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Archive for the ‘working the refs’ Category

So, Koch-funded Astroturf deserves the charitable exemption

Posted by Charles II on May 10, 2013

It’s not good when the IRS singles out anybody for heightened scrutiny. But I have to roll my eyes when I see this, Fredreka Schouten and Gregory Korte, USAT:

The Internal Revenue Service apologized Friday for subjecting Tea Party groups to additional scrutiny during the 2012 election, but denied any political motive.

Lois Lerner, who heads the IRS unit that oversees tax-exempt groups, said organizations that included the words “tea party” or “patriot” in their applications for tax-exempt status were singled out for additional reviews. Her remarks came at an American Bar Association gathering.

Lerner said the practice, initiated by low-level workers in Cincinnati, was wrong.

We have a situation in this country where blatantly political organizations get tax-exempt status. The American Crossroads spin-off Crossroads GPS, funded by billionaires like Bob Perry, gets 501(c)4 status, meaning that their fund-raising doesn’t get taxed (most donations are not tax exempt, however). If they were called what they are, lobbying/PR organizations, they would have to pay taxes. So they are being subsidized.

If the practice was “initiated by low-level workers in Cincinnati,” then presumably it had very minor effects. I’d like to see just how much harassment left-wing groups have received, since historically we know that it is considerable. Like, say, the NAACP. Or All Saints Episcopal. And don’t let’s get started on Nixon.

So, IRS, leave the d–n Tea Party alone… to the same extent that you leave their ideological opposites alone.

CNBC is flogging this story. Expect it to be everywhere soon.
Predictably, Kossacks swallow the bait without reflecting very long or hard….

When are Democrats/liberals going to start thinking before they start apologizing?

Posted in taxes, Tea Party, working the refs | 2 Comments »

The corruption of medicine

Posted by Charles II on September 21, 2012

Ben Goldacre, The Guardian:

In 2010, researchers from Harvard and Toronto found all the trials looking at five major classes of drug – antidepressants, ulcer drugs and so on – then measured two key features: were they positive, and were they funded by industry? They found more than 500 trials in total: 85% of the industry-funded studies were positive, but only 50% of the government-funded trials were. In 2007, researchers looked at every published trial that set out to explore the benefits of a statin. These cholesterol-lowering drugs reduce your risk of having a heart attack and are prescribed in very large quantities. This study found 192 trials in total, either comparing one statin against another, or comparing a statin against a different kind of treatment. They found that industry-funded trials were 20 times more likely to give results favouring the test drug.

These are frightening results, but they come from individual studies. So let’s consider systematic reviews into this area. In 2003, two were published. They took all the studies ever published that looked at whether industry funding is associated with pro-industry results, and both found that industry-funded trials were, overall, about four times more likely to report positive results. A further review in 2007 looked at the new studies in the intervening four years: it found 20 more pieces of work, and all but two showed that industry-sponsored trials were more likely to report flattering results.

Selective publication probably accounts for most of this. But Goldacre is too kind. When a researcher is faced with the prospect of not getting his work published if s/he finds a drug is ineffective, then there is direct pressure to find that the drug is effective. Sometimes, there’s outright intimidation of researchers.

You can read more about reboxetine here. The drug does not work. It produces side effects. It is on the market. Its manufacturers, Pfizer and Lundbeck never published the data that did not make the drug look good.

There’s more, but the message is clear. The drug approval process has been corrupted. The testing process needs to be taken out of the hands of the drug companies.

Posted in abuse of power, science and medicine, working the refs | Comments Off on The corruption of medicine

Yet More Evidence Of Conservative Control Of Mass Media: CBS Hires GOP Spin Artist Frank Luntz

Posted by Phoenix Woman on September 6, 2012

As Eric Alterman’s book asked a number of years ago, “What Liberal Media?” There’s certainly none in America — at least, not where most Americans will ever encounter it.

This was proved yet again by this bit of news:

CBS News has reportedly hired Frank Luntz, the Republican strategist and pollster best known for helping Republicans craft often-deceptive messaging to torpedo liberal policies. In his post announcing the move, Politico media reporter Dylan Byers writes that Luntz will “make a number of appearances across the network between now and Election Day.” Luntz’s hiring comes only a few months after New York Times Magazine contributor Robert Draper reported that Luntz orchestrated a 2009 meeting where prominent Republicans formulated a plan to win back Congress and the White House.

In his book Do Not Ask What Good We Do: Inside the U.S. House of Representatives, Draper reported that Luntz “organized a dinner” on Obama’s inauguration night featuring a handful of “the Republican Party’s most energetic thinkers.” The attendees — which included current vice presidential candidate Paul Ryan — reportedly emerged from the nearly four hour dinner “almost giddily” after having agreed on “a way forward.” 


Luntz’s influence in GOP politics isn’t limited to organizing high-level strategy dinners — he’s been credited with coining some of the most infamous lines from conservative media figures and politicians.


Luntz has been a regular fixture on Fox News for years. His appearances have featured him praising dishonest conservative ads and asking focus groups questions about whether Obama is a socialist. During a 2010 appearance on The O’Reilly Factor, Luntz praised the Chamber of Commerce for having “done some of the best advertising across the country” without disclosing that the Chamber was one of his corporate clients.

This, kiddies, is why I talk so much about the GOP/Media Complex. It exists. It is real.

Posted in GOP/Media Complex, working the refs | 1 Comment »


Posted by Charles II on May 16, 2011

One of the saddest sights of all is academics whose work is compromised by ideological funding. The last line of defense in preventing the coal and oil company global warming denialists from overwhelming the debate has been independent peer review. But when corporate whores (with apologies to all honest sex workers) are injected into universities, then they are the ones doing the peer review. It’s like injecting cancer cells into a healthy body.

Lee Fang of Think Progress has an important piece describing how the Kochs have managed to use their money, and the destitution of academia to create just this situation. Here’s a list of the Koch brainserfs:

George Mason University
West Virginia University
Brown University’s Political Science and Economics departments
The Economics Department at Florida State University
Troy University’s Center for Political Economy
Utah State University’s Huntsman School for Business
Beloit College’s Student Research Program

Posted in our tax dollars at work, political purges, working the refs | Comments Off on Brainserfs

While The Corporate Media Was Busy Talking About Ginny Thomas’ Bizarre Voice And E-Mails

Posted by Phoenix Woman on October 20, 2010

The following things happened:

Republicans are ramping up voter-intimidation and suppression efforts, to the point where the Justice Department is now investigating.

— Speaking of Republican efforts at voter suppression, they actually thought Latino voters would be fooled by this ad telling them, in Spanish, not to vote. Ooops. Univision flatly refused to run it, and now the ad is the talk of the Latino community — and not in a way that’s good for the GOP. (One of the ad’s talking points is that the Democrats couldn’t get the DREAM Act passed. Of course, what it doesn’t say is that Republicans opposed the DREAM Act and every single Senate Republican filibustered it when the Democrats brought it to the floor as part of a must-pass defense bill.

Carly Fiorina showed herself to be so unqualified to be California’s next governor that even FOX’s Chris Wallace lost patience with her inability to hit any of the T-Balls he so helpfully set up for her to hit.

Income inequality is killing America. Literally.

But you’d never know about this if you got your news solely from network TV, drive-time radio, or web news portals like Yahoo or AOL. Instead, Ginny Thomas’ strange behavior gets headlined.

Posted in 2010, GOP bullying, GOP/Media Complex, media, Media machine, mediawhores, Republicans, Republicans acting badly, Republicans as cancer, voting machines, voting rights, working the refs | Comments Off on While The Corporate Media Was Busy Talking About Ginny Thomas’ Bizarre Voice And E-Mails

Murdoch Media Operatives Wiretap British Royals, Anyone Else They Don’t Like

Posted by Phoenix Woman on September 13, 2010

The Rupert Murdoch wiretapping scandal — one that’s been brewing for over a year now — has hit a critical phase — and the New York Times, for once, is doing some actual reporting:

IN NOVEMBER 2005, three senior aides to Britain’s royal family noticed odd things happening on their mobile phones. Messages they had never listened to were somehow appearing in their mailboxes as if heard and saved. Equally peculiar were stories that began appearing about Prince William in one of the country’s biggest tabloids, News of the World.


By early January 2006, Scotland Yard had confirmed their suspicions. An unambiguous trail led to Clive Goodman, the News of the World reporter who covered the royal family, and to a private investigator, Glenn Mulcaire, who also worked for the paper. The two men had somehow obtained the PIN codes needed to access the voice mail of the royal aides.


As Scotland Yard tracked Goodman and Mulcaire, the two men hacked into Prince Harry’s mobile-phone messages. On April 9, 2006, Goodman produced a follow-up article in News of the World about the apparent distress of Prince Harry’s girlfriend over the matter. Headlined “Chelsy Tears Strip Off Harry!” the piece quoted, verbatim, a voice mail Prince Harry had received from his brother teasing him about his predicament.

The palace was in an uproar, especially when it suspected that the two men were also listening to the voice mail of Prince William, the second in line to the throne. The eavesdropping could not have gone higher inside the royal family, since Prince Charles and the queen were hardly regular mobile-phone users. But it seemingly went everywhere else in British society. Scotland Yard collected evidence indicating that reporters at News of the World might have hacked the phone messages of hundreds of celebrities, government officials, soccer stars — anyone whose personal secrets could be tabloid fodder. Only now, more than four years later, are most of them beginning to find out.

But guess what? Per the NYT, Scotland Yard, which is apparently in bed with Murdoch’s media, didn’t do anything to investigate, much less stop the crimes from happening.

Murdoch of course denies everything, but here’s the kicker:

The phone-hacking story is about “The Times striking back” at Murdoch’s Journal-led aggression, says Michael Wolff in Newser. But its trump card is what it hasn’t printed — yet: If ousted World of the News Editor Andy Coulson knew about this illegal activity, then so did Murdoch and his son James. The Times wants Murdoch to know that if he tries to take on the N.Y. Times, “he and his son are going down, too.”

Oh, and David Cameron’s Tory government is even likelier to go down: Andy Coulson is Cameron’s press secretary.

If this isn’t enough to make Nick Clegg pull his Liberal Democrats out of the coalition with the Tories that he was bullied by BNP Paribas into joining, I suggest that Interpol start investigating possible funds transfers from Murdoch-controlled bank accounts to his own.

Posted in 2010, abuse of power, GOP/Media Complex, Rupert Murdoch, Tories, wiretapping, working the refs | 3 Comments »

Republicans Lodge Fake Voter Fraud Claims Even As Their Teabaggers Are Caught Trying To Intimidate Voters

Posted by Phoenix Woman on November 3, 2009

That’s right, gang. On the one hand, we have this:

Another election, another boatload of evidence-free Republican claims of voter fraud…

In part because it’s the closest of the major races, the New Jersey governor’s race has been the focus of the GOP’s dire warnings.

And guess who they have among the hollerers? Why, none other than John “Mary Rosh” Fund him/herself! He’s such a charming guy/gal, as Melinda Pillsbury-Foster can attest. [UPDATE: Nell in the comments corrects me: John Lott is “Mary Rosh”, whereas John Fund is, well, John Fund.]

Meanwhile, back in the reality-based community:

It’s getting ugly out there.

I just got off the phone with former state Democratic Chairwoman June O’Neill, who informed me the police had been called to at least two polling sites in St. Lawrence County due to overzealous electioneering (O’Neill called it “voter intimidation”) by Doug Hoffman supporters.

“We’ve gotten reports that people are standing there, covered with Hoffman stickers and yelling anti-choice stuff at voters,” said O’Neill, a St. Lawrence native who has been running the party’s GOTV effort for Bill Owens in NY-23.

“Apparently, there’s some woman claiming to be a commissioner,” O’Neill continued. “Commissioner of what, I don’t know. She’s from Texas, I think, and she won’t leave.”

“This is not the way we roll in the North Country.”


And Calouste in the comments of Balloon Juice adds this:

Yesssss…, considering that both Virginia Gov and NY-23 should be surefire losses for the Dems under normal circumstances (Virginia Gov has gone against the part that held the White House since the 70s), and New Jersey Gov wasn’t that hot for the Dems either with an unpopular incumbent. All three going to the GOP should be considered a marginally good night for them. One of them going to the Dems should be considered a marginally good night for the Dems. Of course it will be presented by the old media that 2 out of 3 is a huge win for the GOP, and 3 out of 3 will have some of the blowhards wondering why Obama isn’t stepping down already.

Of course, CA-10 is going to go to a Democrat who is going to be much more liberal than the Democrat he’s replacing, but the national media’s ignoring that little factoid.

Posted in Republicans acting badly, voting rights, working the refs | 2 Comments »

GOP Boasts Of Using Huffington Post To Drive Wedges Between Democrats And Activist Base

Posted by Phoenix Woman on May 23, 2009

The Politico’s Michael Calderone (h/t KingOneEye) reports:

Huffington Post reporter Ryan Grim, a former POLITICO staffer, said that after the House leadership released a video earlier this month questioning the White House on national security, a senior House Republican aide reached out to make sure he’d received it — that’s despite knowing how the site would probably play the story (and how commenters would react).

The piece that resulted — “House GOP Obama Ad Aims to Terrify” — likely appealed to liberal Huffington Post readers, while also drawing attention to the Republican clip, which is what the party wanted all along.

Such a relationship can be beneficial to both parties — while the GOP message usually won’t get a friendly reception among Huffington Post readers, there are times when it can drive wedge between the moderate Democrats in Washington and party’s activist base.

“In some cases — like oversight of TARP and transparency in Obama’s White House — their agenda is not inconsistent with Republicans,” said Alex Conant, the RNC’s national press secretary in 2008.

Conant wrote his first Huffington Post commentary last month, touching upon an area where the anti-war left and the Obama administration might differ: Afghanistan. There, Conant wrote that in some aspects, Obama is following the path laid by liberal bogeymen like George W. Bush and Donald Rumseld.

“The piece I wrote for them, I thought, was something that was appropriate for their audience,” said Conant. “It was about how Obama’s going to have problems with his base — which is Huffington Post readers — because of his Afghanistan policies.”

“To the extent that Republicans have an interest in communicating with Obama’s base,” Conant continued, “that’s going to be a good medium.”

In other words, this is concern trolling raised to a high art. Or blogger jujitsu.

Posted in blogs and blogging, Republicans, The smear industry, working the refs | Tagged: , , | Comments Off on GOP Boasts Of Using Huffington Post To Drive Wedges Between Democrats And Activist Base

Will Any Of The TradMed Sources Currently Uncritically Repeating GOP Nonsense About Pelosi…

Posted by Phoenix Woman on May 20, 2009

…ever stop to notice that Fred Malek, the first prominent Republican to endorse Mitt Romney for 2012, is the same guy who pulled off the infamous “Jew count” — which led to the demotion of two Jewish employees — at the Bureau of Labor Statistics under Richard Nixon?

Then again, the traditional media largely ignored this little blot on Malek’s escutcheon when he and other persons with bigoted histories were hired by John McCain’s campaign in 2007 — even though they were in the throes of pretending that Obama’s campaign had a “Jewish problem”.

Posted in anti-Semitism, Barack Obama, GOP/Media Complex, Pelosi, Republicans, Republicans acting badly, Republicans as cancer, rightwing moral cripples, Silly Republicans, The smear industry, torture, working the refs | Comments Off on Will Any Of The TradMed Sources Currently Uncritically Repeating GOP Nonsense About Pelosi…

Cue The Psycho Right-Wing Screamers

Posted by Phoenix Woman on May 14, 2009

As Pareene of the now-essential Gawker (words I’d never thought I’d type) says, in reaction to the news that serious journalists read liberal blogs more than conservative ones:

For example, more journalists know about Michelle Malkin than Talking Points. Yet twice as many journalists actually read Talking Points than read Michelle Malkin.

Talking Points Memo features original reporting and analysis from a liberal perspective. is the crazed rantings of a racist psychopath. This is like saying “twice as many journalists read The Weekly Standard as pay attention to the Black Hebrew Israelites who hang out in midtown.”

Res ipsa loquitor.

Posted in blogs and blogging, media, working the refs | 1 Comment »

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