Amid heavy scandal-mongering from Fox, NBC News centered a news report on Tuesday around deceptively truncated comments President Obama made during a July 13 campaign appearance, comments right-wing media have been distorting for days to accuse President Obama of dismissing business owners.
In other words, the Fox Cycle is in full effect.
The Fox Cycle is the phenomenon where Fox News helps the conservative fringe bring bogus stories into mainstream outlets. It works like this:
1. Right-wing bloggers, talk radio hosts, and other conservative media outlets start promoting and distorting the story.
2. Fox News picks up the story and gives it heavy, one-sided coverage.
3. Fox News and conservative media attack the "liberal media" for ignoring the distorted story.
4. Mainstream media outlets eventually cover the story, echoing the right-wing distortions.
5. Fox News receives credit for promoting the story.
6. The story is later proven to be false or wildly misleading, long after damage is done.
That cycle was at work this week, after Obama made the unremarkable observation that businesses do not succeed in a vacuum, but that public infrastructure -- such as roads, schools, and fire departments -- create a community that supports businesses:
OBAMA: If you were successful, somebody along the line gave you some help. There was a great teacher somewhere in your life. Somebody helped to create this unbelievable American system that we have that allowed you to thrive. Somebody invested in roads and bridges. If you've got a business -- you didn't build that. Somebody else made that happen. The Internet didn't get invented on its own. Government research created the Internet so that all the companies could make money off the Internet.
The point is, is that when we succeed, we succeed because of our individual initiative, but also because we do things together. There are some things, just like fighting fires, we don't do on our own. I mean, imagine if everybody had their own fire service. That would be a hard way to organize fighting fires.
Stage 1 of the Fox Cycle hit soon after Obama made those comments, as the right-wing fringe distorted them. Focusing singularly on Obama's statement, "If you've got a business -- you didn't build that," these media conservatives accused the president of expressing hostility toward business. These attacks ignored the previous sentence in Obama's comments, when was talking about investments in roads and bridges.
Fox News today praised Mitt Romney for adopting their own manufactured attack on President Obama, celebrating Romney "get[ting] a little angry and agitated" about Obama's comment that Fox both distorted and obsessively promoted.
During the July 18 edition of Fox & Friends, co-hosts Steve Doocy, and Gretchen Carlson and guest host Eric Bolling hyped recent remarks made by GOP presidential hopeful Mitt Romney. Echoing the claim made by Fox hosts and guests, Romney claimed that Obama in his July 15 speech "attack[ed] success." Romney found it "extraordinary that a philosophy of that nature would be spoken by a President of the United States."
In response, Fox & Friends praised the GOP presidential hopeful for using the talking point crafted by Fox over the last few days. Carlson remarked:
CARLSON: Mitt Romney came back firing yesterday and a lot of people who are backing Mitt Romney were like okay, about time we see Mitt Romney get a little angry and agitated at something that President Obama had said in regard to small businesses and whether or not the government is instrumental in a business person achieving success or if it's the individual aspiration of what many deem to be the American dream.
Continuing to praise Romney as he did yesterday on The Five, Bolling declared that Romney, in his speech, "was a Mitt Romney that we haven't seen before, and frankly it's one that really needs to last the next for months."
Just in case any of you doubted just how big a flip-flopper Willard Mitt Romney is, the website Upworthy has drawn this little chart for you. It shows 17 issues that Mitt Has taken both sides on (and you can go to that site to get the particulars on each one). The truth is that Romney has been on both sides of so many issues that it is now impossible to know what his views really are (if he has any views, other than more tax cuts for rich people like himself).
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There has never been a legitimate reason for marijuana being illegal in the United States (or anywhere else). The first anti-marijuana laws were not an effort to prevent drug addiction (because addiction is not a problem with marijuana), but an effort to control people that the government at that time considered to be "undesirables" (mostly African-Americans and Hispanics). That's why marijuana became illegal (even though it is neither addictive nor dangerous), while far more dangerous drugs like alcohol and tobacco remained legal -- because they were the drugs of choice of the White power structure.
When marijuana became popular with White kids during the counter-culture years of the late sixties and early seventies, there was an added impetus to crack down on marijuana -- as a way to fight back against the anti-government ideas of youth. It was far easier to bust a young person for using marijuana than for having the temerity to think for themselves or disagree with government policy. Since that era, the marijuana laws have been maintained through a disingenuous government campaign of lies -- lies that protected the lucrative anti-marijuana industries of government (drug war), police agencies (money & property seizures), prisons (large influx of new victims), rehab clinics (treating a non-existent addiction), and various other interest groups (receiving both government money and voluntary donations).
The government's fight against the gentle herb known as marijuana has been disguised as a fight against the horrors of "drug addiction", but it isn't. It is another shameful chapter of prohibition in this country's history, instituted and continued by self-righteous people who think they have the right to determine what is best for everyone else. The truth is that marijuana is NOT a dangerous drug, and its recreational use does no harm to its users or anyone else. Keeping it illegal just pumps huge amounts of money into mafia-like cartels, robs government at all levels of an enormous amount of tax revenue, makes criminals out of decent hard-working non-violent citizens, and denies many other people of the ability to make an honest living in the growth, transportaion, distribution, and sales of marijuana products.
Fortunately, millions of people in this country are beginning to see through the government propaganda, and realize that it simply makes no sense to continue marijuana's illegality. It started with many states declaring marijuana to be legal for medicinal use. This made sense and many sick people were helped. Now there is a movement to go further -- to legalize the recreational use of marijuana.
It now looks like the state of Oregon will have an initiative on its November ballot that would legalize marijuana for recreational use by those over 21. Advocates of the measure needed to get 87,000 signatures to get it on the ballot, and they turned in over 165,000 signatures. The signatures still need to be verified, but it is extremely unlikely that enough would be thrown out to keep the matter off the ballot. Here's how CNBC described the initiative:
If passed by voters in November, the Oregon Cannabis Tax Act would allow marijuana sales in the state to people over age 21, and would create jobs in the hemp industry by allowing it for clothing, food and other uses . . .
The Oregon initiative, if passed, would create a Cannabis Commission that could limit the amount of marijuana a person could purchase and would oversee cultivation and retail sales at special marijuana stores. Net proceeds from sale of marijuana would go to the state general fund.
Under the proposal, marijuana possession would be decriminalized although public pot consumption would be prohibited and subject to a fine of $250. The initiative, if passed, would take effect on January 1.
And Oregon is not the only state that will vote on whether to legalize marijuana this November. Similar ballot initiatives have already been approved in the states of Colorado and Washington. Even if these three efforts succeed this Fall, there is a long way to go. But just maybe the citizens of the United States are starting to see the light. I certainly hope so.
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Political Cartoon is by Mike Luckovich in the Atlanta Journal-Constitution.
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George Zimmerman, left, with his attorney,
Mark O'Mara. (Reuters/Joe Burbank)The prosecutor in the murder case against George Zimmerman has replied with a scathing response to a defense motion for Circuit Court Judge Kenneth Lester to recuse himself. Defense Attorney Mark O'Mara argued in his motion filed last week that Lester is biased against Zimmerman, and that the 28-year-old defendant fears he will not get a fair trial if Lester presides. The prosecution's response all but calls the motion nonsense and challenges O'Mara's interpretation of both the law and court precedent regarding recusal:
Despite supposedly being biased against him, the Court has TWICE granted him bond in this high-profile homicide case, and in fact has exercised its discretion on numerous occasions to grant Defendant benefits not ordinarily enjoyed by the criminal accused. For example, Defendant has been permitted to live outside the State of Florida, to have witnesses testify telephonically, and to appear in court in civilian clothing and without shackles even while he was incarcerated."On Feb. 26, Zimmerman shot and killed an unarmed 17-year-old, Trayvon Martin, in a gated community in Sanford, Florida. Zimmerman had viewed Martin as suspicious and had followed him. He claims he only defended himself by drawing a concealed pistol after Martin attacked him. Zimmerman was originally released on $150,000 bail, a low level obtained because of phony claims that he and his wife were practically broke. The court soon discovered the deceit. Judge Lester revoked bail, ordered Zimmerman jailed again and held another hearing. He subsequently reset bail at $1 million. In his bail order, the judge took a dim view of the Zimmerman couple's deception.
Language in that order was what O'Mara said had prompted the filing of the recusal motion. In it, he wrote that Judge Lester had used "gratuitous" and "disparaging" remarks that proved his prejudice in the case.
The prosecution's response filed Tuesday, and written by Assistant State Attorney Bernardo de la Rionda, states that the defense motion is "long on conjecture and irrelevant and inaccurate bombast," misrepresents case-law regarding justification of recusal for bias, and omits inconvenient evidence. It is "absurd" and "devoid of legal merit."
De la Rionda writes that making findings "averse to Defendant is not sufficient to warrant disqualificaton." He cites a case in which a judge went way beyond anything Judge Lester has said, but whose statements the court ruled did not require recusal:
[...] the trial judge issued a much more egregious statement to the Florida Parole and Probation Commission to the effect that "the subject is a dangerous and sick man and that many other women probably suffered because of him." We rejected the claim that such a statement by a trial court judge provided a basis for recusal or the trial judge in subsequent proceedings.In another cited case:
Second, opinions formed by the judge on the basis of facts introduced or events occurring int he course of the current proceedings, or of prior proceedings, do not constitute a basis for a bias or partiality motion unless they display a deep-seated favoritism or antagonism that would make fair judgment impossible. Thus, judicial remarks during the course of a trial that are critical of disapproving of, or even hostile to, counsel, the parties, or their cases ordinarily do not support a bias or partiality challenge.De la Rionda states that Zimmerman "complains of 'misinformation' being conveyed" about the case. "It is, of course, Defendant who was responsible for the 'misinformation' conveyed at the hearing he requested, both through his active presentation of a witness who is now charged with perjury [Zimmerman's wife, Shellie] and his intentional omission of any corrective measure at the hearing."
Perhaps most telling of all is de la Rionda's claim that O'Mara has misrepresented the legal standard by failing to provide the context in his citing of the case of Brown v. St. George Island several times. In that case, O'Mara stated in his defense motion, "a statement by a judge that he believes a party has lied indicates a bias against the party."
But, writes de la Rionda, that only applies under narrowly construed circumstances not applicable in the Zimmerman case. In Browne, the trial judge stated about the absent defendant, "If Mr. Stocks were here I wouldn't believe him anyway." That, the court held, was indeed indicative of bias requiring recusal. However, it added in its ruling:
We hasten to add that our holding should not be construed to mean that a judge is subject to disqualification under section 38.10 simply because of making an earlier ruling in the course of a proceeding which had the effect of rejecting the testimony of the moving party. At the very least, before section 38.10 can be successfully invoked in this context, there must be a clear implication that the judge will not believe the complaining party's testimony in the future.De la Rionda points to many public statements made by O'Mara himself in various media interviews that acknowledge Zimmerman's lack of credibility. "'Ironic' is perhaps an understatement in that context," de la Rionda states.
Judge Lester is expected to issue his ruling by week's end.
From the July 18 edition of Fox News' Happening Now:
Senate Republicans have once again proven they have no interest in free and fair elections in this country. When the Supreme Court made their terrible Citizens United decision, they said electoral corruption could be prevented by full disclosure of those giving political donations. But the Republicans don't want that. They are afraid if political donors have to be disclosed, then some of those donors might stop giving them money. So twice in the last couple of days the Republican senators have voted unanimously to keep a filibuster going against a bill that would require all donors giving $10,000 or more to be publicly disclosed.
On Monday, the vote was 51 to 44 on a motion to end the filibuster by Republicans. Since the motion needed 60 votes, the filibuster was continued. Democrats tried again on Tuesday, and the vote was 53 to 45 -- again not enough to end the filibuster.
This is further proof that the Republicans are not interested in maintaining our democracy. They want a plutocracy -- rule by the rich. And it's another reason to vote against them in November.
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Political Cartoon is by Jeff Parker in Florida Today.
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Willard Mitt Romney (aka Wall Street Willie) doesn't want to let the American people see his tax returns -- except for the two years where he knew he was running for president ( and in those two years he made sure they showed he paid some taxes and his accountants hid anything embarrassing). Romney claims that is enough, but even a growing chorus of conservatives aren't buying that. They think he's trying to hide something that would really piss voters off if it was exposed. I agree.
But there are still a few people who don't think he's trying to hide anything. In Esquire Magazine, Charles P. Pierce says Romney is not trying to hide something embarrassing -- he is just so contemptuous of ordinary people ("the help") that he doesn't think they have a right to put their dirty fingers on his pristine tax returns. Pierce says:
It is helpful always to remind yourself that, in the mind of Willard Romney, there are only two kinds of people ? himself and his family, and The Help. Throughout his career, and especially throughout his brief political career, Romney has treated The Help with a kind of lordly disdain. It was there when he swooped down from snowy Olympus and shoved an incumbent Republican governor named Jane Swift under a train. It was there in the general election in 2002, when he glibly pushed aside the Democratic candidate, state treasurer Shannon O'Brien, who raised almost all the same issues against Romney that the president and his people are belaboring him with today. The only time it didn't work was in his race against Senator Edward Kennedy, when Romney found himself up against a candidate with so much money that he couldn't outspend him, and so much historical gravitas that he couldn't ignore him.
The Help has no right to go pawing through the family books, giggling at the obvious loopholes and tax dodges, running amok through all the tax shelters, and probably getting their chocolate-y fingerprints all over the pages of the Romney family ledger. And, certainly, those members of The Help in the employ of the president of the United States, who is also part of The Help, have no right to use the nearly comically ostentatious wealth of the Romney as some sort of scrimey political weapon. He does not have to answer to The Help. I mean, jeepers, he's running for office.
This isn't stubbornness. That's often an acquired trait. What this is, fundamentally, is contempt. Contempt for the process, and contempt for the people who make their living in that process, and contempt for the people whose lives depend on that process. There are rules for The Help with which Willard Romney never has had to abide, and he has no intention of starting now. My dear young fellow, this simply is not done.
Pierce is partially right. There is no doubt that Romney has an abiding contempt for ordinary Americans, and he does a very poor job of hiding it most of the time. But if that's all it was, then the growing chorus of Republicans upset by his refusal would have convinced him to release more tax returns by now. No, there is more to it than that. There is something that Romney wants to hide -- something so embarrassing it has the potential of costing him millions of votes.
So Romney is going to try and get through this with a grim smile and all the bravado he can muster -- in the hope that it will go away and be forgotten by election day. He's wrong. This is one of those issues that Democrats can ride all the way to election day, asking continuously "What is he hiding?".
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