Follow Up on the FCC Giveaway to Fox, et. al.

NOW with Bill Moyers. Transcript. January 30, 2004 | PBS

[L]et’s go back to last summer — to the story that you kept hearing about here on NOW … The decision by the Federal Communications Commission to change the rules on broadcast ownership.

With strong backing from President Bush, the FCC by a 3-2 vote gave the megamedia giants what they wanted — permission to get even bigger to own more TV stations across the country even to own newspapers, radio and TV stations in a single community.

To just about everyone’s surprise, the public rose up in outrage hundreds of thousands of letters and emails poured into the Commission and Congress.

CONGRESSMAN JIM LEACH, (R-IA): And it wasn’t as if there were Republicans on one side and Democrats on the other. It was everybody felt the same instinct: let’s have diversity, let’s not have concentration.

And the public is absolutely adamantly– in one camp. Interest groups are absolutely adamantly in another camp. And it’s a contrast that is as symbolic and as important as any set of contrasts I know in government today. …

SENATOR BYRON DORGAN (D-ND): I mean the FCC issued a ruling that goes well beyond what anybody would expect reasonable, even from an FCC that wanted to be particularly friendly to big business. This was you know the FCC hog rule. It’s let’s do everything that business wants, plus let’s add some.

BILL MOYERS: Senator Dorgan thinks that further media consolidation could lead to a cartel of power that would limit what Americans see, hear, and read.

DORGAN: What if the broadcast properties, television and radio, are in the hands of sufficiently few people in this country’s future to decide that these are voices we don’t like very much? …

BILL MOYERS: Unknown to Dorgan and other members of the conference committee … a new deal had been reached … This one between the White House and Republican leaders … a deal to protect the interests of the big broadcast companies.

DORGAN: My guess is that they kept working behind the scenes, and– that which had been concluded and decided by the Congress was then later negotiated by a few members of Congress with the White House.

BILL MOYERS: It quickly became apparent who would benefit from this new deal.

DORGAN: There were two very big enterprises. One is– Viacom, which owns CBS. The other is Rupert Murdoch’s empire which– which were over the cap. [over 3 years, 3 recent years, Rupert Murdoch’s company spent almost 10 million dollars on its lobbying operations in Washington]…

MOYERS: And so those 24 lines were quietly inserted in last week’s fine print [of the 1,182 page spending bill]. With those lines, the House and Senate agreement was overturned and the new cap was set just high enough to allow Viacom and Murdoch to keep all their TV stations.

BILL MOYERS: What does it say to you about democracy? That almost a million citizens make themselves heard in support of overturning the FCC ruling. The Senate votes 55 to 40 to overturn those rules. And yet the House can’t vote on it. [because of Hastert and Delay]

SENATOR BYRON DORGAN: Why? Because the President supports the FCC rule. This is his Federal Communications Commission.

It’s classic politics. You know? I mean big interests have big sway in this town. And this is the high stakes, big interest issue. They have– there’s a great deal of money at stake, as you might well imagine. And the Majority Leader [Tom Delay], as he almost on all occasions does, is standing with the big interests.

Notice the classic Bush tactic: work stealthily around all obstacles to undermine the Public and benefit the Rich. mjh

mjh’s Weblog Entry – 06/02/2003: FCC Votes to Ease Media Ownership Rules

Wes Clark’s Consulting Success

Clark, the Four-Star Businessman By Ben White and R. Jeffrey Smith, Washington Post Staff Writers

Clark’s lobbying was one of many business activities that, by his account, boosted his income almost 20-fold in the 42 months between his resignation from the Army and the start of his presidential campaign last September. …

In earning post-retirement income totaling at least $2.4 million, moreover, Clark was helped most of all by consulting arrangements with two politically connected investment banking firms, Goldman Sachs in New York and Stephens Inc. in Little Rock. His association with Goldman brought him more than $1 million, including stock benefits accrued since he announced his candidacy. …

Even with two bank accounts holding $500,000 to $1 million each on Dec. 15, according to financial disclosures made by Clark’s campaign, his declared assets of $2.6 million to $6 million are less than those held by rivals Sens. John Edwards (N.C.) and John F. Kerry (Mass.). Edwards and Kerry, respectively, have declared assets of $8.7 million to $36.5 million and $198.7 million to $839 million, according to the Center for Public Integrity, a nonprofit watchdog group. Former Vermont governor Howard Dean has declared assets of $2.1 million to $5 million. …

Clark registered as a self-employed lobbyist for the firm in January 2002. In May of that year he registered as a lobbyist for Acxiom on behalf of SCL LLC, an entity created to keep Clark’s work for Acxiom separate from his work for Stephens. He was a lobbyist for Acxiom through Sept. 17 of last year, earning just under $500,000 total for his work, according to lobbying disclosures.

Bush Costs Us Too Much

Bush Touts Budget at Meeting With GOP By ALAN FRAM, AP

President Bush says his 2005 budget will balance national security, social needs and fiscal responsibility, but Democrats say his policies have wounded the economy and prompted sky-high federal deficits.

Bush plans to send Congress an election-year budget exceeding $2.3 trillion on Monday. Officials revealed new details including more money to fight AIDS in poor countries, and a spare 0.5 percent increase for nondefense, nondomestic security programs as part of his effort to halve record deficits by 2009. …

In his weekly radio address, Bush said he will propose a 3.5 percent pay increase for the military and an 11 percent boost in the FBI’s budget, including $357 million more for counterterror. …

Documents obtained by The Associated Press showed the Pentagon’s $401.7 billion request for next year [a 7 percent increase over this year] excluded operations in Iraq and Afghanistan. The papers said the Defense Department expects to request extra money for those campaigns, but not until 2005 — after this November’s elections.

According to the documents, Bush will request $9.2 billion for national missile defense, $1.5 billion more than this year [mjh: vital in a war against people using granade launchers from donkey carts!]. He will also seek money for a new Virginia class attack submarine [mjh: essential in the desert]; for 1,153 unmanned aerial vehicles used heavily in Afghanistan and elsewhere; and for 24 FA-22 Raptor stealth fighters, a program Pentagon officials have considered reducing because of cost overruns [mjh: ie, even the Pentagon doesn’t want this]. …

[Bush’s proposals include] reviving procedures making it harder for lawmakers to increase spending without paying for the costs with budget cuts elsewhere. Tax cuts would not have to be paid for. [mjh: oh, my, of course not!]

Who is getting rich from the ”War on Terror”? mjh

True Conservatives May Stay Home

Conservatives grumble over Bush’s policies By Ralph Z. Hallow, The Washington Times: Nation/Politics

In interviews and speeches, lawmakers and rank-and-file activists said they believe Mr. Bush is a conservative but is heeding advisers who want him to chase votes in the political center and even left of center, including Hispanic votes.

Although this year’s CPAC audience is critical of the president and the Republican Congress on some issues, it is not in full rebellion, like audiences at past CPACs.

In 1972, CPAC activists were in revolt over the liberalism of President Nixon [mjh: LOL!] and spawned a movement to run Sen. John Ashbrook against him for the Republican nomination. In 1976, a majority at the CPAC supported Ronald Reagan over President Ford, another Republican liberal. And in 1992, CPAC activists supported conservative stalwart Pat Buchanan over the first President Bush.

But for some veteran conservatives, the president is in more trouble with his core supporters than he may realize.

He has alienated his conservative base,” said former Rep. Bob Barr, Georgia Republican. “By pursing the same policies he is now, he nearly lost the 2000 election — by blurring distinctions between Republicans, the conservative party, and Democrats, the liberal party.”

Trouble on Bush’s right? Cal Thomas

It would be difficult to find a more committed supporter of President Bush than Rep. Mike Pence (R-Ind.). Pence, who is in his second term, is a self-described “Christian-conservative-Republican, in that order.” He is the essence of the Bush base, which is why his Jan. 22 speech to the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) gathering in Washington ought to cause concern at the White House. After testifying to his pro-Bush (and pro-Reagan) credentials, Pence suggested that the “ship of conservative governance has gone off course.”

Pence’s indictment included this line: “… many who call themselves conservatives see government increasingly as the solution to every social ill and – let us be clear on this point – this is a historic departure from the limited-government traditions of our party and millions of its most ardent supporters.”

Congressional Republicans and the Bush administration apparently believe they can buy the votes of a number of groups – including the elderly (prescription drug benefits) and Hispanics (amnesty for illegal aliens)….

Are they listening at the White House? Perhaps they think they can dismiss conservatives with the familiar, “Where else can conservatives go?” They can “go” into inaction or they can stay home and not vote. It has happened before.

Ask President Bush No. 41, who raised taxes after promising he wouldn’t. He later said it was a major mistake, but too late to win him reelection. In a close election people of principle can mean the difference between victory and defeat.

mjh’s Dump Bush weBlog: Conservatives grumbling — like the rest of us

The Dishonorable Scalia

AP Wire | 01/31/2004 | Democrats Press Scalia on Cheney Case

Democrats are increasing their pressure on Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia to step aside from considering a case involving his friend, Vice President Dick Cheney.

The Supreme Court agreed last month to take up Cheney’s appeal in a case that involves his refusal to disclose the identities of members of his energy task force. Three weeks later, Scalia and Cheney went duck hunting together in the marshes of southern Louisiana.

Scalia maintains there was nothing improper about the trip … “I do not think my impartiality could reasonably be questioned.”

In addition to the duck hunting trip this month, Scalia had dinner with Cheney in November after Bush administration lawyers had asked the court to consider his case. …

Robert Destro, a law professor at Catholic University of America, who specializes in legal ethics … predicted that Scalia will stick with his decision to hear the case, and not respond to what Destro called “a bunch of hooey.”

The case probably will be argued in April, although a date has not been scheduled.

Search this blog for Scalia

Your Safety is Unprofitable

Nuke safety rules may be revised

The Bush administration is moving to replace government safety requirements at federal nuclear facilities with standards written by contractors — after Congress directed the government to start fining the contractors for violations.

Long-established government minimum standards at the more than two dozen nuclear weapons plants and research labs around the nation would become unenforceable guidelines under the Energy Department proposal.

Sen. Jim Bunning, R-Ky., an author of the 2002 legislation ordering the fines, accused the administration this week of distorting Congress’ intent with a plan that “will likely decrease worker protection.”

John Conway, chairman of an advisory board overseeing safety at the Energy Department, said the proposal would weaken safety standards covering more than 100,000 workers at the facilities.

Bush relentlessly changes everything he can to benefit corporations. There may be thousands of examples like this one. mjh

Bush Fights For Patriot Act

Veto Threatened on Bill to Restrict Powers Under Terrorism Law By ERIC LICHTBLAU, NYTimes

The Bush administration, stepping up the debate over its antiterrorism policies, threatened on Thursday to veto a pending bill that would scale back the government’s powers under the USA Patriot Act.

Attorney General John Ashcroft told reporters that the bill, sponsored by Senate Republicans and Democrats, “unilaterally disarms America’s defenses” against terrorists and that President Bush intended to veto the measure if Congress passed it.

The threat of a veto represents an unusual pre-emptive strike by the administration. The bill has not even come up for a vote in the Senate Judiciary Committee.

Look at Asskraft’s (sic) hyperbole about ‘unilaterally disarms America’s defenses.’ What a liar.

Note that Duhbya has had zero vetoes, a modern record. Will his first veto be an attack against the Legislature’s attempt to rein-in the out-of-control Executive? mjh