US News Section

Wednesday, July 28, 2010 - 6:04pm

Journalism is a totally unregulated profession. It always has been and it should always be so, even when it fails miserably to do its job.

The dirty little secret about journalism is that you don’t need any special training to call yourself a journalist. You don’t need a license, you don’t need to join a union, and heck, you don’t even need a job or income to call yourself a journalist.

So, if you would happen to wake up someday disgruntled with your miserable life, you could grab a pen and a paper and write a news story. Once finished, you could declare yourself a journalist. It’s that easy. Well, almost.

Here’s a quick history of journalism in America from a little book published several years ago by the Indiana University Press.*

“During the first half of the eighteenth century, seventy-three newspapers were begun in the U.S. colonies. These early newspapers and the people who produced them established some enduring images, both positive and negative, that helped to define the craft of the journalist in the United States. Colonial printer-journalists, like copy editors and many supervisory editors of news organizations today, generally wrote very little. Instead, they relied on other papers, letters, travelers, ship crews, and official sources for their news. But they also relied on a second kind of journalist – the correspondent who then, as now, reported on what was going on in the hinterlands. The work of these usually unpaid correspondents was largely a combination of the functions of today’s reporter, editorial writer, and town booster. Their services were in great demand, because of the irregularity of intercolonial and transoceanic communication.” Pg 2.

A few pages later the book says this:

“Sociologist Michael Schudson has written that the idea of paying reporters ‘was not only novel, but to some, shocking. Until the late 1820s, New York coverage of Washington politics relied mainly on members of Congress writing occasionally to their home papers.’ But by 1834, two of New York’s eleven papers each employed four reporters. ‘exclusively to obtain the earliest, fullest, and most correct intelligence on every local incident.’ The occupation of ‘hired’ reporting was not accorded instant respect, however.”

I get from these quotes two conclusions:

1. The original journalists were CITIZEN journalists and

2. The respect for the profession has really not changed much over the last 100-years.

First, the “correspondents” referred to in the first quote were what we call today, citizen journalists. They had no training and little editorial supervision. Their stories were either published or not, according to the decision of the “printer-journalist.”

Second, the respect for the profession of journalist has not changed. Even with expensive J-school educations, most journalists are underpaid and most really serious journalists go their whole careers underpaid and under appreciated.

Now, what with the JournoList scandal, respect for the profession has diminished even more.

Here is another quote from the book: Somewhere around 1889 “Harvard University President Charles William Eliot was quoted as saying reporters were ‘drunkards, deadbeats, and bummers.’”

And that was over 100 years before 400 so-called professional journalists colluded through email communications to destroy Sarah Palin, hide the shameful and racist statements of candidate Barack Obama’s pastor, the Rev. Jeremiah Wright, and to spin or kill news stories that might damage their favorite candidate.

Personally, I’d rather have “drunkards, deadbeats, and bummers” as journalists than unethical propagandists posing as them.

No matter how corrupt or depraved individual journalists may become, I still don’t think journalists should be licensed, unionized or otherwise selected, scrutinize or controlled by the government.

The best antidote for corrupt journalists is the same as the best antidote for corrupt politicians: sunlight. Let the way they operate, the biases they bring to their work, the people who pay their way, and the influences that surround them be known to all.

Then let the people decide.

Connecticut Man1
Wednesday, July 28, 2010 - 11:24am

I found this video to be a bit disturbing. Not for the simple idea of polygamy, as I really could care less what consenting adults decide to do in their private lives, but for the fact that so many people (about 95% of them, give or take) did absolutely nothing as they witnessed what they thought was a 15 year old child being forced into marriage:

Forced Into Polygamy in Public
What Would You Do If You Thought You Saw a Child Bride?

Colorado City, Ariz., home to the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, seems like a town stuck in the 19th century. Women wear old-fashioned clothing and sport elaborately braided hairstyles, and the practice of polygamy -- having more than one spouse at one time -- is not uncommon.

The FLDS, which has been renounced by the Mormon Church for its practice of polygamy, has been accused of arranging marriages between underage girls and much older men who already have multiple wives. Young women have spoken out about allegedly being forced into marriage when they were as young as 14, and wishing they'd had help escaping their fates.

So how would people react if they thought they were seeing a young girl being forced into a polygamous marriage against her will?

Some thoughts below.

Just curious what you thought of this story that is really a report on the people that watched this scene play out. I am thinking that, even though I could care less about polygamy, I would have thought more people would have done something if they witnessed any child, or any woman for that matter, being forced into a marriage she does not want.

But that is easy to say when you have not been in that situation to witness something like this in the real world, I guess?

What do you think this says about America, in general? And what would you do?

Connecticut Man1
Tuesday, July 20, 2010 - 5:16pm

"I don't fact check at all":

Andrew Breitbart, who published the video clip of Shirley Sherrod's speech that led to her forced resignation, tells TPM he doesn't have the entire video either and that the clip came to him from a source already edited. But he's seen enough: "I think the video speaks for itself. The way she's talking about white people ... is conveying a present tense racism in my opinion. But racism is in the eye of the beholder."

"And you can't make me!"

Who can take anything Breitbart and his gonzo criminal journalists cronies writes or produces seriously when they act on right wing lunacy without even a cursory look at the background sources and the facts? Below the fold is some recent news from Jed Lewison at dKos.

Reinstate Shirley Sherrod

This had better be a trial balloon:

Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack this afternoon took responsibility for firing an official, Shirley Sherrod, whose appearance  on video recalling her behavior toward a white farmer drew charges of racism, and whose immediate firing drew suggestions  that the administration had over-reacted to an edited video clip.

A White House official told me just now that the White House backs Vilsack's decision -- but that it was Vilsack's alone. The official said the White House -- contrary to the Sherrod's charge -- did not pressure the Department to fire her.

Unfortunately, Greg Sargent is hearing similar things. Sorry, but simultaneously saying it wasn't our call' and 'we support the decision' just won't cut it. Firing Shirley Sherrod was a bad decision, motivated by the wrong reasons, and it should be reversed. She should be reinstated, and it's not a close call.

Read on...


Connecticut Man1
Tuesday, July 20, 2010 - 12:32pm

to come up with possible links to hate groups. H/T to Electablog, and first the backgrounder on his campaign:

Ryan J. Murdough, a 30-year-old who says he works with children with special needs at a youth center, is running for a seat on the State House in New Hampshire's 8th District.

And he's doing it as a Republican.

The self-professed "racist" is also supported by the American Third Position, a hate-spewing organization designed to "represent the political interests of White Americans, because no one else will."

"For far too long white Americans have been told that diversity is something beneficial to their existence," Murdough wrote in a letter to the Concord Monitor.


The Republican party in New Hampshire has made all efforts to distance itself from Murdough.

So far the only sign of distancing themselves I have seen is one statement in that article.

"Mr. Murdough is a despicable racist," party spokesman Ryan Williams told the Union Leader. "His racist views are abhorrent and he is not welcome in the New Hampshire Republican Party."

I suspect there will be more statements of distancing from more New Hampshire GOP spokespeople as this story goes national. Below the fold... A couple of nuggets gleaned from the notoriously racist stormfront website:

Found him in comment threads on stormfront?

Inactive account? I can't check the 2,413 comments, but here is one, and 2 blog posts because I am not a racist jerk that would register with stormfront:

Ryan J. Murdough
Account Inactive

Join Date: Jun 2007
Location: New Hampshire
Posts: 2,413
Blog Entries: 2
Ryan J. Murdough is a splendid one to behold

Default Re: Why we must vote for McCain / Palin

Originally Posted by Alabamachick

Exactly. I don't understand why this is lost on so many people on here.

  1. Who said that blacks rioting if McCain wins won't be an even bigger wake up call?
  1. People on here act as if we need to act now and rush into the idea of waking enough people up. Their excitement is causing them to be ignorant of the obvious danger ahead. What is the rush? Everyone talks about how bad 8 years of Bush was, but look at it this the country really all that terrible right now? Just wait and see what it will be like under Obama. It will be a horrific nightmare. Imagine chaos and violence, yet none of you will have guns to protect yourselves. You guys are being foolish and ignorant for thinking Obama becoming president is some how a good thing. It is getting harder for me to respect the people who think this way on here. Thanks a lot in advance for putting my life in danger.

Blacks have been rioting for quite some time now. Trust me, EVERYONE is aware that blacks riot. That's what they do.

Same name... New Hampshire. Any doubts it is the same guy? Not shocked to find him on stormfront... Where he educated himself racially, no doubt as well.

Meanwhile, stormfront did a fundraiser for him 3 days ago.

Moneybomb Today for pro-white Candidate Ryan Murdough

07-17-2010, 03:43 PM   #1
Forum Member

As for Murdough's job?

He works with kids at a youth center, as noted in the first story, up above. My first thought when I read that part?:

Great place to try to recruit the next generation of hate...

Electablog grabbed a snapshot of his "thoughts" from comment sections of New Hampshire' Concord Monitor. Here are just a few samples:

Reading through some of his comments at the Concord Monitor, we get a better picture of this Neanderthal racist throw-back to a worse era:

The Tea Party at its core is all about race but most of the Tea Partiers do not even realize it. They downplay the race issue every chance they get because they are afraid of being perceived as racist

Every group of people has been a victim at one point in time but no group of people has exploited their victimhood as much as Jews have.

White people need to wake up and realize that they need to preserve their homeland. The United States was not meant to be a melting pot and the more "diverse" the country becomes the worse it will get. Legal non-White immigration hurts our country.

[update] From Think Progress, I am not surprised he hates gays too:

He’s also homophobic, writing that gay parenting is “child abuse” and that “Homosexuals want to get married because they hate Christ.” Murdough acknowledges his stance on race and “Jewish issues” is controversial, but claimed he has DNA evidence to support him.

Murdough is the state chairman of American Third Position (A3P), “a fledgling political party…with the aim of uniting disaffected racists,” the Southern Poverty Law Center reports. Last week, the group proudly announced its “triple-digit donation” (i.e. less than $1,000) to a fund established by Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer (R) to defend her state’s draconian new immigration law. (HT: Political Correction)

[update 2] And on another hate site called "white news now"...

Busted link because these hate groups get enough links on their own:

(google search link in thread title below - again... You can give them more traffic... I won't dig in his evil swamp anymore.)

He was - at one time, pretty recently, in fact, and may still be - a "Senior Moderator" on the "white news now" site. A sample comment from a thread titled "Tea Party Folks Yell Ni66er At Georgia's John Lewis":

I read one article where Barney Frank who is a homosexual Jew, was called a "faggot" by several Tea Party protesters. Oh the horror. It has been open season on White people for decades and now we are pissed. Ding ding.

He had several comments in that thread there. And many of them on how they could use the Tea party to move their despicable agenda. And just one look at the profile pic shows that it is the same guy.

ryan j. murdough,racist

Gotta wonder if "white news now" is affiliated with stormfront - or any other racist groups. Given the agendas and the site design similarities, I have little doubt.

Connecticut Man1
Monday, July 19, 2010 - 11:23am

Sometimes the Big Story of the day is interesting enough on its own, as the turtle media pokes its head out of its shell once in a while:

A hidden world, growing beyond control

The top-secret world the government created in response to the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, has become so large, so unwieldy and so secretive that no one knows how much money it costs, how many people it employs, how many programs exist within it or exactly how many agencies do the same work.

And while the story itself promises to go down a lot of big and interesting rabbit holes:

These are some of the findings of a two-year investigation by The Washington Post that discovered what amounts to an alternative geography of the United States, a Top Secret America hidden from public view and lacking in thorough oversight. After nine years of unprecedented spending and growth, the result is that the system put in place to keep the United States safe is so massive that its effectiveness is impossible to determine.

The investigation's other findings include:

* Some 1,271 government organizations and 1,931 private companies work on programs related to counterterrorism, homeland security and intelligence in about 10,000 locations across the United States.

* An estimated 854,000 people, nearly 1.5 times as many people as live in Washington, D.C., hold top-secret security clearances.

* In Washington and the surrounding area, 33 building complexes for top-secret intelligence work are under construction or have been built since September 2001. Together they occupy the equivalent of almost three Pentagons or 22 U.S. Capitol buildings - about 17 million square feet of space.

What may prove to be just as interesting about this story is the reactions that were telegraphed about it:

Now, Shorrock’s book got far too little attention, IMO. But he did lay out in great detail the many problems with the degree to which we have outsourced our national security infrastructure to contractors (and Jeremy Scahill has, of course, tirelessly chronicled that as well).

Which is why I’m amused by the panic revealed in a memo the Office of the Director of National Intelligence released a few weeks ago preparing all members of the intelligence community for an upcoming Dana Priest series covering the same terrain. The memo reveals:

  • The Director of Communications for ODNI, Art House, briefed Intelligence Community public affairs officers on the article back in January
  • House briefed the Deputies Committee for the intelligence community on the Priest series the week the memo was released
  • House has laid out a response plan to Priest’s article including his agency and the NSC, to be coordinated with all the IC agencies
  • House is already planning “a meeting or conference call to review procedural action before, during and after publication, and to compare substantive points that might be offered in rebuttal to the article”

Perhaps that’s just good messaging strategy–the kind that (as it happens) becomes a lot less effective when it is laid out ahead of time.

But what I’m perhaps most amused by is this paragraph:

This series has been a long time in preparation and looks designed to cast the IC and the DoD in an unfavorable light.  We need to anticipate and prepare so that the good work of our respective organizations is effectively reflected in communications with employees, secondary coverage in the media and in response to questions. [my emphasis]

Nowhere in this memo–at least as republished by Marc Ambinder–does House even hint that Priest has her details wrong (and given that she’s been working on it for two years, I’d be surprised if she did). The only real risk that House raises is the “unauthorized disclosure of sensitive and classified information.”

The rabbit is aleady on the run... I repeat, the rabbit is already on the run.

Will the turtles in our media ever catch up in time?

Connecticut Man1
Friday, July 16, 2010 - 12:29pm


Gov. Joe Manchin is tapping former chief counsel Carte Goodwin to succeed the late U.S. Sen. Robert C. Byrd, Democratic officials told The Associated Press on Friday.

Three people familiar with the governor's pick spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to comment ahead of an official announcement.

Manchin is scheduled to present his appointee at a press conference this afternoon at the Capitol.

Regardless of if it is Goodwin, whomever picked would just be a temp until November when they would have a vote for someone to finish out the last two years of the late Robert C. Byrd's term.

(h/t to AMERICAblog, who, by the way, are doing some great work following the DADT story on AMERICAblogGAY)

Connecticut Man1
Tuesday, July 13, 2010 - 6:48pm

Maybe? I am not saying for certain that she is fronting another in a long line of AstroTurf groups for the GOP and corporate interests... But take a look and decide for yourself. For all I know, she may just be as crazy as her movement and video implies?

First, and via Gawker, we get this little bit of giggle:

The Time Has Come to Make Glenn Beck President, Says Clown Lady

Most Americans want Glenn Beck to be our next president and return us to prosperity. The only hiccup? Getting him to run! Fortunately, the clown lady in this video is circulating a petition to change all that.

Her name is Robin Potwora, and the website for her "grassroots organization," Main Street Bites Back, features a number of terrifying robot-voiced videos of illustrated political figures, including the hated Barack Obama.

Aside from this "grassroots" clown gig? Well, given the Torrington, Connecticut address on "Main Street Bites Back" contact page and the name to go with it... I think it is safe to say that she may just be tied to some  very right wing and typical "grasstroots" lobbying money...

The Tobacco Industry to be precise:


"Robin Potwora (left), Executive Director of Smoke Signals Coalition, leads a protest of Connecticut's ban on smoking in bars at Sports Rock USA in Bristol on Saturday. The group is supporting Bill 5138 to amend Connecticut's smoking ban." 

 Curious about the "Smoke Signals Coalition"? I pulled this out of a cache:

Tobacco giant aids smoke ban repeal bill
Waterbury (CT) Republican-American, 2005-02-02
Trip Jennings

Rep. Leonard Greene, R-Beacon Falls, wants to repeal the statewide ban of smoking in restaurants and bars a year after identical legislation died in the General Assembly.
But this time Greene has help from a powerful ally.

Tobacco giant RJ Reynolds has bankrolled a Torrington nonprofit with $10,000 to run radio spots in Hartford, New London, New Haven and Fairfield counties and to pay for direct mailing to every liquor license holder in the state to mobilize support for Greene's bill, said Robin Potwora, executive director of the nonprofit, Smoke Signals Coalition.

"There are more than half a million adult smokers in Connecticut. They understand this is a fairness issue," Potwora said of the statewide ban that outlawed smoking in restaurants in October 2003 and in bars in April 2004, but allows it in private clubs and Connecticut's two gambling casinos.

The 30-second and 60-second advertisements, running on a classic rock station in Brookfield, a hard-rock station in Hartford and country music station in New London, ask Connecticut smokers to boycott buying cigarettes until the smoking ban is repealed.

Just thought you might find this typically funny of nearly every "grassroots" GOP Inc. campaign - like the Dick Armey GOP inc. sponsored side of the Tea party. Typical of these corporate astroturf types, she was anti cigarette taxes too. (I'm shocked, I tell you!)

Anyways... There is smoke. Dare I say fire?

[update] Put this in your pipe and smoke it:

Tobaccoup Road

In 1999, speaking to physicians, Surgeon General C. Everett Koop, a Reagan appointee, decried the hold of Big Tobacco on health care legislation.

He called tobacco “the sleaziest, slimiest, most devious industry in the world,” whose members “also are the smartest and the richest," and then added. "...that’s a bad combination.”*

Koop remarked:

The biggest scandal in Washington was the Republican Senate selling out to the tobacco industry.

Always prescient, Koop was drawing attention to a coup d'etat: a bloodless takeover of government by big that would drastically effect us for over a decade and is still derailing healthcare reform efforts today.

Koop warned, "We have lost control of medicine to the business world."

Read on...


Connecticut Man1
Friday, July 9, 2010 - 10:16pm

From Raw Story:

Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas is reportedly "outraged" after security guards at a New Orleans-area hospital were accused of punching and tasing his epileptic nephew, a news report states.

Derek Thomas was admitted to West Jefferson Hospital in Jefferson Parish, Louisiana, Thursday, after a possible suicide attempt, reports ABC affiliate WGNO.

When the Supreme Court justice's nephew refused to put on a hospital gown and said he wanted to leave the hospital, doctors ordered security to restrain him.

Security guards "punched him in his lip, pulled out more than a fistful of his dreadlocks and tasered him to restrain him," a statement from Thomas' family said.

Best wishes to the Thomas family and I hope his nephew, who suffered massive epileptic seizures after the incident, will be ok. The ABC video report below the fold.


If some of these issues over abuse of Tasers ever gets to the SCOTUS, we hope that Justice Thomas will understand why many think the abuse of what can be a deadly weapon, regardless of what makers of Tasers say, is a serious issue in the area of security and policing and our citizens personal freedom.

Connecticut Man1
Thursday, July 8, 2010 - 6:27pm

From AMERICAblog, section 3 of DOMA deemed unconstitutional:

I keep finding nuggets in the ruling. This is one of my favorites in the Gill decision, "DOMA fails to pass constitutional muster even under the highly deferential rational basis test." The judge didn't even get to higher scrutiny, because DOMA doesn't even meet the most basic legal test for legislation.

And, here's the conclusion of the Mass. case:

This court has determined that it is clearly within the authority of the Commonwealth to recognize same-sex marriages among its residents, and to afford those individuals in same-sex marriages any benefits, rights, and privileges to which they are entitled by virtue of their marital status. The federal government, by enacting and enforcing DOMA, plainly encroaches upon the firmly entrenched province of the state, and, in doing so, offends the Tenth Amendment. For that reason, the statute is invalid.

This also means the Department of Justice, OPM and HHS lost today. They'll have to decide if they want to appeal it. That's going to be an interesting decision on their part -- and will have important ramifications.

More on this from Salon and from the Boston Globe, there are still some battles ahead:

At that hearing, Christopher R. Hall, a lawyer for the US Justice Department, said President Obama opposes the 1996 law, agrees it is discriminatory, and supports its repeal.

Nonetheless, Hall said, the administration is following the longstanding practice of defending federal laws signed by previous presidents as long as the statutes are constitutional, which, Hall asserted, the law is. Hall said Congress and President Clinton, who signed the bill into law, had a legitimate interest in preserving marriage as a heterosexual institution 14 years ago.

It is not a foregone conclusion, he said, that the federal government would withhold funding if Massachusetts allowed gay married couples to be buried in veterans' cemeteries.

Never mind that it could end up in the loopy activist and right wing stacked SCOTUS.

For now? A  special note to NOM:

#SuckIt @nomtweets

Connecticut Man1
Thursday, July 8, 2010 - 10:32am

Anyone who watched the Bank disaster/crimes/frauds unfold and saw these big CEOs and their GOP cohorts cry about the sanctity of the contracts guaranteeing vasts sums of (our government) money for their bonuses and salaries for destroying the economy has to be looking on at the GOP making a mockery of "The Sanctity of Contracts" as they ignore the salary requirements in the State workers employee contracts in order to drop their pay to minimum wage. What kind of activism from a judge do you have to have for them to consider the the outside influence of an incompetent state government and not factor in the awesomeness of the "The Sanctity of Contracts"?

Yes, I am simultaneously mocking the jokes that are the right wing's recent "sanctity of the contract"  and endless use of "judicial activism" talking points while spinning the closer to the truth story of using the elites disaster to destroy the little guys wages, across the nation we can witness this tactic being replicated, but below The Maddow Blog explains the excuses of why California courts say it is legal:

So, here's how I piece it together. Let me know if you know different:

  • In 1997 and 1998, taxpayer groups sought to make the state government more accountable by suing them for spending taxpayer money without a budget. The argument is simple enough. If you don't have a budget, you don't know what you should be spending money on so you shouldn't spend any money.
  • Both of those years, a budget was passed shortly thereafter, making the suits moot but the court continued to work on some of the issues raised.
  • In 2003 White v. Davis concluded that state workers don't have a right to full wages when there's no budget and the controller doesn't have the right to pay them anyway if there's no budget. Somewhere along the way it was also determined that state workers couldn't get zero dollars because that would violate federal labor laws, so while the state can't pay them their regular rate, they at least have to be paid minimum wage per federal law.
  • In 2008 Governor Schwarzenegger tried to play the no budget/no pay card but again a budget came soon enough thereafter that he didn't have to really do it (though it's funny to see it mentioned in the 2010 DPA letter - apparently at that time Chiang tried to say he couldn't cut the wages because no one knew how to make the payroll computer do that).
  • But again there were legal challenges and again the court kept on it despite politics moving on.
  • July 1, 2010, no budget again, DPA writes a letter telling the controller to stop the paychecks.
  • July 2, 2010, the court essentially upholds the 2003 ruling in its decision on the 2008 executive order.

But even still, the answer to the question in my headline on this post isn't so cut-and-dry. Yes, in the event that there's no budget, the governor can stop paying state workers except for what is federally required as minimum wage, but what else is decided in the 2003 ruling is that state workers who work while there's no budget aren't volunteers and therefore should be paid the full amount they're owed once a budget is passed. So minimum wage for everyone - for now.

More on it and the documentation to support reasoning for that bullet point simple explanation list is found at The Maddow Blog.

I have to wonder if the judges narrowly deciding these things based solely on politicians failures and not factoring in state's obligations not only to just pay the workers when there is a budget passed but to pay them timely as their contracts no doubt specify and regardless of budgets passed or not - because I doubt there is a "Governor, Senate and House are incompetent boobs that can't budget" clause in their contracts - are paid by the state?

I hope they do get paid by the state of California because these activist judges - and many of the politicians involved - destroying the "small man" would be about the only ones there getting paid both minimum wage AND what they are worth for stupidity like that.

Just my two cents, but I am sure others may disagree. Some might think decisions like these would leave those judges and politicians over paid at minimum wage.