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Current location: Florida
Member since: Mon Sep 6, 2004, 08:54 PM
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Journal Archives

How the New York Times Enables Right-Wing Spin


How the New York Times Enables Right-Wing Spin
Its op-ed editors are played for fools by the right’s propagandists.
by Robert Kuttner
December 7, 2021

The New York Times has a dilemma. It is both our national paper of record and a paper with a basically liberal editorial stance. Unlike the right-wing press, the Times prizes factual accuracy in its news reporting. So, as good liberals who believe in presenting both sides of a controversy, how to offer space on the op-ed page to conservative viewpoints without sacrificing its core commitment to facts?

Given the tendency of an increasing fraction of conservatives to dwell in the realm of delusion, this goal is not easy. But the Times is bungling it by publishing op-eds by writers who are disingenuous about who they are and what they are selling, as well as intellectually dishonest.

The Times needs a better filter to detect factual whoppers and hidden agendas. Otherwise, it just enables right-wing propaganda. And of course, the placement of an op-ed in the Times by a publicist is pure gold.

As the old saying goes, you are entitled to your own opinion; you are not entitled to your own facts. The American Prospect at any given time employs three interns. Their primary assignment is fact-checking. The Times has far more interns than we do. Even opinion pieces need to be checked for basic factual accuracy. Judging by what gets into the paper, the Times doesn’t do that, or doesn’t do it well.


It’s an old problem. Robert Frost famously said that a liberal is the man who is too broadminded to take his own side in a quarrel. It’s not the Times’ fault there are so few intellectually honest conservatives. But the paper needs a better BS detector.
Posted by babylonsister | Tue Dec 7, 2021, 12:03 PM (4 replies)

Jamie Raskin's Year of Grief and Purpose

Jamie Raskin’s Year of Grief and Purpose
A son’s suicide, an attack on the Capitol and a congressman’s renewed sense of mission
A family photo of Raskin and son Tommy, who died by suicide last year at age 25.
By Caitlin Gibson
December 6, 2021


It was chaos, but Raskin watched it unfold with a strange sense of remove, a clarity of focus; he did not feel the visceral fear that gripped so many others around him. He would come to make sense of this later: What was there to be afraid of when the worst thing imaginable had already happened to him?

The day before, on an overcast winter morning, Raskin had stood surrounded by his family at a cemetery in Montgomery County, Md., and watched as the casket cradling his 25-year-old son, Thomas Bloom Raskin, was lowered into the ground. Tommy, as he was known to all who loved him, a student at Harvard Law School, had died by suicide on the morning of New Year’s Eve. “Al mekomo yavo veshalom,” Rabbi Jonathan Roos said to the family gathered there — May he go in peace — and then they took turns shoveling dirt into the grave. The hollow thud of frozen earth striking wood was followed by the wails of Raskin’s wife and two daughters, and these, too, were sounds he would not forget.


“I think a lot of colleagues were saying, ‘Jamie is dealing with his grief by throwing himself into the impeachment and the trial,’ which didn’t quite capture it for me,” Raskin tells me. “Tommy was a passionately political and moral person, and fascism is probably the one thing he hated in his life. I knew he would want me to fight for our family and our country, and so I felt that he was with me, in my chest, in my heart. I felt it physically, and I felt it ethically.”

He is still trying to make sense of the intersection of these disparate tragedies — how, at the end of one awful year and the beginning of another, he suddenly found himself reeling from back-to-back calamities, each the outcome of something long-simmering beneath the surface. “The truth is that I see those two terrible, traumatic events as very intertwined in my life,” Raskin says. “In a cosmic sense, they were logically independent of each other. But in my life, they are inextricably bound.”

Please forgive me, Tommy had written in his final hours. My illness won today. Please look after each other, the animals, and the global poor for me. All my love, Tommy.

“My road map for the rest of my life,” Raskin has said of his son’s farewell message. For those who didn’t know Tommy, who weren’t acquainted with the full reach of his empathy, his unwavering focus on justice and morality, it might be difficult to understand how Jamie Raskin sees it: The work of defending a vulnerable democracy is not a distraction from the staggering depths of his grief, but rather a channeling, a place to direct all the love for his child who is no longer here to receive it.


Posted by babylonsister | Tue Dec 7, 2021, 08:30 AM (1 replies)

Angela Merkel Leaves German Politics After 16 Years


Angela Merkel Leaves German Politics After 16 Years
Barbie Latza Nadeau
Published Dec. 07, 2021 5:01AM ET

Germany’s first female leader, Angela Merkel, a center-right Christian Democrat, has officially left office after her successor Olaf Scholz signed a coalition agreement, ending a storied 16-year tenure. Merkel, who grew up in communist East Germany, was sworn into office Nov. 22, 2005 and ruled the country through turbulent times. The former scientist has become a role model for many young German women and was just a week shy of breaking the record held by Helmut Kohl as Germany’s longest-serving leader. Merkel, 67, outlasted four U.S. presidents, four French presidents, five British prime ministers and eight Italian prime ministers including Silvio Berlusconi, who once called her an “unfuckable lard ass.” Merkel said she was leaving office at a time of great difficulty for her country, which is the epicenter of the current European pandemic wave. “We have been able to overcome many crises in a spirit of respect, in an effort always to find common solutions,” she said Monday. “But we also have a series of unresolved problems, and there are big unfinished tasks for my successor.”
Posted by babylonsister | Tue Dec 7, 2021, 08:03 AM (0 replies)

How Biden Is Reshaping The Courts


How Biden Is Reshaping The Courts
December 7, 2021 at 6:42 am EST By Taegan Goddard

FiveThirtyEight: “When he took over, 30 percent of active federal judges had been appointed by Trump. He also had just 49 federal court vacancies to fill at that point — less than half the number that Trump started with.”

“But Biden campaigned on offsetting Trump’s conservative stamp by nominating judges from diverse backgrounds, and he’s gotten more judicial nominees confirmed through the Senate than any president at this point in his first term in decades. Almost half of the 61 judges he’s nominated to the lower courts have been confirmed — a larger share than Trump or former President Barack Obama — although there’s been far less consensus in the Senate about Biden’s picks.”

“But perhaps even more significantly, Biden has delivered on his promise of diversity in a big way. According to our analysis, the vast majority of the judges who have been confirmed under his presidency are women or people of color. And the judges he’s named to the courts also have nontraditional professional backgrounds.”
Posted by babylonsister | Tue Dec 7, 2021, 07:03 AM (15 replies)

Republican Idiot Brigade Debuts Dumbest COVID Claims Yet


Republican Idiot Brigade Debuts Dumbest COVID Claims Yet
Marjorie Taylor Greene, for one, has suggested cancer is as transmissible as COVID, while Matt Gaetz wants people to actively contract the virus.
By Bess Levin
December 6, 2021

Something you’ve probably picked up on over the course of the last 21 months is that Republicans have a lot of extremely stupid things to say about COVID-19. Unfortunately, since the pandemic has lasted longer than anyone could have imagined, conservatives have had to up their game re: the absurd things coming out of their mouths, from just stupid to historically moronic. And unlike ensuring that women are able to decide what to do with their own bodies or that democracy lives to see another day, this is a challenge they have been more than willing to take up, rolling out an official idiot brigade of commentary that belongs in a study of people who’ve suffered traumatic head injuries.

Take Marjorie Taylor Greene, a congresswoman who needs no introduction, though, just for yucks, we’ll simply say the words “Jewish space laser.” Over the weekend she took to Twitter, and in a thread meant to argue against COVID public health measures, she suggested cancer is similarly airborne. “Every single year more than 600,000 people in the US die from cancer. The country has never once shut down. Not a single school has closed,” the conspiracy theorist wrote. “And every year, over 600,000 people, of all ages and all races will continue to die from cancer.” She continued: “Since #COVID19 tracking has started, 780,000+ people have died in 22 mo [months] in the US, but more than 1 million still died of cancer,” adding, “More have died in 2021 from covid than 2020 in spite of Gov [government] mandated widespread vaccines, mass public masking, & trillions spent. It’s time to take a different approach based on the facts. Covid predominately targets obese & older people. Shutdowns, masking, and vaccines are not stopping covid, that is just government control. Ivermectin, monoclonal antibodies, & other treatments are saving lives.”

While vulnerable people like the elderly are at increased risk of a severe COVID case, the virus does not actually discriminate against whom it transmits to; as The Independent notes, because the virus exists in droplets, masking is a proven way to protect oneself, while ivermectin, often used as a livestock dewormer, is not. While Greene initially claimed that being asked to reveal her vaccination status was a HIPAA violation, she later bragged she hadn’t been inoculated because “I’m an American.“ She also relishes the theater of refusing to wear a mask on the job, having racked up more than $60,000 in fines for not doing so in Congress, a mandate she has compared to those of the Holocaust. “You know, we can look back at a time in history where people were told to wear a gold star,” she said in May. “And they were definitely treated like second-class citizens, so much so that they were put on trains and taken to gas chambers in Nazi Germany, and this is exactly the type of abuse that [House Speaker] Nancy Pelosi is talking about.”

What other tidbits of COVID advice did Republicans dole out this weekend? Well, on Saturday, Rep. Matt Gaetz suggested that people would be better off contracting the virus.
Posted by babylonsister | Mon Dec 6, 2021, 07:47 PM (2 replies)

Dana Milbank Proves Biden Coverage Is As Negative As Trump's


Dana Milbank Proves Biden Coverage Is As Negative As Trump's
And of course, some media types are insisting it's not true.
By Susie Madrak — December 6, 2021

See, this story alone proves why you should support our fund drive. Because media bias is such an insidious thing, and it's sites like ours that keep it front and center.

Washington Post columnist Dana Milbank, who's really done some great work during the Trump era, wrote a column this weekend that really shouldn't be controversial -- but it is. His fellow journalists are pulling the wagons in a circle and insisting it's not true.

It isn’t just Politico. My impression of other outlets’ coverage of President Biden had been much the same: unrelentingly negative. Was it my imagination?

No, it wasn’t.

Artificial intelligence can now measure the negativity with precision. At my request, Forge.ai, a data analytics unit of the information company FiscalNote, combed through more than 200,000 articles — tens of millions of words — from 65 news websites (newspapers, network and cable news, political publications, news wires and more) to do a “sentiment analysis” of coverage. Using algorithms that give weight to certain adjectives based on their placement in the story, it rated the coverage Biden received in the first 11 months of 2021 and the coverage President Donald Trump got in the first 11 months of 2020.

The findings, painstakingly assembled by FiscalNote vice president Bill Frischling, confirmed my fear: My colleagues in the media are serving as accessories to the murder of democracy.

Yep. Turns out, Biden’s press coverage for the past four months has been as bad as — and for a time worse than — the coverage Trump received for the same four months of 2020.

Let that sink in. Joe Biden is being treated the same as Trump, whose criminal behavior was a daily occurrence in plain view.

Politico's Ryan Lizza played defense:

Not sure why @ryanlizza is bragging about Politico being “neutral” between democracy and authoritarianism, between truth and lies. (1) https://t.co/A9As0Zb6zv

— Dana Milbank (@Milbank) December 5, 2021

Twitter denizens like Dan Froomkin and Margaret Sullivan sided with Milbank:

It’s not just @Milbank’s *opinion* … He’s got the numbers https://t.co/z3K7e6v7HV pic.twitter.com/XAUcSnUy8J

— 💫 Margaret Sullivan (@Sulliview) December 4, 2021

The most important part in examining media bias is story selection. What they cover and, more importantly, what they choose to ignore

— Joe Lockhart (@joelockhart) December 4, 2021

Now, bloggers knew from the very beginning not to trust Politico. (I still remember their sad little booth at a D.C. conference where they were trying to sign people up.) And to this day, I still cringe when I have to cite them for a story.

But as Milbank points out in his piece, none of the major publications get bragging rights when it comes to Biden coverage. So no, you're not crazy, they really are trying to create false equivalency between Biden and the fascist. And as we know, people care about what the media tells them to care about.
Posted by babylonsister | Mon Dec 6, 2021, 08:02 AM (24 replies)

Chuck Todd Blames Democrats For GOP Anti-Vax Agendas


Chuck Todd Blames Democrats For GOP Anti-Vax Agendas
NBC Meet the Press host Chuck Todd declined to criticize Republican governors with anti-vaccination agendas while he blamed Democratic President Joe Biden and his administration for not pushing vaccine mandates hard enough.
Video @ link~
By David — December 5, 2021

NBC Meet the Press host Chuck Todd declined to criticize Republican governors with anti-vaccination agendas while he blamed Democratic President Joe Biden and his administration for not pushing vaccine mandates hard enough.

"I feel like they've been pretty reluctant to go back and put this front and center until this week when I think the Omicron variant made it impossible for them not to do it this way," Todd said during a promotion for Meet the Press. "What are they going to do to push back on anti-vaccine mandate pushback. There they have done -- they have not defended their vaccine mandate. It's a soft mandate. They've allowed sort of the right to dictate the messaging on that."

"They're also telling us they want to have more tests available," he continued. "That's a promise that goes back two presidencies now. We've been promised more available testing, quicker, faster, at-home for over -- for now almost two years -- basically for the entire pandemic -- and we're still not there."

Despite Todd's complaint, PCR tests are widely available from CVS and other pharmacies.
Posted by babylonsister | Mon Dec 6, 2021, 07:56 AM (20 replies)

NASA gave Jeff Bezos money to build his office park in space


NASA gave Jeff Bezos money to build his office park in space
Blue Origin thinks all kinds of companies will want some space in space.
By Rebecca Heilweil Updated Dec 3, 2021, 10:49am EST

Blue Origin wants to build a commercial space station that NASA astronauts could eventually visit. Courtesy of NASA

After more than two decades in orbit, NASA is preparing to retire the International Space Station. The habitable satellite only has permission to operate until 2024, and while it’s likely that the space station’s funding could be extended until 2028, NASA plans to decommission the ISS and find a replacement by the end of the decade. Cue Jeff Bezos.

The billionaire’s spaceflight company, Blue Origin, has proposed a new commercial space station called Orbital Reef, which would provide a “mixed use business park” in space. This concept now has the support of NASA. The agency announced on Thursday that it would award Blue Origin and its partner companies $130 million to develop the space station, which NASA hopes will launch before 2030.


NASA doesn’t mind the corporate takeover of low-Earth orbit. The agency’s first space station, SkyLab, was only in orbit for a few months before NASA let the vehicle descend and decompose into the atmosphere. The space agency has been weighing defunding the ISS, which is full of aging hardware, for several years, and NASA’s investment in Orbital Reef is part of more than $400 million in funding that the agency has set aside to develop new, privately built and operated space stations through its Commercial LEO Destinations program.

Eventually, NASA hopes that it can send its astronauts to these stations instead of paying to maintain the ISS. Overall, the plan could save the government more than $1 billion every year.
Posted by babylonsister | Sat Dec 4, 2021, 11:53 PM (3 replies)

The religious right wants states' tax dollars, and the Supreme Court is likely to agree

The religious right wants states’ tax dollars, and the Supreme Court is likely to agree
An emboldened religious right wants the public to pay for its schools.
By Ian Millhiser Dec 2, 2021, 8:30am EST

The plaintiffs in Carson v. Makin, a case being heard next Wednesday, December 8, begin their brief to the Supreme Court with an absolutely ridiculous historical comparison.

“In the 19th century, Maine’s public schools expelled students for adhering to their faith,” they claim, citing one example of a Catholic student expelled for not completing lessons off a Protestant bible. Now, according to the brief, Maine is committing a similarly repugnant sin against religious people by refusing to pay state residents’ tuition at private religious schools.

Under this reasoning, there is no relevant difference between denying a public education to a Catholic student and refusing to pay for private religious education. “The times are different,” the plaintiffs’ brief claims, “but the result is the same: denial of educational opportunity through religious discrimination.”

Carson, in other words, represents a significant escalation in the war over whether the government can enact policies of which religious people — and religious conservatives on the Supreme Court — disapprove. It moves the battleground from whether religious conservatives can seek exemptions from individual laws to whether they can also demand that the public actively fund their faith.


Posted by babylonsister | Sat Dec 4, 2021, 11:03 PM (13 replies)

Woman caught breastfeeding her hairless cat on a Delta flight

Woman caught breastfeeding her hairless cat on a Delta flight
By Samantha Ibrahim
December 2, 2021 7:23pm Updated

A woman who took a Delta flight recently wasn’t kitten around when she whipped out her breasts and started feeding her hairless cat.

The unidentified female flew from Syracuse, NY, to Atlanta, GA, where she was caught breastfeeding her feline on the plane. A flight attendant told her repeatedly to stop and put her cat back in its cage, however, the woman refused.

A message was sent through the Aircraft Communications Addressing and Reporting System (ACARS) to alert Delta crew in Atlanta that a passenger in seat 13A “is breastfeeding a cat and will not put cat back in its carrier when [flight attendant] requested.”

A photo of the message board was found on Reddit and was posted on Twitter by author Rick Wilson.
delta board

Flight attendant Ainsley Elizabeth, who was on board during the incident, took to TikTok on Nov. 13 to explain more of what went down, Newsweek reported.

“This woman had one of those, like, hairless cats swaddled up in a blanket so it looked like a baby,” she said. “Her shirt was up and she was trying to get the cat to latch and she wouldn’t put the cat back in the carrier. And the cat was screaming for its life.”


Posted by babylonsister | Fri Dec 3, 2021, 07:42 PM (2 replies)
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