Many in the traditional media and the political punditry are agog over Sarah Palin. They monitor and deconstruct her tweets and Facebook postings, trying to determine how she'll shape the nation. But, Palin doesn't cast the same spell over real voters -- outside of the hard core of the hard core Republicans. Look at PPP's latest numbers from New Hampshire:
Kelly Ayotte's seen her appeal to moderate voters crumble in the wake of her endorsement by Sarah Palin and her lead over Paul Hodes has shrunk to its lowest level of any public polling in 2010- she has a 45-42 advantage over him, down from 47-40 in an April PPP poll.While Palin's endorsement may help with the extreme GOPers (and the Villagers), it's not so helpful with the moderates:
Most of the movement both in feelings about Ayotte and in the horse race has come with moderate voters. Moderates make up the largest bloc of the New Hampshire electorate at 47%, and Hodes' lead with them has expanded from just 8 points at 47-39 in April to now 21 points at 51-30. Ayotte's favorability with them has gone from +5 at 32/27 to -19 at 27/46.So, Ayotte could win the GOP primary because of Palin's endorsement, but lose the general election because of Palin's endorsement. I'll take that.
The Palin endorsement may well be playing a role in this. 51% of voters in the state say they're less likely to back a Palin endorsed candidate to only 26% who say that support would make them more inclined to vote for someone. Among moderates that widens to 65% who say a Palin endorsement would turn them off to 14% who it would make more supportive.
Don Blankenship is notorious in West Virginia, and he’s gained increased recognition nationally following the deadly explosion at his company?s Upper Big Branch Mine in Montcoal, WV, the worst U.S. coal disaster in 40 years. As the chairman and CEO of Massey Energy, Blankenship is an anti-regulatory, science-denying, unrepentant right-wing capitalist coal baron. Just as significantly, he wields tremendous political power in West Virginia and even bought a state Supreme Court seat in 2004. As Ian Millhiser explained last year:
When West Virginia coal overlord Don Blankenship?s company lost a $50 million verdict to one of its competitors, Blankenship set out to buy a judge. Rather than appeal his case to a fair tribunal, Blankenship spent $3 million to elect a friendly lawyer to the West Virginia Supreme Court, even running ads accusing the lawyer?s opponent of voting to free an incarcerated child rapist, and of allowing that rapist to work in a public school. Once elected by a Blankenship-funded campaign, the newly-minted justice cast the deciding vote overturning the verdict against Blankenship?s company.
In 2009, the U.S. Supreme Court made clear that justice is not for sale, ruling that Blankenship’s judge, Brent Benjamin, should have recused himself because the conflict of interest was so “extreme.” (Justices Roberts, Alito, Scalia, and Thomas dissented.)
Blankenship is now trying to extend his control of the federal government by getting involved in West Virginia’s congressional elections, via Republican candidates Spike Maynard and David McKinley. As the AP reported on Sunday:
Blankenship contributed $4,800 to Elliott “Spike” Maynard, the Democrat-turned-Republican running in the 3rd U.S. House District, during the three-month reporting period that ended June 30. David McKinley, the GOP’s 1st District nominee, received $2,400 from Blankenship. [...]
Upper Big Branch, located in the 3rd District, is likely to play a role in the Rahall-Maynard contest. Around $21,000 of Maynard’s money during the quarter came from Massey employees, Blankenship’s family and former political operatives including [Greg] Thomas. All told, around one-third of Maynard’s individual contributions came from the energy sector. That amount includes $15,200 from 19 executives or employees of International Coal Group.
Maynard’s relationship with Blankenship is especially tight. In 2006, when Maynard was chief justice of the West Virginia Supreme Court of Appeals and Massey Energy had millions of dollars of cases pending before the court, Maynard and Blankenship went on an expensive vacation in the French Riviera together. A fellow justice said he was “outraged” by Maynard’s impropriety. Later that year, Maynard voted with the majority in favor of Massey. Watch an ABC News report on their relationship here. (When ABC tried to talk to Blankenship for the story, he said, “If you’re going to start taking pictures of me, you’re liable to get shot,” and tried to tear off the camera’s viewfinder.)
McKinley has hired Greg Thomas to assist his campaign. Previously, Thomas “helped oversee that 2004 spending and other Blankenship-funded political campaigns” and has been described as the former “chief political consultant” for Blankenship. In the past, Thomas aided Maynard’s Supreme Court re-election bid.
Glenn Beck was all hyped up about last week's Netroots Nation gathering in Vegas, especially the frequency with which he was mentioned. The reason, he said, was that "this was really about you" (which is, of course, one of the rhetorical devices Beck uses to get his viewers to identify with him).
He was especially struck by the remarks made by our friend and sometime C&L contributor, Color of Change's James Rucker, who has been the point person in organizing one of the most effective advertiser boycotts of Beck's program.
Beck: We're exposing the progressive agenda to the light of day. And that is what he has a problem with. Watch:
Rucker: No one knew what Tides was until Glenn Beck started -- I mean, people outside of our political world didn't know Tides, until Glenn Beck's blackboard.
Beck: Now wait a minute. We did talk about Tides. There I am -- last September. We talked about Tides! Well, why wouldn't you want us talking about Tides? Aren't they helping people? Aren't they working for social justice? Isn't that what all of your progressive friends are working towards? Why would you hide it?
Gee, Glenn, no one's trying to hide the Tides Foundation. And no one minds anybody -- Fox News included -- "talking about" them. What they object to, rather, is your scapegoating them: unleashing a torrent of violent eliminationist rhetoric, ripe with fearmongering and falsehoods, in their direction.
The reason James Rucker mentioned the Tides Foundation, in fact, was a news story Beck assiduously has avoided mentioning -- namely, the gunman in Oakland last week who targeted the Tides Foundation after watching Beck's program.
Funny that Beck seems blissfully unaware of this incident, isn't it?
Especially when, as Media Matters has explained in detail, Beck appears to be the primary, if not sole, inspiration for this violent nutcase's choice of target:
According to his mother, Williams "watched the news on television and was upset by 'the way Congress was railroading through all these left-wing agenda items.'"
We don't know what Williams was watching, or that television played a role in his decision to target Tides. However, if it did, according to our Nexis searches, the primary person on cable or network news talking about the Tides Foundation in the year and a half prior to the shootout was Fox News' Glenn Beck.
According to our searches, since Beck's show premiered on January 19, 2009, Tides has been mentioned on 31 editions of Fox News programs, 29 of which were editions of Beck's show (the other two were on Sean Hannity's program). In most of those references, Beck attacked Tides, often weaving the organization into his conspiracy theories. Two of those Beck mentions occurred during the week before Williams' shootout.
On July 14, Beck said:
You believe that America is the last best hope for the free world. Boy, was I a moron for believing that. Nope, there are a lot of people that believe that we are the oppressor. This man states it. He states in this book "The purpose is to create mass organizations to seize power." Wow! That almost sounds like the Tides Foundation.
On July 13, Beck said:
Well, they have the education system. They have the media. They have the capitalist system. What do you think the Tides Foundation was? They infiltrate and they saw under Ronald Reagan that capitalists were not for all of this nonsense, so they infiltrated. Now, they are using failing capitalism to destroy it.
By contrast, since January 19, 2009, according to our Nexis search, Tides was not mentioned on ABC, NBC, CBS, CNN, MSNBC, or PBS. Not once. This search is not perfect -- Nexis does not include, for example, MSNBC's daytime coverage. But the contrast with Beck's coverage is stark.
As if to illustrate the point in yesterday's segment, Beck ruminated a little later -- inspired by Harry Reid's promise at Netroots that a public option will eventually pass the Congress -- in a way that very much sounded like he's promoting violent action:
Beck: You know, it's funny, I don't know what's going to wake your friends and neighbors up. I really don't. I don't know. Are they still saying it couldn't happen here in America? Is that what they're saying? I don't know what else it takes to wake your friends and neighbors up. But their freedoms are being lost. They're being stolen in the cover of darkness. It's like these guys are wearing an invisibility coat, or think they're wearing an invisibility cloak, and -- and everybody can see them. Like, 'Hm, no' -- your neighbors -- 'No, I can't see them.' 'But they're right there!'
I have a sense -- I have a sense that there is growing frustration in this country. I have a sense also that there are lunatics everywhere -- on the left and the right -- that have no problem killing. Because that's what lunatics like to do. The average American, I fear, is about to say, 'I give up. I give up.'
All of this -- particularly the vicious attacks on the Tides Foundation -- constitutes a classic example of eliminationist rhetoric -- something Beck has been doing for a long time, with progressives as his main target. Beck always tries to claim that he's being victimized and his free speech attacked whenever this is pointed out -- even though link between hateful rhetoric and violent behavior is a well-established one with a long and sorrowful track record.
We wondered not too long ago how long it would be before someone decided to act on Beck's eliminationist rhetoric directed at progressives. Looks like we have our answer.
Despite the statement of national security adviser James Jones condemning the release of more than 92,000 classified documents as endangering national security, Michael Isikoff reports that a review by the Pentagon finds, so far, that's not the case.
WASHINGTON, D.C. — An ongoing Pentagon review of the massive flood of secret documents made public by the WikiLeaks website has so far found no evidence that the disclosure harmed U.S. national security or endangered American troops in the field, a Pentagon official told NBC News on Monday.
The initial Pentagon assessment is far less dramatic than initial statements from the Obama White House Sunday night after three major news organizations – The New York Times, the Guardian and Der Spiegel — published what was touted as an unprecedented “secret archive” of classified military documents relating to the war in Afghanistan. The documents appear to show, among other matters, close collaboration between elements of the Pakistani intelligence service and the Taliban — an awkward issue that U.S. intelligence officials have strenuously complained about for some time but are loath to talk about publicly....
But David Lapan, deputy assistant secretary of defense for media operations, told NBC News on Monday that a preliminary review by a Pentagon “assessment” team has so far not identified any documents whose release could damage national security. Moreover, he said, none of the documents reviewed so far carries a classification level above “secret” — the lowest category of intelligence material in terms of sensitivity.
That should be further impetus for changing the conversation from the issue of the leak and the leakers and turn the focus to what the nation has learned from the leak, including, to list just a few elements:
• How a secret "black" unit of special forces hunts down Taliban leaders for "kill or capture" without trial.
• How the US covered up evidence that the Taliban have acquired deadly surface-to-air missiles.
• How the coalition is increasingly using deadly Reaper drones to hunt and kill Taliban targets by remote control from a base in Nevada.
• How the Taliban have caused growing carnage with a massive escalation of their roadside bombing campaign, which has killed more than 2,000 civilians to date.
The conversation needs to happen as this war drags on and as Congress this week will consider another war supplemental. That supplemental has been largely viewed as the last chance to get some critical jobs funding passed, but the Senate stripped out all the funding to retain teachers, to extend Pell Grants to low-income students, to provide $1 billion for summer jobs (already almost too late for that one) and even for additional border security--all stimulative programs.
The Senate decided on behalf of the American people that guns matter over teachers, since apparently we can't have both. Perhaps this WikiLeaks document release will change that calculation.
From ReutersAnalysis: Wall Street loathing for Warren lifts regulator bidBy Maria Aspan and Kim DixonJuly 27, 2010(Reuters) - Elizabeth Warren, clad in cardigans and pearls, has become Wall Street's public enemy No. 1, but it's that very vitriol that[...]
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What do things look like when the Republican Party formally splits in half? We've gotten a good[...]
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While the UK Guardian and other press are reporting that Wikileaks logs are showing over 2000 people on an elite task force's "capture or kill" hit list, the New York Times is reporting a figure of only 70.[...]
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On Sunday Julian Assange through his whisteblower site WikiLeaks released what has been described as more than 90,000 secret internal US military documentary records of US military actions in Afghanistan over the past six years, sparking anger and early attempts at political 'damage control' from the US government. In reality the WikiLeaks release may be the biggest leak yet of documented war crimes in US history since the 1971 Pentagon Papers leak by Daniel Ellsberg.
The documents were first published online by The Guardian, the New York Times and Germany's Der Spiegel, and include details of 144 incidents in which US and 'coalition' forces have killed civilians in Afghanistan and how a secret extrajudicial black ops special forces unit hunts down targets for assassination or detention without trial.
At the end of the day, the "Journolist" non-scandal involving a few hundred liberal-leaning reporters and academics informally communicating with one another is less about the hypocrisy of a right wing media that traffics in blatant double standards (we knew that already) than it is further evidence of the bifurcated American political culture that has sprung up in recent decades in which liberals and conservatives really do play by different rules and so are held accountable to entirely different standards.
"Collusion" is a word that immediately triggers the instinctive paranoia that resides within conservative audiences attracted to right wing media and the conspiracy theories they peddle. And so, the ultimate fallout of the Journolist story will likely be to solidify the right wing in its preferred rationalization that the existance of a "biased liberal press" justifies the creation of equally partisan conservative media to balance and compete with it.
Joe Conasan in today's Salon does a good job documenting the double standards that underlie the cynical and hypocritical reaction by the right wing to the Journolist story.
Conasan cites the feigned outrage by Fred Barnes of the Weekly Standard (and Fox News) and John Fund of the Wall Street Journal, "both of whom could barely contain their indignation" at the sympathy of journalists in liberal and progressive causes.
Yet, a simple Google search using the terms "featured speaker" and "Republican" instantly turns up numerous examples of speaking engagements by Fred Barnes at GOP fundraising events across the country, from Palm Beach to Eugene, Ore., Conasan writes.
"As a Fox News star, Barnes commands fat speaking fees from trade associations and lobbying groups -- and presumably from Republicans as well. Is he on the payroll, or just cheerleading for free? That is for him to answer, but either way he is clearly on the GOP "team." Yet he flatters himself as an independent loner, while chastising the Journolisters," says Conasan.
Like Barnes, Fund "poses as an ethical purist," says Conasan, while "grossly exaggerating the meaning of the leaked Journolist posts in order to highlight a pose of injured innocence. And he, too -- along with many other right-wing journalists and media figures -- is a featured speaker at Republican gatherings across the country, from Hoboken to Oberlin to the San Francisco Bay. He covers the Tea Party movement while accepting speaking gigs sponsored by Americans for Prosperity, the corporate-backed nonprofit that is behind much Tea Party propaganda. But of course Fund is deeply shocked to learn that liberal writers would compromise their commitment to "covering legitimate news stories" by joining Journolist.
More substantively, Conasan details the many ways that conservative "journalists" coordinate their political coverage with the messages being crafted by Republican Party officials and other conservative movement leaders to advance the right wing's agenda.
"Specific, orderly, disciplined, ideological coordination -- and not the freewheeling blather to be found on Journolist -- has been proceeding every week for nearly two decades at the 'Wednesday meetings' convened by lobbyist Grover Norquist in the Washington offices of Americans for Tax Reform," writes Conasan.
Conasan quote's at length from David Brock's Republican Noise Machine:
Every Wednesday morning in Norquist's Washington offices, the leaders of more than eighty conservative organizations -- including major right-wing media outlets and top Bush White House aides -- convene to set movement priorities, plan strategy, and adopt talking points. Norquist seems a cross between a Communist Party boss and a Mafia don as he presides over these strategy sessions ...
Conservative media turned out in full force for the weekly strategy meetings convened by right-wing activist Grover Norquist -- Peggy Noonan and John Fund of the Journal, representatives from National Review and the Washington Times, and a researcher for Bob Novak all checked in. The right-wing writers considered themselves part of the conservative movement "team," as Norquist put it ...
The Monday Meeting offers a clue to understanding the conservative movement's success and its continued vitality. Liberals talk endlessly of building coalitions -- Senator Hillary Clinton has suggested that the left needs a meeting on this model -- but infighting, inertia and a lack of discipline have kept them from pulling off this union of ideas, money and power. The right, meanwhile, often acts like the embattled minority that it was in the days of Barry Goldwater, protecting its own and keeping disputes in the family.
Despite the compelling case Conasan makes, what's most discouraging about these obvious examples of right wing duplicity and double standards is that they are entirely beside the point. Audiences of right wing media don't care. And the push back from liberals and the rest of mainstream press are half-hearted and uncoordinated at best.
Moreover, what the persistence of these double standards suggests is that right wing conservatives have largely succeeded - at least in part - in their 60 to 40 years effort (however you measure it) to create a conservative culture to supplant America's existing liberal society.
That would help to explain why conservatives seem so blase and unconcerned when they are caught in such obvious double standards. It's because they judge themselves and their movement by an entirely different set of standards. And that includes the standards applied to America's free press.
Matt Labash, of the neo-conservative Weekly Standard stated the right wing view on journalism best a few years ago: "We come with a strong point of view, and people like point-of-view journalism. While all these hand-wringing Freedom Forum types talk about objectivity, the conservative media likes to rap the liberal media on the knuckles for not being objective. We've created this cottage industry in which it pays to be un-objective. It pays to be subjective as much as possible. It's a great way to have your cake and eat it, too: Criticize other people for not being objective but be as subjective as you want. It's a great little racket. I'm glad we found it, actually."
In the broadest sense, of course the American free press is "liberal." The whole point of a free press in a democracy, after all, is to empower the masses by giving them access to information that enables them to both exercise political power and to hold a society's business, professional, educational and cultural elites accountable. At the same time, a free press reflects the Enlightenment faith in human reason and the belief that truth is a journey and not a destination.
But what if you are wealthy far right reactionary, or a right wing movement, that doesn't believe in these basic principles of a free and liberal democratic society? What if you do not believe in the Enlightenment "search" for truth since your "Truth" has already been found and been codified in the orthodoxy of some religion or in the tenets of some political or economic ideology?
What if you do not believe in giving the masses political power but believe instead in the traditional castes and hierarchies that conservatives have always believed in, with all effective power safely confined within the hands of safe and reliable conservative elites?
And what if you are a rich reactionary willing to invest billions of dollars over a generation or more to carefully plant and nurture these reactionary ideas, all the time disguising their genuine anti-popular nature behind a populist fog that exploits the masses' natural instinct against power by keeping the focus entirely on the power of the democratic state, that exploits their fear of strangers by provoking racial animosities, and that redirects the masses' natural hatred of "elites" who hold them in contempt by redirecting populist animosities to the liberal bi-coastal elites who might be the masses' natural allies.
If you believed all these things, your definition of journalism would be entirely different from one based on fairness, accuracy and objectivity. Your standard would not be how well your journalism kept the public informed about their world in a general sense. It would be how well your "journalism" advanced the right wing conservative agenda.
And since your journalism had this very specific objective in mind, you would not be concerned in the least about whether it was "fair" or "balanced" or if someone called you a hypocrite for attacking progressive writers and thinkers for informally communicating with one another while you sat down every Wednesday at noon with right wing political and business leaders to plan and coordinate the right wing takeover of the American Democracy. With standards for journalism like these there is no room for "double" standards at all.
I say that the conservative movement has only succeeded in part in accomplishing its objective because, despite the impressive time and financial resources poured into the effort, the conservative movement has been unable to defeat or replace America's natural liberalism and the institutions of our democracy that reflect and are sustained by that liberalism.
All that conservatives have to show for their efforts over the past half century is the creation of an alternative conservative culture, with institutions and a conservative counter-establishment all its own, that represents an entirely different way of looking at America, its institutions and traditions.
But the ever-worsening partisanship and polarization that afflicts American politics today is a reflection of the fact that conservatives are pleased with their progress so far and have every intention of finishing the job.
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Seventeen percent of potential regional tourists have indicated they have canceled or delayed a trip to Louisiana because of the ongoing oil spill and pollution problems resulting from the Deepwater Horizon-BP rig disaster in the Gulf of Mexico, according to a study commissioned by the state's tourism agency.
Melody Alijani, director of research and development for the tourism office in the Department of Culture, Recreation and Tourism, said the survey was taken among 903 residents of the state's regional tourist markets that stretch from San Antonio, Texas, to Pensacola, Fla.
The survey, taken by Market Dynamics Research Group of New Orleans, said that before the spill, 44 percent of those surveyed indicated they planned to visit the state. After the rig accident, 17 percent canceled or postponed plans because of the spill, and 83 percent indicated they still would travel to the Pelican State.
These findings mirror a national survey cited by the Times-Picayune which revealed that the spill had caused the cancellation or delay of about one-quarter of planned travel to Louisiana. So far, BP has paid the state's tourism agency $15 million to help boost numbers.
Given that the annual economic impact of tourism to Louisiana is $8.3 billion, $15 million doesn't seem nearly enough to help the state rebuild it's battered image. Nonetheless, when it comes to making good on its promise to pay for the damage it has caused, BP continues to drag its feet.