Friday, November 15, 2013

Plagiarism Wins Again (FIX THE DEBT Fraud Occurs Nationwide - Thank You, Pete Peterson!) Wonder What Dan Rather Is Thinking NOW?

I can get her with soup!

I think we're just lucky that hoods (or thugs) are soooo lazy that they don't even want to take the time to change the templates (even slightly) before they submit the exact lying words everywhere (under different signer's names). Once again, it seems that these people are so thick that it never occurs to them that other people read more than one source.

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Astroturf “Fix the Debt” Caught Ghostwriting for College Students

November 14, 2013

Mary Bottari

Say it ain’t so Jon.

Our friend Jon Romano, press secretary for the inside-the-beltway PR campaign “Fix the Debt” and its pet youth group, The Can Kicks Back, have been caught writing op-eds for college students and placing the identical op-eds in papers across the country.

This is the latest slip-up in Fix the Debt’s efforts to portray itself as representing America’s youth. Previously, they were caught paying dancers to participate in a pro-austerity flash mob and paying to gather online petition signers for them.

The newspapers involved in the scam were not amused.

Gainesville Sun to Fix the Debt: “Lay Off the Astroturf and Outright Plagiarism”

The identical op-eds were discovered by Florida’s Gainesville Sun. The paper’s scathing editorial on the topic makes for an entertaining read.

If you liked University of Florida student Brandon Scott’s column last Sunday about the national debt, you also should enjoy columns by Dartmouth College student Thomas Wang and University of Wisconsin student Jennifer Pavelec on the issue.

After all, they’re the same columns.
The identical columns ran last weekend in newspapers in New Hampshire and Wisconsin. They each included the same first-person passage describing the student’s work with the Campaign to Fix the Debt and its “millennial arm,” The Can Kicks Back.
After I was told last week about the column appearing under the byline of different writers in other publications, it was removed from The Sun’s website. Staff with the Campaign to Fix the Debt, who sent out the columns, said they were templates that were supposed to be personalized or otherwise reworded.
The campaign’s vice president of communications, John Romano, said Scott -— an intern with the group — was not at fault.
This was an inadvertent mistake and the campaign takes full responsibility for it,” he said.
“The Sun‘s policy is not to publish astroturf pieces written by advocacy groups and only signed by supporters,” writes the editorial page editor. “Advocacy groups and others should lay off the astroturf and outright plagiarism unless they want to discredit themselves and their causes.”
The paper promptly pulled the op-ed, as has Wisconsin’s Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, and the New Hampshire Foster’s Daily Democrat.
Fix the Debt “Chapters” Are State-Based PR Firms on Retainer

The papers who pulled the phony opinion pieces are to be applauded for standing up to this type of crass manipulation.

With polling consistently showing that 90 percent of Americans want to preserve and strengthen Social Security, Fix the Debt has its work cut out for it pretending to represent the grassroots.

The truth is Fix the Debt is the latest effort by Wall Street billionaire Pete Peterson (who pledged a cool billion of his Blackstone Group fortune to the cause), to convince America that our deficit (which has been on a steep decline since peaking in 2009) is so out of control that it justified extreme budget cuts, including to Social Security and Medicare.

Peterson gave $5 million to get Fix the Debt off the ground. Fix the Debt’s members are a raft of Wall Street firms, like JP Morgan Chase who pitched in $500,000 and GE who contributed $1 million, and its “grassroots” are a series of politically-tied state-based PR firms on retainer who are required to line up a list of politicians and lobbyists, call them a “chapter,” and work to make sure they get regular interviews in the local press.

Here in Wisconsin, Fix the Debt’s flack is Mark Graul, a Republican apparatchik best known for his false, racially-charged TV ad campaign against Judge Louis Butler in his 2008 race for Wisconsin Supreme Court.

Fix the Debt fails to tell students that its leaders, Alan Simpson and Erskine Bowles, have a new budget plan that not only throws Grannie under the bus with cuts to Social Security and Medicare (which mean their kids and their grandkids will be working harder to support them in their old age), but also attacks college students by calling for higher interest rates on student loans and changing the law to allow those interest rates to kick in even before the student graduates from college (PDF, p. 30)

Fix the Debt cries crocodile tears over the “generational inequities” of the federal budget, but fails to note that states spend billions on education.

While the nation hurtles to new budget deal deadlines in December and January that put Social Security and Medicare in danger, Fix the Debt is looking for a new press secretary to aid its effort to achieve a “Grand Bargain,” along the lines of Simpson-Bowles budget cuts so steep they would cost America some four million jobs says the Economic Policy Institute.

We can anticipate that the group will use some of its $40 million budget to ramp up its spin campaign on TV, in print ads, and radio.

Fortunately, more people are starting to catch on. The editorial board of the Georgetown Voice, the student newspaper of Georgetown University, urged student groups to do their homework before inviting groups to campus:

Given the lack of transparency in the structure and goals of Fix the Debt and, by proxy, The Can Kicks Back, it is of special importance that Georgetown student leadership take a closer and more critical look at the external groups they promote in the future.
Had [student groups] done some research and looked past the glossy, misappropriated rhetoric and symbolism of the group they invited to the Hilltop, they would have found that Fix the Debt’s agenda is undoubtedly anti-student and anti-poor, despite its claims to “promote generational equity.”
Next time you see an op-ed from Fix the Debt or The Can Kicks Back (and there are many penned by Romano and his crew), give the editorial page editor a jingle and tell them that they have been hoodwinked by a reclusive billionaire named Pete Peterson and his Wall Street friends.

Learn more about Pete Peterson’s chorus of calamity and decades long effort to gut Social Security and Medicare. Visit Pete Peterson on Sourcewatch and our Nation package exposing Fix the Debt as an “astroturf supergroup.” To hear Romano’s side of the story, read “Conversations with Fix the Debt, Help Count the Pinocchios.” This opinion piece was penned by Mary Bottari, no press secretary or Wall Street firm advised in its construction.

Pete Peterson. What a piece of work is this POS.

I'll never forget how embarrassed I was when I read that Jim Hunt, ex-Democratic Governor of North Carolina for whom I'd campaigned long ago, had bought into Fix the Debt's fraudulent campaign to steal money from the poor to benefit the rich. Jim's a wonderful guy and a terrific politician, not so much a good recognizer of billionaire con artists.
_ _ _ _ _ _ _

And on another popular front:

Poor Dan. Looks like you really need to engage in wholesale fictional reporting in order to get a pass.

And Bill Clinton. Another great piece of work. I loved that guy for a long time but sometimes I wonder for whom exactly is he working now? (Three-million dollar wedding . . . .)

CBS's Benghazi Report Was a Hoax, Not a Mistake

By Frank Rich, New York Magazine

14 November 13

n Sunday, CBS News correspondent Lara Logan issued a short and, many commentators felt, insufficient apology for her now-discredited 60 Minutes report on the Benghazi consulate attack. A year ago, Logan had publicly mocked the notion that the Benghazi attack was a protest gone awry and advocated for a stronger U.S. military response. Should CBS have given her this story? How can Logan or her network satisfactorily explain the botched report? And do you see a double standard at work between Logan's fate (issuing a halfhearted apology, so far) and Dan Rather's much harsher penalty for his questionable 60 Minutes report in 2004? 

Lara Logan's story was not a mere journalistic mistake, but a hoax comparable to such legendary frauds as Life magazine's purchase of the billionaire Howard Hughes's nonexistent "autobiography" in the seventies and Rupert Murdoch's similarly extravagant embrace of the bogus Hitler "diaries" in the eighties. In Logan's case, she perpetrated an out-and-out fictional character: a pseudonymous security contractor who peddled a made-up "eyewitness" account of the murder of four Americans in Benghazi. The point seemed to be to further Benghazi as a conservative political cause (instead, Logan's hoax boomeranged and extinguished it) and to melodramatically exploit the tragic slaughter of Ambassador Chris Stevens and his colleagues as titillating prime-time network entertainment. Logan's phony source, who in fact was at a beachside villa and not on site to witness anything, cooked up violent new "details" for the Benghazi narrative that seemed to have been lifted from a Jean Claude Van Damme movie.

Here are a few questions that Logan's "apology" - every bit as bogus as the story itself - failed to answer. (1) How could Logan (by her own account) have worked "for a year" on this report and not done the elementary cross-checking that allowed Karen De Young of the Washington Post to expose the fraud almost immediately after it aired?
Indeed, what was Logan doing during that long year? (2) Why did CBS News trust a reporter with such obvious political agendas? Logan had given an over-the-top red-meat political speech about Benghazi around the time she started pursuing the story a year ago. And she had also maligned the patriotism of the late reporter Michael Hastings when he had the audacity to question the loyalty and judgment of the American General Stanley McChrystal and his cohort in Afghanistan.
(3) What was the relationship between Logan, her source, and the source's publisher, which is also owned by CBS? Accounts of the 60 Minutes scandal keep referring to that publisher as Simon & Schuster, but that's not strictly accurate. Logan's source was not being published by the S&S that is bringing out Doris Kearns Goodwin's new book on Teddy Roosevelt. His book was being published instead by an S&S subdivision, Threshold, whose authors include Glenn Beck, Karl Rove, Mark Levin, Lynne Cheney, and Jerome Corsi, best known for promoting the Swift Boating of John Kerry and the birther conspiracies about Barack Obama.
Why would Logan and CBS News be in bed with such a partisan publisher? Who was the editor who vetted the book containing the same hoax that Logan aired on 60 Minutes? (Threshold's editor-in-chief is Mary Matalin.) (4) Logan said in her apology that it was "a mistake" to have included her source in her report. But as many have asked, what was the report without that source? Inquiring minds do want to know.

CBS News is now stonewalling, refusing to answer tough questions by serious media reporters like Paul Farhi of the Washington Post. That seems another mistake.
Stephen Colbert's devastating parody of the whole incident, with a cameo appearance by Sam Waterston in Newsroom guise, is taking on a viral life of its own. There are so many holes in Logan's story that other ambitious journalists will race to fill them in. CBS may be trying to enforce a different standard than it did on the Dan Rather - 60 Minutes II calamity of 2004, but wishing will not make this one go away.

In an interview released yesterday, Bill Clinton opined that President Obama should put a stop to the Affordable Care Act's much-publicized insurance-policy cancellations, even though most policy experts agree that they're necessary for the act to work. Is this just the Big Dog harmlessly shooting off his mouth? Or is the man whom Obama dubbed his "Secretary of Explaining Stuff" once again proving more liability than ally?

With all due respect to the power of Bill Clinton to suck the air out of a 24-hour-news cycle and be the bull in any Democratic china shop, he is not the problem with the Affordable Care Act.
The overriding problems are the ineptitude of the rollout and President Obama's repeated iteration of a promise (that no one will be thrown off an existing policy) that was both false and in fact counter to the whole point of the law. In any case, Clinton's quick fix would undermine the ACA further, but he's not alone among Democrats proposing it or something like it: Dianne Feinstein has now embraced a similar notion, and she's not some outlier but the senior senator of the biggest blue state in the country.
None of this noise will make any permanent difference if the Obama administration fixes all the technical screw-ups, and not just the web portal, that have contaminated this law. And of course it will help, too, if the White House comes up with other temporary fixes on policy cancellations (as it seems to be groping for right now).
But if the ACA isn't up and running in a nearly efficient way as we head into the election year of 2014, the law may go down, particularly if a new Congress is swept in that has a shot at dismantling it.

In his current New Republic cover story, Noam Scheiber argues that Massachusetts Senator Elizabeth Warren might capitalize on the Democratic party's increasing populism and best Hillary Clinton for the presidential nomination. Do you buy Schreiber's premise that a more populist Democratic party will show up to the primaries in 2016? And do you think that Warren - or another candidate - could ride that wave to a victory over Clinton?
I don't accept some of the premises here, and like all speculation about 2016, it's so hypothetical that we will only look back and laugh at all of it in a few years. If we assume that Hillary Clinton is indeed running in 2016 - itself not certain - we can't have a horse-race narrative in 2013 unless there's some Democrat who could oppose her as Obama did in 2008.
But who? No one believes it will be Joe Biden. Andrew Cuomo can't challenge her. Who does that leave on the Democratic bench to make this a contest? Well, why not draft Elizabeth Warren to thicken the plot?
She's an enormously appealing, whip-smart champion of populist ideas, from serious banking-financial-regulatory reform to the full spectrum of issues pertaining to economic inequality, that have been slighted (or worse) by the Lawrence Summers - Robert Rubin - Wall Street culture that has dominated policy-making in both the Bill Clinton and Obama administrations.
But does Warren show any signs of (or even passing interest in) running for president? No. Could a Massachusetts liberal be an effective national candidate? Probably not. Still, let's hope she does run if only, as everyone says, to galvanize an overdue economic debate.
But in truth, that debate is going to come whether Warren runs or not: Populism is just as hot a force, albeit with different parameters, in the GOP base as it is among Democrats.
The bigger story of American politics to come has less to do with the presidential horse race than with a pattern that has emerged steadily since the 2008 financial meltdown: The economic grievances that fueled Occupy Wall Street and the tea party are two sides of the same coin, and someone in one party or the other is going to figure out how to harness that crossover political constituency.

Yesterday NBC released a poll in which it asked respondents to choose between 2016's presumptive nominees du jour Hillary Clinton and Chris Christie. (Clinton came out ahead 43 percent to 33 percent.) Which would be a better race for this country: Clinton vs. Christie or Elizabeth Warren vs. Ted Cruz?
Excuse me for being a stickler on this point, but I see zero chance that Chris Christie could be nominated for president by the GOP unless the entire Republican convention is controlled by his unofficial campaign organization, MSNBC's Morning Joe.
The base of the GOP - the activist base that will actually vote in primaries and caucuses - loathes Christie and much of the squishy conservatism he stands for. He will fare no better with this base than Rudy Giuliani did, and Rudy at least had 9/11 at his back.
In any case, your theoretical Clinton vs. Christie race would be all too predictable and tedious in style and substance, if not outcome. On the other hand Warren vs. Cruz, while also implausible, would be one hell of a ride. Or what about Rand Paul vs. Wendy Davis? Three years until Election Day, why not dream?

Why not?

What else have we got?

Ted Cruz and Koch Brothers Embroiled in Shadowy Tea Party Scheme

Josh Eidelson

Meet the right-wing group masquerading as a mainstream nonprofit - but pushing extremist laws across the country

Okay. There is that.

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