Disqualified To Be The President
By: Steve - May 26, 2015 - 10:00am
Talk about a right-wing bible thumping loon, this guy is the king of bible thumpers. Now he says if he is the President he will go by what God tells him, not the Supreme Court. And it was nice knowing you, moron, because you just killed your own campaign. Even some of the people at Fox are slamming him for it, so you know he really messed up.
Republican presidential candidate Mick Huckabee insisted on Sunday that the president of the United States would not have to follow a ruling that struck down bans on same-sex marriage because the Supreme Court was not the "Supreme Being."
"You seemed to indicate that as president, you wouldn't necessarily obey court rulings, even the Supreme Court," Fox News host Chris Wallace pointed out during an interview on Sunday. "We have operated under the principle of judicial review since the Marbury v. Madison case in 1803."
Now get this, can you imagine what Huckabee would say if Obama ignored a Supreme Court ruling and said God told him to ignore it. Huckabee would lose him mind and call for Obama to be impeached, but if he does it then it's ok, give me a break.
According to Huckabee, the United States would be operating under "judicial supremacy" instead of judicial review if bans on same-sex marriage were to be struck down.
"Presidents have understood that the Supreme Court cannot make a law, they cannot make it, the legislature has to make it, the executive branch has to sign it and enforce it," Huckabee said.
"And the notion that the Supreme Court comes up with the ruling and that automatically subjects the two other branches to following it defies everything there is about the three equal branches of government."
"The Supreme Court is not the supreme branch," he added. "And for God's sake, it's not the Supreme Being."
Huckabee wondered what would happen if the Supreme Court ruled on "who was going to be the next president."
"We would say, 'Well, they can't do that.' Why can't they do it? They can't do it because it's not in the law," he said. "We are sworn to uphold the Constitution and the law. And it has to be consistent and agreed upon with three branches of government. One can't overrule the other two."
Wow, Huckabee is insane, and he should drop out of the race now before he makes an even bigger fool of himself than he already has.
Conservative Says Republicans Are Brainwashed By Right-Wing Media
By: Steve - May 25, 2015 - 11:30am
And think about this, Bartlett is no liberal, he is a die-hard conservative who not only worked for Ronald Reagan, he worked for George H. W. Bush too. So pinheads like O'Reilly can not claim this is liberal propaganda, because a conservative is saying it.
Which is why O'Reilly never reports on stories like this, because it destroys his right-wing propaganda that only liberals think O'Reilly and Fox are biased.
Bartlett served as a domestic policy adviser to Ronald Reagan and as a Treasury official under George H. W. Bush. And here is what he said on Reliable Sources Sunday morning.
BARTLETT: I think many conservatives live in a bubble where they watch only Fox News on television, they listen only to conservative talk radio, Rush Limbaugh, Sean Hannity, many of the same people.
When they go on to the Internet, they look at only conservative websites like National Review, Newsmax, World Net Daily, and so they are completely in a universe in which they are hearing the same exact ideas, the same arguments, the same limited amount of data repeated over and over and over again, and that's brainwashing.
The Republicans Have Not Passed Any Jobs Bills
By: Steve - May 25, 2015 - 11:00am
In their first 138 days in control of Congress, Mitch McConnell and John Boehner have not passed any jobs bills. Instead, all the Republicans did was pass budgets that would give big tax breaks to millionaires and billionaires.
The numbers reveal the truth about the Republican Party.
0: GOP jobs bills passed in the 114th Congress.
5: Additional times the House GOP has voted in the past 135 days to repeal or undermine the Affordable Care Act (2015 Vote #14, 2015 Vote #45, 2015 Vote #58, 2015 Vote #142, 2015 Vote #183).
58: Times so far House Republicans have voted to repeal or undermine the ACA since 2011.
And those votes are taken despite the fact that the Republicans know it will never pass, making it not only a waste of taxpayer time, but a waste of taxpayer money. Not to mention this, if it ever did pass (which is not possible) President Obama has said he will veto it.
100: Percent of House Republicans who voted against bringing up the student loan refinancing bill.
2.9 million: Number of jobs that would be destroyed under the House GOP FY 2016 Budget.
$2,000: More in taxes for middle-class American families with children greenlighted by the final FY 2016 Republican Budget.
$200,000: Average tax break for the wealthiest Americans making $1,000,000 or more greenlighted by the final FY 2016 Republican Budget.
99: Percent of House Republicans who voted against allowing a vote on the Paycheck Fairness Act - a bill to ensure equal pay for equal work.
The only Republican so-called attempt at a jobs bill was the Keystone XL pipeline bill, that would not create more than a handful of permanent jobs.
The Republican-run Congress has lived down to expectations. If you are a corporation in need of some regulatory rollback, or a wealthy person who wants a tax cut, the Republican Congress is your new best friend.
For working people, women, the poor, the disabled, veterans, and everyone else, Republicans are only interested in cutting what you have to give more to the wealthy.
The Republican Congress does not represent the majority of the American people. The congressional majority is being controlled by corporations and billionaires. Republicans are more interested in taking away your health care than creating an economic environment where people have good paying jobs.
The numbers don't lie. Republicans are working against the interests of the majority of working Americans in this country, which is why the people must stand up and take their Congress back by voting Democrats back into power in the next election. And Democrats are not perfect, but they are a hell of a lot better than any Republican.
Lifetime Republican Turns On The GOP Over Obamacare
By: Steve - May 25, 2015 - 10:00am
And of course, Bill O'Reilly never reported a word about this story, and I have heard he tried to get on the Factor (and other Fox shows) to discuss it, but none of them will book him for an interview.
Luis Lang, who is currently crowdfunding for medical expenses that he can't afford because he didn't sign up for insurance under Obamacare, has become a viral sensation. However, the 49-year-old South Carolina resident says he doesn't want to be the poster child for the Republican Party's opposition to health care reform anymore.
At the end of last week, the Charlotte Observer reported that Lang, a lifelong Republican who's previously prided himself on covering his own medical bills, can't afford to pay thousands of dollars to treat an issue stemming from his chronic diabetes. Lang is suffering form bleeding in his eyes and a partially detached retina, which will cause him to go blind if left untreated. So he set up a GoFundMe page to solicit $30,000 in donations to cover a costly surgery that will save his vision.
Since then, the story has been picked up in left-leaning outlets across the country and covered in nationally syndicated newspaper columns. Obamacare supporters flocked to Lang's GoFundMe page to urge him to change his mind about the health law.
In an interview with ThinkProgress, Lang joked that he might be the most hated Republican in the country right now. But he also said that, thanks in part to a flood of media attention that led him to learn more about health care policy, he doesn't identify with the GOP anymore.
"Now that I'm looking at what each party represents, my wife and I are both saying -- hey, we're not Republicans!" Lang said. He added that, though he's not a political person by nature and has never voted solely along party lines, he wants to rip up his voter registration card on national television so Americans will have proof that he's making the switch.
Like many Americans, Lang struggled to navigate the website last year and was frustrated by long wait times and technological glitches. He told ThinkProgress he thinks the law is too confusing as it's currently written -- and pointed out that it's too difficult for him to predict his annual income as a self-employed contractor, which is what prevented him from signing up for a plan during previous enrollment periods.
He was too nervous about underestimating his income during the enrollment process and being required to pay back his insurance subsidy during tax season.
But Lang's main complaint is the fact that the Supreme Court ruled that Obamacare's Medicaid expansion should be optional, which has given Republican lawmakers the opportunity to refuse to implement the policy on the state level.
That's led to a coverage gap preventing millions of Americans from accessing affordable insurance whatsoever. Because Lang's income has recently dried up, now that his deteriorating vision prevents him from working, he now falls into that gap.
"I mainly blame Republicans for their pigheadedness," Lang said. "They're blocking policies that could help everyone. I'm in the situation I'm in because they chose not to expand Medicaid for political reasons. And I know I’m not the only one."
"I know we didn't do it the right way," Lang said, explaining that he's hoping to figure out the situation with his fluctuating income so he can be the first in line to sign up for a plan during the next open enrollment period.
He said he's always tried to take responsibility for his own bills, but he also believes that the United States should move toward a universal health care system that makes coverage available to everyone regardless of their income level.
He said he "one hundred percent agrees" with the people who commented on his crowdfunding page to argue that health care is a human right.
"In fact, this whole thing has helped me see more clearly. Like they say, hindsight is 20/20, Lang said.
O'Reilly Caught Lying About Obama DACA Executive Action On Immigration
By: Steve - May 24, 2015 - 11:00am
Here is yet more proof Bill O'Reilly is a biased right-wing hack who uses Republican talking points, despite his claims that he is a non-partisan Independent (with a no spin zone) who is fair to President Obama.
A segment on The O'Reilly Factor Thursday night argued that President Obama's 2012 Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program made it so that it is now easier for undocumented immigrants to come to the country than it is for legal immigrants, a gross misrepresentation of the policy and its actual effects on current undocumented immigrants.
On his May 20th Fox News show, O'Reilly claimed that "folks who want to come to the USA legally, are not being able to do so because of the current policy on illegal aliens [DACA]."
Fox correspondent Shannon Bream explained that legal immigrants are waiting longer to enter the U.S. because the agency in charge of immigration has prioritized current DACA recipients. O'Reilly concluded that the rules mean that "it is much more difficult to come here legally than illegally."
But as usual O'Reilly left out some of the facts, and the segment failed to explain that DACA only affects young immigrants who have been in the country continuously for a number of years, having immigrated before June 15, 2007 and who were brought to the U.S. as minors.
Neither O'Reilly or his Fox News guest said a word about any of that, and no guest was on to give the other side, to make it a fair and balanced segment. It was basically two biased Fox employees lying to each other, and then claiming it was the truth.
And that was not all they lied about, the segment also incorrectly stated that undocumented immigrants "received residency" under Obama.
The 2012 program provides for no such thing: DACA merely delays the deportation and eventually grants a renewable work authorization for two years to those who comply with the list of requirements.
According to the Immigration Policy Center, DACA also allows DHS to focus resources away from targeting and removing law abiding families in the U.S. "towards individuals who pose a real risk to public safety, as well as cross-border criminal enterprises and other high-priority objectives," saving valuable time and resources.
This is not fair and balanced journalism in a so-called no spin zone, it's lies and half-truths put out by the Republican party, with no guest to provide a counter balance. It's basically right-wing propaganda talking points, and O'Reilly used them, even though he claims he never uses any Republican talking points.
Pew Poll Shows Majority Do Not Support The Republican Party
By: Steve - May 24, 2015 - 10:00am
And of course Bill O'Reilly never said a word about it, because he is a Republican who wants you to think the majority of Americans like what the Republicans are doing, when in fact, they do not.
A Pew Research Poll released on May 21, 2015, finds that Americans are unhappy with the Republican leadership in Congress. 72 percent of Americans disapprove of the job the current GOP leadership in Congress is doing, to just 22 percent who approve of their job performance.
Democrats and Independents are not the only ones discontent with the current Republican leadership in Congress. Even a majority of Republicans are unhappy with Boehner, McConnell and the other Republican leaders in the House and Senate. 55 percent of Republicans disapprove of their party's Congressional leaders, to just 41 percent who view them favorably.
Congressional leaders are headed in the wrong direction with their popularity. In February of 2015, Republicans viewed their party leaders favorably (50-44), but since then, their support for Republican leadership has dropped 20 percentage points from a (+6) to a (-14) approve versus disapprove differential.
Naturally, Democrats and Independents are even more disappointed with the Republican leadership. Both groups give Republican leaders in Congress a dreadful approval rating. Only 12 percent of Democrats and 19 percent of Independents think Republican leaders in Congress are doing a good job. 74 percent of Independents and a whopping 84 percent of Democrats disapprove of the GOP leadership in Congress.
Less than one in four voters think Republicans have followed through on their campaign promises. Only 37 percent of Republicans believe GOP leaders are keeping their campaign promises. Not only are voters disgusted with the Republican Congress, but they also think GOP leaders are liars.
While Republicans, Democrats and Independents all dislike the current Republican Congress, they are unhappy for different reasons. 75 percent of Republicans want the GOP Congress to adopt a more confrontational approach with President Obama.
Democrats and Independents are more likely to take the position that the Republican Congress needs to go along with President Obama more often, rather than fighting him.
The bottom line is that very few Americans approve of the job Mitch McConnell, John Boehner, and other Republican leaders are doing in Washington. That includes unhappy Republican voters, who are experiencing buyer's remorse after finding that the GOP isn't living up to their campaign promises.
Perhaps in 2016, many of those dissatisfied Republicans will learn from their 2014 mistakes, and either switch sides or stay home on election day.
Fox Food Stamp Misinformation Ends Up In GOP House Committee Hearing
By: Steve - May 23, 2015 - 11:00am
Fox News misleading smear of food stamp recipients as nothing but surfing freeloaders found its way into a GOP congressional hearing aimed at examining the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program or (SNAP).
On May 20, the House Committee on Agriculture held a hearing addressing the "Past, Present, and Future of SNAP." Throughout the hearing, Fox News misleading 2013 special, "The Great Food Stamp Binge" that attempted to make a surfing freeloader "the new face of food stamps" was referenced several times as evidence of abuse within the program.
Fox's misrepresentation of food stamp recipients found its way into the hearing when two members on the committee used the special as anecdotal evidence of abuse within SNAP. Rep. Bob Gibbs (R-OH) used Fox's example of a "surfer out in California living on food stamps and eating lobster" as evidence of abuse within the program, though he somehow "forgot which network" aired the special.
Then Rep. Ted Yoho (R-FL) also referenced "the surfer that was on one of the news channels," claiming, "unfortunately, we see that in our districts, and I hear stories about that every day."
Neither Republican mentioned the fact that the biased food stamp special was done by the biased Fox News Network. And neither one of them ever mentioned the actual food stamp fraud rate of 1 percent.
The surfer mentioned by Reps. Gibbs and Yoho was Jason Greenslate who featured in Fox's special as part of Fox News longstanding history of maligning the poor and misrepresenting food stamp recipients.
After it aired, the network delivered physical copies of the special to members of Congress in an attempt to influence a vote to cut SNAP benefits by billions of dollars.
What the special failed to note was the fact that according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Food and Nutrition Service, the fraud and waste rate in SNAP is roughly only 1 percent.
The special also ignored the fact that SNAP kept 4.7 million people out of poverty in 2011, many of whom are children, and that 82 percent of SNAP households include a child, elderly person, or a disabled American.
Rep. Jim McGovern (D-MA), fought to correct the record by pointing out the "surfer on food stamps" is "not the reality of the program, and it's our job to tell anybody who says it is, that it isn't":
REP. MCGOVERN: I want to make sure the record is corrected on this, we heard a couple of times mention the guy who is a surfer on food stamps. That is not the reality of the program, and it's our job to tell anybody who says it is, that it isn't.
The majority of people on this program are kids, are senior citizens, are those who are disabled. And of those who are able-bodied, the majority of them work.
Given the opportunity between working at a job that pays a wage where I wouldn't have to rely on this benefit, or a job that I have to work full-time and I still need to rely on SNAP, I mean, we know what people would decide.
So let's not demonize this program by taking some isolated examples that may have appeared on some news show that I won't mention the name of the news show, but anyway. But the point of the matter is we ought to be talking, we ought to make sure that the narrative we are echoing here reflects the reality.
Notice That O'Reilly Is No Longer Crying About The Deficit
By: Steve - May 23, 2015 - 10:00am
Think back to a year or two ago, O'Reilly cried about the debt and the deficit every night, saying the Obama economic policies are a failure and chaos, and constantly crying about Obama raising the deficit to out of control levels that could never be corrected. He was complaining that Obama was increasing the deficit, while it was going down every year, so it looks like he ignored the actual stats and lied to you.
Fast forward to 2015, and we now know O'Reilly was either lying, or he did not have a clue what he was talking about, or maybe both.
O'Reilly and the GOP said the deficit has skyrocketed under Obama, and they were wrong.
FACT: The budget was balanced when Clinton left office in 2001 (in fact, he left Bush with a $300,000,000,000 surplus).
Eight years later, Bush left Obama with a $1,413 trillion dollar deficit and a 9.8% deficit/GDP ratio. Most of which was due to Bush's deficit-spending on the Iraq War, Medicare Part D and the two tax cuts that largely went to the wealthy.
Then of course O'Reilly ignored this: "Remember what Reagan taught us. Deficits don't matter." said Dick Cheney.
Under Bush, O'Reilly never once complained about the deficit, in fact, when Democrats complained about the deficit under Bush on his show, O'Reilly made fun of them and said deficits are meaningless because we can correct for them at any time.
Since Obama's election:
2010 -- $1,294,000,000,000 8.7% deficit/GDP
2011 -- $1,300,000,000,000 8.4% deficit/GDP
2012 -- $1,087,000,000,000 6.8% deficit/GDP
2013 -- $680,000,000,000 4.1% deficit/GDP
2014 -- $560,000,000,000 3.3% deficit/GDP
See a pattern developing? Furthermore, the United States is now producing more oil than we import. Our overall trade deficit is at a four year low, as imported oil continues to decline. GM, Ford and Chrysler are all chugging along nicely, no thanks to a unified Republican/Tea party, who were eager to sacrifice 2 million American jobs on their altar of Obama Derangement Syndrome.
The trade gap has fallen 12.9% to $34.3 billion as Obama's policies have made American products and services more available abroad, while Americans are increasingly buying more domestic products. The trade imbalance is now lower than at any time since the beginning of the recession, and the offshoring of American jobs has (finally) slowed to a trickle.
Our trade gap with China is down 6.7% (largely based on their taste for American cars), our trade gap with Japan is down 8.4% and our trade gap with the European Union has dropped a whopping 29.4%.
Are things perfect? No. There's still much to be done. But the rumors of Barack Obama's failures have been greatly exaggerated, and it's time to call these right-wing talking points what they are, lies.
This president will go down in history as a man who achieved some amazing accomplishments, especially considering the unified opposition he's had to endure since Day One.
So there you have it you Fox News idiots, all your talking points shot to hell in one Fact-based document. O'Reilly even said Obama had increased the deficit so much we could never get it lowered to managable levels, even though it was actually going down every year, and getting less of the GDP all the time.
This one blog posting proves beyond a doubt that Bill O'Reilly is a lying right-wing hack, and yet, he still claims he is a real non-partisan journalist who tells you the truth, it's just laughable.
Obama Bans Some Transfers Of Military Hardware To police
By: Steve - May 22, 2015 - 11:00am
The White House on Monday announced new limits on federal programs that supply local police with military-style equipment.
After four months of study, a Cabinet working group tasked by President Obama to reform the initiatives unveiled eight categories of military supplies local law enforcement will be banned from acquiring from federal agencies or with federal funds.
The list includes grenade launchers, tracked armored vehicles, armed aircraft, bayonets, and guns and ammunition of .50 caliber or higher.
There is a "substantial risk of misusing or overusing these items," which "could significantly undermine community trust," the group’s report reads.
Other federally supplied equipment, such as wheeled armored vehicles, drones, helicopters, firearms and riot gear, will come with new strings attached for local police to ensure officers are trained in their use and in "community policing, constitutional policing and community input."
Police must provide a "clear and persuasive explanation" for the need of the equipment and get approval from their local government.
The steps are part of the White House's effort to reestablish trust between law enforcement and their communities in response to a string of police-related deaths of black men in Baltimore, Ferguson, Mo. and North Charleston, S.C., among other cities.
The issue of police militarization entered the national spotlight last summer as officers and demonstrators angered by the death of Michael Brown, 18, violently clashed in the streets of Ferguson.
The public was shocked by images of heavily armed police in military armored vehicles who were sent to quell the protests. A bipartisan group of lawmakers and civil-rights groups pushed to end initiatives, such as the Pentagon's 1033 program, that allow surplus military equipment to be transferred to local police.
The White House has stopped short of eliminating the program. The equipment "enhances the safety of officers" responding to dangerous situations and being improperly equipped can have life‐threatening consequences," according to the report.
The administration is announcing new rules to better keep track of the equipment, including gathering information whenever it is used in a "significant incident."
The president has recently lamented the limits of his power when it comes to addressing the police reforms, saying he "can't federalize every police force in the country."
One of the most popular reforms to emerge after Ferguson was the widespread use of body cameras by police. The White House has launched a limited program that would equip 50,000 police officers with the cameras, but has stopped short of calling for their mandatory use.
Obama is dispatching Attorney General Loretta Lynch, Housing and Urban Development Secretary Julián Castro, Education Secretary Arne Duncan, Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx, Labor Secretary Tom Perez and Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack to 10 cities in the coming weeks where local authorities have improved relations with their communities.
Bush's CIA Briefer Admits They Lied About The Iraq WMD Intelligence
By: Steve - May 22, 2015 - 10:00am
And as expected, the so-called non-partisan no spin zone journalist Bill O'Reilly ignored the entire story and never said a word about it.
On "Hardball," Michael Morell concedes the Bush administration misled the nation into the Iraq War.
For twelve years, the Bush-Cheney crowd (including O'Reilly) have been trying to escape (or cover up) an essential fact of the Bush years: President George W. Bush, Vice President Dick Cheney, and their lieutenants misled the American public about the WMD threat supposedly posed by Saddam Hussein in order to grease the way to the invasion of Iraq.
For Bush, Cheney, and the rest, this endeavor is fundamental; it is necessary to protect the legitimacy of the Bush II presidency. Naturally, Karl Rove and other Bushies have quickly tried to douse the Bush-lied-us-into-war fire whenever such flames have appeared.
And in recent days, as Jeb Bush bumbled a question about the Iraq War, he and other Republicans have peddled the fictitious tale that his brother launched the invasion because he was presented lousy intelligence.
But now there's a new witness who will make the Bush apologists mission even more impossible: Michael Morell, a longtime CIA official who eventually became the agency's deputy director and acting director. During the preinvasion period, he served as Bush's intelligence briefer.
Appearing on MSNBC's Hardball on Tuesday night, Morell made it clear: The Bush-Cheney administration publicly misrepresented the intelligence related to Iraq's supposed WMD program and Saddam's alleged links to Al Qaeda.
Host Chris Matthews asked Morell about a statement Cheney made in 2003: "We know he [Saddam Hussein] has been absolutely devoted to trying to acquire nuclear weapons. And we believe he has, in fact, reconstituted nuclear weapons."
Here's the conversation that followed:
MATTHEWS: Was that true?
MORELL: We were saying...
MATTHEWS: Can you answer that question? Was that true?
MORELL: That's not true.
MATTHEWS: Well, why'd you let them get away with it?
MORELL: Look, my job Chris...
MATTHEWS: You're the briefer for the president on intelligence, you're the top person to go in and tell him what's going on. You see Cheney make this charge he's got a nuclear bomb and then they make subsequent charges he knew how to deliver it...and nobody raised their hand and said, "No that's not what we told him."
MORELL: Chris, Chris Chris, what's my job, right? My job...
MATTHEWS: To tell the truth.
MORELL: My job-no, as the briefer? As the briefer?
MATTHEWS: Okay, go ahead.
MORELL: As the briefer, my job is to carry CIA's best information and best analysis to the president of the United States and make sure he understands it. My job is to not watch what they're saying on TV.
The discussion went on:
MATTHEWS: So you're briefing the president on the reasons for war, they're selling the war, using your stuff, saying you made that case when you didn't. So they're using your credibility to make the case for war dishonestly, as you just admitted.
MORELL: Look, I'm just telling you...
MATTHEWS: You just admitted it.
MORELL: I'm just telling you what we said...
MATTHEWS: They gave a false presentation of what you said to them.
MORELL: On some aspects. On some aspects.
There's the indictment, issued by the intelligence officer who briefed Bush and Cheney: The Bush White House made a "false presentation" on "some aspects" of the case for war.
"That's a big deal," Matthews exclaimed. Morell replied, "It's a big deal."
And there's more. Referring to the claims made by Bush, Cheney, and other administration officials that Saddam was in league with Al Qaeda, Morell noted, "What they were saying about the link between Iraq and Al Qaeda publicly was not what the intelligence community" had concluded.
He added, "I think they were trying to make a stronger case for the war." That is, stronger than the truth would allow.
Morell's remarks support the basic charge: Bush and Cheney were not misled by flawed intelligence; they used the flawed intelligence to mislead the American people and the world.
Study Shows Fox News Is Brainwashing Their Viewers With Misinformation
By: Steve - May 21, 2015 - 11:00am
A new study has found that Fox News is hurting the Republican Party by brainwashing millions of angry conservatives with misinformation.
In a new study of the Fox News effect by Bruce Bartlett, research was collected that demonstrated the negative impact of Fox News on media and politics.
Bartlett described what the founding of Fox News first meant to conservatives, and how it shifted into an act of self-brain washing, "Like someone dying of thirst in the desert, conservatives drank heavily from the Fox waters. Soon, it became the dominant -and in many cases, virtually the only - major news source for millions of Americans."
This has had profound political implications that are only starting to be appreciated. "Indeed, it can almost be called self-brainwashing - many conservatives now refuse to even listen to any news or opinion not vetted through Fox, and to believe whatever appears on it as the gospel truth."
Bartlett documented Fox News extreme rightward shift after 9/11 and how the network went from tilting conservative to flat out misinformation and propaganda.
The study also sums of years of research that points to Fox News viewers as being the least informed media consumers. The dominance of Fox News has led to some extremely negative consequences that are harming the Republican Party:
Although this arrangement unquestionably aids Republicans in winning elections and votes in Congress, it is not without its downsides. One is that Fox now exercises such powerful control over the GOP that it has become the party's kingmaker in presidential primaries.Bartlett's conclusion is that the same attributes that make Fox a strong cable network are harming the Republican Party.
There is little doubt that the Republican Party is influenced by two interests. The corporations and conservative billionaires who fund their campaigns and Fox News. A Republican candidate can be made or broken by Fox News, but the network also pushes Republicans to an unelectable right-wing position in presidential elections.
Viewers have been brainwashed by a combination of misinformation and constant confirmation of their own biases. Fox News doesn't report reality. The result is that millions of Fox News Republicans expect their candidates to carry out what they see on television, which has led to a party of non-reality based voters supporting delusional candidates.
The impact is felt on a broken legislative process where for one party there is no middle and opposing the President at all costs has become a path to political victory.
The conclusion is unmistakable. Fox News has not only broken journalism. The conservative news network is also destroying the Republican Party.
Krugman: The Iraq War Was No Mistake It Was A Crime
By: Steve - May 21, 2015 - 10:00am
Pulitzer Prize winner Paul Krugman wrote this about Jeb Bush and the Iraq war.
Errors and Lies
Surprise! It turns out that there's something to be said for having the brother of a failed president make his own run for the White House. Thanks to Jeb Bush, we may finally have the frank discussion of the Iraq invasion we should have had a decade ago.
But many influential people -- not just Mr. Bush -- would prefer that we not have that discussion. There's a palpable sense right now of the political and media elite trying to draw a line under the subject. Yes, the narrative goes, we now know that invading Iraq was a terrible mistake, and it's about time that everyone admits it.
Now let's move on.
Well, let's not -- because that's a false narrative, and everyone who was involved in the debate over the war knows that it's false. The Iraq war wasn't an innocent mistake, a venture undertaken on the basis of intelligence that turned out to be wrong. America invaded Iraq because the Bush administration wanted a war.
The public justifications for the invasion were nothing but pretexts, and falsified pretexts at that. We were, in a fundamental sense, lied into war.
The fraudulence of the case for war was actually obvious even at the time: the ever-shifting arguments for an unchanging goal were a dead giveaway. So were the word games -- the talk about W.M.D that conflated chemical weapons (which many people did think Saddam had) with nukes, the constant insinuations that Iraq was somehow behind 9/11.
And at this point we have plenty of evidence to confirm everything the war's opponents were saying. We now know, for example, that on 9/11 itself -- literally before the dust had settled -- Donald Rumsfeld, the secretary of defense, was already plotting war against a regime that had nothing to do with the terrorist attack.
"Judge whether good enough [to] hit S.H. [Saddam Hussein] ...sweep it all up things related and not"; so read notes taken by Mr. Rumsfeld's aide.
This was, in short, a war the White House wanted, and all of the supposed mistakes that, as Jeb puts it, "were made" by someone unnamed actually flowed from this underlying desire. Did the intelligence agencies wrongly conclude that Iraq had chemical weapons and a nuclear program?
That's because they were under intense pressure to justify the war. Did prewar assessments vastly understate the difficulty and cost of occupation? That's because the war party didn't want to hear anything that might raise doubts about the rush to invade.
Indeed, the Army's chief of staff was effectively fired for questioning claims that the occupation phase would be cheap and easy.
Why did they want a war? That's a harder question to answer. Some of the warmongers believed that deploying shock and awe in Iraq would enhance American power and influence around the world. Some saw Iraq as a sort of pilot project, preparation for a series of regime changes. And it's hard to avoid the suspicion that there was a strong element of wagging the dog, of using military triumph to strengthen the Republican brand at home.
Now, you can understand why many political and media figures would prefer not to talk about any of this. Some of them, I suppose, may have been duped: may have fallen for the obvious lies, which doesn't say much about their judgment. More, I suspect, were complicit: they realized that the official case for war was a pretext, but had their own reasons for wanting a war, or, alternatively, allowed themselves to be intimidated into going along.
For there was a definite climate of fear among politicians and pundits in 2002 and 2003, one in which criticizing the push for war looked very much like a career killer.
On top of these personal motives, our news media in general have a hard time coping with policy dishonesty. Reporters are reluctant to call politicians on their lies, even when these involve mundane issues like budget numbers, for fear of seeming partisan.
In fact, the bigger the lie, the clearer it is that major political figures are engaged in outright fraud, the more hesitant the reporting. And it doesn't get much bigger -- indeed, more or less criminal -- than lying America into war.
But truth matters, and not just because those who refuse to learn from history are doomed in some general sense to repeat it. The campaign of lies that took us into Iraq was recent enough that it's still important to hold the guilty individuals accountable.
Never mind Jeb Bush's verbal stumbles. Think, instead, about his foreign-policy team, led by people who were directly involved in concocting a false case for war.
So let's get the Iraq story right. Yes, from a national point of view the invasion was a mistake. But (with apologies to Talleyrand) it was worse than a mistake, it was a crime.
Transcript Shows O'Reilly Daughter Said She Saw Him Choking Her Mom
By: Steve - May 20, 2015 - 11:30am
Two days after Gawker reported that Bill O'Reilly was accused of physically assaulting his ex-wife Maureen McPhilmy, the blog published portions of the court transcripts to prove it.
The allegations came from the couple's teenage daughter during a custody trial that concluded three weeks ago. After Gawker's initial report, O'Reilly released a statement, saying, "All allegations against me in these circumstances are 100% false. I am going to respect the court-mandated confidentiality put in place to protect my children and will not comment any further."
But the transcripts obtained by Gawker confirm that O'Reilly's 16-year-old daughter told a court-appointed forensic examiner that she saw him "choking her mom" while he "dragged her down some stairs by the neck."
Additionally, the daughter claimed that O'Reilly is an absent father with rage issues.
Manhattan psychologist Larry Cohen was assigned to evaluate each family member for the dispute, and reported his findings back to the Nassau County Supreme Court. Gawker's transcripts come from the ex-wife's counsel's cross-examination of Cohen. The key transcript centers around when the attorney asked the doctor if the daughter (identified as M.) hint of violence in the household:
Q: In the course of your meetings with the children, did either of them describe any incidents of domestic violence between their parents?
Q: And who was that?
A: M. reported having seeing an incident where I believe she said her dad was choking her mom or had his hands around her neck and dragged her down some stairs.
MR. CLAIR: Your Honor, to the extent that that incident as alleged may have predated the signing of the agreement.
THE COURT: Counsel. Counsel, she asked the question, we got the answer. Let's move on.
Another portion highlighted by Gawker came when Cohen testified that the couple's daughter saw O'Reilly as an absent father. This is particularly noteworthy, the website said, because the Fox host has "repeatedly criticized the 'black community' for being absent fathers."
Q [O'Reilly attorney]: And M. reported to you that her father was never around to have a relationship with her for 11 years, correct?
A [Cohen]: That's what she said.
Q: And the word, when I emphasize the word "never," that was her word, was it not?
A: Yes, it was.
Bill O'Reilly Lied His Butt Off Talking About Taxes & Income Inequality
By: Steve - May 20, 2015 - 11:00am
Sensing this rising concern over income inequality among the 2016 candidates, Bill O'Reilly stumbled head first into the issue last week and offered his take on the state of the American economy.
And, as usual, he got almost everything completely wrong. To Bill O'Reilly, the real inequality is found in the government's unfair taxation of wealthy people like himself.
So let's break down Billy's treatment of income inequality piece by piece to get a better handle on just how thoroughly bad his analysis was.
O'REILLY: This year 2015 the feds will gather more tax dollars than ever before in the history of the U.S.A. -- about $3 trillion. That's because since taking office, President Obama has proposed a whopping 442 tax increases. Not counting 20 others associated with Obamacare.Wrong, wrong, wrong, and wrong. Has Obama really proposed 442 tax increases? No, Not even close.
It's a bogus talking point that the Republican Grover Norquist's anti-tax group made up, and they arrived at that number through double-counting and by throwing in a bunch of things that aren't actually tax increases.
More to the point, the act of proposing a tax increase does not actually increase taxes or raise revenues. According to the Congressional Budget Office, tax revenues in 2015 are going up in part because certain business tax breaks are expiring, but also because the economy is growing, and more jobs means more taxable income.
O'Dummy then said this:
O'REILLY: As you may know, Americans earning more than $400,000 a year must pay close to 40 percent of their income to the feds; Social Security taxes increased from 4.2 to 6.2 percent -- all workers pay that; and itemized deductions which can bring tax bills down, now being phased out for high wage earners and profitable businesses.Wrong, wrong, wrong, and wrong. Bill O'Reilly is lying to you and he does not appear to understand how marginal tax rates work. In 2014, any single filer who made more than $406,750 in income was subject to the top marginal rate of 39.6 percent. This does not mean they paid "close to 40 percent of their income to the feds," as O'Reilly claims.
It means they paid close to 40 percent of every dollar over $406,750. Every dollar below that threshold was taxed at the lower marginal rates. So a single filer who made exactly $406,751 in 2014 actually paid about 29 percent of their income in federal taxes.
This is very basic stuff about taxation that O'Reilly either lied about, or he just does not know what he is talking about.
He is right that all workers pay Social Security taxes, or payroll taxes, as they're commonly known. But once again, he doesn't appear to quite get how these taxes work, or he just flat out lied about it.
Workers pay payroll taxes only up to a certain income threshold -- $117,000 in 2014. Anyone who made more than that didn't pay a single cent in payroll taxes on any dollar over $117,000. So while all workers pay payroll taxes, the wealthiest pay a smaller share of their income in payroll taxes (just 2.3 percent for the top one percent of households) than the non-wealthy.
Something O'Reilly never ever mentions when he talks about taxes on the wealthy compared to the non-wealthy, or payroll taxes. Not once has O'Reilly even mentioned the $117,000 income threshold.
This swirl of incomprehensible yammering about taxes leads to Billy's thesis on income inequality in America: the rich have it rough, while everyone else is doing okay.
O'REILLY: So you can see, you have to be able to see that taxes are everywhere on affluent Americans and business profits. But, for the rest of Americans, they aren't so bad. Bottom 60 percent of wage earners pay just 2.7 percent of all federal income taxes. The bottom 40 percent actually get money from the feds they receive payments called earned income tax credits.Ah yes, the lucky poor who get their tax credits and don't know the pain of paying taxes on sky-high incomes and capital gains. Of course, focusing solely on federal income taxes ignores the regressive consumption taxes that hit the poor the hardest.
Those taxes are paid by everybody, even people who don't work and are ineligible for the Earned Income Tax Credit. And one might be a little more sympathetic to the plight of the affluent if they weren't able to exploit loopholes and various other tricks within the tax code to lower their effective tax rates to be roughly equal to -- or lower than -- someone making far less.
As in Billionaire investor Warren Buffett who pays a lower tax rate than his secretary who makes less than $200,000 a year. Something else O'Reilly never mentions, that the public tax rate reported for the wealthy is a myth, they never pay that, with deductions and tax loopholes the average millionaire and billionaire pay a lower tax rate than the average working man.
But O'Reilly claims he knows he's right about the suffering of the rich in America, as proven by the sad, sad story of Bill O'Reilly's slightly less robust investment portfolio. "According to financial analyst Alexander Green, who works for the Oxford Club, the tax burden on business investors drives down job creation and economic expansion," O'Reilly claimed.
"I believe that because I have cut back investing due to the heavy capital gains hit. Why should I risk my money?"
Even though the capital gains tax is lower now (20%) then it was under Bush, when it was 28%, so one again O'Reilly is misrepresenting the facts, and implying the capital gains tax went up over the years, when it actually dropped 8% during that time.
After laying out this completely backwards vision of income inequality in America, O'Reilly turned to an actual economist, Austan Goolsbee and asked him to grade his economic dissertation.
Goolsbee, gave O'Reilly a D.
O'Reilly, as usual just ignored what the expert said and gave himself an A.
Redskins Poll O'Reilly Ignored Already Proves Him Wrong
By: Steve - May 20, 2015 - 10:00am
Fox News host Bill O'Reilly suggested the name of Washington, D.C.'s NFL franchise was not offensive to the Native American community and said he'd like to poll them to confirm this.
In fact, a recent poll found that an overwhelming majority of Native Americans consider the Washington franchise's name to be racist.
On the May 14th edition of his Fox News show, O'Reilly discussed Senator Harry Reid's (D-NV) recent criticism of the NFL for suspending quarterback Tom Brady while ignoring what he described as Washington's "racist" NFL team name.
O'Reilly mocked Reid's criticism and questioned how offensive the name really was to Native Americans, saying this:
O'REILLY: I just think it's so ridiculous to bring up the Redskins. I'd really like to have a poll, and this is serious, among Native Americans. You know, to poll them and to see do you really think the Washington Redskins is racist? Really? I mean, you know, the intent of it is the noble fighter, all right? If you look at the logo and that you know, the Cleveland Indians. I don't know.In 2014, a California State University, San Bernardino sociology professor did poll the Native American community on the topic. The poll found that 67 percent of Native Americans believe the NFL team's name is "racist."
But of course O'Reilly ignored it, because it did not agree with him, if it did he would have reported it. Instead he just ignores it and acts like it was never done.
In addition, many Native Americans have spoken out against the name. In 2014, thousands of Native Americans in Minnesota protested against the team's name.
In January, the Oneida Indian Nation and the National Congress of American Indians started a campaign "asking NFL fans to petition league leaders to change the Washington Redskins nickname."
And Rep. Tom Cole, an Oklahoma Republican and a Native American, has also spoken out against the name, saying, "It is very, very, very offensive. This isn't like warriors or chiefs. It's not a term of respect, and it's needlessly offensive to a large part of our population."
Salon Reports Fox Could Care Less About O'Reilly Domestic Abuse
By: Steve - May 19, 2015 - 11:40am
From Joan Walsh at Salon.com:
It should come as no surprise that Fox News didn't mention the latest awful allegations about Bill O'Reilly's behavior toward women on Monday night. But given the ugliness of the reports - Gawker says that his ex-wife accused him, in sealed divorce documents, of choking her and dragging her by the neck down the stairs of their Manhasset mansion - it's hard not to wonder what, if anything, would get O'Reilly in trouble with Roger Ailes.
We already know he settled a sexual harassment lawsuit by Fox producer Andrea Mackris, whose details became the stuff of journalistic legend - we will never think of falafel, or loofah, the same way. Now, while we don't know the entire truth about his divorce, or why he lost custody of his children, we know enough to say he probably shouldn't be lecturing anyone on family values. (For the record, O'Reilly today denied the charges.)
Yet he will almost certainly continue to tell African American men how to behave with women, and how to parent, because Roger Ailes doesn't care about hypocrisy.
Now, we do have one example of Ailes tiring of a tempestuous host: Glenn Beck, in 2011. But Beck's insane shtick was tarnishing the brand. O'Reilly's angry white man shtick is the Fox brand. Without some explosive new evidence - his ex-wife refuses to comment on the charges, and she apparently did not call police when it happened - O'Reilly is likely to survive.
That doesn't mean he isn't wholly reprehensible. The cluster of reports about O'Reilly's divorce from Maureen McPhilmy are appalling. He used his clout as a donor to police charities to make trouble for McPhilmy's new boyfriend (now husband), a Nassau County police detective. As a powerful (and hypocritical) Catholic, he's tried to have their marriage annulled, which would negate the sin of divorce and allow the parties to marry again in the church.
That privilege used to be reserved for short term, childless (at one time, "unconsummated"), disastrous marriages that both parties quickly recognized as a mistake; now powerful Catholics, usually men, receive annulments for long-term marriages that produced children, and they often force them on unwilling spouses. (Yes, you'll recall that Rudy Giuliani did that to his first wife.) And in the meantime, the Fox bully tried to get McPhilmy ex-communicated from the church for the sin of divorce, and succeeded in getting her local parish to reprimand her for taking communion.
This latest allegation is particularly awful because it comes from his 16-year-old daughter, who told a custody investigator, that she witnessed the abuse before her parents separated five years ago. McPhilmy got sole custody at least partly because O'Reilly violated the terms of their joint custody agreement, hiring the children's therapist, who was supposed to supervise the custody situation as an impartial court ordered therapist, instead O'Reilly made her a member of his staff.
But at least he didn't yell at his wife, "Hey M-Fer, I want more iced tea."
Of course, even if you give O'Reilly the benefit of some doubt, it's clear his family life is a mess. Yet he regularly rails at African American families from his lofty perch at Fox. "The reason there is so much violence and chaos in the black precincts is the disintegration of the African-American family. The lack of involved fathers leads to young boys growing up resentful and unsupervised," he said last August.
In December, he continued to fulminate: "The astronomical crime rate among young black men-violent crime-drives suspicion and hostility. No supervision, kids with no fathers-the black neighborhoods are devastated by the drug gangs who prey upon their own. That's the problem!"
Now O'Reilly's kids are growing up with no father in the home - but apparently a judge thinks they will be better off that way.
O'Reilly has even called domestic violence "a terrible plague," telling 2016 GOP presidential hopeful Ben Carson last year: "I'm telling you, battery against women in this country and around the world is just out of control."
But why would Ailes care about any of that? His audience probably doesn't care. Fox's over-65, predominantly male viewers probably see both sexual harassment and domestic violence as issues hyped by feminazis and the liberal news media.
Ailes's entire news operation is built on a central fiction - and the fiction is that it's a news organization at all. So why would it be a problem if it's fronted by a family values hypocrite who's actually a serial abuser of women?
Now think about this, when famous multi-millionaires get a divorce and they do not get custody of the kids, you know there are a bad person and did something wrong to make the judge give the kids to the wife. I have no proof, but I would not be shocked to find out O'Reilly is a big drunk who got wasted at home and beat his wife, which is probably why she divorced him.
Court Documents Say Bill O'Reilly Beat His Wife
By: Steve - May 19, 2015 - 11:30am
Fox News big bad tough guy anchor Bill O'Reilly, known for his hardline stance on family values and violence in the home, allegedly assaulted his ex-wife, dragging her down the stairs by her neck in front of the pair's now 16-year-old daughter, according to court documents.
The documents were part of a recently-concluded child custody case in New York, in which a judge ruled that O'Reilly's ex-wife Maureen McPhilmy would get custody of their two children. Though the vast majority of the case's documents have been sealed because they deal with minors, Gawker has been able to confirm that the judge did in fact hear testimony about the alleged incident, which took place around 2010.
According to a source familiar with the facts of the case, a court-appointed forensic examiner testified at a closed hearing that O'Reilly's daughter claimed to have witnessed her father dragging McPhilmy down a staircase by her neck, apparently unaware that the daughter was watching. The precise date of the alleged incident is unclear, but appears to have occurred before the couple separated in 2010. The same source indicated that the daughter, who is 16 years old, told the forensic examiner about the incident within the past year.
The allegation is just the latest in a string of incidents that have come to light following the couple's divorce.
And that's not all, O'Reilly has not only attempted to have his ex-wife excommunicated from the Roman-Catholic church (which views getting divorced and remarried as a sin against God), but he also used his influence to launch an internal investigation into McPhilmy's new boyfriend, a Nassau County Police detective, by making a cash donation to the Police fund.
O'Reilley has also been a on record as blaming minorities plight on familial issues, including domestic violence.
O'Reilly has spent his entire career obsessing over patterns of violence among racial minorities, particularly black people, and the apparently unique effect of violence on the integrity of black families. As he fulminated on-air in December 2014: "The astronomical crime rate among young black men-violent crime-drives suspicion and hostility. No supervision, kids with no fathers-the black neighborhoods are devastated by the drug gangs who prey upon their own. That's the problem!"
Or, as O'Reilly claimed in August: "The reason there is so much violence and chaos in the black precincts is the disintegration of the African-American family."
O'Reilly released the following statement through his lawyer Fred Newman of Hoguet Newman Regal & Kenney, LLP.
All allegations against me in these circumstances are 100% false. I am going to respect the court-mandated confidentiality put in place to protect my children and will not comment any further.
Now remember this folks, O'Reilly also denied he was involved in the phone sex harrassment of his female producer, Andrea Mackris, he slammed her and said she was lying and that he would fight her to the bitter end in court. Then he found out she had recorded his phone calls, then he suddenly settled out of court in what was reported to be a $10 million dollar pay off.
Stereo Williams Slams Bill O'Reilly For Being A Pinhead Over Religion
By: Steve - May 19, 2015 - 11:00am
Stereo Williams (The black veteran entertainment journalist an accomplished screenwriter and documentarian) wrote an article for Bill O'Reilly, here it is:
Dear Bill O'Reilly: Hip-Hop Isn't Making People Anti-Christian, Pinheads Like You Are
Fox News chief troll believes hip-hop is corrupting the minds of America's youth and forcing them to turn their backs on Christianity. His beliefs are as ignorant as they come.
That ol' time religion ain't good enough for me.
Fox News personality Bill O'Reilly has once again taken aim at hip-hop music--and this time, he's convinced that it's a major reason why American youth are supposedly turning their backs on Christianity. The anchor declared that "people of faith are being marginalized by a secular media and pernicious entertainment."
He further explained that hip-hop was a big part of the problem.
"The rap industry, for example, often glorifies depraved behavior, and that sinks into the minds of some young people--the group that is most likely to reject religion," he said, adding, "Also, many movies and TV shows promote non-traditional values. If you are a person of faith, then the media generally thinks you are a loon."
The scapegoating of hip-hop has been going on for as long as hip-hop has existed; and the scapegoating of popular music in general stretches back to the early 20th century. But O'Reilly's ignorance in this particular matter isn't merely another example of an old guy complaining about "these kids and their crazy music." It reeks of racist revisionism.
A recent Pew Research report indicates that the number of Americans who identify as Christian dropped from 78.4 percent to 70.6 percent between 2007 and 2014. But the rift between young people and Christianity goes back decades.
In 1966, famed evangelist Billy Graham bemoaned the decline of Christianity among the youth of America and England and believed that the embrace of the relative hedonism of rock music was the result of young people seeking something that they no longer associated with faith.
But it's much more convenient for a pundit such as O'Reilly to focus on those latest statistics and tie them to a current phenomenon and mine the ever-present fear of blackness--as opposed to recognizing how, though the numbers may ebb and flow, the Christian question is representative of a cultural shift that has been happening now for generations.
If one considers what the '60s counterculture represented (free love, casual drug use, embracing of non-Western ideas regarding spirituality), as well as the emergence of darker-themed heavy metal from bands like Black Sabbath, it stands to reason that these kids' parents and grandparents were listening to more "anti-Christian" music than they do.
Does hip-hop have its fair share of religious critics? Absolutely. But it's also a genre that has openly flaunted religiosity in the form of Islam, especially--and even Christianity has been consistently visible in hip-hop's history.
Contrary to what O'Reilly seems to believe, hip-hop has actually been one of the most unapologetically religious genres of popular music over the past 35 years. Run-D.M.C.'s "Down With the King"--a group fronted by a minister, Rev. Run--was pretty blatant in its religious overtones. 2Pac's songs, from "Lord Knows to Blasphemy," were full of Christian imagery.
One of Kanye West's earliest hits was the 2004 single "Jesus Walks." Kendrick Lamar's acclaimed 2012 album good kid, m.A.A.d city opens with a prayer. Rap music has never been afraid to embrace faith. If anything, it's a genre that thrives on the contrast between the immaculate and the profane. At its best, this music is a summation of the struggle between the soul and the flesh. It’s reflective of the human spirit.
There are countless examples of pop, rock, country, R&B, and hip-hop embracing faith and religion on various levels. And in the past few years, rappers of faith like Lecrae and Trip Lee have risen to mainstream visibility and secular awards. But the tendency of the right to frame hip-hop as the scourge of American popular culture has long been tired and transparent.
The Fox News audience may be easily scared by the prospect of those unruly blacks corrupting the minds of American youth, but the hard truth is that Christianity has fallen out of favor with so many Americans because so many of the people championing it think like the Bill O'Reilly's of the world.
It has come to symbolize intolerant, homophobic, patriarchal, xenophobic and racist values that many people have decided that they are better off without.
Plus, phone sex guru and alleged sexual harasser O'Reilly isn't exactly one to proselytize about values. So instead of looking for a b-boy boogeyman, Bill O'Reilly should challenge himself and his audience to be a bit more nuanced and introspective in regards to where they lost the young people.
Or they will never get them back into that "ol' time religion."
Bolling Slams Jon Stewart For Simply Quoting Him Word For Word
By: Steve - May 19, 2015 - 10:00am
As most people reading this already know, Fox News bases most of its content on fear-mongering and slandering President Obama, Hillary Clinton, liberals, Democrats and pretty much anything that doesn't coincide with the Republican party ideological beliefs.
After all, it's not really a news network, it's a conservative propaganda outlet.
And it's always funny to me how defensive the network gets whenever the president takes a direct shot at them or something Jon Stewart said on The Daily Show happens to make waves nationally. And as it just so happens, both happened last week.
First, while speaking at a conference about poverty at Georgetown University, President Obama mentioned how Fox News often portrays poor people as lazy sponges that are leeching off the system. And that triggered Fox News to completely ignore everything the president said in the well over an hour-long event to solely focus on the fact that he mentioned the absurdity of their network directly.
They never reported anything about the speech, but when he mentioned Fox the entire network went nuts and used every show and host they have to slam Obama and deny what he said is true, even though it is true and everyone knows it.
Their reaction to Obama's comments then prompted Stewart to absolutely tear apart the conservative entertainment network and how they often fear-monger and vilify the poor. Though the truth is, all he really did was play clips taken directly from their own broadcasts.
So Eric Bolling, a common adversary of Stewart's, didn't take too kindly to The Daily Show host quoting the network verbatim. First, Bolling went on to call poor people parasites, comically following that up by saying Fox News doesn't "begrudge poor people who are struggling."
Yes, because nothing says "we don't begrudge poor people" quite like generalizing everyone who's poor and relying on government programs to get by as parasites because a small percentage of people who get these benefits are abusing them.
But then he went on to call Stewart a school yard bully. So, let me see if I understand Bolling correctly. Stewart literally played clips taken directly from Fox News broadcasts showing numerous segments over the last several years where they attacked and vilified poor people, and somehow that makes him a bully?
This coming from a guy (Bolling) who only a few months ago mocked a female fighter pilot with one of the most biggest sexist remarks I've ever heard -- while literally suffering no form of disciplinary action for his comments.
This is what Fox News does. They want to be able to bash, attack, slander and push whatever sort of fear-mongering propaganda they think conservatives will believe, then whenever someone dares call them out on their ridiculousness, they try to act as if they're somehow the victim. It's both comical and pathetic. Then again, it's Fox News - being comically pathetic is what they do best.
Apple Avoided $74 Billion In Taxes Over 4 Years With Tax Scams
By: Steve - May 18, 2015 - 11:00am
And of course you never hear a word about this from Bill O'Reilly, or any Republican, while complaining that U.S. Corporations pay too much in taxes. It's insane, and O'Reilly never tells you the facts, that these giant corporations are using tax scams to avoid Billions in taxes.
And btw folks, the Democrats want to stop this, but the Republicans refuse to vote for it, so remember that the next time you vote. It is costing you money, because those lost tax revenues are paid by someone, and that someone is the average American worker. When taxes are lost from corporations, the American worker makes up for it, so if you work you are getting screwed by the Republican party.
Now think about this, Apple is the nation's most profitable technology company, and it still avoided billions in taxes in the United States and around the world through a web of subsidiaries so complex it spanned continents and went beyond anything most experts had ever seen, Congressional investigators disclosed on Monday.
Congressional investigators found that some of Apple's subsidiaries had no employees and were largely run by top officials from the company's headquarters in Cupertino, Calif. But by officially locating them in places like Ireland, Apple was able to, in effect, make them stateless -- exempt from taxes, record-keeping laws and the need for the subsidiaries to even file tax returns anywhere in the world.
"Apple wasn't satisfied with shifting its profits to a low-tax offshore tax haven," said Senator Carl Levin, a Michigan Democrat who is chairman of the Senate Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations that is holding the public hearing Tuesday into Apple's use of tax havens. "Apple successfully sought the holy grail of tax avoidance. It has created offshore entities holding tens of billions of dollars while claiming to be tax resident nowhere."
Thanks to what lawmakers called gimmicks and schemes, Apple was able to sidestep taxes on tens of billions of dollars it earned in recent years. Last year, international operations accounted for 61 percent of Apple's total revenue.
And that is not all, Apple is not the only American multinational to face scrutiny for using complex corporate structures and tax havens to sidestep taxes. In recent months, revelations from European authorities about the tax avoidance strategies used by Google, Starbucks and Amazon have all stirred public anger.
The findings about Apple were remarkable both for the enormous amount of money involved and the audaciousness of the company's assertion that its subsidiaries are beyond the reach of any taxing authority.
"There is a technical term economists like to use for behavior like this," said Edward Kleinbard, a law professor at the University of Southern California in Los Angeles and a former staff director at the Congressional Joint Committee on Taxation. "Unbelievable chutzpah."
Apple's tax avoidance strategy underscores how riddled with loopholes the American corporate tax code has become, critics say. At the same time, it shows how difficult it will be for Washington to overhaul the tax system.
Apple's tax avoidance efforts shifted at least $74 billion dollars from the reach of the Internal Revenue Service between 2009 and 2012, the investigators said.
That cash remains offshore, but Apple, which paid more than $6 billion in taxes in the United States last year on its American operations, could still have to pay federal taxes on it if the company were to return the money to its coffers in the United States.
John McCain of Arizona, who is the panel's senior Republican, said: "Apple claims to be the largest U.S. corporate taxpayer, but by sheer size and scale, it is also among America's largest tax avoiders."
Apple Operations International has not filed a tax return in Ireland, the United States or any other country over the last five years. It had income of $30 billion between 2009 and 2012. By shuttling revenue between international subsidiaries, Apple was able largely to sidestep paying taxes, Congressional investigators said.
The Senate investigators also found evidence that the company turned over substantially less money to the government than its public filings indicated.
While the company cited an effective rate of 24 to 32 percent in its disclosures, its effective tax rate was 20 percent, based on the committee's findings. And for a company of Apple's size, the resulting difference was substantial -- more than $8 billion in 2009, 2010 and 2011.
Because of these strategies, tax experts say, Washington is forced to rely more and heavily on payroll taxes and individual income taxes to finance the government's operations.
For example, in 2011, individual income taxes contributed $1.1 trillion to federal coffers, while corporate taxes added up to $181 billion.
On Capitol Hill Monday, Democratic legislators made plain their fury over what they called Apple's "egregious and outrageous" conduct.
While other companies have taken advantage of loopholes, Mr. Levin said, "I've never seen anything like this and we don't know anybody who's seen anything like this."
State Supreme Court Rules Republican Poll Tax Is Unconstitutional
By: Steve - May 18, 2015 - 10:00am
New Hampshire's highest court on Friday struck down Republican lawmakers latest attempt to restrict voting in the crucial early voting state, ruling that language that ties the right to register to vote with the possession of a driver's license violates the state constitution.
The state Supreme Court found that use of the word residence on the standard voter registration form, added in 2012, is unconstitutional and confuses voters.
The form should use the word domicile instead, which includes those living in New Hampshire who do not re-register their cars and obtain new driver's licenses within 60 days of moving to the state, the court found.
Critics said, and the court agreed, that the use of the word residence was likely to exclude from voting college students, active members of the military and other people who may have recently moved to the state or frequently move homes.
"Because the challenged language is confusing and inaccurate, and because, as the trial court found, it could cause an otherwise qualified voter not to register to vote in New Hampshire, we hold that, as a matter of law, the burden it imposes upon the fundamental right to vote is unreasonable," the unanimous decision said.
In filing the lawsuit, the New Hampshire Civil Liberties Union argued that the four out-of-state college students named in the complaint would be forced to pay a poll tax in order to vote in the state.
New Hampshire is already seeing a lot of attention from presidential hopefuls because it's primary falls early in the election cycle, so winning the state is crucial to any candidate's chances.
Other states have also made efforts to selectively choose their voters using similar residency requirements. Republican lawmakers in Ohio attempted to sneak a provision into the transportation budget this year which would have required residents who registered to vote to reregister their vehicles in the state.
Republican Gov. John Kasich eventually line-item vetoed the provision after significant pushback from Democrats in the state legislature and voting rights advocates.
In other words, when the bill went public and it made Republicans look bad, the Republican Kasich vetoed the provision.
Meanwhile, New Hampshire lawmakers are potentially looking at imposing a 30-day residency requirement on the state's same-day voter registration law, another effort to prevent populations that typically vote for Democratic candidates from casting ballots.
The state already has one of the strictest voter ID laws in the country, which requires that the name on a voter's photo identification card substantially match the voter registration. But studies, including one conducted by the U.S. Government Accountability Office, have shown that voter ID laws contribute to lower voter turnout, with the declines in voting greatest among younger and African American voters.
Maher & Rapper Slam O'Reilly For Insane Comments About Rap
By: Steve - May 17, 2015 - 11:50am
Friday night Bill Maher and rapper Killer Mike piled on Bill O'Reilly, with the latter finding it remarkably difficult to take the Fox host seriously. At the mere invocation of O'Reilly's name, Killer Mike said, "I hate how white people take him so seriously. He's more full of s--t than an outhouse."
Maher brought up how O'Reilly blamed a cultural corrosion fueled by rap music for the decline of religion in America. Killer Mike suspected O'Reilly's just "full of it," but Maher insisted he really believes this stuff.
Killer Mike found that incredibly hard to believe, while Maher pointed out that O'Reilly's point is ridiculous anyway, because "the people who are least likely to leave Christianity are black folks."
Yes Mike, O'Reilly does believe the far-right nonsense he spews out. He has brainwashed himself to believe what he says is true, and he lies so much he actually believes his own lies.
O'Reilly Slams MM & The NY Times For Telling The Truth About Him
By: Steve - May 17, 2015 - 11:30am
O'Reilly Lashed Out At Media Matters And A NY Times Columnist For Highlighting His Anti-Poor Rhetoric. Even though we have about 20 documented examples of him calling poor people names, and shaming them for daring to be poor, getting Government aid, and simply being on food stamps, while saying nothing about corporate welfare or the Republicans giving rich people most of the tax cuts they pass.
The dishonest O'Reilly also said this: "I Never" Name-Call Poor People.
Just scroll down and look at my next blog post, you will see numerous examples of O'Reilly shaming the poor, and calling them names. And that is not all of it, there are many more, I only posted a partial list. O'Reilly says the poor are just lazy, and says they should go get a job and stop accepting Government aid.
According to him they should all just go to work, even though most of them are working, they just do not make enough to not be poor. O'Reilly and the idiots at Fox shame the poor almost every day, and call them names, to say they dont is just laughable.
O'Reilly & Fox News Now Lying About Shaming The Poor
By: Steve - May 17, 2015 - 11:00am
They all do it, including O'Reilly, many times, but of course when Obama called them out for it they all denied it, even though we have 100% proof they shame the poor, and do it all the time.
President Obama called out Fox News for their slanted coverage of poverty while speaking at the Catholic-Evangelical Leadership Summit on Overcoming Poverty at Georgetown University on May 12th:
OBAMA: And over the last 40 years, sadly, I think there's been an effort to either make folks mad at folks at the top, or to be mad at folks at the bottom. And I think the effort to suggest that the poor are sponges, leaches, don't want to work, are lazy, are undeserving, got traction.Here is what some at Fox said:
On May 13 Fox & Friends hosts and Fox Business host Stuart Varney discussed their confusion over why Obama criticized the network for slanted coverage of those in poverty. Varney claimed Fox News was simply "an honest messenger." Co-host Steve Doocy agreed, lamenting that if those in poverty "don't want to be poor," they should just get a job. [Fox News, Fox & Friends, 5/13/15]
During the May 12th edition of The Kelly File, Fox's chief Washington correspondent James Rosen claimed that Obama was "insulting the intelligence of the American people" by criticizing the network in his speech.. [Fox News, The Kelly File, 5/12/15]
On Special Report, Fox contributor Stephen Hayes complained that Obama's comments on the network's coverage of poverty showed he has "a distorted view of Fox [News]." [Fox News, Special Report, 5/12/15]
And now the facts:
Fox Repeatedly Hyped "Obama Phones" As Poor People's Incentive To Vote For Obama.
Prior to President Obamas's 2012 re-election, Fox News repeatedly hyped a video of "an Obama supporter touting her 'Obama phone'" to disparage recipients of federal programs. Frequent Fox guest and then-National Review writer Mark Steyn claimed on Fox & Friends that "the 'Takers' were able to out-vote the 'Makers'" and that the American Dream was being thwarted by Democrats, who "bribe people with the Obama phones."
Steyn was repeating claims made by Fox's Sean Hannity on his radio program, where Hannity suggested voters supported Obama in order to receive an "Obama phone." Yet "Obama phones" never existed -- the federal program offering subsidized phone service has existed since 1996 and was expanded to include cell phones under President George W. Bush. [FoxNews.com, 9/29/12] [Fox News, Fox & Friends,11/8/12] [Premiere Radio Networks, The Sean Hannity Show, 10/2/12]
Fox's Poster-Boy For Food Stamp Recipients Is A "Blissfully Jobless California Surfer."
Fox's 2013 special "The Great Food Stamp Binge" championed the so-called "blissfully jobless California Surfer," Jason Greenslate, who misused the program, as the face of the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP, also known as food stamps).
Although Greenslate bears no resemblance to the overwhelming majority of SNAP recipients, many of whom are elderly, children, disabled, or rely on the program for a short time while looking for work, the network nevertheless shamefully featured him over and over in an attempt to mischaracterize beneficiaries as freeloaders. [Media Matters, 8/9/13]
Andrea Tantaros: I'd "Look Fabulous" If I Lived On Food Stamps.
In November 2012, on the eve of Thanksgiving, Fox News host Andrea Tantaros dismissed the plight of hungry Americans and claimed that she would "look fabulous" if she were forced to try to subsist on $133 for food per month for an extended period of time, the amount that SNAP participants in New Jersey receive. [Fox Business, Varney & Co., 11/21/12]
Stuart Varney On The Poor: "Many Of Them Have Things -- What They Lack Is The Richness Of Spirit."
In August 2011, Fox Business host Varney defended himself from criticism by The Daily Show's Jon Stewart by claiming he was simply "telling the truth about poor people," before asserting that for the poor, "many of them have things -- what they lack is the richness of spirit." [Fox Business, Varney & Co. at Night, 8/25/11]
Charles Payne: There's Not Enough "Stigma" Directed At Food Stamp Recipients.
In March 2013 on America's Newsroom, Fox Business host Charles Payne alleged that federal benefit programs trap people in poverty and complained that there wasn't enough "stigma" directed at poor Americans for using food assistance programs.
Bill O'Reilly: "How Can You Be So Poor And Have All This Stuff?"
In July 2011, O'Reilly Factor host Bill O'Reilly and Fox Business host Lou Dobbs cited a misleading report from the Heritage Foundation about the ownership of certain kitchen appliances by the poor in order to question the severity of poverty in the United States. Pointing the report, O'Reilly asked, "How can you be so poor and have all this stuff?" To which Dobbs responded "Amen, brother." [Fox News, The O'Reilly Factor, 7/20/11]
Fox Wondered If Children Should Work For Free School Meals.
In April 2013, Fox News asked viewers if school children should be forced to work in exchange for free school meals, after a Republican lawmaker in West Virginia proposed such a requirement for a new law intended to combat child hunger. [Fox News, Fox & Friends First, 4/25/13]
Fox Contributor Lamented That "The Sense Of Shame Is Gone" From People Using "Entitlements."
During a May 2012 appearance on Fox & Friends, network contributor and New York Post columnist Michael Goodwin lamented that "the sense of shame is gone" from enrolling in government anti-poverty programs, which has helped lead to an "explosion of entitlements."
Steve Doocy: Are Low-Income, Disabled People Just "Moochers?"
Fox & Friends co-host Steve Doocy questioned why the number of low-income Americans receiving federal disability benefits had increased since 1960, asking, "Are more people getting sick and disabled, or are we just wasting more money?" Later, he asked, "Has the number of people on disability gone up because they are moochers, or because more people need help?" [Fox News, Fox and Friends, 12/6/12]
O'Reilly: Only An "Infinitesimal" Number Of People Would Be Impacted By A Minimum Wage Increase.
On the January 21 edition of The O'Reilly Factor, O'Reilly and network contributor Eric Shawn undermined Obama's recently proposed minimum wage initiative and diminished the number of Americans that would be impacted by the policy.
O'Reilly asserted that only "a very low number" of people make "minimum wage anyway," falsely claiming that the number of people who would be impacted by the change would be "infinitesimal" and saying Obama has been "misleading everybody" by insisting a raise would have a big effect.
According to the experts, such a move would give 27.8 million Americans a raise. [Fox News, The O'Reilly Factor, 1/21/15]
Payne: After Thanksgiving, People "Take Their Welfare Checks And Bum Rush" Wal-Mart.
In October 2011, Charles Payne claimed one could understand why people were poor in America by going to Wal-Mart after Thanksgiving, and watching people on welfare benefits "bum rush" the store. [Fox News, Hannity, 10/3/11]
Fox Contributor Compares Public Pensions To "Ponzi Schemes," Laments That More Stigma Isn't Attached To Welfare.
In August 2014, Fox contributor Charles Gasparino attacked government benefit programs, claiming that public pensions were in fact "Ponzi schemes" and lamenting that more "stigma" isn't attached to receiving federal aid or "living in a housing project." [Fox News, Happening Now, 8/21/14]
All that, and O'Reilly still claims nobody at Fox shames the poor, it's just laughable.
Jon Stewart Rips Fox For Lying That They Do Not Trash The Poor
By: Steve - May 17, 2015 - 10:00am
Wednesday night Jon Stewart could barely process Fox News "rich buffet of BS" taking offense at President Obama scolding them on their coverage of the poor as leeches.
Over the past day, almost all the Fox shows flipped out about Obama swiping at them in the middle of a big forum on poverty, proving to Stewart that Fox basically pays no attention until they hear their own names.
Stewart said Obama's absolutely correct on the issue, telling Fox that they really do have "contempt for those in poverty" and contrasted clips of Fox Newsers denying ever saying mean things about the poor with, Fox Newsers saying mean things about the poor.
He asked, "How f--ing removed from reality is Fox's perception of their own coverage on poverty?"
Stewart also ripped into the right-wing moron Joe Scarborough for defending Fox without doing a lick of research on the matter first.
Fox Host: If You Don't Want To Be Poor Get A Job
By: Steve - May 16, 2015 - 11:00am
Steve Doocy: "Wind Up With A Job. That Is The Answer"
Said the right-wing idiot that does not understand most of the poor in America do have jobs, or that most people on food stamps are elderly or veterans, or have jobs that pay so little they still qualify for those food stamps.
Here is what the clueless fool said:
Study Proves Congress Does Not Care What The People Want
By: Steve - May 16, 2015 - 10:00am
And as usual, the so-called journalist and self-proclaimed man of the people Bill O'Reilly has not said one word about this study, or even mentioned it on his show.
Professors Martin Gilens (Princeton University) and Benjamin I. Page (Northwestern University) looked at more than 20 years worth of data to answer a simple question:
Does the government represent the people?
Their study took data from nearly 2000 public opinion surveys and compared it to the policies that ended up becoming law. In other words, they compared what the public wanted to what the government actually did. What they found was extremely unsettling: The opinions of the American people have essentially no impact at all.
So when you hear these idiots on tv (including O'Reilly) telling you to write and call your Congressman and Senators and give them your opinion so they can vote on a bill the way you want them to, remember they are full of it and lying to you, because your opinion is worthless to the corrupt jerks we elect to office.
Gilens & Page found that the number of Americans for or against any idea has no impact on the likelihood that Congress will make it law.
"The preferences of the average American appear to have only a miniscule, near-zero, statistically non-significant impact upon public policy."
One thing that does have an influence? Money.
While the opinions of the bottom 90% of income earners in America have a "statistically non-significant impact," Economic elites, business interests, and people who can afford lobbyists still carry major influence.
Nearly every issue we face as a nation is caught in the grip of corruption.
From taxation to national debt, education to the economy, America is struggling to address our most serious issues. Moneyed interests get what they want, and the rest of us pay the price.
They spend billions influencing America's government. We give them trillions in return.
In the last 5 years alone, the 200 most politically active companies in the US spent $5.8 billion influencing our government with lobbying and campaign contributions.
Those same companies got $4.4 trillion in taxpayer support -- earning a return of 750 times their investment.
It's a vicious cycle of legalized corruption.
As the cost of winning elections explodes, politicians of both political parties become ever more dependent on the tiny slice of the population who can bankroll their campaigns.
To win a Senate seat in 2014, candidates had to raise $14,351 every single day. Just .05% of Americans donate more than $10,000 in any election, so it's perfectly clear who candidates will turn to first, and who they're indebted to when they win.
In return for campaign donations, elected officials pass laws that are good for their mega-donors, and bad for the rest of us.
Our elected officials spend roughly 70% of their time in office fundraising for the next election. And when they are not fundraising, they have no choice but to make sure the laws they pass keep their major donors happy -- or they won't be able to run in the next election, because those major donors will give their money to someone else.
Basically, the whole system is rigged for the big corporations and the people with money to get whatever they want, while screwing the average American, the people they should be representing. And it will never change until we get all this money out of the elections.
Republicans Link To Religion Is Why People Are Less Religious
By: Steve - May 15, 2015 - 11:00am
O'Reilly blames Rap, Hollywood, liberals, and smoking pot for the drop in people who are religious, which is ridiculous, and ignores the real reason. The real reason more and more people are less religious is the Republican party, they decided years ago to go after the religious people to get their vote, so they use wedge issues like gay marriage and abortion to get those votes.
Now Religion and the Republican party are paying the price. But O'Reilly ignores it, because he does not want to admit the truth.
When Ronald Reagan began courting the religious right in his bid to win the Presidency, I doubt he knew he was spelling death to the tenets of Goldwater conservatism. Yet soon afterward, under the thumb of right-wing religion, the Republican party became a bloated fool, stuffed with hypocrisy, greed, and anti-intellectualism. The price is being paid through lost elections and a loss of public trust.
While Bush railed about the axis of evil, there was another axis that gathered steam during the Reagan years. The Moral Majority, Focus on the Family, and The Christian Coalition were all formed within years of each other as religiopolitical groups.
Jerry Falwell, James Dobson, and Pat Robertson, the respective leaders of these movements, formed a triad that sought to influence politics through a gospel of neo-conservative Christian rhetoric aimed at millions of faithful adherents whose votes, it was hoped, could swing the socio-political pendulum away from progress and back to "traditional values." In order to win the votes of the faithful followers, Republican politicians bartered themselves into a hear-no-wrong, see-no-wrong trade-off. This trade-off allowed Falwell to hold sway with politicians, and appear as a respected political pundit on right-wing shows, even after outlandishly insisting that the purple Tinky Winky children's character was gay, or that the anti-Christ was coming in the form of a Jew.
He could promote the idea of ending the public school system in favor of church-run schools, as he did in his book, America Can Be Saved, yet still wield considerable influence in Washington.
In trading endorsements for blindness, Pat Robertson could say that feminism "is a socialist, anti-family, political movement that encourages women to leave their husbands, kill their children, practice witchcraft, destroy capitalism and become lesbians" -- and even suggest that a nuclear device should be used to blow up the State Department -- yet Senators and other politicians would still appear on his CBN network, even after other controversies, such as the use of Operation Blessing planes for mining activities, splintered his Coalition.
Republican politicians continued to cater to James Dobson even after he distorted the research of scientists to promote his anti-gay agenda in Time magazine. Dobson, who operates several non-profits, has used millions in tax-free donations to try to influence nominations for the Supreme Court and to subvert the First Amendment separation of church and State, but legislators, rather than reining in the 800-pound gorilla, quaked under threat of being targeted by Dobson's political media machine.
There was a mutuality to the trade-off between the Christian right and its adopted Republican politicians. In exchange for being given credibility and influence in Washington, the triad and their various branches would justify the intrusive Patriot Act, torture at Guantanamo Bay, and massive governmental debt to their audience of millions -- if politicians would stand against Roe v. Wade.
They wouldn't make a stink about outrageously expensive no-bid contracts -- if it meant that their "faith-based" charities could get governmental grants. They would support war against a country that had nothing to do with 9/11 -- if politicians went on the record against same-sex marriage.
The would ignore or excuse the fact that a large percentage of corporations paid no taxes at all -- if it meant no new taxes for them. They'd support Bush even as he misled the public about weapons of mass destruction, and they'd excuse the unethical actions of henchmen like Rove and Libby -- if it meant that school vouchers would be put on the agenda.
Working in tandem with their corrupted politicians, the Christian right would rejoice at the FCC's repeal of the Fairness Doctrine, which gave rise to a slew of unchecked right-wing programs that hawked the myth of a vast "liberal media", even as markets narrowed and became dominated by a handful of corporations.
Right-wing loons like Ann Coulter, Bill O'Reilly, Sean Hannity, and Rush Limbaugh were encouraged to truck in fear, loathing, and controversy, mirroring the religious right's mission to divide the country into red/blue, good/evil, conservative/liberal, Christian/un-Christian factions. There was no room for the moderate middle in this "with us or against us" equation, as witnessed by the public shredding of moderate Republican politicians like Arlen Specter, a Jew, and a vocal critic of the Christian right.
"What some are trying to do is take over the party," Specter warned in 1994. "That's bad for the Republican Party and bad for the country." Specter became a target of the religious right for his support of Roe v. Wade, and his refusal to bend to the will of religious power brokers like Dobson, who attempted to use his influence to block Specter's 2005 bid to become chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee.
Today, Sarah Palin and Michele Bachmann are among two of the more prominent Republican figures that have become mouthpieces for the religious right. Their attempts to split a diverse, multi-cultural country into "pro-America" and "anti-America" factions have left little doubt who is to be considered patriotic and who is not. And Bill O'Reilly is right there with them, supporting what they say and do by repeating the same talking points and putting them on his show to give them national media attention.
Those who are right-wing Christians -- anti-abortion, anti-feminism, anti-gay, anti-evolution, anti-taxes, pro-gun, and pro-deregulation -- and who are willing to ignore or justify massive governmental debt, corporate welfare, bank nationalization, unjustified war, falling markets, depleted retirement accounts, record foreclosures, government spying, broken treaties, torture, the impingement of a free press, the subversion of the First Amendment, the hiding of official records, the missing millions from Halliburton, and more - are patriotic. Everyone else is not.
Which is pretty much the exactsame things O'Reilly says every night.
Barry Goldwater once said that he was "sick and tired of the political preachers" that tried to dictate his morality.
"And I am even more angry as a legislator who must endure the threats of every religious group who thinks it has some God-granted right to control my vote on every roll call in the Senate. I am warning them today: I will fight them every step of the way if they try to dictate their moral convictions to all Americans in the name of "conservatism."
Goldwater would probably be rolling in his grave at the hijacking of his party by religious fundamentalists. It remains to be seen if the Republican party can recover from its long and seedy affair with the extreme right, but there is no doubt that many socially moderate, fiscally conservative Republicans are waiting for a leadership that is driven more by Goldwater ethics than by the bogeyman of a separatist, neo-con God.
President Obama Getting Revenge On Fox News For Years Of Lies
By: Steve - May 15, 2015 - 10:00am
After years of putting up with their biased attacks, President Obama is getting his revenge on Fox News by freezing them out of access and denying them exclusive interviews.
Fox News Sunday host Chris Wallace went into full bitch mode because the Obama White House refuses to send guests on to his show, "We wanted to ask Secretary of Homeland Security Jeh Johnson about the terror threat while the White House put him on another Sunday show. They declined to make him available to Fox viewers. The White House has made a number of guests available to other networks this year while excluding us and you."
Fox News burned their bridges with the Obama administration a long time ago. Before the President first took office, Fox News was pushing racism and birtherism. And Fox's behavior has only gotten worse over the years. Fox News has openly tried to get Obama removed from office with their constant conspiracy theories and propagandizing.
President Obama's White House would be rewarding bad behavior and inaccurate reporting if they allowed administration officials to appear exclusively on Fox News. The Obama administration is simply paying back Fox News for their years of biased and inaccurate reporting.
Fox doesn't get to have it both ways. They can't be baselessly accusing the President of illegal behavior on a regular basis and expect to be rewarded with exclusive interviews.
The problem with Fox News isn't that they are critical of President Obama. The problem with Fox News is that they are deeply partisan, and ignore facts and reality. Fox News doesn't practice journalism. They practice partisan warfare disguised as journalism. For this reason, they should not be surprised that the White House has no interest in sending officials to appear on their network.
Fox News needs access to White House officials. The White House does not need Fox News for anything. And President Obama is getting his revenge by freezing out Fox News, which I support. Why should he send people on to biased news shows when they lie about him 24/7, I sure would do the very same thing and I would have done it a long time ago.
Chris Christie Spent Taxpayer Money On Food At Football Games
By: Steve - May 14, 2015 - 11:00am
Republican Gov. Chris Christie wasted $82,594 of taxpayer money on food he bought while attending football games in 2010 and 2011.
New Jersey Watchdog reported this:
Christie's most notable spending spree occurred during the 2010 and 2011 NFL football seasons at MetLife Stadium, where the New York Giants and Jets play their home games.This is an example of the kind of conservatism that many Republicans have embraced. The food sold at sporting events is very expensive. It is difficult for most taxpayers to believe that elected officials are doing much public business at these events.
The taxpayers should not have to pay for Chris Christie's hot dogs, nachos, and Coke at the game.
If Christie, or any other elected official, wants to attend a game, they should have to do it like everyone else. Christie should be responsible for his own food and beverage costs. Spending money that people work hard for on wasteful junk food at the game is something that Chris Christie should be ashamed of, but he's not.
Guys like Christie are spending massive amounts of taxpayer money on stadium junk food, while at the same time trying to cut food stamp money for the poor, that is very little, and food they need just to live. I get $194 a month in food stamps, that's $2,328 a year. What Christie spent on junk food at football games in 2 years would pay my food stamps for 35 years.
There are far too many Republicans like Christie, who talk about cutting benefits for those in need and pensions for public workers, while personally living it up on the taxpayers dime.
Christie's behavior is a symptom of a larger and more hypocritical Republican problem, they are corrupt and massive hypocrites. And you fools that vote for them are suckers.
O'Reilly Blames Rap Music For Marginalization Of Religion In America
By: Steve - May 14, 2015 - 10:00am
O'Reilly: "The Rap Industry, For Example, Often Glorifies Depraved Behavior, And That Sinks Into The Minds Of Some Young People"
O'Reilly also said this: Secular Growth in U.S. Could Lead Us to Collapse Like the Roman Empire
O'Reilly talked about a new poll Tuesday night about declining religious numbers in the U.S., blaming a corrosive culture egged on by the rap industry, Hollywood, and advocates for drug legalization.
The new Pew poll finds that less people identify themselves as Christians than did a few years ago, and there's been a rise in the number of people who identify themselves as religiously "unaffiliated."
And that troubles O'Reilly, who declared "people of faith are being marginalized by a secular media and pernicious entertainment." And there's a corrosive culture to blame, he said, where the rap industry "glorifies depraved behavior," movies and TV shows "promote non-traditional values," and people are pushing to legalize certain drugs.
He warned that nations that prioritize "individual gratification" end up in serious trouble. O'Reilly even invoked the collapse of the Roman Empire and said, "The same thing is happening in America today, but it can be fixed if the electorate wakes up."
And I think Billy just does not want to admit that the decline in religious affiliation, especially with millenials, can be tied directly to the alliance between the evangelicals and fundamentalists in the Republican party.
People have become suspicious of religion as it has mostly embraced the anti-science, climate warming denying, anti marriage equality, anti-abortion position of the wingnut arm of the Republican party.
In other words, younger people are being turned off to religion because they are linked with the far-right loons in the Republican party more and more all the time. They see all these right-wing nuts who mention religion every time they speak and they say they do not want to be a part of that clueless and misinformed group, so they reject religion because of it.
But O'Reilly says nothing about that group of anti-reality religious right-wingers, and then blames Rap music and Hollywood, which is just ridiculous.
Laura Ingraham Slams Jeb Bush Over Iraq Invasion Comment
By: Steve - May 13, 2015 - 11:00am
Ingraham slammed Jeb Bush, saying this: 'Has to Be Something Wrong' with Him to Still Support Iraq Invasion
If Jeb Bush would still invade Iraq knowing what we know now, 12 years after the fact, then "there has to be something wrong" with him, conservative radio host Laura Ingraham said Monday morning.
In a pre-taped Fox News interview, Megyn Kelly asked Bush whether he'd still send American forces into Iraq, as we did in 2003, knowing now about the faulty intelligence that drove the initial occupation. Not only did he answer in the affirmative, but he suggested Hillary Clinton would do the same.
That response was worrisome, according to Ingraham. "No, Hillary wouldn't," she exclaimed. "She wouldn't authorize the war now, if she knew what she knew now then. No, of course not!"
Even though the question is purely hypothetical, Ingraham continued, "You have to say 'No' to that; you can't say, 'Yes, I'd still would have gone into Iraq.'"
And then came the kicker: "Or if you do, then there has to be something wrong with you. You can't think going into Iraq now, as a sane human being, was the right thing to do. That's like you have no ability to learn from past mistakes at all."
Mike Huckabee's Own Republican Colleagues Are Slamming Him
By: Steve - May 13, 2015 - 10:00am
Presidential candidate Mike Huckabee is facing vast skepticism from some of the people who know him best: his former colleagues in the conservative media.
Huckabee hosted a weekly Fox News program for over six years before leaving to explore a presidential run. Huckabee credited his Fox News platform for helping him gain access to "people's homes every week."
That advantage with Republican primary voters hasn't necessarily translated to many of his former colleagues. Conservative media figures have called Huckabee's positions "appalling," and said he represents "big government, big taxes, and pro-amnesty."
They've also questioned whether he's serious about running, or is just being a "spoiler" on behalf of the Republican establishment.
Conservatives have used Huckabee's time as a media commentator as evidence that he's doomed to fail. Fox News correspondent Jesse Watters said that Huckabee's "been on Fox for how many years? He's got the radio show. He's probably given the enemy so much material to work with there."
Huckabee's years in the media were filled with numerous lowlights, including staunch anti-LGBT rhetoric, claiming President Obama grew up "in Kenya," linking the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting to the lack of God in schools, and renting out his email list to shady companies.
Glenn Beck: Huckabee Is "Being Put In As A Spoiler" By The Establishment. Beck claimed that the Republican establishment is putting Huckabee in the race in order to take away votes from conservatives like Ted Cruz and Rand Paul. His website reported:
BECK: I think he's being put in as a spoiler. I think that's the only thing. I really do. I think he's there because he'll pull religious votes away from Ted Cruz. And that's the one that big government progressives are afraid of. The establishment is afraid of Ted Cruz and Rand Paul.George Will: "There Is One Word For Huckabee's Stances: Appalling." Will, a Washington Post columnist and Fox News contributor, harshly criticized Huckabee in his May 8 column, citing his "appalling" stances and rhetoric, especially on legal matters. [Washington Post, 5/8/15]
Sean Hannity: "I'm Just Not So Sure He's Serious About It Except -- You Know, Why Do I Get The Impression That He's Out There For Name Recognition Stuff?" Huckabee has not appeared on Hannity's Fox News program in recent years despite working for Fox. He is the only declared presidential candidate who has not been interviewed by Hannity on Fox in recent years. [The Sean Hannity Show, 5/5/15]
Jesse Watters On Huckabee's Media Career: "He's Probably Given The Enemy So Much Material To Work With There ... His Time Has Passed." Watters said of Huckabee while co-hosting The Five:
WATTERS: And I don't think he's going to have enough money to make an impact. I like Huckabee personally. He has a very narrow appeal to high- school graduates and kind of working-class whites and evangelicals.Mark Levin: Huckabee Has A "Big Government, Big Taxes, And Pro-Amnesty Record." [Facebook.com, 5/6/15]
Michelle Malkin: "Huckabee Is A Lying Crapweasel On Common Core." She also tweeted: "Mike Huckabee: Because there aren't enough Big Govt, soft-on-amnesty, Common Core weasel candidates in the GOP 2016 race." [Twitter.com, 5/5/15; Twitter.com, 5/5/15]
Katie Pavlich: "Reminder: Mike Huckabee Granted Clemency To A Criminal Who Murdered Four Police Officers." Pavlich, a Fox News contributor, criticized Huckabee over his clemency of Maurice Clemmons in a Townhall.com piece. [Townhall.com, 5/6/15]
David Harsanyi Cites Long Litany Of Complaints About Huckabee. Harsanyi, a senior editor at The Federalist and syndicated columnist, explained "why I dislike the political version of Mike Huckabee so much." He cited, among other things, "his paternalistic attacks on pop culture"; "his role as John McCain's hitman in the 2008 primaries" against Mitt Romney's faith; and "his rhetoric will often be indistinguishable from what we hear on the left." [National Review, 5/8/15]
NRO's Ramesh Ponnuru Criticizes Huckabee's "FairTax" Proposal. Ponnuru, a senior editor for National Review, wrote of Huckabee's support for a "FairTax": "Other forms of consumption tax wouldn't hit seniors as hard. The flat-tax plans several other candidates will probably be touting would not, for example. If I were one of those other candidates, I'd be tempted to call Huckabee's tax plan a massive, if backdoor, cut in the value of seniors' Social Security checks." [NRO, 5/5/15]
Steve Deace: Huckabee Is Supporting "The Basis For A Permanent Welfare State." Deace, an influential Iowa radio host, criticized Huckabee's positions on Medicare and Social Security, which are "not safety nets" but "the basis for a permanent welfare state." [Salem Radio Network, The Steve Deace Show, 5/6/15, via Media Matters]
And as expected, Bill O'Reilly has not reported any of this, because he does not want to report anything that makes any Republican look bad, he is too busy using right-wing talking points to unfairly attack Hillary Clinton.
Bill O'Reilly Lame Comedy Routine Was Racist & Not Funny
By: Steve - May 12, 2015 - 11:00am
According to CNN's Tom Kludt, Bill O'Reilly's Don't Be a Pinhead tour includes material that explains why there seems to be a strict no-recording policy, he has a talent for bad impersonations and a love for offensive ones.
Miller opened with a set, which was followed by O'Reilly's own solo monologue. An intermission was followed by 30 minutes of prescreened questions from the audience. The whole thing lasted about two hours. So let me get this straight, Mr. full disclosure Bill O'Reilly, who asks for transparency from everyone else, does not allow his pinhead shows to be recorded, and he only takes prescreened questions from the audience.
For O'Reilly, it was a show for his most loyal constituents, who he refers to affectionately as "the folks." They cheered loudly when he said that the country needed "a good, strong leader" in the White House.
One audience member who submitted a question asked if the "government should pay to rebuild Baltimore" after the recent unrest over the death of Freddie Gray. Several people in the crowd shouted "no."
Over the course of the show O'Reilly performed a number of bad and insulting impressions, including one of the "Chinese workers" who improperly donated pantsuits to the Clinton Foundation in one made-up scenario.
"We don't want them back," O'Reilly said in what he imagined to be a Chinese accent. "They don't fit anyone here in this country."
Discussing the protests in Baltimore last week, O'Reilly adopted an accent that Kludt could only describe as "an unusual intonation that made him difficult to understand."
He then mocked the city's impoverished residents in that same offensive accent, saying "We need jobs, we need jobs down here, we need jobs," before reverting to his speaking voice and replying, "Great, burn the CVS down, that'll help out."
When he wasn's insulting liberals, black, asians, and the poor, O'Reilly told some fat jokes, claiming that it would have been easy to miss President Obama when he appeared with New Jersey Governor Chris Christie after Superstorm Sandy because "he was behind the governor."
He also suggested that the president could have used Rosie O'Donnell to plug the well during the 2010 BP oil spill, but there wasn't "a crane big enough in the world" to transport her there. Boy that's some funny stuff, not!
It's Official: The Crazy Far-Right Has Taken Over The Republican Party
By: Steve - May 12, 2015 - 10:00am
I know not all Republicans are crazy, but it's clear that their party is being taken over by some of the craziest people in the country. The Republican Party once stood for tax cuts, deregulation, and maybe a few Bible references, now it's turned into something where believing that President Obama is planning to invade Texas is a legitimate fear worthy of the governor's attention, and talking about the president bringing about Biblical Armageddon seems perfectly acceptable.
And it doesn't just stop there. Not too long ago we were not having debates about whether or not the overwhelmingly accepted belief of man made climate change is real or if creationism should be taught in our biology classrooms along with evolution -- because those who denied climate change and evolution weren't people anyone actually took seriously.
Now they're the ones who have taken over most of the Republican party. Just think about this, a few months ago the state of Oklahoma actually tried banning AP history classes because those classes were teaching facts about history.
The crazy things I have seen and heard many of these people say the last few years just amaze me. From President Obama faking multiple copies of his birth certificate, to him having ties to the Muslim Brotherhood, now to Jade Helm being about his attempt to secure a third term -- the crazy never seems to end.
To say nothing about those who believe the economy is actually worse since Obama took office, including Bill O'Reilly who still says the economy is in chaos and that the liberal Obama economic policies have failed.
Yes you heard me right, they think it's worse. I guess they don't remember January of 2009 when we lost 598,000 jobs. While, this January, just 6 years later, we gained 257,000 jobs. To say nothing about the fact that we have created jobs every single month since March of 2010 -- that's 61 straight months.
And btw, unemployment is now at 5.4 percent.
Then there's the gun debate and the constant belief by many that, at any moment, President Obama is coming to seize your guns. Never mind that he's literally done nothing to even suggest that, but because the NRA has said it over and over and over, it must be true, right?
I'm sure a massive gun lobby backed by big gun and ammunition manufacturers has nothing to gain from pushing irrational fear-mongering that almost always leads to a huge spike in gun and ammo sales. No way could any of that possibly be related.
Then there's always gay marriage and this belief that legalizing gay marriage is going to bring about "God's wrath" or tear at the fabric of society and destroy our very way of life. Meanwhile, 18 countries around the world have legalized same-sex marriage and they're doing just fine.
Countries like Canada, and two of our biggest allies, Britain and France, have all embraced marriage equality. The last time I checked, God has yet to smite them with giant balls of fire from the sky.
Now think about this, recently widespread tornadoes and floods hit Oklahoma, as well as a record number of earthquakes, and they are one of the most anti-gay/pro-religious states in the country. And I am not saying any of that is related to God's wrath, but if we're going to go that route, I just thought I would tpoint out the troubles that extremely Christian Oklahoma has had.
What's really funny is that if a Democratic run state is hit with a massive tornado or some kind of severe weather that kills a lot of people, right-wing religious leaders say it is God punishing them for their gay and liberal sins. But when a massive tornado or some kind of severe weather hits a Republican run state they are silent. Those same religious leaders do not say it's punishment from God against conservatives, so their claims make no sense and as usual it's just crazy right-wing religious mumbo jumbo.
And for the record, Massachusetts (the first state to legalize same-sex marriage) is doing just fine. But what really makes me laugh the most are Republicans like Senator Ted Cruz and Congressman Louie Gohmert who say that the American people are right to believe all this Jade Helm conspiracy nonsense because this administration has proven that they cannot be trusted.
In other words, because Republicans have been lying and fear-mongering about President Obama since before he ever moved into the White House, they believe these individuals who have an insane fear of the government and this president have a right to feel that way, because of the lies they've been told by politicians like themselves.
The worst part is, the GOP is embracing all of this insanity. Even as this Jade Helm conspiracy nonsense has been happening, I have yet to see a big pushback from Republican leaders against Texas Governor Greg Abbott for basically giving legitimacy to one of the most ridiculous things I have ever seen.
You would think they would be ashamed of this insanity, and that they would have been fairly quick to loudly denounce and condemn such idiocy. But for the most part, the GOP has remained silent, aside from those who seem to be encouraging this insanity speaking out.
This is why people on the left are asking moderate Republicans to take their party back or just join our side. While we might not agree on everything, at least we are not insane. Because the Republican party has not just become the party of stupid, it's become the party of crazy as well. And I only see it getting worse.
Jeb Bush Said George W. Bush Is His Foreign Policy Advisor
By: Steve - May 11, 2015 - 11:00am
At a meeting with wealthy Republican investors at the Metropolitan Club on Tuesday, Jeb Bush admitted that his brother, former President George W. Bush, was his most trusted adviser on U.S.-Israel policy. Jeb Bush cited his brother's influential role after he was asked about his relationship with former Secretary of State James Baker.
Baker is part of Jeb Bush's foreign policy advisory team, but he has become controversial to many Republicans for having the temerity to criticize Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. Hoping to stem controversy over Baker's role, Jeb Bush reassured the audience that Baker isn't his key adviser on Israeli policy.
Instead, Jeb said that his go-to guy is none other than his brother, George W. Bush. In referencing the former President, Jeb stated, "if you want to know who I listen to for advice, it's him."
Not his former President Dad, not a real foreign policy expert, George W. Bush. This is the same George W. Bush who almost destroyed the country in his 8 years in office, and who had a terrible foreign policy that created ISIS.
While citing his brother's influence on Middle East policy was probably enough to assuage the concerns of the pro-Israel GOP aristocrats in the room, the admission that Jeb Bush takes Middle East policy advice from his brother is less likely to be well-received by the American public.
Americans who remember the Iraq war disaster and the failed policies of the Bush-Cheney administration will find little comfort in the notion that Jeb Bush is determined to pursue a path similar to the one his brother took on foreign affairs.
After charting a disastrous course in the Middle East for eight long years, George W. Bush would seem to be the last person a presidential contender would want to consult with about foreign policy decisions.
A majority of Americans still hold an unfavorable view of the Bush presidency, but 87 percent of Republicans now look back fondly on the Bush years. In the right-wing bubble that surrounds Jeb Bush, he probably regards turning to his brother for advice as a positive selling point.
However, the American people certainly do not share that sentiment.
Jeb Bush has tried at times to distance himself from the failed policies of his brother. However, his confession in a room populated with Republican hedge fund billionaires, that he looks to his brother for advice on foreign policy reveals the truth.
Making Jeb Bush President of the United States would bring George W. Bush's policies back into the White House. And we cannot afford to return to those failed policies.
Republican Scott Walker Jobs Group Full Of Corruption And No Jobs
By: Steve - May 11, 2015 - 10:00am
And of course, the biased right-wing hack Bill O'Reilly has not said one word about this story, because he is also a Republican and he covers for the corrupt Republicans in office.
The job creation agency founded by Governor Scott Walker has been routinely violating its own rules and state law, according to a damning report released Friday by Wisconsin's non-partisan Legislative Audit Bureau.
Walker set up the Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation in 2011 in order to give taxpayer dollars to private corporations to help them create jobs for Wisconsin workers. But a new audit of more than 100 grants from the agency found that the WEDC failed to follow up on whether the companies were actually using the funds to create and retain jobs.
The group also gave loans and tax credits to companies that did not meet its requirements, and did not even attempt to fact-check claims by the companies about the number of jobs they created. Additionally, the agency forgave, wrote off or deferred more than $4 million in loan payments that the corporations were supposed to pay back to the state.
Critics of the Governor, including Democratic Party of Wisconsin Chair Mike Tate, cited the new data as evidence of his "ineptitude, bordering on criminal negligence" and called for legislators to pass reforms.
Since its creation in 2011, the WEDC has been plagued by scandals. An audit in 2013 found the agency repeatedly failed to follow state laws regarding the use of public funds. And in 2014, two corporations that received millions in taxpayer funds from the WEDC, Eaton and Plexus, outsourced jobs to Mexico and other foreign countries, and laid off hundreds of Wisconsin workers.
The new report comes as Governor Walker and the legislature struggle to come to agreement on how to address the state's nearly $2 billion deficit, a problem greatly exacerbated by the corporate tax breaks passed in conjunction with the WEDC's creation.
As he seeks to slash about $300 million from the University of Wisconsin education system, Governor Walker has asked for more than $47 million for the WEDC -- despite the fact that the latest audit found the group to be sitting on a surplus much larger than what it needs to operate.
So they are corrupt, they do not create jobs, they caused layoffs, and they do it with taxpayer mpney, and instead of shutting them down, the Republican fool Walker wants to give them more money, even though they already have more money than they need.
Not only should they be shut down, Walker should be voted out of office, because all he has done is create a $2 billion dollar deficit and bust the unions.
Fact: The NSA Was Violating The Patriot Act
By: Steve - May 10, 2015 - 11:30am
And of course O'Reilly has not said a word about it, because he supported what they were doing, and he is not a real journalist.
Rove Comes Clean: Delay Obamacare Until GOP Wins Presidency
By: Steve - May 10, 2015 - 11:00am
Remember this folks, no matter what Republicans say before the 2016 Presidential election, if they win they are going to repeal Obamacare, even though it is working, and millions of people will lose their affordable health insurance.
Karl Rove even let it slip and admitted that is what they plan to do. And do not forget what happened in 8 years under the Republican George W. Bush, the rich got richer and everyone else got screwed, as Bush run the country into the ground and almost caused a 2nd great depression.
Notice that not one Republicans ever mentions George W. Bush, that's because the Republican party wants you to forget how bad of a President he was, and how he almost destroyed the economy, the banking industry, jobs, and the housing market.
Here is what we know about Rove and what he said.
Fox News contributor and GOP strategist Karl Rove revealed the real motive behind calls to delay implementation of the Affordable Care Act (ACA): To buy time until the election of a Republican president who would be willing to repeal the law in its entirety.
On the September 23rd O'Reilly Factor, Rove discussed his previous criticism of Republicans and conservative media figures who have threatened to force a government shutdown if President Obama doesn't acquiesce to right-wing demands to completely defund the ACA, also known among conservatives as Obamacare.
Congress must pass a continuing resolution by October 1st in order to fund the federal government. If not, the government will partially shut down. Republicans in Congress have insisted that they will only pass the resolution if it excludes funding for the ACA, one of Obama's signature accomplishments.
Rove opposed the idea of forcing a government shutdown, largely for fear of the political consequences. Instead, he pushed the idea that Republicans should attempt to delay implementation of the law -- currently scheduled to be fully implemented on October 1, 2013 -- until a Republican president is elected.
"We need to have a President who will sign a measure defunding, repealing, getting rid of, and replacing Obamacare, and until we have a president who is going to do that we are going to be fighting."
When Fox host Bill O'Reilly pointed out that the next presidential election is three years away, Rove shrugged it off, responding, "That's why I favor a delay strategy."
ROVE: Here is the deal. We need to have a President who will sign a measure defunding, repealing, getting rid of, and replacing Obamacare, and until we have a president who is going to do that we are going to be fighting rearguard actions.
O'REILLY: That's three years away.
ROVE: Right, and that's why I favor a delay strategy. I think it is better for us to get a narrative going that says Democrats and Republicans alike say President Obama, if you want to give the corporations a year's delay, you gotta give the working man and woman a year's delay by delaying the individual mandate.
There you have it, that is their plan, fool the people into thinking they are not going to repeal Obamacare if they win in 2016, then repeal it after (and if) they do win. It's called lying to the American people to win an election, and we have proof that is their plan, right from Rove himself.
And btw, not once did O'Reilly slam Rove for a plan that lies to the American people to try and win a Presidential election, because he supports the lie and the Republican plan, and he also wants Obamacare repealed.
DOJ To Launch Federal Investigation Of Baltimore Police
By: Steve - May 10, 2015 - 10:00am
Attorney General Loretta E. Lynch has decided to launch a federal investigation into whether the Baltimore Police Department has engaged in a pattern or practice of excessive force.
Lynch's announcement about the Justice Department's probe -- the latest in a string of municipalities that are being investigated by the federal government for civil rights violations -- could come as early as Friday, according to two law enforcement officials.
Baltimore Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake on Wednesday called on the Justice Department to open a federal investigation. Rawlings-Blake made the request after Baltimore State's Attorney Marilyn J. Mosby filed criminal charges against six Baltimore officers who were involved in the arrest of Freddie Gray, who died of injuries sustained while he was in police custody.
"We all know that Baltimore continues to have a fractured relationship between the police and the community," Rawlings-Blake (D) said when she asked the Justice Department for federal help. "I needed to look for any and all resources I could bring to my city to get this right for my community."
Since 1994, the Justice Department has been able to investigate local police departments under the Violent Crime Control and Law Enforcement Act. The departments in Ferguson, Mo., and Cleveland are undergoing federal civil rights investigations. A white police officer in Ferguson fatally shot unarmed teen Michael Brown in August, and 12-year-old Tamir Rice was shot and killed by a Cleveland police officer in November.
Federal pattern or practice probes focus on the entire police department, rather than investigating the conduct of certain officers.
In that way, they are different from civil rights investigations of certain individuals, such as the two-year-long probe into the death of Trayvon Martin, the 17-year-old African American from Florida who was unarmed when he was fatally shot by a former neighborhood watchman; the civil rights investigation into the death of Brown; and the ongoing probe into the death of Eric Garner, an African American man who died after being placed in a chokehold by a white officer on Staten Island.
Ramsey, now Philadelphia's police commissioner, said at a law enforcement gathering two years ago that he asked the federal government for help because the D.C. community "did not have confidence that we could fix the problems on our own."
Sen. Barbara A. Mikulski (D-Md.) made the same point during the congressional hearing with Lynch on Thursday morning when she said she supported the mayor's request to open an investigation. She sent a formal letter to the attorney general Thursday afternoon.
"Last year, 120,000 police stops occurred in Baltimore," Mikulski said. "We're a population of 610,000. That's a lot. I don't know what the appropriateness of that is, but I think we need to look at it.
"But I want to say this," Mikulski added. "In many cities throughout the country, and including my own town of Baltimore, and in communities primarily that have significant populations of color, there has been now a tattered, worn and even broken trust between the community and the police department. We’ve got to restore that trust."
Despite 1.6 Billion Deficit Louisiana Is Still Subsidizing Duck Dynasty
By: Steve - May 9, 2015 - 11:00am
And of course you never hear a word about this from Bill O'Reilly, but he sure does slam every Democratic run state for running a deficit. Proving once again he is nothing but a biased right-wing hack.
Louisiana's state budget is in shambles under Republican Governor Bobby Jindal. The Governor's anti-tax the wealthy ideology, coupled with dropping oil prices, has put Louisiana 1.6 billion dollars in the red. The state has become an economic basket case, and Governor Jindal's approval rating has plummeted to just 27 percent.
Despite the state's economic problems, Governor Jindal has made no plans to cut millions of dollars in subsidies to the Duck Dynasty TV show. Louisiana has the nation's most generous entertainment tax credit program, which doles out generous sums to subsidize filming, including funds for filming the show Duck Dynasty.
Feeding Time Productions LLC, the producer of Duck Dynasty, is seeking 11 million dollars in new tax credits for the next four years to subsidize costs for filming the show. Since Governor Jindal has proposed no changes to the entertainment tax credit program, that funding will be approved.
Although Louisiana only recovered 23 cents in revenue for every entertainment credit dollar it approved of in 2013 and 2014, Jindal wants to preserve the status quo. He regards removing entertainment subsidies as tantamount to a tax hike.
Since Jindal thinks of himself as an anti-tax Governor, removing tax credits is simply unthinkable, no matter how bad the state's budget situation becomes.
And Phil Robertson, the bearded far right Christian patriarch of the Duck Dynasty family, has been a sharp critic of welfare, even as his show has collected generous handouts from Louisiana's state government. Apparently welfare that helps the poor is bad policy, but corporate welfare that is doled out to the already wealthy, is just fine with him.
Even some Republicans are beginning to criticize Jindal's handling of the state's finances as well as questioning Louisiana's corporate welfare handouts during a time of economic crisis. Baton Rouge Republican blogger Scott McKay, for example, argues against Jindal's potential presidential candidacy by saying this:
If you are looking for a Republican nominee for 2016, he's a bad choice. Republicans are supposed to balance budgets. The budget has never really been one of Bobby's things.Not to mention the same criticism could be applied to several other Republican candidates angling to become President. Many of them are anti-tax the wealthy. They are also hypocritically opposed to welfare that benefits the poor while lavishing government favors on the rich.
Jindal's Louisiana is drowning in debt. Yet, Jindal still hasn't decided to let Duck Dynasty float without the assistance of government tax credits. It's time for Jindal to let Duck Dynasty sink or swim on its own, so that he can fix the state's budget, and work to help the other 4.6 million Louisiana residents who aren't part of a lucrative reality TV show.
Stocks Rise After April Jobs Report: Bill O'Reilly Silent
By: Steve - May 9, 2015 - 10:00am
U.S. stocks rose sharply Friday after the April employment report showed an economy continuing to grow, but at a pace that investors believe could keep the Federal Reserve from raising interest rates until late this year.
And of course the biased right-wing hack Bill O'Reilly never said a word about any of it. Because if he did he would have to admit he was wrong when he said the Obama economic policies are a disaster and that the economy is in chaos. So instead of reporting the good jobs and economic news O'Reilly ignores it and does not say a word about it.
The Dow Jones Industrial Average gained 267.05 points, or 1.5%, to 18191.11. The S&P 500 rose 28.10 points, or 1.4%, to 2116.10.
The Nasdaq Composite climbed 58 points, or 1.2%, to 5003.55.
Stocks shot higher from the opening bell Friday after the Labor Department said the U.S. added 223,000 jobs in April and the unemployment rate fell to 5.4%.
Investors in stocks and bonds cheered the report, saying that it likely keeps the Fed from raising interest rates until late this year.
"It gives the Fed justification for holding rates lower because it wasn't a mind-blowing number, but at the same time it gives evidence that the economy is in good shape," said Peter Stournaras, portfolio manager of the BlackRock Large Cap Series Funds.
"The jobs data continues to demonstrate that we're in the midst of a very strong jobs recovery."
The jobs report came in "right where we want to be," said Phil Blancato, president of Ladenburg Thalmann Asset Management, which manages $2.2 billion. It suggests "the Fed can't press the rate issue, but the economy is still expanding."
Stewart Rips Fox For Hypocrisy On Political Money Corruption
By: Steve - May 8, 2015 - 11:30am
Jon Stewart found it very hypocritical how Fox News has no objections to conservative billionaires influencing American elections but are very concerned about Hillary Clinton being influenced by foreign donations.
Stewart zoned in on Megyn Kelly in particular, who may have been "rightly suspicious about foreign donations," but heavily questioned Democratic attempts to regulate campaign finance.
Stewart deduced the issue here must be "money is free speech, unless that money speaks with a funny accent."
Here is the video:
And btw, Bill O'Reilly is also a massive hypocrite on this issue. He screams bloody murder over George Soros and wealthy liberals giving money to Democrats, but says nothing about the Koch brothers and wealthy conservatives giving millions to Republicans, and even defends the Koch brothers, while constantly slamming Soros for doing the exact same thing.
O'Reilly screams about the money donated to Democrats, when Republicans always raise more money. It's total right-wing bias and hypocrisy from O'Reilly and pretty much everyone at Fox. They have no problem with people giving money to Republicans, but they cry foul when people give money to Democrats.
Jon Stewart Gives Republicans A Reality Check On Their Chances
By: Steve - May 8, 2015 - 11:00am
In case you missed it, the field of Republican presidential candidates doubled in just the last few days as Mike Huckabee, Ben Carson and Carly Fiorina all announced that they're going to run for president.
Now, what do all three of these candidates have in common? They have absolutely no chance of winning. Then again, neither do Ted Cruz, Rand Paul, or Marco Rubio, the first three entrants into the GOP's 2016 clown car.
There is no way that any of these first six announced GOP candidates are ever going to be the president. As Jon Stewart put it, "You know the beginning of the season there on the Big Brother show, before they vote the crazy people out who you know are never going to win? That's where we're at in the Republican presidential race."
Stewart then went after former Hewlett-Packard CEO Carly Fiorina, who is best known for running HP into the ground and laying off 30,000 employees - while tripling her salary and being forced to leave the company due to her incompetence with a $40 million dollar "golden parachute."
Stewart also made fun of an interview she had with Katie Couric where Fiorina tried to play the "would you ask a male candidate that question?" outrage card after Couric asked if she was angling for a vice presidential nomination -- you know, since she's currently polling at one percent. Couric then put Fiorina in her place by saying she would absolutely ask that question to a man if they were polling at one percent.
Stewart then moved on to former Fox News contributor Ben Carson, who went with a ridiculous opening for his presidential candidacy announcement of Eminem's Lose Yourself sung by a choir in Detroit, before giving a speech that probably even put his fans to sleep.
Next up was another former Fox News employee Mike Huckabee, who went full-on not-job for his presidential announcement, with a group of Boy Scouts leading the Pledge of Allegiance and a folksy story about his first gun as a child.
The former Arkansas governor apparently felt the need to brag about not having the desire to murder anyone, despite being a gun owner. "That may be the lowest bar a candidate has ever set for their presidential qualifications," Stewart quipped.
Stewart then played a clip where Huckabee repeated a line he's used before where he claims Christianity is being "criminalized." Because marriage equality and Constitutional rights are clear attempts to criminalize Christianity. The stupidity of these religious fanatics never ceases to astound me.
Huckabee also went on to say that many of our politicians have "surrendered to the false God of judicial supremacy," or as Stewart correctly put it, they're simply following "the Constitutional rule of law."
This prompted Stewart to end the segment by mimicking Carson's choir's performance, only he used a different song by Eminem to summarize how he felt about these three new GOP candidates: "It's more like -- 'Hi, my name is what? My name is who? My name is… slim chances!'"
None of these far right loons will ever be the President. They are wasting their time and our time by even running, and we all know it. They might have a shot at winning the Republican primary, because Republican voters love them, but they have no shot at winning the general election, because the rest of the people will never vote for them.
Here is a heads up, Jeb Bush is going to win the Republican primary and we will have a Bush against a Clinton once again, and the Clinton is going to win.
Federal Appeals Court Rules NSA Surveillance Program Illegal
By: Steve - May 8, 2015 - 10:00am
A unanimous panel of the United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit held on Thursday that the National Security Agency's sweeping database of U.S. phone calls is not authorized by federal law.
The database, which the public learned about after Edward Snowden leaked a court order concerning the NSA's surveillance activities in 2013, is truly breathtaking in its scope. Snowden leaked an order directing to telephone company Verizon to produce "all call detail records or telephony metadata relating to Verizon communications within the United States or between the United States and abroad," and the federal government did not "seriously dispute" a claim that "all significant service providers in the United States are subject to similar orders."
Though the database does not include the actual content of people's calls, the metadata held by the NSA does include "details about telephone calls, including, for example, the length of a call, the phone number from which the call was made, and the phone number called."
The government claims that this law is authorized by a provision that was amended by the USA PATRIOT Act and subsequent laws which permits certain government officials to "make an application for an order requiring the production of any tangible things (including books, records, papers, documents, and other items) for an investigation to obtain foreign intelligence information not concerning a United States person or to protect against international terrorism or clandestine intelligence activities."
Yet the law also requires the government to provide a special surveillance court with "a statement of facts showing that there are reasonable grounds to believe that the tangible things sought are relevant to an authorized investigation (other than a threat assessment) conducted under guidelines approved by the Attorney General."
The Second Circuit's opinion hones in on the word "relevant" to explain why this law does not authorize the NSA's enormous database. In this case, the court notes, "the parties have not undertaken to debate whether the records required by the orders in question are relevant to any particular inquiry."
Rather, the records demanded are all‐encompassing; "the government does not even suggest that all of the records sought, or even necessarily any of them, are relevant to any specific defined inquiry."
This, the court explains, is not allowed:
The government takes the position that the metadata collected -- a vast amount of which does not contain directly relevant information, as the government concedes -- are nevertheless relevant because they may allow the NSA, at some unknown time in the future, utilizing its ability to sift through the trove of irrelevant data it has collected up to that point, to identify information that is relevant. We agree with appellants that such an expansive concept of relevance is unprecedented and unwarranted.Later in its opinion, the court explains just how unusual it is for the government to seek such a sweeping authorization to gather data from a court. "Search warrants and document subpoenas typically seek the records of a particular individual or corporation under investigation, and cover particular time periods when the events under investigation occurred," the Second Circuit explains. Yet, "the orders at issue here contain no such limits."
Instead, the metadata concerning every telephone call made or received in the United States using the services of the recipient service provider are demanded, for an indefinite period extending into the future.
The records demanded are not those of suspects under investigation, or of people or businesses that have contact with such subjects, or of people or businesses that have contact with others who are in contact with the subjects -- they extend to every record that exists, and indeed to records that do not yet exist, as they impose a continuing obligation on the recipient of the subpoena to provide such records on an ongoing basis as they are created.
The government can point to no grand jury subpoena that is remotely comparable to the real‐time data collection undertaken under this program.
Though the Second Circuit, for its part, held that the NSA's database is illegal, it declined to halt the program immediately, noting that the federal law which allegedly authorizes the program is about to expire. "Allowing the program to remain in place for a few weeks while Congress decides whether and under what conditions it should continue is a lesser intrusion on appellants privacy than they faced at the time this litigation began," the court explained.
Thus, "in light of the asserted national security interests at stake, we deem it prudent to pause to allow an opportunity for debate in Congress that may (or may not) profoundly alter the legal landscape."
Senators Patrick Leahy (D-VT) and Mike Lee (R-UT) both released a statement on the court decision announcing that they "will not consent to any extension of this program."
O'Reilly On A Biased & Unfair Crusade Against Hillary Clinton
By: Steve - May 7, 2015 - 11:00am
A few weeks ago Bill O'Reilly said he was going to be fair to Hillary Clinton, which to me is just laughable, because he has never been fair to her, or any Democrat. But now we know he was lying, just as he is always unfair to the Democrats running for office.
Over the last few weeks, O'Reilly has repeatedly called for an FBI investigation into allegations against Hillary and Bill Clinton and the Clinton Foundation of influence peddling from the error-ridden right-wing smear book Clinton Cash.
On May 5th, HarperCollins Publishers released Peter Schweizer's Clinton Cash, which alleges that Hillary Clinton's decisions as secretary of state were influenced by donations to The Clinton Foundation.
Schweizer is a Republican activist and consultant who has worked for George W. Bush, Sarah Palin, Bobby Jindal, and Breitbart.com. Fox News called Schweizer's latest anti-Clinton book "very damning," saying it would cause a "reverberation" that could "threaten" Hillary Clinton's presidential campaign, despite the fact that a Media Matters analysis of the book found over 20 errors, fabrications, and distortions.
Basically the book is full of lies, and the rest of it is stuff that can not be proven, and yet O'Reilly jumped all over it and has used it to slam Hillary. Even though he only claims to deal in facts, and never speculate, not to mention the ridiculous claims of being fair to the Clintons.
On the April 23rd edition of The O'Reilly Factor, O'Reilly said that if Attorney General Loretta Lynch does not investigate Clinton over debunked Clinton Cash allegations about a uranium mining company deal, "that becomes a bigger scandal than the Clinton Foundation."
O'Reilly warned that without a federal investigation into Clinton "the whole justice system of the United States falls apart":
O'REILLY: See, look, here is who goes down if this isn't investigated. Obama goes down, okay, because he is the President. And she violated protocol with him. All right? Hillary Clinton goes down. She can't run if this isn't defined. She can't. She will get slaughtered, all right? And the whole justice system in the United States falls apart. They have to investigate.Which is just insane, and nobody is going down, not Obama or Clinton, it's ridiculous right-wing propaganda, from the so-called no spin zone.
O'Reilly even said He Formally Asked the FBI To Investigate Clinton, which is not his job, and it shows his right-wing bias:
O'REILLY: The FBI can start that investigation tomorrow. It doesn't need President Obama's approval and it doesn't need Attorney General Lynch's approval. So my question tonight is for FBI Director James Comey. Will you start an investigation? Today we presented that question formally to the FBI. We will let you know what the agency says.O'Reilly: "That's Corrupt" If FBI Doesn't Investigate Clinton:
O'REILLY: The question the FBI has a duty to do this. It's not an optional play to protect the sanctity of the electoral system. If there is something this big and you combine the e-mail erasures, which surely Mrs. Clinton knew the Foundation was going to be scrutinized -- and I'm not saying she did anything. I think that would be unfair to do that, but the FBI has got to go in and look. They have to go in and look. And if they don't, that's corrupt, in my opinion.Appearing as a guest on the May 5th edition of Fox News The Five, O'Reilly used the opening segment of the show to continue his crusade for an FBI investigation into the Clintons. He said it would help Clinton if she herself called for a FBI investigation, and that the FBI is the only entity that can properly vet her for the election:
O'REILLY: So what has to happen, and this has to happen, is that the FBI has to look into this to preserve the sanctity of the electoral process. Because nobody is going to find the truth. The investigative reporters will find a little bit but we don't have subpoena power. We can't subpoena, alright?O'Reilly's Baseless And Partisan Demands Follow An Old GOP Playboo:
Republicans Have Called For Investigations Against Democrats As Part Of A "Permanent Witch Hunt" Since The 1990s.
The Atlantic's Michael Hirsh has outlined how conservatives have used the threat of federal investigation to conduct a "permanent witch hunt" against Democrats since the 1990s, from Whitewater to Fast And Furious. [The Atlantic, 6/22/12]
GOP Has Desperately Been Searching For A Democratic Watergate For Years, But Keeps Coming Up Short.
Salon noted how Republicans have been desperately searching for a scandal in the Obama administration, exploiting any opportunity to launch an investigation into the matter but continually falling short of uncovering evidence of wrongdoing, writing "The right has been praying for a Democratic Watergate for years and they keep coming up short. It must be intensely frustrating that it always seems just out of their reach."
And the worst part is that it's all based on a partisan right-wing book full of lies and unproven so-called facts. But O'Reilly uses it to call for a waste of time taxpayer investigation, that only Republican idiots even care about. Coming from the guy who claims to be fair and balanced, making the whole thing a biased joke.
Lord Of The Flies Comes To Baltimore
By: Steve - May 6, 2015 - 11:00am
This is the story you never hear from Bill O'Reilly, Sean Hannity, or anyone at Fox News.
Baltimore, Maryland (By John Blake, CNN) He was a quiet man who once stood watch on his front porch, just three blocks away from where a riot erupted in West Baltimore this week.
He was a quiet man who once stood watch on his front porch, just three blocks away from where a riot erupted in West Baltimore this week. We called him "Mr. Shields" because no one dared use his first name. He'd step onto his porch at night in plaid shorts and black knit dress socks to watch the Baltimore Orioles play on his portable television set.
He was a steelworker, but he looked debonair: thin mustache always trimmed; wavy salt-and-pepper hair touched up with pomade; cocoa brown skin. He sat like a sentry, watching not just the games but the neighborhood as well. I knew Mr. Shields' routine because I was his neighbor. I grew up in the West Baltimore community that was rocked this week by protests over the death of a young black man in police custody.
It's surreal to see your old neighborhood go up in flames as commentators try to explain the rage with various complex racial and legal theories. But when I returned to my home this week, the rage made sense to me. There were no more Mr. Shields -- the older black men were gone.
I asked 28-year-old Zachary Lewis about the absence of older men. He stood by a makeshift memorial placed at the spot where Freddie Gray, the man whose death ignited the riots, was arrested.
"This is old here," he said, pointing to himself. "There ain't no more 'Old Heads' anymore, where you been? They got big numbers or they in pine boxes." In street syntax, that meant long prison sentences or death.
We hear about the absence of black men from families, but what happens when they disappear from an entire community? West Baltimore delivered the answer to that question this week.
It's no accident that one of the most enduring images from the riot was a young mother spanking her son as she dragged him away from the protests. Where were the men in his life?
As I walked through my old streets, it was filled with nothing but black young women, children and teenage boys. It was as if an alien spaceship had come in the night and spirited all the older black men away.
I've read and written about big issues like the mass incarceration of black men for nonviolent drug offenses -- what some call "The New Jim Crow." To see it in person, though, is spooky. I felt like "The Lord of the Flies" had taken over my old neighborhood.
"The Lord of the Flies" was a novel written in 1954 by the English author William Golding. It describes what happens to a group of upper-class English schoolboys when their plane crash-lands on a deserted island and all the adults are killed. The kids try to build a society of their own, but with no adult guidance, they descend into tribalism and savagery.
William Raspberry, a Pulitzer Prize-winning writer for the Washington Post, once invoked the book's title in a column to describe what was happening to young black men in inner cities across America. He said that without the civilizing influence of older men to guide them, young black men never develop an internal moral compass.
They become castaways. I read Raspberry's essay after college and kept it for years. It spoke so well to what I saw in the 1980s when the crack epidemic first hit my neighborhood.
I heard Raspberry's voice again this week when I talked to a 27-year-old black man named Juan Grant. He knew Gray, whose death in police custody lit the fuse in Baltimore. Grant stood no more than a foot from me, but as he talked, he yelled at me in frustration, spittle coming from his mouth. He said Gray's death had convinced him and his friends to stop "ripping and running" the streets. They wanted boys to respect them as men.
But they didn't know how to get that respect because their fathers had never been around. He described their dilemma with a bitter laugh:
"It's men learning on the job trying to teach young men how to be men."
Raspberry wrote his column 28 years ago. Now there are even more castaways like Grant in West Baltimore. Yet here's the twist: They don't just feel abandoned by indifferent white people; many feel ignored by the city's black political leaders. Baltimore Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake is black, but I found nothing but disdain for her in West Baltimore. People kept complaining that she called protesters "thugs."
"She turned on her own people, calling us thugs," a 16-year-old high school student named Malik said as he waited at a bus stop next to Mondawmin Mall, a flashpoint for the riots. "Pretty sure she ain't perfect. She made some mistakes in her life. I'm pretty sure she did."
He doesn't think any of the city's leader's care about him. "They talk about 'We the future,' but they killing us," he said.
Now this is the part of the discussion about Baltimore that some conservatives tend to love. Their refrain: It's all about individual behavior; there's a culture of poverty that Big Government programs won't help; Oh God, not Al Sharpton again; just pull yourself up by your bootstraps.
My own experiences tell me it's not all about individual effort.
Choices, someone once said, are constrained by circumstances. And the circumstances that drove young black men like Grant to the streets this week are getting grimmer.
Take Mr. Shields, for example. The reason I saw so many working-class men like Mr. Shields in my neighborhood was because there were blue-collar jobs for them. Before the Inner Harbor in Baltimore became a haven for tourists, it was a haven for a burgeoning black middle class in my city.
Mr. Shields worked as a steel rigger at Sparrows Point in the inner harbor. Other black men worked at the Domino Sugar plant. My father was a merchant marine who sailed out of the harbor. These were well-paying jobs with strong unions that fought for good benefits and united black, brown and white working-class people.
They helped men like Walter Boyd, 76, who sat on his front porch in West Baltimore this week like he was a reincarnation of Mr. Shields -- an impassive Sphinx surveying his domain. He was one of the few older black men I saw around. He had a box of chicken wings attached to his walker along with ice water. Boyd had raised three children working at Domino Sugar.
"Best job I ever had," he said. "You didn't get fired. You fired yourself. As long as you came to work and worked, you had a job. It was hard work but I had it made because I knew how to work."
Boyd's son, Robert, had just stopped by to cut his father's hair. He chuckled at his father's reference to hard work. Growing up, he said, his father kept him busy to keep him out of trouble. He'd take him to the country in the summer to work in the tobacco fields. He remembers watching his father plow a field one day, sweat pouring down his face, when another man turned to him and said with admiration: "That's a working man."
"There was something about the way he said that that let me know that's the way you supposed to be if you wanted respect," said Robert Boyd, who is a truck driver and pastor of the Beacon of Truth Church and Ministries in West Baltimore.
And many of those blue-collar jobs that built the black middle class in Baltimore are gone. Even the neighborhood businesses that I remember from youth -- an ice cream factory and a milk company behind my house -- were shuttered when I returned.
Unlike Walter Boyd, the old men I did see in my neighborhood this week were broken-down, unshaven. I thought to myself: If you want to destroy a people, first break their men.
"Now we as men are fearful when we walk through a group of boys," Robert Boyd said. "When we were boys, when we walked through a group of men, we felt secure. Something is wrong."
Something else was missing when I returned: places for kids to play or meet the men who could mentor them.
Baltimore is a sports-crazy town. I grew up playing Little League baseball, running around the track at the high school across the street from my home, and playing tennis at public courts scattered through West Baltimore. There were public swimming pools, pickup basketball games, and plenty of recreation centers. On some days, I barely ate because I spent so much time outside playing sports.
Yet when I returned to my old playing fields, they were overgrown with weeds or barred with locked gates. I heard the same story from residents. The city had closed the pools, removed the basketball goals and, as recently as 2013, closed 20 recreation centers. I didn't see any kids playing baseball or football in the streets.
"They've taken the city away from us. We have nowhere to go and nothing to do," says Grant, the young man who wants to be a role model.
The sports venues weren't just for the kids; they were for adults. It's where men mentored kids by becoming their coaches. The tracks and pools were places where families gathered. The school's playing fields were open to everyone in the community.
I practically lived on the playing fields at Frederick Douglass High School, which became a focal point for the riots. When I talked to Walter Boyd and his son, I did so across the street from Douglass track, which was ringed with locked gates. "I used to do my walking there," Robert Boyd said, pointing to the track. "Not just I, but older cats and younger cats would just walk. That's when you saw community -- younger, older people. You see people and say, 'How you doing.' They don't want you on the track now."
The youth aren't missing just recreation centers and tracks; the jobs programs are gone as well.
When I grew up in West Baltimore in the late 1970s and early 1980s, virtually all of my friends worked. The city offered various jobs programs for youths -- Summer Corps, Youth Corps, Manpower. Some jobs were as simple as sweeping the streets, but we didn't mind. It was like a rite of passage into adulthood. You didn't have to ask your parents for money. I still remember the envy I felt when my friends took their first Summer Corps checks to Mondawmin Mall to buy new tennis shoes.
I hear people talk about welfare queens and the "culture of poverty." But most of the kids I grew up with weren't even content to join a jobs program. They hustled for other work. One of the most coveted jobs was riding on the milk trucks during their morning deliveries. At sunrise virtually every day, a crowd of boys would gather outside the loading dock at the Cloverdale milk company.
They stood around like the day laborers who hang out today around Home Depot. They wanted a milk driver to stop and say hop on. They'd help deliver the milk, and the driver would give them a couple extra bucks.
My interest in journalism also was nurtured by these jobs programs. I interned at the Baltimore Sun and Afro-American newspapers while I was in high school. I participated in journalism getaways for promising inner-city students. I couldn't afford any of it, but if you're reading this now, it's because somebody somewhere was willing to pay money to give me a chance.
Today, few of those programs exist. The Rev. Jamal Bryant, a popular Baptist minister in Baltimore, said the city has even closed a quarter of its public libraries. "All of those programs are housed in the Smithsonian Institution," he says of the youth jobs programs. "They are no longer in evidence or thriving today."
Yet there is one institution the city seems to find money to invest in, some residents say: law enforcement. Funding for public schools, libraries, jobs programs and recreation centers may lag, but the budget for jails and police never seems to run dry, Walter Boyd and others say.
Some wonder if it's deliberate.
"If you don't invest in them now, you're just going to have to build more prisons," Boyd says about kids in West Baltimore. "And that just seems like that's what the plan is. They won't educate you. But they'll incarcerate you in a minute."
I ended my return by going back to the house where I grew up. I rang the doorbell, but a guy washing his car on the street told me the old woman who lived there wouldn't answer the door because she was "skittish." Bars seemed to cover every window; other homes were boarded up, and those that weren't looked so dilapidated that it seemed as if the residents didn't care anymore.
And they don't, because so few are owners now.
I ran into one person who was still there from my childhood. I knocked on his door and a big smile flashed across his face. He had not seen me since high school, but he remembered. We all called him "Herb." He was one of the few homeowners left.
We sat down on his porch and talked about old times. He said nobody sat on the porches and talked to each other anymore. Of the 38 homes on our block, only seven were owned by their occupants. When his house was recently burglarized, he said it took three calls to 911 and 55 minutes for the police to show up.
"I could be mutilated and lying on the street," he said, "and nobody would help or call the police."
I said goodbye and left. As I got in my car, I looked at him standing at his door, still smiling as he waved at me. I also looked at Mr. Shields old porch as I drove away. The paint was peeling and the front looked disheveled. He never would have allowed that.
This was my home. This was my family. These were my friends. But they were ghosts now. There were few men looking out for the neighborhood any longer. What's left are boys trying to figure out how to be men -- and how to avoid getting "big numbers" or ending up in "pine boxes."
Insane Ted Cruz Blames Obama For 2008 Economic Crash Bush Caused
By: Steve - May 6, 2015 - 10:00am
Remember 2008, we had a massive economic crash that involved the banks, the housing market, jobs, and the stock market. This all happened in the 8th year of the Bush/Cheney 2nd term.
In January of 2009, the month Obama was sworn in as President we were losing 450,000 jobs a month, and the entire country was on the edge of a 2nd great depression. Then Obama took over and within 2 years the economy was doing good and getting better, so basically Obama cleaned up the giant mess Bush and Cheney caused.
But the insane lying Republican Ted Cruz somehow thinks the 2008 economic problems were the fault of President Obama, proving he is a liar, and possibly a crazy person.
Whenever I think about Ted Cruz somehow getting elected to the United States Senate, it stuns me. I can understand someone like him getting a few votes on a fringe ticket because he appeals to crazy people, but this nut has one of the most powerful positions in our government - a Senator.
It's as if he's incapable of telling the truth. But it's not just the fact that he constantly lies, it's that he seems to live and believe in a reality that doesn't exist. It's bizarre. He's either the best actor I've ever seen, or he's insane and believes all the lies he spews.
Take the recent comments he made where he basically tried to blame President Obama for the economic crash of 2008. "Historically, the economy has grown 3.3 percent a year since World War II," Cruz said. "There are only two four-year periods where growth averaged less than 1 percent: 1978 to 1982, coming out of the Jimmy Carter administration, and 2008 to 2012. Same failed economic policies."
And btw folks, Barack Obama was not sworn in until January 20, 2009. And he was sworn in right in the middle of the worst economic crash since the Great Depression.
That means Cruz is trying to blame President Obama for the crash that was well under way before he was even president. And it's outrageous for him to even try to blame the negative economic numbers we experienced in 2009 on a president who inherited an economy that was literally losing hundreds of thousands of jobs every single month.
Not only that, but did you notice how he cut the year off at 2012? Why would he do that? Here is why! Because 2013 was a strong year for job creation and 2014 was the best year for job growth this nation has seen since 1999. Again, all on the heels of the worst economic crash in nearly a century.
Not only that, by pointing out that our economy grew at a horrific rate starting in 2008, he's admitting that George W. Bush's economic polices led us into economic catastrophe. The lack of growth in the years immediately following 2008 are clearly a direct result of the horrific crash this nation experienced, which was a direct result of the economic policies of the Bush administration.
This is the kind of dishonesty I'm talking about when I say Republicans treat their voters like idiots. You have to be a complete moron to blame President Obama for the poor economic numbers that began before he was even elected president.
Then again, there are some conservatives who actually blamed Obama for Hurricane Katrina too, even though it happened when Bush was the President.
Finally, I will say this, something I never thought I would say, I look forward to the presidential primary debates for the GOP candidates. Because Ted Cruz is most certainly going to turn these debates into one of the biggest jokes our country has ever seen.
Jeb Bush Admits He Loves Racist Book Author
By: Steve - May 5, 2015 - 10:00am
And of course Bill O'Reilly has not (and will not) ever say a word about it, instead he will run cover for Bush and all the other Republicans running for office, because he is a Republican.
In an interview with the National Review's Rich Lowry, Jeb Bush confessed to being a fan of Charles Murray's books. Twice during the interview, the Republican presidential hopeful professed admiration for Murray, citing the controversial author as an influential source for Bush's own ideas.
When asked if there was anything public officials could do to address family breakdown in America, Bush replied, "absolutely there is," and then he added, that his views on the question of family dissolution "were shaped a lot" by Charles Murray's writings. Later in the interview, Jeb Bush again brought up the author, saying this:
BUSH: I like Charles Murray's books to be honest with you, which means I'm a total nerd I guess.While Bush did not specify which of Charles Murray's books he used to shape his views, he must surely be aware of the controversy surrounding Murray's most well-known book, titled the The Bell Curve: Intelligence and Class Structure in American Life.
The Bell Curve is a racism filled book that argues black people are genetically inferior to whites intellectually and that White Americans have more wealth essentially because they are more intelligent than African-Americans.
While Bush may call himself a nerd for reading Murray, there are other words that might apply. If he embraces Murray's bogus scholarship, the operative word might be racist or elitist, rather than nerd.
Murray is a staunch opponent of social programs because he argues that they are basically useless, since poor people simply have low IQs limiting the government's ability to help them.
Which is just ridiculous, because many poor people are very smart, they just grew up poor and never got the money to get an education, making Murray a total right-wing idiot.
The far-right Republican Congressmen Paul Ryan is also a devotee of Murray's writings, which may explain his burning desire to gut social programs that assist the nation's poor.
Murray's ideology is encapsulated pretty well in an article written in the year 2000, where he actually takes conservative Republicans to task for not being more explicitly elitist and racist. Murray said this:
In their own way, politicians on the Right are equally in thrall to the egalitarian premise. For example, no major Republican politician is willing to say in public that some of the social problems we most deplore are rooted to some degree in personal deficiencies. Try to imagine a GOP presidential candidate saying in front of the cameras, "One reason that we still have poverty in the United States is that a lot of poor people are born lazy."To say someone is born lazy is like saying if a woman is raped she can use her will and mind to prevent getting pregnant. Which are insane things Republicans have said, both crazy and not true. Nobody is born lazy, that is just ignorant and racist. Because he is talking about blacks.
While it is no surprise that many conservatives have embraced Murray's phony science to justify their racial prejudices, it is a bit disconcerting that Jeb Bush, the supposed moderate in the Republican field, is one of them. Murray's old-fashioned racism masquerading as social science, should be soundly rejected by anyone enacting social policy.
Voters should have no issue with electing a nerd to be President, but choosing someone who admits he is guided in his views by a known ignorant racist is not an option. While Jeb Bush may not view himself as an elitist or a racist, if he takes his cues from Charles Murray, his policies will demonstrate that he is both. And America cannot afford to give him that opportunity.
Republican New York Senate Leader To Be Arrested On Corruption Charges
By: Steve - May 4, 2015 - 10:00am
And of course O'Reilly has not said one word about it. But when the Democrat Sheldon Silver was charged with corruption O'Reilly reported it as a Talking Points Memo, did numerous segments on it, and had follow up segments on it over months and months.
Basically, when Democrats are charged with something it's big news and breaking news for O'Reilly, when Republicans are charged he never even reports it, let alone do follow up or report the verdict. Here is the story.
According to The New York Times, authorities are expected to arrest New York Senate Majority Leader Dean Skelos (R) on federal corruption charges some time next week. Skelos has served in the New York Senate for over thirty years.
Skelos has been under investigation for allegedly engaging in a scheme to benefit AbTech Industries, in exchange for them hiring his son as a consultant. Skelos son, Adam, is also expected to be arrested. Adam Skelos also reportedly received a 20,000 dollar payment from American Land Services, a title insurance company, even though he never actually worked for them.
Skelos arrest comes three months after his Democratic counterpart in the lower house, Assembly Majority Speaker Sheldon Silver, was arrested on corruption charges, alleging that he extorted money from political donors. So it looks like the culture of corruption in Albany is bi-partisan, but you would never know that if you get your news from the Factor.
That corruption runs deep, as the Senate Republican who would be next in line to replace Skelos as Majority Leader is also under federal indictment. Thomas W. Libous is the second highest ranking Republican in the State Senate, but he faces accusations that he lied to federal agents during a corruption investigation. His son was even recently convicted for committing tax fraud.
And I would bet that almost every single politician we have could be found to be guilty of some kind of corruption, if you dig deep enough. But O'Reilly only reports on the corruption by Democrats, he ignores what all the Republicans do.
With so many elected officials under investigation or facing arrest, legislative progress in New York State has nearly ground to a halt. Corruption investigations have dogged both chambers of the New York legislature.
The state legislature has become a revolving door where powerful politicians enter distributing favors, only to be later spun around and sent out, under a dark cloud of federal corruption charges.
Skelos impending arrest hardly comes as a surprise, but it does underscore just how pervasive corruption has become in Albany. Citizens deserve honest, accountable and responsive government. Too many constituents in New York State are being represented by criminals rather than responsible lawmakers.
While it will probably take even more arrests to empty the trash in Albany, Skelos arrest at least provides hope that prosecutors will continue to root out corruption in New York politics by putting those accused of engaging in it on trial.
Maher Takes Republicans To School Pointing Out What Obama Got Right
By: Steve - May 3, 2015 - 11:00am
Bill Maher schooled Republicans on their foreign policy failures while delivering a lesson on President Obama's successes.
Maher did part of the segment in the style of Romper Room's Do Bee/Don't Bee. Romper Room went off in 1994, which is a shame because Misters Do Bee and Don't Bee would have been perfect to help us illustrate our national Do This, Not That Day.
For example, after an attack on America, Mr. Don't Bee panics and invades the wrong country. Mr. Do Bee focuses on the real attacker and shoots him in the face.
-- Mr. Don't Bee makes up stories about nukes in Iraq that don't exist.
-- Mr. Do Bee makes a treaty with Iran, so that they don't build nukes at all.
-- Mr. Don't Bee tortures prisoners.
-- Mr. Do Bee says that sounds bad.
-- Mr. Don't Bee gets his actionable intel from Jesus.
-- Mr. Do Bee gets his from tapping your phone.
-- Mr. Do Bee's best foreign policy move brings our casualty rate down by about sixty-percent.
-- Mr. Don't Bee's best foreign policy move was dodging a shoe.
We've learned nothing. The Republican campaign trail today is the same empty tough-guy talk from chicken hawks. The same as it was in 2003.
Every time that Democrats bring up Bush and their party's many failures, Republicans respond that Democrats are living in the past, but it isn't the Democrats who are living in the past.
Consider that the Republican foreign policy ideology hasn't changed since Bush declared Mission Accomplished twelve years ago. Republican members of Congress and presidential candidates are trying to destroy the deal with Iran on their nuclear program while refusing to take war with Iran off the table.
Republicans are itching to repeat the failures of the Bush foreign policy. The party's frontrunner not only shares a set of parents with the former president, he also shares a staff and an ideology. Republicans got it all wrong on foreign policy, and Obama got it right.
At home, Republicans are wrong when they claim that tax cuts create jobs. They were completely wrong about the Affordable Care Act. They are wrong on same-sex marriage, immigration reform, and women's rights. They are wrong in their belief that the country can cut its way to a balanced budget. On issue after issue, they are wrong.
If Republicans nominate Jeb Bush, they will confirm the obsession with their failed past. Bill Maher needed to explain the mistakes in childlike terms because Republicans are like little children who are stuck in a never ending state of failure.
Some Bail Amounts In Baltimore Are Biased And Out Of Control
By: Steve - May 3, 2015 - 10:00am
An 18 year old who participated in riots on Saturday in Baltimore now faces an insane bail of $500,000 dollars, something his family cannot afford and a higher bail than the cops involved in the death of Freddie Gray Jr.
Allen Bullock, who was photographed in the act of smashing a police car, faces eight criminal charges -- all misdemeanors -- including rioting and malicious destruction of property. His stepfather, Maurice Hawkins, encouraged Bullock to turn himself in.
Now, he faces bail that far exceeds his family's ability to pay. "By turning himself in he also let me know he was growing as a man and he recognized what he did was wrong," his mother, Bobbi Smallwood, told The Guardian. "It is just too much money."
The police officers who were charged on Friday by Maryland State's Attorney Marilyn Mosby in the death of 25 year old Gray posted bail bonds of $250,000 to $350,000 each.
Since Gray's death, there have been protests, some becoming violent, over the lack of accountability regarding Gray's death. During a press conference on Friday, Mosby reiterated that Gray had not committed any crime when the six police officers she charged apprehended him.
Bullock's parents are part of a larger pattern of racial disparities in the cities. Blacks in Baltimore are less likely to be employed, more likely to face predatory lending, and even have a shorter life expectancy on average. The city of Baltimore has also settled more than $5.7 million in wrongful death cases with Baltimore citizens since 2011.
The problem of racial or ethnic minorities being hit with higher bail amounts than their white counterparts is also well documented. The Sentencing Project pointed out in a report released last year that "blacks and Latinos are more likely than whites to be denied bail or to be imposed a bond that they cannot afford" and that they are more often considered "flight risks because of their lower socioeconomic status, criminal records, and because of their race."
"As parents we wanted Allen to do the right thing," Smallwood said. "He was dead wrong and he does need to be punished. But he wasn't leading this riot. He hasn't got that much power."
That bail should be reduced. It can be and I hope it will be. This inequality in treatment can't be allowed to continue. And they wonder why blacks riot and do this stuff, because of things like this, they know they are being treated unfairly, and unless the media reports it nobody else knows. Which of course rarely ever gets reported.
And of course, Bill O'Reilly never reports any of this information, because he defends the cops and the justice system, even when it is unjust and unfair. Bill O'Reilly ignores this mistreatment and unfairness because he does not really care about the rights of blacks being violated, he just says he does to make it look good on tv.
Fox Host Sides With Cops After Officers Charged
By: Steve - May 2, 2015 - 11:00am
Fox News host Todd Starnes immediate reaction to the breaking news that all six officers are being charged in the death of Freddie Gray in Baltimore was to accuse State's Attorney Marilyn J. Mosby of declaring war on law enforcement.
This is the refrain of many people who have a hard time admitting that we have a systemic problem of racial bias within all tiers of our justice system.
But the real question is why would anyone defend police officers who are not upholding the law? These bad actors do not reflect on all law enforcement. The few bad actors stain the name of all of the hard working police in this country. For that reason, everyone should want to weed out the bad actors and hold them accountable.
The highest charge against the officers is that of second-degree depraved heart murder. According to Wikipedia, depraved heart murder is also known as "depraved-indifference murder." This "demonstrates a 'callous disregard for human life' and results in death."
In what world does holding an officer/officers accountable for having a callous disregard for human life equal "declaring war"? If Starnes feels that being asked to behave lawfully is an act of war, he has other problems.
Starnes might also want to realize that the State's Attorney is law enforcement. She is responsible for upholding the law. The State's Attorney repeatedly said that this was not an indictment of the Baltimore Police Department, but of the six officers charged in this case.
Mosby used an independent investigation in order to determine the facts, instead of leaving it up to the police to investigate their fellow officers.
There is no excuse for turning these charges around on the prosecutor and claiming victimization by whining that being held to the law is an act of war. The point of these charges is that everyone is expected to uphold the law, including the police. They are, in fact, supposed to be setting the standards for upholding the law.
For every bad police action getting headlines right now, the majority of police officers are trying their best to honor the public trust and keep the peace, often under trying circumstances. Instead of defending the few bad actors, which implies an identification with their actions, it makes more sense to hold everyone accountable to the same standards.
Since most police do not treat citizens with callous disregard for their life, there is no reason to view these charges as anything other than the result of an independent investigation. The justice system will work its way through these charges just as it does for every person charged with a crime; the officers are entitled to due process just as anyone else is.
By Starnes standards, law enforcement is declaring war on every person ever charged with a crime. So to follow through with his logic, everyone who has been charged with a crime should respond that the police are declaring an act of war on everyone who shares something in common with them.
Yeah, that's nuts.
Todd Starnes accusation is irresponsible at best. He has no evidence to suggest these charges are unwarranted, but that didn't stop him from inflaming the situation with the sort of self-pity often seen in people of privilege when they are held accountable for their actions.
Baltimore PD Release Mugshots Of Officers Charged In Freddie Gray Death
By: Steve - May 2, 2015 - 10:00am
The Baltimore Police Department tonight released mugshots of the six officers charged in the death of Freddie Gray while in police custody.
The officers were identified last month as Lt. Brian Rice, Officer Garrett Miller, Sgt. Alicia White, Officer William Porter, Officer Edward Nero, and Officer Caesar Goodson.
Baltimore State's Attorney Marilyn Mosby has found that the death of Freddie Gray was a homicide, and warrants have been issued for the arrest of six Baltimore police officers.
According to The Baltimore Sun, "Six officers are each facing multiple charges, including manslaughter, assault, misconduct in office and false imprisonment: Lt. Brian Rice, Sgt. Alicia White, Officer William Porter, Officer Garrett Miller, Officer Edward Nero and Officer Caesar Goodson. Goodson, who drove the van, has been charged with second-degree murder."
Mosby stressed that the officers must be held accountable and that her investigation was about justice and accountability. The State's Attorney added, "I heard your call for no justice, no peace. Your peace is sincerely needed as I work to deliver justice on behalf of this young man."
Rough Rides And The Challenges Of Improving Police Culture
By: Steve - May 1, 2015 - 10:00am
Police say that intentionally banging a suspect around in the back of a van isn't common practice. But the range of slang terms to describe the practice suggests it's more common that anyone would hope--and a roster of cases show that Freddie Gray is hardly the first person whose serious injuries allegedly occurred while in police transit.
Citizens have accused police of using aggressive driving to rough suspects up for decades in jurisdictions across the country. Though experts don't think it's a widespread practice, rough rides have injured many people, frayed relationships, and cost taxpayers, including Baltimore's, millions of dollars in damages.
Protests have roiled the streets of Baltimore ever since Gray died, forcing the city to reckon with a troubled police department and its fraught relationship with black citizens. On Monday, those protests intensified. A spokesman for the Baltimore Police Department said seven officers had been injured and one was non-responsive.
Despite the turmoil, there's been little new information about how Gray sustained his mortal injuries. Initial reports focused on how it was that Gray got into a van while alive--though he was being dragged--yet emerged less than an hour later unable to breathe or walk.
The question has always been what happened in the van--including during several van stops before Gray arrived at a police station and paramedics were called--but now more scrutiny has come on Gray's state when he was arrested.
Initially, reports suggested that Gray took off running after making eye contact with an officer, and was found with a knife. Police also said the 25-year-old was not injured when he got into the van. A video shot by a bystander was inconclusive and didn't show any evidence of Gray being beaten, though he was shouting and his legs appeared limp as he was dragged to the van.
An extensive report from The Baltimore Sun suggests there are some inconsistencies even in the limited timeline police have released. Police said Gray was arrested a minute after first contact with officers, and was handcuffed "without force or incident."
Conversations with witnesses "make clear that Gray's arrest and transport were perceived as being wholly out of the ordinary--even in an area where the drug trade makes an arrest a common occurrence," the Sun's Mark Rector reports. Once police caught Gray, a friend saw one officer with his knee on Gray's neck and another bending his legs back.
In video of the arrest, a bystander shouts that Gray's legs are broken and he needs help. He was then placed in the van and driven away. Police now say he should have received medical attention at the scene. Because the investigation didn't start for several days, they also missed opportunities to gather crucial evidence, like a surveillance tape from a store that was taped over.
That's why the van, and the alleged "rough ride," remains central. While medical professionals said the level of damage to Gray's spinal cord--which was 80 percent severed, with a crushed voice box--was the sort of injury that usually only happened in a serious car accident, Dr. Ali Bydon, a Johns Hopkins neurosurgeon, told the Sun that it could have happened progressively, so that the fact that Gray could stand when he got into the van proves nothing.
"It can be a progressive, cumulative loss of function if the spinal cord is unstable and unprotected," he said. "You don't need tremendous force to follow up on further injury to the spine--a force you and me can take because we have stable necks, but that an unstable neck cannot withstand."
Once Gray was in the van, he was handcuffed. Apparently because he was "irate" during the ride, officers stopped and shackled his legs, too. The one thing they didn't do was buckle his seat belt. Not only does that sound like common sense, it's also department policy--and the BPD admits it was violated.
Critics argue that the reason a prisoner would be left unbuckled is not to protect officers but to dole out extrajudicial treatment. Baltimore juries have on occasion agreed. In 2004, a man named Jeffrey Alston won $39 million from Baltimore after he was paralyzed from the neck down during a police-van ride.
The following year, Dondi Johnson Sr. won $7.4 million after a ride left him a paraplegic. In 2013, Johns Hopkins librarian Christine Abbott filed a suit against the department for a "rough ride" after a 2012 arrest that resulted from a noise complaint. Her lawyer alleges she was not buckled and an officer drove "maniacally" as she was taken in, throwing her around the unpadded van.
Arrestees and advocates say drivers will jam to abrupt stops and take corners hard to toss riders around. In addition to rough rides, my colleague Conor Friedersdorf notes, the Baltimore Police Department has a long and ignominious rap sheet of brutality not befitting a place that calls itself Charm City.
As one might expect, it's hard to know how common this practice is, and there are no good tallies. The multiplicity of slang terms is one metric. "Bringing them up front" refers to jamming on the breaks so a prisoner flies forward. "Screen tests" are the same, so that a prisoner rams into the screen between the front seat and the passenger area of a van or cruiser.
In Philadelphia, the practice is commonly known as a "nickel ride," a reference to cheap amusement-park rides. The Philadelphia Inquirer published a gripping investigation into nickel rides in 2001. The newspaper found 20 cases of injuries, including three spinal injuries and two instances of paralysis. Settlements had cost taxpayers at least $2.3 million at the time, but no Philadelphia cop had been disciplined for the practice. After the Inquirer investigation, the department agreed to end the practice, but a 2013 lawsuit alleged it had been quietly reintroduced.
Even if rough rides are only a tiny element of the police culture, it will take a cultural shift to root them out, the sort of change that marches and national attention can't effect on their own.
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