In fact, the voluntary optional private accounts advocated by Clinton, Moynihan, Kerry, and Bush were originally recommended by President Franklin D. Roosevelt, the founder of Social Security. In 1935, in a written statement to Congress, FDR recommended that the system should eventually include "voluntary contributory annuities, by which individual initiative can increase the annual amounts received in old age."
Roosevelt was not advocating that the present system of guaranteed Social Security benefits "ought to ultimately be supplanted by self-supporting annuity plans." Rather, he was proposing that both mandatory contributions and voluntary annuities would eventually eliminate the need for a different fund which was established to provide pension benefits to Americans who were already too old in 1935 to contribute payroll taxes to the Social Security system.
Roosevelt outlined the three major tenets he envisioned for Social Security in the January 17, 1935, speech that Hume quoted. As the Social Security Administration (SSA) has noted, these tenets are: 1) "non-contributory old-age pensions for those who are now too old to build up their own insurance"; 2) "compulsory contributory annuities which in time will establish a self-supporting system for those now young and for future generations"; and 3) "voluntary contributory annuities by which individual initiative can increase the annual amounts received in old age."
During 1935 congressional hearings on Roosevelt's Social Security bill, Edwin Witte, executive director of the Committee on Economic Security (CES), clearly stated that the voluntary accounts were intended as a "separate undertaking" meant to "supplement" the compulsory system, not replace it: "The voluntary system of old-age annuities we suggest as a supplement to the compulsory plan." Further, voluntary annuities would be "similar to those issued by commercial insurance companies" -- as Witte explained -- but they would differ from private accounts in that their funds would be deposited into and paid out of the Social Security trust fund, and they would provide a government-guaranteed benefit like mandatory contributions. Prominent contemporary Democrats support Roosevelt's idea of supplemental government-sponsored investment accounts that are paid for by non-Social Security funds, although unlike Roosevelt's plan, these accounts would not be linked to the trust fund.
Zeifman also falsely claimed that President Bush's Social Security privatization plan "called for the investment of no more than 4 percent of revenues." In fact, the plan allowed workers to divert up to 4 percent of their wages into a private account. Since 12.4 percent of a worker's wages are paid into Social Security, that mean as much as one-third of Social Security revenue -- not 4 percent -- would be affected by private accounts.
Zeifman again loudly proclaims, as is his wont, that he's a Democrat, this time stating that he's "a life-long left of center liberal Democrat who once successfully represented 38 AFL-CIO unions in litigation against the Carter administrations unlawful outsourcing of defense production to a number of foreign countries." But he's one of those Newsmax Democrats who claim Democratic membership as a very thin cover to attack them on right-wing websites.
Timmerman Still Promoting Obama Birth Certificate Conspiracy Topic: Newsmax
Newsmax's Ken Timmerman is apparently not done promoting the Barack Obama birth certificate conspiracy.
In a Jan. 12 article whose headline misleadingly accuses John Brennan, "Obama’s top terrorism and intelligence advisor," of being involved in a "security breach" -- in fact, as Timmerman eventually reveals, it was a contract employee a firm Brennan heads, not Brennan himself, who was accused of snooping into the passport files of presidential candidates -- Timmerman cites anonymous and unverifiable "sources who tracked the investigation" to claim that the goal of the alleged breaches was to "cauterize" Obama's passport file of "potentially embarrassing information."
After noting that Obama's campaign declared Obama to be "a native citizen of the United States of America," Timmerman adds: "However, 'native citizen' is a colloquialism, not a legal term. It is not the same as 'natural-born citizen,' the requirement to be president set out in Article 2, Section 1 of the Constitution." Timmerman also makes a big deal about how "Obama was a foreign national until the age of 18, by virtue of his father’s British then Kenyan citizenship," while barely acknowledging that Obama is a U.S. citizen by virtue of his mother's American citizenship -- not to mention the not-disproven fact the he was born in Hawaii.
At no point does Timmerman reference numerous outside investigations -- from FactCheck.org to WorldNetDaily -- finding that the birth certificate released by Obama's campaign to be authentic.
Clinton Derangement Syndrome Watch Topic: WorldNetDaily
For the price of just 15 cups of coffee – at Starbucks – you can help save Hillary Clinton from having to personally pay off her campaign debt, all while watching Jon Bon Jovi perform.
I picture the evening opening with Hillary sitting in a mud pit with flies buzzing around her head while a weepy Sally Struthers whimpers into the camera, "It takes a village to bail out wealthy politicians whose dreams were dashed … please help!"
Dinner and dancing will follow, and as the DJ plays some up-tempo music, look for Bill Clinton to show off his Samba, Merengue and Cha-Cha moves – also look for Hillary to throw a coffee mug at Bill after she discovers that those aren't dances, but the names of three strippers Bubba brought to the fundraiser.
Unable to accept the time-honored concept that a newspaper would run a story based on its news value, Huston howls that the Times "wants you to celebrate" the "commie art show," baselessly asserting that the paper is "totally oblivious to the hate that should be forever leveled at communism."
Huston also fails to note that, far from being a "commie art show," the exhibit also, according to the Times article, includes "a sideshow of art that was banned in Vietnam and included audio recordings and writings of dissidents in Vietnam."
Huston then takes it a step further by endorsing censorship in America:
Sorry, but those in the Vietnamese community in the L.A. area are absolutely right to immediately squash anyone that wants to help reestablish communist ideology among them. These people are right to hate communism and to want it banished from their lives forever. These people are right to ostracize those that want to soften the hatred for communism.
Communism does not need to have "an open dialog." It needs only to be excoriated and despised. Communism is the single most murderous idea that man has ever spawned and it should be treated like the plague that it truly is.
Needless to say, Huston fails to demonstrate how an art exhibit that includes communist symbols equals "reestablish[ing] communist ideology."
CNS Pushes False Claim on New Deal Unemployment Topic: CNSNews.com
CNSNews.com ups the ante in its misleading attack on the New Deal with a Jan. 12 article by Josiah Ryan, who quotes Burt Folsom, "a professor of history at Hillsdale College," saying that "old New Deal didn’t work" and paraphrases Folsom as making the utterly false statement that the New Deal "never did reduce unemployment."
In fact, unemployment dropped more than 40 percent between 1933 and 1937 and -- according to federal employment statistics CNS itself has cited (misleading as they are, since they don't count those in government work programs as employed) -- remained below the 1933 high throughout Franklin Roosevelt's presidency.
That would seem to prove that the New Deal did reduce unemployment, no?
Meanwhile ... Topic: NewsBusters Tapped, County Fair, Black Book, and Oliver Willis, among others, offer their takes on Ken Shepherd's Jan. 8 NewsBusters post complaining that comic books -- specifically, the new issue of Spider-Man, in which Spidey does a terrorist fist bump with Barack Obama -- are "crawling with pro-Obama bias."
Newsmax has joined the Media Research Center on the John Ziegler promotional bandwagon with a Jan. 9 article by Rick Pedraza touting the video of Sarah Palin that Ziegler released. But in uncritically regurgitating Ziegler's claims about media coverage of Palin, Pedraza ignores a couple that are quite clearly false.
Pedraza cited "The intrusive coverage of Palin's 17-year-old daughter, Bristol, in which the media revealed her pregnancy." But as we've noted, the media did not "reveal" Bristol Palin's pregnancy; it was announced by the McCain campaign.
Pedraza also notes that "Palin complaining about coverage of the rumor that she is not the mother of her infant son, Trig. Palin calls the charge 'quite absurd.'" But if the charge is so absurd, why won't Palin answer questions about it in order to put the issue to rest once and for all?
Pedraza also cites "The CBS interview with Katie Couric that tried to poke fun at Palin's inability to cite which newspapers she reads." But no evidence is offered that Couric did any such thing.
needless to say, Pedraza makes no mention whatsoever of Ziegler's shaky grasp on the facts, or his penchant for insultinginterviewers who dare to challenge his claims.
A Delightful Understatement Topic: Accuracy in Media
Don Irvine engages in a delightful bit of understatement in a Jan. 10 Accuracy in Media blog post about recent "turmoil at the Washington Times," stating that the Times "has struggled to become financially viable during its entire 26 year exietence [sic]."
Huston Misleadingly Shoots Down One Conspiracy Theory, Mum On Another Topic: NewsBusters
A Jan. 10 NewsBusters post by Warner Todd Huston howls that the Anchorage Daily News is "continuing to pursue the idiotic and insulting claim that Sarah is not the real mother of son Trig," calling it a "ridiculous conspiracy theory that only idiots, hatemongers and fools could believe" and accusing the paper of "spreading hateful rumors about Governor Palin." Huston then claimed that the Daily News editor "feigned innocence and points his finger at bloggers and people on the left that have persisted with their own interest in this stupid story."
Huston's rantings might be taken seriously if his employer had not taken part in promoting ridiculous conspiracy theories about Barack Obama -- namely, the one about Obama's birth certificate.
NewsBusters' P.J. Gladnick wrote severalposts promoting the supposed birth certificate controversy, most recently on Oct. 23, and comment threads on NewsBusters posts are replete with references to it. At no point does he, or any other NewsBusters writer, expose the false nature of it.
Huston also misrepresents what Daily News executive editor Pat Dougherty has written about the controversy. Huston apparently just copied-and-pasted the same thing an anti-McClatchy (the Daily News' owner) blog did from Dougherty's blog on the issue, that the goal was "report the facts of Trig's birth thoroughly enough to kill the nonsense once and for all," as well as parts of a press release from Palin's office criticizing the paper. But neither Huston nor the anti-McClatchy blog noted the following response, which Dougherty said he sent to Palin:
Lisa Demer started reporting. She received very little cooperation in her efforts from the parties who, in my judgment, stood to benefit most from the story, namely you and your family. Even so, we reported the matter as thoroughly as we could. Several weeks ago, when we considered the information Lisa had gathered, we decided we didn't have enough of a story to accomplish what we had hoped. Lisa moved on to other topics and we haven't decided whether the idea is worth any further effort.
Even the birth of your grandson may not dissuade the Trig conspiracy theorists from their beliefs. It strikes me that if there is never a clear, contemporaneous public record of what transpired with Trig's birth, that may actually ensure that the conspiracy theory never dies. Time will tell.
First, no story has, in fact, recently been published by the Daily News on the subject, which means Palin and Huston are attacking the Daily News for simply asking questions.
Second, Huston fails to acknowledge the fact that Palin is refusing to answer those questions, which helps to fuel the "conspiracy theory" among those people he likens to Holocaust deniers. As we've heard from the likes of WorldNetDaily regarding the Obama birth certificate non-controversy: If it can be so easily proven that Sarah Palin is Trig's mother, why doesn't she, you know, prove it?
Does Huston think Obama should release his full birth certificate? If so, he has no standing to complain about the conspiracy theories of others, or to defend Palin for withholding information.
UPDATE: Huston has written at Renew America that the birth certificate issue is irrelevant because "the will of the people is supreme": "Obama's foreign birth, if it comes to be true, will undermine his presidency. But better to have a single president's legitimacy undermined due to his actions than to undermine the entire electoral process." But as near as we can tell, he has not shared this opinion with his NewsBusters readers.
A Jan. 9 CNSNews.com article by Nicholas Ballasy takes a stab at forwarding the current right-wing meme of denouncing Franklin Roosevelt's New Deal as insufficient to pull America out of the Great Depression.
In an apparent attempt to counter Democratic Rep. Henry Waxman's claim that FDR "did not spend what was needed" to get people "back to work" during the Great Depression, Ballasy asserts: "Despite the $500 billion spend under FDR through various programs, the unemployment rate in the United States did not significantly decrease until after the U.S. officially entered World War II in 1941." This is then followed by government unemployment statistics from the era.
But those statistics -- which show an unemployment rate decrease from 24.9 percent in 1933 to 14.3 percent in 1937 -- prove Ballasy wrong. How is an a drop of 40 percent not "significant"? Ballasy doesn't explain.
Further, Ballasy fails to note that the federal government's 1930s unemployment statistics are misleading because they did not count those working in government work programs as employed -- which means that the unemployment rate was even lower in 1937 than the statistics show, and that Ballasy will admit.
UPDATE: CNS also claimed in a Dec. 9 article by Matt Hadro that "government data show that FDR's programs did not substantially reduce unemployment," also without an explanation as to why a 40 percent-plus drop in unemployment between 1933 and 1937 is not considered "substantial."
MRC Hearts John Ziegler, Hides His Biased Agenda Topic: Media Research Center
We've previouslyreported on John Ziegler, right-wing radio host turned filmmaker who has on his resume a so-called documentary with a false premise at its center: that the ABC miniseries "The Path to 9/11" was factually accurate. As we've also noted, Ziegler has another film in progress, which aims to portray all supporters of Barack Obama as uninformed idiots and Sarah Palin as a victim of the big, bad liberal media.
To that end, Ziegler released a clip of an interview he did with Palin, in which she appears to blame everyone but herself for her election loss. And just as various tendrils of the Media Research Center eagerlypromoted Ziegler's previous film, it now shills for Ziegler's new project.
NewsBusters' Noel Sheppard immediately jumped on the bandwagon, promoting the clip as posted on the new right-wing Big Hollywood blog, sycophantically adding, "It goes without saying we at NewsBusters look forward to seeing more from Ziegler and Big Hollywood." Sheppard describes Ziegler only as a "documentarian."
A Jan. 8 CNSNews.com article by Melanie Hunter-Omar offers similar treatment, feting Ziegler as a "documentary filmmaker" and citing how "12 Obama voters were interviewed right after they cast their vote to determine how the media coverage influenced their knowledge of what actually happened during the presidential campaign" to prove the supposed ignorace of Obama voters.
Neither Sheppard nor Hunter-Omar mention the entirely germane fact that Ziegler is a conservative activist. Nor do they mention the fact that a Zogby poll commissioned by Ziegler to prove his point contains misleading statements -- or his foul-mouthed behavior toward Nate Silver of fivethirtyeight.com for committing the sin of pointing that out.
But the MRC loves abusive behavior -- when it's committed by right-wingers against their purported enemies, anyway. When Ziegler acted petulant during an appearance with MSNBC's David Shuster, Sheppard found it a hoot that Ziegler called Shuster "a joke" and "an alleged newsperson" for his "anti-Sarah Palin bias," helpfully offering time stamps for the attached video clip so viewers can skip to Ziegler at his most insulting.
Writing about the same interview, Scott Whitlock acted a little more professional, calling the interview "contentious" and Ziegler "incredulous," but Whitlock was still more than happy to highlight Sheppard's post pointing out that "Ziegler also derided Shuster as a 'joke' and publicly called out MSNBC as 'clearly the pet network of Barack Obama.'"
As before, at no point do Whitlock or Sheppard identify Ziegler as a conservative activist.
For a more balanced take on Ziegler's interview, Crooks and Liars points out what Sheppard and Whitlock didn't: that Shuster pointed out that Palin has said that Ziegler's "decision to post excerpts out of context on YouTube led to misleading reports." C&L's John Amato accurately adds: "You see, with guys like Ziegler--when he's confronted with facts that disprove his propaganda, he gets abusive."
Porter Still Hiding Info About Her Anti-Obama Crusade Topic: WorldNetDaily
A Jan. 8 WorldNetDaily article touts a bit of agitprop promoted by Faith2Action's Janet Folger Porter as the "Obama commercial they don't want you to see," in that several TV networks "refused to sell her time for a 60-second commercial." But WND makes no attempt to answer questions about Porter's activism on this issue.
As we've detailed, Porter appears to be using Faith2Action resources for her personal anti-Obama crusade without disclosing where the line is between Faith2Action and her anti-Obama activism, or whether funds donated to Faith2Action are being improperly used toward this crusade.
A domain is named at the end of the hilariously overdramatic ad, obamaforgery.com, which redirects to a page on the Faith2Action website. But according to the WHOIS database, the owner of the domain is hidden, listed only as owned by "Domains by Proxy."
The page itself names "attorney Philip J. Berg" as among those who readers should "learn more about and consider supporting the work of." But as we noted, Porter and Faith2Action appear to have financial connections to Berg that neither have adequately disclosed.
In the WND article, Porter mentioned "donors who contributed the funding that was to be used for the ads," but those donors are not identified.
Thus, Porter lends further obfuscation to her crusade. If she's demanding that Obama release information about himself, shouldn't she more forthcoming about her political backers, and where the line is between her personal crusade and Faith2Action?
In a Jan. 8 column, Joseph Farah declares WorldNetDaily to be "Obama Watch Central," insisting that "WND will be at the forefront of chronicling the continuing subterfuge we can expect from the incoming administration as well as Congress and the Supreme Court." Farah then adds: "Does this mean WND won't be 'fair' to Obama? No."
OK, we think we're done laughing now.
WND's coverage of Obama, as we've documented, has been one long parade of unfairness, lies and hate -- to the point where Farah will lie about one of WND's very few instances of actually showing fairness to Obama in order to perpetuate his own Obama-hate.
If Farah and WND were truly interested in fairness, it would not be publishing the rantings of cranks like Hilmar von Campe and Jack Cashill.
If Farah and WND were truly interested in fairness, they would not repeatedly publish writers who call Obama a Nazi.
If Farah and WND were truly interested in fairness, they would acknowlege and publicly retract their mistakes whyen they are pointed out, instead of smearing their critics and perpetuating litigation aimed at forcing WND to do what's right.
But Farah and WND won't do this.
Rather than perpetuate the facade of being a "vigilant watchdog on government waste, fraud, abuse and corruption," Farah should just come out and admit what being "Obama Watch Central" really means, as WND has already amply demonstrated:
Ponte's Democrat Derangement Syndrome Flares Up Again Topic: Newsmax
Lowell Ponte engages in another fit of Democrat Derangement Syndrome, using his Jan. 7 Newsmax column to hurl all sorts of baseless accusations regarding Al Franken's victory in the Minnesota Senate race recount.
Ponte baselessly asserts that the state canvassing board that oversaw the recount is "liberal" and "controlled by Secretary of State Mark Ritchie, an ultra-liberal Democrat with close ties to the controversial far-left activist group ACORN." In fact, as Media Matters detailed, both Franken's Republican opponent, Norm Coleman, and Republican Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty approved of the canvassing board's makeup, which included two judges appointed by Pawlenty, one of whom formerly worked for the Minnesota Republican Party.
Further, as we've noted, even Ponte's fellow travelers at Newsmax have offered no evidence of Ritchie's "close ties" to ACORN beyond a campaign endorsement.
Ponte also writes:
In one notorious case, a partisan Democrat precinct chief reportedly discovered a pile of absentee ballots in the trunk of her own car. All of these, according to early reports, were votes for Franken. She later denied that the ballots had been beyond the control of safeguards designed to prevent ballot tampering, and she denied that all had been votes for Franken.
But there's no evidence that there's a shred of truth to this story, and even Coleman's lawyer has said he's satisified there was no ballot-tampering regarding the purported incident.
Ponte uncritically regurgitates Coleman's various arguments regarding ballots. He also repeats state canvassing board member G. Barry Anderson's assertion that "very likely there was a double counting" of spoiled original and legally required duplicate ballots without also noting that Anderson is the member who's the former Republican Party employee.
Because this is a full-blown onset of Democrat Derangement Syndrome, Ponte can't keep himself from personally attacking Franken, calling him "former failed talk host for Air America Radio and minor star on NBC's comedy show 'Saturday Night Live.'" Ponte neglects the fact that Franken was also a longtime writer for "SNL," for which he received seven Emmy awards. Ponte apparently thinks such an achievement is "minor."
Bozell Runs to Coulter's Defense -- Again Topic: Media Research Center
We've previouslydetailed the long love affair between Brent Bozell's Media Research Center and Ann Coulter, and its history of refusing to criticize anything she says, no matter how offensive. So it's no surprise that Bozell leaps to Coulter's defense yet again.
In a Jan. 6 MRC press release, Bozell completely swallows the anonymous, unverified claims made by Matt Drudge that Coulter was "banned for life" from NBC as indicated by her getting bumped from the "Today" show (even though she was rebooked two days later): "Ann, as a veteran banee from NBC, I can well attest to the fact that you will, in fact, survive this ordeal." Well, we've never appeared on NBC, but we don't go around claiming we've been "banned." Rebooking aside, Bozell rants against NBC:
“As for NBC, I have only one question: Have you lost your collective mind? Every broadcast network, yours included, is bleeding to death, your audiences abandoning you by the millions. The biggest body leaving is conservatives who correctly see you as having abandoned any pretense of objectivity in favor of a leftist political agenda. And how do you respond? By banning one of the best-known conservative voices in America. This is your commitment to political balance and the very idea of free speech, and the reason why, when the last of you leaves the building, you need to remember to turn out the lights.”
In his Jan. 7 column, Bozell demonstrates his utter hypocrisy on the issue. After citing "a list of inflammatory liberals who are welcomed on the TV morning shows," Bozell writes:
Call Coulter outrageous, call her a bomb-thrower, even state she goes beyond the pale of civility, if that’s your read. But do not assign that label to Coulter and then present your on-air love and kisses and giggles to all the public leftist hate-spewing that far exceeds any perceived incivility by Coulter. That is utterly transparent liberalism, and utterly transparent hypocrisy.
Doesn't that work the other way, too? If Bozell is going to get all apoplectic over the idea that controversial liberals appear on TV, shouldn't he treat Coulter the same way? Nope -- rather, he defends Coulter as being "fun for conservatives."
Just as he has defended Coulter all along, no matter what she says.
As we've wondered previously: Does Coulter have some sort of blackmail material on Bozell that makes him act so reflexively?