Lawsuit Could Have Major Impact on Political Donations
By Doug Porter
The UT-SD reports today (on its front page, even!) about a lawsuit naming Qualcomm filed in New York state seeking to force more corporate disclosure about spending on political activities.
While the 2010 ‘Citizens United’ case ruling by Supreme Court said that the First Amendment prohibited the government from limiting political spending by corporations, this lawsuit take a distinctly different approach to corporate political activity. It seeks disclosure on the basis of shareholder’s need to know about management activities in publicly held companies.
While Qualcomm is often thought of as one of the ‘good guys’ in the corporate political activity arena, the action by New York state’s comptroller could prove to be a landmark case in determining just how far corporations have to go in disclosing spending on political activities.
Of course the UT-SD found a local Republican to go on the record, calling the lawsuit frivolous and saying that the status quo is just peachy as far as he was concerned.
An Important Media Development
Al Jazeera’s acquisition of Current TV is potentially good news for American news consumers. I am an absolute advocate of including the foreign press in my mix of daily news, and find it refreshing that not everybody feels the need to hew to the ‘meme du jour’ touted by the largely conservative domestic press.
For those of you who don’t know, Current TV was a joint effort between Al Gore and (legal beagle) Joel Hyatt aimed at bringing more liberal viewpoints to the domestic spread of cable TV choices. It was poorly managed, underfunded and plagued with controversy. In the end, despite being available in 40 million households, media scuttlebutt has it that their programming was lucky to be drawing over 50,000 viewers.
The LA Times and others in the news media were quick to pooh-pooh the deal, which will finally give the international operation access to consumers on at least some sort of national scale. Here’s the LAT headline:
Al Jazeera’s bid to expand U.S. audience may be a tough sell
By acquiring Current TV, the Qatar news service gains access to more than 40 million homes. But its reputation may keep Americans from tuning in, experts say.
Of course the real story is in down in the detail of the LAT account:
Although only available on television in a handful of U.S. cities, Al Jazeera English has built a loyal following among decision makers in Washington. Former Secretary of State Colin Powell told Gore that Al Jazeera is the only cable news network he watches, according to Hyatt. As part of the plans to build Al Jazeera America, the company will phase out Al Jazeera English service from U.S. TV and Internet.
Despite its reputation in Washington, Al Jazeera has struggled for more than a decade with charges that its coverage of global terrorism was either anti-American or even pro-Al Qaeda.
“The Bush administration framed Al Jazeera as a platform for terrorists, and that perception has not changed in the minds of average Americans who don’t know much about Al Jazeera or that part of the world,” said Mohammed el-Nawawy, a professor at the Knight School of Communication at Queens University of Charlotte, N.C., and author of “Al-Jazeera: The Story of the Network That Is Rattling Governments and Redefining Modern Journalism.” “There continues to be a stigma surrounding the network.”
Now let’s quote Secretary of State Hilary Clinton, speaking to a Senate Foreign Affairs panel in 2011 on Al Jazeera:
“Viewership of Al Jazeera is going up in the United States because it’s real news. You may not agree with it, but you feel like you’re getting real news around the clock instead of millions of commercials and, you know, arguments between talking heads and the kind of stuff that we do on our news which, you know, is not particularly informative to us, let alone foreigners.
And then there this view from The Baltimore Sun:
What’s important is that Al Jazeera has found a way into an estimated 40 million American homes through the purchase of Gore’s mismanaged channel, and that is a good thing – a very good thing.
In fact, the cable industry’s success in keeping Al Jazeera English off all but a handful of systems in the U.S. was one of the great wrongs of American media. And no one, it seems, wanted to address it. Media critics who looked the other way for whatever reasons should be ashamed.
The lack of access to Al Jazeera English on cable TV makes me wonder what kind of sheep we are as media consumers — and what kind of mice we have as media critics that cable companies can get away with not offering this option even as they they offer a sea of channels devoted to shopping and reruns of lame network shows from previous decades.
So, it will take a while for the planned upgrading this news channel to occur, but I urge you to keep this in mind for future reference. Al Jazeera’s makeover includes renaming the network Al Jazeera America with a heavy focus on international coverage. They plan on doubling Current TV’s staff to more than 300 and plan to have 10 bureaus in the United States to complement its international reporting. Al Jazeera already has more than 80 bureaus and more than 400 reporters around the world.
They can be found on Dish Network, DirecTV, and AT&T (Channel 189). Time-Warner dropped the channel before the ink was dry on the sale. Cox doesn’t carry it. Oh, and the disappointed suitor who didn’t get the sale was none other than wingnut Glen Beck.
Obamacare Succeeds in a Small Way
I couldn’t help but notice the story over at UT-San Diego story about Medicare payments to local hospitals (Latest Medicare numbers bring ups, downs for local hospitals). The gist of the coverage was simple; hospitals are now being paid according to a formula that includes performance and quality of care standards.
What you won’t see in the story is the word ‘Obamacare’. And you won’t see anything about how this program is part of the $715 billion in ‘cuts’ to Medicare touted by GOP candidates in the most recent election cycle.
I’m not saying that mention of either should have been included in the story by the writer. What I am doing is calling attention to one of the beneficial parts of the President’s Affordable Health Care Act, something that the conserve types (including the editorial board of the UT-SD) will never admit to.
The insanity of our corporate health care system isn’t over. But things just got a little bit better for both patients and taxpayers.
The 112th Congress may have closed up shop without voting on relief for victims of Hurricane Sandy, but the hullabaloo over that inaction did nothing towards re-ordering the priorities of the 113th Congress.
As soon as the new Congress was gaveled into session, Rep. Michelle Bachman was there, ready to introduce the very first piece of legislation of this year to repeal the Affordable Care Act. From Think Progress:
House Republicans have unsuccessfully voted 33 times in the last two years to eliminate health care reform and wasted at least 88 hours and $50 million, while failing to pass a single piece of job creation legislation in the last session of Congress.
Dozens of Republicans, including 2012 presidential candidate Mitt Romney, ran against Obamacare, yet the party suffered losses every step along the way. The Supreme Court upheldthe law, House repeal efforts went nowhere in the Democratically-controlled Senate, and President Obama has pledged to veto any effort to rescind the measure. Even newly reelected Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) was compelled to admit in November that Obamacare is now the law of the land (though he later backed away from his own comments and pledged to do everything in his power to undermine it).
Oops, They Did It Again at the UT
Our local daily, in its quest to make all things Democratic look bad, picked up on the gospel of Rep. Darrell Issa with an editorial today decrying the ‘pork laden’ bill before the House that’s supposed to provide aid for victims of Hurricane Sandy. Speaker John Boehner’s refusal to bring the matter up for a vote prior to the close of the session sparked a firestorm among politicos from both parties.
The editorial scribes at UT-SD proceed to provide a grocery list of egregious add-ons supposedly in the bill to prove their point:
For years, the president has said that spending has to be brought in line with available revenue. But instead of laying out the options for the public and starting a needed national debate on how to change our course, Obama has chosen to pretend that the crisis could be resolved if only rich people paid more in taxes.
The president got higher taxes on the rich in the fiscal cliff showdown. Now will he stop the pretending and finally seek to limit federal spending? Unfortunately, given Obama’s embrace of Reid’s relief-bill porkfest, it’s impossible to be optimistic.
And then the UT-San Diego editorial proceeds to tell us that any disaster relief efforts should be paid for ‘with matching cuts in existing federal spending to keep down the deficit’. Presumably, according to the gospel of Manchester’s minions, these matching cuts would be taken from either Medicare or Social Security and not, God-forbid, the defense budget or government support for oil companies.
There’s only one small problem with the editorial. The bill in question isn’t before the House of Representatives. The House split Sandy relief into two bills, one for short term aid (passed today) and another (to be voted on January 15th) with money for long-term projects.
Let’s quote New York’s GOP Congressman Peter King (again, we quoted this yesterday):
First of all, with all due respect, Darrell Issa is 1,000 percent wrong. There is absolutely no pork in the bill. There were some items that were added in the senate involving Alaska, which is less than one percent of the bill. Even though it’s only one percent of the bill, every one of those items was removed from the House bill and I wish Darrell Issa had learned that and looked into that before he went public and said that my constitituents should not get their homes rebuilt, should not have the waste management plants rebuild, that Gov. [Chris] Christie should not be given the opportunity to rebuild New Jersey and Gov. [Andrew] Cuomo in New York.
Facts. Dammed inconvenient, aren’t they?
NOON, Friday…UPDATE: The House passed (and the Senate concurred) a 9.7 billion act today. The remaining aid money will be voted on later this month.
Birthers on a Rampage
The WorldNetDaily has long served as an editorial refuge for Teahadists, Birthers and others of the wingnut persuasion. A measure of their desperation following Democratic victories in the fall elections comes from regular contributor Craige McMillan, who’s published an ‘open letter’ calling on Supreme Court Chief Justice John Roberts to refuse to administer the oath of office to President Obama later this month. His argument, followed by a not so thinly veiled threat:
Now that Mr. Obama has been re-elected and is preparing to serve a second term of office, there can be no doubt regarding his qualifications. This is because by Mr. Obama’s own admission, his father was of Kenyan nationality and perhaps holding British citizenship as well.
In addition to the nationality of Mr. Obama Sr. listed on Barack Obama’s birth certificate, we know that Obama Sr. was not an American citizen because of correspondence surrounding his stay in this country.
Because Obama Sr. lacked American citizenship, Barack Obama is not a natural born citizen, as required by our Constitution. He is not natural born, and can never be natural born, because of his father. Therefore, Barack Obama is not qualified to be president and never will be qualified. This would still be true, even if he received every vote cast.
Your own oath of office, sworn before God and the American people, requires you to uphold the Constitution. (If not you, then who?) If you now administer the oath of office for the presidency to a man who by his own admission fails to meet the natural born citizen requirement imposed by that Constitution, you have violated your own oath of office and are rightly subject to impeachment by any House of Representatives, at any time, now or in the future.
Apparently Mr. McMillan missed the memo about Justice Roberts being part of the Islamacist/Socialist/Fascist cabal after the Supremes upheld Obamacare last year. And he also missed out on a buttload of case law upholding the notion that, under the 14th Amendment, everyone born in this country is automatically a citizen.
FYI- Obama will actually have to take the oath twice this year. Since January 20 is a Sunday, Obama will be sworn in for a second term in private that morning and in public the next morning. The Obama Inaugural Store is open on the web for those of you desiring to buy gifts that will drive your wingnut uncles crazy. (h/t Christian Dem in NC)
More Birther Madness
Meanwhile in Sacramento yesterday, U.S. District Court Judge Morrison C. England rejected a petition for a temporary restraining order filed by birther queen (and dentist, real estate agent and attorney) Orly Taitz, who was seeking to overturn President Obama’s election. She’s lost challenges in several states seeking to prove that Obama is not a U.S. citizen. From the Associated Press:
The motion cited three would-be candidates for president who claimed they would be harmed if Congress counted the Electoral College votes taken in December, but Assistant U.S. Attorney Edward Olsen said none of the candidates could show they were on the ballot in any state. One is serving a federal prison sentence, he said.
“Even if this is all true in their wildest hopes … they haven’t presented any evidence to show that he is not a natural born citizen,” Olsen added.
Taitz appeared to be upset after the hearing as supporters filed past her to thank her for pursuing the case, some calling her a “hero,” and others saying the judge’s decision was evidence of socialism.
Crime at the Gas Pump
Mother Jones is out with a must-read story about the links between the sale of leaded gasoline and crime rates in the United States. It’s an eye opener.
Reporter Kevin Drum tells us about new research finding lead to be the hidden villain behind violent crime, lower IQs, and even the ADHD epidemic. This quote ought to be enough to tease you into reading the story:
Experts often suggest that crime resembles an epidemic. But what kind? Karl Smith, a professor of public economics and government at the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill, has a good rule of thumb for categorizing epidemics: If it spreads along lines of communication, he says, the cause is information. Think Bieber Fever. If it travels along major transportation routes, the cause is microbial. Think influenza. If it spreads out like a fan, the cause is an insect. Think malaria. But if it’s everywhere, all at once—as both the rise of crime in the ’60s and ’70s and the fall of crime in the ’90s seemed to be—the cause is a molecule.
A molecule? That sounds crazy. What molecule could be responsible for a steep and sudden decline in violent crime?
Well, here’s one possibility: Pb(CH2CH3)4.
On This Day: 1936 – The first pop music chart based on national sales was published by “Billboard” magazine. 1965 – In his State of the Union address, President Johnson proclaimed the building of the “Great Society.” 1974 – President Nixon refused to hand over tape recordings and documents subpoenaed by the Senate Watergate Committee.
Eat Fresh! Today’s Farmers’ Markets: Fallbrook (102 S. Main, at Alvarado) 10 am – 2 pm, Imperial Beach (Seacoast Dr. at Pier Plaza) 2 – 7:30 pm, Kearny Mesa (No. Island Credit Union pkg lot 5898 Copley) 10:30 am – 1:30 pm, La Mesa Village (Corner of Spring St. and University) 2 – 6 pm, Rancho Bernardo (Bernardo Winery parking lot 13330 Paseo del Verano Norte) 9 am – noon, Southeast San Diego (4981 Market St. West of Euclid Ave. Trolley Station) 2 – 6 pm
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