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Organization Trends

A monthly newsletter that reports on and analyzes the activities of advocacy organizations.

The Injustice Department: Eric Holder’s collaboration with the drug amnesty movement

The Injustice Department:  Eric Holder’s collaboration with the drug amnesty movement

By Barbara Joanna Lucas, Organization Trends, November 2014 (PDF to come)

Summary: The Justice Department under now-retiring Attorney General Eric Holder has been, as Holder brags, aggressively “activist.” It routinely collaborates with left-wing activist groups on multiple fronts: fighting voter ID laws, preventing enforcement of immigration laws, and covering up scandals like “Fast and Furious” and the IRS’s targeting of conservative groups. One top priority for its George Soros-funded allies: working to grant amnesty to tens of thousands of drug offenders. That fits nicely with the simultaneous push to regain voting rights for felons.

In September, staffers at the Department of Justice (DoJ) gathered at the White House to hear Eric Holder say farewell after serving as President Barack Obama’s attorney general for six years.

“We have held accountable those who would harm the American people, either through violent means or the misuse of economic or political power,” Holder said with Obama standing by his side. “I have loved the Department of Justice ever since I was a young boy. I watched Robert Kennedy prove during the civil rights movement how the department can and must always be a force for that which is right.” (Holder is expected to remain in the post until a successor is confirmed by the U.S. Senate.)

All of this would be news to those who have followed Holder’s tenure at the DoJ. He has been instrumental in covering up voter fraud, stirring up racial antagonism, brushing aside scandals such as Benghazi and the IRS targeting of conservative nonprofits. He has been largely successful in keeping President Obama out of legal trouble, mainly by stonewalling and dissembling.

Nowadays Justice Department spokesmen aren’t known for their honesty. They openly collaborate with the George Soros-funded slander shop Media Matters for America (MMfA). Investigative journalist Matthew Boyle of Breitbart News discovered that Holder’s communications staff collaborated with MMfA in what Boyle described as “an attempt to quell news stories about scandals plaguing Holder and America’s top law enforcement agency.” DoJ and MMfA pooled their resources to undermine journalists covering DoJ scandals, as Boyle discovered when he obtained internal government emails by means of a Freedom of Information Act request.

Holder’s Justice Department bullies and intimidates journalists. Last year Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) accused the DoJ of going after reporters because their coverage was critical of the Obama administration. “We have seen a consistent pattern in this administration, and the pattern is a willingness to use the machinery of government to target those they perceive as their political enemies,” Cruz said. “That was true with the IRS, and it’s true with the Department of Justice, in targeting reporters, targeting Fox News, going after reporters that would dare be critical of this administration.”

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Your Tax Dollars At Work: Liberal religious organizations make amnesty pay

Your Tax Dollars At Work:  Liberal religious organizations make amnesty pay

By James Simpson, Organization Trends, October 2014 (PDF to come)

Summary: The federal government is spending hundreds of millions of tax dollars a year to underwrite private care for persons who have entered the country illegally. Much of the money flows into religious nonprofits. The nation’s laws receive less consideration than the appeal of “free” government subsidies, and the causes and harms of illegal immigration are brushed aside.

Throughout his presidency, Barack Obama has aggressively sought amnesty for persons who are in America illegally. When an amnesty bill was not forthcoming from Congress, Obama began issuing directives to federal agencies that defied both federal law and the will of Congress. Deportations were curtailed, and in 2013 over 36,000 criminal aliens (as they are termed by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement or ICE), including 193 murderers, were released from jail, ICE reports.

In June 2012, without congressional authorization, President Obama created a program called Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA). Under DACA, persons in the country illegally who were born after June 16, 1981, and arrived in the United States before their sixteenth birthday may obtain work permits and permission to remain here for two years, and then reapply for an additional two years. DACA applicants must also meet additional criteria:

*Must have continuously resided in the United States since June 15, 2007;
*Been present as of June 15, 2012, and when they applied for deferred action;
*Be currently in school, or have graduated from high school, or obtained a GED, or been honorably discharged from the military;
*Have not been convicted of certain criminal offenses;
*Been 30 years of age or younger as of June 15, 2012.

The problem is, if someone is here illegally, how does government verify many of these questions? In practical terms, DACA allows virtually any illegal resident who is approximately 30 years of age or younger to stay in the U.S. indefinitely. Furthermore, both in word and deed, this administration has sent an unmistakable message south: Come on up, you won’t be turned away.

Persons interviewed at the border frequently cite this reason for heading north. U.S. Sen. Jim Inhofe (R-Okla.) confirmed this as well. In an interview with MSNBC’s Chuck Todd this July, Inhofe stated that through Obama’s DACA program, Obama is essentially saying:

“‘Come here, we’ll take care of you,’ and they all believe this… I talked to them individually… All of them were programmed to say that they had relatives here, they’re invited to come up here, they’re going to stay here—at the same time the HHS says, ‘We’re not going to send them back.’ So long as they have that assurance, more are coming in.”

Beginning in 2012 persons began streaming into the country illegally. That stream has now become a flood. Most recent entrants are from Guatemala, Honduras, and El Salvador, a part of Central America also called the “Northern Triangle.” A quirk in the law that allows for immediate deportation of illegal youths from Mexico also creates a much more prolonged process for deporting those from “non-contiguous countries,” thus increasing their chances to obtain asylum.

A June 2014 ICE document leaked to the press revealed a dramatic acceleration in the number of unaccompanied alien children (UAC) from these countries. In fiscal year 2011, ICE apprehended a total of 4,321 UAC. By FY 2013, that number had increased to 21,314. For FY 2014, the report projected 53,375 UAC crossing the border and 95,500 in 2015.

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The Push for State-controlled Media: For years the Left has fought to increase regulation of the news

The Push for State-controlled Media:  For years the Left has fought to increase regulation of the news

By Barbara Joanna Lucas, Organization Trends, September 2014 (PDF OT0914)

Summary:  Earlier this year, the Federal Communications Commission was slapped down when the public learned it had begun an investigation of decision-making in newsrooms.  The agency claimed it meant no harm to press freedoms, but in fact for years the Left has agitated for greater governmental control of the media. Obama administration officials have said as much for years, as did the president when he first ran for the office. 

If only enlightened central planners could have greater control over the mass media, they would ensure that the masses receive the correct information and prevent the wrong people from delivering political messages that might influence the public improperly.”

That’s the kind of thinking behind the “media reform” movement, which hopes to put the most benign spin on the idea of letting government supervise the press and forget about the First Amendment’s guarantees of free speech and a free press. Even more Orwellian: the group leading this effort is called “Free Press,” by which they mean a press free of corporate control. Free Press is allied with various other left-wing groups that claim to have the same hope to strengthen democracy and freedom by simultaneously weakening corporate control and strengthening government’s control.

Readers will recall the Federal Communications Commission’s notorious Multi-Market Study of Critical Information Needs (CIN), which sparked so much controversy in early 2014. The scheme was supposedly killed after public outcry from conservatives and journalists alike.

It’s absurd on its face to claim the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) has any business determining what content the nation’s news media should or should not provide, but the Left’s invasion of newsrooms was simply a test to see how far they could push. Progressives do not give up; they simply regroup.

Progressives have long feared competition in the marketplace of ideas and, not surprisingly, they believe America simply has too much speech. To fix this perceived problem, the Left has agitated for campaign finance “reforms.” It has produced campus speech codes. It has demanded “Net Neutrality.” And as we’ll see, fear of speech motivates Progressives who want to ensure the media reports only news stories they find appropriate.

By contrast, conservative groups vigorously criticize liberal bias in the mainstream media, but they do not advocate for government intervention to make the media more balanced.

While the media reform movement isn’t plotting a full-fledged state-run media—even the most ambitious statists know that’s not currently achievable—the movement is fighting for an incremental agenda. In fact, the media reform movement is itself an incremental advance in left-wing speech control. The group Free Press was launched by a small group of left-wing funders shortly after they’d succeeded in a previous increment, namely, passing the McCain-Feingold campaign finance reform law of 2002.

As John Fund explained in the Wall Street Journal (Dec. 21, 2010), “Of the eight major foundations that provided the vast bulk of money for campaign-finance reform, six became major funders of the media-reform movement. (They are the Pew Charitable Trusts, Bill Moyers’s Schumann Center for Media and Democracy, the Joyce Foundation, George Soros’s Open Society Institute, the Ford Foundatino, and the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation.)” (For more on this history, see “Pew and the Gang Ride Again,” Foundation Watch, April 2011.)

The media reform movement has everything a Progressive could want: government subsidies for media, identity politics, anti-corporate and class warfare rhetoric, and George Soros money supporting a who’s who of left-liberal nonprofits. The movement has four main stars, all of whom articulated the goals of the CIN long before it gained notoriety:

* Mignon Clyburn is an FCC Commissioner and the daughter of Rep. James Clyburn (D-S.C.), the House Majority Whip when Democrats last had control of Congress. She was acting FCC chairman for a time.

* Michael Copps, a former FCC Commissioner now spearheading the effort on media reform being made by the liberal group Common Cause. (For more on Common Cause, see Organization Trends, May 2014.)

*Robert McChesney, a radical professor at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign, is the co-founder of Free Press; he’s a self-described socialist who’s “hesitant to say I’m not a Marxist.”

*Mark Lloyd, a former FCC chief diversity officer now in charge of the liberal New America Foundation’s Media Policy Institute.

“Angry, Hateful, Often Racist” Talk Shows
President Obama named Mignon Clyburn an FCC commissioner in 2009; she served as acting chairman of the FCC for most of 2013. A longtime advocate for government rules requiring minority ownership for broadcast licensees, Clyburn told the National Association of Black Owned Broadcasters conference in October 2013 that the FCC needs better “hard and fast” data to establish a policy that will force increases in the number of minority-owned broadcast stations. She called for more data collection, because “A complete picture of the media landscape is necessary to entertain … any major policy adjustment in the short term” (Washington Examiner, Feb. 24, 2014).

In a speech delivered in February 2012, well before the CIN study became public, Clyburn said, “We are especially interested in whether the critical information needs of all Americans are being met. Does limited participation in the communications industry by women and minorities have an impact on whether all Americans have their critical information needs met? [The FCC] is committed to answering this question” (RBR.com, Feb. 7, 2012).

Implicit in these demands for “media diversity” is the Left’s belief that if minorities and women own more media companies, then conservative media voices will have less influence.

Clyburn added in her February 2012 speech that the FCC “must emphatically insist that we leave no American behind when it comes to meeting the needs of those in varied and vibrant communities of our nation—be they native born, immigrant, disabled, non-English speaking, low-income, or other.”

Earlier, in December 2011, she had complained that “The FCC needs more data,” because “the factual information that the Commission currently has is incomplete if developing policies to promote greater female and minority ownership is still a priority” (Broadcasting and Cable, Dec. 22, 2011).

During her 2009 confirmation hearing, Clyburn claimed to believe that “the Fairness Doctrine,” which for decades had been used by government officials to suppress conservative views on the airwaves, “should not be reinstated in any form, any way, shape or form.” She added, “The FCC, I believe, is not in the business of censoring speech or content on the basis of political views and opinions” (Washington Examiner, Feb. 24, 2014).

And yet Clyburn and others clearly want to use the power of government to shape what messages are reaching the public. Keep in mind that the words “Fairness Doctrine” have become toxic. But some on the left have sought to enact the same kind of policy through backdoor channels—such as ownership rules requiring “localism” or affirmative action quotas—in hopes that new requirements will effectively reduce the number of stations that air Rush Limbaugh and other conservative talk radio shows.

Advocates for media diversity say the number of African-American-owned broadcast stations has declined by 30 percent since 1998, and that today racial minorities own just 2.2 percent of commercial TV stations.

“I understand the Fairness Doctrine is not coming back, but why has the FCC sat by and allowed angry, hateful, often racist talk show hosts, 95 percent of whom are conservative, to poison the supposedly public airwaves?” Clyburn asked when speaking at the 2011 National Conference for Media Reform, sponsored by Free Press (Washington Examiner, Feb. 24, 2014).

Among those attending that year’s media reform conference were House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) and Copps of Common Cause, who at the time was still an FCC commissioner.

Clyburn also talked about imposing a new tax on corporate media and using the revenue collected “to create another ecosystem that would have more voices, independent voices.” The term “ecosystem” is frequently used to call for remaking the American media.

Obama Too Moderate for Activists
For conservatives, this entire movement may seem puzzling. Except for Fox News, talk radio, and some popular websites, the news media are still dominated left-leaning voices. Why is the Left desperate for still more left-wing media?

The answer lies in part in several aspects of the media reform movement that appeal to the Left. For example, the movement calls for blocking all mergers among media companies and talks endlessly about “fairness,” “diversity,” and “justice,” using rhetoric about “us against them,” “the people vs. the powerful,” and so on. This makes great bumper sticker language and could be a rallying point for low-information voters the Left hopes to drive to the polls.

For his part, President Barack Obama hasn’t impressed the leaders of the movement that much while in the White House, but he did champion their cause as a candidate for president. “I believe that the nation’s media ownership rules remain necessary and are critical to the public interest,” said candidate Obama, then the junior senator from Illinois, in September 2007.

“We should be doing much more to encourage diversity in the ownership of broadcast media, promote the development of new media outlets for expression of diverse viewpoints, and establish greater clarity in the public interest obligations of broadcasters occupying the nation’s spectrum.”

The following month, candidate Obama said of the FCC, “I object to the agency moving forward to allow greater consolidation in the media market without first fully understanding how that would limit opportunities for minority, small business and women-owned firms.”

In February 2008, Sen. Obama and senior Illinois Sen. Dick Durbin even wrote a letter together to the FCC demanding action (Moyers and Company website, Dec. 4, 2012). “Broadcast ownership rules directly implicate core American values such as diversity, localism, representation, and a competitive marketplace of ideas,” Durbin and Obama said.

Just words? Media reform advocates seem to think so. An April 4, 2013 letter to Obama by Copps, the head of Common Cause’s media reform effort and a former FCC commissioner, was signed onto by numerous other advocacy groups, many notably left-wing and all calling for Obama to make his next nominee to chair the FCC an aggressive reform advocate.

The letter, in fact, used the term, “critical information needs,” a mantra of the movement: “the critical information needs of many communities, including people who are deaf, hard of hearing, blind, or visually impaired, remain underserved.”

The letter also highlights other policies the Obama administration should pursue. “The FCC must review all telecommunications and media mergers critically,” the letter said. It called on the FCC to enforce ownership rules and require all political ads to state who paid for the ad. “Those policies shape our commercial markets, our political discourse, our educational opportunities, and our social interactions.”

In addition to Common Cause, signers included: Alternate ROOTS, Center for Media Justice, Chicago Media Action, the Free Press Action Fund, Communications Workers of America, and United Church of Christ Office of Communications Inc. To give the letter a shroud of non-ideology, a few disability advocacy groups were also included.

Journalists Jumping Aboard
The fact that Progressives are frustrated by the lack of government control over political discourse is not surprising. What is rather surprising—and disheartening—is the number of journalists who support this movement. Liberal or not, you may think someone in the First Amendment business would object to the idea of government interfering with the media.

For example, during the 1980s battle over whether to restore the Fairness Doctrine, liberal CBS anchorman Dan Rather took the side of freedom and declared, “Not only the station manager but the newspeople as well were very much aware of this government presence looking over their shoulders. I can recall newsroom conversations about what the FCC implications of broadcasting a particular report would be. Once a newsperson has to stop and consider what a government agency will think of something he or she wants to put on the air, an invaluable element of freedom has been lost.”

Rather was right. Of course, he went on to disgrace, ousted from CBS after defending the network’s phony story on President George W. Bush’s National Guard record. Last year, he joined the bandwagon of leftists appearing in the documentary Shadows of Liberty, which premiered at the National Conference for Media Reform in Denver in April 2013. The film claims that corporations have taken control of the media, keeping important news away from Americans.

Progressive talk radio host Amy Goodman, co-host of “Democracy Now,” also attended the Denver conference. In 2008, Goodman used her show as a platform for Bill Ayers and Bernardine Dohrn, leaders of the terrorist Weather Underground group, to claim they never committed terrorism (Accuracy in Media website, April 5, 2013).

Another hero of the Left who supports media reform is Bill Moyers, a former press secretary to President Lyndon Johnson who became a talk show host on PBS. Speaking at the media reform conference of 2008, Moyers claimed the movement was born on his program when he interviewed McChesney and John Nichols, authors of Our Media, Not Theirs. He explained that the movement seeks “to build alternative and independent sources of news and information that people can trust.”

That idea sounds like it came from the conservative movement, which has worked for decades to establish alternative and independent sources of news in the face of the liberal mainstream media. But unlike Moyers and company, conservatives don’t seek an FCC on steroids to make their vision a reality.

“You represent millions of Americans who see media consolidation as a corrosive social force,” Moyers continued. “It robs them of their voice in public affairs, pollutes the political culture and turns the debate over profound issues into a shouting match of polarized views promulgated by partisan apologists who trivialize democracy while refusing to speak the truth about how our country is being plundered.”

Glenn Greenwald of Britain’s Guardian newspaper and Katrina vanden Heuvel of the Nation magazine have also attended the media reform conferences and voiced their support.

The Movement’s Architect
At the movement’s center is McChesney, the co-founder of Free Press, which sponsors the media reform conferences. He may have revealed the real motive of the movement when he wrote in the Marxist journal Monthly Review, “Our job is to make media reform part of our broader struggle for democracy, social justice, and, dare we say it, socialism.”

McChesney is the author of Digital Disconnect: How Capitalism Is Turning the Internet Against Democracy and, with John Nichols, Dollarocracy: How the Money and Media Election Complex is Destroying America.

One of his first orders of business is “net neutrality,” a scheme to have the federal government regulate the Internet. McChesney told SocialistProject that net neutrality is part of an incremental agenda whose “ultimate goal is to get rid of the media capitalists.”

“The benefits of the Internet economy accrue to a very small number of gigantic firms that all enjoy what economists traditionally characterize as monopoly status,” he griped in the Monthly Review article. “Three of the four most valuable publicly traded corporations in the United States are Internet-related firms, and thirteen of the thirty-three most valuable firms are primarily Internet firms. Several more of the thirty-three largest firms have significant digital operations … What that means is that these Internet giants control the outcomes on all policy debates that affect them, which increasingly covers most issues of fundamental importance, like taxation, regulation, labor and consumer rights, and trade.”

McChesney also demands that the movement work to elect far-left politicians at every level, as was done in successful campaigns waged to elect avowed socialist Kshama Sawant (now on the Seattle City Council) and leftist Bill de Blasio (now mayor of New York).

“In view of the centrality of communication to the political economy, media reform activists have to pull their heads out of the beltway and start talking to the people who elected Sawant to the Seattle City Council and voted Bill de Blasio the mayor of New York City,” McChesney wrote. “We need to capture the imaginations of people such that they believe politics can lead to radical improvements in their lives, and the lives of those they know and love. Then we can build an army that can shake the foundations of this rotting system.”

He went on to argue that journalism must be treated as a public good—sort of like a utility, subject to subsidies and regulation. “When advertising disappears, journalism’s true nature comes into focus: it is a public good, something society requires but that the market cannot provide in sufficient quality or quantity,” he wrote. “Like other public goods, if society wants it, it will require public policy and public spending. There is no other way. The marriage of capitalism and journalism is over. If the United States is to have democratic journalism, it will require massive public investments.”

Leftist Groups and Funders Behind the Movement
McChesney’s Free Press, the organization with the creepy Orwellian name that has been the primary voice pushing the agenda forward, has been funded by George Soros through two of his philanthropies, Open Society Foundations (formerly known as Open Society Institute) and Foundation to Promote Open Society. Together they have funneled $2,060,000 to the group since 2004.

Free Press was also one of 33 groups that drafted a 25-page petition asking the FCC to “initiate an inquiry into the extent and effects of hate speech in media and to explore non-regulatory means by which to mitigate its negative impacts.” The request continued, “Hate speech thrives, as hate has developed as a profit-model for syndicated radio and cable-television programs masquerading as ‘News’” (WND, July 18, 2010). To leftists, of course, hate speech is speech they don’t agree with.

Free Press is also funded by the Ford Foundation ($3,260,000 since 2004), Park Foundation ($2.4 million since 2004), Glaser Progress Foundation ($200,000 since 2004), Joyce Foundation ($80,000 since 2005), Nathan Cummings Foundation ($145,000 since 2005), Overbrook Foundation ($423,000 since 2003), Rockefeller Brothers Fund Inc. ($155,000 since 2004), Tides Foundation ($122,882 since 2005), Schumann Center for Media and Democracy Inc. ($4,883,000 since 2003), Sandler Foundation ($1,650,000 since 2008), and Surdna Foundation ($600,000 since 2005).

Free Press teamed with the left-wing think tank Center for American Progress (CAP) in 2007 to publish a report entitled, “The Structural Imbalance of Political Talk Radio.” The report’s dire assessment was that “right-wing talk reigns supreme on America’s airwaves,” and that government regulation should be used to “close the gap.”

Mark Lloyd, then a CAP senior fellow, attributed the “imbalance” to “the breakdown in the Federal Communications Commission regulatory system during the Reagan administration in the 1980s and the elimination of caps on ownership in telecommunications during the 1990s.” He called not for a return to the Fairness Doctrine, but for ownership caps (CNSNews.com, June 26, 2007).

Lloyd went on to serve as the “diversity czar” at Obama’s FCC. In addition, Obama’s first FCC Chairman, Julius Genachowski, hired Free Press spokesman Jen Howard to be the FCC spokesman.

After leaving the Obama administration, Lloyd went to work for the Media Policy Initiative at the New America Foundation, another Soros-funded group that has also been bankrolled by the Ford Foundation, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, and Eric Schmidt, executive chairman of Google (Accuracy in Media).

Common Cause, in the meantime, has declared media reform part of its “good government” agenda and established the Media and Democracy Reform Initiative, led by former FCC commissioner Michael Copps. “American media’s failure to provide diverse viewpoints and unbiased information is undermining the strength of our democracy and acting as a barrier to many needed reforms,” says the Common Cause website.

Common Cause has also been tough on Obama for failing to keep promises. “When President Barack Obama ran for his first term, he opposed further media industry consolidation, stressed the importance of a free and open Internet, and supported increased minority and small business media ownership,” Common Cause declares. “Yet his first term has come and gone with little progress on these fronts.”

“Huge media conglomerates have gobbled up hundreds of independent newspaper and broadcast outlets, more often than not cutting the newsroom staffs in order to finance the heavy costs of the merger or purchase transaction,” Copps adds in an Oct. 4, 2013 blog post.

“To make a bad situation worse, years of wrong-headed decisions by government—especially by the Federal Communications Commission (where I served for more than a decade, often as a dissenter)—blessed this merger-mania and went on from there to eliminate most of the public interest obligations that broadcasters were expected to carry out in return for their free use of the public airwaves.”

“A great place to begin real media reform would be to say no to some of these merger deals,” Copps continued. “To my way of thinking, we won’t get very far in meeting those other three challenges—big money, gerrymandering, and the filibuster—until we have a news and information infrastructure that presents these challenges to all of us in meaningful way—not as stories of personalities, horse-races, polling, who’s up and who’s down, but as substantive challenges to our ability to perform the practical art of self-government. Indeed, we may well have avoided the current government shutdown if the media had done a better job of explaining why the country was heading there in the first place.”

Almost CIN-ful
The media reform movement has desperately sought a broad-brush way to use the FCC for impose its agenda, and it nearly succeeded with the Multi-Market Study of Critical Information Needs, which initially attracted little controversy. The model for the study itself grew out of two Soros-funded institutions, the University of Southern California Annenberg School for Communication and Journalism and the University of Wisconsin-Madison Center for Communication and Democracy, which together have received $3.7 million from Soros since 2000. The FCC asked the two Soros-funded schools to come up with criteria for what information is “critical” for Americans to have (FrontPageMag.com, Feb. 25, 2014).

The pilot region selected was Clyburn’s home state capital, Columbia, South Carolina. The idea was to examine “the process by which stories are selected,” the “perceived station bias,” and the “perceived responsiveness to underserved populations.”

“I’m not crazy about the federal government questioning reporters and editors about their news judgments,” said Bill Rogers, director of the South Carolina Press Association, which represents the state’s newspapers. “What is the relevance of news decisions as to whether small businesses can enter the broadcast industry? Viewers evaluate coverage for content and fairness, and the marketplace responds accordingly” (Columbia Journalism Review, Feb. 17, 2014).
The FCC planned to survey journalists with very intrusive questions, including:

* What is the news philosophy of the station?
*Who is your target audience?
*What are the demographics of the news management staff (HR)?
*What are the demographics of the on air staff (HR)?
* What are the demographics of the news production staff (HR)?
*How much news does your station (stations) air every day?
* Do you have any reporters or editors assigned to topic “beats”? If so how many and what
are the beats?

* Who decides which stories are covered?

* How much does community input influence news coverage decisions?

* How do you define critical information that the community needs?

The study was to include newspapers and the Internet, neither of which is regulated by the FCC—at least not yet. (As we went to press, FCC chairman Tom Wheeler threatened he is “seriously considering” the possibility of regulating Internet service providers like phone companies.) The CIN study was to examine eight “critical information needs” in the newsrooms it investigated, all of which could open up dangerous opportunities to bully the free press:

1. Emergency. This area of inquiry was the least dangerous, because only so many ways to cover police or fire/EMS stories exist. But even here one can imagine pressure to push a public union agenda into the news.

2. Health. This is clearly an area where coverage of Obamacare could be affected, as FCC bureaucrats look over the shoulders of reporters and editors.

3. Education. This area has endless possibilities for government bullying, ranging from the Common Core debate to demands from liberal teachers’ unions.

4. Transportation. Liberals strongly prefer other people (usually not them) take public transit.

5. Environment. Here one can be sure pressure would grow even more intense to tout the global warming agenda.
6. Economic opportunities. In this area government bureaucrats could push “inequality” and “one percent vs. the 99 percent” type stories.

7. Civil info. This area would permit local debates to be muscled into narratives that fit the progressive agenda.

8. Political info. The danger here is self-explanatory.

FCC Commissioner Ajit Pai short-circuited this plot when he warned the country of the “study” in the Wall Street Journal (Feb. 10, 2014). “The American people, for their part, disagree about what they want to watch,” he wrote. “But everyone should agree on this: The government has no place pressuring media organizations into covering certain stories.”

Pai added that the “FCCs queries may be hard for the broadcasters to ignore. They would be out of business without an FCC license.”

Media critic Howard Kurtz, no conservative, said the study is a “trojan horse that puts federal officials in the newsroom, precisely where they shouldn’t be.”

The outrage spilled out of the media and into Congress when the House Energy and Commerce Committee demanded to know more about the FCC’s scheme. After the uproar, the agency decided to halt the newsroom invasion. FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler assured the public the agency had “no intention of regulating political or other speech.”

Recall Bill Moyers’ claim that the media reform movement aims “to build alternative and independent sources of news and information that people can trust.” Ironically, what Moyers says he wants has actually happened, thanks to talk radio and new media outlets like TheBlaze, Breitbart, CNSNews.com, Daily Caller, Fox News, Newsmax, Washington Free Beacon, and others, which have begun to challenge the monolithic media narrative.

If the country is more polarized, it is largely because Americans are allowed to hear more than the one side of issues that CBS, NBC, and ABC were willing to provide. As a result, the Left wants to strike back in the only way they know how: government regulation. The First Amendment be damned.

Barbara Joanna Lucas is a writer in Virginia. She blogs at The SharpBite.blogspot.com.

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Deadly Policies: Activist groups are hindering immigration law enforcement across the nation

Deadly Policies: Activist groups are hindering immigration law enforcement across the nation

By Michael Volpe, Organization Trends, August 2014 (PDF here)

County sheriffs in charge of the nation’s jails are increasingly reluctant to respect the federal government’s requests to detain suspected undocumented immigrants. The official requests, known as “detainers,” are issued by Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), which is a branch of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS). In most jails, the processing of new inmates involves running their fi ngerprints through a federal database to ascertain their immigration status. DHS flags detainees suspected of being in the U.S. illegally and sends out detainer documents that local sheriffs have traditionally treated as warrants requiring them to keep the individuals in custody. But many local officials these days won’t keep illegal immigrants under lock and key, waiting until ICE retrieves them for possible removal from the U.S. Jailers used to think of immigration detainers as mandatory, but several key court decisions have made clear to local law enforcement that the detainers are mere requests by ICE.

Although detainers have been around for a long time, their use has proliferated under an ICE program known as Secure Communities. That program consists of a computer software system that connects federal agencies like ICE, the Federal Bureau of Investigation, and the Internal Revenue Service with local police departments. In jurisdictions that participate in the program, it facilitates access to data on individuals booked in local prisons. Left-wing activists complain that Secure Communities has led to the proliferation of arrests for minor offenses like speeding, because when local police book suspects, they share the booking information with ICE.

Detainers are valid for up to two days (excluding weekends and holidays) and exhort jailers to keep in custody illegal immigrants who are otherwise scheduled for release, so ICE can claim them and process them for deportation. If ICE does not take custody after 48 hours, the local law enforcement agency is required to release the individual.

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Unabashed Radicals: The mission of Demos, Elizabeth Warren’s favorite left-wing group

Unabashed Radicals:  The mission of Demos, Elizabeth Warren’s favorite left-wing group

By Barbara Joanna Lucas, Organization Trends, July 2014 (PDF here)

Summary:  Demos, a New York City think tank and advocacy shop, is not a place for the timid.  It pines for “global governance,” major redistribution of wealth, significant restrictions on political speech, and a Democratic presidential candidate to the left of Hillary Clinton.

Sen. Elizabeth Warren, the freshman Massachusetts senator who pioneered the “you didn’t build that” philosophy, is using her new book, Fighting Chance, to throw red meat to the Left and position herself to the left of Democrats like Hillary Clinton, who are more comfortable with Wall Street donors. Warren’s book tour was well received among fawning liberal supporters across the country, many of whom are looking for an un-Hillary in the 2016 Democratic presidential primary.

“I’d spent nearly twenty years fighting to level the playing field for the middle class, and I’d seen millions of working families go over the economic cliff—and it was getting worse,” Warren writes in her book, explaining why she decided to run for Senate in 2012. “What kind of country would my grandchildren grow up in? What if the conservatives and the big banks and the big-time CEOs got their way and Washington kept helping the rich and powerful to get richer and more powerful? Could I really stand on the sidelines and stay out of this fight?”

The New Republic has called Warren “Hillary Clinton’s Worst Nightmare,” and much reporting since has followed similar themes, even as Warren feigns uninterest in presidential politics (just as she claims public clamor forced her to run for the Senate).

Still, many political observers claim former Secretary of State Clinton is invincible. Of course, similar claims were made in 2008. That year, in addition to her official campaign organization, Hillary had close allies in the nonprofit sector propping her up, such as the Center for American Progress (founded by a former Clinton White House chief of staff, John Podesta) and targeting her enemies, as Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW) did.

How can Warren compete with that?

Should Warren run, she will likely have her own infrastructure in place with Demos, the research and advocacy group whose slogan is “An Equal Say and Equal Chance for All.” Notice the similarity to the title of Warren’s book.

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A Church of Community Organizers: How the United Church of Christ was transformed into a political machine for the Left

A Church of Community Organizers:  How the United Church of Christ was transformed into a political machine for the Left

By Susan Bradford, Organization Trends, June 2014 (PDF OT0614)

Summary:  For decades the Left has worked to turn churches into one more pressure group that will serve its political agenda. One of the saddest examples is the denomination known as the United Church of Christ, whose two most famous members are Barack Obama and his longtime pastor, the notorious Rev. Jeremiah Wright.

I am a longtime member of the United Church of Christ, baptized and confirmed within the church. My grandfather, Judge William C. Dixon, served on the committee that established the founding UCC constitution. This denomination, which was formed from the merger of the Congregational, Evangelical, and Reformed Churches, traces to the Pilgrims and to the congregationalists who helped slaves escape to freedom through the underground railroad during the American Civil War.

The UCC also shares an affinity with the French Huguenots of Le Chambon sur Ligon, celebrated for the heroic efforts of Pastor André Trocmé, who harbored Jews in this quaint French village while Nazis marched through Vichy, France. Trocmé’s heroism, documented in Philip Hallie’s inspiring book Lest Innocent Blood Be Shed, dramatizes how perfect love and unflinching courage, as exemplified by Trocmé and his congregation, can overcome evil. Once the Nazis descended upon the village, they encountered peaceful resistance and immediately backed down, sparing the lives of the Jews. Not a single shot was fired nor drop of blood spilled. What Trocmé and his congregation demonstrated was the nobility of character the UCC inculcated in its members. The congregants did not need to be prompted by the government or community organizers to express their allegiance to God and to serve their neighbor. Their outpouring of love and charity emanated from within.

In recent years, the church has morphed into something that neither I nor other members recognize. Ministers often preach with cynical resignation to empty pews. When Barack Obama arrived on the national stage, I was intrigued to learn of his affiliation with the UCC and inspired by his message of hope and change, which is central to the heart of the denomination. The hateful rhetoric spewed by his pastor, the Rev. Jeremiah Wright, at the Trinity UCC in Chicago was confusing, but every denomination has its fiery preacher and rogue. Wright’s words condemning the United States and denigrating whites were antithetical to the spirit of the denomination. I wondered: Did Wright not know that white congregationalists were champions of the Civil Rights Movement? How could a man who professed to be a man of God still harbor such hatred in his heart and condemn the exceptionalism of the United States, which was founded on Judeo-Christian principles?

Like many other Christians, I attend church services to nourish my soul, rather than hear political diatribes. And yet so often in recent years UCC churches have been inclined to set the Bible aside and preach only “social justice,” while offering opportunities for involvement in various forms of political expression, like marching for illegal immigrants and participating in gay pride parades. Privately, many congregants have disagreed with the church’s position on gay marriage and the Affordable Health Care Act (known as Obamacare), but church leaders have not consulted them. Yet the UCC Synod claims to speak on Capitol Hill for its million-member denomination.

Disappointed with the direction of my once-beloved denomination, I decided to find out why the UCC has strayed so far from its original mission of being a cohesive force for all of Christendom and instead become congregations of community organizers and activists for the Democratic Party.

Socialism Enters
After extensive research, I was saddened to discover that my denomination had transformed into a vehicle to stir up revolution, exploit racial division, expand entitlements, and usher in a global socialist society. In this context, Wright’s rhetoric makes sense.

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Uncommon Hypocrisy: Common Cause claims to seek good government but prefers big government

Uncommon Hypocrisy:  Common Cause claims to seek good government but prefers big government

By Barbara Joanna Lucas, Organization Trends, May 2014 (PDF here)

 

Summary:   Common Cause was sired by an architect of the Great Society, so it’s no wonder this grande dame of “good government” groups is willing to sacrifice its own principles to boost big government and smear conservatives. Yet the mainstream media are always happy to parrot the line that the group floats high above politics.

At its founding, Common Cause described itself as a “nationwide, independent, non-partisan organization” that would be a watchdog of powerful politicians and push good government policies for ordinary people. The organization’s website still displays its founding document, which proclaims, “We want public officials to have literally millions of American citizens looking over their shoulders at every move they make. We want phones to ring in Washington and state capitols and town halls. We want people watching and influencing every move that government makes.”

That’s the kind of talk that would fire up a Tea Party rally or almost any conservative organization, and indeed, Common Cause has led efforts on laws to protect government whistleblowers, strengthen the Freedom of Information Act, and it has attacked crony capitalism. Sounds better and better, but not so fast.

For every good policy the group backs, often in the vaguest terms, it supports a dozen or so other loathsome policies. It calls for good government, but seeks to achieve it by empowering big government—which historically has done nothing but create opportunities for more corruption.

Over the more than four decades since its founding, the organization has made it one of its highest priorities to limit the political speech of individual Americans through various campaign finance reform ruses and various “media reform” schemes, all of which would allow government to have a hand in news content. It has also been hostile toward even the most modest election integrity laws.

New President, Old Politics
Common Cause recently gained new leadership when Miles Rapoport became president in March. He is a former Democratic secretary of state and state legislator in Connecticut. Most recently, Rapoport was the president of Demos, a left-wing advocacy and research group.

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Dismantling Self-Government: The Brennan Center’s Election Fraud Offensive

Dismantling Self-Government:  The Brennan Center’s Election Fraud Offensive

By Alexander J. Kroll, Organization Trends,  April 2014 (PDF here)

Summary:  Named for a Supreme Court Justice whose jurisprudence undermined the Constitution, the Brennan Center at New York University is best known for its attacks on efforts to stop voter fraud.  The underlying principle in the work of the center and its judicial namesake is simple: the rule of law should not be allowed to interfere with the liberal agenda.

Late last year, undercover agents for New York City’s Department of Investigations showed up at 63 polling places attempting to vote. The agents posed as individuals who had died, moved out of town, or were serving prison sentences. Not one of the prospective voters was legally eligible to cast a ballot.

In 61 of these instances (97 percent), the agents were permitted to vote. In one case, a 24-year old female agent who identified herself as someone who had passed away in 2012 at the age of 87 was given a ballot with no questions asked. DOI published its findings in a 70-page report accusing the city’s Board of Elections of incompetence and lax procedures.

This investigation in the Big Apple demonstrates how easy voter fraud is to commit. Combined with countless examples of actual voter fraud, it is easy to understand why Americans are concerned about the fairness and validity of their elections.

Yet one powerful organization has waged a relentless campaign to convince the public that voter fraud is a “myth.” This group’s talking points have been accepted, echoed, and bolstered by the New York Times, the Washington Post, and the rest of the mainstream media. That organization is the Brennan Center for Justice at New York University School of Law.

The Living Constitution
William Joseph Brennan Jr. was appointed to the U.S. Supreme Court by President Dwight Eisenhower in 1956, shortly before that year’s presidential election. A Roman Catholic Democrat from the Northeast, Brennan appealed to Eisenhower advisers who thought he could attract critical voters in the upcoming election. Eisenhower’s attorney general, Herbert Brownell, also attended a speech given by Brennan. The talk convinced Brownell that Brennan was a conservative, especially concerning criminal matters. He was deeply mistaken.

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Dubious Mayors Against Legal Guns: The not so pretty story behind Michael Bloomberg’s Mayors Against Illegal Guns

Dubious Mayors Against Legal Guns:  The not so pretty story behind Michael Bloomberg’s Mayors Against Illegal Guns

By Barbara Joanna Lucas, Organization Trends, March 2014 (PDF here)

Summary:  Former New York City mayor and donor extraordinaire Michael Bloomberg has hit a number of speed bumps in his efforts to restrict the Second Amendment.  Scandals and political reversals have recently plagued his group Mayors Against Illegal Guns.

James Schiliro, the one-time Mayor of Marcus Hook, Pennsylvania, has been a proud proponent of gun control, a member of Michael Bloomberg’s group Mayors Against Illegal Guns, and one of 600 mayors to sign a letter to Congress demanding more gun control laws at the federal level. And so it was embarrassing when in January the mayor was sentenced to as much as 20 months in jail following what a news report described as “an alcohol-fueled episode … in which he had a police car bring a former neighbor—a 20-year-old to whom he said he was attracted—to his home, made him drink wine, and refused to let him leave for 3 1/2 hours.”

After the young man rejected the mayor’s sexual advances and tried to leave, the mayor threatened to shoot himself with one of three guns. He discharged one weapon into a stack of papers. The victim, though anxious to leave, still managed to talk the mayor out of killing himself by reminding him of his daughter asleep upstairs. The young man got out of the home and called police.

Schiliro was convicted of recklessly endangering another person, unlawful restraint, false imprisonment, official oppression (i.e., abusing his mayoral powers), and furnishing liquor to a minor. On top of the jail time, Schiliro received five years of probation, 50 hours of community service, and was ordered to pay a $1,300 fine. He is reportedly eligible for work release and time off for good behavior. (Philadelphia Inquirer, Jan. 15, 2014)  Marcus Hook, with fewer than 3,000 residents, was rocked by the sordid political scandal in February 2013. Before handing down the sentence, state Judge James F. Nilon said, “I don’t think you appreciate the seriousness of the nature of the behavior that you engaged in.”

It’s unlikely Nilon was making any type of statement beyond the case, but the reprimand about the mayor’s personal responsibility for his own actions is notable because of Schiliro’s membership in a group that blames, not criminals, but the tools they use in committing the crimes.

After the incident, Mayors Against Illegal Guns (MAIG) removed Schiliro’s name from its list of signatories demanding action from Congress (Breitbart News, March 23, 2013). That’s an interesting call, because as we’ll see, he’s hardly the only member of the more than 1,000-mayors group to engage in felonious behavior.

Origins
MAIG was founded in 2006 by then-New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg and then-Boston Mayor Thomas Menino on the theory that mayors have a closer, more direct understanding of the problems of violence. But Bloomberg, with his willingness to use his vast personal fortune to attack the Second Amendment, quickly became the face of the organization.

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The Chicago Way: Despite its good reputation, a network of housing charities has serious flaws

The Chicago Way:  Despite its good reputation, a network of housing charities has serious flaws

By Michael Volpe, Organization Trends, February 2014 (PDF here)

Summary: Neighborhood Housing Services of Chicago receives much public praise for its mission of helping the unfortunate, but a bit of investigation reveals that it runs an elaborate network of nonprofits that appear to engage in the very kinds of misbehavior the group claims to combat.

What if charitable work for the poorest and weakest is covering up deceit and corruption? No one would ever suspect such behavior from a charity, and the people who appear to be swindled are not only unsophisticated but also don’t seem to be credible. This was the thought I had while listening to an attorney with Neighborhood Housing Services (NHS) of Chicago as he attempted to defend his company from charges it was committing mortgage fraud.

“We’re the good guys,” the attorney screamed. The charity certainly appears to be. On the surface, Neighborhood Housing Services of Chicago Inc. is a parochial, garden-variety liberal nonprofit located in the Windy City. But if you look deeper you find that NHS runs an empire of sorts whose power extends beyond its home base, and that it is deeply tied to the world of Saul Alinsky-inspired radical left-wing community organizing and the corruption that accompanies it.

Every year NHS gives out the Gale Cincotta Community Visionary Award. The person the award is named after is the first clue something isn’t quite right. Sometimes referred to as the “Mother of the Community Reinvestment Act,” Cincotta was an energetic community organizer who worked to eliminate “redlining” and other “discriminatory practices against low-income and minority communities,” as NHS puts it. Critics say the Community Reinvestment Act, which was significantly strengthened by the Clinton administration, helped to cause the subprime mortgage crisis by pressing banks to lend money to people they ought to have known would not be able to pay it back. Taking their cues from activists, banking regulators were given the power to make trouble for banks that in their opinion failed to lend enough money to so-called underserved communities. (See the account in Reckless Endangerment: How Outsized Ambition, Greed, and Corruption Led to Economic Armageddon, published by a New York Times imprint and written by the Pulitzer-prize winning New York Times reporter Gretchen Morgenson and housing expert Joshua Rosner.)

A founding board member of NHS, Cincotta also co-founded the extreme-left National Training and Information Center (NTIC), which provides technical assistance and training for community agitators. She also co-founded Chicago-based National People’s Action (NPA), an increasingly influential, sometimes violent nationwide coalition of some 300 community organizations throughout America.

NTIC, like so much in Chicago, has corruption issues. The group had to pay $550,000 to the U.S. government to settle claims from a 2006 federal lawsuit in which it was accused of misusing federal grant money, Crain’s reported. That media outlet also reported that a U.S. attorney accused NTIC “of violating the federal False Claims Act when it used some of the millions it received from a division of the U.S. Department of Justice to lobby members of Congress with hopes of securing more grants.”

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