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Fox News Chief Makes a Bizarre Attack on Jon Stewart

August 6, 2015 in Blogs

By Colin Gorenstein, Salon

After 16 years of blistering years takedowns, Roger Ailes takes a swing back at Stewart.

Apart from Arby’s, there’s no one that’s felt the heat of Jon Stewart’s blistering takedowns on the “Daily Show” over his 16-plus years more than Fox News.

In one segment riffing off of Ingmar Bergman’s The Seventh Seal, Stewart even went so far as to compare the network’s chairman and CEO, Roger Ailes, to Death.

That makes it all the more difficult to believe that it’s taken this long for Ailes to respond to the departing host’s war on the conservative news network.

Speaking with Hollywood Reporter this week, Ailes said that the network “never took [Stewart’s takedowns] seriously and he never made a dent in us.”

This doesn’t seem particularly consistent with a recent interview in which the network’s second-highest rated host Megyn Kelly confessed to crying over an 11-minute clip of Stewart’s. But we’ll let that one slide. It’s in the past.

Ailes lobbed a bunch of back-handed compliments Stewart’s way, too. The CEO  referred to Stewart as a “good father” and “brilliant” and then, in the same breath, slammed his entire world view.

“He’s feeling unrewarded because Fox News beats him on the amount of money we make, on ratings and on popularity,” Ailes said. “I’m sure it’s very depressing when he sits home at night and worries about it. We never did.”

He continued: “He has a bitter view of the world, and you see it embodied in how he’s reacting to Fox News.”

Easily the funniest part of the interview: Ailes is convinced Stewart hating on him is just an act (and that he doesn’t actually think of him as a stand-in for the Grim Reaper).

“You can’t say that many negative things about people unless you’re really unhappy about something,” he said. “I actually think he doesn’t dislike me. We met once or twice. I talked to him for an hour once in my office. I think he’s really smart and he’s got a great future.”

Read the full interview in Hollywood Reporter here.


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Horse and Buggy Program in the Age of the Internet

August 6, 2015 in Economics

By Michael D. Tanner

Michael D. Tanner

Will Social Security be around when millennials retire? Certainly. Will it be able to pay them anything close to what they have been promised? Certainly not.

According to the report issued recently by Social Security’s trustees, the program spent $73.1 billion more last year than it took in through non-interest income. By 2020 this gap will grow to $108.7 billion, and surge to almost $200 billion by 2024. Overall, Social Security’s unfunded liabilities now approach $26 trillion.

Of course, some will say that there’s no reason to worry because the Social Security Trust Fund will keep the program afloat until 2034. 2034? That should be great comfort to millennials.

Let young workers who wish to get out of this pyramid scheme do so, and save a portion of their taxes for their own retirement through personal accounts.”

But even that is misleading. Any annual Social Security surpluses, when it has them, are used to purchase special issue government bonds, which became so-called Trust Funds to pay future benefits. Of course, once a bond was purchased, the money used to buy it became general revenue and was spent by the government. So the Trust Funds are simply an accounting measure of how much money the Social Security system is owed by the federal government. The bonds are basically IOUs.

That’s not to say that the government won’t make good on that debt. It always has and likely always will. But the money needed to redeem the $2.7 trillion in assets currently in the Trust Funds comes from the government’s general revenue — that is, the taxes being paid by today’s workers. There’s no free lunch.

And, as noted, the Trust Fund will be empty by 2034. That’s the point at which Social Security will have to make do with only the tax revenue it brings in, meaning it will either have to raise payroll taxes by 30 percent or cut benefits by 21 percent, with even larger changes in later years. Welcome to retirement millennials.

Moreover, even if Social Security could pay every penny in promised benefits, it would still be a bad deal for millennials. Taxes are already so high relative to benefits that they will receive a return far below what they could have earned from investing their money privately. The tax increases or benefit cuts needed to keep Social Security solvent will just make that bad deal worse.

There …read more

Source: OP-EDS

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The Voting Rights Act Is a Grand Success!

August 6, 2015 in Economics

By Ilya Shapiro

Ilya Shapiro

As we celebrate the 50th anniversary of the Voting Rights Act, we should also celebrate the Supreme Court’s recent treatment of its protections.

In striking down Section 4(b) of the VRA in Shelby County v. Holder two years ago, the Supreme Court restored a measure of constitutional order. Based on 40-year-old voting data that don’t reflect current political conditions, this provision subjected a seemingly random assortment of states and localities to onerous unusual federal oversight.

To be clear, neither minority voting rights nor the ability of the federal government to enforce those rights were at stake here. Both of those were, are and will be secure regardless of this case and its consequences.

Instead, the Court was considering whether the “exceptional conditions” and “unique circumstances” of the Jim Crow South still exist such that an “uncommon exercise of congressional power” is still constitutionally justified — to quote the 1966 ruling that approved the VRA’s Section 5 as an emergency measure.

As we celebrate the 50th anniversary of the Voting Rights Act, we should also celebrate the Supreme Court’s recent treatment of its protections.”

As Chief Justice John Roberts wrote for the Court the previous time it looked at this law (2009), the “historic accomplishments of the Voting Rights Act are undeniable,” but the modern uses of Section 5 — which requires federal “pre-clearance” of any changes in election regulation in certain jurisdiction — “raises serious constitutional concerns.” The provision maintains antiquated assumptions and flies in the face of the Fifteenth Amendment’s requirement that all voters be treated equally.

Yet Congress renewed Section 5 in 2006 without updating Section 4’s coverage formula, and it ignored the Court’s warning that “the Act imposes current burdens and must be justified by current needs.” Accordingly, it should be no surprise that the Court noted that “the conditions that originally justified these measures no longer characterize voting in the covered jurisdictions.”

For example, the racial gap in voter registration and turnout is lower in states originally covered by Section 5 than it is nationwide. Blacks in some covered states actually register and vote at higher rates than whites. Facetious tests and sinister devices are now permanently banned — while even individual violations are exceedingly rare and no more likely to occur in jurisdictions that Section 4 sweeps in than in the rest of the country.

The list of “covered” jurisdictions became bizarre: six states of the Old Confederacy, …read more

Source: OP-EDS

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It's Still the Economy, Stupid

August 6, 2015 in Economics

By Ryan McMaken


It’s Still the Economy, Stupid

August 6, 2015

We’re regularly told by the Fed and defenders of the current incumbent president that the economy is humming along pretty well. Yes, there are concerns, we are told, the US is performing below its “potential output” level, but we’ve achieved the most that can be expected under…

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WATCH: Fox News Focus Group Goes Hilariously off the Rails Fighting Over Donald Trump

August 6, 2015 in Blogs

By Jen Hayden, Daily Kos

Do yourself a favor and watch this clip.

To Trump or not to Trump? That's the luxurious gold-plated question.The battle for the black heart and soul of the Republican Party is in full swing as we approach the first primary debates of the Republican presidential shit show, led by sometimes World Wresting Entertainment star Donald Trump. Fox News wanted to tap into the minds of the average Republican voter in New Hampshire, so they pulled together a focus group and brought in Republican consultant Frank Luntz to lead the way.

From the minute Donald Trump's name was mentioned, the focus group began to have a complete meltdown, eventually turning into a shouting match. If you want a glimpse of what Trump is doing to the Republican party, look no further than these exchanges:

“Trump is the boss I have to constantly follow around and fix all the stuff that he broke with his mouth,” one man told the group. …

“This is a live sitcom we’re watching here!” one woman shouted.

One hard-core supporter compared Trump to Ronald Reagan and said it was likely he would be elected. A man in the row behind her shouted her down.

“He changes his positions like he changes his underwear!” he said. “He donated to Hillary! He’s donated to all these Democrats!”

“I don’t care!” the supporter shot back.

“I want a president that’s gonna want to do what the taxpayers want him to do, and what the Constitution says he’s supposed to do,” another woman said. “Not what Donald wants Donald to do.”

If you want to see the meltdown for yourself (and you really should), do yourself a favor—jump below the fold and see why Frank Luntz called this the best focus group he's ever done.


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S. 683 CARERS Act

August 6, 2015 in PERSONAL LIBERTY

By drosenfeld

August 6, 2015


The Drug Policy Alliance supports S. 683 Compassionate Access, Research Expansion, and Respect States (CARERS) Act, which would affirm the right of states to set their own medical marijuana policies, reschedule medical marijuana to Schedule II, enable access to CBD oil, allow banks to provide financial services to marijuana dispensaries, permit VA physicians to recommend medical marijuana to veterans, and eliminate barriers to medical marijuana research.

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Rikers Island Is the New Hell

August 6, 2015 in Economics

By Ilya Shapiro, Randal John Meyer

Ilya Shapiro and Randal John Meyer

As we work our way through the third season of Orange is the New Black, it’s hard not to notice the renewed attention that the media and popular culture are paying to gross abuses in the criminal justice system. The show raises the specter of prisoner abuse and the powerlessness of those facing it, but its minimum-security women’s prison downplays the extent of the problems.

In reality, outside of Piper Chapman’s Litchfield Penitentiary—in real prison—conditions are by and large worse. Many real prisoners live in an extra-constitutional hell.

One egregious example is the prison at Rikers Island in New York City. The New York Times, has spent an astounding amount of ink muckraking (PDF) the problems at Rikers, with expose, after expose, after expose, after expose shedding light on prisoner abuse.

Orange may be the new black, but prison shouldn’t be the new torture.”

Preet Bharara, the U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York, last year issued a damning report of Rikers that examined “whether adolescents are subject to excessive and unnecessary use of force” between 2011 and 2013. The results were astounding: “during the period April 2012 through April 2013, adolescents sustained a total of 754 visible injuries.” “Simply put,” he concluded, “Rikers is a dangerous place for adolescents.” The report accused Department of Corrections officials of creating a “systemic and pervasive pattern and practice of utilizing unnecessary and excessive force against adolescent inmates in violation of the Eighth and Fourteenth Amendments of the Constitution.”

Last month, New York City and the U.S. Justice Department reached a settlement for “sweeping reforms,” including federal monitoring, training, and more cameras. But this should be taken with a degree of skepticism: Bill de Blasio appointed a new warden to reform Rikers when he became New York’s mayor and the results have not exactly been transformative. As the New York Times editorial board put it:

Nearly a year has passed since Mayor Bill de Blasio installed Joseph Ponte as his correction commissioner and charged him with reforming the house-of-horrors city jail system at Rikers Island, where guards have routinely beaten inmates bloody as a matter of course … It is thus deeply disturbing to learn that savage acts of violence against inmates have continued mostly unchecked since the de Blasio administration took office.

One reason for the intractability of top-down reform is that hiring problems within the …read more

Source: OP-EDS

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The Federal Reserve: Keeping America Drug-Free

August 6, 2015 in Economics

By George Selgin

George Selgin

Wait a minute: isn’t that supposed to be the DEA’s job? The Fed’s, according to the 1977 amendment to the Federal Reserve Act, is supposed to be achieving maximum employment and stable prices.

It appears, though, that Federal Reserve officials aren’t content with the job that Congress has assigned to them. You can hardly blame them, since that job has proven to be…well, not exactly the Fed’s cup of tea. There are all sorts of adjectives that might describe the state of employment in the U.S. since 2008, but “maximum” certainly isn’t one of them. As for keeping prices “stable,” well, if the Fed can claim to have generally done that well, it’s because, like Lewis Carroll’s Humpty Dumpty, it gets to make “stable” mean whatever it chooses it to mean.

So it’s only natural that the Fed should try its hand at something new.  Apparently it has decided to do its part to help win the war on drugs. Specifically, it has decided to help the Federal government keep a lid on legal marijuana production despite the steps some state governments have taken to allow it.

The Fed’s job is to see to the integrity of the monetary and banking system, not to hinder (legal) marijuana production.”

Just how is the Fed helping? Like other businessmen, legitimate marijuana growers need bank accounts, so they don’t have to resort to the dangerous, inconvenient, and uneconomical alternative of dealing only in cash. Ordinary banks, already burdened by Dodd-Frank’s onerous reporting requirements, won’t open accounts for them for fear that doing so will subject them to even more scrutiny.

To get around this hurdle, some enterprising Colorado pot growers decided to form their own credit union. But to do that they needed the Fed’s permission to open a “master account” with it — that’s the account qualifying financial institutions must keep with the Fed in order to take advantage of its payment-related services, including check clearing and wire transfers. To contribute to the drug war, all the Fed had to do was to deny the request. And that’s just what the Kansas City Fed, whose territory includes Colorado, did last week when it refused to grant an account to Denver’s Fourth Corner Credit Union.

Now, you may not smoke dope, and you may even think it ought to be illegal. But pot isn’t the issue here. The issue is the Fed. For whatever you …read more

Source: OP-EDS

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'He Should Be Forced to Take an IQ Test': Donald Trump’s Sickest Burns of His 2016 Rivals

August 6, 2015 in Blogs

By Sophia Tesfaye, Salon

As the carnival barker prepares to take the debate stage tonight, a look back at the insults he's already lobbed.

“I’d like to be civil,” Donald Trump said recently of his upcoming debate performance tonight, but as a top campaign aide to Ohio Gov. John Kasich recently tweeted, for his fellow Republican candidates, preparing for tonight’s debate with the notorious ham at center stage is like “a NASCAR driver mentally preparing for a race knowing one of the drivers will be drunk”:

Ahead of the first GOP debate, Salon takes a look at a few of the insults The Donald has hurled at his fellow Republicans:

Jeb Bush

“The last thing we need is another Bush,” Trump declared during January’s Iowa Freedom Summit, opening a months-long assault on his fellow Republicans — a campaign that has been particularly focused on the former Florida governor.

“How would you like him negotiating with the terrorists?” Trump asked at a rally months later, noting “it took him four days before he got his answer straight” on the 2003 Iraq invasion. Bush suffered an early campaign stumble when he was unable to answer a question on the wisdom of invading Iraq during a Fox News interview. Trump has repeatedly described Bush as “weak” on the campaign trail.

Trump’s Twitter account also retweeted an insult to Bush’s wife on July 4: “@RObHeilbron: @realDonaldTrump #JebBush has to like the Mexican Illegals because of his wife.” The retweet was later deleted.

Marco Rubio

“Weak” appears to be a favorite phrase of Trump’s as he’s deployed the insult against Florida Sen. Marco Rubio as well.

“Rubio is weak on immigration and he’s weak on jobs,” Trump told the conservative, adding, “We need someone who is going to make the country great again, and Rubio is not going to make the country great again.”

“I don’t even know how he could be running for office,” Trump said of Rubio during a campaign …read more


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Bernie Sanders Is Taking His Populist Campaign into the Beating Heart of the Christian Right – Liberty University

August 6, 2015 in Blogs

By Zaid Jilani, AlterNet

The Vermont Senator sees it as a way to get his message to a different audience.

Wedesday night, the Bernie Sanders campaign announced that he will be giving a speech in September to an unexpected venue: Liberty University, the evangelical university founded by the late Reverend Jerry Falwell. In a statement, Sanders explained that the invitation came from the school itself and he views it as a way to talk to an audience whose views on many issues may differ from his:

Liberty University was kind enough to invite me to address a convocation and I decided to accept. It goes without saying that my views on many issues — women’s rights, gay  rights, education and many other issues — are very different from the opinions of some in the Liberty University community. I think it is important, however, to see if we can reach consensus regarding the grotesque level of income and wealth inequality in our country, about the collapse of the middle class, about the high level of childhood   poverty, about climate change and other issues. It is very easy for a candidate to speak to people who hold the same views. It’s harder but important to reach out to others who look at the world differently. I look forward to meeting with the students and faculty of Liberty University.

It is rare for a progressive to speak at Liberty's convocations, which take place three times a week. The university has long been a stomping ground for right-wing candidates; recall that Ted Cruz launched his campaign with a speech there.

But there is one historical parallel. In 1983, then-Senator Ted Kennedy (D-MA) addressed the students at the school, joking that some in Washington “seem to think it's easier for a camel to pass through the eye of a needle than for a Kennedy to come to the campus of Liberty.”

Watch it:

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