Saturday, July 31, 2010

GOP Against Small Businesses

I found this Associated Press article on Google that I thought was interesting - Republicans block legislation aimed to free up credit for small businesses despite the GOP's constant claims that they are the champion of small business.
President Barack Obama is going after Senate Republicans who have stymied his proposal to create a $30 billion fund to help unfreeze lending for credit-starved small businesses.

His election-year push for additional job measures suffered a fresh setback this past week when the GOP blocked the small-business plan.

The president used his weekly radio and Internet address Saturday to accuse Republicans of "holding America's small businesses hostage to politics." He said the bill has the support of business groups and contains many ideas favored by both parties.

"Understand, a majority of senators support the plan. It's just that the Republican leaders in the Senate won't even allow it to come up for a vote," Obama said. "That isn't right."
Republicans fought back to the accusations claiming that this bill wasn't a Democratic priority anyway and that this bill was just another bailout - an argument that this author believes to be weak.  Republicans love small business but when it comes to a bill that contains both liberal and conservative principles, the Republicans balk at the thought of doing something productive before the midterm elections - they use procedure and politics to prevent the Democrats from having any kind of success, which translates to refusing much needed aid to small businesses.
The proposed fund would be available to community banks with less than $10 billion in assets, to help them increase lending to small businesses. The bill would combine the fund with about $12 billion in tax breaks aimed at small businesses.

Democrats say banks should be able to use the lending fund to leverage up to $300 billion in loans, helping to loosen tight credit markets. Some Republicans, however, likened it to the unpopular bailout of the financial industry.
The Republican response to meaningful legislation - claim past legislation hurt small businesses and then walk away.
Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky would have none of that talk.

He said Democrats have put the bill aside six separate times so they could move on to something else. "So from the beginning this bill clearly wasn't a priority to them — until they realized that they didn't have anything to talk about when they go home in August," McConnell said.

"Nearly every major piece of legislation this Congress has considered has had painful consequences for small businesses. Attempting to create a controversy isnt going to hide that from anyone," he said.
You would think that it would benefit Republicans to support the legislation and try to stake a claim on it later, especially when obstructing the legislation could be used as fodder in the upcoming elections...

Gallup Poll Shows Democrats Leading Voters' Congressional Candidate Prefference For Second Straight Week

I thought the above graph was interesting - I found it on The Huffington Post and thought the accompanied article was very interesting, especially when you constantly hear right-wing sources claim there will be a Republican takeover of the House and the Senate this fall.

Mark Blumenthal wrote the following regarding the graph:
Last week’s Gallup result showed Democrats with a six-point lead (49% to 43%), a result that I argued was likely the sort of random statistical “blip” we should expect from time to time with this sort of tracking survey. This week, Gallup reported a Democratic margin is a slightly narrower four points (48% to 44%), but Gallup’s analysis noted that it “marks the second straight week in which Democrats have held an edge of at least four percentage points” and “the first time either party has held an advantage of that size for two consecutive weeks” in Gallup’s tracking.
The results may just be an anomaly, but it is very interesting nonetheless, and should put conservatives on the edge of their seats - we all remember the tale of the tortoise and the hare...

Big Government Attacks Lobbyist Contributions To Democrats, Ignores Source Of Disclosure And Republican Obstruction To New Laws

Warner Todd Huston wrote an article for Big Government today attacking Democrats for accepting lobbyist money despite the president's constant attack on special interests.  The funny thing is he ignores that the only reason we know of such contributions is because of a law enacted by Democrats, not Republicans - he also ignores the fact that Republicans blocked a recent law that would have required special interests (both corporations and unions) to disclose their spending on political advertisements.

I thought Huston's article was interesting because he cites a recent Bloomberg report that describes the lobbyist money flowing into Democrat's coffers - the article points out that Democrats are the ones who created the disclosure rules and that Republicans have repeatedly blocked related legislation, like the recent bill to require corporations and unions to disclose political advertisement spending.  The article also mentioned that Obama had not accepted lobbyist or political action committee during his 2008 campaign - Huston decided to leave that part out and instead focused on lobbyist involvement in Washington politics.

Trying to understand Huston's point, I noticed that he supplied links to his sources to prove that the Democrats are corrupt, but I found something interesting about his sources - he cited articles he wrote for other online publications, and the way he wrote those articles were very misleading, like this December 21, 2009 post that implies that Democratic legislators were behind the move of their aids to become lobbyists.
For instance, did you know that Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D, Nev.) has 13 of his former staff members now working as lobbyists for the healthcare industry? Our own Senator, Dick Durbin (D, Ill.) who is also the Majority Whip, has 8 of his former staffers lobbying for the healthcare industry and GOP Minority Leader Mitch McConnell has seen 5 of his staffers quit to lobby for healthcare.
What does he mean when he writes "Harry Reid has 13 of his former staff members now working as lobbyists?"

How are the former staffers still a possession of Harry Reid?

Huston failed to mention that the Senate and House minority (Republican) leaders and whips also had staffers quit to become lobbyists.

Does it seem a bit hypocritical that while the president attacks special interests, Democrats accept lobbyist cash?  A bit, but I can see where the money may be needed, especially when dealing with special interests that are funneling their money into political action committees and tea party organizations that are not required to disclose their income sources because Republicans had decided to block legislation.  Huston's article implies that the Republicans are completely innocent, but we all know that Huston is just contributing to the propaganda echo chamber - just consider the facts that he writes for Big Government and cites his own past propaganda as proof of future hypocrisies.

Anthony Weiner T-Shirts!

Now you can own your very own Anthony Weiner t-shirt from The Midnight Review store (just click on the shirts to visit the store)!

And while you are there, you can check out our other great apparel products like our Sarah Palin and Glenn Beck shirts!

Friday, July 30, 2010

Anthony Weiner's Fiery Response To GOP Obstruction Of The James Zadroga 9/11 Health and Compensation Act

Between New York Representative Anthony Weiner's investigation into Glenn Beck sponsor Goldline and now this, he is quickly moving up in my books. If I still lived in Brooklyn, I would definitely vote for this guy. He is passionate about his district and he is not afraid to say what's right. More Democrats need to be like Weiner or Alan Grayson.

You can read more at The Huffington Post...

Sean Hannity and The Heritage Foundation Push Poll

Yesterday, I got a letter in the mail addressed to me by Sean Hannity.  I was confused and so I opened it up - it was a poll from The Heritage Foundation with an introductory letter by Sean Hannity.  The letter was an interesting read and I thought I would share my thoughts on the letter.

First, the letter starts off with Hannity rattling off why the liberals are so bad, like crippling the "free-market system through the government's takeover and control of private business, punishing regulations, favoritism, and tax hikes."  I'm really not quite sure Hannity means by any of those things.  What government take over?  What tax hike?  What favoritism?

Next, Hannity wants to know "what went wrong with conservatives in Washington" and what needs to be done, and so he starts to mention the poll that was enclosed in the letter, but first he starts praising The Heritage Foundation - he even goes on to talk about how much he loves The Heritage Foundation stating that they are the best place to go for all the facts.  Here was an interesting paragraph from the letter:
Heritage has had remarkable successes.  Their big book of policy recommendations became the Bible of the Reagan administration - using conservative principles to develop hundreds of detailed ideas that helped Ronald Reagan and his alles to move America towards prosperity, traditional values, less oppressive government, and the strength to win the Cold War.
I thought this was interesting because in the introduction of the letter, Hannity attacks things like spending and health care reform, but later in the letter, he applauds the policies brought to the government by The Heritage Foundation.  I fail to understand just how Hannity can support Heritage and oppose health care reform, when the reform bill closely resembles a Heritage ideas.  Hannity goes on to even mention that Heritage did some research on the health care reform that was passed claiming

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Financial Reform Bill And The SEC - What's The Deal With The Right's Hysteria?

A friend of mine posted on their Facebook page that the new financial reform bill would nullify the Freedom of Information Act.  Since I had heard nothing about this, I decided to do a little digging to see what I could find, and what I came up with was that Fox Business Network was denied an information request regarding Bernie Madoff from the Securities and Exchange Commission.

Here is what the relevent clause states:
(1) IN GENERAL- Except as provided in subsection (f), the Commission shall not be compelled to disclose records or information obtained pursuant to section 17(b), or records or information based upon or derived from such records or information, if such records or information have been obtained by the Commission for use in furtherance of the purposes of this title, including surveillance, risk assessments, or other regulatory and oversight activities.
According to Fox's Dunstan Prial, "given that the SEC is a regulatory body, the provision covers almost every action by the agency," but from how this author interprets the section, it is this authors understanding that such exemptions only relate to information obtained by the SEC for investigative purposes - not every action the agency takes.  This does not mean that those within the agency would not abuse this clause given the opportunity, and it is this author's opinion that the law may be a little too broad.

According to Daniel Tenser for The Raw Story, Fox's assessment of the matter may be "something of an overstatement," stating that the public can still request information about the SEC's operations, although acknowledging that usually the SEC's investigations of possible wrongdoing are usually of what is of interest to the public.

There was something interesting I thought of when reading all the various news stories regarding this clause in the financial reform bill - the accusations that the "media" missed this important detail, opting to gloss over details of the bill to discuss the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau.  I find this argument ridiculous because as you may have noticed, the bill was signed last week and reports of this clause are now surfacing, and they are only surfacing because of a denied request by Fox News.

Where were these other investigative journalists before the bill was signed?

By them also not reporting on this clause, does that not make them part of the media they criticize?

I found a Newsbusters blog by Matt Robare blasting the media. "Journalists criticized the Bush Administration's lack of transparency in ways they have thus far refused to do so with Obama," wrote Robare.

I had found a very interesting article regarding this matter by Melissa Preddy for the Reynolds Center, which quotes SEC spokesperson John Nester as saying the new law only clarifies an existing exemption:
"The new provision applies to information obtained through examinations or derived from that information.  We are expanding our examination program’s surveillance and risk assessment efforts in order to provide more sophisticated and effective Wall Street oversight. The success of these efforts depends on our ability to obtain documents and other information from brokers, investment advisers and other registrants. The new legislation makes certain that we can obtain documents from registrants for risk assessment and surveillance under similar conditions that already exist by law for our examinations. Because registrants insist on confidential treatment of their documents, this new provision also removes an opportunity for brokers, investment advisers and other registrants to refuse to cooperate with our examination document requests."
Preddy also noted that when reviewing the SEC's annual reports regarding the FOIA requests, the number of full and partial denials was rather low when compared to the number of requests - the number of requests granted in full was almost three times higher then those denied in full.
This one from 2009 indicates that of 8,285 requests processed last year, only 1,278 were granted in full and 374 were partially denied. There were 544 full denials based on exemptions (where this matter would fall) and 6,089 denials in all. Of those, the bulk were due to “no information found,” as well as cancellations, fee issues, lost records and other administrative matters.

Trade secrets, confidential intraagency communication and privacy issues accounted for most of those 544 full denials.
It is this author's opinion that Fox is just overreacting to a broadly-written piece of legislation, and they are just upset that they didn't report on this matter before their request got denied, and as we all know, Fox is the tea party "news" channel of choice, so they would obviously make an opportunistic run at this story.  The right-wing supporters of both Fox and the tea parties disliked this bill from the start and would find any reason to dislike it even further - in their eyes, they would have wanted the president to veto the reform of the entire financial sector over one little clause.

Would they have scrutinized past Republican presidents the same way?

Robare likes to think so, pointing to an article by Daniel Schorr written four years ago regarding an executive order by President Bush:
LBJ was not the last president to find comfort in secrecy. More recently, President Bush, by executive order, overrode the law providing for the release of presidential papers after 12 years. It may or may not be relevant that this protected his father's files as President Reagan's vice president during the Iran-Contra affair.
Apparently one president creating executive orders to possibly cover up his father's involvement in a 1980s scandal that involved the sale of arms to Iran in order to fund Nicaraguan rebels is the same as congress passing a broadly written re-write of a past SEC exemption, eventually being signed into law by another president.

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Sarah Palin Hurts GOP Candidate With Moderatese

From an Elyse Siegel article from The Huffington Post:
Sarah Palin's endorsement of Republican candidate Kelly Ayotte in the race for U.S. Senate in New Hampshire may have adversely affected the conservative contender's campaign.

A new survey from Public Policy Polling finds that Ayotte has experienced diminished support from moderate voters since the ex-Alaska Governor issued a statement of support for her candidacy.
According to the poll, the Democratic candidate, Paul Hodes, now leads with moderates by 21 points.  Prior to the endorsement it was 8 points.  Looks like Palin's support gave him a 13 point boost.  Ayotte's favorability with moderates has also dropped, with now more moderates disapproving of her then approving.

The poll also notes that 47% of the voters in New Hampshire recognize themselves as moderates.  If I was Ayotte, I would have turned my back on Palin.  This is just more evidence that the right-wing approach is not going to work in traditionally liberal or moderate strongholds...

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Republicans Block Political Advertisement Law

From a Washington Post article by Dan Eggan regarding the recent political advertisement legislation in the senate:
Senate Republicans on Tuesday blocked legislation requiring fuller disclosure of the money behind political advertising, derailing a major White House initiative and virtually ensuring an onslaught of attack ads during this year's midterm election season.

The vote -- in which Democrats fell just shy of the 60 votes needed to avoid a GOP filibuster -- marks a major setback for President Obama, who has railed against the influence of special interests in elections and pushed for the legislation as a counterpoint to court rulings freeing up the use of corporate money in politics.

The development also represents a significant victory for Senate Republicans and business groups, which portrayed the measure as a Democratic attempt to tilt the playing field by discouraging corporations and other likely critics from spending money on political ads. The measure is the latest in a series of Democratic initiatives that have been approved by the House only to die in the Senate, including comprehensive climate-change legislation abandoned last week.

Opponents of the Disclose Act -- which would force corporations, unions and other groups to reveal the donors behind their political ads -- said the vote marked a victory for free-speech rights, including the rights of corporations to spend as much as they want on political advertising.

"This bill is a partisan effort, pure and simple," Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) said before the vote. ". . . This bill is about protecting incumbent Democrats from criticism ahead of the November election."
I think McConnell has got it wrong - the bill is about protecting the American people from corporations spending seemingly limitless amounts of cash to push their agenda, which is typically at odds with the interests of the average American - just consider British Petroleum's actions surrounding the rig accident in the Gulf of Mexico.  Last time I checked, the constitution was not created to secure the rights of corporations.

If you ask me, the Republicans blocked this bill so that they, along with their political allies, won't have to disclose where the money is coming from to pay for their attack ads against Democrats.  If you think about it logically, McConnell's comments make no sense - for over a year, the Republicans have been making accusations that unions have been trying to influence elections, but when Democrats try to push legislations that would place limitations on political spending by corporations and unions, the law is nothing more then an assault on the freedom of speech.

Republicans need to reevaluate their priorities and decide whether or not they still want to represent citizens or if they should just change their platform to be exclusively for corporations.  I guess GOP stands for "greed over people."

John Smithson's Silly Assertions - Wikipedia Is "Left Leaning"

I checked out conservative activist John Smithson's website just now and saw something very amusing - John Smithson wrote in an article citing Wikipedia, calling the website "left leaning."  Could Smithson get anymore ridiculous?

How is Wikipedia a leftist site - the Wikimedia Foundation is a nonprofit charitable foundation operating collaboratively edited reference sites!  That means anyone can edit the site!  The only way the site would be "left leaning" would be if the majority of the editors, which would be anyone in the world, was a liberal. 

I guess Smithson was unhappy with what Wikipedia had to say about the Center for American Progress, so it had to be liberal - isn't it convenient that everytime conservatives are unhappy with a person, place, or thing, it immediately becomes some kind of Marxist/socialist/progressive/liberal entity? 

I wonder what that says about Smithson's claim that "virtually all major-city-papers are left leaning?"

If The RNC Can't Handle Their Own Budget, How Can The Handle The Economy?

There was this article by Sam Stein at The Huffington Post that points out that the Democratic National Committee has directed attacks against the Republican National Committee based on the RNC's fiscal mismanagement that has made headlines in recent months and asking if these are the people you want to run the government. 
Amid a continuing series of stories about money troubles at the Republican National Committee, Democratic partisans have begun trotting out a new campaign theme. If the GOP can't manage its own finances, why hand it the government checkbook?

"If you are running on fiscal discipline and responsibility and you have the problems the RNC has, it is a pretty big symbol of some problems they'd have [for governance]," the DNC's Jennifer O'Malley Dillon said towards the end of a panel discussion moderated by the Huffington Post over the weekend.

It was the most direct the DNC has been in making such a case. But the committee has been hitting this angle in less overt fashion ever since scandals and controversy began surfacing around RNC Chairman's Michael Steele's fiscal mismanagement. When the RNC was caught spending $2,000 at a lesbian-themed nightclub, the DNC pledged to remind voters that the self-proclaimed "party of fiscal responsibility" had "not only spent money freely and frivolously on useless expenditures... but then tried to hide the debt they financed their spending spree with from the public." When an internal RNC probe found that the committee was actually losing money in its recruitment of big donors, a DNC spokesman scoffed at the notion that Steele could now provide "advice on financial regulatory reform for the whole country."
I think this is a valid attack, especially when considering the attacks conservatives had made regarding the fiscal responsibility of Democratic legislators and the money-bleeding senate cafeteria a couple years back.  An article by Michael Eden from 2008 for Start Thinking Right aimed to point out "Democrat incompetence," asking if the mismanagement of the eatery was proof that the Democrats could be trusted crafting legislation that would effect the entire economy.
If a government-run cafeteria bleeds the red ink of cost overruns year after year, why on earth should anyone but the craziest, stupidest of fools believe that they can successfully run the health care system which represents over 1/6th of the economy?

For that matter, if the Democrat-controlled Senate can’t run a cafeteria, why on earth should anyone trust them to run the country?
I believe it is the same argument, although slightly different - Republicans definitely have some explaining to do.  Unlike the Senate, which was made up of both Democrats and Republicans, in my opinion, the case against the GOP and RNC is much stronger - after all, these are the guys stressing their fiscal responsibility credentials, and they can't even get that right!  The GOP has adopted economic policies both in their operations and in their platform that have proven detrimental when in action.

In the comment section of Eden's article, he responded to some of the responses, adding that Democrats just like to point fingers:
It’s funny how Democrats blame oil companies for gas prices, automakers for SUVs, insurance companies for health care, mortgage companies for the sub-prime loan meltdown, and so on. They refuse to blame unions or lawyers or individual people who make stupid decisions. And no way they would ever blame themselves!

They have a fundamental and irrational fear of business and fear of the private sector. They demand to control it in the name of the soulless, mindless proletariat who apparently are nothing more than mindless victims passively waiting to be manipulated by the next evil corporate entity that comes along.
This comment came two years ago, before the epic oil disaster in the Gulf, the bailout of the private sector auto industry, and right before the worst of the economic meltdown - I would think that the two years alone helped disprove all of Eden's conclusions, meaning the only argument left standing is that of the RNC's fiscal irresponsibility.

Monday, July 26, 2010

John Smithson Hypocritically Attacks Al Franken

I thought this little article was worthy of sharing - John Smithson, the conservative activist and small-time propagandist, apparently doesn't like Al Franken much.  Smithson posted this quote from Franken, taken from his appearance at the Netroots convention in Las Vegas, Nevada:
"If Republicans take back Congress they'll implement a truly dangerous agenda. Everything is on the table from repealing healthcare reform to privatizing Social Security."
Smithson accompanied this quote with an image (below) of Franken from his Saturday Night Live days, stating that this is coming "from a man who used to wear diapers for a living."

I found this statement to be humorous because the first image that popped in my mind was Saint Ronald Reagan in the movie "Bedtime for Bonzo," in which the conservative godfather shared the screen (and a bed) with a chimpanzee.

Since we are on the subject of Al Franken, I would like to point to this excellent article regarding his speech at the Netroots convention, written by Timothy Karr at Firedoglake, in which Karr highlights the great comments Senator Franken had made, especially in regards to Net Neutrality.
"If no one stops them, how long do you think it will take before 4 or 5 mega-corporations effectively control the flow of information in America not only on television but online? If we don’t protect Net Neutrality now … how long do you think it will take before [they] start favoring its content over everyone else’s?"
Conservatives are absolutely upset with this notion because they aim to control the flow of information and this would just stand in their way.  Franken appealed to his audience, stating that the government has heard plenty from corporations but not enough from the public.

Maybe if right-wingers like Smithson got over their hangups, they could actually look at the content of Franken's speech and realize that the position they are opting for is that of corporate America - far from advocating the interests of the average citizen.

Big Journalism Vs. Media Matters

Back in June, I had made a post comparing some data between Big Government and Media MattersToday I thought it would be interesting to compare Big Journalism and Media Matters - I felt that maybe Big Journalism would be a better source to compare with considering it was intended to be Breitbart's answer to traditional journalism, giving readers the real truth, which is what Media Matters aims to do (although one could argue that all of Breitbart's sites are designed to combat the facts).

First, lets look at the numbers: Media Matters has almost twice the visitors of Big Journalism, with Big Journalism on the decline.

Secondly, lets look at the where visitors tend to go after reading information on the two sites: Media Matters' readers tend to go to other search engines, such as Google or Yahoo, or to other media accountability sites such as Newsbusters - Big Journalism just funnels readers to other Breitbart sites, such as or Big Government (or Drudge Report).

Thirdly, lets see how people get to the two sites: while readers find Media Matters by typing things such as "Glenn Beck," "Dick Morris," or "women in regan cabinet," readers at Big Journalism stumbled upon the site when searching such things as "newspaper relief agency" or "obama... destined to become black-slavery avenger."

What does this indicate?  Breitbart's "journalism" site is nothing more then another room in the vast right-wing echo chamber while Media Matters continues to be a safe haven for those researching the facts.  I encourage everyone to look at the figures - the results are astounding...

100 Days Since "Cease And Desist" Request By John Smithson And Still No Action

Remember what happened 100 days ago?  I do - John Smithson left a comment with The Midnight Review asking us to cease using the name "The Midnight Review" because it closely resembled the name of his own website.  Smithson claimed to be legally justified and threatened repurcussions should this site choose not to change it's name.  Well, it seems that The Midnight Review has called Smithson's bluff - after 100 days have passed, there has been no further push from John Smithson to take down this website.

Smithson had gone as far as to copy the header of this site out of spite, thinking plagiarism is okay when he does it.  The funny thing is Smithson posted links to the U.S. Copyright Office which debunks his entire claim!  I hope Smithson didn't pay too much for that expert legal advice he got leading him to believe this site copied his name and "slandered" him in a public forum.

Since this website had pointed out that Smithson's copyright policy is pretty much null and void and that there is no legal standing to pursue a "cease and desist" against The Midnight Review, Smithson seems to have fallen silent, even going as far as to delete his original attack against this site and this author from his own website.  It's nice to see Smithson practicing that right-wing revisionist tradition that is alive and well in the conservative blogosphere...

Big Peace's WikiLeaks Hypocrisy?

I saw an article by Jim Hanson regarding the leaking of classified documentation from the war in Afghanistan by WikiLeaks - an organization based in Sweden that publishes anonymous submissions and leaks of sensitive documents from governments and other organizations.  In the article, Hanson attacks the organization, claiming they are just trying to push their political agenda.
WikiLeaks showed they have an agenda and this is just more of the same. They are again claiming that they have evidence of the military indiscriminately slaughtering civilians. Hold on though, did I miss a memo? Wasn’t Gen. McChrystal taking all kinds of flak for our pussified Rules of Engagement that stop our troops from shooting pretty much anybody? Bottom line is there was no legitimate reason for the Wiki Wankers to leak these documents and no journalistic reason for the NY Times and the others to pretend that this qualifies as news. They are sensationalists trying to damage the US military and they have forfeited any right to claim that they serve the public good. The mission of our military during wartime deserves more respect than this and dumping a bunch of the sausage-making information on the internet is simply wrong.
Do you see the hypocrisy?

Let me explain - the right-wing has exploited classified information for some time now, actively pursuing leaks of their own while condemning all those who release information that may be politically damaging to their agenda. 

Just consider Breitbart's unethical request for leaks surrounding the JournoList listserv, offering up $100,000 for any information - what is the "legitimate reason" for Breitbart to make such a request? 

How about Breitbart contemporary Glenn Beck, who is constantly seeking whistleblowers on his numerous programs?

How about Karl Rove's involvement in the Plame affair, in which he contributed to the outing the identity of a CIA operative?

These are just a few examples, but it seems to this author that it's okay to leak information if it supports your political agenda, but not when it could be potentially damaging...

Tom Tancredo Contemplates Constitution Party Run For Colorado Governor, Issues Ultimatum To GOP Candidates

Reading this article regarding the splintering of the GOP by Allison Sherry for The Denver Post, I thought there were some points of interest.
Leaders of 21 state Tea Party groups, representing about 10,000 people, said Sunday they have been betrayed by Tom Tancredo and in an open letter beseeched the former congressman not to run for governor as a third-party candidate.

Tancredo has given Republican gubernatorial candidates until noon today to commit to pulling out of the governor's race after the primary if polls show the winner trailing Democrat John Hickenlooper.

If that doesn't happen, Tancredo says, he'll run for governor as the American Constitution Party candidate.

Tancredo's declaration last week — the most recent drama to plague the state's GOP gubernatorial primary — sparked anger among the diffuse Tea Party groups around Colorado.

Those leaders say it was Tancredo who had always urged them to work within the Republican Party, rather than splinter it. He has long inspired fierce loyalty from the groups because of his stance on illegal immigration.

"Together our groups strongly urge you to reconsider, withdraw your ultimatum, stay in the Republican Party, let the process play out for the governor's race," said the letter signed by 21 active Tea Party and 9.12 groups. "In other words, to trust and respect the newly awakened, energized and informed voters of Colorado."
The first thing I noticed was that should the GOP gubernatorial candidates refuse to drop out of the race, Tancredo will look to run for governor as the American Constitution Party - a third party that more closely resembles the tea party movement then the Republican party.  Those from the various tea party groups that disagree with Tancredo make an excellent political argument, stating that Tancredo's third party candidacy will hand the election over to the Democrat. 

What I found interesting was that his bid reminded me of Charlie Crist's shift to run as an independent for the Florida senate seat, minus the entire party trying to preempt the moderate Republican's campaign by threatening to punish senior Republicans who support the governor.  Tancredo vows to run on an even more conservative platform and all the GOP can do is to ask him not to?  To me, it sounds as if the tea partiers like Tancredo's decision and only feel betrayed because he had asked them to change the GOP from within (which they obviously have not otherwise he wouldn't be running).

I hope that Tancredo does run, and I hope that the tea partiers stay true to their convictions, not their political affiliations - if Tancredo and the Constitution party represent their interests, they need to vote with Tancredo, not the GOP.  Why do I wish this?  While I may not like the tea party, I find it very interesting that they are willing to support a political party they do not like.  Should they vote for Tancredo, then we would find out just where the electorate stands, and I am sure that the Democrats would capture more votes then the GOP, with Tancredo siphoning off the far-right fringe.

Tim Slagle Calls Out Big Government? Article Declares Breitbart A Loser.

There was a Big Government article by Tim Slagle mentioning Godwin's Law, which states that "as an online discussion grows longer, the probability of a comparison involving Nazis or Hitler approaches … given enough time, all discussions —regardless of topic or scope —inevitably wind up being about Hitler and the Nazis."

Slagle writes that pretty much anyone who mentions the Nazis or Hitler has pretty much invalidated their entire argument -his article is accompanied by a picture depicting someone in a crowd holding a sign comparing Bush to Hitler, presumably to prove that Liberals are on the losing side of the argument.  Slagle takes his case one step further, wishing to add an amendment to Godwin's Law to also include racism:
But I think we should add another corollary to Godwins Law. I think that if you call your opponent a Racist, you have also lost the argument.
Looks like Andrew Breitbart and his slew of Big sites have already lost the argument...

You see, Breitbart made a post on his propaganda site, Big Government, on July 19th, accusing the NAACP of awarding racism - the recipient being Shirley Sherrod.  Breitbart posted a truncated video, claiming Sherrod was a racist, and insisting that "context is everything" - he even went as far as to display a picture of a "race card."  Breitbart played the race card alright, and now he won't back down, insisting he never meant to imply that Sherrod was the racist in question. 

Here is a screenshot of his post - you be the judge:

Something else of interest - he doesn't even correct his initial post.  Sure he put up a correction stating that the alleged racism occurred before she held a position of public office, but he not once put up a correction stating the video was taken out of context.

Big Government Desires A Continuation Of Bush-Era Policies, Takes Credit For Obama's

Big Government posted a blog lamenting the ousting of Winston Churchill in Britain's 1945 elections.
Today, in 1945, the Labour Party in Britain won election in a massive landslide, turning out of office Winston Churchill. Just months prior, Germany had been totally defeated in WWII. It is impossible to overstate Churchill’s role in this, but it wasn’t enough to stave off electoral defeat. Voters can be silly sometimes.
Sounds to me like they would have liked to see Bush-era policies to have continued and that they are trying to take credit for the results of any post-election recovery actions, while still attacking the Democrats of course.

Despite Conservative Claims, Administration Has Been Tough On Illegal Immigration

I just thought this article needed more exposure - Peter Slevin for The Washington Post had written that the Obama administration has been more aggressive in the deportation of illegal immigrants and the auditing of businesses that hire undocumented workers.
The Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency expects to deport about 400,000 people this fiscal year, nearly 10 percent above the Bush administration's 2008 total and 25 percent more than were deported in 2007. The pace of company audits has roughly quadrupled since President George W. Bush's final year in office.

The effort is part of President Obama's larger project "to make our national laws actually work," as he put it in a speech this month at American University. Partly designed to entice Republicans to support comprehensive immigration reform, the mission is proving difficult and politically perilous.

Obama is drawing flak from those who contend the administration is weak on border security and from those who are disappointed he has not done more to fulfill his campaign promise to help the country's estimated 11 million illegal residents. Trying to thread a needle, the president contends enforcement -- including the deployment of fresh troops to the Mexico border -- is a necessary but insufficient solution.
The administration is pushing comprehensive immigration reform, but in the meantime, they have upped deportation and company audits and deployed troops to the border to assist in enforcement.  Where is the praise from Obama's harshest critics who seemed to have been calling for such actions?

Just A Reminder: Supply-Side Economics Doesn't Work

There was a great article that I found on The Financial Times by Martin Wolf that explained the political genius of supply-side economics - the preferred economic theory of "Reagan Republicans."

According to the article, the theory allowed Republicans to ignore deficits and keep spending the same, in hopes that lower taxes will spur growth, thus creating more tax revenue, and if it doesn't work and deficits grow out of control, they can fall back on the "starve the beast" theory, cutting spending and elliminating programs like welfare until the budget stabilizes.
The political genius of this idea is evident. Supply-side economics transformed Republicans from a minority party into a majority party. It allowed them to promise lower taxes, lower deficits and, in effect, unchanged spending. Why should people not like this combination? Who does not like a free lunch?
The article is very interesting and very correct - who wouldn't want what the GOP promises?  Lower taxes without reduced spending?
Since the fiscal theory of supply-side economics did not work, the tax-cutting eras of Ronald Reagan and George H. Bush and again of George W. Bush saw very substantial rises in ratios of federal debt to gross domestic product. Under Reagan and the first Bush, the ratio of public debt to GDP went from 33 per cent to 64 per cent. It fell to 57 per cent under Bill Clinton. It then rose to 69 per cent under the second George Bush. Equally, tax cuts in the era of George W. Bush, wars and the economic crisis account for almost all the dire fiscal outlook for the next ten years (see the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities).

Today’s extremely high deficits are also an inheritance from Bush-era tax-and-spending policies and the financial crisis, also, of course, inherited by the present administration. Thus, according to the International Monetary Fund, the impact of discretionary stimulus on the US fiscal deficit amounts to a cumulative total of 4.7 per cent of GDP in 2009 and 2010, while the cumulative deficit over these years is forecast at 23.5 per cent of GDP. In any case, the stimulus was certainly too small, not too large.

 Isn't that interesting?  You get all these teabaggers crying about how President Obama is going to ruin the country, but when you look at the facts, a majority of the problems stem from conservative economic philosophies.  Sure there were probably some things liberals had done to contribute to the overall problem, but as the article points out, the stimulus was only a fraction of the deficit, which was a remnant of the Bush years.  Assuming the article lumps together both stimuluses, you could split that number in half, giving ownership of one stimulus to the previous administration and one to the current, in which case Obama and the Democrats would have only contributed to a tenth of the cumulative deficit.

Saturday, July 24, 2010

The Radicalization Of Americans A Direct Result Of Tea Party Anti-Islam Activism

Conservative bloggers write as if American-bred terrorists are the new face of terrorism.  I saw a headline on Big Peace regarding radicalized Americans and was curious (mainly because Big Peace is an anti-Islam breeding ground for the new media and the tea party adherents).

According to the ABC News article, radical Islamic groups are using the internet to reach Americans to do damage from within.

"This is what we have feared for a very long time—that finally the ideology of radical Islam is effectively reaching into the United States to disaffected people here over the Internet," said Richard Clarke, a former White House counter terrorism adviser,  "in the last six to nine months, the FBI has seen more domestic Islamist extremist activity than at any time since immediately right after 9/11."

If you ask me, this rise in domestic activity seems to correlate with the ferocity of the tea party movement's focus on Christianity and the marginalization of other minority faiths, like Islam.  Visit any Big site and you will see comments attacking the religion on all fronts, and a vast majority of those people make up the ideological base of the tea party movement - just consider this article by Big blogger Andrew Mellon, who attacked multiculturalism as being an "[enemy] of civilization," or the numerous attacks from the right crying about the "Ground Zero mosque."

Here is a novel idea - eliminate the tea parties and you eliminate homegrown terrorists...

Bob McCarty Upset GOP Candidate Uses American Imagery In Campaign

I thought this article by Big Government blogger Bob McCarty was pretty funny - he complains that Missouri senate candidate Scott Rupp is sending out campaign literature that resembles something one would see at the tea party.
When men who didn’t serve in the armed forces pretend to be decorated war heroes, they’re labeled as “fake veterans” and can even be prosecuted for for what many call “stolen valor.” Recently, one Missouri politician began mailing campaign literature that leads me to believe he’s guilty of stealing the valor of members of the Tea Party Movement (i.e., freedom-loving patriots who sacrifice time, talent and treasure in an effort to save their country from socialism). In short, he’s guilty of “stealing tea.”
McCarty is upset that Rupp sent out a campaign brochure featuring the "Don't Tread On Me" flag and pictures of people holding signs, and to the best of McCarty's knowledge, Rupp had not attended a single tea party event because McCarty frequently cruises that scene.

I find two things interesting and funny with McCarty's post.  The first being his comparison that Rupp's brochure is the equivalent of "stolen valor" (I wonder if he is referring to Mark Kirk), and the second being his feeling that American symbolism is owned by any one particular group - I'm sure McCarty would have been equally upset if a Democrat waved the Gadsden flag at a rally to protest conservative obstructionism.

I also thought this little nugget found at the end of McCarty's post to be quite amusing:
Because I don’t know Rupp personally and he has never responded to questions I submitted to him via his Facebook page, I must base my political assessments of him on impersonal factors such as the flyer and the manner in which the liberal news media treat him and his opponent.
Maybe Rupp hasn't responded to McCarty because he is a right-wing hack masquerading as a journalist.  His entire article is full of silly assumptions: "Rupp isn't conservative enough to use certain pictures in his mailings because I haven't seen him at a tea party rally," or "I don't know Rupp and he won't be my friend on Facebook so the bad things that I write about him must be true."

John Smithson References Copyright Office Disproving His Claims Against This Site!

How would you feel if you made an argument and despite being told that you were wrong you stuck by that argument, and then to prove you were right, you referenced material that proves you wrong?  You'd probably feel pretty stupid, right?  Well, John Smithson has done it again.

If you haven't been following this "story," John Smithson is a little known conservative activist for a blog called Midknight Review.  A couple months ago he attacked this site claiming that I had plagiarized the name of his website going as far as to "issue" a cease and desist and insisting that he had the legal rights over every variation of the title Midknight Review, including entirely different spellings.  In response to Smithson's accusations, this website has posted numerous articles pointing out numerous instances in which Smithson had plagiarized other peoples works by copying entire articles from the original source onto his website - the most prominent display being his post copying an article from The Financial Times.

He also copied the majority of the content from a Daniel Klein Article from The Wall Street Journal, a George Will article for RealClearPolitics, a study by The Pew Research Center for the People & the Press, a Joshua Rhett Miller article for Fox News, and a Cat Corben article form The American Thinker.  I guess Smithson believes that these past incidents of plagiarism fall under "fair use."

On Friday, July 23rd, Smithson posted an article offering a "review" of federal copyright law, in which he cites Section 107, commonly referred to as the "fair use exception" - presumably Smithson references this section to try and absolve himself of his past plagiarism sins.  According to the section, there are some exceptions allowing someone to copy a protected source.  They are as follows:
    1. The purpose and character of the use, including whether such use is of commercial nature or is for nonprofit educational purposes
    2. The nature of the copyrighted work
    3. The amount and substantiality of the portion used in relation to the copyrighted work as a whole
    4. The effect of the use upon the potential market for, or value of, the copyrighted work 
Smithson claims to fall under the "fair use" exceptions because, as he puts it, his site functions "for the obvious purpose of educating the reading audience of the facts and their consequences in the political domain" - this is the same argument he used for copying The Financial Times article in its entirety, circumventing a membership requirement to view the article and ignoring a disclaimer requesting readers do not copy entire articles (Smithson also copied the site's disclaimer).

Smithson has got it all wrong.

Smithson believes that "fair use" is easily defined" - he believes his conservative blog is protected because in his opinion he is educating his readers.  As I had pointed out before, I had taken a class in which a professor wanted to use industry publications as a teaching tool but the school had to get permission from the publishers, and even then "fair use" didn't come into play - the selected works to be used for educational purposes required a purchase from the students.  According to the government website Smithson cites, "the distinction between fair use and infringement may be unclear and not easily defined. There is no specific number of words, lines, or notes that may safely be taken without permission."

From my understanding of the law, this allows a particular author to cite another's work, but it does not allow free reign, which Smithson has claimed.  Just look at his new "copyright policy" posted on his website where he claims distribution rights over anything on his site, despite if it is his original work, requiring permission for anything "reproduced or referenced" from his site.

Smithson had also made a veiled reference to this site in his post, in which he explains the process for reporting violations.
If your individual site is in violation of copyright infringement and reported, you will receive a "cease and desist" order from the DMCA before further action (as in "shut down") is taken. It is understood that "fair use" laws allowing one to quote the work of another without permission are ambiguous in scope. How do we know ? The Feds admit to this problematic issue. Because of this ambiguity, notice is given and opportunity for compliance offered before action is taken...

Example: let's say that you use a particular photo or piece of artwork in your blog's header. DMCA does not busy itself with checking out sites and looking for such "violations." If there was a complaint filed against you, by some sophomoric do-gooder or an angry liberal tattler, you would first receive notice and given opportunity to comply.
Recently, John Smithson had copied the header of this website.  To emphasize his hypocrisy, I had filed a DMCA against Smithson after he had admitted to plagiarizing this site.

This leads me to my next point - Smithson's assertion that he owns the name of his website is wrong, and he provided links in his post that proves he is wrong.  Smithson linked to a Frequently Asked Questions page for the U.S. Copyright Office.  Here is what they have to say regarding names, titles, slogans, or logos:
Copyright does not protect names, titles, slogans, or short phrases. In some cases, these things may be protected as trademarks. Contact the U.S. Patent & Trademark Office, 800-786-9199, for further information. However, copyright protection may be available for logo artwork that contains sufficient authorship. In some circumstances, an artistic logo may also be protected as a trademark. 
You would think that this little revelation would put Smithson's claim of ownership to rest.  Here is a screen shot of Smithson's blog post attacking this article (I had recently tried to visit the page but it was nowhere to be found):

I wonder if Smithson will issue an apology to this website and its authors for his baseless accusations that amount to nothing more then libel.

Friday, July 23, 2010

John Smithson Should Be "Laughted Out Of Town"

John Smithson recently posted a YouTube video of Glenn Beck, but this author found the title of Smithson's blog post to be humorous (actually his entire post is pretty ridiculous):

I'm sure you can get the humor from this posts title now...

I "laughted" so hard when I saw this, and the sad thing is spelling errors like this found in the title are quite common on Smithson's site.  Maybe he should hire a copy editor - that would cut down on the grammatical errors and the libelous statements made against others, such as this site...

As for the content of the video, Beck makes an idiot of himself when attacking Keith Olbermann for mentioning the Dreyfus Affair in comparison to the Shirley Sherrod Affair - Glenn Beck makes the moronic joke (although I think Beck was just too stupid to realize what he was saying) calling the man RichardAlfred/Alan Dreyfus after the actor, even bringing up the old attack on Olbermann's education, which is funny in its own considering Beck never even finished college.

Beck just shows how infantile and uneducated he really is - the Dreyfus Affair is taught in school (I think I read about it back in High School when covering European history).  Beck, as well as Smithson, also fail to understand the relevance the Dreyfus Affair has when compared to today's current events - here is just one reason:
[Louis] Begley spends some but not sufficient time in Why The Dreyfus Affair Matters linking the denial of the right to a fair trial and of basic rights to Dreyfus with current American actions, particularly the imprisonment of detainees at Guantanamo Bay Naval Base in Cuba, without charge, over many years. A quick comparison compels one to conclude that the United States has engaged in far worse violations of human rights, involving far more individuals, than were affected by the Dreyfus affair.
Beck is so fond of trying to link the past with the present, so why does he mock others who are capable of making relevant comparisons?  Seems Beck and by association, John Smithson, are just over-compensating for the things that they lack...

Big Sites Attempt To Rewrite History, Commenters Complicit With Breitbart's Race-Baiting

Now that the claims of racism against USDA official Shirley Sherrod have been thoroughly debunked and it has been proven that Andrew Breitbart has yet again defamed someone's good name to advance his right-wing agenda, I thought there was something interesting going on with the story - the conservative media have moved to defend the propagandist, claiming that he was the one who was tricked, not the countless people who believed his lies.

On the July 21, 2010 Hannity, Sean Hanity made note that the video was indeed taken out of context, but was quick to attack the Department of Agriculture and the White House for acting "prematurely," despite coming out two days earlier saying that the video was "[j]ust the latest in a series of racial incidents," and stating that "So it's interesting that it took the new media to expose this."

Ann Coulter said the following on Hannity's program:
The whole key to this story is that Andrew Breitbart was set up. He was sent a tape as we now know was massively out of context. It didn't look like this woman was saying something racist when she first said oh, it was taken out of context.
The only problem with that defense is that is still doesn't erase what Breitbart & Co. had said after the full video was brought to attention.  Supposedly, the point of the original articele was never to highlight the racist comments.  Here is what Big Government wrote after their story was found to be taken out of context:
Breitbart’s argument is simple and straightforward: Regardless of what else is in Sherrod’s speech, the first video released on features Sherrod telling a tale of racism that is received by the NAACP audience with laughter and cheers. They weren’t cheering redemption; they were cheering discrimination. Upon hearing the cheers, Sherrod fails to offer any immediate clarification and even smiles right along with them.

Breitbart’s main objective by releasing the video was to call out the NAACP, an organization who has recently gone to great lengths to condemn the Tea Party’s alleged racism, for sanctioning racism in it’s own organization. Sherrod immediately became the scapegoat for the embarrassed NAACP and USDA, but she was never the target, the NAACP itself was, and the delight the audience took in the racist part of Sherrod’s speech leaves them exposed.
That is interesting because here is a headline from Big Government from July 19th:

Seems to me that Breitbart's own site made Sherrod the target, taking credit for the whole thing.

Mike Flynn also wrote for Breitbart's site attacking Politico for pointing out that Big Government featured an edited video, claiming that they did not edit the video - they simply put it out there.  He also rewrites history asking if it was Big Government's intention to prove Sherrod a racist, would they have "have neglected to mention that she eventually did the right thing?"

I believe they did neglect to mention Sherrod did the right thing.  Breitbart stated in the original "exposĂ©" that "context is everything," yet he only posted the two truncated clips.  The man who created Big Journalism obviously didn't think the journalistic thing to do was to investigate the entire story, and he only posted one correction regarding his post: "While Ms. Sherrod made the remarks captured in the first video featured in this post while she held a federally appointed position, the story she tells refers to actions she took before she held that federal position."

So, if that is how Breitbart is going to play, and he is going to try and cower away from his story and try and shift focus, lets follow him on his journey and use his logic to illustrate a point.  If the NAACP is guilty of awarding racism because those in attendance of Sherrod's speech didn't flee the room in horror, then I wonder what the fan's of Breitbart have to say to this now debunked story?

An Interesting Argument Over Arizona's Immigration Law

Now that Arizona's controversial new immigration law is being defended in federal courts, the arguments made both for and against the law are very interesting, and in particular, the one regarding the detainment of people until their "immigration status" is determined.  The arguments surrounding the requirement for immigrants to carry their papers at all times was also interesting, as well as the section that allows police to make an arrest without a warrant based on a vague suspicion.

In regards to detainment, U.S. District Judge Susan Bolton, asked Arizona's lawyer John Bouma "whether lawmakers really intended that anyone arrested, regardless of his or her legal status or whether the arrest involved citing and releasing someone on the spot or booking him or her into jail, had to have immigration status determined before being released from jail."
He first said that U.S. citizens don't have an "immigration status" and therefore SB 1070 wouldn't apply to them. He also said that part of the law was intended to follow the part allowing officers to ask someone about their legal status, which means it would apply only to individuals suspected of being in the country illegally.

"But (police) training materials specifically acknowledge that they don't know what it means and that it will be left up to each agency to decide what that sentence means," Bolton replied, adding that she had heard from some law-enforcement authorities that this portion of the law could lead to the arrest of tens of thousands of people who otherwise would have just been cited and released.

The ACLU's Jadwat said the plaintiffs interpret that portion to apply to any person arrested.

"And that goes far beyond anything contemplated in federal law . . . or that makes any real sense," he said. "You would be able to hold people for no other reason but to determine their legal status."

Bouma later admitted the sentence was "inartfully worded."
I thought this was interesting.  The defense gives their reason as to why the law should remain on the books, and when they face questioning from the judge asking to explain themselves, all the defense can say is that they phrased their response poorly?  The defense's lawyer was technically correct - the law would only apply to those suspected of being in the country illegally, but he fails to acknowledge the effect it would have on citizens.  I believe the ACLU's argument illustrates the problem with the law.
Section 3 of SB 1070 as amended creates the state crime of "willful failure to complete or carry an alien registration document."

Attorney Nina Perales with the Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund, one of the civil-rights groups that filed the lawsuit along with the ACLU, said this portion of the law creates new classes of non-citizens because it doesn't offer exceptions for individuals who may be in the midst of citizenship or asylum proceedings and have permission to be in the country but don't yet have documents.

Bouma responded that that argument gets into a hypothetical "chamber of horrors" that people would be hauled off and thrown into jail to wait until someone could determine whether they belonged there.
While the judge agreed that this section only creates punishments for violations of federal law, the defense's response that hypotheticals should not be considered is ridiculous.  While this section does punish those in violation of federal law, it also punishes those here legally who may not have the appropriate information that could clear their name should they be detained under suspicion of being an illegal immigrant.

The defense made it clear that they may lose the argument pertaining to this section.
Section 6 of SB 1070 as amended allows law-enforcement officers to, without a warrant, arrest people suspected of committing offenses that make them "removable from the United States."

Bolton seemed to have serious concerns about this portion of the law. She said there is no list of crimes deemed to be removable offenses and questioned who would make that determination and at what point during the arrest it would be made.

"How can a police officer make a determination that a person has committed a removable offense when that decision can only be made by a federal judge?" she asked.
The Bolton had made a very good question in regarding to the above section, and is another instance in where this state law seeks to preempt the federal government.  

When all is said and done, I wonder if conservatives will admit that they were wrong and that their attempt to create an immigrant-free police state was worth the wasting of state and federal tax money...

British Petroleum Caught Doctoring Photos

I saw this story mentioned on the Sydney Morning Herald, in which BP was caught altering photographs of their command center to give the appearance that they were busier then they really were.  Other websites were quick to point out even more discrepancies in the photographs released by the oil company.  A spokesman for the company had admitted to the altering of at least one image.
Flaws in the editing of the original command centre photograph became evident after Americablog made a close inspection of the images, revealing small areas of white space and overlapping graphics.

Following the Americablog report on Monday, BP posted the original unaltered image and spokesman Scott Dean admitted that two screens were blank in the original picture and that a staff photographer had used Photoshop software to add images.

The altered image has since been removed and the company has not yet commented on the other images highlighted by the Americablog website and Gizmodo.
The images found on Gizmodo were even more interesting, showing a picture of a helicopter cockpit that was obviously changed - while the picture depicts a view overlooking the disaster from the cockpit of a helicopter, there were certain telltale signs of alterations, but none as obvious as the fact that the instrumentation in the cockpit put the helicopter at a height of 0.3m, which makes the image impossible.

With this recent discovery, it makes you wonder what else British Petroleum had manipulated to present their company in a more positive light.  It also makes things a little bit harder for all those BP apologetics out there who claim the company is working in the best interests of Gulf residents.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

RNC Hid $7 Million In Debt From FEC

We all saw how the right-wingers blasted Vice President Joe Biden because a recent audit of Biden's failed presidential campaign a couple years ago had shown some improper bookkeeping, including illegally accepting a discounted corporate charter flight, the acceptance of above-the-limit donations, and the failure to close some payments and debts - Biden has been fined $219,000.

With that being said, I am curious as to how many conservative sites are going to mention The Washington Times story that shows the Republican National Committee failed to report $7 million in debts to the Federal Election Commission.  After going through a couple sites like The Drudge Report or Fox News, I saw zero mention of the RNC's money problems.  I found that odd considering the severity of the issue.
In a memo to RNC budget committee members, RNC Treasurer Randy Pullen on Tuesday accused Chairman Michael S. Steele and his chief of staff, Michael Leavitt, of trying to conceal the information from him by ordering staff not to communicate with the treasurer - a charge RNC officials deny.

Mr. Pullen told the members that he had discovered $3.3 million in debt from April and $3.8 million from May, which he said had led him to file erroneous reports with the FEC. He amended the FEC filings Tuesday.

Campaign-finance analysts said that simply misreporting fundraising numbers to the FEC can lead to millions of dollars in fines and that criminal charges can be levied if the actions are suspected to be intentional.
I wonder what kind of spin GOP muppet Michael Steele is going to put on this...

"Sarah Palin: Refudiated Since 2008" T-Shirt

In honor of Sarah Palin's recent Twitter posts, The Midnight Review has decided to make a t-shirt for the Alaskan Poet Laureate (click on the shirt to visit the shop):

Andrew Breitbart Misrepresents Video Again...


I saw various headlines yesterday and today discussing United States Department of Agriculture Georgia official who has gotten into some hot water over some racial comments.  I wasn't quite interested in the news story but then I noticed the mention of Andrew Breitbart and I was intrigued.  The first article I loaded up was from The Atlanta Journal Constitution, written by Marcus K. Garner and Christian Boone.

Apparently, from what I gather, a USDA Georiga official, Shirley Sherrod, had given a speech for the NAACP where she had recalled an event over twenty years ago where she made the decision to not help some farmers based on their race.  If you were Andrew Breitbart or Fox News, the story ended there, but as the AJC article points out, Andrew Breitbart's website misrepresented the speech, cutting it up to only depict her negative statements.

What did Breitbart & Co. leave out?

The part where Sherrod explains the lesson she learned from her youthful indiscretions.
In the video, Sherrod told the crowd at the NAACP banquet in Douglas, Ga., that she didn't do everything she could to help a white farmer whom she said was condescending when he came to her for aid.

"What he didn't know while he was taking all that time trying to show me he was superior to me was, I was trying to decide just how much help I was going to give him," Sherrod said on the video, recorded "I was struggling with the fact that so many black people had lost their farmland, and here I was faced with having to help a white person save their land. So I didn't give him the full force of what I could do. I did enough."

Sherrod, in her first interview after the clip surfaced, told The Atlanta Journal Constitution the video was selectively edited.

While she soon admitted as she told her story that she referred the Spooners to a white lawyer so "his own kind would help him," she followed that admission with a revelation that was omitted from the two-minute, 36-second excerpt of the speech posted by Breitbart's group.

Sherrod told the crowd that she discovered the white lawyer she had referred the Spooners to took their money for six months, but did nothing to help them.

"This lawyer told them, ‘ya'll are getting old ... why don't you just let go of the farm,'" she said. "I could not believe he said that to them."

Sherrod said she'd learned her lesson.
Now I would like to ask: "Who is race-baiting here - Andrew Breitbart or The NAACP?"

You can watch the full un-edited video here. 

Oh yeah, it is also interesting to note that those white farmers Sherrod referenced in her speech are actually her friends and they seem to support her - not the Breitbart narrative, although the folks at Big Government claim it was never about Sherrod but about the reaction of the audience.

Update - After visiting conservative activist John Smithson's website, I had noticed that he too covered the Shirley Sherrod story, giving nine points as to what we have learned in the 24 hours since the story broke.  What Smithson does is just continue on the now debunked smear propagated by Andrew Breitbart.

According to Smithson, the "video does record the racist attitude of Sherrod."  He must have seen only the clip that Breitbart popularized, which omitted Sherrod explaining the lesson she had learned.  He also pushes the claims that her comments were "well received by the NAACP audience in attendance."  Maybe Smithson knows what it was like to be a black person in Georgia who had lost their father in a racially charged murder, but if you actually listen to the clip, the audience members were more or less understanding of the situation Sherrod was in then of the racial implications Breitbart blows out of proportion - the audience members also agree with the statements made by Sherrod claiming she learned that her issues were not with race, but with income disparity.

I had also thought it was interesting that Smithson dismissed the defense of Sherrod by the "white farmers" she helped.

Smithson's anger with the situation seems to stem from the NAACP's recent call for the tea party to repudiate racist elements within the organization - he believes that such request is racist in nature and that the racists within the conservative movement are anomalous.  I find this belief to contradict Smithson's later assertions that these supposed racist attitudes of the black leadership in America don't represent the majority of blacks, unless of course they have become targeted by the right-wing movement.
Understand the racist attitudes of those blacks now in charge of the governance of our country (most blacks do not fall within this characterization) is well established in the airing of this video revealing an approving response of the NAACP and its President, Ben Jealous, not to mention racist bias of ACORN, the Congressional Black Caucus, Jeremiah Wright and Louis Farrahkan, Van Jones, Eric Holder, Maxine Waters and her approval of Castro and on and on.
His statement makes no sense.  According to Smithson, "most blacks do not" share these racist attitudes, but then Smithson rattles off an endless list of exceptions.  I'm sure if you asked him about tea party leadership, Smithson would just dismiss such claims, despite some tea party leadership actually making racist comments.  It appears to me that Smithson is just using race to further his political agenda - he is a self-described conservative activist, and calling the enemy racist while absolving his own side of all its sins would be on par with the actions of Smithson's more well known activist contemporaries.

I also thought it was funny that Smithson aimed to disspell the rumor that Sherrod's speech is decades old, despite her reference of President Obama.  This rumor probably stems from the right-wings failure to understand that Sherrod was talking about an event that occurred years ago.  Smithson probably fabricated this rumor based on a comment left by his one and only fan, imataxpayertoo, in which they made the following statement:
Hey John, I thought I saw somewhere that the speech was from March of this year...the STORY however is 24 years old (or some number like that). It happened a very long time ago. She was at an NAACP meeting and shared her experience and her "revelation" that made her see it wasn't about race.
imataxpayertoo seems very credible - their website featured an article with the following headline: "Kagan A Supporter of Shariah Financial Law."  Need I say more?

John Smithson Claims Distribution Rights Over Other's Works

I thought this was interesting - the conservative activist John Smithson had recently placed a copyright policy on his website. Here is what it says:

According to the legal scholar Smithson, anything that appears on his website can't be "reproduced or referenced in any way" without permission from Smithson himself.

Isn't that funny?

The mere mention of the contents of a Smithson post would be a violation of his "copyright notice."  Smithson's little "notice" also seems to include the countless other articles he cut-and-paste from various sources.  When did Smithson acquire the authority to determine who can and cannot reference material from such sources as The Daily Caller, Politico, The Wall Street Journal, Fox News, or World Net Daily, to name a few?

Chances are never.  Smithson's copyright notice doesn't even hold water when compared to Smithson's own standards for copying material.  If you recall, I had written an article back in June that outlined Smithson's blatant violation of The Financial Times' copyrights, in which Smithson responded defending his position.

Here is The Financial Times' copyright notice found on the bottom of the article Smithson copied:

Here is also what The Financial Times' had to say in their Frequently Asked Questions:
I thought that as long as I linked back to your website or published an attribution, that there are no restrictions on how I can use your content?

This is not correct. Merely providing a link or an attribution is not a defence to copyright infringement.

Why does it matter if I copy FT content without permission?

Unauthorised copying is a way of avoiding paying for the value you are gaining by using the content. We make a significant investment in creating FT content to deliver value to you and to make a return on that investment. If we are unable to protect that investment by licensing our content and collecting revenue, then it threatens our ability to continue to create the content.
Now here is what John Smithson had to say:

According to Smithson's own words, despite what his "copyright notice" says, I can still copy the article.  Funny how a man who supposedly loves free speech would want to go far as to control not only who cites him, but who "references" him too...

So, I guess it would not be a "violation" to write that on July 19th, Smithson wrote an article stating that both liberal and conservative pollsters are now predicting even greater losses for the Democrats come November.  The article Smithson quotes has Democrats ending up with 53.4 Senate seats compared to 46.1 Republican-held seats.  Smithson calls this "good news."

It would also be a "violation" to reference this other Smithson article from the 19th, in which Smithson mentioned a study that questioned whether the Obama administration considered job losses from automobile dealerships when they pressured bailed out manufacturers to reduce costs - Smithson combines the job losses from the dealerships with manufacturing jobs, resulting in a total of 68,000.  Smithson fails to understand that without the bailout, the losses would have been far greater.  If GM were to close its doors, imagine the job losses then.  The only thing that I can agree with Smithson about is the unnecessary closure of auto dealerships - while some probably would seem redundant on paper, I never quite agreed with just how the dealership business model works.

Before I go any further, let me clarify a bit as to why John Smithson was wrong when he defended his copying of The Financial Times and why John Smithson is wrong now.

With his plagiarism of The Financial Times, Smithson claimed that all was good because he was not profiting off of the other persons work.  He also claimed that the information was freely distributed and that he was using it for educational purposes.  Smithson was trying to apply bits and pieces of the law to describe his copying as "fair use, but he couldn't be more wrong.  I had given Smithson a detailed response back in June and he still didn't get it.

As I had written before, The Financial Times required registration to view their articles, where there were paid advertisements.  Smithson's post circumvented registration, allowing readers to view the article without registering with The Financial Times.  This would be like paying for cable and then running a line over to your neighbor's house - for free.  What was Smithson's response?
Your argument that I detract from the profiteering of the Financial Times shows that you know nothing about that site. I read from a free site and am a registered member of that site. No stealing is involved but who cares. Slander is what you do.

You can quote all you want. I read the info page at the FT last year and my lawyer son has confirmed my understanding of copyright law (in this case).

The FT article was used as a teaching tool (by me) and, in that light, can be used for that reason, as well. You will continue to use the word "opinion" but, of course, everything we say is an opinion. Do we conclude, then, that "teaching" is not possible ??

Copyright law IS there to protect against profiteering off the work of other's. Other purposes exist, of course, but that was the original and prevailing reason for such laws.
He fails to understand everything - even that slander is spoken, not written.  I had even mentioned the four-factor balancing test, as found on Wikipedia, that explains whether or not a citation is considered "fair use."
1. the purpose and character of the use, including whether such use is of a commercial nature or is for nonprofit educational purposes;
2. the nature of the copyrighted work;
3. the amount and substantiality of the portion used in relation to the copyrighted work as a whole; and
4. the effect of the use upon the potential market for or value of the copyrighted work.
Smithson was only focusing on numbers one and four.  One would be required to consider all the factors when citing a work.  He failed to take into consideration the nature of the copyrighted work (an article accessible by registration to a service), the amount of the article copied (his posting of the entire article), and the effect of his use upon the market value (his "nonprofit" use can potentially steal revenue from The FT).

His interpretation of educational use was very interesting because he only looked at a portion of the law.  Using the same source of information Smithson used, I found this:
If the copy is used for teaching at a non-profit institution, distributed without charge, and made by a teacher or students acting individually, then the copy is more likely to be considered as fair use. In addition, an interpretation of fair use is more likely if the copy was made spontaneously, for temporary use, not as part of an "anthology" and not as an institutional requirement or suggestion.
Smithson only looked at the first sentence, failing to understand the second half.  It really can't be one or the other.  I remember a couple years back I took a course at Rollins and a professor wanted to include as teaching material a couple photocopies of some articles found in some industry publications.  The school had to get permission, and even then, they were not allowed to publish it freely - I had to pay an arm and a leg for a couple magazine articles so that the owner would not lose any money from the free distribution of their work.

I also wanted to point out that Smithson, a conservative activist, who has made accusations against this website, calling its authors "socialist" or "Markist" was himself supporting a socialist idea - that information should be freely distributed regardless of ownership.

The fact of the matter is that the reason why Smithson's citation was a violation of law was because he copied an entire article when the original author specifically stated not to - even when he quoted one part of their policy that supposedly backed his position, he conveniently ignored the following sentence that would prove otherwise: "Unless your use of our content is permitted by this Copyright Policy, it is likely that we regard it as 'unfair' and a breach of our terms and conditions."

The problem with conservatives like Smithson is that they want to control the flow of information - just consider the tactics of Andrew Breitbart who is constantly trying to sway the media with his "journalism" or Sarah Palin who only attends events sympathetic to her and restricts media access wherever she goes.

Why do these individuals want so much control?

I think it is because when presented to the entire population, a majority would be skeptical of any comments made.  What would the American public have thought of about the James O'Keege and Hannah Giles ACORN videos if they were released unedited and in their entirity?  Apparently, the Brooklyn DA didn't think much of them.  The right attacks the "mainstream" for not covering their stories, but when you consider their stories, like the one claiming the Missile Defense Agency logo was proof America was heading towards Shariah law, then you would understand why there is the desire for such control.  Conservative politicians depend on such journalistic trash to invigorate the base, but they walk a fine line when presenting themselves to the general electorate - just look at what happened with Palin's recent Ground Zero mosque comments.

Smithson's copyright notice is silly, and is just not enforceable.  Maybe he should consult with his lawyer - you know, the one who supported his plagiarism of The Financial Times - on this matter, but then again, I don't think that will do much good.  Smithson still believes that this website is slandering him, even though the correct accusation would be "libeling," and he still insists ownership over all things under the sun that may relate to his site.

Who does Smithson think he is?