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Jamison Foser

Author ››› Jamison Foser
  • Is CNN Covering Anti-Tax Rallies -- Or Promoting Them?

    Blog ››› ››› JAMISON FOSER

    CNN's cozy relationship with the tea party just keeps getting cozier.

    Today, the cable channel touts "tax day" as a "boon" for Republicans on its website:

    The linked article, headlined "'Tax day' a boon for prez contenders' face time," is ostensibly about the "new political importance" of April 15, which, "for many conservatives … has become a day to protest taxes they deem too high and government, they feel, has run amok." But the article is filled with so many qualifiers and hypotheticals, it reads more like an invitation to conservatives to protest, rather than an attempt to cover them doing so. Take a look at some highlights:

  • Townhall Columnist: "I'd Rather Take My Chances With The Jared Loughners Of The World" Than With The Government

    Blog ››› ››› JAMISON FOSER

    Townhall columnist and talk radio host Andrew Tallman finds a rather inflammatory way to emphasize his dislike of the government:

    [T]he government itself is made up of people: real, morally flawed people. Since bad people with power are capable of far greater evil than bad people without it, our country is predicated on the belief that we have more to fear from sinners in government than we do from sinners with personal freedom.

    Remember, the government has guns, too. And their misuse of them in history has been exponentially worse than anything private individuals have done. But because Gail Collins has unshakeable faith in the inherent goodness of Government, she doesn't mind trusting its guns. As for me, I'd rather take my chances with the Jared Loughners of the world.

    Anti-government right-wingers usually stick to denouncing Department of Education bureaucrats; Tallman goes further and suggests he sees the U.S. military and law enforcement personnel as a greater threat than Jared Loughner. Good to know.

  • This Is What Passes For Liberal At The Washington Post

    Blog ››› ››› JAMISON FOSER

    The Washington Post's new designation of opinion columns as "Right-Leaning" and Left-Leaning" continues to demonstrate just how rare actual liberal viewpoints are in the Post's opinion section. Today's "Left-Leaning" page features a column by Robert Pozen advocating a reduction in Social Security benefits for middle-income workers.

    Dean Baker of the Center for Economic and Policy Research takes issue with Pozen's proposal to reduce Social Security benefits for "school teachers, construction workers, and office clerks." Regardless of the merits of such a proposal, it's striking to see it presented as a "left-leaning" view.

    And who, you may wonder, is Robert Pozen? Well, he served as Secretary of Economic Affairs for Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney, and he served on President Bush's Social Security commission, where his views drew praise from conservatives who want to privatize Social Security and criticism from progressives. The New York Times reported on April 30, 2005:

  • Phyllis Schlafly Has A Book She'd Like To Sell You

    Blog ››› ››› JAMISON FOSER

    Until the last few paragraphs, Phyllis Schlafly's latest Townhall column is a fairly typical right-wing assault on education spending, filled with angry denunciations of "the notoriously useless program called Head Start." Again: Fairly typical stuff -- for some reason, conservatives hate spending money to help kids learn. But then things take an interesting twist -- Schlafly comes up with something worth spending money on:

    Children should be taught to read in the first grade by an authentic phonics system in which they learn the sounds and syllables of the English language and how to put them together to read words of more than one syllable. There is nothing expensive or mysterious about this basic task.

    Instead of wasting more federal money on grant-writers and grant-readers, tell local districts to award a bonus to first-grade teachers based on how many kids they actually teach to read. Let the teacher select the phonics system she thinks will help her win the bonus.

    And then this note:

    Phyllis Schlafly is the author of a phonics system for first-graders called "First Reader," which sells for only $29.95 with an accompanying Workbook for $9.95 (free shipping).

    Well, that certainly works out nicely.

    According to Schlafly's Eagle Forum website, the "First Reader" workbook has been around since 1994. So I couldn't help wondering if Schlafly has used her various columns to tout the efficacy of phonics systems without disclosing her financial interest in doing so. And, as it turns out, she has.

    Last September, Creators Syndicate distributed a Schlafly column that denounced "non-phonics in reading instruction" as an approach that "parents find offensive." That column did not include a disclaimer noting Schlafly's authorship of a phonics program. But that's only the most recent of several examples of Schlafly touting phonics without disclosing her interest in doing so, which include a July 2003 Schlafly column and another from August 27, 2007:

    Public schools should teach all first-graders to read by the time-tested phonics system, and teach all schoolchildren to know and use the fundamentals of arithmetic by the end of the third grade. This would end the shocking epidemic of illiteracy that now permits students to get into high school and even graduate without being able to read, write or calculate change at the grocery store.

    And in October of 1999, Schlafly wrote an entire column denouncing a textbook that criticized phonics, somehow managing to write "The textbook includes a chapter warning teachers against a 'Far Right' conspiracy of 'laypersons' to teach phonics … The textbook identifies yours truly as a co-conspirator" without ever getting around to mentioning that she sells a phonics system.

    Remember: If it seems like conservative media figures are trying to sell you something, they probably are.

  • Washington Post Again Runs A Critic-Free Profile Of Haley Barbour

    Blog ››› ››› JAMISON FOSER

    Maybe someday Washington Post reporter Karen Tumulty will quote a critic of Mississippi governor Haley Barbour in one of her profiles of the potential Republican presidential candidate. But not today.

    Last week, I noted a variety of ways in which a Tumulty article about Barbour was rather friendly -- it quoted his attacks on President Obama without including a response from a Democrat and without making any attempt to assess the validity of the (misleading at best) attack and it downplayed Barbour's praise for the segregationist Citizens Councils.

    Now comes another Tumulty profile of Barbour, this one checking in at almost 1,400 words -- and once again the lack of progressive criticism of Barbour is striking. Indeed, nobody, of any political persuasion, is quoted or paraphrased even mildly criticizing Barbour. Most striking is this friendly passage about Barbour's tenure as governor of Mississippi:

    What makes some Republicans see presidential timber in the self-described "fat redneck" from Yazoo City, however, is not his political genius. It is his record as a governor who beat his state's trial lawyers on tort reform, who lured industry, who balanced budgets. And more than anything else, it is the way Barbour took charge of resurrecting a state whose coastline was nearly wiped off the map by Hurricane Katrina during his second year in office.

    "He did a fantastic job during the crisis — and that's what we're in, a crisis," said former Iowa GOP chairman Ray Hoffmann, who has not committed his 2012 support to any possible candidate but held a dinner for Barbour at his Italian restaurant in Sioux City.

    It's a little weird that Tumulty turned to an Iowa Republican for an assessment of Barbour's handling of Katrina, don't you think? More importantly, wouldn't it have been nice if she had found space to include some of the rather serious criticism of Barbour's response to Katrina that has been leveled over the past several years?

    In 2007, Salon reported that Mississippi's recovery efforts benefited from receiving a wildly disproportionate share of federal recovery money -- and that observers ranging from Sen. Mary Landrieu (D-LA) to former FEMA head Michael Brown suggested this was because Barbour (unlike Louisiana's governor) was a Republican, and Republicans controlled the White House and Congress during the aftermath of Katrina. But despite that disproportionate federal funding, Salon reported, recovery efforts in parts of Mississippi were surprisingly slow:

    Outsiders might be surprised to learn then, that despite the plaudits, and despite the fact that Barbour's GOP connections seem to have won him a disproportionate share of relief money from Washington, post-Katrina recovery in some of the hardest-hit areas of the Mississippi coast is moving as fast as molasses in winter.

    For the residents of Hancock County, Barbour and Mississippi's ability to capture the lion's share of Katrina relief dollars makes the slow progress in their area all the more demoralizing. The county's 911 system still operates out of a trailer. Damaged wastewater and drainage systems frustrate hopes of a return to normalcy; earlier this month in Waveland, 16 miles east of Pearlington, a 9-and-a-half-foot alligator was found swimming in a drainage ditch next to a bus stop at 8 o'clock in the morning. Mayor Tommy Longo says the creatures freely roam throughout devastated residential areas.

    Indeed, Hancock County was one of three Gulf Coast areas recently singled out as having "severe problems" by the Rockefeller Institute on Government and the Louisiana Public Affairs Council, with the towns of Waveland and Bay St. Louis flat-out "struggling to survive."

    Bloomberg reported in 2007 that Barbour's friends and family benefited from Katrina recovery efforts:

    Many Mississippians have benefited from Governor Haley Barbour's efforts to rebuild the state's devastated Gulf Coast in the two years since Hurricane Katrina. The $15 billion or more in federal aid the former Republican national chairman attracted has reopened casinos and helped residents move to new or repaired homes.

    Among the beneficiaries are Barbour's own family and friends, who have earned hundreds of thousands of dollars from hurricane-related business. A nephew, one of two who are lobbyists, saw his fees more than double in the year after his uncle appointed him to a special reconstruction panel. Federal Bureau of Investigation agents in June raided a company owned by the wife of a third nephew, which maintained federal emergency- management trailers.

    Meanwhile, the governor's own former lobbying firm, which he says is still making payments to him, has represented at least four clients with business linked to the recovery.

    But readers of Karen Tumulty's profile of Barbour weren't given so much as a hint that there was ever any controversy surrounding his response to Katrina, instead learning only that "the way Barbour took charge of resurrecting a state" impressed Republicans, one of whom praised him for doing a "fantastic job during the crisis."

  • Dick Morris Was For Intervention In Libya Before He Was Against It

    Blog ››› ››› JAMISON FOSER

    Dick Morris, March 18:

    Where is Barack Obama? Is he still in office? As he jets off with his family for a taxpayer-paid vacation in Rio, does he realize the world is falling apart around him?

    Does he understand that he could have stopped the bloodshed in Libya by declaring a no fly zone three weeks ago and that if he does it now, he can still stop a brutal dictator from murdering thousands more?

    Dick Morris, March 21:

    General Colin Powell's enduring contribution to American foreign policy is the Powell Doctrine, defining when and how American military power should be used. The Doctrine has three main precepts: Avoid mission creep, clearly define our goals, and plan an exit strategy before you go in. Obama's Libya intervention flunks on all three counts.

    The decision to attack Libya was made because NATO allies dragged Hillary into action when she toured their capitals last week. And Hillary – along with Samantha Powell and Susan Rice – goaded Obama into action during a phone call on Tuesday night.

    [T]he fuzzy nature of our mission and the lack of an exit strategy make the possibility of an out of control engagement very real. And such a commitment, especially if it involves ground troops, will not sit well with Obama's base.

    But, having made an investment in Libya, are we really going to be prepared to sit back and watch civilians get slaughtered by Gadaffi, in or out of power? Won't the same rationale that dictated the air offensive, lead to ground troops? And won't Obama look insufferably weak if he fails to send them?

    Obama has opened the door to disaster by his impetuosity in not asking the Powell Doctrine questions.

    So, on March 18, Dick Morris favored a no-fly zone, and wanted to "stop a brutal dictator from murdering thousands." Three days later, Morris denounces such intervention. What changed? Oh, right: Barack Obama pursued a course of intervention in Libya. In times of great uncertainty, it's comforting to know that there are a few constants, like Dick Morris' rock-steady opposition to [whatever Barack Obama is doing today.]

  • Ginni Thomas & The Daily Caller: A Match Made In Heaven

    Blog ››› ››› JAMISON FOSER

    When right-wing journalist Tucker Carlson launched The Daily Caller along with a former aide to Dick Cheney and a multimillion dollar bankroll from a big-time GOP donor, Carlson insisted that the Caller would not be a right-wing site. That's always been one of the most hilarious of Carlson's many absurd claims, as today's announcement that the Caller has hired Ginni Thomas reminds us:

    Long-time Washington policy leader Ginni Thomas, the founder of the group Liberty Central, has agreed to join The Daily Caller.

    As The Daily Caller's special correspondent, Thomas will interview key political and community leaders -- from high-profile politicians to grassroots activists -- with a focus on listening to those outside the Beltway.

    Thomas draws on a wide range of experiences. She's worked in the public sector, the private sector, and the non-profit sector. Before founding Liberty Central, Thomas opened Hillsdale College's Washington office and was with The Heritage Foundation for nearly 10 years as a director of government relations and senior fellow. Prior to that, she worked for years as a high-level Congressional aide.

    The Caller's announcement didn't make this clear, but Liberty Central is a tea party group, and Thomas' experience as a "high-level Congressional aide" was on the Republican side of the aisle. Oh, and her husband, Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas, was recently caught failing to disclose nearly $700,000 in income Ginni Thomas received from the right-wing Heritage Foundation. I guess those are the kinds of things you leave out if you want to pretend you aren't a right-wing website while hiring a longtime right-wing activist as a "correspondent."

  • Sexism Is Alive And Well At National Review

    Blog ››› ››› JAMISON FOSER

    National Review's Mark Krikorian thinks it's just awful that women might play a role in making public decisions:

    Look, I'm a sensitive New Age guy — I cook, I do laundry, I choke up at movies (well, Gladiator, anyway). But does anyone think our enemies abroad are as enlightened as we are about feminism? Steyn is right that the specific lesson they're learning is that nukes are the best insurance against invasion — but a broader one is that our commander-in-chief is an effete vacillator who is pushed around by his female subordinates. Prof. Althouse notes, "A feminist milestone: Our male President has been pulled into war by 3 women," and Senator Graham scored points with "I Thank God for Strong Women in the Obama Administration," but we're going to pay for this.

    I don't know how much influence Hillary Clinton, Susan Rice, and Samantha Power had over the Obama administration's Libya policy, and neither does Mark Krikorian. What is clear is that Mark Krikorian thinks it is terrible that they are perceived as having been influential, and that it is terrible precisely because they are women. And no, I'm not over-interpreting Krikorian's comments -- he explicitly says this:

    Before you send me any burning bras, the problem is not with women leaders — the enemies of the Virgin Queen and the Iron Lady can attest to that. The problem is not even with the president having strong female subordinates. Rather, Obama's pusillanimity has been hugely magnified by the contrast with the women directing his foreign policy and the fact that they nagged him to attack Libya until he gave in. Maybe it's unfair and there shouldn't be any difference from having a male secretary of state do the same thing, but there is.

    Krikorian pretends that he doesn't (necessarily) think the influence of a female secretary of state should be viewed differently from the influence of a male secretary of state -- he's just describing the world as it is. But Krikorian's word choice gives him away: The three women, Krikorian writes, "nagged" Obama until he gave in.

    Let's be clear about this: Mark Krikorian isn't describing sexism, he's demonstrating it.

    Previously:

    NRO's Krikorian on pronunciation of Sotomayor's name: "It Sticks in My Craw"

    Mark Krikorian digs deeper

  • The Washington Post's Liberal-Bashing, Pro-Torture "Left-Leaning" Columnist

    Blog ››› ››› JAMISON FOSER

    As I've frequently pointed out, the fact that columnist Richard Cohen is what passes for a "liberal" at the Washington Post pretty thoroughly undermines the idea that the paper's opinion pages lean to the left. In response, people have occasionally asked me "Who says Cohen is supposed to be a liberal?" Well, now, the Post has removed any doubt about the role it thinks Cohen plays at the paper, officially designating him a "left-leaning" columnist:

    Dana Milbank is the kind of "left-leaning" columnist who voted for Republican presidential candidates in 2000 and 2004 and a Republican-turned-independent in 2008. And who referred to Hillary Clinton as a "mad bitch." Just try to imagine the Post identifying as "right-leaning" a columnist who voted for Democratic presidential candidates in 2000 and 2004 and called Sarah Palin a "mad bitch."

    But it's Richard Cohen's presence on the "left-leaning" list that's really remarkable. Here's a refresher:

  • Should TV Networks Pay For GOP Debate Broadcast Rights?

    Blog ››› ››› JAMISON FOSER

    Time's Adam Sorensen thinks it would make sense for the RNC to sell TV rights to GOP presidential primary debates:

    CNN is reporting that RNC officials have informally kicked around the idea of sanctioning all Republican presidential primary debates in 2011/2012 and selling off the TV rights. Though it would be largely unprecedented -- the DNC sanctioned, but did not sell, debates in 2007 -- in many ways, the idea makes sense. It would be an added revenue stream for an organization with well-known money woes coming out of the last election cycle. It would reestablish the committee as a central player in the process as groups like American Crossroads/Crossroads GPS take on ever-larger roles. It might give the party more control over who gets to ask the questions, or at least where the answers are aired -- a number of conservatives were very displeased when they learned the first debate scheduled at the Reagan Library was to be co-hosted by NBC News, which employs liberal pundits like Rachel Maddow and Ed Shultz at MSNBC.

    Those are reasons why such a move might make sense for the RNC. Unfortunately, neither Sorensen nor the CNN report to which he referred spent much time on whether it would make sense for television networks. By paying for the broadcast rights, they would essentially be paying for interviews, which most major news organizations tend to frown upon. And while it may be good for the GOP if "the party" has "more control over who gets to ask the questions," it isn't clear that that is good for the television networks that would be broadcasting the debates. If the RNC is hand-picking questions, there is the potential for the debates to be little more than infomercials -- with the unusual twist that the broadcaster, not the advertiser, is footing the bill.

    Finally, as I've explained, conservative whining about NBC hosting a Republican debate is completely without merit. Rather than simply parroting those complaints, reporters should look back at how MS/NBC employees handled GOP debates in 2007/2008 and assess whether the complaints hold water.