Retiring Rep. Barney Frank (D-MA) puts departing anvil around necks of colleagues, tells magazine pushing for Health Care Reform was a mistake. [...]
Read The Full Article:
HB 484 has been signed into law by Gov. Phil Bryant (R). This is a good step forward for the Mississippi judiciary. I covered the bill and the House debate on it pretty extensively here. Congratulations to the Mississippi Bar, the Mississippi Association for Justice, the Mississippi Defense Lawyers Association, lobbyist Trey Bobinger, and everyone else who worked so hard for so long to get this done.
But the CBS documents that seem destined to haunt Rather are, and have always been, a red herring. – Joe Hagan, Texas Monthly
It was always about discrediting Dan Rather through the documents CBS was using to pick at George W. Bush’s National Guard service. Nobody on the right cared about the truth.
Many people have forgotten this story, but as a bookend to the Supreme Court putting themselves into the 2000 election to select Bush it’s a beaut.
In his long piece, Joe Hagan unravels much of the Texas tale, in a fascinating unpacking of political myth and fiction that helped keep a rich boy on his path to the presidency. Right wing bloggers deserved credit for their dogged campaign to ruin Rather, because of documents telling a real story, though they were frauds. By overstepping, Rather and CBS let George W. Bush get away. This incident should be added to the curriculum in every school of journalism.
I covered it exhaustively through intermediaries who knew the details, the whole sorry mess a black eye on everyone involved.
What might have happened if Dan Rather had done his homework on the CBS National Guard story that would take down one of the most venerable newsmen of the 20th century?
CBS producer Mary Mapes had been on the Bush National Guard story for years, so why did she so badly blow the vetting of the documents, even if the story they told was true?
We’ll never know.
How George W. Bush’s library handles the years between 1968 – 1972 will be interesting.
People forget the ugly legacy of Vietnam. I do not, because I was in high school and saw what the draft did to young men. Teens killed themselves rather than be subjected to the draft, the stories from those days endless.
This story is why to this day everything about George W. Bush is colored for me through his shaky National Guard service story, but particularly the lengths to which Karl Rove, Dan Barlett and Republicans, helped by right wing blogs, took down CBS rather than let the truth rise. But also how a major network let it happen, because the free press is what protects our democracy.
It’s another example of the way our politics is played and why we end up with the people in office that we do. It’s not just the money. It’s also the wicked game. We saw the lengths that Republicans in the Bush administration would go to during the hunting of Valerie Plame.
W.’s trouble all started because George H.W. Bush accused Sen. Lloyd Bentsen, the man Michael Dukakis chose as his running mate, of getting his son preferential treatment to get into the Texas National Guard and out of serving in Vietnam. This charge would boomerang back to the Bushes and get the engine revved up on what would reveal the character of George W. Bush and become foreshadowing of everything that followed, including who he was as a national candidate and president. It’s no wonder we ended up with a torture regime and a war waged on a false premise. It’s equally fitting that the Senate was suckered by Rove’s political machinations and allowed it to happen.
Least shocking of all is W. getting help to dodge Vietnam. Everyone wanted to stay out of that clusterschtup after 1968 and he’d have been an idiot not to try. The problem was after W. got into the National Guard. His service had gaps, with the explanations a moving target.
The Bush team knew it had to respond to the stories. Campaign spokesman Dan Bartlett explained that the reason Bush stopped flying in 1972 was that he was in Alabama and his family doctor wasn?t available to give him a physical. When it was pointed out that only a military physician could perform a pilot?s flight physical, Bartlett?s story shifted. He said the Guard was phasing out the F-102 on which Bush had trained, and therefore Bush had opted out of flying altogether. Reporters countered that the plane continued to fly at Ellington Air Force Base until 1974. The Bush campaign tweaked the explanation yet again, saying that the Air National Guard in Alabama didn?t have the F-102, so he saw no reason to maintain his flight status during his transfer.
These shifting explanations only intensified the scrutiny and led to questions about what else could have caused Bush?s loss of flight status. [...]
[...] That Bush?s commanders let the young pilot bow out early and arranged the paperwork accordingly wasn?t necessarily nefarious, but just the way things worked in the loosely regulated fiefdom of the Texas Air National Guard in 1972, especially for a son of wealth and power like Bush. Pilots didn?t like paperwork?and neither did National Guard commanders who coveted political influence in Texas.
How all of this looked in 2004, however, was quite different, especially running against a Silver Star recipient, John Kerry, whom Republicans and the right smeared in a disgraceful act of un-Americanism.
From Hagan’s piece:
The scrutiny on Bush?s past increased. Later that month, under pressure from Tim Russert on NBC?s Meet the Press, the president told the host he would release his entire military file, including pay records. But the release of pay dates from a computer database only spurred more questions: Why didn?t the pay records from 1973 match Bush?s official biography?
But McClellan had no idea what he was talking about. While trying to field press queries, he had asked Dan Bartlett, who had a thick notebook dedicated to the Guard issue, if he could study the book to help defend the president?s record. ?He said, ?No, I think you?ve got everything you need,??? recalled McClellan. ?I didn?t have all the facts. I would have preferred to look at the records myself, but I was denied access. So most of what I had was either what I was told by Dan or what the president confirmed in the presence of Dan.? Bartlett, he said, ?probably remembers better than the president.? McClellan explained that a tight lid had been kept on the Bush National Guard issue, with access limited to Rove, Miers, and Bartlett. ?It raises questions when you?re not open and candid about things,? McClellan said, ?and this is something that has been closely held for a long time.?
(When I asked Bartlett about this, he explained that the notebook ?wasn?t a formal dossier. It was a mixture of crib notes I?d taken over the years. It made sense to me, but not to other people.?)
Bush and his inner circle didn?t want to help the press expand on the Guard issue; they wanted it to go away. So when the Associated Press sought additional documents, the Pentagon denied the news agency for several months. The AP was forced to sue both the U.S. Department of Defense and the Air Force for access. Even then, the White House pushed back: in a phone conversation with the AP?s Washington bureau, Bartlett questioned the political leanings of the AP?s lawyer, David Schulz, detailing his Democratic campaign contributions. ?Why in the world is the AP using a liberal lawyer?? Bartlett asked, according to Schulz. Bartlett then suggested the AP was letting Senator Kerry off the hook. ?It was all-out war against the AP,? recalled Schulz.
Blame the messenger manifested with the intent to hide the truth.
Then came Swift Boat Veterans for Truth masterfully evil change the subject campaign, with a silent John Kerry team doing nothing in all of August 2004, and the rest is history.
What’s ironic and tragic is the right wing blogs that went after the typewritten documents alleging (or fabricating) the type spacing could not be possible were wrong. But their righteous indignation coupled with Rather’s own lack of knowledge about what he was reporting was deadly. It was bulldog sensationalism, helped by the fact that the anchor covering the story wasn’t as deeply involved as he needed to be on something as explosive as challenging a rich family and their machine that had one object: elect a favorite son to the presidency.
In any case, MacDougald?s arguments about the documents turned out to be inaccurate. He acknowledged as much in an interview with me in 2008. And in a speech given that same year, Mike Missal, a lawyer for the firm that CBS hired to investigate its own report, said, ?It?s ironic that the blogs were actually wrong. . . . We actually did find typewriters that did have the superscript, did have proportional spacing. And on the fonts, given that these are copies, it?s really hard to say, but there were some typewriters that looked like they could have some similar fonts there. So the initial concerns didn?t seem as though they would hold up.?
Nevertheless, the controversy exploded in the press, catalyzed by a report in the Washington Post that aggregated all the criticism from the blogosphere and laid it at the doorstep of Rather and CBS. Bartlett coordinated with several former Guardsmen, including Killian?s son, to follow suit and attack the CBS report.
When the right attacks it’s never about truth. In fact, if the facts don’t fit, they simply maneuver the story into another direction through hyperbole, trying to make their analysis sound smart, because your average reader doesn’t do details, but grabs and runs with what fits their own ideological moorings and political emotions.
The current archivist of the Texas National Guard, James Shive, told me that he personally examined Bush?s file in 1992, before Bush ran for office, and found nothing damning in it. He did say, however, that Bush?s file had ?unusual? gaps in it, referring in particular to an annotated history of his time in the Guard, typed up in the early seventies, that didn?t record Bush?s loss of flight status or any subsequent reassignment. But a scrubbing incident by state officials as late as 1997, he said, wasn?t plausible. Instead, Shive questioned whether anything negative would have been inserted into Bush?s record to begin with, given the political influence of his father in the early seventies.
People are right not to trust our political system.
However, it’s not the vast right wing conspiracy or the liberal media that’s the problem.
It’s the American people who are so lazy they won’t educate themselves on who they’re voting for or sometimes even care who’s elected. Most are only interested in bitching rights, holding a grudge about “the other guy,” never once taking it upon themselves to be informed on facts and the truth.
It’s only getting worse and it’s why America is in the shape it’s in today. Young people don’t even bother to vote and the rest who do are so besotted by ideology they can’t see the truth through their own prejudices.
Read Joe Hagan’s piece (it reportedly slips behind a pay wall tomorrow).
It’s a stab at getting history right.
First Dog Bo Obama rides with a human being (White House/Pete Souza)Here was Mitt Romney's answer to Diane Sawyer:
DIANE SAWYER: As we move away from this primary campaign into the next phase -- again, on Yahoo, we got two questions most often, first about Seamus -- which as you know is out there forever -- would you do it again?In other words, he'd do it if he could get away with it. But heck, he's running for office for pete's sake! People might notice a presidential candidate with a sick dog on top of his limo.
MITT ROMNEY: Certainly not with the attention it's received.
Being humane toward animals is obviously not in Mitt Romney's mainframe subroutine. What is a part of him, however, is what this quote reveals: Mitt Romney has no actual, definable soul. Only a narcissist's compass geared towards the true north of advancing the financial and political interests of Mitt Romney, et al.
It looks like the hunting partner from hell is at it again. You would think that after the guy bought himself a few more years on this earth he would go off to Wyoming somewhere and sit next to a hot stove so that he can get used to the temperature in the place where he will be spending his time after he leaves us. Instead, he is at it again. The guy is criticizing the sitting president and his administration.
"He has been an unmitigated disaster to the country," Cheney said of President Barack Obama.
"I can't think of a time when I felt it was more important for us to defeat an incumbent president today with respect to Barack Obama. I think he has been an unmitigated disaster to the country," Cheney said at the Wyoming Republican Party state convention in Cheyenne on Saturday.
"I think to be in a position where he gets four more years in the White House to continue the policies he has, both with respect to the economy, and tax policy, and defense and some other areas would be a huge, huge disappointment," the former Vice President said. " [Source]
I suppose when you have to live with needlessly sending thousands of people off to die, and destroying the economy in the process, you have to put the focus on the other guy so that we can all forget what an absolute mess you made of your eight years.
Don't worry Mr. Cheney, I suspect that you won't be around to see what a huge disappointment this president has been. Sadly, what might have been a perfectly good heart has been wasted on you.
Anyway, I wonder if when the race war that conservatives have been predicting finally comes to A-merry-ca they will use the self defense strategy to justify the killing of those brown folks?
That clown in Norway tried to use it. Unfortunately for him I don't think he will be that successful. I suspect that my right wing friends will want to make the same arguments here; that multiculturalism is such a threat to the future of the republic that drastic measures must be taken to stop it.
One thing conservatives will have to learn to do, though, is tell us Negroes apart. Mike Tyson looks nothing like Dr. Eric Dyson, (or Touré for that matter) yet my conservative friends can't seem to tell them apart. This is not good. Are you going to shoot and kill the sympathetic black spy (think Larry Elder, or Jesse Lee Peterson) because you thought he was an agitator? I am telling you that you wingnuts better get your s**t together before the war starts.
"That principle was put into practice the following morning when reporter Susan Candiotti quoted the Facebook page of a suspect in the Tulsa shooting spree, which said ?Today is two years that my dad has been gone, shot by a fucking nigger.?
We also noted that CNN had relaxed language standards a few weeks ago, playing an uncensored clip of a 911 tape that contained the ?f-word? repeatedly. Newsbusters? Noel Sheppard had no problem with the ?f-word,? but had this thoughtful critique of Lemon?s premise:
Now, weeks after the shooting of Trayvon Martin ? as the media try to fabricate a race war to assist the reelection of Barack Obama ? not only are CNN employees saying n?ger on the air, a CNN host is advocating the previously offensive term be used in all reports rather than the politically correct one.Let that sink in. Two stories, six black shooting victims, but Noel Sheppard thinks that quoting the word ?nigger? is the problem, and it?s somehow going to lead to a ?race war.? The shootings of black people aren?t the problem, the calling black people ?nigger? isn?t the problem, it?s the accurate quoting of that word that?s going to cause a deadly race war.
enlargeWhenever the right wing
privatization profitization fetish is the topic of a post, it's usually in the context of direct profiteering on the privatized activity. Talking about private prisons raises the ethical question about turning crime into a profit center, not to mention the racial issues. Talking about private libraries raises an ethical question about content, and whether private providers have an obligation to make all books available or only those books which the provider approves.
When it comes to education and the privatization fetish, most discussion centers around the private school industry and related profit centers. Those centers are usually textbooks, lower wages for teachers and support staff, and reduced compliance and credentialling requirements for private schools. Oh, and testing. Of course, we can't forget testing.
There's another profit center that no one is really talking much about, but which has the potential to do lasting and deep harm to our economy: K-12 private loans. Just as the college loan industry has bolstered for-profit colleges and driven college debt balances up to levels higher than all car loans and credit card balances, the for-profit K-12 loan industry has the potential to really drive up debt, and along with it, defaults on that debt.
Via WSJ SmartMoney.com:
It used to be that families first signed up for education loans when their child enrolled in college, but a growing number of parents are seeking tuition assistance as soon as kindergarten. Though data is scarce, private school experts and the small number of lenders who provide loans for kindergarten through 12th grade say pre-college loans are becoming more popular. Your Tuition Solution, one of the largest lenders in this space, says demand for the upcoming year is already up: This month, the total dollar amount of loans families requested rose 10% compared to a year ago; at that pace, the company expects its total funding to rise to $20 million for 2012-13. Separately, First Marblehead, which exited the market in 2008, reentered last year as demand for loans began to rise.
It should come as no surprise that the families seeking loans for Johnny and Judy's Superior Kindergarten Education At Exclusive School They Registered In At Birth are, in general, high income families. It always starts with them, it seems.
Much of this demand is coming from high-income families. Roughly 20% of families that applied for aid to pay for their children's kindergarten through 12th grade private school education had incomes of $150,000 or more, according to 2010-11 data, the latest from the National Association of Independent Schools. That's up from just 6% in 2002-03. Those who don't get approved for free aid, like grants, increasingly turn to loans, experts say.
For parents who sign up for pre-college loans the risks can be significant. To begin with, they could be repaying the loans for a long time. Sallie Mae's and Your Tuition Solution's pre-college loans have repayment periods of up to three and seven years, respectively. Loans at the Hawken School in Chesterland, Ohio, don't have to be repaid until after the child graduates college. That means parents could be on the hook to repay K-12 and college loans simultaneously. Already, about one in six parents of college graduates have loans, and they're projected to owe nearly $34,000 on average this year, according to FinAid.org. Taking on loans before college leaves parents at risk of owing larger sums of debt, experts say.
And that debt comes with an interest rate of 7.9%, minimum. That 7.9% is based on today's almost non-existent federal funds rate, but families without a stellar credit rating can be charged as much as 20%. Just you wait until that rate rises, and along with it, the payments Johnny and Judy's mommy and daddy make for them to attend that posh private school.
This is where I ask the rhetorical question of Republicans: Is it better for our children to be saddled with higher taxes to pay off government debt or better for the economy to crash as a consequence of self-indulgent, out-of-control debt incurred to enrich profitized education enterprises?
I think we all know how the wingers would answer that question, but what about the rest of us? This is the path reformers are relentlessly marching toward, on both sides of the aisle. Earth to politicians: This is not reform. It's robbery, and it shouldn't surprise anyone to learn that Wells Fargo Bank is on the cutting edge of the boom.
Wouldn't it be better to focus our tax funds toward improving all schools, public and private? Why, for example, is it necessary to create a "charter school" for innovative education? Why not simply allow school districts to innovate and place resources where their districts need them?
There will always be the elitist Johnny and Judy crowd whose parents insist they absolutely must go to Posh Snobbery Day School in order to get into the best universities money can buy in order to continue feeding the ranks of the right wing, but that shouldn't even begin to be what the ordinary, middle class parents come to expect. What the majority of kids in this nation need is a solid education in a solid public school system that isn't constantly being rocked by budget cuts and testing goals. That education may be delivered in a number of different ways, but it is something we should be paying for as a nation through our tax dollars, rather than subsidizing Posh Snobbery Day School and encouraging families to take on more debt in order to educate their kids.
Finally, this idea of borrowing money for necessities like an education is one that needs to stop before it becomes something we accept. Already, it's assumed that students at public universities will take on thousands of dollars in debt in order to attend that university. That's insane. On a personal level, I received several different financial aid offers in the past month to different universities that had accepted my daughter. Every one of them assumed that she would take on a minimum of $5,000 in debt, and that we, as her parents, would be perfectly willing to sign paperwork to take on a minimum of $15,000 (all the way up to $23,000 in one instance) per year to send her to a PUBLIC UNIVERSITY.
What is wrong with that picture?
I'm not sure we can turn the boat around on the university loan situation very rapidly or very soon. But this K-12 loan idea is one that needs to die a very, very early death. Why aren't we scoffing this out of existence? There is absolutely no need -- none whatsoever -- for parents to put themselves thousands of dollars in the hole to send their children to private schools when they can pay far less and send their children to public schools. It's ridiculous to assume otherwise.
Just think of what could be done for our schools and our teachers if those funds weren't being put in the pockets of financialists -- the money boys who pocket the 7.9% interest and walk away with a smile on their face.
Let's call this what it is. It isn't just the profitization of education. It's also the securitization of education, carved up into tranches and distributed to the Ones With Money so they can take more of ours.
The Wall Street Journal article profiles a middle class family who is taking these loans to educate their two children. Bill Dunham explains their decision this way:
That's the case for Dunham who says he and his wife haven't saved for college for their two children. Instead, he says, they're trying to give them the best education now in the hopes that it'll open doors to better colleges. "We'll figure out how to pay for it then, or with any luck they'll get scholarships," he says. "Right or wrong, we're hoping our experiment works."
Sadly, the Dunham family has bought into the premise that a public school education cannot open the doors to a great college education. Nothing could be further from the truth. The name of the school doesn't matter. What gets kids into great colleges is their own hard work, school performance, and SAT/ACT scores. And if Dunham thinks his kids will somehow magically raise their odds of college scholarships, I can tell him to give that idea up right now. My advice? Send the kids to public schools, start saving like a madman for college, and don't expect any scholarships to fall into your kids' laps even if they're terrific students. There's a huge hunger for scholarships and not enough available. But the very worst possible scenario I can see is digging yourself into debt for private schools for the kids only to turn around and have to dig farther in to pay for their college education, while lining the pockets of fat cats and bankers.
Bonus Read: The Assault on Public Education
Pretty much every time former GE CEO Jack Welch is on CNBC it's strange, but his most recent visit was beyond nuts. If one were to believe Welch, President Obama would be the most daring socialist infiltrator with dictatorship tendencies that ever lived in the US.
Like the Teabaggers, Welch seems to believe that Obama has an enemies list, and that the President is only about dividing the country. (This criticism was curiously absent during the Bush years.)
Welch continues his rant with the ever-popular (in the Teabagging world) remarks about "the peoples republic of Massachusetts" - a state Welch hates so much that he lives there. He also criticizes Romney for his "lack of authenticity," but can overlook that since he's a great leader. The two share a love for closing down factories and destroying the livelihood of middle class workers.
One day it would be a pleasant surprise to hear an extremist such as Welch show an ounce of concern for the middle class. Don't hold your breath though, because he's much too interested in hobnobbing with his friends in the 1%. This is the man who showered himself with gifts and perks while at GE, including his own retirement, as if GE never grew before or after it was graced with his presence.
Meet the Obama that doesn't exist, courtesy of Jack Welch:
?It was the insurance executives in health care. It was the bankers in the collapse. It was the oil companies as oil prices go up. It was Congress if things didn?t go the way he wanted. And recently it?s been the Supreme Court,? he said.More polarized than the days of "you're either with us or against us"? Hmmm.
?He?s got an enemies list that would make Richard Nixon proud.?
Welch, who helmed GE for 21 years and founded the Jack Welch Management Institute at Strayer University, penned an op-ed article for Reuters with wife Suzy Welch this week in which he tackled the idea of Obama?s enemies list.
?Surely his supporters must think this particular tactic is effective, but there can be no denying that the country is more polarized than when Obama took office,? Welch wrote, making a case for presumptive Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney.
We hear a lot about conservative advancements in creation and climate science, but very little about other great Republican scientific achievements. Here's a list of a few of our most patriotic discoveries:
The Buffett Rule, a bill backed by President Obama that would ensure millionaires pay a comparable tax rate to middle-class Americans, fell to a Republican filibuster in the Senate this evening, despite a new poll showing it to be overwhelmingly popular. While the rule, named after billionaire investor Warren Buffett, earned a majority vote of 51-45, it didn’t get the 60 votes needed to overcome a GOP filibuster. Sen. Susan Collins (R-ME) was the only Republican to vote yes, while one Democrat, Mark Pryor (AR), voted no. Sen. Joe Lieberman (I-CT) did not vote, but put out a statement opposing the bill. The vote is no surprise as Republicans vowed to block it, but Democrats wanted to put the GOP on the record as yet again filibustering to preserve lower tax rates for the wealthy. A CNN poll released today found that 72 percent of Americans — including 53 percent of Republicans and almost 70 percent of independents — support the Buffett Rule.
At least one penguin at the St. Louis Zoo appears to be a feisty opponent of Newt Gingrich.We've long passed the point where Newt Gingrich was, and it pains me to even reference it in the past tense, a "credible candidate" for the Republican nomination. But Newt presses on, largely unmolested by Mitt or by Ron Paul (also still running; never all that credible). What started out as book tour has in the last few months degenerated into the Newt L. Gingrich "Zoos Across America" tour. Is it because zoos are a cheap date, when you are a celebrity? Is it because zoos are one of the few places left in America where Newt can feel confident that he is, in fact, the smartest primate in the room? Is Newt conducting a nationwide search for his namesake, someone who can inherit his throne? Or is he merely interviewing potential running mates?
The Republican presidential candidate is sporting a small bandage on his finger after getting nipped by a small penguin during his tour of the zoo on Friday. Gingrich was in St. Louis to speak during the National Rifle Association?s annual meeting.
These and other questions are unknowable, and admittedly very stupid. The only things that can truly be gleaned from this incident is that there is at least one penguin in the world that does not like Newt Gingrich. I hold that penguin in very high regard.
Other notes to Newt: no, you are not allowed to describe being bitten by a penguin as "a Lincoln-Douglas debate." No, it is unlikely that being bitten by a penguin will turn you into a penguin, although I admit you are a large part of the way there already. And yes, "Obamacare" covers penguin bites, because he knew this was going to happen.
Still, I think Newt might be able to use Penguin-gate to reenergize his campaign. Or maybe I'm just saying that because I want Mitt Romney to respond to it. "Why's he visiting zoos?" Romney would say. "The way I've always done it is to have zoo animals strapped to the top of cars and driven to me. What kind of lower class rube drives to the animals? How vulgar!" And then Newt and Mitt can take turns getting bitten by various birds and arguing over whether which animal bites remind them most of death panels or the plot to take away your guns or, um, whatever they've been going on about lately. I don't know. I just wanted to write a simple little story about Newt Gingrich being bitten by a penguin.