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Monday, June 29, 2009

Monica Conyers Resigns

Detroit (WWJ) -- Effective July 6, Monica Conyers will resign her seat on the Detroit City Council. The 44-year-old Conyers, the wife of Democratic congressman John Conyers, admitted Friday in federal court to taking cash from a Houston company in exchange for her vote on a $47 million sludge treatment contract. Conyers' letter of resignation was received Monday by Detroit City Clerk Janice Winfrey. Conyers says in the one-paragraph memo that her staff ``will be available until December 31, 2009 to assist in the offices of my colleagues.'' View Conyers' resignation letter. "I am glad she did the right thing and resign from the Detroit City Council," said Council President Cockrel. Now we as a council and a city, can move on and forward in focusing on the vital issues our city faces -- and we will," Cockrel said. Cockrel Monday morning had renewed his call for Conyers to resign, but added he was prepared to begin forfeiture hearings. Cockrel said after Conyers' plea to bribery charges, she should no longer be drawing a city paycheck. "Regardless of what various legal opinions may say, it is my opinion that in pleading guilty to a federal crime Ms. Conyers has essentially forfeited her seat," Cockrel said at a news conference. He added council would continue to work as if Conyers' seat was vacant. Cockrel said should Conyers decide not to resign, he was ready to draft resolutions to remove Conyers from all committees and the council itself. Cockrel said the language would include retaining attorney Bill Goodman "for the purpose of pursuing forfeiture proceedings should they become necessary." Cockrel said he spoke with Conyers Sunday evening, and she told him it was her intent not to resign immediately, but to first take some time to confer with her family. A spokeswoman for Conyers, Denise Tolliver, told WWJ's Florence Walton Conyers planned to be at work Monday. She was scheduled to be at a Budget, Finance and Audit Standing Committee meeting Monday afternoon.

After Campaigning For Climate Change Legislation, McCain Now Derides It As ‘Cap-And-Tax’

On Friday, the House passed the American Clean Energy and Security (ACES) Act which, among other things, would institute a cap-and-trade system to curb U.S. carbon emissions that contribute to man-made climate change. The Senate is set to consider the legislation in the fall, but a number of Republican senators have declared the legislation dead on arrival. In an interview this morning with conservative talker Mike Broomhead on Pheonix, AZ’s Newstalk 550 KFYI, Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) echoed their sentiments. He smeared the ACES legislation as a “cap-and-tax” program motivated by the Obama administration’s desire to pay for things like “banks and the world’s largest insurance company”:

MCCAIN: In its present form, which is cap-and-tax. … It’s really terrible, because I believe that climate change is real, I believe it is something that we need to address, and I’m sure that a lot of Americans do, but to do so with a bill like this? … What [the Obama administration is] doing is using cap-and-trade…to raise billions of dollars so they can spend money on Cash for Clunkers, you know, buying General Motors and Banks and the world’s largest insurance company. … So it started on the wrong path and now it’s just turned into, you know, it’s laws and sausages at its worst in my view.

Asked whether he thought ACES would get through the Senate and the U.S. would “end up with cap-and-trade,” McCain lamented, “Look, elections have consequences.” McCain said further that Americans didn’t support ACES, calling it a “far-left” agenda item. Listen here:

While resistance to ACES among Senate Republicans isn’t surprising, McCain’s apparent disdain for the legislation certainly is. During the campaign, McCain laid out a plan to reduce U.S. carbon emissions that included a cap-and-trade component. Describing his plan in May 2008, McCain said, “A cap-and-trade policy will send a signal that will be heard and welcomed all across the American economy.” In June 2008, he said, “I have proposed a new system of cap-and-trade that over time will change the dynamic of our energy economy.” What was that McCain said about elections having consequences? It seems Congress would likely be considering a cap-and-trade system today even if McCain had won the election last fall.

More to the point, however, McCain’s principle substantive objection to early versions of ACES — that it would have auctioned 100 percent of the initial emission permits — has been addressed. The version that passed the House on Friday allows for 85 percent of the emission permits to be distributed free of charge for a “prolonged transition period.”

Finally, McCain is simply wrong to claim that the American people are not supportive of legislation like ACES. According to a Washington Post-ABC Poll, 75 percent of respondents said they supported government regulation of green house gas emissions, and 80 percent of those respondents said the government should do so even if it raised the cost of goods. As for their support for a cap-and-trade system, in particular, 52 percent of respondents favored it while just 42 percent said they opposed it.

Iraqis jubilantly celebrate U.S. troop withdrawal.

By Think Progress

U.S. forces handed over formal control of Iraq’s major cities today (it is already Tuesday in Iraq), “a defining step toward ending the U.S. combat role in the country.” In celebration, Iraqis launched fireworks and “thousands attended a party in a park [in Baghdad] where singers performed patriotic songs. … Loudspeakers at police stations and military checkpoints played recordings of similar tunes throughout the day, as Iraqi military vehicles decorated with flowers and national flags patrolled the capital.” Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki, who had called the withdrawal a “great victory,” declared June 30 a public holiday. Some scenes of celebration around the country:

iraqcelebrations

Saturday, June 27, 2009

Your request is being processed... Joe The Plumber Suggests Lynching Chris Dodd

Samuel "Joe" Wurzelbacher, better known as "Joe the Plumber," has had his fifteen minutes of fame during the 2008 election and was widely expected to disappear when the candidate who brought him into the spotlight lost. But he's still a star in conservative circles -- and still saying some odd, hostile things. At an event Thursday for the Wisconsin chapter of Americans for Prosperity (one of the lead organizations behind the Tax Day Tea Parties), Wurzelbacher suggested Sen. Chris Dodd (D-Conn.) should be lynched.

Wurzelbacher has a reputation for being a blunt, politically incorrect speaker. Referring to Sen. Chris Dodd, D-Conn., more than once, Wurzelbacher asked, "Why hasn't he been strung up?"

Wurzelbacher appeared at a Tea Party in Michigan on April 15, where he claimed that he and other protesters were wrong labeled as extremists.

"I'm here for one reason and one reason only: It's 'I love America,'" Wurzelbacher told the crowd. "Mainstream media wants to paint us as a bunch of extremists, right? We're in search of liberty and our freedoms. What's so extreme about that?" [...]

"Let me give you another extremist view, 'In God We Trust,'" he said to wild applause. "Say that too loud in some parts of America and you will be shot. It's terrible." "'In God We Trust' ... too loud in some parts of America and you will be shot."

Glenn Beck claims supporters of cap-and-trade are either dumb, ‘greedy,’ ‘wicked’ or ‘treasonous.’

By Matt Corley On his radio show today, global warming denier Glenn Beck played an audio clip of Virginia Gov. Tim Kaine speaking favorably of cap-and-trade, but saying it would be “difficult” to do it in Virginia alone. “This is something that is much better done, either on a very huge regional basis or a national basis,” said Kaine. Kaine’s comments caused Beck to accuse cap-and-trade supporters of being “the dumbest people to ever walk the face of the Earth,” “greedy,” “wicked” and even “treasonous“:

BECK: And these people know it. They are either the dumbest people to ever walk the face of the Earth, which I think some of them are. They are just greedy and just want their own power and their own control, which I think some of them are. Or, they believe in a different system other than the Republic, which I think some of them do. They are, they have exposed themselves as incompetent. They have exposed themselves as wicked. They have exposed themselves, quite honestly I think, as treasonous. I think some of them are treasonous. They have exposed themselves. Now the question is are there enough people in America still that believes in liberty and freedom and the Constitution?

Listen here:

Transcript:

BECK: If we have the audio from WRVA, this is the governor of Virginia on the phone, either doing a, you know, ask the governor kind of thing. And he’s on and they’re talking about cap and trade and they’ve got a guy who is for cap and trade in the audience on the phone. Listen to this exchange.

JOE: This is Joe.

KAINE: Hey Joe.

JOE: Oh, sorry, I’m a little nervous. Governor, thank you for your work. I applaud it. I think you’re doing a good job. I appreciate your support for cap and trade and universal health care.

KAINE: Absolutely Joe.

JOE: And my question is if federal government fails, will you please try to implement a version of cap and trade and universal health care in Virginia. Will you do that? Can you do that for us?

KAINE: Well, yeah Joe, let me take them both.

HOST: Conservatives, by the way at this point, fasten your seatbelts. Go ahead sir.

KAINE: Yeah, it would, it would be difficult for me to do either cap and trade or universal health care as governor if the feds don’t do it. I mean, I do think we’ve got to have a cap and trade or equivalent system to start to control carbon emissions. And we have to do it in a way that, you know, deals with our environmental challenges, doesn’t overly cripple industry, but that also is a strong enough leadership step so that there’s a meeting of world nations at Copenhagen in December. We really need India and China to do it too. You know, we don’t want to do it — they need to do that because they’re such growing economies. They won’t do it if we don’t.

HOST: Well, they won’t do it period, but that aside.

KAINE: Well, I think, I think that there’s a good chance that they will. Actually, there’s some good things that China’s doing that’s ahead of us on this right now.

BECK: What kind of, where is, what planet is he on?

KAINE: But they’re growing economies at a pace where they have their own challenges, but if we do not walk into Copenhagen in a leadership position, they’re going to not do anything either.

BECK: Right, because we don’t have challenges.

KAINE: So, I think we do need to move. But cap and trade program just in one state, frankly, I do not think is that workable.

HOST: Well, if Virginia were the only, let’s say for the sake of argument, that Virginia were the only state to do something like that, we wouldn’t become the most business friendly state anymore.

KAINE: Yeah.

HOST: They’d be, there’d be, manufacturers in particular.

BECK: He agrees.

HOST: They wouldn’t be looking at Virginia, would they?

KAINE: Right. This is something that is much better done, either on a very huge regional basis or a national basis. That doesn’t mean…

BECK: Ok. Stop. Ok, stop looking at our country as anything, but what are they trying to do? We are in a global economy, right? That’s all they ever say. We’re in a global economy. Then our country is like a state. And the world is like our country. You can’t do this. If you think that China is going to do this because we’re leading, they’re going to laugh at us. No, actually, they’re going to be pissed at us because we’re not going to be able to afford our debt. You think India, they don’t want to live — have you seen the river over there, I mean it’s like sacred, no it’s not it’s full of poop and stuff. I mean nobody wants, you think they want to live like that? No. Men want to pull themselves out of the muck and if they can do it, they’ll do it. You’re not going to go and cap and trade. It’s suicide. If doing it in just Virginia makes it so unfriendly to business then why would we be doing it in the U.S.? I mean, doesn’t that make the U.S. unfriendly in business? Yes! Yes, yes, yes.

And these people know it. They are either the dumbest people to ever walk the face of the Earth, which I think some of them are. They are just greedy and just want their own power and their own control, which I think some of them are. Or, they believe in a different system other than the Republic, which I think some of them do. They are, they have exposed themselves as incompetent. They have exposed themselves as wicked. They have exposed themselves, quite honestly I think, as treasonous. I think some of them are treasonous. They have exposed themselves. Now the question is are there enough people in America still that believes in liberty and freedom and the Constitution?

M.C.L. comment: How do goons like Glenn Beck get a radio and tv show? The guy can't tell the truth to save his life, he's unable to come up with a intelligent thought and he got in some hot water a couple of months ago with his inflammatory remarks that lead to cops getting shot in Pennsylvania. I get it that the zombies that currently make up the Republican party voting base love his act, but how can the Rupe and Fox "News" justify having a guy that's inciting violence against the governement?

When liberals critized Bush people like Rush, Hannity, Bill O'Reilly and Glenn Beck called it helping the terrorist, when they incite violence against a legally elected president they fear for the country.

House passes American Clean Energy and Security Act.

By Think Progress

In a 219-to-212 vote this evening, the House passed the American Clean Energy and Security Act, which will “for the first time put a price on carbon emissions” in the U.S. In the final minutes of the debate, House Minority Leader John Boehner (R-OH) threatened to obstruct the bill by reading 300 pages of amendments, but eventually relented and read only a few sentences from selected portions. Progressive Media compiled a video detailing the major arguments both for and against the bill. Watch it:

Despite promises that Republicans would rally against the bill, several members defected to support it, including Reps. Dave Reichart (R-WA), Mike Castle (R-DE), Mary Bono Mack, Mark Kirk (R-IL), Leonard Lance (R-NJ), Frank LoBiondo (R-NJ), Chris Smith (R-NJ), and John McHugh (R-NY). 44 Democrats voted against the legislation. Reps. John Lewis (D-GA) and Pat Kennedy (D-RI) both returned to the floor for the first time after tending to significant health issues to support the legislation.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Why do the media -- most recently CNN -- enable McCaughey's falsehoods?

Former New York Lt. Gov. Betsy McCaughey's appearance on the June 24 edition of CNN's American Morning -- during which she again advanced without challenge the falsehood that the Affordable Health Choices Act "[b]asically ... pushes everyone into an HMO-style plan" -- raises a question: Why did CNN host McCaughey to discuss health care after CNN's own health care reporter had to debunk an earlier health care reform assertion repeatedly advanced by McCaughey?

During a February 11 discussion of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, CNN senior medical correspondent Elizabeth Cohen reported of McCaughey's claims that provisions in the economic recovery act would permit the government to control health care: "I had a PDF of the bill up on my computer. I said, 'Show me where in the bill it says that this bill is going to have the government telling your doctor what to do.' And [McCaughey] directed me to language -- it didn't actually say that." Cohen added, "Now when we asked the folks who wrote this bill, 'Hey, is this bill going to allow the government to tell doctors what to do?' they used words like, 'preposterous' and 'completely and wildly untrue.' "

From Media Matters

The falsehood Cohen challenged originated in a February 9 Bloomberg "commentary" by McCaughey and was subsequently repeated by washingtonpost.com, nationally syndicated radio host Rush Limbaugh, Internet gossip Matt Drudge, CNN host Lou Dobbs, Wall Street Journal senior economic writer Stephen Moore, Fox News host Glenn Beck, and Fox News anchors Bill Hemmer and Megyn Kelly, among others.

Despite Cohen debunking McCaughey's prior falsehood, in the June 24 interview on CNN's American Morning, co-host John Roberts introduced McCaughey as a "long-time expert in public health" and did not challenge, much less rebut, her latest false talking point about health care reform.

McCaughey has advanced other falsehoods, including a misrepresentation of a comment by White House health care policy adviser Dr. Ezekiel Emanuel. McCaughey falsely claimed that Emanuel called for "eliminat[ing] the Hippocratic Oath."

Boehner’s PAC spent over $30,000 on a Florida golf outing with lobbyists.

From Think Progress House Minority Leader John Boehner (R-OH), an avid lover of golf, has repeatedly used the golf course for fundraising purposes. Unlike the imprisoned former lobbyist Jack Abramoff, who famously used golf as “bait…to lure Republican politicians into his realm,” Boehner has repeatedly used golf as a means of giving lobbyists some face-time with him while raising money for House Republicans in the process. The Washington Post’s Mary Ann Akers reports today that Boehner’s PAC, Freedom Project, “spent a total of $31,474.11 on a golf fundraiser for friends, lobbyists and anyone else who wanted intimate tee time with the House’s top Republican” at the Ritz Carlton in Naples, FL last February, raising nearly a quarter million dollars for GOP candidates.

Ben Bergmann

Family Research Council removes Sanford’s picture from Values Voters Summit website.

By Matt Corley

Previously, the website for the Family Research Council’s Values Voters Summit 2009 featured a picture of South Carolina Gov. Mark Sanford, advertising that he was a potential speaker. But Pam Spaulding points out that following Sanford’s announcement of an affair, his picture was quickly removed from the website.

Before:

valuessan1

After:

valuessan2

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

House Republicans: Iranian Bloggers Are Just Like Us, We’re Both An ‘Oppressed Minority’

By Think Progress

Trying to take political advantage of the Iranian protests, Rep. David Dreier (R-CA) declared that there was “more freedom” in Iran than in the U.S. Congress, after House ended debate last night:

I wonder if there isn’t more freedom on the streets of Tehran right now than we are seeing here,” ripped Rep. David Dreier (R-Calif.), the ranking Republican on the Rules Committee, to Appropriations Chairman David Obey (D-Wis.) at the raucous hearing.

Dreier’s not alone in making such absurd comparisons. Nico Pitney, blogging on the Iranian protests at the Huffington Post, points to a tweet from Rep. Pete Hoekstra (R-MI), comparing Iranian bloggers and Twitter-users to the House Republicans’ Twittering last summer, when they protested rising gas prices:

picture-4-1

Rep. John Culberson (R-TX) joined Hoekstra, claiming that House Republicans are just like the Iranians because they are an “oppressed minority”:

picture-13

picture-3-1

In comparing themselves to the Iranian dissidents, Dreier, Culberson, and Hoekstra offensively discount the great personal risk many Iranians are taking by continuing to blog, Twitter, and protest. The Iranian National Guard told bloggers to take down any material that might “create tension,” or face legal action. One Iranian provincial prosecutor warned that the “few elements” behind the protests “could face the death penalty under Islamic law.”

The worst Hoekstra and Culberson faced during their so-called Twitter revolution? Inadequate lighting.

Republicans try to obstruct health care bill.

By Igor Volsky

Today, the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions (HELP) Committee began marking up Sen. Ted Kennedy’s (D-MA) Affordable Health Care Act. Republicans, who pushed for the incomplete HELP legislation to be studied by the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) and then pretended that the agency scored the entire bill, tried to obstruct the effort by complaining that the CBO had not yet scored the full proposal. During the hearing, Sens. John McCain (R-AZ) and Judd Gregg (R-NH) argued that the hearing be postponed until a full cost-analysis is available. Watch it:

The GOP then maneuvered to introduce a host of amendments simply as a delaying tactic. Rather than offering constructive improvements that could lower costs and expand coverage, a good number of the GOP’s proposed amendments do nothing to solve the health care crisis. The Wonk Room has the run-down.

Excusing Outrages of the Right

Part of America’s ongoing political crisis is that Official Washington remains cowed by the angry Right, even as it engages in subtle and not-so-subtle appeals to bigotry and invitations to violence. As the outrages mount, most of the national press corps prefers to look the other way, a pattern that now stretches back many years.

For instance, when the Republicans were stealing Election 2000 in plain sight – dispatching rioters from Washington to disrupt a Miami vote count and finally having five partisan justices on the U.S. Supreme Court stop all vote tabulations – the U.S. news media acted as if it were no big deal.

There was almost a sense of relief about the GOP theft, that perhaps acquiescence to these riotous right-wing white guys would calm things down, that maybe the Establishment gods of the proper order would be pleased by a restoration of Republican (and Bush Family) control of the White House.

So, George W. Bush paid no real price for stealing the election, which he lost both nationally in the popular vote and in the key state of Florida. Bush wasn’t even called to account when a lengthy journalistic study of Florida ballots showed Al Gore winning regardless of what standard of chad was used in assessing legally cast votes.

To protect Bush’s “legitimacy” – when the count was completed after the 9/11 attacks – the news organizations that had sponsored the recount did all they could to conceal their own discovery of Gore’s rightful victory. When they released the results in November 2001, the news outlets focused on hypothetical partial recounts and buried the actual will of the Florida voters deep in the stories.

Washington Post media critic Howard Kurtz went so far as to ridicule as “conspiracy theorists” those who still thought Gore had won and mocked their belief that respecting the will of the voters actually mattered.

“Now the question is: How many people still care about the election deadlock that last fall felt like the story of the century – and now faintly echoes like some distant Civil War battle?” Kurtz wrote.

At Consortiumnews.com, we were one of the few journalistic entities that still cared.

On Nov. 12, 2001, after examining the recount statistics, I wrote a story entitled “Gore’s Victory,” observing that “Al Gore was the choice of Florida’s voters -- whether one counts hanging chads or dimpled chads. … By any chad measure, Gore won.”

I also suggested that maybe editors hid the obvious lede of Gore’s victory out of a misguided sense of post-9/11 patriotism.

Within an hour or so, I received an angry call from the New York Times’ media writer Felicity Barringer, who accused me of impugning the journalistic integrity of then Times executive editor Howell Raines. It was as if Barringer had been on the look-out for some deviant analysis that had to be stamped out.

To this day, many Americans remember the phony headlines of those news accounts about Bush’s “legitimate victory,” not realizing what the findings actually showed.

For a generation now, it has been the behavior of the major U.S. news media – across the existing spectrum which reaches mostly from right-wing to centrist – to treat Republicans with extraordinary deference (by reacting to their otherwise abnormal behavior, like Bush's election theft, as if it were normal) and to slap down Democrats (especially when they show some liberal or progressive tendencies).

Threatening Obama

This pattern has continued despite Barack Obama’s solid election victory and the strong Democratic majorities in the House and Senate. Even as the rhetoric from right-wing and neoconservative voices has crossed the line into bigotry and implicit advocacy of violence, most of the U.S. news media continues to act as if nothing out of the ordinary is happening.

With the exceptions of MSNBC’s experimental evening lineup of liberal hosts – Ed Schultz, Keith Olbermann and Rachel Maddow – and a few other scattered voices, the major news corporations continue with their usual suspects of the same ol’ commentators.

No one even blinks an eye when Washington Post neocon columnist Charles Krauthammer slyly promotes the bigoted right-wing canard that Obama is a secret Muslim by referring to the President’s recent trip to Cairo, Egypt, as “his ‘Muslim world’ pilgrimage.” [Washington Post, June 12, 2009]

There’s barely a shrug when Fox News star host Glenn Beck (who was a long-time feature on CNN’s Headline News) muses about an armed insurrection, denounces Obama’s efforts to salvage the U.S. auto industry as “progressive fascism,” or invites on right-wing guests to define “progressives” as people who want “to progress” away from the U.S. Constitution.

It’s considered normal now when ugly rhetoric reverberates through the right-wing media, Even when the hate-filled words are translated into outbursts of right-wing terrorism – such as the assassination of abortion doctor George Tiller and a murderous assault on Washington’s Holocaust Museum – the mainstream “frame" for addressing these questions is how unfair it is to link words and deeds.

Official Washington often acts like some primitive community living in the shadow of a rumbling volcano, eager to demonstrate obeisance to the volcano gods and fearful that any show of defiance might start a full-scale eruption.

It seems that the only time mainstream U.S. journalists beat their breasts is when they detect a challenge to the still-prevailing free-market theology.

For instance, CNBC – the premier U.S. business channel – has become home to a growing fury toward any “government” interference in the market, as if the theories of self-regulating markets and the perceived wisdom of financial gurus like Alan Greenspan hadn’t been blown apart by a financial meltdown that threatened to create a new Great Depression.

Though the Obama administration has continued policies that are very bank-friendly – extending trillions of dollars in government help while asking little in return – CNBC acts as if the financial crisis had been brought on by some government bureaucrats, not by the excessive greed of many Wall Street darlings long featured and fawned over by CNBC’s interviewers.

There was the spectacle last week of the pro-Wall Street anchors at CNBC harassing and interrupting House Financial Services Committee Chairman Barney Frank as he tried to explain his proposals for limiting the huge compensation packages for executives and brokers. Finally, Frank yanked out his ear piece and ended the interview.

“Fine, goodbye sir,” anchor Mark Haynes said dismissively. “We'll manage without you.”

Not surprisingly, the right-wing blogosphere had a field day mocking Frank for his “snit” while it was hard to find any commentary about the biased behavior of the CNBC crew.

Similarly, the right-wing media infrastructure stoked an anti-Obama brushfire in February when CNBC reporter Rick Santelli fumed about the President’s plan to help up to nine million Americans avoid foreclosure.

Santelli asked whether “we really want to subsidize the losers’ mortgages.” Then, gesturing to the wealthy traders in the pit of the Chicago commodities exchange, Santelli declared, “this is America” and asked “how many of you people want to pay for your neighbor’s mortgage that has an extra bathroom and can’t pay their bills, raise their hand.”

Amid a cacophony of boos aimed at Obama’s housing plan, Santelli turned back to the camera and said, “President Obama, are you listening?”

Though Santelli’s behavior in a different context – say, a denunciation of President Bush near the start of his presidency – would surely have resulted in a suspension or firing, Santelli’s anti-Obama rant was hailed as “the Chicago tea party,” made Santelli an instant hero across right-wing media, and was featured proudly on NBC’s Nightly News.

Stoking the Fires

Another emerging theme on the Right is that Obama’s efforts to bail out the economy are somehow an assault on the U.S. Constitution, an odd argument coming from right-wing commentators who fiercely defended Bush’s claim to near-monarchical powers, including ignoring habeas corpus and fair trial rights and claiming the power to wiretap Americans without warrants.

Suddenly, however, the right-wing media is appealing to supposed “patriots” to defend the Constitution against the actions of the first African-American President, whose rightful status as an American and whose belief in Christianity are endlessly questioned and impugned.

It is also the vehemence of these right-wing claims that gives the demagoguery force. After all, loud and angry white guys in suits must know best.

Amid the nation's economic distress, the screamers on the Right can have a disproportionate impact on Americans seeking scapegoats to explain why their jobs are disappearing and their personal incomes are declining.

Appeals to extremism and even violence – whether overt or implicit – may reach a receptive audience. And the Right has a powerful megaphone to spread those resentments.

In a normal world, one might expect mainstream media voices to speak out against irrational arguments and to condemn the false innuendos about Obama, but there are few such voices left in mainstream journalism. After several decades of sustained right-wing assaults on honest journalists, those who might have spoken up have been mostly marginalized or silenced.

Does anyone believe that TV careerists like Wolf Blitzer, John King, David Gregory, Katie Couric, George Stephanopoulos and many others would put their huge salaries at risk in the spirit of Edward R. Murrow and take on the modern-day Joe McCarthys? Is there even a Dan Rather left who would pose tough questions to today’s Richard Nixons?

On the print side, the major news organizations – like the New York Times and the Washington Post – have long since surrendered any moral high ground through their clumsy efforts to ingratiate themselves with the Right.

That has progressed from the pandering to Ronald Reagan in the 1980s; through the proving-we’re-not-liberal phase of piling on against Bill Clinton and Al Gore in the 1990s; to the fawning coverage of George W. Bush during much of his eight-year reign of catastrophes.

There are some honorable exceptions – for instance, see Frank Rich’s “The Obama Haters’ Silent Enablers” – but the larger reality is that we are now more than a generation into the decline of the American press corps.

The Washington Post is still living on its Watergate reputation earned 37 years ago, much like the New York Times still basks in its role in the Vietnam-era Pentagon Papers. The truth is that neither newspaper would be likely to take on those kinds of risks today against right-wing pressures.

The American Left also deserves a share of the blame, having ignored the urgent need to build honest news outlets when the Right was constructing a multi-billion-dollar vertically integrated media apparatus and was pummeling the remaining truth-tellers in mainstream journalism.

Instead the Left sat back, lamenting the surging influence of the Limbaughs, Savages, Hannitys and O’Reillys – and condemning the cowardice of the corporate media. But when brave journalists did take risks for the truth – the likes of Gary Webb of the San Jose Mercury News or Mary Mapes of CBS’s “60 Minutes II” – the journalists found themselves pretty much on their own when the attacks came.

More often than not, the chief role of the U.S. news media in recent years has been to tamp down flashes of public worry about threats from the Right. Mainstream journalists understand that to do otherwise would put their careers and livelihoods in jeopardy.

That was the case eight years ago when the news organizations acted as if no one should be upset that George W. Bush was stealing a U.S. presidential election. It was the case again when Bush took the nation into an aggressive war against Iraq.

Now, we are witnessing the mainstream U.S. news media once more putting on blinders so it’s easier to ignore today’s escalating – and dangerous – demagoguery on the Right.

"Fire David Letterman" Protest Becomes Hatefest, Draws More Media Than Protesters

by Danny Shea

Tuesday afternoon's "Fire David Letterman" rally proved to be a failure, as it drew more press than activists, CNN reports:

A crowd of 15 protesters upset with the late night comic held signs and occasionally shouted as they stood across the street from Letterman's studio.

But they were often hidden from view by the more than 35 members of the media there to cover the protest, and out-shouted by a few very vocal counter-protesters.

New York Magazine videographer Jonah Green was one of those press members, and he captured a disturbing video of several of those protesters in hate-filled rants against the CBS "Late Show" host.

Among the more alarming lines of attack -- particularly given that the rally was held because Letterman supposedly made a joke about Sarah Palin's teenage daughter Willow -- was that Letterman's son Harry was born out of wedlock (he recently wed Regina Lasko after dating for over a decade).

"Should we talk about his son?" one protester asked Green. "I believe his son was born out of wedlock. I believe there's a term for that."

"Is someone making jokes about his child?" asked another. "Especially, you know, when he had a daughter out of wedlock himself" (he didn't; 5-year-old Harry is his only child).

"How dare he?" asked yet a third, the most offensive of all. "When he has a bastard son, and a slut for a wife" (Letterman's wife Lasko has kept a notoriously low profile).

It should be noted that Sarah Palin's teenage daughter Bristol gave birth to baby Tripp (out-of-wedlock) in December and broke up with the baby's father, Levi Johnston, in March.

Other conservative talking points thrown around at the rally included, "Close the borders!" and "I only watch Fox News," as well as the general sentiment that Jay Leno is a better host than Letterman.

Watch:

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Ed Schultz: Dick Cheney ‘will do anything’ for power

By David Edwards and Muriel Kane CIA director Leon Panetta stirred up controversy last week when he was quoted in an interview as saying that former Vice President Dick Cheney, in his criticism of the Obama administration, almost seems to be “wishing that this country would be attacked again, in order to make his point.”

MSNBC’s Joe Scarborough saw Panetta’s remark as a good topic for debate when his fellow MSNBC host Ed Schultz appeared on Tuesday’s Morning Joe.

“Let’s pick a topic that’ll get us really angry,” Scarborough proposed to Schultz. “Leon Panetta and Dick Cheney. Do you agree with the CIA director that it’s almost as if Dick Cheney hopes Americans will die so he gains some political advantage?”

“Absolutely,” Schultz replied.

“You believe the former vice president wants Americans to die in a terrorist attack so he can regain a political advantage?” Scarborough repeated incredulously.

“You got it, Joe,” Schultz agreed. “I think Dick Cheney’s all about power. I think Dick Cheney is all about seeing this country go conservative and a hard right wing, and I think he’ll do anything to get it that way.”

“I must say, I’m stunned,” Scarborough responded. “I could never imagine thinking that of a Democrat or a liberal … that a political opponent of mine wanted blood to be shed of Americans so they could gain an advantage in the polls.”

“That’s Dick Cheney,” Schultz affirmed. “I think he’s one of the most ruthless politicians in the history of this country. … He’s setting the narrative up so he can do, ‘I told you so.’”

“I’m just not willing to go there,” Scarborough retorted. ‘I believe Dick Cheney’s doing this because he believes, like me, some policies that have been implemented make America less weak [sic].”

Scarborough’s co-host Mike Brzezinski attempted to mediate, suggesting that “it would have been much better if [Cheney] had made a really intense attempt to talk to the White House. … I feel like he just went to the public arena and made some really strong statements about our president. … There was something inelegant about it.”

“Barack Obama and his supporters have been calling Dick Cheney evil for two years,” Scarborough objected. “If people called me evil, I don’t think I would call up, ‘Hey, can I come over and talk.’ … He’s been called evil for 2-3 years, and I don’t know that he’s going to pick up the phone.”

This video is from MSNBC’s Morning Joe, broadcast June 16, 2009.

Monday, June 15, 2009

Can right-wing hate talk lead to murder?

by Joan Walsh

I was on "Hardball" today talking about the climate of extreme right-wing rhetoric today, and whether it had anything to do with Wednesday's tragic shooting at Washington's Holocaust Museum, or the May 31 murder of Dr. George Tiller by an antiabortion crackpot.

I tried to choose my words carefully. Unless it's shown that either man had accomplices, we have to be clear that the men responsible for those murders are the ones who pulled the trigger. Still, it's hard not to think about the extreme right-wing rhetoric, especially about Barack Obama, and whether it could conceivably lead to more right-wing violence. You can see whether I succeeded here (more text follows the video):

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The range of crazy ideas about Obama is broad and wide: He's a secret Muslim, he's going to take our guns, he's even the anti-Christ! James von Brunn just happened to be a "birther," one of the nuts who believe that Obama wasn't born here, his birth certificate is fake, and he thus isn't eligible to be president. I thought it was strange and maybe a little ominous last summer when suddenly Obama was labeled a "socialist" and a "Marxist"; Hillary Clinton and John Kerry are arguably more liberal than Obama; why did he get tagged with that sinister, subversive, alien ideology? It seemed linked to the fact that he's just so … different from other politicians, so easy to marginalize and, frankly, demonize.

Then came Rush Limbaugh with his sexual fears about having to "bend over and grab the ankles" for a black president. Soon Limbaugh was saying he hoped Obama fails; last week he said Obama was more dangerous to our country than al-Qaida, our terrorist enemy who has killed thousands of Americans. Could that conceivably inflame someone marginal and isolated to act against a president who's more dangerous than terrorists?

If there's a through-line between any of these acts of terrorism and the right-wing rhetoric that abets it, of course, it's the one linking Bill O'Reilly to Scott Roeder, the man who murdered Tiller. O'Reilly more than demonized Tiller; night after night he called him a baby killer, compared him to the Nazis, and suggested that he must be stopped. Roeder stopped him, all right. If I were O'Reilly I'd feel terrible for putting a private figure in my public sights night after night, simply for doing his lawful job. But O'Reilly has no conscience, so he's proud of it.

And there's clearly been an uptick in rhetoric suggesting that white men are having their rights abridged by the Obama administration, especially since his pick of Sonia Sotomayor for the Supreme Court. In a debate with Buchanan a couple of weeks ago, he told me that what was happening to white men was exactly what happened to black men — he didn't give me any examples of lynching — and that it was open season on white men. Wealthy Sen. Lindsay Graham suggested an average white guy like himself wouldn't get a fair shake from Sotomayor, and now even the new face of the GOP, Michael Steele, has said the same thing. If I were a marginal, unemployed, angry, racist white man right now, I'd be hearing a lot of mainstream conservative support for my point of view. Can that help create a climate for more violence? I don't know. I hope not, but I don't know.

What should happen now? Ironically, a great example of the right-wing echo chamber's bullying came when they managed to smack down the release of a Department of Homeland Security report about the rise of right-wing extremism. Judging from the right's rhetoric, you'd have thought Janet Napolitano was suggesting rounding up Rush and his dittoheads and putting them in an old Japanese-American internment camp or something. But in fact, as Susan Page explained today on "Hardball," the calm nine-page report merely looked at warning signs for extremism, based on history: They include a prolonged economic downturn, the demonization of immigrants, the election of the first black president, fears about losing the right to own guns, a banking crisis inciting age-old paranoia about "Jewish cabals" and the return of many veterans to the States suffering from PTSD and other conditions while getting insufficient care.

Presciently, the report said the top perceived threat was a "lone wolf": "White supremacist lone wolves pose the most significant domestic terrorist threat because of their low profile and autonomy — separate from any formalized group — which hampers warning efforts." DHS, meet James von Brunn, whose wife divorced him because of his hatred, racism, paranoia and violence.

But the right-wing echo chamber went nuts about the report. Rush called it "crap," thundering, "There is not one instance they can cite as evidence where any of these right-wing groups have done anything." Rep. Michele Bachmann crowed: "To me, it looks like the extremists are those running the DHS." John Boehner called it "offensive" and said, "Unfortunately, Secretary Napolitano still has a lot of explaining to do." Newt Gingrich harrumphed that "the person who drafted the outrageous homeland security memo smearing veterans and conservatives should be fired." And Rep. Peter Burgess said Napolitano herself should "step down, and let's move on."

Will any of them apologize to Napolitano now? Dream on.

And who will apologize to the family of Stephen Tyrone Johns, the brave security man at the Holocaust Museum shot by von Brunn. How von Brunn, a felon who'd used a gun in his earlier crime, still had the right to carry a gun, I'll never understand. He killed a black man who'd spent six years protecting a monument to the triumph of love and brotherhood over hate and division. My condolences and prayers go out to Johns' family.

The Obama Haters’ Silent Enablers

WHEN a Fox News anchor, reacting to his own network’s surging e-mail traffic, warns urgently on-camera of a rise in hate-filled, “amped up” Americans who are “taking the extra step and getting the gun out,” maybe we should listen. He has better sources in that underground than most.

The anchor was Shepard Smith, speaking after Wednesday’s mayhem at the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington. Unlike the bloviators at his network and elsewhere on cable, Smith is famous for his highly caffeinated news-reading, not any political agenda. But very occasionally — notably during Hurricane Katrina — he hits the Howard Beale mad-as-hell wall. Joining those at Fox who routinely disregard the network’s “We report, you decide” mantra, he both reported and decided, loudly.

What he reported was this: his e-mail from viewers had “become more and more frightening” in recent months, dating back to the election season. From Wednesday alone, he “could read a hundred” messages spewing “hate that’s not based in fact,” much of it about Barack Obama and some of it sharing the museum gunman’s canard that the president was not a naturally born citizen. These are Americans “out there in a scary place,” Smith said.

Then he brought up another recent gunman: “If you’re one who believes that abortion is murder, at what point do you go out and kill someone who’s performing abortions?” An answer, he said, was provided by Dr. George Tiller’s killer. He went on: “If you are one who believes these sorts of things about the president of the United States ...” He left the rest of that chilling sentence unsaid.

These are extraordinary words to hear on Fox. The network’s highest-rated star, Bill O’Reilly, had assailed Tiller, calling him “Tiller the baby killer” and likening him to the Nazis, on 29 of his shows before the doctor was murdered at his church in Kansas. O’Reilly was unrepentant, stating that only “pro-abortion zealots and Fox News haters” would link him to the crime. But now another Fox star, while stopping short of blaming O’Reilly, was breaching his network’s brand of political correctness: he tied the far-right loners who had gotten their guns out in Wichita and Washington to the mounting fury of Obama haters.

What is this fury about? In his scant 145 days in office, the new president has not remotely matched the Bush record in deficit creation. Nor has he repealed the right to bear arms or exacerbated the wars he inherited. He has tried more than his predecessor ever did to reach across the aisle. But none of that seems to matter. A sizable minority of Americans is irrationally fearful of the fast-moving generational, cultural and racial turnover Obama embodies — indeed, of the 21st century itself. That minority is now getting angrier in inverse relationship to his popularity with the vast majority of the country. Change can be frightening and traumatic, especially if it’s not change you can believe in.

We don’t know whether the tiny subset of domestic terrorists in this crowd is egged on by political or media demagogues — though we do tend to assume that foreign jihadists respond like Pavlov’s dogs to the words of their most fanatical leaders and polemicists. But well before the latest murderers struck — well before another “antigovernment” Obama hater went on a cop-killing rampage in Pittsburgh in April — there have been indications that this rage could spiral out of control.

This was evident during the campaign, when hotheads greeted Obama’s name with “Treason!” and “Terrorist!” at G.O.P. rallies. At first the McCain-Palin campaign fed the anger with accusations that Obama was “palling around with terrorists.” But later John McCain thought better of it and defended his opponent’s honor to a town-hall participant who vented her fears of the Democrats’ “Arab” candidate. Although two neo-Nazi skinheads were arrested in an assassination plot against Obama two weeks before Election Day, the fever broke after McCain exercised leadership.

That honeymoon, if it was one, is over. Conservatives have legitimate ideological beefs with Obama, rightly expressed in sharp language. But the invective in some quarters has unmistakably amped up. The writer Camille Paglia, a political independent and confessed talk-radio fan, detected a shift toward paranoia in the air waves by mid-May. When “the tone darkens toward a rhetoric of purgation and annihilation,” she observed in Salon, “there is reason for alarm.” She cited a “joke” repeated by a Rush Limbaugh fill-in host, a talk-radio jock from Dallas of all places, about how “any U.S. soldier” who found himself with only two bullets in an elevator with Nancy Pelosi, Harry Reid and Osama bin Laden would use both shots to assassinate Pelosi and then strangle Reid and bin Laden.

This homicide-saturated vituperation is endemic among mini-Limbaughs. Glenn Beck has dipped into O’Reilly’s Holocaust analogies to liken Obama’s policy on stem-cell research to the eugenics that led to “the final solution” and the quest for “a master race.” After James von Brunn’s rampage at the Holocaust museum, Beck rushed onto Fox News to describe the Obama-hating killer as a “lone gunman nutjob.” Yet in the same show Beck also said von Brunn was a symptom that “the pot in America is boiling,” as if Beck himself were not the boiling pot cheering the kettle on.

But hyperbole from the usual suspects in the entertainment arena of TV and radio is not the whole story. What’s startling is the spillover of this poison into the conservative political establishment. Saul Anuzis, a former Michigan G.O.P. chairman who ran for the party’s national chairmanship this year, seriously suggested in April that Republicans should stop calling Obama a socialist because “it no longer has the negative connotation it had 20 years ago, or even 10 years ago.” Anuzis pushed “fascism” instead, because “everybody still thinks that’s a bad thing.” He didn’t seem to grasp that “fascism” is nonsensical as a description of the Obama administration or that there might be a risk in slurring a president with a word that most find “bad” because it evokes a mass-murderer like Hitler.

The Anuzis “fascism” solution to the Obama problem has caught fire. The president’s nomination of Sonia Sotomayor to the Supreme Court and his speech in Cairo have only exacerbated the ugliness. The venomous personal attacks on Sotomayor have little to do with the 3,000-plus cases she’s adjudicated in nearly 17 years on the bench or her thoughts about the judgment of “a wise Latina woman.” She has been tarred as a member of “the Latino KKK” (by the former Republican presidential candidate Tom Tancredo), as well as a racist and a David Duke (by Limbaugh), and portrayed, in a bizarre two-for-one ethnic caricature, as a slant-eyed Asian on the cover of National Review. Uniting all these insults is an aggrieved note of white victimization only a shade less explicit than that in von Brunn’s white supremacist screeds.

Obama’s Cairo address, meanwhile, prompted over-the-top accusations reminiscent of those campaign rally cries of “Treason!” It was a prominent former Reagan defense official, Frank Gaffney, not some fringe crackpot, who accused Obama in The Washington Times of engaging “in the most consequential bait-and-switch since Adolf Hitler duped Neville Chamberlain.” He claimed that the president — a lifelong Christian — “may still be” a Muslim and is aligned with “the dangerous global movement known as the Muslim Brotherhood.” Gaffney linked Obama by innuendo with Islamic “charities” that “have been convicted of providing material support for terrorism.”

If this isn’t a handy rationalization for another lone nutjob to take the law into his own hands against a supposed terrorism supporter, what is? Any such nutjob can easily grab a weapon. Gun enthusiasts have been on a shopping spree since the election, with some areas of our country reporting percentage sales increases in the mid-to-high double digits, recession be damned.

The question, Shepard Smith said on Fox last week, is “if there is really a way to put a hold on” those who might run amok. We’re not about to repeal the First or Second Amendments. Hard-core haters resolutely dismiss any “mainstream media” debunking of their conspiracy theories. The only voices that might penetrate their alternative reality — I emphasize might — belong to conservative leaders with the guts and clout to step up as McCain did last fall. Where are they? The genteel public debate in right-leaning intellectual circles about the conservative movement’s future will be buried by history if these insistent alarms are met with silence.

It’s typical of this dereliction of responsibility that when the Department of Homeland Security released a plausible (and, tragically, prescient) report about far-right domestic terrorism two months ago, the conservative response was to trash it as “the height of insult,” in the words of the G.O.P. chairman Michael Steele. But as Smith also said last week, Homeland Security was “warning us for a reason.”

No matter. Last week it was business as usual, as Republican leaders nattered ad infinitum over the juvenile rivalry of Sarah Palin and Newt Gingrich at the party’s big Washington fund-raiser. Few if any mentioned, let alone questioned, the ominous script delivered by the actor Jon Voight with the G.O.P. imprimatur at that same event. Voight’s devout wish was to “bring an end to this false prophet Obama.”

This kind of rhetoric, with its pseudo-Scriptural call to action, is toxic. It is getting louder each day of the Obama presidency. No one, not even Fox News viewers, can say they weren’t warned.

Sunday, June 14, 2009

Right-wing media and the fringe: A growing history of violence (and denial)

From Media Matters and by John V. Santore

This week, the country's attention was captured by the horrific shooting at the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum, allegedly by James W. von Brunn, an 88-year-old man with ties to white supremacist and anti-Semitic organizations. The fatal shooting came just two months after an April 7 Department of Homeland Security report detailing potential increases in right-wing extremism.

As Media Matters for America documented, the DHS report was immediately and vehemently rejected by numerous conservative commentators, such as Lou Dobbs, Rush Limbaugh, Sean Hannity, Michelle Malkin, and David Asman, who portrayed it as an illegitimate and politically motivated assault on conservatives. (Media Matters Senior Fellow Karl Frisch puts the attacks in even broader perspective here.)

Following the Holocaust Memorial Museum attack, these commentators faced criticism for their earlier dismissiveness. Some have since unconvincingly (and in the case of Joe Scarborough, inaccurately) defended their past assessment, and a handful of reporters and analysts are still engaging in falsehoods and inconsistencies in criticizing the DHS report. But on Fox News, Shepard Smith took a different position -- for which he was attacked by conservatives -- saying that the report "was a warning to us all. And it appears now that they were right."

The day before the Holocaust Memorial Museum attack, Media Matters Senior Fellow Eric Boehlert wrote that Fox News and its hosts "will have more right-wing vigilantism to explain." He added that "militia-style vigilante rhetoric has become a cornerstone of the conservative media movement in America, and it's now proudly championed by Fox News on a nearly hourly basis." (He also appeared on CNN this week.)

While right-wing media are certainly not legally culpable for any recent attacks, they are responsible for promoting a culture of fear, paranoia, and violence that is anti-government in the extreme -- a culture in which extremists, including von Brunn and Richard Poplawski, who fatally shot three Pittsburgh police officers, were apparently immersed. Poplawski was convinced that the Obama administration was going to take away his guns. Even though no evidence of such a policy exists, right-wing commentators and news organizations made the claim repeatedly before the shooting and have continued to do so since.

Predictably, conservative media figures responded to the museum shooting by attempting to shift attention away from themselves and onto political liberals and even President Obama himself. On June 10, the day of the museum shooting, financial analyst and radio host Jim Lacamp said on Fox News that "we have an administration that's really done a lot of class warfare, a lot of class-baiting. And so, it sets the stage for social unrest." That same day, conservative Tammy Bruce wrote that the Obama administration's "increasing anti-Israel rhetoric and the pandering to the Jew-hating world Arab world ... encourages all the beasts among us." Newsmax.com published an op-ed, cited on Friday by Michael Savage, claiming that Obama "is most certainly creating a climate of hate against" Jews. Colorado radio host Bob Newman even raised questions about whether Obama's recent visit to a concentration camp, or his statement about Israeli settlements, were factors in the shooting.

But as always, the most virulent reality-denier was Rush Limbaugh. Limbaugh claimed that von Brunn "is a leftist if anything." He said that Obama is "ramping up hatred for Israel" and that "anti-Jew rhetoric comes from the American left." He claimed that MSNBC broadcasts "hate 24/7." Despite the right wing's repeated use of violent, revolutionary rhetoric, Limbaugh said that it was actually Obama who "thrives and needs chaos" to succeed. And in response to Shepard Smith, he remarked that the "claim that the atmosphere is somehow more violently anti-Obama is simply preposterous."

Indeed, Smith's remarks were the exception for the right. Despite its love of fearmongering, Fox News spent the 24 hours after the von Brunn shooting downplaying it. And on his broadcast that night, Bill O'Reilly, who hypocritically and incorrectly criticized the media for a supposed lack of coverage after the shooting death of Army recruiter Pvt. William Long, and who stokes the anger of viewers whenever it suits him politically, barely mentioned the shooting and instead featured what he called a "very important story" on gay penguins. "Do they wear tight T-shirts?" he asked, laughing. During the two shows after the shooting, Hannity barely mentioned it.

Pat Buchanan prefers the old bigotry

by Jamison Foser

But is that really a surprise?

Here's Buchanan, on the possibility that affirmative action helped Sonia Sotomayor get into Princeton:

This is bigotry pure and simple. To salve their consciences for past societal sins, the Ivy League is deep into discrimination again, this time with white males as victims rather than as beneficiaries.

One prefers the old bigotry. At least it was honest, and not, as Abraham Lincoln observed, adulterated "with the base alloy of hypocrisy."

Keep in mind, Buchanan is writing about the early 1970s. The "old bigotry" he prefers is segregation, if not slavery.

It almost seems silly to take issue with anything else Buchanan writes after he has expressed his preference for "the old bigotry," but he churns out some other nonsense that requires response.

Buchanan:

Thus, Sotomayor got into Princeton, got her No. 1 ranking, was whisked into Yale Law School and made editor of the Yale Law Review -- all because she was a Hispanic woman. And those two Ivy League institutions cheated more deserving students of what they had worked a lifetime to achieve, for reasons of race, gender or ethnicity.

"Whisked into Yale Law School"? What evidence is there of that? She got into Yale Law after winning Princeton's highest academic prize. Buchanan is pulling a fast one, here: Sotomayor has said that her SAT scores were lower than most of her Princeton classmates (though we don't know how much lower, and the same can be said for nearly half of all Princeton students.) But Buchanan implies, without offering any evidence, that her grades at Princeton, admission to Yale, and editorship of the Yale Law Review were also the result of affirmative action. (The Weekly Standard's Michael Goldfarb has tried, with Wile E. Coyote-esque results, to argue that Sotomayor benefited from "preferential treatment" while at Princeton and Yale. But he hasn't been able to produce any evidence.)

And what does "more deserving" mean, anyway? SAT scores are not a perfect proxy for how "deserving" a student is, and have never been used as such in college admissions. If they were, applications wouldn't involve essays or lists of extra-curricular activities or leadership or volunteer experience, or even high school grades. Thousands of admissions department workers across the country would never have had jobs; colleges would simply rank all applicants by SAT scores, take the top X students, and call it a day. This is, again, literally never the way things have worked at any college. Ever. Anywhere.

But Buchanan has to contend that "more deserving" = "higher SAT score," even though that is not how the world has ever worked, or should ever work. Otherwise, he'd have to deal with some sticky questions. Like: Was a woman of Puerto Rican heritage who grew up in the South Bronx and thrived academically in high school really less "deserving" of a spot at Princeton in the early 1970s than a white male child of wealthy parents whose academic record was comparable, but who scored a bit better on the SATs? It requires a highly questionable definition of "deserving" to conclude that she was not.

More Buchanan:

Two weeks ago, The New York Times reported that, to get up to speed on her English skills at Princeton, Sotomayor was advised to read children's classics and study basic grammar books during her summers. How do you graduate first in your class at Princeton if your summer reading consists of "Chicken Little" and "The Troll Under the Bridge"?

No. That is a lie. The New York Times did not report any such thing. The Times reported that Sotomayor "spent summers reading children’s classics she had missed in a Spanish-speaking home." That's different from reporting that she was advised to do so. And the Times gave no indication that such childrens' classics were the extent of Sotomayor's "summer reading," or that "childrens' classics" meant things like Chicken Little rather than, say, The Hobbit.

If you think those are inconsequential differences, ask yourself why Buchanan felt the need to exaggerate the Times' reporting. If Buchanan really cannot see the difference between what the Times reported and what he says the paper reported, perhaps he should spend some time with Chicken Little this summer.

More Buchanan:

From college days to court days, that career reflects, in word and deed, a determination to use any power she achieves to create a society where the demands of diversity triumph over the ideal of equal justice under law. For Sotomayor, the advancement of people of color over white males is justice.

People who have actually looked at Sotomayor's rulings have concluded pretty much the opposite, which may be why Buchanan doesn't cite a single example in support of his claim.

M.C.L. comment: Let's be real here, the only reason the right is opposing Sotomayor is because she's Obama choice and it has nothing to do with what she said or how she ruled on cases and they want to rail up the racist so they can send their groups money. If Obama picked a white guy they would find something wrong with him too. On affirmative action come on it seems every time the right wants to make a case against affirmative action they make it sound like some white kid(mostly males) got passed over in favor of anyone that's a minority regardless of SAT score or grade point average.

Friday, June 12, 2009

Over two days, Hannity's coverage of Holocaust museum shooting totals just one sentence

From Media Matters

June 12, 2009 2:40 pm ET

SUMMARY: Sean Hannity has devoted a total of one sentence over two editions of his Fox News show to the topic of the June 10 shooting of a security guard at the Holocaust Memorial Museum.

After having criticized other media for inadequately covering the June 1 shooting at an Army recruiting center in Arkansas, which resulted in the death of Pvt. William Long, Fox News host Sean Hannity has devoted a total of one sentence over two editions of his Fox News show to the June 10 shooting of Stephen T. Johns, a security guard at the Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington, allegedly by white supremacist James W. von Brunn. Specifically, during a discussion about Rev. Jeremiah Wright's recent controversial comments, Hannity said, "[L]ook at this racist anti-Semite who -- involved in the shooting," and agreed with his guest's assertion that "we hear a lot about it, and we should."

In contrast to Hannity's general silence on the Johns shooting, during the June 9 edition of his Fox News program, Hannity stated of the Long murder that "[t]here's a little double standard in the way this was treated, both in the media and by the Obama administration, in comparing the killing of this abortion doctor, [George] Tiller." He later added that the Tiller murder "is similar, but it got a lot more coverage. ... Why would that be? Because they're very similar stories if you look at it."

As Think Progress noted, during the June 10 broadcast of his show, Hannity never once mentioned Johns' murder, though he did discuss at length David Letterman's jokes about Sarah Palin, the firing of Miss California Carrie Prejean, and actor Craig T. Nelson's take on the proper role of government. Similarly, Hannity did not substantively discuss the Holocaust Memorial Museum shooting during the June 11 edition of his show; he did host Prejean to comment on her recent dethronement.

From the June 11 edition of Fox News' Hannity:

HANNITY: "Them Jews won't let Obama talk to me."

NIGER INNIS (national spokesman, Congress of Racial Equality): Well, he's back at it again. You know, Wright has made a mint. He's become a very wealthy man pushing this kind of hate for many, many years. He almost cost Obama the presidency, and now he's undermining his administration. I hope President Obama's advisers are smart enough to tell him not to just stay silent which is what he's been doing, but to take this on.

HANNITY: All right. I want to get into this. First of all, Star, I'll get your reaction to this and then also his so-called clarification. Your thoughts.

STAR PARKER (syndicated columnist): Well, I think it's underappreciated just how entrenched hatred toward Jews are in the -- in some parts of the black community. In fact, radical Muslim influence has been growing in these communities for years through leaders from Louis Farrakhan, Malcolm X, others. They have a huge economy in most black communities and black neighborhoods. They've been recruited in our prisons, these young men, for decades.

I don't know how many even know that we today have sitting congressional black caucus members, too, that are Muslims, one from the state of Minnesota, where they've had deep problems with extremism, everything from Muslim taxi drivers who refuse to carry passengers that have liquor to Muslim grocery store clerks who refuse to let people buy pork.

You know, the challenge that we're faced with Jeremiah Wright is that he is not alone in black America. Of the 45,000 black churches in this country, only about 10 percent would be considered evangelical conservative and look at life through a biblical worldview to protect the interests of Israel. There are about the same amount that would agree with Jeremiah Wright. The rest just sit by silently --

INNIS: Star --

PARKER: -- because they're scared.

INNIS: Star, my dear friend, makes a very important point, and it's a point that we raised back in 2002 with President Bush and the White House and the attorney general, that the danger of Al Qaeda and other extremists making a connection between the nihilism that exists within a lot -- some of these black communities and people of color around the country that Wright talks about that. We made the clarion call; we rang the bell back then. And I'll tell you, with all this hate talk, you know, that we see in the establishment media --

HANNITY: Look at this.

INNIS: -- right? About Tiller and about --

HANNITY: Look at this -- look at this -- look at this racist anti-Semite who -- involved in the shooting.

INNIS: And we hear a lot about it, and we should. It was outrageous and it's a tragedy. But you don't hear about the jihadist radical Muslim convert that Star -- the type of people that Star's talking about, and the environment --

HANNITY: All right, let me ask you this --

INNIS: -- and here's the point. Wright's language, his rhetoric, this nonsense, has been pumped into the black community on -- not just in churches, but on college campuses and a variety of other places.

HANNITY: Let me get this in, because I think this is really important. Because we now find from Newsweek via BET.com that, in fact, that Barack Obama privately and secretly met with Reverend Wright during the campaign. Now I don't know -- can we tie -- first of all, I find that -- was he secretly winking and nodding to him? In other words, does he hold the extremist views of Jer -- see, I think he does.

M.C.L. comment: It does not shock me that Hannity rather to talk about Rev.Wright's Jew comment then talk about how him and his friends on right wing talk radio is fueling the growing violence committed right wingers.

O’Reilly Ignores Holocaust Museum Shooting, Wonders Whether It’s Even ‘Newsworthy’

By Ali Frick

Last week, Fox News’ Bill O’Reilly went on a tirade against CNN for supposedly failing to cover the shooting of Pvt. William Long, an Army recruiter in Arkansas. Of course, O’Reilly’s claims were blatantly false — but that didn’t stop him from claiming to be “shocked” that he “can’t find any information about” the shooting in the mainstream media.

Exactly one week later, after a white supremacist shot and killed a security guard at the Holocaust Museum in Washington, DC, O’Reilly never covered the shooting on his show. In fact, the only mention of the act of domestic terrorism came in a segment that, ironically, decried the media’s inadequate coverage of Long’s death:

O’REILLY: But the central question remains according to a new Pew study, the American media spent far more time on the murder of Tiller than on the murder of Private Long. … 10 to 1 the Pew study which was released yesterday, 10 to 1 more coverage. I mean, come on, come on.

[...]

O’REILLY: All right. Now, we had a murder today at the Holocaust Museum in D.C.

HENICAN: That was an awful case. Awful.

O’REILLY: Now, this is an 89-year-old anti-Semite bigot kills an innocent guy in the Holocaust Museum. OK? Now, what about the newsworthiness of this? … Is it as newsworthy as Private Long?

Watch it:

Sean Hannity, whose show follows O’Reilly’s, never once mentioned the Holocaust Museum shooting — though he did discuss Miss California’s firing and played host to Newt Gingrich, Ann Coulter, and a star of “Miami Ink.”

O’Reilly slammed Katie Couric and Charlie Gibson for having “ignored” Long’s murder, which he said was an ideological decision:

O’REILLY: Look, Katie Couric didn’t cover Private Long. Charles Gibson ignored Private Long. Ignored it. Didn’t — didn’t say a word about it. … It’s a news decision, and our news decision is based on what is important. Their news decision is based on ideology.

If O’Reilly bases his coverage “on what is important” and not ideology, why did he fail to “say a word about” the single largest news story of the day?