U.S. Government

Another "Clean Elections" Law Threatened

GavelThe U.S Supreme Court has blocked (pdf) the state of Arizona from disbursing any public campaign matching funds until a constitutional challenge to Arizona's public campaign finance law is resolved. The news is extremely worrying for advocates of campaign finance reform.

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CREW Seeks Investigation of Tobacco Panel Members

Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW) has asked the Department of Health and Human Services to investigate two people appointed to serve on the Tobacco Products Scientific Advisory Committee, which evaluates tobacco product-related safety and health issues and provides advice, information and recommendations to the Commissioner of the

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An Insider's View of the Spin about Elena Kagan, President Obama's Supreme Court Choice

James O'Keefe on Fox NewsElena KaganAs soon as I heard that Elena Kagan was President Obama's choice for the Supreme Court's latest open seat, I knew the first criticism of opponents would be that she "lacked judicial experience." That does not make her unqualified for this role, given her exceptionally distinguished career as a lawyer and policymaker. It does, however, reveal the deeply disingenuous games Republicans are playing with the U.S. judicial system. I want to tell you how that is so, based on my prior experience as the lead attorney on the Justice Department Working Group on Judicial Nominations and as the former Chief Counsel for Nominations for the Senate Judiciary Committee.

Despite New Law, RNC's Latest "Census" Mailer Still Misleads

GOP ElephantJust as the official U.S. Census was starting up in March, the Republican National Committee (RNC) sent out deceptive fundraising mailers bearing the words "Census Document." Congress quickly passed a law banning such misleading mailers, but the RNC is persisting in the practice.

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You and the Supremes Call to Be Rescheduled

U.S. Supreme Court spiral staircaseThe Center for Media and Democracy's PRWatch is launching a free seminar series for spin-watchers like you. Our first one was scheduled for this week, and was going to focus on the new vacancy on the U.S. Supreme Court and what it means for everyday people who are concerned about the Citizens United decision and its aftermath.

This audio seminar was canceled due to unforeseen technical/logistical problems.

In the future, we plan to provide an opportunity to:

  • Find out insider details about choosing and confirming a lifetime appointee to the Court.
  • Learn about how the next justice may influence legal policies you care about.
  • Ask Lisa your questions about the Supreme Court and Citizens United.
  • Hear about ways to join the fight against corporations controlling our democracy.

CMD's new Executive Director, Lisa Graves, previously served as the Chief Counsel for Nominations for the U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee and as Deputy Assistant Attorney General at the U.S. Department of Justice, working with the White House on judicial selection in the Clinton Administration. Her plain-spoken but deeply researched analysis of public policy issues has been featured on CNN, Free Speech TV, and Democracy Now! and credited in the New York Times, The Nation, The Progressive, and Vanity Fair and by numerous journalists over the past decade.

Your Tax Dollars Hard at War

B1 bomberThe total U.S. budget for fiscal 2011 will be around $3 trillion, not counting funds collected for Social Security. The military's share is around $1.6 trillion, meaning about 53 percent of Americans' tax dollars are being spent on the military.

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Media Feeds Americans Fake News About Afghanistan

Paktiya province, AfghanistanGlen Greenwald of Salon.com reports that Americans are being fed false and misleading "news" about the U.S. war in Afghanistan because major American media outlets, like the New York Times and CNN, publish propagandized Pentagon accounts of the violence and killing occurring there, without questioning the information they are fed.

An egregious example of this occurred on February 12, 2010, when NATO's joint international force issued a press release that bore the headline Joint Force Operating In Gardez Makes Gruesome Discovery. The release said that after "intelligence confirmed militant activity" in a compound near a village in Paktiya province, an international security force entered the compound and engaged "several insurgents" in a fire fight. Two "insurgents" were killed, the report said, and after the joint forces entered the compound, they "found the bodies of three women who had been tied up, gagged and killed."

But an Afghan news report about the same incident differed wildly.

DOJ Might Be Facebook-Stalking You

EyesFacebook might be selling you out to the government.

With the help of the University of California Berkeley's Samuelson Clinic, the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) filed a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request for documents from the government about how they monitor and use social networking sites like Facebook, MySpace, Twitter and LinkedIn to gather information for investigations. The EFF struck gold with this request, as both the IRS and the Department of Justice released training presentations on social networking sites. While this may seem benign, the training material from the DOJ suggests that feds go undercover on sites such as Facebook to gather information on crime.

The DOJ slide show presentation (pdf) also discusses how cooperative these social networking sites are in complying with requests for private data. For example, Facebook, a highly popular social networking site, was described as "often cooperative with emergency requests," while Twitter was less cooperative because they refused to preserve data without legal process.

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