At Debate, GOP 'Dogma Against Taxes' Obstacle to Fixing Bridges --8/6/2007
2. CBS: 'Cash-Starved' Governments Must 'Collect...More Tax Dollars'
3. Regret Lack of 'Will' to Hike Taxes as '$4K/Minute' Spent in Iraq
4. Olbermann Hails 'Sane, Reasoned' Discussions About Raising Taxes
5. Newsweek Touts 'Gay Love' for Hillary with No Labels, Unlike GOP
6. WSJ Decline Blamed on 'Vitriolic Right-Wing Attack Editorials'
As a questioner, along with George Stephanopoulos, of Republican presidential candidates at the Sunday debate in Iowa carried on ABC's This Week, veteran Des Moines Register political reporter and current columnist David Yepsen pressed the candidates to raise taxes. For the last question in the first hour of the 90 minute session from Drake University, Yepsen urged Mike Huckabee: "Is it time we raise the federal gas tax to start fixing up our nation's bridges and roads?" After Huckabee answered it was a matter of budget priorities, Yepsen turned to Rudy Giuliani: "In Minnesota, Governor Pawlenty, who vetoed an increase in his state gas tax, said now he may consider one. Is this Republican dogma against taxes now precluding the ability of you and your party to come up with the revenues that the country needs to fix its bridges?" Giuliani suggested Yepsen's formulation presumed a "Democratic liberal assumption: I need money, I raise taxes."
In two weeks, ABC's This Week will gather Democrats for a debate. Will their "dogma against cutting spending" be cited as an impediment to prioritizing money to fix bridges?
[This item was posted Monday morning on the MRC's blog, NewsBusters.org: newsbusters.org ]
Part of the August 5 exchange between Yepsen and Giuliani:
YEPSEN: In Minnesota, Governor Pawlenty, who vetoed an increase in his state gas tax, said now he may consider one. Is this Republican dogma against taxes now precluding the ability of you and your party to come up with the revenues that the country needs to fix its bridges?
A night after CBS Evening News anchor Katie Couric, without any consideration for cutting other spending, presumed taxes must be hiked to pay for infrastructure repair, CBS reporter Sharyl Attkisson ludicrously described federal and state governments as "cash-starved" as she relayed the expert view of just one person, a Democratic Congressman, whom she said blames the lack of courage to "collect" more taxes. A nice euphemism for raising taxes. On Thursday night, Couric had asked: "Are taxpayers ready to spend the billions, maybe trillions, it would take to fix all the pipelines, tunnels and bridges?"
On Friday night, Attkisson noted that out "of the $2.7 trillion federal budget, it's estimated only around $50 billion a year goes for infrastructure" while "experts say what's needed is $210 billion a year for five years." After citing a couple of examples of misguided pork barrel spending for road projects when repair work goes wanting, Attkisson pointed out how "Congress only funds about 25 percent of the nation's infrastructure." She then absurdly asserted that states and local governments which "pick up the rest of the tab" are "cash-starved too." For her only expert assessment, Attkisson turned to Democratic Congressman Jim Oberstar, Chairman of the very committee which funnels the pork spending, described as "Congress's leading authority on infrastructure" who "says both Congress and the White House have traditionally had trouble making the tough decision to collect and spend more tax dollars on infrastructure."
Neither Attkisson, nor the on-screen chyron for Oberstar, identified him as a Democrat.
[This item was posted Friday night on the MRC's blog, NewsBusters.org: newsbusters.org ]
Chairman of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, Oberstar represents northeastern Minnesota.
The August 3 CyberAlert recounted:
Neglecting any thought about cutting spending anywhere within the federal budget, for instance some of the soaring entitlement spending, CBS's Katie Couric on Thursday night wondered if taxpayers are "ready to spend" the "trillions" needed to repair the nation's infrastructure. Just the night before, Couric's newscast illustrated why entitlement spending keeps rising faster than inflation and population growth, as she aired a sympathetic look at "getting medical coverage for the millions of American children who don't have it," a plan which would hike spending by $50 billion over five years. Couric's assumption about higher taxes came as she introduced an August 2 CBS Evening News story from Nancy Cordes on the estimate by the American Society of Civil Engineers, a group obviously in favor of additional public works project spending, that it will cost $1.6 trillion to address infrastructure needs. Live from Minneapolis, Couric asked: "Experts have been warning for years that this country's infrastructure is crumbling. But are taxpayers ready to spend the billions, maybe trillions, it would take to fix all the pipelines, tunnels and bridges?"
KATIE COURIC: Well, in Washington late today the House approved an emergency bill authorizing $250 million to rebuild the 35W bridge. The Senate is expected to follow suit, but it's really just a drop in a very huge bucket when it comes to fixing all of America's bridges and highways and pipelines. As Sharyl Attkisson reports, for years Congress has had other things on its agenda.
SHARYL ATTKISSON: Funding the nation's infrastructure is all a matter of priorities. Out of the $2.7 trillion federal budget, it's estimated only around $50 billion a year goes for infrastructure, just a tiny slice of the pie. Experts say what's needed is $210 billion a year for five years just for upkeep. And the need is felt in all 50 states. Coast to coast there have been sewage leaks, killer chunks of falling concrete, broken pipes in the Midwest, contaminated water in Washington D.C., and New Jersey loses an astonishing 20 million gallons of drinking water a day from leaky pipes.
Time magazine veteran Margaret Carlson, now with Bloomberg News and The Week magazine, used the Minnesota bridge collapse tragedy as a fresh excuse to tout how the public really wants a tax hike while she regretted the lack of political "will" to raise taxes and that the government can't find more money for infrastructure but can afford "$4,000 a minute on the Iraq war." Citing a poll conducted a decade ago when Democrat Ed Rendell was Mayor of Philadelphia, on Friday's Inside Washington aired on the DC PBS station, WETA-TV channel 26, Carlson claimed that "nearly 70 percent of people polled would pay more in taxes to actually know that they could cross the 14th Street bridge safely," a reference to a bridge between Washington, DC and Virginia. "But," she fretted, "you can't get the will to do it. I mean, we certainly had the wake-up call in Katrina, everyone knows the situation, but can you really get it done when there's, by the way, very little money left?"
[This item was posted Friday night on the MRC's blog, NewsBusters.org: newsbusters.org ]
Carlson's page on Bloomberg.com: www.bloomberg.com
A couple of quotes from Carlson on the August 3 Inside Washington, a show produced at Washington, DC's ABC affiliate, which airs it Sunday morning after it runs Friday night on the PBS station and Saturday night on NewsChannel 8, a DC cable news channel owned by the ABC affiliate:
On Friday's Countdown, MSNBC's Keith Olbermann charged that the "endless war and endless spending" had "crippled our ability to repair or just check our infrastructure," as he hosted Air America's Rachel Maddow in a discussion blaming the Minneapolis bridge collapse on Iraq war spending and unwillingness by conservatives to raise taxes. Olbermann quoted Minnesota Democratic Senator Amy Klobuchar's charge of "messed up priorities" and New York Democratic Congresswoman Louise Slaughter's labeling of bridge collapse victims as "almost victims of war" because "perpetual war depletes the funds available to maintain our infrastructure." Complaining that Republicans have "demonized" taxes, he saw a glimmer of light in how the Governor of Minnesota may agree to raise the gas tax: "Does the Governor's reversal tonight suggest maybe somebody is going to start having sane, reasoned discussions about taxes and when they're needed?" Maddow charged that America is "paying this incredible deadly price for a brand of American conservatism that hates and demeans government."
Olbermann teased the August 3 show: "The bridges of every county: How the endless war and endless spending crippled our ability to repair or just check our infrastructure."
About 8:20 p.m., after relaying to viewers that Minnesota Republican Governor Tim Pawlenty had reversed his opposition to raising the gas tax to fund infrastructure projects, Olbermann cited charges by Democrats that Iraq war spending was responsible for a lack of bridge repairs: "Earlier today, Minnesota Senator Amy Klobuchar referred to the, quote, 'messed up priorities' by spending half a trillion dollars in Iraq while bridges crumble at home. New York Congresswoman Louise Slaughter joined the connection even tighter, calling the bridge victims, quote, 'almost victims of war' because our, quote, 'perpetual war depletes the funds available to maintain our infrastructure.'"
Ignoring the massive amounts of non-war government spending that could be diverted to pay for infrastructure repairs, Olbermann pressed for tax increases to yield the required funding as he implied that conservative views on taxes are not "sane" and "reasoned." Olbermann: "Republicans, including Governor Pawlenty, President Bush, have demonized taxes, demonized any Democrat who ever said tax hike could improve our lives, save our lives at home. Does the governor's reversal tonight suggest maybe somebody is going to start having sane, reasoned discussions about taxes and when they're needed?"
During her response, Maddow charged that America is "paying a deadly price" for anti-government conservatism, even invoking Ronald Reagan: "We're a country that, as a whole, is paying this incredible deadly price for a brand of American conservatism that hates and demeans government, and that has defined any sort of spending on anything for the common good as something that's soft-headed and suspect. And it's a brand of conservatism that goes back to, you know, Reagan's first inaugural where he defined government as the problem and to Barry Goldwater before him, and the Republican party right now defines itself as uncritical inheritors of that legacy. And while they may be benefitting from it politically, we're all paying the price for it in terms of a country that's just falling apart. It's a national disgrace."
[This item, by Brad Wilmouth, was posted Saturday on the MRC's blog, NewsBusters.org: newsbusters.org ]
Below is a transcript of the segment from the Friday, August 3 Countdown on MSNBC:
KEITH OLBERMANN, in opening teaser: The bridges of every county: How the endless war and endless spending crippled our ability to repair or just check our infrastructure.
OLBERMANN: But comfort is not all that the city of Minneapolis seeks right now. In addition to the bodies to be found, there is the undiscovered truth, the explanation for how this happened. Tonight, the U.S. Transportation Department announced it will investigate the Federal Highway Administration, the agency which inspected the I-35 W bridge. Questions investigators will consider: whether the agency followed recommendations last year to improve oversight on deficient bridges and the federal funding for them.
Newsweek political reporter Jonathan Darman provided a preview of sorts to the August 9 Democratic debate on the gay Logo cable channel with an article on Democrats seeking votes on the gay left, playfully titled: "Show 'Em Whatcha Got: Conscious of their community's financial clout, gay activists want action on equality issues, not just talk." Nowhere in Darman's story in this week's new issue is there a single ideological label that would place gay supporters of the Democrats on the left. But a June story on the state of the Republican presidential race after Jerry Falwell's funeral was studded with 12 uses of "conservative" or shifting "rightward" or "religious right."
[This item, by Tim Graham, was posted Sunday on the MRC's blog, NewsBusters.org: newsbusters.org ]
Darman's story in the August 13 edition began by touting how progressive Hillary's been on the gay issues and has been "eager to bask in the gay love," but how gay activists are demanding more of a revolution:
Gay men and lesbians have always had a soft spot for Hillary Clinton. In the mid-'90s, when "homosexual" was still a dirty word in much of the country, Bill Clinton and his wife socialized in the White House with a broad circle of gay friends. In the dark days of Whitewater and Monica, gays leaped to Hillary's defense, needing no convincing that a "right-wing conspiracy" was vast and real. At the annual gay-pride parade in Manhattan, drag queens and go-go boys compete for prominence with New York's political elite, but Clinton is always the star of the show.
Lately, Clinton has been eager to bask in the gay love. Her young presidential campaign has already held two fund-raisers with major gay and lesbian donors. This week, after a scheduled appearance with the other Democratic contenders at a forum in L.A. on gay issues, she'll head to a fund-raiser at the West Hollywood gay hangout the Abbey. The attention may be paying off. According to gay journalist Lisa Keen's analysis of fund-raising to date in 2007, Clinton has earned 48 percent of the contributions from heavily gay ZIP codes nationally, compared with 39 percent for Barack Obama and 13 percent for John Edwards.
END of Excerpt
For the article in full: www.msnbc.msn.com
The rest of the article examined how despite momentum on so-called "gay marriage" and on other issues, the Democratic front-runners aren't keeping up with the revolution: they're "identical to those taken by Al Gore and Bill Bradley eight years ago." Darman quoted gay-left activists Alan van Capelle of Empire State Pride Agenda, and Matt Foreman of the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force, but no one is apparently a liberal.
Now compare that to an article in the June 7 edition by Eve Conant (with assistance from the aforementioned Jonathan Darman), in which there were 12 conservative labels. Newsweek can call a conservative a conservative, but a liberal is only an activist for "equality issues." Here's the sentences in the Conant piece with the ideological identifications:
- "They'd come to pay their respects to the past, but the talk soon turned to the future. The country's leading conservative Christians convened in Lynchburg, Va., last week to bury the Rev. Jerry Falwell, the televangelist..."
- "Ralph Reed asked me who I was interested in," says Richard Viguerie, the longtime conservative political consultant. Viguerie had no good answer.
- "Conservative Christians were crucial in sending George W. Bush to the White House -- and were even more important to his narrow re-election in 2004 -- but many evangelical leaders complain that he hasn't shown much thanks, and their devotion to the born-again president is waning."
- "Though Bush talked a lot during the campaign about the "culture of life," many Christian conservatives do not believe he uses his bully pulpit enough to denounce abortion."
- "Front runner Rudy Giuliani is tainted by his messy divorces and support for abortion rights -- a deal breaker for Christian conservatives."
- "Former Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney looks presidential and says all the right things, but many evangelicals say his rightward drift on the issues smacks of political opportunism."
- "But so far Romney has failed to convince evangelicals that he is one of them. Some in the religious right talked up Sam Brownback and Mike Huckabee, sturdy conservatives with impeccable Christian credentials. But their campaigns have gone nowhere."
- Grover Norquist, the influential conservative strategist and president of Americans for Tax Reform, says that no matter how upset evangelicals may be, they aren't going to do anything that hands the White House to the Democrats.
- "Where you won't see them is working the phone banks or sending out mailings," says Tony Perkins, head of the conservative Family Research Council."
- "It's still early, and there are plenty of candidates -- including a few waiting in the wings, such as Newt Gingrich -- openly courting the support of conservative Christians."
- "Earlier this month nearly 400 members of the Council for National Policy, a club of Christian conservatives, packed into a hotel ballroom in Virginia to hear him [Fred Thompson] speak."
For that earlier story: www.msnbc.msn.com
Newsweek's labeling imbalance not only ignores that if opposing the "gay marriage" agenda makes you a "conservative," then supporting it ought to earn you the "liberal" tag. It suggests that gay Americans are politically unanimous, that there isn't a gay Republican or conservative anywhere to be found.
A web-exclusive interview with gay-movement historian John D'Emilio does acknowledge that exit polls showed almost one-fourth of self-identified gay voters did not vote for Kerry, and the interview's introduction did balance labels with a P-word:
But they didn't make even a tiny effort like this in the print edition. It's online only at: www.msnbc.msn.com
The decline of the Wall Street Journal, which allowed Rupert Murdoch's purchase of it, can be blamed in part on how advertisers "perhaps weren't enthralled" with the newspaper's "vitriolic right-wing attack editorials," Washington Post op-ed writer David Ignatius contended in a Thursday column. In "The Path That Led to Murdoch," Ignatius, a former Wall Street Journal reporter who has held a variety of top positions at the Post since 1986, asserted that during the 1990s "the Journal's editorial page increasingly did its own reporting, with equal portions of journalistic hustle and ideological spin, and it often overshadowed the news side. I suspect that helped undermine the franchise. Advertisers, in the end, perhaps weren't enthralled with a newspaper distinguished by vitriolic right-wing attack editorials."
(The screen shot of Ignatius, which will accompany the posted version of this CyberAlert, is from appearance last year on the Chris Matthews Show.)
Ignatius didn't have anything to say about the impact on the New York Times of its vitriolic left-wing attack editorials and I wouldn't count on members of the mainstream media any time soon pointing to that editorial page as the culprit for declining ad revenue at the Gray Lady.
[This item was posted Saturday on the MRC's blog, NewsBusters.org: newsbusters.org ]
An excerpt from the bio for Ignatius on the WashingtonPost.com's "PostGlobal" blog:
From September 2000 to January 2003, Ignatius served as executive editor of the Paris-based International Herald Tribune. Prior to becoming a columnist, Ignatius was the Post´s assistant managing editor in charge of business news, a position he assumed in 1993. He served as the Post´s foreign editor from 1990 to 1992, supervising the paper´s Pulitzer Prize-winning coverage of the Iraqi invasion of Kuwait. From 1986 to 1990, he was editor of the Post´s Sunday Outlook section. Before joining the Post in 1986, Ignatius spent 10 years as a reporter for The Wall Street Journal....
That's online at: newsweek.washingtonpost.com
....But the business acumen and good luck that had powered the rise of Dow Jones petered out during [Peter] Kann's tenure [late 1980s into 1990s] as chief executive. As the company's economic fortunes declined, so did some of its journalism. The A-heds stopped being funny, and then they disappeared. The left-hand "leaders," as we called them, which once offered some of the clearest analysis of America and the world, became thumpingly ordinary. Then they, too, disappeared -- in one of the series of redesigns that destroyed the look and feel of the old Journal without creating a strong new identity.
The Journal's tradition of investigative journalism continued on hard business stories, as in its coverage of Enron. But the Journal no longer dominated coverage of non-business subjects, such as the mob (as with Jonathan Kwitny) or Washington scandals (as with Jerry Landauer) or politics (as with Albert Hunt) or foreign policy (as with Karen Elliot House). The Journal's coverage of these subjects now is solid -- occasionally superb -- but it lacks the panache of the old days, when the business side of the paper was booming, money was rolling in and everyone gloried in taking risks.
The Journal of the mid-1980s was a demonstration of the proposition that good journalism and good business go hand in hand. This was the decade of the Wall Street dealmakers, and the Journal had a managing editor (Norman Pearlstine) and reporter/editor (James B. Stewart) who went after them with the intensity of journalistic Gordon Gekkos. It was a tough, canny paper -- whose front page each morning had more voltage even than the fiery editorial page.
That balance began to change in the 1990s, after Pearlstine and his pal John Huey left for Time Inc. The Journal's editorial page increasingly did its own reporting, with equal portions of journalistic hustle and ideological spin, and it often overshadowed the news side. I suspect that helped undermine the franchise. Advertisers, in the end, perhaps weren't enthralled with a newspaper distinguished by vitriolic right-wing attack editorials.
For Journal alumni, the past decade has been like watching a car wreck in slow motion. The people driving the car were our friends, the journalists we respected most. Now an ambulance of sorts, in the person of Rupert Murdoch, has arrived to pick up the bodies.
People will bemoan what Murdoch does to the Journal, no matter what it is. They will say that he is killing a great newspaper. But the sad part of this story is that "the empire," as we reporters once liked to call it, was already dying -- and that so many of its wounds were self-inflicted.
For the August 2 column in full: www.washingtonpost.com
-- Brent Baker