U.S. Education Secretary Arne Duncan, a magna cum laudegraduate of Harvard, could not say where the U.S. Constitution authorizes the federal government to be involved in primary and secondary education.
On Thursday, after a House subcommittee hearing, CNSNews.com asked Duncan, “The Bill of Rights says that powers not delegated to the federal government by the Constitution are reserved to the states and the people. With that in mind, Mr. Secretary, where specifically does the Constitution authorize the federal government to be involved in primary and secondary education?”
Duncan dodged the question. “We are obviously a small percent of overall funding--you know about 10 percent," he said. "The vast majority of funding comes at the local level--state and local level. But we have a responsibility to support children who have historically not had those kinds of opportunities--disadvantaged children, poor children, homeless students, children who are English language learners and, more recently, we’ve seen a tremendous amount of reform from the department.
"We have to dramatically improve the quality of education we are providing this country and we can help to continue to reward excellence and encourage at the local level,” Duncan said.
Of course, Duncan has much better things to do with his life -- like his job --than play gotcha with a hostile reporter who just wants an embarrassing sound bite to use against him.
WND's Richardson Ratchets Up Apocalyptic Rhetoric Topic: WorldNetDaily
Glenn Beck's favorite end-times prophet, Joel Richardson, has been ratcheting up his apocalyptic rhetoric at WorldNetDaily in recent days.
In a March 12 column, Richardson declared that "we are entering World War III in the Middle East," claiming that "the United States has suddenly found herself quietly involved in a multiple-front Middle Eastern war." He even threw in a dose of Obama derangement:
Simply stated, we must drill now. Let's delude ourselves that we are actually healing the planet some other time. For years now, the warnings have gone out that the U.S. needs to free itself from dependence on Islamic oil. President Obama has done just the opposite, choosing instead to petition some worthless puny little gods called Volt and Prius to save us. I would love to believe that Rush Limbaugh is wrong when he says that President Obama is purposefully trying to destroy this nation, but in light of his actions, what other option do I really have?
(Richardson has previously written a WND column headlined, "What Obama and the Antichrist have in common.")
In a March 14 WND column, Richardson declared that recent earthquakes, including the one in Japan, is a sign of the end times:
So do the recent earthquakes in Haiti, New Zealand and Japan have any relevance with regard to the return of Jesus? Absolutely. If we consider the words of Jesus as well as some very stunning earthquake statistics, then a clear picture emerges, pointing to the soon coming of the return of Jesus.
After citing a raftload of Bible verses he claimed supports this view, Richardson added that "for the majority of believers out there who take Jesus' words at face value, who are watching the specific signs that Jesus spoke of, the evidence is all there. The contractions are increasing in both intensity and frequency. I believe there is a birth on the horizon."
Shocker: AIM, Newsmax Reports On Deceptive Editing In NPR Videos Topic: Accuracy in Media
It was a bit of a surprise when Glenn Beck's website The Blaze exposed the deceptive editing of James O'Keefe's videos of NPR fundraisers -- after all, The Blaze's video maven, Pam Key, has her own lengthy history of deceptive editing that makes its criticism more than a little hypocritical.
It's even more surprising that some ConWeb outlets have reported on The Blaze's findings -- and in a way that takes them seriously:
A March 11 Newsmax article notes that The Blaze "is raising questions about the editing of the tape that suggested an NPR fundraising executive said that tea party patriots were racists, among other comments."
In a March 12 Accuracy in Media blog post, Don Irvine wrote that "James O’Keefe’s Project Veritas may jhave some ‘splaining to do" following the Blaze article. Irvine added, "This doesn’t totally exculpate Schiller from repeatung these remarks since he didn’t exactly disassociate himslef from them but it does bring into question once again O’Keefe’s penchant for clever editing to make his point." He concluded: "Conservatives should hold themselves to a higher standard of journalism and in this case O’Keefe falls short."
Of course, other ConWeb outlets have not reported on The Blaze's findings. For instance, NewsBusters -- which has heavily promoted the purported scandal -- hasn't said a word about it. That would conflict with its anti-NPR agenda, after all.
Newsmax's Florida Donations Get Attention Topic: Newsmax
Our research on Newsmax's undisclosed contributions to the campaigns of Florida politicians who are also getting fawning coverage on Newsmax -- published here and at Media Matters -- is getting some attention.
Business Insider noted the story and called Newsmax's Christopher Ruddy (who took part in fundraisers for two of the candidates named in the article) for a response:
When contacted by The Wire, Ruddy responded: "Newsmax rarely endorses candidates in primary and general elections. However, we strongly endorsed Bill McCollum during his primary for Governor. Our regular readers were well aware of our editorial perspective on the race. Like most major media companies, Newsmax allows its executives to make donations to political candidates and like most major media companies, such donations are not noted in its contents."
Of course, most major media companies' executives are not so closely linked to their editorial content as Ruddy is with Newsmax's.
Further, the issue is not just Ruddy's personal contributions but those of Newsmax Media, which most notably gave $100,000 to Rick Scott's 527 organization at the same time Newsmax was announcing its endorsement of him. It begs the question of whether there is a quid pro quo taking place. Newsmax may have a certain "editorial perspective," but how much of it, if any, was a function of its and Ruddy's donations to their favorite candidates? Was Newsmax's fawning coverage an explicit or implied side benefit to the candidate getting the cash? There's also the implication of another quid pro quo: is Newsmax getting, or is hoping to get, something in return for these donations?
Ruddy's explanation that Newsmax's "regular readers" already know about its right-wing slant and, besides, he's not required to disclose his political donations is mostly meaningless. Newsmax presents itself as a news organization, which brings some expectation of the existence of standards.
The Society of Professional Journalists' code of ethics states that journalists should "Avoid conflicts of interest, real or perceived" and "Disclose unavoidable conflicts." Does Newsmax have an ethics code that it follows?
Sheryl Young at Yahoo News, meanwhile, highlighted this story as well. She wrote, "It is not identified whether Ruddy spent Newsmax income or his own personal income." The presumption can be made that if Ruddy made the contributions under his own name, he used his own money, and that donations under the Newsmax Media name used corproate money.
Young goes on to ask if there is a "so what" to all of this, noting that it's not illegal for Ruddy and Newsmax not to disclose their political donations on their website, that the policies on politial donations by employees at other media companies vary widely, and that a majority of those tend to favor Democrats (though she concedes that a significant number of those involve journalists who don't cover politics).
We don't dispute the legality of not disclosing these donations, but we do believe the ethics of not doing so should certainly be discussed. Newsmax's main focus is its political coverage, and Ruddy made his early reputation as a (rabidly anti-Clinton) political reporter. And there is the appearance of a quid pro quo regarding donations and coverage.
Ultimately, the heart of the matters is that Newsmax needs to decide what kind of operation it wants to be. If Ruddy doesn't think his readers should expect anything more from Newsmax than mindless shilling for Republican candidates, it should stop pretending to be a "real" news site by surrounding said shilling with wire stories from actual reporters. If Newsmax wants to be taken seriously as a news operation, it should be more transparent to its readers about its behind-the-scenes fundraising and donations -- or perhaps not make them in the first place and let its words speak for themselves.
Ellis Washington Being Ellis Washington Topic: WorldNetDaily
More silliness from Ellis Washington in his March 12 WorldNetDaily column:
God commanded the Israelites that they were not to sacrifice any of their children to Molech: "And thou shalt not let any of thy seed pass through the fire to Molech, neither shalt thou profane the name of thy God: I am the LORD. ..." Sacrificing to the Phoenician god Molech (king) was a popular form of idolatry; it consisted of burning children alive. The idol was heated and the children were placed in its hands. Think of Molech as the ancient pagans' answer to partial-birth abortion.
For over 25 years I've written that once you separate legality from morality, all of the systems, structures, bureaucracies and ideologies of necessity collapse into relativism, anarchy, nihilism and genocide.
Tragically the Molech paradigm lives in modern times in the ideas of Humanism (man is god), Machiavelli (the end justifies the mean), Rousseau (glorification of the primitive condition without law or morality), Social Darwinism (evolution, natural selection, survival of the fittest), Marx, Engels, Lenin, Stalin (communism, state socialism), Nietzsche (will to power), Freud (sex is god), Margaret Sanger (radical feminism, eugenics, selective breeding/sterilization, abortion) and John Dewey (progressive education as anti-education).
Yes, he's falsely conflating social Darwinism with Darwinism yetagain. And likening any of the other ideas he has self-defined in as offensive a manner as he could conjure to sacrifices to pagan gods is utterly preposterous.
Elsewhere, just in case Washington's screeching hatred for public education wasn't already obvious, he complained about how its creation distracted from more important pursuits like farming:
In 1857, the NEA was founded as the National Teachers Association (NTA) on the progressive principle of a free and compulsory education for everyone at taxpayers' expense. Although many people at the time were outraged at this taxation without representation and the taking away of people from their vocations, like farming, the idea of a free education for everyone sounded egalitarian and just. However, human nature and history tell us welfare philanthropy leads to paternalism and contempt by the giver and laziness, resentment and pathology by the receiver.
It seems Washington would rather see an illiterate agrarian society than one not educated to his far-right beliefs.
At the end, he writes: "Obama's secretary of education recently said that up to 80 percent of all public schools will fail within a year. I'm not shocked by this catastrophe, nor should you." But his supporting link doesn't even claim that; rather, it states that Education Secretary Arne Duncan said that the number of schools that will be classified as "failing" under the No Child Left Behind law will rocket from 37 to 82 per cent in 2011, which indicates a problem with NCLB.
Should someone who so repeatedly demonstrated his complete lack of reading comprehension skills really be weighing in on the state of education?
Sheppard Asks Why Nobody's Analyzing NPR For Bias -- What About His Employer? Topic: NewsBusters
In a March 12 NewsBusters post, Noel Sheppard freaks about over NPR "On the Media" host saying she "couldn’t find a metric" to apply to the question of whether NPR has a left-wing bias:
Maybe that's part of the problem - these so-called journalists don't know how to determine bias in reporting.
How about first taking a look at a week's worth of programming and simply adding up the number of real conservative and liberal guests as well as Republican and Democrat guests? The qualifier "real" means that folks like New York Times columnist David Brooks and former CNN contributor Kathleen Parker don't count because they are by no means conservative.
Um, doesn't Sheppard work for -- and isn't NewsBusters a division of -- the Media Research Center, who stated mission is to uncover media bias?
Has the MRC ever done what Sheppard advocates -- count the number of conservative and liberal guests in a given week of NPR news programming? We're not aware of it, and if Sheppard isn't aware of it either, chances are it has not happened.
And if the MRC has not done such a simple thing, doesn't it mean that the MRC doesn't want to because it would not be to its political advantage to do so? As we've detailed, the MRC typically exempts cable news from its analyses of news coverage, presumably to avoid having to apply its bias standards to Fox News.
Sheppard has asked a very simple question -- one he would be better off directing to his employer.
CNS Again Pushes Bogus Job-Loss Claim Topic: CNSNews.com
In a March 10 CNSNews.com article, Nicholas Ballasy writes that he asked House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi: "You said the health care law will create four million jobs but the CBO director, Doug Elmendorf, told the House Budget Committee the health care law will kill 800,000 jobs – result in the reduction of 800,000 jobs in the workforce over the next decade. Is the CBO right or wrong in its estimate?"
Ballasy is deliberately misleading about what Elmendorf said. As we noted the last time CNS promoted this claim, Elmendorf did not sayd that "the health care law will kill 800,000 jobs"; he said there would be a one-half percent labor force reduction that would come from "reducing the amount of labor that workers choose to supply" as a result of increased health care benefits motivating people to "work fewer hours," not from top-down job eliminations.
Newsmax Pushes Discredited Palin Threat Story Topic: Newsmax
A March 7 Newsmax article repeats a claim by Politico that Sarah Palin's parents have "received many death threats since the former vice presidential candidate gained national prominence," specifically citing a story about how "One man recently sent the family a photocopied receipt of a gun he’d purchased." But Newsmax ignored that Politico also reported that the FBI denied having any contact with the person who purportedly sent the gun receipt.
From the Politico article Newsmax linked to in support of its claim:
Palin’s father told the network about a man who had recently sent the family a photocopied receipt of a gun he’d purchased.
Chuck Heath said the man, an alleged stalker named Shawn Christy, was later arrested by the FBI.
“We kind of laugh it off, we got a restraining order on him, and lo and behold last week he showed up in Anchorage, from Pennsylvania, and fortunately the FBI was on top of it and sent him home,” Heath said.
But POLITICO was told the opposite on Monday.
Eric Gonzalez, a spokesman for the FBI's Anchorage field office, said the office has “has not arrested or had any contact with Mr. Christy.”
Two British papers reported earlier that the man had been arrested – apparently off of Heath’s assertion, citing a Palin family source.
Newsmax seems to have hidden the full story in order to overstate the threat.
Meanwhile ... Topic: WorldNetDaily
Loren at Barackryphal takes a look at the WorldNetDaily-published book by Obama-hater and misleading poll-pusher Brad O'Leary, "The Audacity of Deceit" and finds that one section of it reads suspiciously like a WND article by Aaron Klein -- straight down to a repeated misspelling -- though at no point does O'Leary credit Klein's article.
CNSNews.com published a March 10 op-ed by Dominique Tassot (described as "president of the French Centre d’Etudes et de Prospective sur la Science," which contains "over 500 scientists and academics working to show the compatibility of Christian thought with scientific pursuit") asserting that "Darwinism" is "coming to an end," citing this as evidence:
The Russian Academy of Sciences has just published details of research directed by sedimentologist Guy Berthault showing that sedimentary rocks form very rapidly – two thousandths of the time attributed to them by the geological time scale.
The work spanning a period of 30 years was first performed in France at the Marseilles Institute of Fluid Mechanics and subsequently at the Colorado State University hydraulics Laboratory in the United States. Its application in the field was tested on the Cambrian-Ordovician sandstones of the North-West Russian Platform by a team of Russian sedimentologists.
Their report is published in Lithology and Mineral Resources, a journal of the Russian Academy of Sciences. Details can be found at www.sedimentology.fr
Although the volume of scientific evidence against evolution theory has been accumulating ever since Darwin’s theory was introduced, the certainty of its downfall is now confirmed by these recent discoveries in stratigraphy.
Well, not so much. One critique of Berthault's work points out that his research is "thinly disguised and poorly argued pieces of creationist propaganda unencumbered by new findings" and sums up the case against him:
His experimental work is not especially original or revolutionary
His studies do not support a radical reinterpretation of sedimentology
The geological column contains deposition mechanisms that lie outside the processes that Berthault investigated
The suggestion that fossil organisms are sorted, not chronologically, but ecologically and hydraulically is not credible
Radio-dating supports both the immense age and the chronological ordering of strata.
A separate exchange of views , including Berhault himself, over Berthault's theory that the Grand Canyon could have been created in a single year is pretty much shot down.
And another critique claimed that Berthault's "knowledge of the sedimentology literature and stratigraphic field methods are decades or even centuries out of date." (Berthault responds here.)
This is not the first time that CNS has peddled this theory; it gave space to Berthault himself to write about it in an October 2009 column.
WND's Cashill Thinks Obama 'Quite Possibly' Had Gay Sex Topic: WorldNetDaily
One of the sleazy anti-Obama memes WorldNetDaily has pushed, on both the stealth and not-so-stealth levels -- is the idea that Barack Obama has had gay sex at some point in his lifew. First it was the never-proven Larry Sinclair claims that WND gave prominent play to without bothering to fact-check them. Then, Jerome Corsi went the dog-whistle route last month by dropping the names of supposed gay-sex paramours familiar only to those (like Corsi) who hang out in the Internet's most fetid corners of Obama-hate.
Now Jack Cashill takes a dip in that pool of filth in his March 10 WND column:
On the Hawaii front, Obama had to worry too about what Mendell would learn about poet, pornographer and card-carrying member of the CPUSA, Frank Marshall Davis.
That relationship between Obama and Davis is succinctly illustrated in the poem "Pop," which was published under the 19-year-old Obama's name in a 1981 edition of an Occidental College literary journal.
Instinctively protective of Obama, reviewers to a person decided that the "Pop" of the poem had to be Obama's mother's father, Stanley Dunham, the man Obama called "Gramps."
Not a one of them asked the most basic question: Why would Obama name a poem about the man he called "Gramps" "Pop"?
Rebecca Mead, writing in the New Yorker, unhesitatingly describes the poem as a "loving if slightly jaded portrait of Obama's maternal grandfather."
Obama biographer David Remnick makes the same point, "'Pop,'" he says as though a given, "clearly reflects Obama's relationship with his grandfather Stanley Dunham."
More oblivious still is British poet Ian McMillan. "There's a humanity in the poem," he writes in the Guardian, "a sense of family values and shared cultural concerns that give us a hint of the Democrat to come."
Family values? What family? Roman Polanski's? The "Pop" of the poem is a drunken poet who is plying the underage Obama with alcohol and quite possibly sex.
Does Cashill offer any proof of this claim? Of course not.
Cashill, if you'll remember, is the same man who's quite put out that nobody takes his Obama-hating conspiracy theories seriously. Gee, wonder why?
NewsBusters' Double Standard on Undercover Stings Topic: NewsBusters
When video of right-wing activists pretending to be Muslim philanthropists talking to fundraisers at NPR surfaced, NewsBusters was all over it, churning out (as of this writing) 12 posts in three days promoting the allegations, related claims, and the usual Brent Bozell indignance over it.
But a couple weeks earlier, when an audiotape of a blogger pretending to be right-wing moneybags David Koch calling Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker to discuss strategy against protesting union workers, NewsBusters wasn't so receptive.
In contrast to NewsBusters' fawning description of NPR punker James O'Keefe as merely a "conservative filmmaker" who "exposed" NPR "as the liberal shills most Americans knew this supposed news organization was," Kyle Drennen dismissed the Walker punker as nothing but a "prank phone call."
This was followed by Lachlan Markay also calling it a "prank" and highlighting the blogger's "more colorful antics,"going on to complainthat "the man is shameless, and an unethical journalist.
Of course, NewsBusters hasn't done any of that regarding O'Keefe, though he indeed has a history of colorful antics, shamelessness, and unethical journalism.
Ah, but O'Keefe's lack of ethics and colorful antics serves NewsBusters' right-wing agenda. And that matters more.
WND's Cowardly Smear of Obama Official Topic: WorldNetDaily
WorldNetDaily has unleashed a double-barreled smear of Obama administration deputy national security adviser Denis McDonough for speaking at a Virginia mosque.
A March 7 WND article by Aaron Klein went his usual tired guilt-by-assocation route, claiming that McDonough's speech "was hosted by a radical Muslim group that was designated by the Justice Department as an unindicted co-conspirator in a scheme to raise money for Hamas." That's Klein's boilerplate language for the Islamic Society of North America.
Meanwhile, groups that have actually worked with the ISNA -- Klein offers no evidence he has personal knowledge of the attacks he spews beyond what he and researcher Brenda J. Elliot have cribbed from anti-Muslim websites -- have a much different view. Religion Dispatches notes that The Rev. Welton Gaddy, president of the Interfaith Alliance, which has worked with ISNA, said that "ISNA understands and supports democracy and the freedom with responsibility that beats at the heart of the American experience."
WND followed up the next day with an unbylined article quoting anonymous smears of McDonough. The second paragraph quotes "one FBI veteran" saying of the Obama White House regarding McDonough's speech: "They are so ignorant. ... This is unbelievable bullsh--."
WND offers no explanation for why the "FBI veteran" was granted anonymity or even if he has any relevant experience to be discussing this issue.
Remember that WND editor Joseph Farah has attacked anonymous sources as "quotes made up out of whole cloth to help make the story read better." Until WND can offer a moreplausible explanation of its cowardly hiding behind an anonymous source to smear McDonough -- or even why it has compounded its cowardice by letting the article's author remain anonymous as well -- we shall assume that Farah is taking his own advice.
Newsmax Gives Money -- And Fawning Coverage -- To Another Fla. Politician Topic: Newsmax
The headline of Jim Meyers' March 4 Newsmax article reads, "Haridopolos Sets Record Straight on Book Controversy." In fact, all Meyers does is give Florida State Senate President Mike Haridopolos the opportunity to spin away a growing scandal -- and unmentioned completely is the fundraising Newsmax's CEO did on Haridopolos' behalf.
Haridopolos was paid $152,000 by a community college in Florida to write a book about politics -- a book that the college didn't see fit to publish beyond the single 175-page, double-spaced manuscript he submitted, making his per-book payday much greater than J.K. Rowling's for the entire Harry Potter series. When news of Haridopolos' payday broke, the college made an electronic version of the book available through Amazon for $9.99.
With the book suddenly available, people could judge the quality of it -- and learn why it wasn't distributed in the first place. Palm Beach Post columnist Frank Cerebino noted that Haridopolos "somehow managed to write a political history of Florida that completely skips over the Florida recount of the 2000 presidential election," adding that it contains such crucial advice for aspiring politicians like "It is essential to study the issues before deciding to run."
You won't get any of those juicy details from Meyers and Newsmax. After declaring that the scandal was "a non-issue that his political opponents are seeking to take advantage of," adding that Haridopolos is a "viewed as a strong candidate" for a U.S. Senate seat, "which is why he has come under Democratic attack so early in the game." Meyers then proceeds to let Haridopolos spin away:
“I’ve been a teacher and an author since 1993, and prior to this book, I’d written another book,” he says.
“So I was approached by the college to write another book that would be a benefit to all students, not just here at Brevard Community College but potentially around the country.
“They approached me with the idea of writing the book over four years about what it’s like to run for office and be in office.
“Over the course of the four years, I took a pay cut from my old job to do this. And as far as our critics are concerned, welcome to politics. This is just one way they go after us.”
Asked why there is only one copy of the book, Haridopolos responds: “I’m not sure why. But the college, it’s their book. I wrote it and they control the copyright. As far as I understand, right now [an e-book download] is on amazon.com for anyone who wants to purchase it.”
Meyers quotes no one else in the article, and he makes no attempt to tell the full story.But that's not what he's being paid to do.
The previous day, Meyers and Kathleen Walter did another interview with Haridopolos that made no mention whatsoever of the book. And Newsmax has promoted Haridopolos' views severalothertimes.
History tells us that if Newsmax is promoting a candidate -- particularly a Florida Republican like Haridopolos -- it's also raising money for him. Indeed, Newsmax CEO Christopher Ruddy served on the host committee for a Feb. 18 fundraiser for Haridopolos, which reportedly netted him more than $100,000 for his Senate race.
As with Ruddy's support for Bill McCollum in his 2010 race for Florida governor (for whom Ruddy also held a fundraiser) and Rick Scott (to whose 527 committee Newsmax donated $100,000), one has to wonder if slanting Newsmax's "news" coverage in favor of Haridopolos is one of the side benefits of getting money from Ruddy.
Needless to say, as with McCollum and Scott, Newsmax has not disclosed Ruddy's support of Haridopolos to its readers -- a huge violation of journalistic ethics.
P.S. We have an article up at Meda Matters summarizing Newsmax's financial support -- and positive coverage and endorsements -- of Haridopolos, McCollum and Scott.
NEW ARTICLE: What The Huck? Topic: The ConWeb
WorldNetDaily, NewsBusters, and Newsmax take different approaches to Mike Huckabee's remarks on President Obama, from whitewashing them to complaining they didn't go far enough. Read more >>