Rewriting History – At their recent meeting, Texas State Board of Education member Don McLeroy proposed amendment after amendment on social issues to the document that teams of professional educators had drawn up over 12 months, in what would have to be described as a single-handed display of archconservative political strong-arming. McLeroy moved that Margaret Sanger, the birth-control pioneer, be included because she “and her followers promoted eugenics,” that language be inserted about Ronald Reagan’s “leadership in restoring national confidence” following Jimmy Carter’s presidency and that students be instructed to “describe the causes and key organizations and individuals of the conservative resurgence of the 1980s and 1990s, including Phyllis Schlafly, the Contract With America, the Heritage Foundation, the Moral Majority and the National Rifle Association.” The injection of partisan politics into education went so far that at one point another Republican board member burst out in seemingly embarrassed exasperation, “Guys, you’re rewriting history now!” Nevertheless, most of McLeroy’s proposed amendments passed by a show of hands.
Blackwater Billed US for ‘Morale Welfare Recreation’ Provided by Prostitute According to Former Employees – Two former employees of Blackwater Worldwide have accused the private security contractor of defrauding the government for years with phony billing, including charging for a prostitute, alcohol and spa trips. In newly unsealed court records, a husband and wife who once worked for Blackwater said they had personal knowledge of the company falsifying invoices, double-billing federal agencies and charging the government for personal and inappropriate items whose real purpose was hidden. They said they witnessed ‘systematic’ fraud on the company’s security contracts with the Department of State in Iraq and Afghanistan, and with the Department of Homeland Security and Federal Emergency Management Agency in Louisiana after Hurricane Katrina.
Super-Rich Tax Rates Fall, Fall, Fall, While Middle Class Suffers – The Council of Economic Advisers released its annual Economic Report of the President, which bolsters the case for allowing the cuts to expire. For instance, the report notes that “in recent years nearly half of all income — including both wages and salaries and non-labor income — has gone to 10 percent of families. The top 1 percent of families now receive nearly 25 percent of income, up from less than 10 percent in the 1970s.”
And at the same time that more and more income has become concentrated at the top of the scale, tax rates on the highest earners have been falling. Average tax rates on the middle 20 percent of Americans have risen since 1960.
Ad Uses Luntz Framing To Bamboozle Voters On Financial Reform – Sen. Jon Tester (D-MT) is ripping a stunningly deceitful new ad running in his state. The ad is sponsored by a shadowy conservative group that uses Frank Luntz’s up-is-down messaging advice to confuse voters about the financial-reform legislation currently in Congress. Confronted with the problem that Wall Street banks are deeply unpopular and most Americans support efforts to rein them in, Luntz simply urged GOPers, in a memo, to depict the bill as a bailout for the banks.
Tester told the Billings Gazette that the ad — which is being run by the “Committee for Truth in Politics” (CTP) and labels the reform effort a “$4 trillion bank bailout” — is “not true.” “We’re not dealing with any $4 trillion bank bailout. To confuse people and put forward an ad with a lot of false information, and not tell people who you are?,” Tester said.
Factcheck.org, a nonpartisan group that checks accuracy of political ads, has also demolished the ad’s claim.
Fox News’ Crowley Claims that Bush Used Civil Courts on Reid Because Military Tribunals Didn’t Exist in 2001 – Monica Crowley this morning, appearing on Fox News’ Happening Now, followed in Newt’s footsteps in her eagerness to deny that shoe bomber Richard Reid’s case — also tried in civilian courts by the Bush administration — bore any similarity to that of “Underwear Bomber” Umar Abdulmutallab:
Crowley: “… Richard Reid was matriculated into the civilian justice system because military tribunals did not exist in late 2001 …”
In fact, as Julian Epstein points out, military tribunals have been around in the United States a long time — in fact, they’ve existed since the Revolutionary War. Moreover, the Supreme Court long ago set the precedent, in Ex parte Milligan (1866), that military tribunals used to try civilians in any jurisdiction where the civil courts were functioning were unconstitutional.
Crowley cannot even claim that she actually meant that Guantanamo Bay, where terrorism suspects bound for military tribunals have been held since 9/11, was not operating. In fact, terrorism detainees began arriving there on October 7, 2001, more than two months before Reid’s arrest on December 22.
So add this to the whole string of false statements made recently of those trying to make a case that the Underwear Bomber’s case was handled wrong. Lots of talk, and none of it based on fact.
Climate-Change Deniers Disagree with Science – A new analysis of global surface temperatures by NASA scientists finds January 2000 to December 2009 was the warmest decade on record. Looking back to 1880, when modern scientific instrumentation became available to monitor temperatures precisely, a clear warming trend is present, although there was a leveling off between the 1940s and 1970s.
In the past three decades, the GISS surface temperature record shows an upward trend of about 0.36 degrees F (0.2 degrees C) per decade. In total, average global temperatures have increased by about 1.5 degrees F (0.8 degrees C) since 1880.
“There’s always interest in the annual temperature numbers and a given year’s ranking, but the ranking often misses the point,” said James Hansen, GISS director. “There’s substantial year-to-year variability of global temperature caused by the tropical El Nino-La Nina cycle. When we average temperature over five or ten years to minimize that variability, we find global warming is continuing unabated.”