-->

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Apologies And Realities

There are times in life when we all fall down - and we admit, we fell down yesterday. As you may have noticed, we have a relatively small staff who also have other day jobs - and those other duties caused us not to publish our expanded daily e-mail edition yesterday. Thankfully, our commentary and cartoons for Tuesday were published through our other channels, so you can view them on the cartoon pages and at our blog site.

Sadly, we weren't the only ones to fall down yesterday. America itself also fell down, or more specifically, the Supreme Court of the United States fell down by failing to uphold justice.

In case you missed it, the highly activist, majority right-wing Supreme Court declared open warfare on minority voters across the nation on Tuesday, by cravenly striking down Section 4 of the Voting Rights Act of 1965. In short, the Court invalidated the ability of the DOJ to use the Voting Rights Act to stop or prevent abuses of voting laws, designed to minimize the participation of young people, poor people, and people of color - all of whom tend to vote heavily Democratic.

Today, the Court is scheduled to release their opinions on both DOMA and the Prop 8 case from California - though frankly, we have strong doubts about the current Court's ability to justly decide anything anymore.

As we've noted previously, it truthfully shouldn't matter who someone makes a legal contract with, so long as both parties in the two-party contract are eligible and amenable to the contract's conditions. Indeed, in a civil marriage contract, eligibility and acquiescence are the only things that matter.

The fact is, if more gay people do get married, it will drive up demand for wedding planners, florists, DJs, bands, and caterers, all of whom we're sure will appreciate the new business.

Regardless of how the Court decides today, the fact remains that the Roberts' Court has done grievous and harmful damage to our collective faith in the American governmental system, with the poor decisions they've already made this term. If the Court is going to simply ignore the massive amount of fact findings in any case, and decide according to whatever the whims of it's members are, then Americans must truly begin to ask how much longer our system of government can last.

Congress - specifically the House - has proven they can no longer pass basic laws.

The Supreme Court has now displayed that it can no longer be trusted to dispense justice fairly.

President Obama is still doing almost everything he can, as he proved with his major policy announcement of actions his administration is taking to fight climate change immediately, without Congress - including the effective temporary denial of the Keystone pipeline. Still, the Executive's chair in the Oval Office only seats one person - and no matter who that individual is, they cannot be expected to handle all of the responsibilities the other two branches of our government cannot seem to handle.

**Service Note** Due to emergency personal and professional issues, we will be taking our annual holiday vacation a bit early, starting tomorrow, June 27, 2013. Throughout our break, fresh cartoons will still be added at PaulFellCartoons.com. Our normal publishing schedule will resume July 8, 2013.

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Pulling Back From The Edge

As we promised to start the week, Monday already proved the news is not playing around this week. Yesterday alone included the "Where's Waldo"-like drama of the Edward Snowden story - including the news that Snowden appears to have targeted the NSA, the knock-knock joke opening from the defense attorney in the George Zimmerman murder trial, and the major news from the IRS that "progressive" groups - like other groups including conservatives - had also been among their targets for "special attention".

At the Supreme Court, six decisions came down Monday, including a substantive anti-worker decision, along with a major punt from the Court on the issue of Affirmative Action that sidestepped virtually all the difficult questions. In the U.S. Senate, for once, a difficult task was successfully tackled head-on, as immigration reform passed a key test vote in the U.S. Senate, 67-27.

Today is shaping up to be another major news day with more important decisions from the Supreme Court likely, the major announcement from President Obama of his sweeping actions on climate change, the Senate race in Massachusetts, and a major battle over women's rights and abortion in Texas.

Oh - and HealthCare.gov is now officially active as well.

If you're thinking there are a few things we haven't mentioned yet, you'd be right. Peering at the surging volume of news below us, Americans of all kinds are straining just to hang on, like a dog owner getting dragged to edge of a very nasty cliff.

At least one version of that cliff includes a monster at the bottom that is the Syrian civil war - and it should surprise no one that the gutless curs of the corporate military industry are chomping at the bit to drag the rest of us over that edge.

Before America does get involved any further than a pledge to give weapons to rebels - which is already a far worse idea than most will admit - we should definitely take half a moment in this maelstrom to look seriously at what the Syrian conflict is.

Not only is the Syrian conflict hopelessly confusing, politically, but there are no real heroes on any side. Even the military experts at the Pentagon have made it clear that serious intervention in Syria would be logistically untenable, politically impossible, and fiscally suicidal. Even legitimate analysis from overseas notes that Syrian jihadis are already dividing against themselves, in what is already becoming a wider regional conflict.

We're not going to say what's happening in Syria is acceptable, on a humanitarian level. It's not. However, Syria is also a political and military conflict that has no one who truly sides with the best interests of America, or really much of the rest of the world.

To let those drooling for America get our nation involved in yet another war, and pull the rest of us over the edge into the mess that is Syria, is simply not an option at this time. Thanks to chickenhawk conservatives and weak liberals, America has already wasted nearly a dozen years, in multiple wars overseas.

We've simply got too much going on at home right now, as a nation, to go fight monsters for somebody else.

Monday, June 24, 2013

Not Playing Around


As we're looking forward into this next week, we're a bit apprehensive about the massive number of major news stories looming on the horizon for all three branches of our government over the next few days.

To start with, the Supreme Court will be handing down a scattering of potentially history-altering rulings as they close their 2013 term this week. With voting rights, affirmative action, and both major same sex marriage cases being decided, those covering the news coming from the Court will have enough information coming out this week to last them long past Independence Day.

President Obama and the Executive branch have an even bigger workload on their plate this week than the Court, starting with the President's sweeping and massive climate change announcement and federal policy changes that will happen on Tuesday.

The Obama administration is also keeping close tabs on the legendary former leader of South Africa, Nelson Mandela, who is ill and could very likely die this week - just as President Obama is scheduled to visit several nations in Africa. The rebel factions in Syria also appear to finally be getting the weapons promised to them, so it's likely the Syrian civil war might also be drawing more attention from the White House.

In the midst of all of these news events coming up this week, does anyone think Congress will actually accomplish anything before their scheduled weeklong-plus holiday break begins Thursday afternoon? Or will this simply be another repeat of last week - a chance for Congressmembers to push around the pieces on their political gameboards, and not get one damn thing completely accomplished, as was the case with the farm bill last week.

If it sounds like we're angry at Congress, we are - and most Americans should be as well. Instead, so many Americans are still focused on stupid topics, like TV cook and longtime southern resident Paula Deen getting fired for admitting she's used the "n" word. Looking at social networking, there also still seems to be more than a few people angry about musician Kanye West and his girlfriend Kim Kardashian naming their 1st child "North" - which makes the child's legal name "North West."

The NSA story also had new twists over the weekend as Edward Snowden - who keeps insisting he isn't trying to be at the center of the story - left Hong Kongjoined forces with Wikileaks, and appears to be going to Ecuador, via Russia, Cuba, and possibly Venezuela. Meanwhile, a real whistleblower, former NSA agent Russ Tice,  admitted to the media that he actually saw, back in 2004 - when they were still illegal - orders from the NSA to spy on then-Senator Barack Obama, as well as Senators Hillary Clinton, John McCain, Diane Feinstein, and a member of the Supreme Court.

Meanwhile, Congress has no real intention of doing anything to settle the truly important debate that lies at the heart of both the Snowden and Tice stories, the blance between security and privacy.

All of these topics - Paula Deen, the West/Kardashian child, and even Snowden and Tice - are merely distractions, games for the masses to keep them from pressuring Congress to find solutions for the real problems facing Americans. The farm bill, the immigration reform bill, and the looming student loan interest rate hike aren't going away, and will only get worse the longer Congress ignores them.

Even if both Americans and most members of Congress choose to diddle away their time this week, it's quite clear neither reality nor the news will be playing around.

Friday, June 21, 2013

Love And Respect

Working in the media - and especially in national or international media - there's a certain mystique, a type of near-immortality we occasionally experience when we meet and talk with those who enjoy our work. In general, it isn't something members of our staff truly enjoy - though we do know people who crave it.

Like so many members of the Republican Party right now, those people who love fame are often desperate to have people like them, no matter how silly, stupid, or offensively they act. We admit - we're just as mortal as anyone else - a fact we've been reminded of heavily this week, as a handful of well-known media figures died.

From the Broadway, TV, and film actor James Gandolfini, to the intense and direct journalist Michael Hastings; from the legendary country musician Slim Whitman, to former Rolling Stone writer and CMT executive Chet Flippo, to Nebraska Public Radio music director and host Bill Stibor.

Each of these individuals were amazing people, and all of them were individuals we'd had direct contact with, or that we know some of you, our readers, had regular contact with.

For all of the TV and radio moments, and incredible journalism these members of the media provided, one of the most interesting things we noticed as we looked at this group was that each member was also like our own staffers, in that they didn't crave fame. It's incredibly obvious that each one of them simply wanted to practice their craft at the highest level, to become the best at doing what they loved.

While we'd never want to trade the creative efforts of any of those individuals, we can only imagine what kind of federal government we'd have if the men and woman in Congress - and especially in the U.S. House of Representatives - had even one-tenth the commitment to excellence that this group of recently passed media professionals held every day of their lives.

That lack of committment was blindingly evident on Thursday in the abject failure of House Speaker John Boehner to keep the extremist fanatics in his Republican caucus in-line. That was when the latest House version of the Farm Bill failed spectacularly, just before the House left for another long weekend. In short, this version of the Farm Bill died because Republican extremists insisted that poor people on food stamps needed to give up all government food support, so that massive corporate agribusiness would get to keep most of their multi-billion dollar subsidies.

As former House Speaker and current Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi said after Republicans cannibalized their own bill, "It's silly. It's sad. It's juvenile. It's unprofessional. It's amateur hour." On that, we can not disagree with Congresswoman Pelosi one bit.

It's easy to see why so many efforts in Congress fail these days, on both sides of the aisle, and in all kinds of committees. Far too often our politicians today seem desperate for the kind of fame, love, and respect our five media professionals had all earned in their respective careers.

The best don't primarily crave fame or love. They just do what they do better than anyone else, like those media professionals who passed away this week.

Those individuals earned our respect.

We only wish Congress would try to do the same, for once.

Thursday, June 20, 2013

Jockeying For The Keystone Battles

While there are many reasons we enjoy Paul Fell's cartoons - like today's edition with President Obama and the Keystone XL pipeline - the biggest reason is that humor can often take the edge off discussing complex powderkeg issues. Climate change and the Keystone pipeline definitely fall into that category.

We've been hearing rumors for several months now, since the President mentioned climate change in his second inaugural address, that President Obama would indeed be taking on climate change issues in his second term. As Kevin Drum noted, Obama's pick earlier this year of Gina McCarthy to head the EPA - pending Senate confirmation - was a huge clue that those rumors about the President's choice of direction indeed look to be true.

Yesterday, the New York Times published another story that gave even more credence to the idea that President Obama is indeed looking at taking on climate change by taking on big oil, big coal, and big energy in his second term, by preparing to enact new emissions limits on power plants. That story matched the speech Obama gave in Berlin on Wednesday, where he again hit the idea that if Congress would not act to curb climate change, he would.

For those people who support President Obama, and believe he truly does care about the issue of climate change, all of these are good signs that bolster their opinion of him.

There are also, however, plenty of other legitimate sources and rumors that say President Obama may just be ready to jump on board the Keystone bandwagon, and allow the pipeline to go forward - and those signs are worrying, indeed.

According to a report by Juliet Eilperin in the Washington Post last week, at a recent San Francisco area fundraiser, President Obama made some private remarks expressing how politically difficult some of the decisions on climate change may actually be to implement. The President is somewhat hamstrung on all sides right now, with a Congress unwilling or unable to accomplish anything, an economy growing far too slowly, unemployment higher than most would like, and a continually growing need for more energy in America.

You can add to the President's complicated decision on this issue the conduct of companies like Transcanada, who the President would be siding with, if he choses to authorize the pipeline.

It's not just that Transcanada has been acting like a bully lately. They've also been promising the highest safety standards if the new Keystone XL pipeline is built - while at the same time choosing to use a lower grade of oil spill detectors for that pipeline. This is also in the wake of one of North America's largest environmental disasters ever, in Northern Alberta, Canada, by a company that has done a significant amount of business for and with Transcanada.

As Greg Sargent at The Plum Line noted on Wednesday, for now, the approach President Obama appears to be taking is somewhat of a  good thing. At least he's talking about climate change, energy policy, and what steps Americans can and should take to make things better. That position alone is more than most politicians of any party are taking, and far more than virtually any CEO of almost any private corporation.

What decision President Obama makes on the pipeline though, is anyone's guess. Some are sure he will allow it. Others are still insisting he won't. We have even heard rumors that should he authorize it, there are those prepared to violently attack the construction of the new pipeline.

For now, we hope this heated battle of words remains just that, words.

We also hope the President makes the right decision on this issue.

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

The Naked Truth

There are times where being in the media is both exciting and terrifying, as we must keep our attention on an incredibly broad range of rapidly changing - and sometimes shocking - stories in the short term, while we continue to keep our collective focus on stories that take months or even years to see through.

For example, over the last twenty four hours, the big headlines included both the NBA and NHL finals. They also included more discussion about the NSA's spying, and writer Glenn Greenwald. The great majority of that chatter still hasn't focused on the truly important debate on security and privacy - though there have been notable exceptions like the piece in the Washington Post on Tuesday from Katrina Vanden Heuvel. The headlines have also included more wrangling on the immigration reform bill currently working it's way through the U.S. House, including some amazingly good news about the immigration reform bill from the CBO.

There was even a ridiculous story centering on Republican Congressman Michael Burgess from Texas, who appears to have some seriously warped ideas about fetuses. The U.S. House also passed a pointless attempt to limit abortion to twenty weeks or less. We suppose we should be grateful that the Republican-led House didn't generate yet another pointless story by tossing in their 38th ultimately pointless vote to try and retroactively kill President Obama's health care reform law.

Obamacare has been one of those stories that's taken years to see through, and it's still not a finished product yet.

Like a new suit that doesn't quite fit yet, the President's signature legislation of his first term still needs to have a few alterations - though not quite the fantasy redesigns some Republicans would like to see.

For all the promises to unveil a GOP alternative to Obamacare, and the internal party battles over the law,  Republicans still have yet to put together any replacement plan for health care. Most have begun to accept it's not going anywhere. As Ezra Klein's Wonktalk with Avik Roy showed on Tuesday, even some of Obamacare's greatest critics have now effectively accepted most of the main points of the law.

Whether or not anyone has truly accepted the reality that the Affordable Care Act is now etched in legal stone, you'll likely begin to see and hear a lot more about it soon. Groups like Enroll America, alongside many private insurance companies, are beginning to step up their grassroots campaigns, It's in the best interest of both the insurance companies and Americans to make sure everyone is registered for and able to take advantage of the new health care benefits available to all next year.

In states like California and Oregon, where Obamacare has been implemented as fully as possible at this stage, premiums and rates are not only dropping. Insurers are competing to drop their rates lower and faster than either the insurance companies or many health care experts expected.

Obamacare will also get another chance to become a campaign issue in 2014, though likely a very positive one. Dr. Donald Berwick, a Democrat, former Obama administration official,  and a key figure in the roll out of Obamacare announced on Tuesday the start of his 2014 campaign to become the Governor of Massachusetts.

For a government program that's been in the process of rolling out for more than two years, it may seem a little counterintuitive when we note that the naked truth about Obamacare is that its actually pretty simple to understand.

Obamacare may not fit perfectly at first for you and your family - and there are adjustments that will need to be made, both to individual plans and the system as a whole. That said, when states work WITH the Federal government, Obamacare appears to be better than the tattered old health care system Americans have been using, if and when they could afford to.

Obamacare, as it stands isn't a bad plan - And it's certainly better than the GOP's non-existent plan.

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Missing The Boat

In American politics right now, those who are in charge are missing the proverbial boat on a whole host of issues - a fact that appears to be more obvious to a wider cross section of the American people every day.

As we noted Monday, a nascent debate on Syria appeared to be on the horizon as the week began. But with two separate polls from both the Pew Center and Gallup, it's already clear what the opinion of the American people is on Syria - America should stay out of it. Unfortunately, President Obama has already missed the boat on that one, after authorizing a small number of arms to be sent to Syrian rebels. Still, the President may not be sunk yet on his minor Syrian decision, though as Washington Monthly's Ed Kilgore noted yesterday, the hopes of neo-con chicken hawks like Senators McCain and Graham - and their military contractor donors - may be completely underwater with public disapproval of more U.S. war involvement being so high.

On immigration, any sane person looking at the demographic realities facing the GOP might logically believe there's a course that should allow immigration reform to sail through Congress. Not surprisingly to us, however, is the torpedoing by extremist tea party Republicans of any immigration plan that might pass the Senate and be signed by the President. The attempt to tie immigration to Obamacare and the latest plan by Sen. Ted Cruz to override the Supreme Court's Voter ID ruling are both examples of the GOP being effectively dead in the water on the issue of immigration reform.

Of course, if members of Congress were sane, they also wouldn't follow the example of Rep. Eric Cantor, who's been trying to trash the President, as weeks of overblown scandals and fake outrage have caused a dip in Obama's poll numbers. As Steve Benen at Maddowblog pointed out, Cantor - and frankly anyone in Congress - should really keep their political stones in their pockets, since Congress now has its lowest approval ratings EVER. Even with a slight dip in his poll numbers, Americans still like and trust President Obama five times more than they do Congress.

The plunge into stupidity doesn't stop there.

As Jonathan Bernstein noted over at The Plum Line, and as our staffers have said for years, the almost slavish devotion to the extreme right-wing of the Republican Party also now appears to be costing the GOP to lose some of the moderate religious right. Indeed, Bernstein cites a story by Anne Kim and Ed Kilgore at Washington Monthly that details how some moderate religious Republicans have been trying to find solutions to their problems with Obamacare. Instead of the GOP supporting and helping out their natural constituents, these religious Republicans looking for a healthcare solution have found two champions in Democratic senators Mark Pryor and Chris Coons.

What Americans really want doesn't take a deep dive into policy or partisanship to understand.

They want more jobs, better pay, healthcare for all, and a government that works efficiently and effectively. They want policies that make sense, like not getting involved in civil wars of other nations - especially in the Middle East - and not having their government spy on them.

They also want an immigration policy that keeps families together and rewards hard-working immigrants, while punishing corporations that try to abuse those immigrants.

That so many people in American politics seem to be missing the boat so often these days makes us wonder exactly what they're really thinking - or if those at some of the highest levels of politics are even capable of floating a cogent thought on their own anymore.

Monday, June 17, 2013

The Silence Of The Sheeple

As a new week begins, there is both a new debate on American involvement in Syria, and the debate that remains to be truly addressed, over security and privacy. Today, we'll try to finish what we started a week and a half ago, since - unlike Congress - we don't like to fall asleep on the job.

Over the weekend, more muddled information from Barton Gellman in the Washington Post, and Glenn Greenwald in the Guardian were released about the NSA's spying programs.

While the new info is interesting, much of the mainstream media is still avoiding addressing the truly important debate, of security versus privacy. What's more, Congress - the ones who are truly responsible for making this NSA mess such a disaster - appear to have been sleeping while the wolves of the military/industrial/spying class fleeced the sheeple of America.

Adam Serwer noted back in 2012 that members of Congress who reauthorized these programs didn't even understand what they did. That obviously didn't keep someone like Republican Rep. Jim Sensenbrenner from feigning shock over the NSA's programs last Friday, as Serwer also reported. We say "feigning" because if Sensenbrenner had actually attended the meetings he was supposed to, he'd already have been well-versed in what the NSA was doing.

It's a good thing a handful of writers and journalists - like Serwer and the Washington Post's Greg Sargent - have thankfully stayed focused on the real debate over privacy and security that President Obama recently said he welcomed.

Sargent, in fact, engaged in a serious Twitter conversation with our own staffer Shawn Peirce on Friday, after Greg spoke with the ACLU's legislative counsel, Michelle Richardson. As Greg noted, Richardson claims that the Obama administration could declassify enough information about the NSA programs so that Congress and the American people could have that debate over privacy and security.

The problem, as both Greg and Shawn noted in their discussion on Friday, is that if President Obama or members of his administration declassified the NSA material without any action from Congress, with the adversarial addiction of the mainstream media, it would almost certainly lead to further partisan political attacks that would likely bring America no closer to solving the problem.

As Sargent said in that discussion on Friday, "…obviously the best way for this to happen is for Congress to compel it". That would mean our Congressmembers would have to wake from their legislative slumber, so they might actually protect the American people. Frankly, we're not sure some of them are willing to wake up.

There are a few in Congress who aren't completely asleep, as Greg noted last week, like Sen. Jeff Merkley, a progressive Democrat, and Sen. Mike Lee, a Tea Party Republican. Still - Congress can't do this alone.

To truly neuter the NSA's wolfish habits will require a full court press from both the Congress and the Obama Administration, working together, with an assist from the judicial branch.

Of course, to get the debate to generate a policy change will also require the American people to refuse to remain quiet on this issue. In that respect at least, both Gellman and Greenwald are keeping parts of this debate at the top of the minds of the mainstream American media, and therefore, the American people. That may not seem like much, but it's better than the willfully ignorant silence on this issue that Americans have been sounding since 2001.

Friday, June 14, 2013

Something To Count On

Once again, the weekend is almost here, and as some of our staff members have already hit the road, those who remain should be zipping around, trying to get things done - not paging through the latest work of folks like Sergio Aragon├ęs and Tom Richmond in Mad magazine's new "Superman" issue, or watching the season finale of "Game of Thrones."

We're not worried though, as we have the utmost confidence that our staff members will get today's edition compiled, published, and out the door in good time because they're professionals - and also because they're not members of Congress.

Indeed, another poll from Gallup focusing on Congress came out Thursday afternoon, and it was similar to the PPP poll we featured back in January of this year. The January poll focused on Congress' approval rating, which - as far we know - still remains lower than root canals, traffic jams, or even cockroaches.

This week's poll was slightly different though, focusing on the level of confidence Americans have in their Congress. After looking at the poll results from Gallup, it should surprise absolutely no one that the top reason Americans are fed up with Congress is gridlock. As Josh Barro of Business Insider noted on Twitter, "Who the hell are these 30 million Americans who still have confidence in Congress?" The only positive thing we can say about Congress right now is that they're consistently bad - four years at the bottom of the list! Looks like we may have finally found the one thing everyone in Congress is good at.

In all seriousness, we can understand why Americans both don't like and don't feel they can count on their Congress to get anything meaningful done right now.

Six months after the Newtown massacre, no new federal gun safety laws are anywhere near passage. Seven months after Republicans got stomped at the polls -- in part for treating women and minorities like second-class citizens -- Congressional Republicans seem to have re-opened their war against women, and are continuing their longstanding fight against immigrants. As Steve Benen noted, it looks like that GOP rebranding project has failed spectacularly.

Instead of continuing to drag you down, however, since it's Friday we'll give you the good news: Some members of Congress are continuing to try to get important legislation passed, on issues like gun safety, workplace equality, and immigration reform. Some politicians are also still working on implementing laws Congress has already passed, like the Affordable Care Act.

The even better news is that it appears Congress might actually get a few more things done later this year. After all, we haven't even reached the MLB All-Star Break - though Congress did have its annual Congressional Baseball Game last night. As the best former sportswriter on Capitol Hill - Roll Call's Meredith Shiner - wrote about the contest, the Democrats "dominated the game," blanking the Republicans 22-0.

There are always reasons you could look at the world negatively: For example, the EF 0 tornado that hit the northwest suburbs of DC yesterday, the new committment to support the rebels in the ongoing civil war in Syria, and the continuing controversy over the NSA's spying programs are just a few examples.

What keeps us focused on the positive, however, is that we have the confidence that comes from having great and trustworthy friends, family, and coworkers - and we realize that's more than many people have.

As the old advice says, count your blessings not your curses.

We think that's some great advice for all of us this weekend.

Thursday, June 13, 2013

Sane America, Stupid America

While the U.S. economy continues to improve, Americans today still keep finding more and more ways to pit ourselves against one another, while failing to address the truly important issues. We're not even talking about the blue/red political divide, or the urban/rural divide.

There's also the idiotic traitor or hero divide surrounding NSA leaker Edward Snowden. The writer Glenn Greenwald and GOP Rep. Peter King did a marvelous job on Wednesday exposing the ability to have an amateur pissing match over that issue, while both men mostly avoided the real security versus liberty debate.

The immigration battles going on in Washington, DC are another perfect example of Americans taking sides, while not really fixing the problem.

Of course, there's also the Blackhawks/Bruins divide or the Heat/Spurs divide, if sports is more your thing - though there's also a nasty division going on right now between funding for sports and funding for education in America.

You may have recently missed the story about the city of Chicago making massive cuts to their school system, and closing fifty public schools - all while investing $100 million as part of a new sports arena for DePaul University. In truth, we can't see how Chicago's Mayor Rahm Immanuel can legitimately call himself decent, let alone call himself a member of the Democratic Party, when he's gutting education like that.

It shouldn't be entirely surprising, though. A chart posted to Deadspin.com in May noted that in every state in America, the highest paid public employee is either a football coach, a basketball coach, or an executive member of a state college - a department chair, dean, or college president.

As our staff members are all fans of Husker sports, you can probably understand why our antennae perked up when we saw a writeup by Brian Rosenthal in the Lincoln Journal Star, about the newest member of the University of Nebraska-Lincoln Husker men's basketball coaching staff, Kenya Hunter.

Hunter - who looks to be a great addition to Husker basketball - will be the highest paid assistant coach on the Nebraska men's basketball staff. Hunter joins Nebraska from Georgetown, a school known for both solid education and a strong basketball tradition - so we hope the investment the university is putting into him shows on both the new scoreboard at the Pinnacle Bank Arena, and in the grades of the student athletes on the team.

Admittedly, it was likely easier for the University of Nebraska to make the decision to pay its coaches well this year.

For the University of Nebraska, the economic picture has been like it is for much of the rest of the country - steadily improving to the point where Governor Heineman agreed with University Regents to allow for a one year tuition freeze for in-state students - the first tuition freeze in twenty-two years. Nebraska's state university system is also adding professors and forging ahead on projects like a new NU College of Nursing.

It's easy to seem sane when the money is rolling in, and the economy is improving.

When things eventually turn downward again, though, the question will likely remain unanswered: Where do our priorities really lie, as taxpayers? The time to ask and answer these questions is now.

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Someone Should Go Hungry

As a staff full of people who grew up in or now live in Nebraska, there are some traits we share that are prototypically Nebraskan.

We all enjoy working hard, and we usually enjoy a "see food" diet - when we see food, we eat it, especially if it's good. We also tend to enjoy old-fashioned, common sense sayings about topics like work and food. For example, 'Those who do not work, do not eat."

That particular saying, in fact, has been on our minds recently as we've watched members of the U.S. Senate struggle, argue, and eventually come to a compromise on the 2013 Farm Bill, which they passed with solid bipartisan support on Monday, 66-27.

Of course, while the U.S. Senate was busting its ass, working hard to find compromise to get that farm bill passed, members of the U.S. House were effectively sitting on their asses, throwing placating remarks into the media about passing the farm bill, even as they continued to toss political and verbal darts at President Obama. Like immigration reform and the background check bill, serious doubts remain that the farm bill will even make it to the floor of the House this year.

That makes us more than a little bit angry with the do-nothing House of Representatives, where too many of its intellectually lazy and dishonest members - especially on the Republican side - have done little actual work this year.

Frankly, in line with that old work and food axiom, we're wondering if more of those House members shouldn't literally starve a bit, for motivation.

Yes, we're aware the "Farm Bill" isn't strictly about farms, but is really more about food for all Americans - how it's grown, what crops are subsidized, what happens to those crops when bad weather comes, and finally, how the food our nation raises and grows can be distributed to all Americans, not just the richest among us.

Brad Plumer over at Wonkblog did a fantastic job of dissecting the farm bill, and he breaks down the many component parts, from crop insurance and commodity programs, to subsidies and conservation. The biggest sticking point however, remains the portion of the farm bill that deals with food stamps.

While the Senate wants to cut about $4 billion from SNAP, the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program for poor and elderly, tea party extremist Republicans in the House want to cut food stamps and other food programs for the poor by $20 billion or more. Hypocrites like GOP Rep. Stephen Fincher have displayed brutal attitudes towards the poor, even while he's been receiving his own farm bill welfare subsidies - $3.5 million worth - since 1999.

As The Economist magazine made clear in 2011, most Americans receiving food stamps are either children or elderly, and most are living far below the poverty line, even though they have at least one job. In other words, those people House Republicans want to starve are the working poor.

Meanwhile, when was the last time the U.S. House passed any worthwhile bills, with a majority of all House members, from all political backgrounds - that would also pass the Senate? Frankly, we can't remember the last time the Republican-led House of Representatives did anything that could seriously be called "work."

When it comes to the farm bill, we do agree with those lazy, selfish, extremist Republicans on one thing - someone should go hungry. We just don't think it should be the working poor.

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Nothing To Fear But Ourselves


For almost a week now, we've covered many aspects of the NSA leaks controversy, from the unsurprising "revelation" our government is spying on us, through the sloppy and less-than-professional way the story surrounding the NSA leaks was broken in the Guardian and Washington Post.

Unsurprisingly, two of the three members of the media that the leaker Edward Snowden trusted to break his story now appear to be squabbling about who was REALLY responsible for 'discovering' Snowden. Sadly, that kind of selfish and unprofessional behavior merely validates our previous opinion of at least one of the three.

For much of the nation, however, this childish squabbling, and indeed the entire debate over security and liberty is one they seemingly could care less about.

From cameras on nearly every corner, to every phone and most laptops having a camera, for a nation once proud of a President who declared "The only thing we have to fear… is fear itself," we've now become a nation that seems driven by fear, with electronic eyes seemingly everywhere.

As a Pew Poll released on Monday makes clear, most Americans today continue to be generally OK with giving over some of their freedom and privacy to their government, in exchange for a level of security that Americans now routinely demand.

It's not just the government that we're all handing our data over to, though. It's corporate America, who - unlike the military or even the government - often has no rules about how they use or misuse our information.

From online companies like Facebook and Google, to old fashioned brick-and-mortar retailers like Wal-Mart and Target, just about every corporation wants to track nearly everything about what Americans do. And Americans often - far too often - gladly give up our personal information, in exchange for a shiny online trinket, or access to some special song or video.

Yet, when the government tries to get that same information, suddenly, some Americans scream that there are eyes on them everywhere. That reaction is both hypocritical and stupid, since the government will often just buy, trade, or take the info it wants from those corporations, anyway.

The key to settling down the hype is the one President Obama pointed out last Friday, the same issue we mentioned Monday morning, and the same issue Greg Sargent of the Washington Post nailed Monday afternoon: That there can be a balance between giving our information over and living in a perpetual surveillance state.

On giving our information to government, as Sargent notes, that balance can be achieved by refining laws that narrow the scope of information government can obtain, and by bringing greater transparency to existing programs.

On  giving our information to corporations, Rainey Reitman, Activism Director at the Electronic Frontier Foundation noted in a recent interview with blogger Alan Henry there are also ways consumers can rein in their data - including opting out of certain types of advertising.

As you can see, Americans have little reason to fear how our information is being shared unless - as things are now - we're too lazy to be responsible about how we handle that information.

Monday, June 10, 2013

Fairy Tales & Frustrations


As we expected last week, when the latest controversy about the NSA's spying programs hit the media, much more of the story was likely to come out over the weekend. Indeed, more of the story has now come out - though certainly not in the way those deifying writer Glenn Greenwald wished it would.

We warned on Friday that Greenwald - an excellent writer on many issues - is not a journalist, and that his lack of formal training and professionalism would likely cause him and this story trouble. Sure as the sunrise, questions surrounding procedures and verifications that Greenwald, the Guardian, and the Washington Post SHOULD have made on this story before publishing - but quite obviously did not - have now been raised by writers and journalists alike.

What could have been a fast-growing seed planted by Greenwald, that could have led to a long-overdue national discussion of privacy and security has instead turned into childish bickering by politicians and the media over a story with elements of a fairy tale. As for frustrated Americans, they're simply fed up with spying from the government, incompetence from the media, and lying from both - and now they're in no mood for an in depth discussion of either privacy or secrecy.

A handful of editors at the Washington Post didn't help this mess over the weekend. Just as the Post is starting to ask readers to pay for their online product, their editorial conduct on this story raised some questions. A key "fact" in their reporting of the NSA & FBI's PRISM program - that the government was "tapping directly into the central servers of nine leading U.S. Internet companies" - was altered by the Post over the weekend, with barely any fanfare at all. Yet without that key fact, many of the most exciting details fall apart, since the program's ideas are not new, as we stated on Friday. That Americans believe their government is spying on them is something many Americans either already knew about or have long assumed.

Things fell apart further after the leaker, Edward Snowden, outed himself over the weekend. It's become blazingly obvious to anyone that passed Journalism 101 that Snowden has far too little formal training and education to have been allowed the kinds of clearance he claims to - and apparently did - have. A major credibility gap in any source's background like that, on a story this important should have rang major warning bells at both the Guardian & the Post. Instead, both rushed to publish before they had their facts straight. This lapse in judgement leads us to believe Greenwald's fact checking at times may have been treated to barely more supervision and journalistic scrutiny than he's previously had at other major media organizations.

None of this addresses the key discussion which we are certain Greenwald wanted to open up - and on that note, we do not fault him. If Glenn Greenwald's intention was to open up the national discussion between security and privacy, we laud him for at least having the guts to address head-on a topic the overwhelming majority of our media colleagues have successfully avoided since 2001.

That topic is one that President Obama himself addressed directly in unscripted remarks Friday, when he said, "It’s important to recognize that you can’t have a hundred percent security and also then have a hundred percent privacy and zero inconvenience. You know, we’re going to have to make some choices as a society."

What's obvious now is that Mr. Greenwald, the Guardian, the Washington Post, and Mr. Snowden have all made choices they're going to have to deal with, as more of the facts of this case unfold. Whatever their motives may have been, those of us who do care about the discussion of the balance between security and liberty will now have to work significantly harder to get Americans truly engaged in that valuable debate, thanks to the bungled delivery of this story so far.

We understand the best intentions of Greenwald, Snowden, the Guardian, and the Post may have all been good. As the Christian axiom says though, the road to hell is also paved with good intensions. Maybe next time a story of such magnitude hits the desk of a major media organization, instead of simply making this another fairy tale to anger the public, they'll invest in some solid journalism before hitting "publish," and won't trust so much in unverified details from unknown sources that are too good to be entirely true.

Friday, June 7, 2013

Nothing Surprising Here


The only thing that may be surprising about today's commentary, if you've been paying attention to the news over the last decade or so, is that we're not going to follow our usual Friday protocol today - in part because there's way too much to talk about.

Between the dangerously stupid racism and hatred of President Obama driving Republicans in the U.S. House to give immigrant DREAMers the proverbial finger, and Nebraska Republican legislators making life hell for legal immigrants who want a simple driver's license, and - of course - the monthly jobs numbers, the list of legitimate news topics most media outlets could cover today is already long.

Most of the media today, though, is going to still be breathing heavily over variations on a government spying program that has been going on in one form or another since 10 days after the Bush Administration took over in 2001.

You've probably heard about the NSA phone records program by now, and you may have even heard about the U.S. federal government's data-mining program that the Washington Post and Guardian newspapers released stories about on Thursday. Maybe you'd even heard that the NSA's program appears to have picked up credit card info too. What far too many of our colleagues have yet to bring attention to though, is that they - and most of the major figures in government and telecommunications - have known about these kinds of surveillance programs for YEARS.

Frankly, you also likely knew - or assumed - this kind of thing was going on too.

The NSA itself has been sucking up your phone records for over a decade. But "big guv'mint" didn't grab all that data by themselves. Every major tech corporation, from Microsoft to Google, and from Apple to Facebook, has also been sharing information with the government - or allowing their info to be skimmed and harvested - since at least 2007.

Unfortunately, this story is already being seen in some corners of the world as suspect, because the writer to whom the leaker spoke has a long history as an anti-American apologist. A real journalist, who cared more about the truth, would have known perception is as important as the facts themselves, and would have directed the leak to an unbiased journalist.

In part, because of that selfishness and unprofessional conduct, the story has already devolved into a blame game, of sorts - one where many people are laying far too much blame on the President's desk.

No, President Obama is not simply President Bush, redux. For one thing, under Bush, many of these surveillance techniques were illegal. After President Obama was elected, it was CONGRESS - not the President - who strengthened and made legal most of the questionable domestic spying policies first enacted under President Bush, at the direction of Vice President Cheney. If you have a problem with President Obama using powers of his office - powers that Congress legally gave to the office, while he was in it - yet you had no problem when President Bush used those same tools illegally, your hypocrisy invalidates any opinion you have on this matter. The same thing can be said if you hold President Obama more guilty than Congress for this mess. There is truly enough guilt for all in this.

In fact, writer and computer security specialist Bruce Schneier also made the valid point Thursday that Americans - and really computer users all over the world - have done this to ourselves. We are, in effect, our own 'Big Brother.' For years, we have all been sharing far more information about ourselves than most of us realize, usually in exchange for some convenience.

We've also been allowing both our government and corporations, in equal measure, to create tools that have some seriously dark side effects.

That's part of the reason Ezra Klein's Thursday column is so key to understanding the reaction to this latest controversy. In short, Klein notes that as the American people know more and have more direct influence in their government, they hate it more and can handle it less. Not everyone is designed to play the game of life at the level of depth Americans are currently insisting on and requiring of our government - and not everyone is willing to accept what the demands of living life at that level truly mean.

If you somehow thought the age of total information was simply whistles, bells, and gadgets that cost no more than the checkout stand price, then maybe you have actually been surprised. For everyone other than the digital Rip Van Winkles, get over it. You knew this was coming because people like us told you it would happen over a decade ago, long before this publication existed, when the Bush/Cheney regime initially opened this Pandora's box. We hated it and were worried about it then.

That doesn't mean any of this NSA spying is ok now. It just means you can't claim innocence, since you are just as responsible as the rest of us. Moreso, really, since members of our staff were working in the media back then, but were ignored on this issue.

Americans who feign surprise now - or who attempt to wrap themselves in the First Amendment, to protect them from any serious critiques - are as dishonest as the GOP's position toward immigrants. And they look just as stupid defending themselves that way.

Thursday, June 6, 2013

Fire In The Hole


While we're aware of the NSA spying story that broke last night, we're not clutching our pearls and feigning surprise like so many other media organizations today. The NSA has been using its ability to spy on all Americans' phone lines for about a decade, thanks to the Patriot Act - so this "shocking" revelation is neither shocking or a revelation to anyone who's already been paying attention.

Instead, we've been focusing on the hearings on Capitol Hill this week, which have been stacking up rapidly as both houses of Congress finally have chosen to get some work done - or at least give the appearance of getting work done.

Among the many different IRS scandal hearings, several working groups tackling immigration reform, and other conferences and meetings, a very serious and important hearing was held on Tuesday, focusing on sexual assault in the military.

The problem with sexual assault in the military, across multiple branches, has been blowing up in the faces of U.S. military leaders and politicians recently like a hand grenade that's lost its pin.

From the top coordinator of sexual assault prevention in the Air Force, to a different sexual assault prevention coordinator in the Army - both of whom were arrested for sexual assault - and Army sergeant at Fort Hood who's been charged with being a pimp, the stories about sexual assault and misconduct have been on a non-stop march lately.

Which is precisely why lawmakers on Capitol Hill demanded a crackdown on sexual assault issues from the military's highest-ranking members at an eight-hour long Senate Armed Services Committee hearing on Tuesday.

For the record, the hearing was an impressive show of bipartisanship. The committee was split not along political lines, as you might expect, but mostly along gender lines - even though women have not been the sole victims of sexual assault and rape in the military.

Senators McCaskill and Gillibrand were direct and brilliant, slamming the commanders on issues of trust and responsibility for how poorly they've handled this massive problem. We even have to give grudging approval to Nebraska's Deb Fischer for her stand on the issue. In short, the seven female Democratic and Republican Senators at the hearing were engaged in some of the most honest Congressional work we've seen in ages.

The men of both parties, however - especially the Republicans - embarrassed themselves with comments reflecting old-fashioned misogyny as well as just plain ignorance.

The core issue surrounding sexual abuse in the military is that the UCMJ - the Uniform Code of  Military Justice - allows for commanding officers to mete out justice themselves in cases of sexual abuse or misconduct. This means your commanding officer - who may have been the one sexually assaulting you - gets to decide whether your claim is valid, including if your accuser will even go before a court martial. If your attacker is convicted, that commander may also reverse the conviction, without needing a jury or other equally high ranked commander.

Even Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel - a veteran himself - agrees that taking the power to reverse a sexual assault conviction out of the hands of commanding officers is the right thing to do. Yet that is the one major change those in charge of the military are refusing to make.

After Tuesday's grueling hearing, we can't help but think Congress will change the rules soon, and once again protect the thousands of women and men who are raped, attacked, and abused every day by their superior officers and fellow servicemembers.

Protecting those that serve their nation is the least that Congress - and Americans - can demand of our military leaders, for all the servicemembers that protect us.

Wednesday, June 5, 2013

Going To The Dogs


Yesterday, we focused on the fact that whatever Republicans claim the problem is, their biggest problem is themselves - and that hasn't somehow miraculously changed in the last 24 hours. Republicans are still giving unprecendented levels of obstruction, as Greg Sargent accurately points out.

That said, just because the extremists in the Republican Party are the second biggest political obstacle to progress for our nation right now - second only to the nearly unregulated money in our political system - doesn't mean that organizations like the IRS are without fault. It's just not the kind of fault Republican extremists are desperately wishing for.

In fact, when Republicans began spinning the hype about the IRS scandals three weeks ago, as Steve Benen noted back then, many in both media and politics thought this IRS mess would likely end with a massive GOP overreach - in part because nobody likes the IRS, so who's going to defend them? Between the frustration of audits, and the possible penalties most Americans needlessly fear - everything from wage garnishment to jail - it's not exactly like Americans are predisposed to love our federal tax collection agency.

Sure enough, as Benen reiterated yesterday, this is exactly what scandalmania overreach looks like.

As we've pointed out more than once over the last month - and as leading Republican (and current Air Force Reserve JAG lawyer) Sen. Lindsey Graham strongly agreed with Monday - there is absolutely NO evidence that President Obama or anyone at the White House directed the IRS to target tea party and right-wing groups.

That fact still didn't at all stop the whine fest on Tuesday when extremist GOP nuts in the House rolled out the tissues and the red carpet for teabaggers to bawl and display their persecution complex in front of members of Congress. Unsurprisingly, no one at the hearing brought up the fact that all of the tea party groups were actually involved in politics, which - by federal statute - means they are not eligible for the 501c4 status they all currently retain, and that the IRS should have denied to any politically affiliated group.

So after nearly a month of these 'shoot first, ask questions later' dog-eared committee hearings, what is it that we've actually learned?

To start with, it appears the IRS mess happened because those people running the IRS very good at details - an oxymoron if we've ever heard one.

We've also discovered that the IRS has NOT been following a federal law regarding 501c4 tax exemptions since 1959! Instead, the IRS has been relying on its own internal rule that allows organizations that are "primarily" involved in social welfare to get the tax exemption. That's instead of following the law as it's written, by only giving the 501c4 tax exemption - and its associated donor anonymity - to groups that are EXCLUSIVELY involved in social welfare, and not at all involved in anything else, including politics.

The splashiest - though probably most embarrassing - thing Congress has discovered that the IRS has been guilty of came out this week: That the IRS spent $49 million on 225 employee conferences and other personnel 'moral boosters' between 2010 and 2012, including over $50,000 on a Star Trek parody movie.

What the hearings haven't discovered is any kind of Nixonian plot to go after only tea party extremists.

Instead, these hearings have served the GOP priorities of giving Fox & right-wing radio something to yowl about, while wasting even more taxpayer dollars. Meanwhile, issues like the looming increase on student loan interest and the ongoing sequester continue to take a bite out the American people.

We'd say it's not just the IRS that's going to the dogs… but we think you're probably already aware of that.

Tuesday, June 4, 2013

Focusing On The Wrong Problem


For those people not in the Republican Party, and not aligned with its machinery, the problems their party is having and the solutions to fix many of those problems seem incredibly obvious, based on simple facts.

The troubles facing the GOP seem as clear to us as the news that came out three weeks ago, from the National Transportation Safety Board, that states should reduce the legal blood-alcohol level from 0.08 to 0.05 because doing so would save lives. Indeed, the basic facts do agree - lower blood alcohol levels have already saved lives in other nations where a lower level has been tried. Most people already know that driving buzzed is still dangerous, even though far too many do it anyway. So the solution seems simple.

However, if you think merely lowering the blood-alcohol level by itself, without any other measures, will significantly decrease all vehicle accidents, then you haven't thought the problem all the way through. What about all the crashes that happen because of a driver texting while sober?

In a similar way, while a flood of data continues to come out about what the Republican Party is doing wrong, if all that political pundits are doing is looking at the headlines from that data, their recommendations on how to fix the GOP will likely crash and burn.

From the study by College Republicans of why fewer and fewer young Americans are voting Republican, to the latest Gallup poll on age and sexual orientation, time and again the solution for what ails the GOP seems to be simple to those on the outside. The Republican Governor of Louisiana, Bobby Jindal, even made it clear, at the beginning of this year, that he and others also know the outsider's proposed solution for the GOP: "We've got to stop being the stupid party."

Greg Sargent's advice to Congressional Republicans on how to prevent Democrat Harry Reid from using the nuclear option in the Senate echos that simple solution: "If Republicans don’t want Democrats to exercise the nuclear option and do away with the filibuster on executive branch and judicial nominations… drop the endless, unprecedented obstruction of those nominations."

We agree 100 percent with Greg and others that say that first step seems both logical and easy - but we admit, we're not trying to reform the Republican Party from the inside.

The concept of "conservative reform" has been tackled shrewdly by Mr. Sargent, and others lately, including Jonathan Chait, who recently wrote this brilliant note of truth: "In the long run, the resolution to nearly every policy problem [facing the U.S.] depends on the GOP refashioning itself as a normal, non-pathological party."

As one of those conservative reporters, Josh Barro, notes in his new column at Business Insider, the problem is that anyone who is trying to change the Republican Party - including reformists like David Frum and Barro himself - can't get certain others in his political party to actually LISTEN to their advice. Even on simple issues, like the myriad scandals Americans don't care about, GOP elders like Lindsay Graham and John McCain are obviously trying to shut down the destructive scandalmania. Yet right-wing bombthrowers like Ted Cruz and Darrell Issa continue their self-destructive ways, intent on doing everything but listening to either their elders or the GOP reformists.

As we noted earlier with the idea of lowering the blood alcohol level, the solutions for fixing problems may seem simple, at first.

However, as Barro, Frum, and the small handful of Republican reformers on the right are reminding the rest of us, those people who believe a simple solution can fix a complex problem aren't looking at the whole picture.

Monday, June 3, 2013

Badge Of Hypocrisy

As June begins, our entire staff is back in action, and we can't think of a better time to be at full strength. For once, it appears both the House and Senate may be in session long enough this month to actually get a few things done - though one of those may be to metaphorically blow the place up. The Supreme Court is also going to hand down four major decisions this month on DOMA, Prop 8, Affirmative Action, Voting Rights, and may choose to get involved in the right of the President to make recess appointments.

That dense but important list of subjects on the schedule for June doesn't even begin to address the foreign affairs issues that will likely face the White House and Congress this month - including the ongoing civil war in Syria - or domestic issues like the effects of the ongoing sequestration and the continuing rollout of Obamacare.

With all of these serious topics coming to a head, we'd hope our colleagues in the media are ready to get down to real journalism, and quit screwing around with fake scandals. However, considering the way May ended, we have our doubts.

For example, an important story ignored by much of the media in the ridiculous scandalmania at the end of May was a major announcement by the Boy Scouts of America. Officially, as of May 23rd, the BSA has ended its longstanding ban on openly gay members under the age of 18, which prohibited self-identified gay scouts from participating in official scouting activities.

While the move toward acceptance has been met with support from major religious institutions like the Catholic church, and hope from some political pundits, sadly - but not surprisingly - the Scouts' move has also been met with bigotry and intolerance from other religious groups, like the Baptists.

The hypocrisy doesn't end there.

While the Scouts' new policy does allow gay members under the age of 18, as soon as a member of the BSA turns 18 and gains adult status, the organization's ban on 'adult Scout leaders' and support personnel kicks in. This means that youngsters who were 'gay but OK' to join the club on Tuesday will be thrown out of the group on Wednesday - their birthday - through no fault of their own.

There are a whole host of reasons why this hypocritical decision by the BSA makes about as much sense as a bunch of homophobic men wearing tight khaki shorts and thin brown shirts being freaked out by gay kids - which is to say no logical sense at all. One of biggest examples of hypocrisy includes a little-known subsidiary organization of the Boy Scouts called "Learning For Life" - an educational supply company, created by the BSA that's taken millions of dollars in Federal tax money, and which openly embraces LGBT members.

The right-wing dominated national media gave comparatively little time to this small but important part of the Boy Scout story - likely because many of them knew the money trail would lead to the hypocrisy under the BSA's own roof. Instead, they spent most of the last two weeks keeping everyone distracted with bogus "scandals" that Americans clearly don't care about - which should tell you all you need to know about the difference between right-wing media and real journalism.

That they continue to pretend their coverage is "fair and balanced" is almost as ridiculous as your average 50 year old bigot wearing too-tight boy shorts accusing anyone else of sexually inappropriate behavior.