As Republicans gear up to filibuster yet another of President Obama's highly-qualified judicial nominees, Democrats are mulling Senate rule changes to allow a straight up-or-down vote on these picks. After unprecedented obstructionism on the part of the GOP, media should note that the so-called "nuclear option" may be the only way for these nominees to get a vote.
Media coverage of nuclear power often suggests that environmentalists are illogically blocking the expansion of a relatively safe, low-carbon energy source. However, in reality, economic barriers to nuclear power -- even after decades of subsidies -- have prevented the expansion of nuclear power. While nuclear power does provide meaningful climate benefits over fossil fuels, economic factors and the need for strict safety regulations have led many environmentalists to focus instead on putting a price on carbon, which would benefit all low-carbon energy sources including nuclear.
Conservative media have championed the recent spate of state-restrictions on women's constitutional right to abortion access as necessary to protect women's health. But a new report reveals the heavy toll the laws have taken on women's health clinics around the country.
After the 2010 midterm elections, state legislatures passed a record number of restrictions on abortion, according to Bloomberg BusinessWeek. Twenty-four states enacted 92 provisions restricting access to abortion services, a number which tripled the former record set in 2005. The next year, 2012, was the second-highest year on record for new abortion restrictions, with 19 states passing 43 provisions limiting women's access.
Fox News and conservative media championed this flood of abortion restrictions, claiming the measures are necessary to protect women's health and denying that the laws would affect women's access to clinics. In June, Fox contributors Kirsten Powers and Monica Crowley claimed that reproductive rights groups' fears over Texas' infamous SB5 bill -- predicted to force most of the state's clinics to close -- were exaggerated and "ridiculous," because, as Powers stated, "I don't think that many clinics are going to close."
But according to a nationwide analysis released August 26 by the Huffington Post, at least 54 abortion providers in 27 states have closed their doors or ended abortion services since 2010, and "several more clinics are only still open because judges have temporarily blocked legislation that would make it difficult for them to continue to operate." The report found that the states which enacted severe new abortion restrictions and slashed funding planning funding also lost the most clinics -- Texas has lost nine clinics, or more than 20 percent of the state's total abortion facilities.
The state issues manager at the Guttmacher Institute explained to Huffington Post that this level of clinic closures is "incredibly dramatic." She went on, "What we've been seeing since 1982 was a slow decline, but this kind of change ... [is] so different from what's happened in the past."
Rather than protecting women's health, these new restrictions -- and the striking number of clinic closures they force -- place women in severe danger. Requiring women to travel long distances in order to exercise their constitutional right to abortion means procedures will often be delayed, which puts women's health in jeopardy.
Right-wing media have marked the 40th Anniversary of Title IX by attacking equal opportunity efforts for women in the "STEM" fields of science, technology, engineering, or math. The historic civil rights law prohibits discrimination in federally-funded education programs or activities on the basis of sex.
Conservative media has not only argued that such affirmative action is unconstitutional, but has gone farther and argued that the law does not apply beyond scholastic sports and requires quotas. They also insist that women simply do not want to study or work in science-or math-related fields. The first three claims are demonstrably incorrect; the fourth assertion contradicts numerous studies and cannot satisfactorily explain the disproportionate under-representation of women in these educational fields.
On the July 25 edition of Fox & Friends, Gretchen Carlson hosted a segment that touched on all of these discredited arguments in an interview with Hans Bader, Counsel for Special Projects for the right-wing Competitive Enterprise Institute. Bader concluded the interview by asserting that women are heavily underrepresented in the STEM fields because they naturally choose "organic subjects like people, plants, animals, biology, psychology." Carlson then ended the interview, noting that there "could be" a counter argument to this last claim.
Bader's Fox and Friends appearance is only the most recent example of conservative attacks on the Obama Administration's efforts to utilize Title IX for the promotion of equal opportunity in science and math education.
For example, Sabrina Schaeffer and Carrie Lukas of the conservative Independent Women's Forum did the same on June 18 and June 22 in the Huffington Post and U.S. News, respectively, Fox News Political Analyst Kirsten Powers took aim at sex-based affirmative action on July 17 in USA Today, and New York Post columnist Kyle Smith used the front page to launch a July 14 op-ed that was particularly reliant on sex stereotypes.
These conservative commentators repeated Bader's false claims: that Title IX's scope is limited to athletics, the Obama administration is proposing quotas, equal opportunity efforts disregard women's aversion to science and math, and affirmative action on the basis of sex is unconstitutional.
All of these conservative critiques are incorrect or unsubstantiated.
On his radio show, Glenn Beck fearmongered about violence along the U.S.-Mexico border to suggest that the government will confiscate Americans' guns. In fact, the Justice Department has simply issued regulations putting in place a reporting requirement for multiple purchases of certain kinds of rifles, and, furthermore, violence in areas on the U.S. side of the border is dropping.
Right-wing media have attacked Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner for using federal workers' pension funds to ensure that the government meets its obligations for the short-term while lawmakers and the White House try to reach a deal on raising the debt ceiling. In fact, Geithner's actions are in line with those of the Treasury Department under former Presidents Bush and Clinton, the government is legally required to reimburse the program once the debt limit is increased, and economic disaster could have occurred had Geithner not taken these measures.
Here's the tale, as summarized at the time by New York magazine:
After the Daily Caller published an interview in which Breitbart called former White House adviser Van Jones a "commie punk," a "cop killer-supporting, racist, demagogic freak," a "cockroach," and a "human toxin," Huffington agreed to take his works off the HuffPo homepage.
But guess what? Ever since Huffington Post rescinded Breitbart's front-page privileges, Breitbart has packed up his marbles and gone home. According to his blogger index at the Huffington Post, Breitbart has not contributed to the site since March 22, just days before the controversy erupted. Breitbart's total number of contributions to date? Two.
At the time of the public demotion, Huffington Post executives were quite clear that Breitbart was still welcome to blog at the site, which in and of itself is a privilege of sorts. It was just that the bombastic writer would no longer be featured on the front page, and therefore not be seen by as many Huffington Post readers.
Turns out if Breitbart couldn't see his name and photo on the Huffington Post front page, he didn't want to contribute at all.
It's possible that Breitbart felt snubbed and decided to walk away from the popular site. But that kind of petulant behavior certainly runs counter to the popular conservative whine (not to mention Breitbart's own caterwauling) about how nasty liberals had silenced Breitbart's right to blog at the Huffington Post. ("Bullying tactics"! "Hatred of free speech"!)
In reality, nobody did any such thing. Instead, it's been Breitbart who has voluntarily silenced himself by refusing to write for the Huffington Post.
Andrew Bretibart is many things, but a free speech martyr is not one of them.
Right-wing media have heralded Wisconsin GOP senators' vote to pass Gov. Scott Walker's anti-union legislation through a series of parliamentary maneuvers. But these media outlets have ignored critics who have said that a maneuver used by the Republican senators in order to hold the vote "raises a lot of serious questions" and possibly violated the state's open meetings law.
Fox News promoted Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer's claim that the federal government has failed to "do its job" on border security without mentioning that border security efforts have increased measurably under President Obama: Deportations, drug seizures, and the number of Border Patrol agents have all increased.
Huffington Post's Sam Stein reports (emphasis added):
The New York Post editor fired after speaking out against a cartoon depicting the author of the president's stimulus package as a dead chimpanzee has sued the paper. And as part of her complaint, Sandra Guzman levels some remarkable, embarrassing, and potentially damaging allegations.
Guzman has filed a complaint against News Corporation, the New York Post and the paper's editor in chief Col Allan in the Southern District Court of New York, alleging harassment as well as "unlawful employment practices and retaliation."
As part of the 38-page complaint, Guzman paints the Post newsroom as a male-dominated frat house and Allan in particular as sexist, offensive and domineering. Guzman alleges that she and others were routinely subjugated to misogynistic behavior. She says that hiring practices at the paper -- as well as her firing -- were driven by racial prejudices rather than merit.
And she recounts the paper's D.C. bureau chief stating that the publication's goal was to "destroy [President] Barack Obama."
The most outrageous charges, however, involve Allan. According to the complaint:
"On one occasion when Ms. Guzman and three female employees of the Post were sharing drinks at an after-work function. Defendant Allan approached the group of women, pulled out his blackberry and asked them 'What do you think of this?' On his blackberry was a picture of a naked man lewdly and openly displaying his penis. When Ms. Guzman and the other female employees expressed their shock and disgust at being made to view the picture, Defendant Allan just smirked... [N]o investigation was ever conducted and the Company failed to take any steps to address her complaints."
Guzman's complaint goes on:
"On another occasion, upon information and belief, Defendant Allan approached a female employee during a party at the Post, rubbed his penis up against her and made sexually suggestive comments about her body, including her breasts, causing that female employee to feel extremely uncomfortable and fearing to be alone with him."
And finally: "... [W]hile serving as the top editor at the Post, Defendant Allan took two Australian political leaders to the strip club Scores in Manhattan..."
Guzman alleges that while at the paper, misogynistic and racist behavior was directed at her specifically. According to the complaint, she was called "sexy" and "beautiful" and referred to as "Cha Cha #1" by Les Goodstein, the senior vice president of NewsCorp. After doing an interview with Major League Baseball star Pedro Martinez, she says Allan asked her whether the pitcher "had been carrying a gun or a machete during the interview" -- a line Guzman said was racist and offensive.
When she would walk by certain offices at the paper, Guzman alleges, editors would routinely sing songs from West Side Story -- a nod to her Hispanic heritage -- including the tune: "I want to live in America."
Guzman also makes the following allegations to supplement her case that the Post harbored an environment that was offensive to women and minority employees.
"A White male senior editor sexually propositioned a young female Copy Assistant, telling her that 'If you give me a blowjob, I will give you a permanent reporter job.'"
"The last five employees who were recently terminated by Paul Carlucci, the Publisher of the Post.... Have all been black and/or women of color."
Read Stein's entire piece and the compliant in full here.
Politico's Ben Smith picks up an interesting angle to the story:
The New York Post and New York Daily News, for a time, complemented their fierce competition for circulation with bitter attacks on each other's staff and on their owners, Rupert Murdoch and Mort Zuckerman.
But Murdoch and Zuckerman, as has been reported, reached a truce of sorts, and they've been reported to be in sporadic talks about some sort of merger of -- at least -- the paper's back ends. And the clearest signal I've seen in a while of that rapprochement came this week, when a fired Post employee, Sandra Guzman, filed suit against the paper and its brawling Australian editor, Col Allan.
The Daily News offered a sanitized version of the story: "A New York Post editor sacked after complaining that a cartoon likened President Obama to a monkey sued the paper on Monday, claiming rampant racism and sexism in the newsroom," but detailed none of the actual allegations.
The Huffington Post's Sam Stein reported this afternoon that the New York Post has confirmed that an "editor who spoke out against a controversial cartoon the paper ran comparing the author of the president's stimulus package to a dead chimpanzee has been fired from her job."
More from Stein's report:
Sandra Guzman was quietly dismissed from her position as associate editor last week for reasons that are being hotly debated by personnel inside the company. An official statement from the New York Post, provided to the Huffington Post, said that her job was terminated once the paper ended the section she was editing.
"Sandra is no longer with The Post because the monthly in-paper insert, Tempo, of which she was the editor, has been discontinued."
Employees at the paper -- which is one of media mogul's Rupert Murdoch's crown jewels -- said the firing, which took place last Tuesday, seemed retributive.
Guzman was the most high-profile Post employee to publicly speak out against a cartoon that likened the author of the stimulus bill (whom nearly everyone associated with President Barack Obama) with a rabid primate. Drawn by famed cartoonist Sean Delonas, the illustration pictured two befuddled policeman -- having just shot the chimp twice in the chest -- saying: "They'll have to find someone else to write the next stimulus bill."
"I neither commissioned or approved it," Guzman wrote to a list of journalist colleagues shortly thereafter. "I saw it in the paper yesterday with the rest of the world. And, I have raised my objections to management."
The remark from Guzman was a rare instance of dissension within the halls of the paper making its way into the public domain. And sources at the Post now say it cost her a job.
A few weeks ago, NBC's David Gregory was outraged at the possibility that President Obama knew The Huffington Post's Nico Pitney would ask a question about Iran during a presidential press conference. During the June 28 broadcast of Meet the Press, Gregory repeatedly questioned Obama advisor David Axelrod about the matter:
MR. GREGORY: I just want to be clear. Did the White House coordinate with a reporter about a question to be asked at a press conference?
MR. GREGORY: So you talked to a reporter beforehand and said, "Could you ask a question about--from--directly from Iran at a press conference?"
MR. GREGORY: Well, why is it appropriate to coordinate with a reporter about what's asked at a time when we're championing democracy around the world?
MR. GREGORY: Is that, is that what you should do at a press conference?
MR. GREGORY: But you coordinated with him about, about that subject of a question beforehand.
MR. GREGORY: If President Bush had done that, don't you think Democrats would have said that's outrageous?
MR. GREGORY: Right. So you would, so you'd do it again?
As I noted at the time, Gregory's obsession was more than a little silly, given that television shows like his regularly negotiate topics with guests in advance. But I underestimated Gregory's hypocrisy.
Here's an email Gregory sent to an aide to South Carolina Governor Mark Sanford, in an effort to book Sanford on Meet the Press:
Hey Joel ...
Left you a message. Wanted you to hear directly from me that I want to have the Gov on Sunday on Meet The Press. I think it's exactly the right forum to answer the questions about his trip as well as giving him a platform to discuss the economy/stimulus and the future of the party. You know he will get a fair shake from me and coming on MTP puts all of this to rest.
Let's talk when you can.
That was on June 24 -- just four days before Gregory grilled Axelrod about coordinating the subject of questions with reporters.
Gregory later followed up with another email:
[C]oming on Meet The Press allows you to frame the conversation how you really want to...and then move on. You can see (sic) you have done your interview and then move on. Consider it.
So, Gregory was not only coordinating with Sanford's staff about what topics Gregory would ask Sanford about, should the South Carolina Governor agree to appear on Meet the Press -- he was telling the aide he would allow Sanford to "frame the conversation how you really want to."
And then, just a few days later, Gregory took to the air to denounce the White House and Nico Pitney for coordinating about the subject of a question. Incredible.
Salon's Glenn Greenwald reports that The Huffington Post has hired former Washington Post columnist Dan Froomkin:
So what is the Washington Post up to these days?
Yes, as Politico's Michael Calderone points out, Huffington Post is asking readers to vote for their favorite White House correspondent:
Current nominees: Chuck Todd, Savannah Guthrie, John Yang, Suzanne Malveaux, Ed Henry, Bill Plante, Jake Tapper, Major Garrett and Wendell Goler.
Henry would like your vote. But some think there are some notable exemptions: Former White House press office staffer Pete Seat wants Chip Reid and Washington Times White House correspondent Christina Bellantoni thinks Mark Knoller was robbed.
Via Huffington Post:
Erich "Mancow" Muller, a Chicago-based conservative radio host, recently decided to silence critics of waterboarding once and for all. He would undergo the procedure himself, and then he would be able to confidently convince others that it is not, in fact, torture.
Or so he thought. Instead, Muller came out convinced.
"It is way worse than I thought it would be, and that's no joke," Mancow said. "It is such an odd feeling to have water poured down your nose with your head back... It was instantaneous... and I don't want to say this: absolutely torture."
"I wanted to prove it wasn't torture," Mancow said. "They cut off our heads, we put water on their face... I got voted to do this but I really thought 'I'm going to laugh this off.' "
Mancow Being Waterboarded:
Mancow's Post-Waterboarding Thoughts: