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Jamison Foser

Author ››› Jamison Foser
  • Dick Morris Is (Still) A Terrible Political Analyst

    Blog ››› ››› JAMISON FOSER

    Dick Morris' latest column, "How to Shut Down The Government," advises the GOP to insist on a narrow range of deep budget cuts (rather than more shallow cuts affecting a broader range of government programs) for optimum political gain. Morris recommends:

    Republicans should zero fund new [highway] construction and say that America needs a three year moratorium on new highway construction. … For additional political advantage, Republicans should zero fund the Corporation for Public Broadcasting ($500 million a year) and the National Endowments for the Arts and for the Humanities ($500 million a year). … Who will care that these agencies are zero funded? The result will inevitably be a total victory for the Republican Party and for those who want to cut the budget. Then, Republicans should take the next step and roll back Medicaid funding to 2008 levels and block grant it to the states.

    Wow: "Total victory for the Republican Party" is "inevitable" if they follow Morris' strategy? That's a bold prediction coming from someone who insisted the 2008 presidential campaign would pit Condi Rice against Hillary Clinton. How can Morris be so confident?

    The answer lies in what he treats as a rhetorical question: "Who will care that these agencies are zero funded." Dick Morris assumes that highway construction and public broadcasting and Medicaid lack strong public support. But had he bothered to glance at recent public polling, he'd have learned otherwise.

    A January 21-23 CNN poll found 70 percent of Americans think it's more important to prevent Medicaid from being significantly cut than to reduce the deficit. That's just 8 percentage points less than the percent say the same about Social Security. But because Morris hasn't bothered to do his research, he writes that Republicans should cut Medicaid and must avoid being seen as trying to cut Social Security. The same poll found that 61 percent of Americans want to prevent significant cuts to "Programs to build and maintain roads, bridges and mass transit." And a bipartisan poll conducted for PBS in February found that 69 percent of Americans oppose cuts to public broadcasting -- including 56 percent of Republicans.

    So, Dick Morris' foolproof plan for inevitable total victory relies upon making massively unpopular cuts to Medicaid, public broadcasting, and highway construction. Genius!

  • Don't Journalists Have Any Labor Leaders In Their Rolodexes?

    Blog ››› ››› JAMISON FOSER

    Maybe I'm old-fashioned, but it seems to me that if you're going to run an article in which the Governor of Wisconsin attacks unions over a budget dispute in which tens of thousands of protesters (and a strong majority of the public) -- stand with the unions, you should probably quote a union representative in response.

    You won't find a union representative quoted in today's Washington Post article by Michael Fletcher. Or in this March 5 Post article, also by Fletcher, headlined "Thousands turn out for latest protest against Wis. governor's budget plan." That article reported that "Tens of thousands of demonstrators again descended on the state Capitol in Wisconsin … The protests … followed massive demonstrations the past two weekends … the demonstrations … have drawn throngs of rank-and-file union members and supporters." But not one such union member was quoted.

    I don't mean to pick on Fletcher. Those articles are just two recent examples of the glaring lack of union representation in national media coverage of budget disputes that intimately involve unions. Most famously, the Sunday political talk shows have virtually ignored labor leaders.

    This exclusion of labor's perspective from news coverage of labor disputes is extraordinary -- particularly when you consider how the media fell all over themselves to cover the so-called Tea Party in 2009 and 2010 (CNN even embedded reporters with the Tea Partiers.) And let's be clear: The Tea Party never produced anything like what's happened the last few weeks in Wisconsin: Tens of thousands of people engaging in sustained protests in a single location for weeks at a time over specific, concrete grievances, in concert with a walk-out by a group of elected officials that has shut down a legislative body.

  • Gary Aldrich's Plan To Reduce The Deficit: 325,000 More Unemployed People

    Blog ››› ››› JAMISON FOSER

    Daily Caller columnist Gary Aldrich has a "plan to restore fiscal sanity" that the Caller promotes with the page title "Balance the budget | cut federal workforce." But Aldrich's plan wouldn't balance the budget -- not even close. Here it is:

    As our country moves closer to bankruptcy, the only chance we have at balancing our budget is to make substantial cuts to the ever-expanding bureaucracy.

    A target goal of reducing the federal workforce by 25 percent, excluding military personnel, would go a lot further in solving the mess our country faces.

    Aldrich never gets around to including any estimates of how much this would save, probably because the answer is "not much." The 2011 deficit is projected to be about $1.5 trillion. There are about 1.3 million non-Defense civilian Federal employees, and they make about $163 billion in salary and benefits. Cut 25 percent of that, and you've saved about $40 billion -- and, thus, shaved a mere 2.71 percent from the deficit.

    But that's not all: You've also thrown 325,000 people out of work, which tends to be bad for the economy, which tends to be bad for the deficit. In any case, it's 325,000 more unemployed people. You know … if you care about that kind of thing. Gary Aldrich doesn't.

  • Doesn't Anyone Remember Christine Whitman?

    Blog ››› ››› JAMISON FOSER

    A young Democrat is elected President on a theme of hope and change, does some of the things he was elected to do, Republicans howl and win control of Congress in a landslide mid-term election, and the media becomes infatuated with a new crop of Republican governors who are trying to dramatically reconfigure state budgets.

    That's a reasonable summary of the current state of affairs, but it also describes the first few years of Bill Clinton's presidency. But it isn't the similarity that's striking: After all, there's a reason the phrase "history has a way of repeating itself" exists. Or, perhaps more appropriately: "Those who fail to learn from history are doomed to repeat it." See, what's really striking about the current situation is how few reporters seem to remember what happened in the 1990s.

    Most notably, the past few weeks have seen massive media attention paid to state budget deficits, and attempts by Republican governors like Chris Christie to blame out-of-control pension obligations for those deficits (even as they pursue deficit-increasing tax cuts.) A Google News search for the words "state budget pension deficit" in the past month yields 3,680 hits. News organizations like the Washington Post feature "States in crisis" special reports playing up "pension liabilities" as the source of the problem. And of course conservatives are eager to make that case, as Bill O'Reilly does in his latest column:

    Many states cannot pay health and pension benefits because the tax revenue is not nearly enough to cover expenses.

    Given how common that refrain is, and how many news stories there have been about New Jersey's pension system and its role in budget shortfalls, it's amazing how rarely Christine Whitman's name comes up.

    Whitman was one of those star Republican governors of the early 1990s. Like so many other Republican governors who win media attention for innovative approaches, she made her name through the not-so-innovative strategy of cutting taxes. Since she had to offset those tax cuts in order to balance New Jersey's budget, she reduced payments into the state's pension system. And that, as the New York Times noted last August, "contributed to the growth of the unfunded liability" that is now widely blamed for New Jersey's budget shortfall.

  • Andrew Malcolm, Hack

    Blog ››› ››› JAMISON FOSER

    After two years of stupidly mocking Vice President Joe Biden for his supposedly light workload, Los Angeles Times blogger/former Republican operative Andrew Malcolm has had an abrupt change of heart: Now he suggests Biden is doing everything, so that he can portray President Obama as lazy and aloof.

    What isn't Joe Biden in charge of these days?

    For someone who was brought on board the presidential train in 2008 to lend some experienced gravitas to the ex-state senator savior's ticket and add a humorous effing gaffe here and there, the vice president seems to be running most everything these days for this Democratic White House.

    Malcolm then rambles on, in typical Malcolm fashion, referring to Obama as "the Detached One" and posting photos of Obama talking on the telephone with his feet on his desk. It's run-of-the-mill Malcolm snark (which is to say: substance-free and barely coherent) except for the fact that it's the precise opposite of his prior mockery of Biden. And that's Andrew Malcolm in a nutshell: He's so fiercely devoted to mocking Democrats that he's willing to claim both that Joe Biden doesn't do anything and that he does everything.

    Oh, there's one other demonstration of Malcolm's hackishness: Here's how he describes Jay Carney:

    And then Biden's press secretary, Jay Carney, who used to work for a news weekly, facilitated Newsweek's cover story on how his boss was becoming so influential behind the scenes in the so-called Obama administration on crucial issues like Afghan strategy.

    Actually, Carney was Biden's communications director, but factual errors are generally the least of Malcolm's sins. Notice how Malcolm suggests that Carney's prior "work for a news weekly" afforded him undue sway over Newsweek, which he used to win a cover story about his boss? Notice how Malcolm doesn't tell you which "news weekly" Carney used to work for? That's because it wasn't Newsweek -- it was Newsweek's decades-long rival, Time. That little detail rather undermines Malcolm's implication, doesn't it? Fortunately, Andrew Malcolm knows what to do with facts that undermine his innuendo: He omits them.

  • No, Public Employee Unions Did Not Cause "Unprecedented Government Growth"

    Blog ››› ››› JAMISON FOSER

    Townhall's David Stokes writes:

    This brings us back around to public employee unions. President Kennedy signed an executive order in 1962 effectively lifting a long-standing ban against government employees organizing to bargain collectively. This, in fact, ushered in an era of unprecedented government growth at taxpayer expense.

    Just one problem: That did not happen.

    Here's a chart showing federal government spending as a share of GDP from 1900 to 2010, courtesy of the website USGovernmentSpending.com, which is maintained by right-wing writer Christopher Chantrill:

    Notice what it doesn't show? That's right: it does not show an "era of unprecedented government growth" following Kennedy's 1962 decision to lift the ban on collective bargaining by government employees.

  • Why Is CNN Paying So Much Attention To A Whites-Only Scholarship Organization With No Money And No Applicants?

    Blog ››› ››› JAMISON FOSER

    Earlier, I noted that last Tuesday, CNN gave airtime to Colby Bohannan, president of the Former Majority Association For Equality, a nonprofit that exists solely to give scholarships to white males -- and only white males. Bohannan and his group have enjoyed a flurry of media coverage in recent weeks despite the fact that as of February 24, the organization had been in existence for nearly a year, had not received a single scholarship application, and had raised less than $500.

    Though its website says the organization was incorporated in March of 2010, FMAE doesn't show up in any news reports available on Nexis prior to February 25, 2011,* when the Austin American-Statesman profiled the organization:

    The 501(c)3 nonprofit was formally incorporated with the state in March. The group hasn't received any applications, Bohannan said.

    A search of public records indicates Bohannan pleaded no contest to charges of theft of property of less than $500 in 2001 and of issuance of a bad check in 2003. William Lake , the group's treasurer, pleaded no contest to issuance of a bad check in 2008.

    Bohannan said he was charged with theft after authorities found a county speed limit sign in his Texas State dorm room and with writing a bad check for groceries, also while in college. Lake said he was charged with writing a bad check while managing a now-defunct business he started. Both said the charges have been disposed of.

    Bohannan said the group is raising money — as of Monday, the group had raised $485, according to its website — and that he hopes to award scholarships by July 4. The money can be used to go to any college, not just Texas State, Bohannan said.

    Bohannan's group isn't the first to offer scholarships only for white students. In 2006, Boston University's College Republicans created a program with similar requirements. A Republican group at a university in Rhode Island offered a similar award in 2004.

    So in nearly a year of existence, Bohannan's group had raised only $485 and hadn't awarded a single scholarship or even gotten a single application. And there's nothing innovative about the group: It's been done before.

    And yet several media outlets, led by CNN, decided that Bohannan and his organization were worthy of coverage.

    On February 28, CNN's Christine Romans interviewed Bohannan. She didn't interview or quote anyone who disapproves of Bohanna's actions. On March 1, Romans repeatedly played clips of Bohannan and devoted a segment to asking CNN contributor Erick Erickson and guest April Ryan about it. On March 4, a CNN.com article used Bohannan's Former Majority Association for Equality as evidence of "signs of racial anxiety" and "A growing number of white Americans are acting like a racially oppressed majority." On March 5, Romans again played a clip of her interview of Bohannan and asked guests Michelle Rhee, Bill Bennett, and Harold Meyerson about it.

    Though CNN has led the way in covering this obscure organization, it isn't alone. Fox News has devoted a segment to it, as has Fox Radio's Alan Colmes. Townhall.com has covered it, along with ABC News, Reuters, a Colorado CBS affiliate, the Texas Tribune, and New American magazine.

    That last one isn't surprising: The New American is a publication of The John Birch Society. The question is why news organizations like Reuters and -- especially -- CNN think a tiny organization with no money that's never awarded a scholarship deserves all this attention?

    * The March 4 CNN.com article appears in Nexis dated December 21, 2010, but this appears to be an error; the article has a Nexis load-date of March 5.

  • CNN's Erickson Endorses Whites-Only Scholarship, Suggests Women Have Always Had Equal Opportunity

    Blog ››› ››› JAMISON FOSER

    CNN drew criticism last Friday for an article headlined "Are whites racially oppressed?" In addition to legitimizing "pro-White" commentators James Edwards and Peter Brimelow, the article quoted the president of a Texas group called "Former Majority Association for Equality" that exists solely to provide college scholarships to white men. FMAE president Colby Bohannan told CNN, "There was no one for white males until we came around."

    As it turns out, that wasn't the first attention CNN gave Bohannan and the Former Majority Association for Equality. On Tuesday, March 1, CNN posted an interview with Bohannan on its web page, then devoted two segments to it during that day's edition of CNN Newsroom. During that coverage, CNN contributor Erick Erickson endorsed the FMAE's white-men-only scholarships:

    CHRISTINE ROMANS, CNN ANCHOR: What do you think, Erick? Isn't this just another in a multitude of specific scholarships for lots of different kinds of people?

    ERICK ERICKSON, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: Oh, absolutely. It is. If we're going to get rid of scholarships for African-Americans and get rid of scholarships for Hispanics and get rid of scholarships for Asians and get rid of scholarships for women, then let's get rid of the scholarships. But if we're not going to get rid of those, then let's keep this one.

    Erickson then suggested that women, Hispanics, and Asians have not been historically disadvantaged in America:

    ROMANS: But Erick, don't you think


    this is a little bit different. Because we have a history that's tortured and painful in this country that makes, even today when you start talking about a white-male only scholarship it makes people kind of cringe. Because there was a time when white men frankly ruled this country and had all of the access, and the reason why we have all of these --

    (CROSSTALK)

    ERICKSON: Absolutely. But they don't anymore. You can justify that, for example, a scholarship for African-Americans, given the history of this country. But can you for Asians or Hispanics or for women? Now we've reached the point in Texas, at least, where the white men are no longer the majority in Texas.

    In addition to Erickson's endorsement of the white-men-only scholarship, CNN's Newsroom coverage of the topic was noticeably unbalanced. CNN twice played video clips of Bohannan, but did not air or quote any comments by opposing advocates or experts. Five times during the broadcast, CNN anchor Christine Romans read reader comments left on CNN's web page in support of the scholarship; she only read an opposing comment once. Romans repeatedly characterized CNN readers' response to the whites-only scholarships as overwhelmingly positive without noting that there is absolutely no reason to think that comments left on a blog are a representative sample of anything. Romans even claimed "The vast majority of the comments we got on the blog support the scholarship, and these are people of all different ages and races," suggesting that support for whites-only scholarship is strong among all demographics. But she had no way of knowing that the blog comments (which aren't a representative sample of anything anyway) really were from "people of all different ages and races."

    Though CNN didn't quote or refer to any experts or advocates who disagree with Bohannan, an ABC News article last week quoted a spokesman for the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board noting that Bohannan's central premise is flawed:

    "Our largest state-funded financial aid program is the Texas Grants program, and in 2009 we served about 63,000 students," said Dominic Chavez at the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board, which promotes greater access to higher education in the state.

    "I am not sure I accept the premise that these programs are targeting students of color," Chavez said. "These programs are targeted to poor Texans. There is no consideration of race [or] ethnicity for the allocation of these awards."

    The board's goal is to increase enrollment of every single ethnic group in higher education by 5.7 percent -- that includes whites as well as blacks, Asians and Hispanics, said Chavez, who pointed out that college enrollment rates are down among males across all ethnic groups.

  • Under Pressure, CNN Tries (And Fails) To Distance Itself From Erick Erickson

    Blog ››› ››› JAMISON FOSER

    Looks like someone at CNN told contributor Erick Erickson to post an update to his smear of Washington Post reporter Greg Sargent, detailed here yesterday. Unfortunately, Erickson's update is just further nonsense, but I won't go into that here -- if you're interested, just read Erickson's update along with my post from yesterday and Sargent's.

    Erickson's continued dishonesty about what Sargent wrote isn't really the interesting part -- after all, continued dishonesty is an Erickson specialty. The interesting part is the editor's note at the end of the update:

    Editor's Note: The blog is a place for a freewheeling exchange of ideas and opinions. CNN does not endorse anything said by its contributors.

    It's great that CNN is starting to feel some heat over its relationship with Erickson, but this doesn't fly. Erickson's CNN-hosted attack on Sargent wasn't an "exchange of ideas," it was a one-sided hit job. Even the update isn't an "exchange of ideas and opinions" -- if it was, it would contain some views of what happened other than Erickson's.

    And the part about CNN not endorsing anything its contributors say? There are a few problems with that. CNN pays Erick Erickson. It gives him a television and internet platform. It promotes his comments. CNN's John King invites Erickson to attack liberals, then adopts Erickson's attacks in his own reporting. And in doing so, King ignores Erickson's history of doing the very things he attacks liberals for.

    CNN can't credibly claim Erickson is just part of a "freewheeling exchange of ideas" when it treats him with kid gloves. And it can't credibly say it doesn't endorse his comments when John King invites him to level hypocritical attacks on liberals, then amplifies those attacks, all without questioning Erickson about the hypocrisy. Repeatedly.

    If CNN wants to distance itself from Erickson, it's going to have to do better than this.

  • CNN And John King Have A Growing Erick Erickson Problem

    Blog ››› ››› JAMISON FOSER

    Washington Post reporter Greg Sargent notes that John King's CNN blog has posted a bogus attack on Sargent by CNN contributor Erick Erickson. Erickson pretends Sargent "encourag[ed] unions in Wisconsin to get violent," which, as Sargent ably explains, is nonsense. In fact, even Erickson acknowledges that Sargent was being sarcastic, though he does not seem to grasp the fact that Sargent was tweaking conservatives who have been so eager to decry union violence that they seem to be rooting for it to occur, just so they have something to complain about.

    Anyway, Sargent doesn't need my help debunking Erickson's silly claims. And, as Sargent notes, the bigger problem is that CNN and John King are giving those silly claims a platform:

    This kind of misdirection and and sleight of hand, of course, is par for the course for a huckster like Erickson. But you'd think King and the professional journalists at CNN would check out the facts of the matter before disseminating such an incendiary charge, particularly given Erickson's track record.

    At bottom this is another cautionary tale, akin to the recent episodes involving Andrew Breitbart, about what happens when real news organizations let people like Erickson smuggle their complete absence of standards onto their platform. I'm assuming King and the other reputable journalists at CNN are unaware of what Erickson did here, since it's hard to imagine they'd be okay with CNN.com enabling Erickson's efforts to smear another reporter for political reasons.

    Now, here's what's really appalling about all this: CNN and John King are promoting Erick Erickson's false claims about Sargent without noting Erickson's own history of violent rhetoric. This is becoming something of a habit for King and CNN, who have repeatedly invited Erickson to denounce rhetoric coming from liberals, all while politely avoiding mention of Erickson's own track record. Which, for those who are unfamiliar with Erickson's work, includes talking about pulling shotguns on government officials and beating state legislators to a "bloody pulp for being an idiot."

    So, to sum up: CNN and John King are ignoring CNN contributor Erick Erickson's history of violent rhetoric, even as they invite him to criticize liberals' rhetoric and promote his falsehoods about Sargent.