American LP Daily News Brief March 2, 2012

Republicans are begrudgingly coming to grips with the presidential candidacy of former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney. Tuesday night, Romney won both the Michigan and Arizona primaries and it’s becoming clear that Romney should be able to secure the nomination. These wins though do not bode well for republicans when it comes to the general election. Republicans still seem hesitant to throw overwhelming support behind Romney, or any of the 4 remaining candidates. Romney has regained the lead in nationwide polls, but his support is sitting at an anemic 35%. His chief rival, Rick Santorum, has fallen quickly in the last two weeks, now sitting at 24%. The two have flip-flopped (much like Romney does on just about every policy issue) since the last major polls two weeks ago, where Santorum held 34% of voters’ support and Romney was at 24%. And speaking of flip-flops, Romney once again added another swift policy shift to his growing list, first by coming out and saying he opposed the Blunt Amendment in the Senate, and literally within the hour reverting to the most extreme position saying he was in support of the amendment.

The Blunt Amendment (at the 2:00 mark), a rider attached to a transportation bill in the Senate that would have allowed any employer to refuse health care coverage of any kind based on religious or moral reasons, failed in the Senate this week, a vote accurately reflecting public opinion polling. The Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation poll found that 63% of Americans support the new Obama federal regulation requiring health insurance plans to cover the costs of birth control; 8 out of 10 democrats support the Obama requirement; 4 in 10 republicans support the ‘Obamacare’ regulation; and what seems most important in this upcoming election, the independent vote, shows that 6 in 10 registered independents support the Obama policy for insurance companies to pay for contraceptive care for people they cover.

Finally (the 3:05 mark), it came as a shock to learn that Andrew Breitbart, prominent conservative blogger and muckraker, died suddenly Wednesday night of natural causes, according to his spokesperson. Maybe more surprising, was the immediate swarm of conspiracy theories surrounding his death. Breitbart reportedly was to release a video on Thursday, March 1, of President Obama back in college that would have “destroyed” the President and significantly ruined his reputation before this upcoming election. Now, it’s still all hearsay as to how damaging this video might have been (remember Breitbart is the same person to selectively edit the Shirley Sherrod video that caused a phony outcry of racism, and also had his hand in the James O’Keefe fabrication that eventually led ACORN to close its’ doors), but it seems that if there were some strange insidious character trait President Obama has been hiding through over 3 years in office, and this video would expose him as a fraud, or a fake, or something worse, this video seems dubious to expose him as such. And even more preposterous is this idea that Breitbart was ‘taken-out’ because of the knowledge that he supposedly possessed. The autopsy will hopefully shed some light on the true cause of Breitbart’s death, but as evidenced throughout the last few years by the ridiculous spectacle surrounding President Obama’s birth-certificate, republicans may just scoff at any true evidence found in relation to Breitbart’s death.

Stick around to the end of the video for a new campaign ad by republican presidential candidate Ron Paul lampooning his rivals in the GOP race. We don’t like Paul anymore than the other candidates, but it’s always nice to see the republicans grilling one another.

Weekly Audit: Crashing the Koch’s Billionaire Caucus

 

By Lindsay Beyerstein, Media Consortium blogger

Oil barons Charles and David Koch held their annual billionaires’ summit in Palm Springs on Sunday, Nancy Goldstein reports in The Nation. Every year, the Kochs gather with fellow plutocrats, prominent pundits, and Republican legislators to plan their assault on government regulation and the welfare state. This is the first year that the low-profile gathering has attracted protesters.

The Kochs are best known for pumping millions into the ostensibly grassroots Tea Party movement. At TAPPED, Monica Potts points to Jane Mayer’s famous 2010 profile of the Koch brothers that made their name synonymous with vast right wing conspiracy. Her colleague Jamelle Bouie questions whether the Koch brothers really deserve their bogeyman status–no single cabal of funders can single-handedly sway public opinion, he argues.

That’s true, but $30 million can go a long way. That’s the amount the event’s organizers expect to raise for the GOP, according to Steve Benen of the Washington Monthly, who also notes the event was off-limits to the mainstream media.

David Dayen reports at AlterNet that about 800 to 1,000 protesters rallied outside Sunday’s summit at the Rancho Las Palmas resort. Twenty-five protesters were arrested for trespassing. Police in full riot gear carted the protesters away. To add a surreal note to the proceedings, conservative provocateur Andrew Brietbart emerged from the summit on roller skates to argue with the protesters.

Several progressive organizations collaborated to draw the crowd including Common Cause, the California Courage Campaign, CREDO, MoveOn.org, 350.org, the California Nurses Association, and the United Domestic Workers of America. The Media Consortium’s own Jim Hightower was a featured speaker at the rally.

Plastic vs. the poor

YES! Magazine highlights a video lecture by racial and environmental justice advocate Van Jones on the hidden economic toll that plastic takes on the world’s poor. When we discard our plastic bottles in the recycle bin, we assume they are destined to be reused or recycled. In fact, Jones says, they are often shipped to developing countries and simply burned. Needless to say, these toxic plastic bonfires aren’t held in the tonier parts of town. It’s the poorest people who bear the brunt of living next door to heaps of flaming pop bottles. Jones’ central point is that treating objects as disposable inevitably leads to treating people the same way, because the most vulnerable are forced to live with the worst consequences of pollution.

Wall Street windfall doesn’t help Main Street

The Dow Jones Industrial Average briefly hovered above 12,000 last Wednesday, prompting the New York Times to proclaim the booming stock market as a sign of an economic recovery. But as George Warner notes in Campus Progress, surging stocks aren’t bringing jobs back:

The seasonally adjusted unemployment rate, 9.4 percent, underestimates the true extent of our employment problems by leaving out the many workers said to have “dropped out of the workforce.” By the Economic Policy Institute’s estimates, we are 11.5 million jobs short. 27 million Americans are unemployed or underemployed. (To see how little our labor market has bounced back, check out this Youtube visualization of the last 3 years…the only thing you can’t see is recovery.)

Warner adds that an analysis released last week by the Congressional Budget Office predicts that unemployment will remain high until 2016. What few jobs have been created are overwhelmingly low-wage positions without benefits. This is hardly a foundation on which to build lasting prosperity. A surging stock market without job creation means that the investor class is getting richer while ordinary people continue to struggle.

Hawkeyes Eying Wage Hike?

Iowa state Rep. Bruce Hunter (D-Des Moines) has introduced a bill that would raise the Iowa state minimum wage, Tyler Kingkade reports for the Iowa Independent. The bill would increase the minimum hourly wage to $7.50 on January, 1, 2012 and to $8.00 on July 1, 2012. The last time Iowa raised the minimum wage was in 2007 when the rate jumped from $5.15 per hour to the current $7.25.

This post features links to the best independent, progressive reporting about the economy by members of The Media Consortium. It is free to reprint. Visit the Audit for a complete list of articles on economic issues, or follow us on Twitter. And for the best progressive reporting on critical economy, environment, health care and immigration issues, check out The Mulch, The Pulse and The Diaspora. This is a project of The Media Consortium, a network of leading independent media outlets.

 

 

When the Sanest Person is Glenn Beck . . .

The crew at the Huffington Post have put together this video clip showing how Fox News covered the Andrew Breitbart video lynching of Shirley Sherrod. Only Shepard Smith refused to air the video which has now put him in the firing line of the most notorious race baiter of them all, Rush Limbaugh. That story from Politico.

Picking up Breitbart’s defense of the video, Limbaugh argued that it was “not about Shirley Sherrod” but rather the NAACP’s recent accusation that the tea party is racist.

“This is about the continuing smearing of great patriotic Americans, which is all the left has left to do,” Limbaugh declared. “There's no racism in the tea party. They don't have racist signs.”

The conservative radio host also said that Smith and much of the rest of the media establishment were missing what the Sherrod story really revealed about the state of race relations during Barack Obama’s presidency.

“This regime is tribalizing this country,” he said. “They are dividing this country. It's not just enough to say that they are dividing us. They are tribalizing this country. We aren't Americans anymore. We're all members of different racial tribes, and we are to be pitted against each other: Black Americans, White Americans, Asian Americans, Hispanic Americans. We're all being divided up racially, by tribes.”

Media Matter for America also compiled a timeline of the Sherrod affair.

The Closing of the Conservative Mind

Over at The Week, former Bush speechwriter David Frum writes:

On the phone on the evening of July 20, a friend asked me: "Can Breitbart possibly survive?" I could only laugh incredulously. I answered: "Of course he'll survive, and undamaged. The incident won't matter at all."

There will be no apology or statement of regret for distributing a doctored tape to defame and destroy someone. There will be not even a flutter of interest among conservatives in discussing Breitbart’s role. By the morning of July 21, the Fox & Friends morning show could devote a segment to the Sherrod case without so much as a mention of Breitbart’s role. The central fact of the Sherrod story has been edited out of the conservative narrative, just as it was edited out of the tape itself.

When people talk of the "closing of the conservative mind" this is what they mean: not that conservatives are more narrow-minded than other people — everybody can be narrow minded — but that conservatives have a unique capacity to ignore unwelcome fact.

Indeed, Andrew Breitbart has doubled down on dumb, tripled up on hate.

Digby, over at Hullabaloo adds that the conservative "rank and file are misinformed because they are being purposefully led astray by the same conservative intelligentsia which owns and operates the right wing media" and that this episode is not the result of 'epistemic closure'" but rather the "result of professional propagandists successfully applying their trade. " As Digby notes, this was no accident, it was by design.

Perhaps this episode in my search for an ex malo bonum exit will finally bring full discredit to a vile, perversely vitriolic, sycophantic race baiter. If a lunatic rants in a padded room, does he make a sound?

There's more...

A Full Set of Facts

It is pretty clear that in the Shirley Sherrod case the Obama Administration acted precipitously without a full set of facts at their disposal. The question left in my mind and shared by others is why the Administration won't draw a line in the sand and stand up to the right wing noise machine. It is especially troubling since the Obama Administration had previously noted that Fox News was not just a news outlet but all too often acted as a propagandizing agent for the deranged right. So it is disturbing that Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack and his deputy Cheryl Cook, an undersecretary at the Department of Agriculture, acted in the way that they did. Mrs. Sherrod said White House officials wanted her to quit immediately because the controversy was "going to be on Glenn Beck tonight." In truth, it was the USDA acting on its own and ironically Glenn Beck was among those who felt that Mrs. Sherrod shouldn't have been fired. Nonetheless, an Administration living in fear of what Glenn Beck or what Fox News may say is not a good thing.

Today, White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs issued an apology, "on behalf of this entire administration" to Shirley Sherrod. He also said Secretary Tom Vilsack was trying to reach her to extend an apology. More on this from MSNBC.

Mrs. Sherrod, for her part, has accepted the apology but noted that she's not sure if she wants her job even if it is offered again. That would be a crying shame for someone with such commitment to the poor is precisely the type of civil servant that we so desperately need.

Diaries

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