A collection of newsworthy information as reported from newspapers, magazines, and blogs.

Sunday, May 23, 2010

Media Matters

You Lie!

Beck rehashes false claims in baselessly suggesting Obama acting on behalf of bank

Glenn Beck repeated discredited falsehoods about the Community Reinvestment Act and President Obama's Chicago house while baselessly suggesting that the Obama administration is aiding a troubled, "politically connected" Chicago-based bank. In fact, the White House has denied any involvement in helping the bank. Read More

Fox baselessly declares it "a gigantic lie" that AZ law could lead to racial profiling

Fox News' Steve Doocy accused Mexican President Felipe Calderón of telling "a gigantic lie" by saying that Arizona's new immigration law introduces racial profiling into law enforcement. However, law enforcement officers have also expressed this concern and legal experts have rejected the claim that modifications made to the law eliminate the risk of racial profiling. Read More

Fox falsely suggests financial reform to blame for market drops

Fox & Friends repeatedly falsely suggested the stock market declines in the U.S. and Asia were solely in response to the Senate passing financial reform, despite the fact that guest Stuart Varney said the drops were "not about" the legislation. Indeed, the declines are largely blamed on economic instability in Europe. Read More

Special Report fails to address Stossel's call to repeal part of the Civil Rights Act

Despite reporting on the controversy surrounding Rand Paul's criticism of portions of the 1964 Civil Rights Act, Fox News' Special Report did not address the fact that Fox News' John Stossel called for the repeal of the portion of the act that prohibits discrimination in places of public accommodation. Read More

Bossie's Post op-ed distorts Kagan on free speech

Citizens United president David Bossie took his false attacks on Elena Kagan to the pages of The Washington Post, writing an op-ed that distorted the Citizens United Supreme Court case to falsely paint Kagan as anti-free-speech.  Read More

Gingrich slams Obama admin over Blair resignation without fully disclosing his ties to Blair

Newt Gingrich has appeared on Fox News to attack President Obama over the resignation of Dennis Blair as the director of National Intelligence without disclosing that Gingrich and Blair were both members of a nonprofit defense group that reportedly benefited from a $2.4 million federal contract awarded in 2008. Read More

Wash. Times op-ed falsely claims Kagan wouldn't let "willing Harvard law students" meet with military recruiters

A Washington Times op-ed baselessly claimed that Supreme Court nominee Elena Kagan promoted an "anti-military campaign" while dean of Harvard Law, citing the false claim that Kagan "den[ied] JAG officers and willing Harvard law students the opportunity to meet and talk about opportunities to serve in the military." In fact, students had access to military recruiters throughout Kagan's tenure as dean, and Kagan's respect for the military is well established. Read More

Wash. Times falsely suggests past warm periods disprove human-caused global warming

A Washington Times editorial falsely suggested global warming science is undermined by studies indicating that the planet, at least in some regions, saw exceptional warmth thousands of years ago. But climate experts don't dispute that certain regions have experienced natural warm and cool periods throughout history; they say climate change of the past half century is "different" because it can't be explained by "natural changes alone." Read More

Beck mixes up his talking points, runs with distortions of previous climate bill

Glenn Beck falsely claimed that "this new cap-and-trade bill" extends unemployment insurance by three years and encourages workers to move overseas. In fact, the energy bill most recently considered in Congress, sponsored by Sens. John Kerry and Joe Lieberman, has no such provisions, and Beck's claims distort provisions from the Waxman-Markey bill that the House passed last year. Read More

Beck distorts FEMA facts to claim Obama is "destroying charity and our faith"

Glenn Beck claimed that a FEMA videographer asking volunteers to remove their Salvation Army T-shirts at a disaster cleanup site indicates that the Obama administration is "destroying charity and our faith." But the day before, FEMA's administrator said the videographer was "absolutely wrong" and apologized to the Salvation Army. Read More

Rand Paul - The Gift That Keeps On Giving

Paul told Maddow that he agrees with most parts of the Civil Rights Act, except for one (Title II), that made it a crime for private businesses to discriminate against customers on the basis of race. Paul explained that had he been in office during debate of bill, he would have tried to change the legislation. He said that it stifled first amendment rights:  See the interview and read more:

The Tea Party favorite, in an interview with ABC's "Good Morning America" on Friday morning, accused the Obama administration of being too tough on BP -- the oil company directly responsible for the massive spill in the Gulf.  "What I don't like from the president's administration is this sort of 'I'll put my boot heel on the throat of BP.' I think that sounds really un-American in his criticism of business," he said. "I've heard nothing from BP about not paying for the spill. And I think it's part of this sort of blame game society in the sense that it's always got to be someone's fault instead of the fact that sometimes accidents happen."  More

RNC Chairman Michael Steele Criticizes Rand Paul As Out Of Touch On Civil Rights

Rand Paul Cancels on Meet the Press

The move comes after several controversial statements by Paul this week—first, he said private business owners should have the right to discriminate by race. Then, he said President Obama’s attacks on BP over the Gulf oil spill were “un-American.” "Rand did Good Morning America today, set the record straight, and now we are done talking about it," said Paul’s campaign spokesman, Jesse Benton, on Friday. "No more national interviews on the topic.”

Interviews with Tea Party organizers indicate that Paul’s views on civil rights are hardly an anomaly among the movement. While several Tea Party activists were careful to stress that the CRA and race in general were irrelevant to their current political program, they nonetheless indicated either broad tolerance or full-on agreement with Paul's position on the law.

They Backed Down - A letter from Barack Obama

Jo Ann --

On Thursday, the Senate passed historic Wall Street reform. This movement proved again that the strongest special interests, who for so long have called the shots in Washington, can be beat.  When opponents in Congress tried to block the legislation altogether, you stood up -- and they backed down. When the lobbyists pushed for loopholes and exemptions just before a final vote, you did not relent -- and we fought them off.  Your support brought us to this day -- and, because of that, we're poised to implement sensible reforms that will provide a stronger foundation for economic growth.

Now, the House and Senate must iron out their differences before I can sign it into law. But the financial industry will not give up. They have already spent more than $1 million per member of Congress, lobbying on this issue. And in the coming days, they will go all in. This is their last shot to stall, weaken, or kill reform, and they are not accustomed to losing.  But this movement has you -- and together, we have beaten the special interests before.

Every American has a stake in this bill.

If you have ever been treated unfairly by a credit card company, this reform works for you -- never again will Americans be duped by fine print or hidden fees.

If you ever try to take out a home loan or student loan, this reform works for you -- putting an end to predatory and deceptive lending practices.

And, if you or your small business relies on credit from community banks that are being punished for playing by the rules while their competitors do not, this reform works for you -- reining in the big banks and making sure all our lenders are subject to tough oversight.

These reforms would put in place the strongest consumer financial protections in history. And, by helping safeguard our economy from recklessness on Wall Street, it would ensure that a crisis like the one that caused this recession never happens again.

This is not a zero-sum game where Wall Street loses and Main Street wins. As we have learned, in today's economy, we are all connected. When the economy prospers, we all win. Senators of both parties recognize that fact, and that is why lawmakers stood up to the lobbyists and worked across the aisle to ensure that Wall Street reform passed.

But this fight is not yet over. And it is up to us to overcome this final test and pass reform into law. When we do, the power of this movement to make change in Washington -- despite the best efforts of the special interests -- will no longer be up for debate.

Thank you,

President Barack Obama

President Obama Fires Dennis Blair - Director of National Intelligence

Tensions among the White House, the intelligence director and Congressional oversight committees escalated after a young Nigerian man nearly detonated a bomb on a trans-Atlantic flight on Dec. 25. White House officials openly criticized Mr. Blair and his staff for a litany of missed signals that could have prevented the man, Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab, from boarding the plane.  They laid particular blame on the National Counterterrorism Center, one agency that Mr. Blair supervises. A report released this week by the Senate Intelligence Committee was particularly critical of the NCTC’s failures to piece together the information that could have put Mr. Abdulmutallab on a “no-fly” list.  Wide U.S. Failures Helped Airliner Plot, Panel Says - The blunders took place at every major intelligence agency and included computer glitches, misspellings and poor analysis, the committee said. Summary of the Committee Report on the Attempted Terrorist Attack - Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab - http://intelligence.senate.gov/100518/1225report.pdf

American officials said that Mr. Blair had also angered the White House in recent months by pushing for closer intelligence ties to France, an arrangement opposed by Mr. Obama.  But Mr. Blair also fought battles inside the intelligence ranks. Last summer, he clashed with Leon E. Panetta, the C.I.A. director, over the appointment of the senior American spies overseas. Mr. Panetta went so far as to issue a memorandum to C.I.A. operatives telling them to disregard a directive that Mr. Blair had sent a day earlier.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Obama's "Karl Rove"

Patrick Gaspard is the Director of the Office of Political Affairs for the Obama administration. Gaspard's prior position was on the advisory board for President Barack Obama's transition team. During the presidential campaign, Gaspard was Obama's National Political Director. 

Prior to working on Obama's campaign team, Gaspard was the executive vice president for politics and legislation for the 300,000 member 1199SEIU United Healthcare Workers East labor union, the largest local union in America. He helped coordinate political activity and government relations on behalf of 300,000 members. In 2006, Gaspard served as the acting political director for SEIU International during the national union’s successful effort to help Democrats capture majorities in the House and Senate. In 2004, Gaspard was the National Field Director for America Coming Together. Gaspard worked for Governor Howard Dean’s presidential campaign, the 1988 Jesse Jackson presidential bid and numerous congressional candidates and campaigns. In 1989, he worked on the successful and historic David Dinkins mayoral campaign. Gaspard is a former community organizer around school reform issues. 

President Barack Obama was drawn to Gaspard because of their similarities - both are community organizers with family roots in Africa.  Born in the Democratic Republic of Congo to Haitian parents, Gaspard moved with his parents to the United States when he was three years old. He is married and has two children.

Friday, May 14, 2010

BP Oil Spill - Comments From Obama, Jon Stewart, and Bill Maher

Obama slams BP, other oil executives for 'ridiculous spectacle'

Washington - US President Barack Obama harshly criticized executives from BP and other oil firms, accusing them Friday of creating a "ridiculous spectacle" by refusing to take responsibility for the ecological disaster unleashed in the Gulf of Mexico.  The executives from BP, Halliburton and Transocean appeared before the Senate on Tuesday and were "falling over each other to point the finger of blame at somebody else," Obama said after meeting with advisors about the spill.  "The American people could not have been impressed with that display and I certainly wasn't," Obama added.

Obama emphasized his intention to hold BP accountable under US law for the costs of the massive and ongoing oil well rupture that followed the April 12 explosion on an oil drilling rig in the Gulf leased by the Britain-based petroleum firm but owned by Transocean.  But he said the priority right now is to stop the rupture that is pouring at least 5,000 barrels of oil into the ocean daily.  "What really matters is this: There is oil leaking and we need to stop it and we need to stop it as soon as possible," Obama said.

There must be an end to the three firms pointing fingers at each other as there is "enough blame to go around," including some for the federal government, Obama said.  "It is pretty clear that the system failed, and it failed badly," he said.  Obama said the federal government will review its policies in offshore oil drilling and put an end to the "cozy" relationship between oversight agencies and the oil firms.  He cited the plan to separate the operations of the Interior Department's Minerals Management Service that collect royalties for drilling on federal land and its safety inspections unit.

There will be blame by Jon Stewart

Bill Maher Slams Rush Limbaugh, Dick Cheney, George Will Over BP Oil Spill, Climate Change Denialism (VIDEO)

Hawaii Signed Law to Ignore Birther Requests

HONOLULU — The conspiracy theorists who cling to the false belief that President Obama was born outside the United States outrage many Democrats and embarrass many Republicans. But to a group of Hawaii state workers who toil away in a long building across from the Capitol, they represent something else: a headache and a waste of time.

The theorists, known as birthers, have deluged the State Health Department here with so many demands for information about the president’s birth in Hawaii that Gov. Linda Lingle, a Republican, signed a law this week allowing state agencies to ignore repeated requests from people who have had a request answered in the last year.

It comes none too soon for Health Department workers, who have been inundated with so many requests for the president’s birth records that printouts of the e-mail messages they have received on the topic through March stands some 13 inches high. Each one required a response, and many required consultations with state lawyers.

“It became really, really a burden,” said Janice Okubo, a spokeswoman for the department, who said that handling the hundreds of requests took up huge amounts of the department’s time as it was trying to respond to an H1N1 flu outbreak. Many requests, she said, came from the same handful of people.

By Hawaiian law, birth records can be released only to people with “a direct and tangible” interest in them — a person born in the state, say, or certain relatives or their estates. So when questions about Mr. Obama’s birth first surfaced during the 2008 presidential election, his campaign posted a copy of his “certification of live birth” on a Web site; it states that Barack Hussein Obama II was born in Honolulu on Aug. 4, 1961, at 7:24 p.m.

When questions continued to pour in, the state’s health director, Dr. Chiyome Fukino, announced that she had seen the original records and that they showed that Mr. Obama was “born in Hawaii and is a natural-born American citizen.”

When the questions persisted, the department created a Web page titled “Frequently Asked Questions About Vital Records of President Barack Hussein Obama II.” It did little to assuage the doubters.  Some of the e-mail messages were vulgar, others hostile. Health Department workers found themselves vilified on blogs. “Your name will be synonymous with Benedict Arnold by the time this is done,” reads one that is signed “an American natural-born citizen.”

State Senator Will Espero, a Democrat who has a picture in his office of Mr. Obama and Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr. standing in front of a Hawaiian flag, said he was dismayed by the persistent questions about the president’s birth. He noted that in 1961, newspapers in Honolulu printed birth announcements, including Mr. Obama’s.  “Unless somebody had a great conspiracy going back 40-something years, involving the newspapers and the hospitals, I don’t think there is any doubt,” Mr. Espero said.

He originally introduced a bill that would allow the state to release birth certificates but ran into privacy concerns. Then the Health Department asked for help. So he introduced a bill allowing them to ignore “duplicative” requests that have been answered within the last year. Objections were raised that such a bill could give the government leeway to ignore legitimate requests, so Mr. Espero said the final bill was amended to try to address those concerns.

“Unfortunately, I don’t think it will end the controversy,” Mr. Espero said. “But in terms of our own Department of Health, and their staff and the hours they are putting into this issue, hopefully it will give them a measure of relief and allow them to work on some other issues besides just this birther issue.”