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Gov. "Ultrasound" McDonnell probed, media mounts soap opera defense for him

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bob mcdonnell trans vag ultrasound probe

Media coverage of the Gov. Bob "Ultrasound" McDonnell corruption case could take a cue from the following excerpt from USA Today, and an even bigger one from The Rachel Maddow Show below:

RICHMOND, Va. — The key prosecution witness in the federal corruption trial of former Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell and his wife, Maureen, took the stand Wednesday, saying there was no personal relationship between he and the couple.

Jonnie Williams, the wealthy businessman and former chief executive of Star Scientific, said he did not give the two initial checks to the McDonnell family because he thought he and the McDonnells were friends.

"This was a business relationship," he said about why he helped the McDonnell family. "I needed his help."

That's news. Unfortunately, however, that has not been the focus of the so-called "news" media when it comes to this story. Rachel Maddow zeroed right in on the How Do You Solve a Problem Like Media Coverage? issue in the following segment. We owe her our gratitude:

Maddow on "the salaciousness of the headlines":

The headlines are all like this... "Trial reveals governor's wife had 'crush' on CEO"...

The indictment-- the allegations from prosecutors-- those have been out there for months now. But now that we're having the trial... what has stolen the show about the defense is this designed-for-headlines assertion from the defense, that the McDonnell's marriage was broken, Maureen McDonnell had a "childlike crush" on this businessman who the McDonnells are accused of helping in exchange for tens of thousands of dollars worth of gifts...

But the defense strategy in the corruption trial of Gov. Bob McDonnell and his wife is apparently going to be [about their marriage]... This is how they're going to try to keep the governor and his wife out of jail.

Bob McDonnell and Maureen McDonnell stand accused of accepting over $160,000 in gifts and cash from this wealthy CEO [Johnnie Williams] in exchange for providing official help from the state for the CEO's company. That's called corruption, right? "Give me something of personal value to me, and in exchange, I'll give you a little something from the government, the government in which I am an official." ...

So that strategy, the "she took everything" defense... is undercut by the fact that Bob McDonnell himself did things himself like ask this guy for a $70,000 loan for his real estate business... But that is their main defense strategy, the claim is basically that "she did it all, she's not a public official, so there's no public corruption. And, there couldn't be a... corrupt conspiracy between the two of them, because there was no "two of them."... It was just her "lovesick stupidity. He's actually kind of the victim here."... That's their legal strategy...

What does not make sense is the media helping them with it... It is being covered purely in a tabloid way... Purely through catty, sexist gossip [her shopping, her "crush"]... That framing is not only sexist and gross, it ignores the fact that Bob McDonnell himself was doing things like setting up meetings for this wealthy donor with top state health officials... They claim they have the evidence to prove it.

But if the Bob McDonnell defense is gonna be to blame it all on the "lovesick, emotionally erratic, Louis Vuitton-loving wife, they are so far doing a masterful job of injecting that storyline into the press and getting the press to mount their defense for them.

The press is bending over backwards to help the McDonnell legal defense... Attention news media! This is an overt strategy and you are helping one side of this legal case by advancing the strategic storyline for them, because you can't resist a tabloid soap opera tale.

You're being played! You're being played... by covering this as a tabloid story about a marriage, and not a crime blotter story about a corrupt governor.

bob mcdonnell probe johnnie williams

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GOP candidate for AZ gov. falsely claims to be former LA prosecutor, Air Force vet

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gop disaster zone gop candidate

Here's some friendly advice for the GOP candidate running for governor in Arizona: Tell the truth about your work experience. There's this newfangled thing called-- say it with me now-- doc-u-men-ta-tion. People can research stuff. Your stuff. So if you fudge the facts, you're bound to get caught.

If you continue to defend the fudge-itude, you'll hear about it.

And when the Daily Caller-- a politically conservative news and opinion website founded by Tucker Carlson-- calls you out on it, you might want to rethink your strategy. A GOP candidate challenged by a GOP site is in GOP trouble:

If you listen to past statements made by Christine Jones, you might come away with the impression that the Republican candidate for governor of Arizona is a former Los Angeles prosecutor. You might also think she is an Air Force veteran.

The problem: Neither of those things are 100 percent true.

Here's how her spokeswoman Anna Haberlein explained away the discrepancies: “Christine isn’t a practiced politician; she hasn’t dedicated her life to parsing every word.”

Or to put it another way, she's lacking the experience to have what it takes to be a convincing liar. She's not good enough at it... yet.

Christine Jones claimed she was a Los Angeles D.A. in testimony before Congress. But she has "never been a paid employee of the Los Angeles District Attorney Office or even been admitted to the bar in California." She was an "unpaid" law clerk for the D.A.’s office back in the nineties. However, she still swearstogod she was a prosecutor.

She also said, per the report, that she served in the Air Force:

The truth is that she was never actually in the service, though she did take part in the Air Force ROTC while at the University of Oklahoma. The Department of Defense has no record of Jones ever serving in the Air Force, according to a FOIA request provided to The Daily Caller by one critic.

When you stop and think about it, if it turns out that Jones has been lying, then she is more than qualified to hold office.

busted cartoon girl

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First evidence that ALEC effort to rebrand as being legislator-driven is “sham”

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ALEC general

ALEC is a topic I write about often. Allow me to refresh your memory:

ALEC  (American Legislative Exchange Council) is an organization of state legislators which favors federalism and conservative public policy solutions. They literally write legislation for Republican Congress members, who then do whatever they can to pass it. The Nation:

Of all the Kochs’ investments in right-wing organizations, ALEC provides some of the best returns: it gives the Kochs a way to make their brand of free-market fundamentalism legally binding.

Now that you have some background, here is some good reporting by Madison.com that should hopefully inspire you to vote (Koch-owned) Republicans out in November and get others to do the same. It involves Wisconsin Sen. Leah Vukmir, R-Wauwatosa who "voted on a policy allowing only lawmakers, and not lobbyists, to introduce model bills":

At the same meeting, she sponsored a model bill under the direction of a lobbying group, according to documents released Thursday following an open records lawsuit that cost state taxpayers $15,000 to settle.

Brendan Fischer, a lawyer for the liberal Center for Media and Democracy, which filed the lawsuit, said the more than 100 pages of documents provide the first evidence that an effort by the American Legislative Exchange Council to rebrand itself as being legislator-driven is “just a sham.”

“This demonstrates that ALEC is really a lobbyist-driven organization,” Fischer said. “The lobbyists are the ones calling the shots. The legislators are just following along.”

That's what we in the bloggy biz call a big oopsie. And it's about time someone went very public about how legislators are nothing more than puppets with people like the Koch brothers pulling the strings. I mean other than Harry Reid:

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In one email, Christie Herrera, vice president of policy for the Florida-based Foundation for Government Accountability, a conservative think tank with a registered lobbyist, wrote to Vukmir and three other legislators from other states thanking them for sponsoring a resolution opposing the expansion of state Medicaid programs under the Affordable Care Act and coaching them on what to say.

More details here.

Kochtopus

Speaking of legal issues, here are a couple of good Progressive lawyers, should you ever need one: Barry Scheck and Seth Price. We have a complete list of those we like to occasionally recommend at the bottom of our right sidebar.

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Oops! Constituent to Rep. Paul Ryan: #Obamacare helps. Ryan: "Repeal it" is "urban legend."

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medicare poster paul ryan, eric cantor, boehner

Remember this? Hey America, guess what! Paul Ryan still wants to kill Medicare! Which was a sequel to VIDEO: Paul Ryan defends GOP "Kill Medicare" plan in new ad. Which was a sequel to VIDEO: Paul Ryan heckled at Iowa State Fair about killing Medicare, war on middle class and Poll-itics: Older and attentive Americans do not approve of GOP Kill Medicare Plan and La Cucaracha: Ryan "Kill Medicare" coupon found in newpaper! ...among others.

And, as Think Progress notes, Ryan has also been "one of the primary architects of the GOP’s ongoing crusade to repeal and replace Obamacare. But even his own Republican constituents have a thing or two to say about that:

Transcript courtesy of Think Progress:

MICHAEL MARTINCIC, 64: What Obama did was get this law passed. Whether it’s good, bad, or not, it got passed. It’s actually helping some people grow, helped this other guy [with] medication. The Republicans….By myself…I could actually…get some kind of subsidy, which would help me…

RYAN: With the ACA, one thing I want to say is we didn’t have 51 votes to repeal it altogether 51 times. I think that’s sort of like this urban legend that we said, ‘let’s repeal it.’ It’s like we did a repeal vote on the whole law. There are many pieces of this law that we’ve gone after—several of them that were made into law, so please know—I think even Democrats would acknowledge that there are a lot of problems with this law. And so we passed a lot of things changing this law—several of which were made into law—but I really do believe there’s a better way to do it than with this health care law.

My argument is that I think there are better ways at dealing with these extremely important and legitimate problems, like people with preexisting conditions—this is why I’m a big fan of risk pools. We had the [??] system in Wisconsin—it worked well, and then it had the federal government attached to it, so it was even more affordable for people with preexisting conditions. That was one of our proposals. So I do think that there are better ways of fixing this problem—affordable coverage for everybody, including people with preexisting conditions that’s a lot better than [this law]. It’s going to hurt our hospitals, it’s going to hurt Medicare, it’s going to make people buy things they don’t want to buy.

Wait what? "It's going to hurt Medicare"? Seriously, Paul Ryan? That came out of your mouth? You, the king of the Kill Medicare bills?

When ThinkProgress asked him whether he thinks Ryan sees the people like himself, who could benefit from Obamacare, Martincic shook his head. “He misses it.

Ryan's not just missing "it," he's missing a few things, like a few cans from his revered six pack.

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GOP Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers should apologize "for lying in her response to State of the Union"

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Cathy McMorris Rodgers

Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers (R-Wash.) gave the official Republican response to President Obama's State of the Union speech, and in doing so, she fudged a few facts:

"I got a letter from Bette in Spokane, who hoped the President’s health care law would save her money – but found out instead that her premiums were going up nearly $700 a month. No, we shouldn’t go back to the way things were, but this law is not working. Republicans believe health care choices should be yours, not the government’s."

There's just one itty bitty problem with that bolded assertion. It's not true. So the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee (DCCC) and Nancy Pelosi want McMorris Rodgers to apologize.

Fat chance.

The GOP has a nasty habit of either outright lying, lying by omission to promote political narratives, or conveniently sidestepping context when attacking any and all things Obama. Cathy McMorris Rodgers continued the tradition, but like Darrell Issa has so many times, she got publicly busted in the process.

Via The Hill:

Democrats are slamming Republicans for misleading the public with a false anecdote about ObamaCare premiums in a response to the State of the Union address. [...]

Media reports have since revealed that the woman, Bette Grenier, was quoting the most expensive option offered by her insurance company and that she declined cheaper plans on Washington state's ObamaCare exchange.

"Congresswoman McMorris Rodgers owes the nation an apology for lying in her Republican response to the State of the Union this week, and spreading more misinformation to Americans about their health care options,” said DCCC spokeswoman Emily Bittner in a statement Friday.

"House Republicans are … resorting to embellishing stories and leaving out the facts to mislead Americans about the new affordable, comprehensive coverage available to them.”

More at the link.

By the way, one major insurer is reporting Obamacare that sign-ups were higher than its projections. Cathy McMorris Rodgers neglected to include that fact in her oh-so-heartfelt, genuine, God-drenched rebuttal.

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Reporting about the Koch brothers' money trail matters, despite their threats.

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citizens united check republic Koch brothers

Kudos to Team Maddow for coming up with the Koch brothers graphic above. Sadly, it's all too accurate.

In the following segment of her show, she starts out by referring to this news report that I posted about back in October 2013: CA fines secretive donor groups, including one linked to Koch brothers:

Anonymous political donors are being fined by my home state of California for their secretive little doings...

Citizens United is still alive and well, unfortunately, and huge amounts of money are still influencing elections, but at least officials here are zeroing in on "dark money" groups like those linked to the Koch brothers.

Please watch the whole video, it's worth it, because Rachel Maddow kicked Koch ass last night:

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Maddow:

The Kochs ... tried to put the Republicans back in control of the Senate. And they failed. They tried to get more Republicans in the House as well, and they failed at that, too...

Change the world. sway elections, but keep your hands clean...

If you are writing checks alongside the Kochs, you get to be part of this Leviathan, far-reaching, well-funded nest of networks and no one ever has to know that about you unless you want them to. The Washington Post called it "a maze of groups that cloaks its donors."

koch brothers money trail WaPo

The Koch brothers say they have nothing to do with drug testing for welfare benefits or with the Florida law. But the group that is promoting that Florida policy around the country is affiliated with the Koch brothers and benefits from being part of their network of conservative political groups. And that matters. And reporting it despite their threats matters...

The Koch brothers are spending and organizing the spending of more money than almost anyone in history to influence American politics. They also fight vociferously to limit real reporting on how much they spend, how they spend it, and what the impact that spending has in our polity. They want to influence American politics. And they are influencing American politics. But they do not want to be known for what it is that they do....

[T]his is also about how American politics works now. And whether it stays in the light, or whether it is allowed to go underground. Because how they are working their side of politics now is millions and millions and millions of dollars, hundreds of millions of dollars, that are intentionally made difficult to trace, funneled to networks that build networks that you can disown when you want to, if you want to.

Does that intentionally opaque political activity get reported on now, or doesn't it? They have tried to make it as hard as possible for that reporting to get done. I say we do it anyway. It's our country too, even if we don't get invited to your billionaires party in Palm Springs every January. 

koch brothers influence

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VIDEO: Finally! Gov. Bob "Ultrasound" McDonnell is being probed

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governor ultrasound bob mcdonnell virginiaNote: When I added the above image, I found it ironic that WordPress instructed me to "insert into post."

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Rachel Maddow has covered the Gov. Bob "Ultrasound" McDonnell corruption story since the beginning, and I've reported on her reporting as often as possible here (scroll). The Virginia guv has provided us with reams of snarkitude on Republican hypocrisy and perpetual corruption. This is from an earlier post:

Here's a reminder of what Rachel Maddow said awhile ago: “So it turns out there is a smoking gun in [Va. Gov. 'Ultrasound' McDonnell] case. Want to see it?”  And here's a brief recap of what's been going on, via a previous post, In “ominous sign” for Gov. “Ultrasound” McDonnell, his (former) BFF donor is cooperating with prosecutors:

Gov. Ultrasound has been evasive and dishonest about accepting a lot of fancy schmancy gifts and lots of cash from his supporters… one in particular, Jonnie Williams, chief executive of Star Scientific.

And in return, Gov. Ultrasound does them favors. But now he’s in a whole lot of hot legal water, so he has apologized but claimed that they weren’t all gifts, no, they were loans, no they were gifts and loans, and he’s returning the gifts and the loans, because, damn you caught me red handed even though I didn’t do anything wrong, trust me!

There you go, that should catch you up on the basics.

The video above will catch you up on the latest. Enjoy.

bob mcdonnell and wife indicted

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