Sigh… Via Mediaite: At the same Clinton Foundation-sponsored event Thursday where Chelsea Clinton announced her first pregnancy to the world, former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton took a question from a young, 19-year-old woman who chose to publicly reveal her status as an undocumented immigrant. “That was incredibly brave,” Clinton told the woman after she […]

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Hillary Clinton Tells Illegal Immigrant She Is “Incredibly Brave” For Being In This Country Illegally…

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Questioning Ethics…Some Of The Time

On April 10, 2014, in Barack Obama, by LynellEdmiston

[guest post by Dana] Last week I put up a post about George W. Bush and his art exhibit opening in Dallas. The post included a video of Bush’s daughter Jenna Bush Hagar interviewing the former president about his paintings on NBC’s The Today Show. Last night, I stumbled upon a link to a story entitled, “The Ethics of NBC Letting George W. Bush Be Interviewed by His Daughter” . While acknowledging the segment on Bush was a commercial success for NBC, the people at Think Progress were troubled, [A]s a journalistic outlet, what are the ethical implications of turning over an interview with a former President to his own daughter? Citing the Society of Professional Journalists’ Code of Ethics, which states, “avoid conflicts of interest, real or perceived” , three experts in ethics and journalism were contacted by the publication. According to Think Progress, all three “raised substantial concerns with the segment”. Marc Cooper , professor at the Annenberg School For Communication and Journalism at the University of Southern California, said the segment, “helps erode any lingering hope the public might have that these powerful news organizations have much intention to hold the powerful accountable and instead prefer to cater to their children and play patsy with their parents.” Cooper added that “networks long ago abandoned any serious ethical standards, especially for its morning shows.” From Todd Gitlin , professor and chair of the Ph.D. program at the Columbia University School of Journalism, “The disgrace of network broadcasting is always making new bottoms.” He noted that there were any number of serious questions NBC News could and should pose to former President Bush, including for example the Iraq War, the collapse of the financial system, and his inaction in the face of catastrophic climate change. Instead, according to Gitlin, NBC “pretties up the self-indulgence of the president… those are the journalism ethics in charge… as satire, this is rock-bottom stuff.” Bill Reader , a professor of journalism at Ohio University, seemed less concerned, “I am thinking it is really not much different than when NPR reporters interview their parents for cutesy Mother’s Day or Father’s Day features. Rather his concerns center on the energy spent “on a pointless puff piece about ‘daddy’s painting hobby’” which he calls “a vapid waste of time.” At the end of the report, Think Progress dutifully informed readers that Chelsea Clinton’s hiring as a special correspondent at NBC’s Rock Center also resulted in criticism being lobbed at NBC, and they provided a link to several brief New York Magazine pieces commenting on nepotism and incestuous privilege. I was, however, unable to locate any question of ethics regarding the Clinton hire in Think Progress archives. In light of said experts and their comments, if we are questioning ethics, should the ethics of an overtly left publication seeking out the journalistic opinions of several overtly politically like-minded professors be questioned? After all, if the Society of Professional Journalists’ Code of Ethics warns, “avoid conflicts of interest, real or perceived”, shouldn’t Think Progress have considered that a conflict of interest might easily be perceived by readers upon noting the politics of the go-to professionals? Especially, as ultimately, this is about politics. Because Bush . Clearly, Think Progress questioning the ethics in this, and the subsequent statements of Cooper and Gitlin confirm that partisanship was a motivating factor. Being generous, whether intentionally or not , their statements rallied the troops and got the righteous indignation motors revving again. Why else go after a former president who has intentionally avoided the public eye since leaving office and has subsequently protected his private life? If Think Progress were seriously interested in ethics, they would do well to focus on the political power players currently making noise and news, rather than on those who have clearly avoided the spotlight and have no intention of seeking public office. As I am not a professional journalist, I sought out one who decades ago graduated from Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism, and has worked in journalism for most of her professional adult life, including as a contributing editor at a major metropolitan newspaper. She made the following observations, Puff pieces have always been a part of EVERY news organization. This was a feature and they likely only got Bush to do it because his daughter works there. Isn’t that why they hired her? And it wasn’t even a feature that deeply explored whether his art was good or what influences he has been inspired by. It was puff pure and simple. Every TV news organization does PUFF pieces. The question is, do they do them right before a major election in favor of the candidate their puffing about or in front of passing a huge and hated-by-the-population law? It’s kind of like Michelle Obama on the cover of Home and Garden. Or the Obama family on the cover of People. Or Michelle Obama at the Oscars. Do a search on their critiques of that journalism and … what do you find? Ironically, after doing a good faith search of Think Progress archives, as well as articles specifically by author of this article, Judd Legum, I was unable to locate any questioning of ethics when Chelsea Clinton interviewed her mother, Hillary Clinton, which aired on ABC News in 2011. At the time of the interview, Hillary Clinton was the Secretary of State, and the opening questions from Chelsea to her mother, were, “What in the 21st century is the appropriate role of government? What is the appropriate role of civil society? What can and should government do? What can and should civil society do?” In closing, it should be noted that author Judd Legum’s bio reads in part, “Judd was the Research Director for the Hillary Clinton for President campaign.” Ethics, anyone? –Dana

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Questioning Ethics…Some Of The Time

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[guest post by Dana] Senator Ted Cruz does not take things lying down. Most recently, we have seen him here , here , and here bluntly and forthrightly speaking his mind. Some might even call it rocking the boat . So, it should be no surprise that last week when the DOJ denied his request that a special prosecutor be appointed to investigate an abuse of power by the IRS and their targeting of conservative groups, he came out swinging , It is the height of hypocrisy for the Obama Administration to claim that the investigator leading the investigation into the IRS’s illegal program has no conflict of interest. The investigator is a partisan Democrat who has donated over six thousand dollars to President Obama and Democrat causes. Just as nobody would trust John Mitchell to investigate Richard Nixon, nobody should trust a partisan Obama donor to investigate the IRS’s political targeting of President Obama’s enemies. Sadly, “in the discretion of the Attorney General,” Eric Holder has chosen to reject the bipartisan tradition of the Department of Justice of putting rule of law above political allegiance. Both Nixon Administration Attorney General Elliot Richardson and Clinton Administration Attorney General Janet Reno appointed special prosecutors whose integrity was beyond reproach; Eric Holder should do likewise. To date, nine months after a damning Inspector General report, nobody has been indicted, many of the victims have not even been interviewed, and Lois Lerner has twice pleaded the Fifth. And yet the Attorney General refuses to allow a genuine–and impartial–investigation. The integrity of the Department of Justice deserves better. The American people deserve better. Also, last week in a penned Wall Street Journal opinion piece, Republican congressman from Ohio, Jim Jordan, seconded the request for a special prosecutor to investigate the IRS. In a nice turn, he used Democratic Senator Elijah Cummings’ own words to fortify his request, When Congress is thwarted in our attempts to get answers—as is clearly the case given Ms. Lerner’s willingness to speak with the Justice Department but not to the public’s elected representatives—we have an obligation to hold accountable those hiding the facts. … Additionally, it is necessary to appoint a special prosecutor. Mr. Holder called the IRS matter “outrageous and unacceptable” and ordered a Justice Department investigation to be conducted in coordination with the Federal Bureau of Investigation. No one can have confidence in this investigation, started by a politically appointed attorney general and led by a campaign contributor to his boss. As Elijah Cummings, my Democratic colleague on the Oversight Committee, said on May 22, 2013—the day of the committee’s first IRS hearing—getting the truth and restoring trust must be paramount. “This is more important than one election,” he explained. “The revelations that have come forward so far provides us with a moment pregnant for transformation; not transformation for a moment, but for generations to come and generations yet unborn.” I hope Mr. Cummings and fellow members of his party will join me in acknowledging the time has come for the appointment of an independent and unbiased special prosecutor. Most certainly, Jordan is not expecting a different response from the one Cruz received, yet it is heartening to see another elected official not let this go. More boat rockers, please. –Dana

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Ted Cruz to DOJ: The American People Deserve Better

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When I did my recent three-part series on rent-seeking based on Planet Money episodes, commenter jakee308 said : “Do one on sugar.” OK. This is Part 4 of my three-part series on rent-seeking — legal bribery of politicians to pass protectionist laws. The series discusses individual episodes from the wonderful NPR show Planet Money, a sometimes quietly subversive show which does a lot of episodes (on NPR!) that explain how government interferes with the free market. Part 1 of the series dealt with state-created monopolies for car dealerships. Part 2 addressed the Jones Act, which creates an absurd and costly rule that shipments between U.S. ports must be made with American-made ships. Part 3 introduced readers to the “Raisin Administrative Committee” — a government-sponsored cartel that controls the raisin supply, and ruins any raisin producer who bucks the Stalinist organization and dares to sell all his raisins. Today, we have Part 4: the U.S. federal government setting minimum prices for sugar . The Planet Money episode opens with a CEO of a candy company talking about how he could expand his operations here in the U.S., rather than send massive parts of his operations to Mexico. What does he need? he asks rhetorically. Lower tax rates? Workers’ comp reform? A right to work law? Nope. He says he could pay no taxes, and get all those other things, and would still manufacture candy canes in Mexico. What does he ask for? “Let us buy sugar on the free market.” People say: What? You can’t do that? No, you can’t. The program explains that there are two prices paid for sugar: what people pay in the U.S., and what the rest of the world pays. The U.S. price is, on average, 15 cents more per pound than it is in the rest of the world. Just 15 cents? What’s the big deal? Well, the candy CEO mentioned above uses 100,000 pounds of sugar a day . So he pays $15,000 extra per day. That’s between $3 million and $4 million extra per year — a “sugar penalty” the businessman must pay as a cost of doing business in the U.S. Why? If you guessed “federal law,” you have been paying attention. The operative provision is contained in The Food Conservation and Energy Act of 2008 (aka the U.S. Farm Bill), under which the U.S. Government guarantees a minimum price for sugar: 22.9 cents per pound. The sugar beet farmers says foreign competitors are getting subsidies. Economists respond that the solution to unfair trade practices is a complaint to the World Trade Organization — or having the U.S. slap a tariff bigger than the subsidy received by the foreign grower. Not setting a minimum price. The most revealing story: the sugar CEO says that, according to the Ken Starr report, Clinton took a 22-minute phone call from someone while getting serviced by Monica Lewinsky. (Supposedly he was trying to break it off — but the cigar incident had not happened yet, so . . . ) Who was Clinton talking to for 22 minutes at such a moment? A sugar magnate. Now that’s access. It turns out that the sugar industry spends a ton on lobbying — double what the food and beverage industry spent as a whole in one recent year. The hosts talk to a Congressman who is a big supporter of the minimum price. He says people call him a communist — a central planner — and he’s fine with that. After all, it’s 25% of the economy in his district. The lobbying doesn’t affect me, he says. The sugar folks support me because I support them. Sugar creates jobs in the U.S., he says. The candy guy replies: yeah. And it also costs the U.S. jobs in my industry — jobs that are going to Mexico. Every government intervention into the economy has consequences — often unforeseen ones that are the opposite of what government intends. Yet the machinery of interference creaks on, inevitably — as lobbying money greases the wheels. And businessmen and consumers suffer. Yay government! Thanks to jakee308 for the suggestion.

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Planet Money on Rent-Seeking, Part 4: The Government-Mandated Minimum Prices for Sugar

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When I did my recent three-part series on rent-seeking based on Planet Money episodes, commenter jakee308 said : “Do one on sugar.” OK. This is Part 4 of my three-part series on rent-seeking — legal bribery of politicians to pass protectionist laws. The series discusses individual episodes from the wonderful NPR show Planet Money, a sometimes quietly subversive show which does a lot of episodes (on NPR!) that explain how government interferes with the free market. Part 1 of the series dealt with state-created monopolies for car dealerships. Part 2 addressed the Jones Act, which creates an absurd and costly rule that shipments between U.S. ports must be made with American-made ships. Part 3 introduced readers to the “Raisin Administrative Committee” — a government-sponsored cartel that controls the raisin supply, and ruins any raisin producer who bucks the Stalinist organization and dares to sell all his raisins. Today, we have Part 4: the U.S. federal government setting minimum prices for sugar . The Planet Money episode opens with a CEO of a candy company talking about how he could expand his operations here in the U.S., rather than send massive parts of his operations to Mexico. What does he need? he asks rhetorically. Lower tax rates? Workers’ comp reform? A right to work law? Nope. He says he could pay no taxes, and get all those other things, and would still manufacture candy canes in Mexico. What does he ask for? “Let us buy sugar on the free market.” People say: What? You can’t do that? No, you can’t. The program explains that there are two prices paid for sugar: what people pay in the U.S., and what the rest of the world pays. The U.S. price is, on average, 15 cents more per pound than it is in the rest of the world. Just 15 cents? What’s the big deal? Well, the candy CEO mentioned above uses 100,000 pounds of sugar a day . So he pays $15,000 extra per day. That’s between $3 million and $4 million extra per year — a “sugar penalty” the businessman must pay as a cost of doing business in the U.S. Why? If you guessed “federal law,” you have been paying attention. The operative provision is contained in The Food Conservation and Energy Act of 2008 (aka the U.S. Farm Bill), under which the U.S. Government guarantees a minimum price for sugar: 22.9 cents per pound. The sugar beet farmers says foreign competitors are getting subsidies. Economists respond that the solution to unfair trade practices is a complaint to the World Trade Organization — or having the U.S. slap a tariff bigger than the subsidy received by the foreign grower. Not setting a minimum price. The most revealing story: the sugar CEO says that, according to the Ken Starr report, Clinton took a 22-minute phone call from someone while getting serviced by Monica Lewinsky. (Supposedly he was trying to break it off — but the cigar incident had not happened yet, so . . . ) Who was Clinton talking to for 22 minutes at such a moment? A sugar magnate. Now that’s access. It turns out that the sugar industry spends a ton on lobbying — double what the food and beverage industry spent as a whole in one recent year. The hosts talk to a Congressman who is a big supporter of the minimum price. He says people call him a communist — a central planner — and he’s fine with that. After all, it’s 25% of the economy in his district. The lobbying doesn’t affect me, he says. The sugar folks support me because I support them. Sugar creates jobs in the U.S., he says. The candy guy replies: yeah. And it also costs the U.S. jobs in my industry — jobs that are going to Mexico. Every government intervention into the economy has consequences — often unforeseen ones that are the opposite of what government intends. Yet the machinery of interference creaks on, inevitably — as lobbying money greases the wheels. And businessmen and consumers suffer. Yay government! Thanks to jakee308 for the suggestion.

Follow this link:
Planet Money on Rent-Seeking, Part 4: The Government-Mandated Minimum Prices for Sugar

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