Tampa Tribune Whitewashes Jeb Bush's Murky Business Record In Support Of Presidential Run

A Tampa Tribune editorial supporting former Gov. Jeb Bush's decision to explore the possibility of running for president claimed that his past business dealings, which include questionable investments, taxpayer bailouts, and failed ventures, "add to his qualifications" to be president.The Tampa Tribune Claims Jeb Bush's Business Background Qualifies Him To Be President The Tampa Tribune: Bush's Business Record "Only Adds To His Qualifications." According to a December 17 Tampa Tribune editorial positively highlighting Jeb Bush's decision to run for president, Bush's "sophisticated business deals" and the fact that he has "made a lot of money ... only adds to his qualifications" to be president: The attacks on Bush, no doubt, will escalate, now that he has signaled he is serious about a presidential run. A report in Bloomberg last week claimed "Jeb Bush has a Mitt Romney problem" because of his sophisticated business deals. It detailed Bush's involvement with offshore private equity funds that some say act as a tax haven. He has business ties to Chinese companies. Americans will decide if such matters are important to them, but there is nothing illegal or unethical about his investments. That Bush, after his public service, became an enterprising businessman who made a lot of money, in our view, only adds to his qualifications. It is hardly surprising that this champion of free enterprise would take advantage of financial opportunities. The nation might benefit from a president who is more enthusiastic, and astute, about capitalism. [The Tampa Tribune, 12/17/14] Bush's Business Record Marred With Questionable Investments, Taxpayer Bailouts, And Failed Ventures Bush Joined Lehman Brothers in 2007 After Leaving Governorship. After his tenure as governor of Florida, Bush joined the private-equity firm Lehman Brothers, whose 2008 bankruptcy is considered to have played a major role in the financial crisis that year. A Wall Street Journal article referring to Bush as "Lehman's Secret Weapon," reported on the firm's hiring the former governor: In the arms race by private-equity firms to line up ever-higher profile "advisers," Lehman Brothers may have just taken the lead. According to a small handful of reports Friday, including this one in Investment Dealers' Digest and another in Private Equity Hub, the investment bank has hired former Florida Governor and presidential son and brother Jeb Bush for its in-house investing arm. No sign of an announcement from Lehman on the hire. Private-equity firms hire politicos and former corporate honchos all the time to help them open doors to deals, as well as to manage government relations and the companies in their portfolios. [The Wall Street Journal, 8/27/07] Tampa Bay Times: "Florida Stands To Lose $1 Billion Because Of Lehman Brothers' Bankruptcy." A Tampa Bay Times article explained that several months after Bush joined Lehman Brothers, the company filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy which cost Florida "more than $1 billion": A price tag is now emerging for what last year's collapse of investment giant Lehman Brothers could cost the state of Florida: more than $1 billion. The losses could make Florida and its citizens among the biggest casualties in the biggest bankruptcy ever. More than $440 million disappeared from the pension fund that pays benefits for some 1 million retirees and public employees. Counties, cities and school districts face a loss of more than $300 million for roads, sewers and schools. The state has $290 million less to pay for everything from hurricane claims to health care, community colleges and care for infants with disabilities. [...] The storied bank hired former Gov. Jeb Bush as a consultant in June 2007, five months after he left office. As governor, Bush also served as a trustee for the State Board of Administration, which invests public money. Lehman was the dominant Wall Street broker that sold the SBA $1.4 billion of risky, mortgage-related securities that started tanking in August 2007. Bush has said he had nothing to do with those sales. "As Governor Bush has stated several times in response to your inquiries, his role as a consultant to Lehman Brothers was in no way related to any Florida investments,'' said his spokeswoman, Kristy Campbell. "It is unfortunate the St. Petersburg Times continues to perpetuate this incorrect and baseless conjecture.'' [Tampa Bay Times, 6/4/09] Company That Loaned Bush Money To Buy Office Building Failed, Causing Federal Government Bailout. According to an Associated Press article, a savings and loans company loaned Bush about half of the money needed for a $9-million office building, but when the company became insolvent, the federal government and taxpayers "ended up repaying most of the loan" exposing the "poor lending practices that led to the thrift industry's troubles": A savings and loan became insolvent after lending President Bush's son Jeb and a partner about half the money toward purchase of a $9-million office building, and the federal government ended up repaying most of the loan, the New York Times reported. Although it involved no criminal behavior, the loan is an example of the kind of poor lending practices that led to the thrift industry's troubles, the newspaper said. [...] The Miami deal involves Jeb Bush, 37, and his partner, Armando Codina, who own a partnership called 1390 Brickell. In 1985, the two bought a Miami office building at that address for $9 million. They used a $7-million mortgage from an insurance company and a $4.6-million loan from Broward Federal Savings and Loan of Sunrise, Fla. The surplus money was to be used for improvements and a reserve account. The loan from Broward Federal was obtained through J. E. Houston Financial Group, headed by J. Edward Houston, a former associate of Bush and Codina. Broward Federal became insolvent in 1988, and the federal government paid more than $4 million to make good the loan on the Miami property as part of the bailout of the S&L industry. Bush and Codina negotiated a settlement with regulators in which they repaid $505,000 and retained control of the building, the Times said. It said Bush and Codina expressed surprise that the settlement could be interpreted as use of taxpayers' money to bail out the loan. Asked if they were aware that the money for the repayment came from taxpayers, both said no. [Associated Press, 10/15/1990; via Los Angeles Times] Bush Was Member Of The Board Of Directors For Failed Construction Material Manufacturer InnoVida. According to The New York Times, Bush became a paid consultant and board member of InnoVida company in 2007. The company later filed for bankruptcy in 2011 and "had faked documents, lied about the health of the business and misappropriated $40 million in company funds" (emphasis added): As it sought to recruit well-heeled investors, an untested and unprofitable Miami company named InnoVida brought aboard a trusted Florida figure in 2007: Jeb Bush, the former governor and the brother of a sitting president. For potential stockholders, the imprimatur of Mr. Bush, who joined InnoVida as a paid consultant and a member of the board of directors, conferred credibility on the young start-up. That credibility did not last long. It turned out that the leaders of InnoVida, a manufacturer of inexpensive building materials, had faked documents, lied about the health of the business and misappropriated $40 million in company funds, records show. The company went bankrupt in 2011, its founder eventually went to jail and investors lost nearly all of their money. [The New York Times, 4/20/14] Think Progress: Bush Sat On The Board Of A Private Swiss Bank That Failed After His Tenure Ended. Think Progress reported that in 1986, Jeb Bush was a member of the board of the Swiss-owned bank The Private Bank and Trust which failed after federal regulators seized the organization and found that "it had been 'making investments contrary to client instructions and putting funds in companies affiliated with or managed by the bank.'" [Think Progress,11/21/14] Bush Was Sued For Stock Manipulation After Serving On Board of Ideon Group. The St. Petersburg Times reported on September 20, 1998, that Bush served on the board of Ideon Group, a credit card fraud notification company. After Bush and seven other directors "agreed to sell Ideon to CUC International," the company was sued "for stock manipulation and weak oversight." Those suits were settled for $15 million. [St. Petersburg Times, 9/20/1998; via Media Matters, 12/16/14] New York Times: Bush Was Named A Defendant In Law Suits Accusing Him Of "Insufficient Oversight" As Board Member Of Failed Soap Manufacturer. According to The New York Times, Bush was sued for his work as a board member of Swisher Hygiene after the company admitted to "unreliable financial statements": Mr. Bush sat on the board of Swisher Hygiene, a soap maker, at a time when, its executives acknowledged, their financial statements were unreliable and their accounting practices inadequate. That admission contributed to a plunge in stock price that has wiped out more than three-quarters of Swisher's value and touched off a wave of shareholder lawsuits. Several have named Mr. Bush as a defendant, accusing him and fellow board members of insufficient oversight. [The New York Times, 4/20/14] Think Progress: A Company Founded By Bush Was Accused Of Bribery And Fraud. A Think Progress report detailing Bush's involvement with the Bush-El Corporation explained that the company, which was founded to sell water pumps on foreign markets, was accused of bribery of a Nigerian official and later found liable in a suit that alleged the company made "knowingly false or fraudulent claims": After helping elect his father president of the United States, Jeb Bush teamed in 1989 with then-Moving Water Industries, Corp. (MWI) president and CEO J. David Eller, to create Bush-El. The eponymous partnership aimed to market MWI's water pumps internationally. In 2002, the Miami Herald revealed that on one of Bush's trips to Nigeria to help sell them MWI pumps in 1991, that company's corporate pilot claimed he saw a suitcase full of cash -- an apparent bribe for Nigerian officials. The pilot did not implicate Bush and a Bush spokesman noted inconsistencies in the claims. "The governor was adamant he was not on an airplane with a suitcase full of cash," the spokesman said, adding Bush was "unaware of any plane he was on with luggage on it full of cash." Bush has reportedly said his involvement in the Nigeria effort was conditioned on a private loan being secured (as his father was president at the time and he wanted to avoid any appearance of impropriety). But the company instead went to the U.S. Export-Import Bank for the $74.3 million it needed for the deal. In 1998, after a whistleblower alleged "knowingly false or fraudulent claims" connected to that financing, the Department of Justice filed suit against MWI. The company has steadfastly denied the allegations, but was found liable by a jury last year and fined $580,000 (the MWI has appealed the verdict). Bush was not implicated and was never forced to testify in the case after a federal judge ruled him irrelevant to the case. [Think Progress, 11/21/14]

Posted by on 18 December 2014 | 9:22 am

Fox News Can't Decide If There's Still A War On Christmas

Last night on his Fox News show, Bill O'Reilly celebrated having "won the war" on Christmas. He continued the victory lap on NBC's Late Night, telling host Seth Meyers, "it's over, we won. Anybody can say Merry Christmas if they want to."   But if the War on Christmas is over, someone forgot to tell O'Reilly's colleagues at Fox Nation, who are warning readers this morning of the supposedly ongoing "War on Christmas": Jesse Watters, a correspondent for The O'Reilly Factor, serves as a managing editor for Fox Nation. 

Posted by on 18 December 2014 | 8:40 am

On NBC's Late Night , Bill O'Reilly Doubles Down With Victory Claim In "War On Christmas"

From the December 18 edition of NBC's Late Night with Seth Meyers:Previously: "We Won The War": Bill O'Reilly Congratulates Himself For Having "Single-Handedly Saved Christmas" O'Reilly: "It Isn't A Mythical War On Christmas. It's Real And We Just Won" O'Reilly Declares Victory In "War On Christmas," Joins Fox's "War On Easter" Bill O'Reilly Covers The "War On Christmas" More Than Actual Wars, Again

Posted by on 18 December 2014 | 7:24 am

Media Erroneously Claim Obama Overstepped His Authority By Restoring Diplomatic Relations With Cuba

Media figures are criticizing President Obama for the current diplomatic re-engagement with Cuba by falsely suggesting that taking executive action to ease some travel and trade restrictions is legally questionable. In reality, the embargo is a result of decades of executive actions under both Republican and Democratic administrations, and Congress has explicitly reaffirmed executive discretion of the type the president is taking to modify U.S. relations with Cuba.Obama Announces Restoration Of Diplomatic Relations Between The U.S. And Cuba New York Times: "U.S. To Restore Full Relations With Cuba, Erasing A Last Trace of Cold War Hostility." On December 17, Obama announced that he would take steps to improve ties with Cuba by lifting some travel and trade restrictions as well as reopening the U.S. Embassy in Havana. As the Times reported, the "historic deal" brokered between Obama and Cuban President Raúl Castro "broke an enduring stalemate between two countries" that has lasted for decades: President Obama on Wednesday ordered the restoration of full diplomatic relations with Cuba and the opening of an embassy in Havana for the first time in more than a half-century as he vowed to "cut loose the shackles of the past" and sweep aside one of the last vestiges of the Cold War. The surprise announcement came at the end of 18 months of secret talks that produced a prisoner swap negotiated with the help of Pope Francis and concluded by a telephone call between Mr. Obama and President Raúl Castro. The historic deal broke an enduring stalemate between two countries divided by just 90 miles of water but oceans of mistrust and hostility dating from the days of Theodore Roosevelt's charge up San Juan Hill and the nuclear brinkmanship of the Cuban missile crisis. "We will end an outdated approach that for decades has failed to advance our interests, and instead we will begin to normalize relations between our two countries," Mr. Obama said in a nationally televised statement from the White House. The deal, he added, will "begin a new chapter among the nations of the Americas" and move beyond a "rigid policy that is rooted in events that took place before most of us were born." [The New York Times, 12/17/14] Media Figures Suggest Obama Is Overstepping His Authority Fox's Monica Crowley: "Now You Actually Do Have An Imperial Presidency Under Barack Obama." On the December 18 edition of America's Newsroom, Fox News contributor Monica Crowley argued that Obama's decision to improve relations between the U.S. and Cuba is further evidence of the president "setting some seriously dangerous precedents." Crowley also said Obama has "just acted on his own because he doesn't care about the rule of law, Congress, or public opinion." [Fox News, America's Newsroom, 12/18/14] CNN's Ana Navarro: Deal Is A "Very Unilateral Change Of Policy." On CNN Newsroom, CNN political commentator Ana Navarro criticized the deal as a "very unilateral change of policy." She added that "there's only so much that the president can do through executive order. I'm sure there's much more he can do. But the U.S. embargo is codified in law. That means that it needs to be decodified in law." [CNN, CNN Newsroom, 12/17/14] Fox's Kennedy: Obama Cannot "Touch" The Embargo "Without Congressional Approval." On Fox News' Outnumbered, co-host Kennedy said Obama "could not unilaterally lift the embargo" against Cuba. Kennedy continued, "you can't touch [the embargo'] without congressional approval." [Fox News, Outnumbered, 12/17/14] Embargo Began With Presidential Action, But Was Later Signed Into Law Kennedy Initiated Embargo Against Cuba Through Executive Action In 1962. On February 3, 1962, President Kennedy announced a total trade embargo of Cuba. The Associated Press described the decision as "the beginning of a comprehensive ban on U.S. trade with the island that has remained more or less intact ever since." [Associated Press, 2/7/12] Federal Laws Formalized Embargo In 1992 And 1996. The South Florida Sun-Sentinel reported that the 1992 Cuban Democracy Act "bar[red] trade with Cuba by U.S. corporate subsidiaries in other countries." According to PBS NewsHour, the 1996 Helms-Burton Act "formalized the U.S. trade embargo of the island nation, in effect by presidential order since the Kennedy administration." [Sun-Sentinel, 10/24/92; PBS NewsHour, 7/16/01] Bush Tightened Travel Restrictions In 2003. The BBC reported that in October 2003, "US President George Bush announce[d] fresh measures designed to hasten the end of communist rule in Cuba, including tightening a travel embargo to the island, cracking down on illegal cash transfers, and a more robust information campaign aimed at Cuba." [BBC News, 10/11/12] Obama Is Not Lifting The Embargo, But Experts Have Long Agreed That The President Has Ample Discretionary Authority In Its Implementation The Hill: "Neither The Trade Nor The Travel Embargo Is Being Lifted." As The Hill reported, while the president "has significant powers at his disposal" to make changes to trade and travel restrictions between the U.S. and Cuba, Obama's action does not lift the embargo entirely. Moreover, Obama's executive action is based in part on statutory authority already granted to him by Congress: President Obama has significant powers at his disposal to make the U.S. trade and travel embargoes on Cuba meaningless, though action by Congress is required to formally lift the sanctions. Six separate laws dictate the terms of sanctions on Cuba. They range from the Trading with the Enemy Act of 1917 to the Trade Sanctions Reform and Export Enhancement Act of 2000. It was President John F. Kennedy who prohibited U.S. exports to Cuba under the Trading with the Enemy Act shortly after Fidel Castro took control of the island nation. Since then, Congress has moved periodically to toughen the sanctions with legislation, and a series of presidents have also taken executive steps to tighten or loosen the screws on Cuba. Experts agree that Obama, who with actions on healthcare and immigration has signaled a willingness to test the lengths of executive power, has significant discretion when it comes to U.S. policy toward Cuba. The six laws are written in a way to give the executive branch latitude in enforcing the law, and regulations are used to implement many of the sanctions. "The laws were written in such a way that gave the executive branch a good amount of leeway," said John Kavulich, senior policy adviser for the U.S.-Cuba Trade and Economic Council. "He has a lot of discretion, and it seems as though he's intending to use it. Obama on Wednesday announced the U.S. will seek formal diplomatic relations with Cuba, and travel and trade restrictions will be eased. Neither the trade nor the travel embargo is being lifted, but Obama's announcement will make it easier to get a license to travel to Cuba and will allow visitors to bring back goods to the United States. Americans also will be able to send up to $8,000 a year to Cubans and will no longer need a specific license to do so. [The Hill, 12/17/14] Government Accountability Office: "The President Has Broad Authority To Modify" Embargo Regulations. The GAO has been asked repeatedly to analyze the president's executive discretion on diplomatic relations with Cuba within the bounds of "various laws, regulations, and presidential proclamations regarding trade, travel, and financial transactions." The GAO, an independent legislative agency charged with nonpartisan analysis of U.S. policy, has concluded that Congress has codified the power of the president to "ease regulatory restrictions" of the embargo and if certain conditions are met, and even end sanctions entirely: The President has discretion to further ease regulatory restrictions such as those on travel, remittances, gift parcels, and trade with Cuba. For instance, the President can authorize travel under a general license for non-family travelers -- such as freelance journalists, professional researchers, and full-time students -- who currently must obtain a specific license; further increase the amount of cash remittances that travelers may carry to Cuba; and further expand the list of items eligible for gift parcels. The President is authorized to suspend or end the embargo in the event of certain political changes in Cuba. Under the Cuban Liberty and Democratic Solidarity (LIBERTAD) Act of 1996, on determining that a transition Cuban government is in power, the President may take steps to suspend the embargo, including its implementing regulations restricting financial transactions related to travel, trade, and remittances. He may also suspend enforcement of several legislative measures related to the embargo. LIBERTAD also requires that on determining that a democratically elected Cuban government is in power, the President must take steps to end the embargo, including the implementing regulations, and that once he has made such a determination, certain listed embargo-related legislative measures are automatically repealed. [Government Accountability Office, 9/17/09] American University Professor Of Government: Congress Gave The President "Virtually Unlimited Licensing Authority To Tighten Or Loosen Sanctions." Although the legal authority for the embargo originated with the executive actions of former Presidents Truman and Kennedy during the Cold War, the ability to end it entirely has been curtailed by Congress. However, as American University School of Public Affairs professor William M. LeoGrande explained, bipartisan Congresses still "codified the president's authority to license exceptions to the embargo": Although [the Trading With The Enemy Act of 1917 (TWEA)] was its original statutory foundation, the Cuban Liberty and Democratic Solidarity Act of 1996 (aka Helms-Burton) wrote the embargo into law by stipulating that the economic sanctions in place at the time of passage would remain in place until Cuba underwent regime change. And other laws authorize various bits and pieces of the embargo: for example, the Foreign Assistance Act of 1961 (§620(a)) gives the president the authority to impose a trade embargo on Cuba; the Cuban Democracy Act of 1992 prohibits trade with Cuba by foreign subsidiaries of U.S. companies; and the Trade Sanctions Reform and Export Enhancement Act of 2000 prohibits tourist travel (§7209(b)). So the embargo would continue even without TWEA. But the president's legal authority to change Cuba sanctions would become far more tenuous. The TWEA gives the president virtually unlimited licensing authority to tighten or loosen sanctions, authority that would disappear if the president failed to renew it. When Helms-Burton codified the Cuban sanctions regulations, it also codified the president's authority to license exceptions to the embargo, thereby loosening sanctions, since the regulations specifically refer to that authority (§515.201). But absent some statutory authority other than TWEA, it is not clear that the president could tighten sanctions. A president who tried would be vulnerable to legal challenge by anyone sustaining damage as a result. In Regan v. Wald, the Supreme Court found that President Ronald Reagan was legally justified in tightening restrictions on travel to Cuba because of the broad authorities he retained under TWEA. [Huffington Post, 12/2/14] Economic Sanctions Expert:  Presidents Have Repeatedly Modified The Embargo "Without Action Or Approval By Congress." In a legal analysis prepared for a 2011 Brookings Institution forum on relations between the U.S. and Cuba, Stephen Propst, an attorney specializing in export control law and economic sanctions, concluded that the "President retains broad authority to significantly modify and even ease specific provisions of the Cuba sanctions." Furthermore, as Propst explained in the analysis, multiple presidents -- including former President George W. Bush -- have unilaterally modified the regulatory enforcement of the embargo, providing precedent "to ease sanctions against Cuba" through executive action: Through a complex series of federal statutes, Congress has codified the comprehensive U.S. economic sanctions against Cuba and restricted the President's authority to suspend or terminate those sanctions until a "transition government" is in power in Cuba. Notwithstanding these statutory requirements, the President maintains broad authority and discretion to significantly ease specific provisions of the Cuba sanctions regime in support of particular U.S. foreign policy objectives recognized by Congress, including the provision of humanitarian support for the Cuban people and the promotion of democratic reforms. In fact, since Congress codified of the Cuba sanctions in 1996, Presidents Clinton, Bush and Obama have each exercised this authority to ease the scope of restrictions applicable to Cuba, without action or approval by Congress. This executive authority to modify the Cuba sanctions is grounded in Constitutional, statutory and regulatory provisions that empower the President and the responsible executive branch agencies to grant exceptions to the sanctions through executive actions, regulations and licenses. The authority is particularly broad in certain areas, such as telecommunications-related transactions and humanitarian donations, where Congress has explicitly granted discretion to the President under existing statutes.  [...] Notwithstanding this framework of successive federal statutes mandating sanctions against Cuba, the President retains broad authority to significantly modify and even ease specific provisions of the Cuba sanctions. This conclusion is supported by two separate reports prepared by the U.S. General Accounting Office ("GAO"), following detailed reviews of the statutory framework and regulatory actions taken by the executive branch since the enactment of Helms-Burton in 1996. Specifically, the reports prepared at the behest of Congress in 1998 and in 2009 concluded that (i) the President still maintains "broad discretion" to make additional modifications to the Cuba sanctions; and (ii) prior measures, implemented by the executive branch that have had the effect of easing specific restrictions of the Cuba sanctions, have been consistent with statutory mandates and within the discretionary authority of the President. ["Presidential Authority To Modify Economic Sanctions Against Cuba," 2/15/11]

Posted by on 18 December 2014 | 2:38 am

Right-Wing Media Lash Out At Obamas For Talking About Personal Experiences With Racial Bias

Conservative media lashed out at President Barack Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama for recounting personal experiences with racism in an interview with People magazine, accusing the Obamas of playing the victim and even asking if the interview made race relations worse. Obamas Share Personal Experiences With Racism In People Magazine People: Even For Obamas, "Encounters With Racial Prejudice Aren't As Far In The Past As One Might Expect." In a December 17 interview with People magazine, the Obamas both recounted personal experiences with racism. Michelle Obama recalled a trip to Target as first lady when she was asked to help a woman "take something off a shelf," and another an episode when Barack was "wearing a tuxedo at a black-tie dinner, and somebody asked him to get coffee," or times he was mistaken for a valet outside restaurants. Obama noted "[t]he small irritations or indignities that we experience are nothing compared to what a previous generation experienced." [People, 12/17/14] Right-Wing Media Attack The Obamas' People Interview Fox's Elisabeth Hasselbeck On Obamas: "Are They Not Making Things Worse?" On the December 18 edition of Fox News' Fox & Friends, co-host Elisabeth Hasselbeck acknowledged that the Obamas may personally feel "as though there has been bias placed upon them" and that "they have a right to express it," but argued, "As president and first lady, don't they have the responsibility to represent all Americans? Are they not making things worse?" [Fox News, Fox & Friends, 12/18/14] Limbaugh Accuses Obamas Of "Going Full-On Victim" To "Diminish This Country." On the December 17 broadcast of The Rush Limbaugh Show, Limbaugh said the Obamas were "going full-on victim" in the interview, attempting "to diminish" the U.S.: LIMBAUGH: So you have the president of the United States and the first lady going full-on victim, 101, six years into their presidency, nevertheless playing the victim card with events that supposedly happened six, seven, eight years ago. What is the point? [...] Why does he have to continue to diminish -- with pointed efforts to do so -- this country? [...] But anything, anything in the service of diminishing the United States. Anything that serves to illustrate this country as less than perfect, and less than what it should be. They will not miss those opportunities. [Premiere Radio Networks, The Rush Limbaugh Show, 12/17/14] Laura Ingraham: Interview Reveals Obamas' "Condescending Attitude Toward The Working Person And Toward Americans." During her December 17 radio show, Laura Ingraham waved off the Obamas' accounts of racism, saying, "Just chalk this up to 'America's a rotten country' category." According to Ingraham, the interview revealed that the Obamas have "a condescending attitude toward the working person and toward Americans." [Courtside Entertainment Group, The Laura Ingraham Show, 12/17/14] TownHall Editor Tells Obamas To "Stop Scolding A Country That Gave Them So Much." In a December 17 column, TownHall.com finance editor John Ransom pointed to the People interview to claim, "Michelle Obama wants you to feel bad for her, and for Barack, because they are black," concluding that the Obamas "have received abundantly from this country because they are black. It's time for them to stop scolding a country that gave them so much." [TownHall.com, 12/17/14] The Blaze's Dana Loesch: Helping Others Is Now "A Racist Act." On December 17, radio host and conservative commentator Dana Loesch scoffed at the Obamas' accounts of their experiences with racism: The lesson is never ask anyone for help with anything, ever, no matter the need. It may be mentioned in People as a racist act. -- Dana Loesch (@DLoesch) December 17, 2014 [Twitter.com, 12/17/14] Michelle Malkin Starts Hashtag Mocking Michelle Obama's Account Of Racial Bias. On December 17, conservative commentator and columnist Michelle Malkin wrote several tweets mocking an experience in Target Michelle Obama recounted in her People interview: OMG. Someone asked @FLOTUS to get something off a Target shelf. #RAAAAAAAACISM ! http://t.co/Vg9zc9vmf0 pic.twitter.com/C6VNNmMHXg -- Michelle Malkin (@michellemalkin) December 17, 2014 [Twitter.com, 12/17/14] #thingsmichelleobamathinksareracist Someone asked me to pass the ketchup. -- Michelle Malkin (@michellemalkin) December 17, 2014 [Twitter.com, 12/17/14]

Posted by on 18 December 2014 | 2:29 am

Limbaugh Manages To Connect Sony Hack And Movie Cancellation To Benghazi Hoax

From the December 18 edition of Premiere Radio Networks' The Rush Limbaugh Show:Previously: Sean Hannity Finds A Way To Make Eric Garner's Death About Benghazi Right-Wing Media Find A Way To Make MH17 Crash About Benghazi Fox's Benghazi Obsession Even Extends To The Weather

Posted by on 18 December 2014 | 12:16 am

Why Media Shouldn't Glorify PA's Fracking Industry

Conservative media are praising Pennsylvania's fracking industry in order to criticize New York's recently announced ban on hydraulic fracturing, without mentioning the health impacts that it has had on Pennsylvania's drinking water and communities. On December 17, New York became the first state in the country to officially ban the controversial process of hydraulic fracturing, or "fracking." The announcement by Governor Andrew Cuomo's administration came alongside a long-awaited health study on fracking in New York state, which found "significant public health risks" associated with the process. Cuomo officials also stated that allowing fracking would bring "far lower" economic benefits to the state "than originally forecast." In response, conservative media have been holding up the economy in Pennsylvania -- where fracking has been in practice for decades -- to question the Cuomo administration's decision. Both the Wall Street Journal and the Daily Caller touted statistics from the American Petroleum Institute, which claimed Wednesday that Pennsylvania's fracking industry has generated $2.1 billion in state taxes that have allegedly supported new roads, bridges, and parks. And on the December 17 edition of Fox News' Happening Now, correspondent Eric Shawn reported, "[Fracking] has been allowed in Pennsylvania and helped that state's troubled economy enormously." Co-host Heather Nauert agreed, lamenting, "When you go upstate in New York you see just how badly the jobs are needed up there": But Pennsylvania may actually be more of a testament to why New York's health concerns surrounding fracking are warranted. Oil and gas operations have damaged Pennsylvania's water supply over 200 times since 2007, according to an investigation by the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, and a recent report from the Government Accountability Office found that the state's drinking water is at risk from poor wastewater disposal practices. One Pennsylvania town, Dimock, has been dubbed "Ground Zero" in the battle over fracking's safety by NPR. The town has seen particularly high rates of water contamination, with a methane leak causing a resident's backyard water well to explode, tossing aside a concrete slab weighing several thousand pounds in one instance. 

Posted by on 18 December 2014 | 12:10 am

Fox Host Missed Obama's Reassurance To Americans Over Film Threats

Fox News host Martha MacCallum falsely claimed that President Obama failed to reassure Americans to continue movie-going after Sony's film The Interview prompted terror threats. However, Obama had encouraged Americans to "go to the movies" hours earlier.  The Interview, a comedy that revolves around a plot to assassinate North Korean leader Kim Jong-un, has been pulled from movie theaters and will not be released by Sony after terror threats were made against the theaters it was scheduled to be played in on Christmas Day. The threat referenced the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks. On the December 17 edition of The Kelly File, MacCallum complained that the White House has been dead silent on the threats. MacCallum recalled that after 9/11, "the message was always 'Go on, live your life, do what you're going to do, go to the movies, go shopping'": But hours before The Kelly File aired, Obama said these very words in an ABC News interview: "My recommendation would be that people go to the movies." MUIR: Do you consider this a legitimate threat, and how concerned are you? OBAMA: Well, the cyber attack is very serious. We're investigating it. We're taking it seriously. You know, we'll be vigilant. If we see something that we think is serious and credible, then we'll alert the public. But for now, my recommendation would be that people go to the movies. Before The Kelly Show aired, CNN also reported on President Obama's advice: 

Posted by on 17 December 2014 | 10:22 am

New York Times Omits Key Facts To Fabricate Dishonest Clinton-Obama Fundraising Scandal

The New York Times omitted key facts it had previously reported to dishonestly accuse Hillary Clinton and the Obama administration of selling political favors to an Ecuadorean family in exchange for campaign donations. Excised from the Times reporting is the fact that prominent Republicans, including Sen. Marco Rubio, have the exact same relationship with the donors that the Times is now portraying as a problem for Democrats.   "Ecuador family wins favors after donations to Democrats," the Times headline claimed. The article detailed the decision to grant a travel visa to a "politically connected Ecuadorean woman," and argued that the decision to do so was connected to "tens of thousands of dollars" the family of the woman, Estefania Isaias, has given to Democratic campaigns. According to the Times, "the case involving Estefania could prove awkward for Mrs. Clinton," based on the fact that she was Secretary of State when members of Congress were advocating for travel visa for the relative of two Florida residents seen as fugitives by the Ecuadorean government.  The Times fixated on political donations given by the Isaias family to Democrats as if it were news, but the Times already reported on the money the Isaias family has given to elected officials in a March 11, 2014, article. Moreover, that prior article noted that potential Republican presidential candidate Sen. Marco Rubio and Republican Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen had also aided the Isaias' at the same time their political campaigns received donations linked to that family -- facts absent from the more recent piece. In March, the Times made clear that the family gave significant campaign contributions to Florida Republicans, including Sen. Marco Rubio and Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, who "acknowledged trying to help the family with immigration troubles." The Republicans sent letters -- in one case directly to Clinton herself -- inquiring into the immigration issues surrounding members of the family or advocating on their behalf. "The family gave about $40,000 to Ms. Ros-Lehtinen, whose district members live in," the Times reported then. "Last month, she acknowledged to The Daily Beast that while she was chairwoman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee she sent four letters to top American officials, including Hillary Rodham Clinton, then secretary of state, advocating on behalf of three members of the Isaias family who had problems with their residencies. She called it 'standard practice' for constituents." That detail is absent from this week's Times article.  Here's the Times in March: "Mr. Rubio, whose political action committee received $2,000 from Luis Isaias, also made 'routine constituent inquiries' into immigration matters for two family members, his office said." In December, Rubio's advocacy vanished from the Times. Additionally, while the article suggests in its opening paragraph that Estefania Isaias was given permission to enter the country in 2012 in direct response to the donations from her family, she reportedly received the same access on six prior occasions dating back to the first restrictions on her movement in 2007 under the Bush Administration. Indeed, the Times reported in the 23rd paragraph of its article that a spokesperson for Sen. Robert Menendez (D-NJ) said the senator's office had gotten involved with the Isaias case because "because Ms. Isaías had previously been allowed to travel to the United States six times despite the ban, and the decision to suddenly enforce it seemed arbitrary and wrong." Conservative media are exploiting the Times' shoddy reporting -- reporting that doesn't stand up to basic scrutiny in light of what the Times itself has previously reported.  "Clinton State Dept Pulled Strings for Menendez in Pay-to-Play Deal with Dem Donor," the Washington Free Beacon headline claimed. "Controversial Ecuadorian Family Donated About $100,000 to Obama ... and the State Department Returned the Favor," is the take over at The Blaze. The Daily Caller: "Sen Menendez Pushed Hillary Clinton To Grant Visa For Daughter Of Ecuadoran Bank Fugitive." Taking The New York Times' lead, Rubio's and Ros-Lehtinen's advocacy on behalf of their donors is nowhere to be seen.

Posted by on 17 December 2014 | 10:14 am

"We Won The War": Bill O'Reilly Congratulates Himself For Having "Single-Handedly Saved Christmas"

From the December 17 edition of Fox News' The O'Reilly Factor:Previously: O'Reilly Blames "The First Salvo This Season In The Ongoing War On Christmas" On Muslims For Requesting School Holidays O'Reilly: "It Isn't A Mythical War On Christmas. It's Real And We Just Won" O'Reilly Declares Victory In "War On Christmas," Joins Fox's "War On Easter" Bill O'Reilly Covers The "War On Christmas" More Than Actual Wars, Again

Posted by on 17 December 2014 | 8:33 am

Bill O'Reilly: African-Americans Should Wear "Don't Get Pregnant At 14" On Their T-Shirts

From the December 17 edition of Fox News' The O'Reilly Factor:Previously:    Geraldo Recommends Another T-Shirt For LeBron: Wear One That Says "We're The Problem" Bill O'Reilly's "Moral Instruction For Black People": Michael Brown Edition Bill O'Reilly's Attacks On Black Culture

Posted by on 17 December 2014 | 8:28 am

Right-Wing Media Lash Out After Obama Announces Deal With Cuba

Right-wing media figures attacked President Obama's announcement of an agreement on diplomatic relations with Cuba, claiming that it is "appeasement" and tantamount to "prop[ping] up another communist dictator." But foreign policy experts and commentators have long supported a deal with Cuba to loosen the embargo and improve relations.Obama Admin. And Cuba Agree To Restore Full Diplomatic Relations Obama Announces Deal On Diplomatic Relations With Cuba. On December 17, Obama announced that the United States will establish a U.S. Embassy in Cuba after the release of Alan Gross, an American contractor imprisoned in Cuba for five years. As The New York Times reported: The United States will restore full diplomatic relations with Cuba and open an embassy in Havana for the first time in more than a half-century after the release of an American contractor held in prison for five years, President Obama announced on Wednesday. In a deal negotiated during 18 months of secret talks hosted largely by Canada and encouraged by Pope Francis, who hosted a final meeting at the Vatican, Mr. Obama and President Raúl Castro of Cuba agreed in a telephone call to put aside decades of hostility to find a new relationship between the United States and the island nation just 90 miles off the American coast. "We will end an outdated approach that for decades has failed to advance our interests and instead we will begin to normalize relations between our two countries," Mr. Obama said in a nationally televised statement from the White House. The deal will "begin a new chapter among the nations of the Americas" and move beyond a "rigid policy that's rooted in events that took place before most of us were born." [The New York Times, 12/17/14] Right-Wing Media React Angrily To Agreement With Cuba Fox Contributor John Bolton: Deal Is "Appeasement." In an appearance on the December 17 edition of Happening Now, Fox News contributor John Bolton characterized the deal as a "very, very bad signal of weakness and lack of resolve by the President of the United States" and described it as "appeasement." [Fox News, Happening Now, 12/17/14] Limbaugh: "We Are Going To Use Taxpayer Dollars To Prop Up Another Communist Dictator." During the December 17 edition of his radio show, Rush Limbaugh said the U.S. making a deal with Cuba meant that "[w]e're going to use taxpayer dollars to prop up another communist dictatorship in our hemisphere, 90 miles away." [Premiere Radio Networks, The Rush Limbaugh Show, 12/17/14] Fox's Rove: Deal Is "A Very Bad Signal To Our Adversaries Around The World." Appearing on the December 17 edition of Happening Now, political contributor Karl Rove criticized the Obama administration for making a deal with Cuba. Saying that he agreed with Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL), he called the deal "very disturbing" and said it's "a very bad signal to our adversaries around the world." Later claiming that all Americans get out of the agreement are cheap vacations, Rove said "the Cuban people don't get much out of this" either. [Fox News, Happening Now, 12/17/14] Experts And Commentators Have Long Advocated For Ending Embargo, Calling The Policy A "Failure" Brookings' Huddleston: "Cuba Embargo's Usefulness Has Run Its Course." In a 2008 op-ed in the Miami Herald, Vicki Huddleston, former co-director of the Brookings Project on U.S. Policy Toward a Cuba in Transition, wrote that the Cuban embargo's "usefulness has run its course." Explaining that isolating the country "did not and cannot bring about the end of the revolution" there, Huddleston wrote that by ending the embargo the U.S. could "speed the forces of change" in the country: But how fast and how far the revolution evolves depends upon U.S. policy. If we remove the barriers to communication, we will speed the forces of change. Just as was the case in Eastern Europe as a result of the Helsinki agreements, the Cuban people will be empowered by human contact, the free flow of information, and the support and encouragement of Americans and Cuban Americans from Florida to California. If U.S. policy can deal with Cuba -- not as a domestic political issue -- but as one sovereign state to another, then we will resume official diplomatic relations with the exchange of ambassadors and begin -- once again -- to talk about matters that affect the well being and security of both our countries, namely migration, anti-narcotics, health and the environment. Starting a dialogue will allow us to press Cuba's leaders to respect the principles that we and the region hold dear: human rights, rule of law and freedom. Removing the barriers to communications and to normal diplomatic relations are not concessions as some would claim. Rather, they are practical initiatives that will reduce the dependence of the Cuban people on the Cuban state by providing them with alternative sources of information and resources to improve their daily lives. [Brookings, 3/10/08] Group Of 44 Diplomats Has Urged Obama To Ease Embargo. According to a May 19 report from Bloomberg, former Director of National Intelligence John Negroponte led a group of "44 former high-ranking U.S. diplomats, civil servants, military officers and Cuban-American businessmen" in calling for Obama to loosen the embargo against Cuba: In an open letter sent to Obama, the group, which includes former Director of National Intelligence John Negroponte, former head of the U.S. Southern Command Admiral James Stavridis and Andres Fanjul, co-owner of sugarcane producer Fanjul Corp., called on Obama to expand the roster of groups allowed to organize travel to the island, authorize import and export licenses between the two countries' private sectors and encourage the expansion of telecommunications in Cuba by permitting the sale of hardware. "The U.S. is finding itself increasingly isolated internationally in its Cuba policy," the group said in the letter. "The Obama administration has an unprecedented opportunity to usher in significant progress using its executive authority at a time when public opinion on Cuba policy has shifted toward greater engagement with the Cuban people while continuing to pressure the Cuban government on human rights." [...] Other signatories to the letter include former Deputy Secretary of State Strobe Talbott, former Under Secretary of Political Affairs Thomas Pickering, Cuban-American businessmen such as Jorge Perez, chief executive officer of real estate developer The Related Group of Florida and three former Assistant Secretaries of State. [Bloomberg, 5/19/14] Historian Appelbaum: Eisenhower Had "Expressed Hope That 'In The Not So Distant Future' Normal Relations Could Be Restored" With Cuba. In a December 17 series of tweets, cultural historian and Atlantic correspondent Yoni Appelbaum responded to the idea that United States had conceded to Cuba by negotiating with them. Appelbaum explained that the U.S. Embassy in Cuba had originally closed under pressure from Fidel Castro, so reopening it was not a concession. Appelbaum also pointed to President Eisenhower's hope that "in the not too distant future" relations between the two countries could be restored:   [Twitter.com, 12/17/14] The Economist: The Cuban Embargo Has "Failed." A December 6 Economist article said the Cuban embargo "has not just failed; it has also given the Castros a potent propaganda weapon." The article noted that that American support of the embargo has "crumbl[ed]" and that Latin America is "unanimous in believing that ... the island should be accorded a normal place in relations in the Americas." [The Economist, 12/6/14] NY Times Editorial Board: Ending Embargo Would Allow For More Collaboration. In an October 11 editorial, The New York Times' editorial board urged Obama to end the embargo with Cuba. The Times wrote, "For the first time in more than 50 years, shifting politics in the United States and changing policies in Cuba make it politically feasible to re-establish formal diplomatic relations and dismantle the senseless embargo." The editorial went on say that restoring diplomatic ties "would allow the United States to expand and deepen cooperation in areas where the two nations already manage to work collaboratively -- like managing migration flows, maritime patrolling and oil rig safety." [The New York Times, 10/11/14] Financial Times: Lifting Embargo Means More Space "For Freedom" In Cuba. In a February 21 editorial, the Financial Times suggested that the United States' embargo policy "is not achieving its objective." The editorial also said: Opening to Cuba now would improve US standing in the region, while accelerating the possibility of change, especially given the troubles of Cuba's main benefactor, Venezuela. Mr Obama has eased some restrictions on travel and remittances. He needs to go further. Although lifting the embargo fully requires an act of Congress, he has some executive powers at his disposal. Travel restrictions for US citizens should be lifted; the list of authorised exports, currently only food and medicine, expanded; commercial activity with private businesses encouraged; and Cuba removed from the list of state sponsors of terrorism. Havana has played a crucial role in Colombia's peace talks; Cuba's continued inclusion, which brings tough financial strictures, makes a mockery of the list. The aim of the new approach is simple. The more restrictions there are on the island, the less Cubans have and the more subservient they become to whoever dispenses it -- currently the state. Creating economic space therefore creates freedom. At the same time, engagement does not mean ending support for human rights or political liberalisation. Rather it provides a more credible context for criticism. [Financial Times, 2/21/14] Cato's Bandow: Lifting Embargo Would Have "Obvious Economic Benefits." In a December 11, 2012, post, Cato Institute senior fellow Doug Bandow wrote that it is "time to end the Cuba embargo," citing the policy's failure to liberate the Cuban people, economic benefits, and continued lack of international support: The policy in Cuba obviously has failed. The regime remains in power. Indeed, it has consistently used the embargo to justify its own mismanagement, blaming poverty on America. Observed Secretary of State Hillary Clinton: "It is my personal belief that the Castros do not want to see an end to the embargo and do not want to see normalization with the United States, because they would lose all of their excuses for what hasn't happened in Cuba in the last 50 years." Similarly, Cuban exile Carlos Saladrigas of the Cuba Study Group argued that keeping the "embargo, maintaining this hostility, all it does is strengthen and embolden the hardliners." [...] Ending the embargo would have obvious economic benefits for both Cubans and Americans. The U.S. International Trade Commission estimates American losses alone from the embargo as much as $1.2 billion annually. Expanding economic opportunities also might increase pressure within Cuba for further economic reform. So far the regime has taken small steps, but rejected significant change. Moreover, thrusting more Americans into Cuban society could help undermine the ruling system. Despite Fidel Castro's decline, Cuban politics remains largely static. A few human rights activists have been released, while Raul Castro has used party purges to entrench loyal elites. [...] Lifting sanctions would be a victory not for Fidel Castro, but for the power of free people to spread liberty. As [trade specialist Dan] Griswold argued, "commercial engagement is the best way to encourage more open societies abroad." Of course, there are no guarantees. But lifting the embargo would have a greater likelihood of success than continuing a policy which has failed. Some day the Cuban people will be free. Allowing more contact with Americans likely would make that day come sooner. [Cato Institute, 12/11/12]

Posted by on 17 December 2014 | 7:42 am

Fox Turns To Serial Misinformer Betsy McCaughey After Millions More Enroll In Obamacare

From the December 17 edition of Fox News' Your World With Neil Cavuto:Related:    Millions More Sign Up for Obamacare Health Insurance Previously:    As ACA Enrollment Winds Down, Fox Turns To Serial Health Care Misinformer Betsy McCaughey Watch Obamacare Misinformer Betsy McCaughey Walk Off Of An Interview With The Daily Show Conservative Media Turn To Serial Misinformer Betsy McCaughey To Stoke Fears About Ebola

Posted by on 17 December 2014 | 5:33 am

Fox Anchor Is "Not A Lawyer, But" Defends "Exceedingly Strange" Immigration Decision Anyway

Fox News host Heather Nauert is calling a bizarre federal court opinion that found President Obama's executive action on immigration unconstitutional a "pretty simple" decision, despite the fact that even conservative legal experts have called it a stretch. On the December 17 edition of Happening Now, Nauert turned to legal experts Robert Bianchi and Brian Claypool to discuss Judge Arthur Schwab's lower court ruling that, surprisingly, evaluated the constitutionality of the president's recent decision to exercise prosecutorial discretion and defer deportation for certain undocumented immigrants. Both Bianchi and Claypool explained that the judge's ruling had "no legal significance" and "doesn't make sense," but Nauert disagreed. Other conservative legal experts are also questioning how the judge came to this conclusion on an unrelated matter of civil immigration law, given the fact that neither party in this criminal case contested the constitutionality of Obama's executive order. Although Nauert admitted that she is "not a lawyer," she nevertheless argued that the judge's decision "seems pretty simple": But the ruling from Judge Schwab, who has seen his fair share of controversy with respect to his legal judgment since being appointed to the bench, wasn't quite as "simple" as Nauert insisted.  Legal experts across the political spectrum agree that the president has broad authority to exercise prosecutorial discretion when it comes to deportation proceedings, which the Supreme Court affirmed as recently as 2012. Despite right-wing media's unwillingness to accept the idea that Obama's order is lawful, immigration experts have noted that the president is not only acting "within the legal authority of the executive branch of the government of the United States" but is also authorized by federal statute to provide temporary administrative relief of this type, as presidents of both parties have done for decades. Moreover, according to Jonathan Adler, a law professor and contributor for The Washington Post's libertarian Volokh Conspiracy blog, Judge Schwab overstepped his own authority in ruling on the constitutionality of Obama's executive order. As Adler explained, "it is quite unusual for a district court to reach this sort of constitutional issue in this sort of case": Indeed, Judge Schwab appears to have reached out quite aggressively to engage the lawfulness of the President's actions. Based upon the procedural history recounted in the opinion, it appears the court requested briefing on the applicability of the new immigration policies on its own order.  That is, the issue was not initially raised by the defendant in his own defense. As a result of the court's decision, however, the defendant now has the option of withdrawing his guilty plea and potentially seeking deferral of his deportation under the new policy. On the merits, I understand the concerns that motivate Judge Schwab's reasoning, but I am not persuaded. First, it is important to note that the executive branch has exercised a substantial degree of discretion in implementing and enforcing immigration law for decades. Work permits have been issued in conjunction with deferred action for at least forty years. President Obama's actions are broader in scope, but not clearly different in kind from what his predecessors have done and to which Congress has acquiesced. Adler's conservative colleagues at the Volokh Conspiracy agreed with this assessment, with law professors Ilya Somin and Orin Kerr calling it "poorly reasoned" with "serious flaws," and "exceedingly strange," respectively. Somin elaborated on how radical the opinion is, noting that "[i]f the Supreme Court were to adopt Judge Schwab's reasoning, federal law enforcement agencies would be barred from issuing general systematic guidelines about how their officials should exercise prosecutorial discretion. The exercise of discretion would then become arbitrary and capricious. Alternatively, perhaps they could still follow systematic policies, so long as those policies were not formally declared and announced to the public, as the president's order was. Neither possibility is particularly attractive, and neither is required by the Constitution." On the other hand, Judge Schwab does have the support of Fox News host Sean Hannity, who crowed that the opinion "could've been written by me."

Posted by on 17 December 2014 | 4:43 am

The Most Absurd Anti-Immigrant Myths Of 2014

In 2014, right-wing media attacked immigrants and immigration reform by pushing baseless claims, relying on debunked research, and using misleading statistics about immigrants and the impact of immigration on the United States. Here is a look back at the most absurd anti-immigrant myths of 2014. MYTH: Obama Is Letting "Hordes Of Dangerous Illegals Onto American Streets" MYTH: Undocumented Immigrants Are Spreading Infectious Diseases MYTH: Obama Caused Influx Of Unaccompanied Minors This Summer MYTH: Immigration Is A Threat To American Jobs MYTH: The Southern Border Is A Gateway For Terrorists MYTH: Flood Of Immigrant Children Straining American Schools and Taxpayers MYTH: Obama Is Letting "Hordes Of Dangerous Illegals Onto American Streets" Center For Immigration Studies Claimed ICE Released Nearly 68,000 Immigrants Previously Convicted Of Crimes. In a March study, the Center for Immigration Studies (CIS) claimed that 68,000 undocumented immigrants with criminal convictions were released by ICE. These findings, CIS, asserted, "raise further alarm over the Obama administration's pending review of deportation practices": A review of internal ICE metrics for 2013 reveals that hundreds of thousands of deportable aliens who were identified in the interior of the country were released instead of removed under the administration's sweeping "prosecutorial discretion" guidelines. [...] Many of the aliens ignored by ICE were convicted criminals. In 2013, ICE agents released 68,000 aliens with criminal convictions, or 35 percent of all criminal aliens they reported encountering. The criminal alien releases typically occur without formal notice to local law enforcement agencies and victims. These findings raise further alarm over the Obama administration's pending review of deportation practices, which reportedly may further expand the administration's abuse of "prosecutorial discretion". Interior enforcement activity has already declined 40 percent since the imposition of "prosecutorial discretion" policies in 2011. Rather than accelerating this decline, there is an urgent need to review and reverse the public safety and fiscal harm cause by the president's policies. [Center for Immigration Studies, March 2014] CIS Mapped The Locations Of Undocumented "Convicted Murderers" Hyping Fears That Criminals Released In "A Town Near You." In August, CIS published a blog post mapping the locations of undocumented "convicted murderers," stoking fears that immigrants are being released all over the U.S. [Center for Immigration Studies, 8/22/14] Fox's Starnes: "Obama Unleashes Hordes Of Dangerous Illegals Onto American Streets." In a March 31 article for FoxNews.com, Fox News Radio reporter Todd Starnes accused the Obama administration of "destabilizing the nation by allowing hordes of dangerous illegal aliens to invade the country": This is not a time to be politically correct so here's the cold hard reality - the United States is being invaded. And the Obama administration has been complicit in the invasion. Instead of repelling the invasion, the Obama administration is welcoming the invaders with open arms and providing them food stamps, driver's licenses and health insurance. [...] It's beyond frightening to imagine that our own government as unleashed this kind of evil on our streets. And heaven forbid, these illegals harm our wives and children. Should that happen, their blood is on the Obama Administration's hands. [FoxNews.com, 3/31/14] FACT:  Immigrants Released Are Being Monitored And Supervised By ICE American Immigration Council:  Releasing Immigrants Is "Not The Equivalent Of Being Set-Free."  In a March 31 press release, the American Immigration Council's executive Director Benjamin Johnson denounced CIS' "catch and release" report: A new report from the Center for Immigration Studies (CIS) makes a range of false claims about deportation data. First their claim that out of 722,000 "potentially deportable aliens" encountered by Immigration and Customs Enforcement only 195,000 were charged is completely misleading.  As a result of dragnet programs like Secure Communities, any foreign-born individual that that comes into contact with law-enforcement likely falls into 722,000 number cited by CIS.  Thus, this number includes immigrants (including long time permanent residents) whose interaction with law enforcement was so minor that they are not even legally subject to removal.  In fact, that data likely includes U.S. citizens as well.   [...] Furthermore, the report claims ICE "released" 68,000 "criminal aliens" yet fails to explain that being released is not the equivalent of being set-free. Being released from ICE custody often means being issued a notice to appear in court, released with an ankle bracelet or released under an order of supervision. These details were conveniently left out of the CIS analysis. Understanding deportation data is important in the current debate over immigration reform. However, reports full of false and misleading data do nothing to move the discussion forward and pave the way for further polarization and inaction. [American Immigration Council, 3/31/14] MYTH: Undocumented Immigrants Are Spreading Infectious Diseases Laura Ingraham: Migrant Children May Spread Drug "Resistant Forms of TB" To "Public School Kids Across This Country." On the September 18 edition of The Laura Ingraham Show, Ingraham suggested that migrant children may spread drug "resistant forms of TB" to "public school kids across this country."  [Courtside Entertainment Group, The Laura Ingraham Show, 9/18/14] Fox Guest Stokes Fears Of "Uninspected" Immigrants Spreading Ebola. During the July 29 edition of Fox News' Your World with Neil Cavuto, former Immigration and Naturalization Service agent Michael Cutler stoked Ebola fears during a discussion on undocumented immigrants, saying "it's not that they're undocumented, it's that they're uninspected." [Fox News, Your World with Neil Cavuto, 7/29/14] Breitbart: Individuals From Ebola-Stricken Nations Are "Exploiting Open US Border." An August 3 Breitbart.com article claimed that "a leaked intelligence analysis from the Customs and Border Protection (CBP)" proved that "at least 71 individuals from the three nations affected by the current Ebola outbreak" had been "caught attempting to illegally enter the U.S." [Breitbart.com, 8/3/14] FACT: There Is "Zero Evidence" To Support Claims Of Disease-Carrying Immigrants Crossing The Southern Border CDC And Independent Epidemiologists Say There Is "Zero Evidence" That Migrants Are Carrying Ebola Across The Southern Border. According to experts from the Center for Disease Control and Prevention and the Vanderbilt School of Medicine, "given how the disease develops, the likelihood of children from Central America bringing it to the U.S. border is almost nonexistent": Indeed, the prior, scattered examples of exotic and deadly diseases reaching the United States suggest that "the likelihood of an illegal migrant getting infected and introducing the disease to the U.S. is probably less than that of a 'legal' traveler," said Daniel G. Bausch, head of the virology and emerging infections department at the U.S. Naval Medical Research Unit No.6 in Lima, Peru. Another problem: If you had such an infection, the chances are good that you would die on the journey to the United States, said Arthur Caplan, director of the division of medical ethics at New York University's Langone Medical Center. "You would be too sick to make it to the border by foot," he said. [PolitiFact.com, 7/7/14] MYTH: Obama Caused Influx Of Unaccompanied Minors This Summer Wall Street Journal: Obama "Let The Crisis On The Border Build" To Pressure Republicans Into Passing "His Idea Of Good Immigration Reform." In a July 11 Wall Street Journal column, Peggy Noonan wrote about Obama's handling of the child migrant crisis, claiming that "[t]here is every sign he let the crisis on the border build to put heat on Republicans and make them pass his idea of good immigration reform." She also asserted that immigration reform efforts would "no doubt benefit the Democratic Party in the long term." [The Wall Street Journal, 7/11/14] Rush Limbaugh Speculates Obama Administration Orchestrated Influx Of Undocumented Children. On the June 24 edition of The Rush Limbaugh Show, Limbaugh speculated that the Obama administration planned the influx of unaccompanied children crossing the border. Limbaugh claimed that "six months ago the Obama regime began planning how to transport tens of thousands of undocumented children from the border." [Premiere Radio Networks, The Rush Limbaugh Show, 6/24/14] Laura Ingraham Describes Humanitarian Border Crisis As Human Trafficking "By Our Own Government." Fox News and ABC News contributor Laura Ingraham claimed the government is "trafficking illegal immigrants from one part of the country to another part of the country." [Courtside Entertainment Group, The Laura Ingraham Show, 6/3/14] FACT: The Influx Of Child Migrants At The Border Was Due To Increased Gang Violence In Their Home Countries The Influx Of Child Immigrants Is Due To Increased Violence And Lack Of Economic Opportunity. Experts cited gang violence in Central America as main reason for increased border crossings. According to the Wall Street Journal: Most of the children who HHS cares for are attempting to cross through the Rio Grande Valley and coming from Central America, driven by the dire economic conditions and sustained violence at home, experts say. HHS then keeps the children, typically for 30 to 45 days, until officials can place them with a parent or sponsor, often inside the U.S. The children are then put into deportation proceedings; some are deported but others ultimately are able to stay. [Wall Street Journal, 6/2/14] MYTH: Immigration Is A Threat To American Jobs Laura Ingraham: "We Have To Take Care Of American Workers And Legal Immigrants First." On the November 12 edition of Fox News' The O'Reilly Factor, Laura Ingraham called the push for comprehensive immigration reform "fanatical," suggesting that undocumented immigrants were a threat to American jobs: INGRAHAM: Right now, Bill, I think the fanatical position is when we have stagnating wages, right, and we have 92 million Americans operating outside of the workforce, the fanatical position is to say we need more cheap labor, we need doubling the number of guest workers, as it says so in the Senate bill, and we need to work with Obama on an immigration solution. The mainstream position is to say, look, we are a nation of immigrants, absolutely. We should have legal immigration when it works for the country. But we have to take care of American workers and legal immigrants first. [Fox News, The O'Reilly Factor, 11/12/14] Fox's Tucker Carlson: Authorizing Undocumented Workers To Work Legally Would "Depress Wages For Working Americans." During a November 14 appearance on America's Newsroom, Daily Caller editor-in-chief and Fox News co-host Tucker Carlson said that allowing more low-wage workers to work legally would "depress wages for working Americans." [Fox News, America's Newsroom, 11/14/14] FACT: Immigration Boosts American Wages And Is Not Connected To Unemployment Immigration Policy Center: There Is "Little Apparent Relationship" Between Immigration and Unemployment Statistics. According to the Immigration Policy Center, there is "little apparent relationship" between immigration and unemployment statistics (emphasis original): An IPC analysis of 2011 data from the American Community Survey found that, at the county level, there is no statistically significant relationship between the unemployment rate and the presence of recent immigrants who arrived in 2000 or later. [Immigration Policy Center, 6/12/13] Brookings Institution: "Many Immigrants Complement The Work Of U.S. Employees And Increase Their Productivity." The Brookings Institution reported that immigrants tend to "not compete for the same jobs" as U.S. workers: The most recent academic research suggests that, on average, immigrants raise the overall standard of living of American workers by boosting wages and lowering prices. One reason is that immigrants and U.S.-born workers generally do not compete for the same jobs; instead many immigrants complement the work of U.S. employees and increase their productivity. For example, low-skill immigrant laborers allow U.S.-born farmers, contractors, or craftsmen to expand agricultural production or to build more homes -- thereby expanding employment possibilities and incomes for U.S. workers. [Media Matters, 11/21/14]  MYTH: The Southern Border Is A Gateway For Terrorists Fox News Latino's Nelson Balido: "There Are Various Scenarios With ISIL That Could Play Out South Of The Border." In a December 11 Fox News Latino op-ed, Nelson Balido suggested that members of the Islamic State would take advantage of the "gaping holes in the U.S.' border security strategy," Balido claimed "the same smuggling networks that were used to shuttle the Central American kids north could easily be adapted to help facilitate the passage of individuals who are hell bent on bringing their brand of destruction to the U.S." [FoxNews.com, 12/11/14] NRO: "The Obama Administration's Non-Enforcement Of Immigration Laws" Create "A Jihadist Threat And National-Security Vulnerability." On the August 29 National Review Online's Andrew McCarthy reprinted a Judicial Watch press release describing an alleged "threat of imminent terrorist attack on southern border," adding that Obama's immigration policies create a "jihadist threat."  [National Review Online, 8/29/14] Fox Guest: "I Would Guarantee You" ISIS Is "Already Here." On the August 13 edition of Fox News' Fox & Friends, guest Dennis Michael Lynch claimed to have "caught" ISIS-affiliated individuals who have crossed the southern border. Lynch also noted, "I would guarantee you, they're already here." [Fox News Channel, Fox & Friends,8/13/2014] FACT: DHS Calls Right-Wing ISIS Border Theory "Categorically False" Department Of Homeland Security: There Is No "Credible Intelligence" To Prove ISIS Has Been Crossing The Southern Border. On October 8, DHS spokesperson Marsha Catron told The New Republic: "The suggestion that individuals who have ties to ISIL have been apprehended at the Southwest border is categorically false, and not supported by any credible intelligence or the facts on the ground," said DHS spokesperson Marsha Catron. "DHS continues to have no credible intelligence to suggest terrorist organizations are actively plotting to cross the southwest border." [The New Republic, 10/8/14] MYTH: Flood Of Immigrant Children Straining American Schools and Taxpayers Fox Business' Brenda Buttner Suggests Taxpayers Should Be Worried About Surge Of Immigrant Children In Schools. On the August 8 edition of Fox Business Network's Bulls and Bears, host Brenda Buttner suggested that parents should be concerned with "a surge of up to 60,000 illegal kids in their classrooms."  [Fox Business, Bulls and Bears, 8/10/14] Tucker Carlson: "But What About The Kids Who Are Born Here?" On the August 11 edition of Fox News' Fox & Friends, co-host Tucker Carlson asked "about the rights of the kids who are born here, the American citizens who presumably have the right to a decent education and aren't getting one because of this?" when guest Francisco Negrone pointed out the legal obligation of the US to educate all children.  [Fox News, Fox & Friends, 8/11/14] FACT: Unaccompanied Minors Account For "Just Over One-Tenth Of 1% Of All Public School Children" Center For American Progress: In 2013, Refugee Children Accounted For "Just Over One-Tenth of 1% Of All Public School Children." According to a study by the Center for American Progress, if every unaccompanied child who crossed the border enrolled in the school system, the 50.1 million public school student population would only increase by 0.13%. [Center for American Progress, 8/8/14] Ally Boguhn contributed research to this piece.

Posted by on 17 December 2014 | 4:05 am