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Fox News Breaks Its Promise

November 15, 2010, 4:47 pm | By Nick Sementelli

Dan blogged Friday about Glenn Beck launching anti-Semitic attacks against philanthropist George Soros, including intimating that the Holocaust survivor was a Nazi collaborator.

Simon Greer, CEO of Jewish Funds for Justice, went on Keith Olbermann’s program last night to talk about this issue. As Greer notes, he himself was attacked by Beck earlier in this summer for promoting the religious concept of the common good, an idea Beck claimed “leads to deathcamps.”

In a subsequent meeting with FoxNews leadership, Greer received an apology and assurance that the network understood his concern and had the utmost sensitivity towards the issue.

As Greer notes in the interview, this latest attack undermines that:

I believed at the time was that they were sincere in their commitments, but what we’ve seen this week shows that they were not…I actually believed for a minute that [Beck's] values were values and that he would stand by them and keep his word and this week…shows he will do anything to score political points.


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Pro-life Victory?, ctd.

November 8, 2010, 10:36 am | By Nick Sementelli

Lee Fang of Think Progress was at the same press conference as we were last week and managed to get a revealing interview with Ralph Reed pressing him on the pro-life nature of the healthcare law.

After Lee exposes Reed’s misrepresentation of the law and refusal to endorse any alternate proposals, Reed’s only response is denial:

TP: My question was, 45,000 people die because of lack of health insurance. That’s a pro-life issue to cover people with health insurance. What do you think this new majority should do to cover this crisis? There is a healthcare crisis. [...]

REED: I’m not sure that you’re statistic is accurate.

Read the full transcript at Think Progress or watch the whole interview below:

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Pro-life Victory?

November 5, 2010, 6:24 pm | By Nick Sementelli

In a press conference touting his Faith and Freedom Coalition’s success in driving Christian conservatives to vote for Republicans in the mid-term election, Ralph Reed made a particular point of noting the work he and allies did to defeat pro-life Democrats like Kathy Dahlkemper, Steve Driehaus and others.

Reed justified working against these Members of Congress principally on the false claim that the health care reform bill they supported would lead to “unrestricted taxpayer funding for abortion.”

Though independent experts have consistently debunked this claim, Reed is so confident he’s right, his only explanation for why pro-life Congresspeople of good faith would disagree with him is that they are unprincipled puppets of their party leadership.

“If you claim to be a pro-life Democrat but you voted consistently with Nancy Pelosi…and against your pro-life convictions, you pay a price at the ballot box.”

In reality these representatives stood up for their pro-life principles when it mattered the most — when sticking to them would help save lives, even though it would also result in the steep political price of unrelenting false attacks from partisan operatives like Ralph Reed.

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Muslims Fighting Crime

November 2, 2010, 10:11 am | By Nick Sementelli

Picking up where Bill O’Reilly left off the other day, Rep. Peter King (R-NY) went on Don Imus’s morning radio show to claim that Muslims “do not cooperate” with law enforcement in terrorist investigations.

Adam Serwer reprints a list of plots foiled by Muslim cooperation from a recent Muslim Public Affairs Council report to expose this baseless bigotry.


The MPAC report concludes that nearly a third of al-Qaeda-related homegrown terror plots since 9/11 have been foiled with the aid of the Muslim community. Saying American Muslims don’t do anything to fight terrorism helps bolster the case for arbitrarily denying Muslims the same rights as everyone else, which would make it harder to establish the kind of relationships between law enforcement and American Muslims that lead to plots being foiled before they happen. There are ongoing questions about whether or not law enforcement has crossed the line with some of its sting operations — but there shouldn’t be any question that the American Muslim community has played an important role in protecting the country from terrorism.

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Private Charity vs. the Social Safety Net

October 28, 2010, 2:57 pm | By Nick Sementelli

Earlier today, Kristin pushed back on the argument by British conservative Daniel Hannan that social safety net programs “infantilize” us and lead to worse citizens. Though he doesn’t address it specifically, the foundation of his argument is a popular conservative belief about the relationship between government programs and private charities. To answer the question of what would happen to the people served by the safety net programs conservatives want to cut, they promise that a smaller government with lower taxes would free up income that individuals would then direct to local churches and charities. (South Carolina gubernatorial candidate Nikki Haley employed a version of this just the other day).

Theoretically this argument might make sense, but it’s just not borne out in practice. Robert Kuttner of the American Prospect tackled this a few years ago:

Even though wealthy corporations and individuals have dramatically increased their share of the national income both before and after taxes, the increase in personal and corporate donations during the past two decades has only slightly exceeded the rate of inflation.

Conversely, there is no evidence that higher tax rates crowd out charitable giving. On the contrary, since charitable donations generate tax deductions, lowering tax rates actually reduces philanthropic contributions. In 2002, the year after Bush’s huge tax cut bonanza, donations actually declined by 1 percent.

Moreover, a system reliant on private donations has a glaring weak spot: it’s not setup to handle periods when demand is highest (like economic recessions). Ezra Klein explains:

Donations to private charities fell by 11 percent last year. That’s the steepest one-time drop in 20 years, and it came, of course, just as the need for the services that those charities provide exploded.

Charity is counter-cyclical. When the economy is booming and there’s less need, there’s also more capacity. When the is worse and there’s more need, donations dry up and there’s less capacity.

Right now private charities are teaming up with the government to help care for those hardest hit by the recession. Take federal assistance like food stamps and unemployment benefits out of the equation though, and the system would be quickly overwhelmed, sending Americans even deeper into poverty and delaying the recovery.

Kristin’s conclusion is right. Private charities are great complements to government programs, and we should encourage and celebrate individual giving. But claims that federal assistance for our least fortunate neighbors is some kind of albatross around our necks are short-sighted and dangerous.

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