Before the Senate unanimously confirmed Leon Panetta to head the Department of Defense last month, there was a notable smear simmering in the right-wing fever swamp: Leon Panetta may be a communist.
The story began with a column by Cliff Kincaid of Accuracy in Media, which hinged on "a close and personal relationship" Panetta supposedly had "with a member of the Communist Party by the name of Hugh DeLacy."
Following President Obama's announcement that he has authorized "a limited military action in Libya" to "protect Libyan civilians," the right-wing media has absurdly declared that Obama is "essentially backing Al-Qaeda" and is "making the world safe for jihad."
It seems inevitable that every conservative news outlet will, sooner or later, dirty its hands by latching onto the birther issue. The Washington Examiner plunges in by publishing a Nov. 22 op-ed by Diana West promoting one birther's case.
West wrote that Terrence Lakin, an Army lieutenant colonel, "faces an upcoming court-martial at Fort Meade, Md., on Dec. 14 for refusing to follow orders to redeploy to Afghanistan because of his conviction that the president hasn't proven his eligibility to hold office." Lakin is the birthers' latest hope for promoting their case, and West admits she's writing about him in part because "Lakin supporters have dubbed this week Terry Lakin Action Week, urging American citizens to take the occasion to call their congressional representatives about the case."
West lionized Lakin as "a senior military officer with an unblemished career" who is committing "what amounts to a historic act of civil disobedience for which he may well serve time in prison." The reality, meanwhile, is that a military judge has already ruled that, according to military law, the personal beliefs or convictions of a soldier are not enough for the soldier to deem an order illegal, that Lakin cannot introduce any evidence related to Obama's citizenship at his court-martial, and that the military court was not the proper venue for determining the eligibility of a president.
West peppered her op-ed with standard birther arguments:
Of course, Obama's failure to release his original 1961 birth certificate (which, contrary to mantralike misperception, has never been released) is just the beginning. There remains a startling dearth of documentation pertaining to Obama's progress through his 49 years of life that only begins with his birth certificate.
A gaping hole -- dare I say "memory hole"? -- seems to have consumed all possible Obama records from his education, health, family records, even his pre-presidential political career. But this subject is never taken seriously by the media or the political establishment, including, most glaringly, erstwhile GOP opponent John McCain, who, on being challenged on the eligibility question himself, should have called on candidate Obama to join him in releasing their bona fides together.
But even to suggest such a thing is to indulge in "conspiracy theories." Not surprisingly, Wikipedia defines this term for us as well, noting that it's "often used dismissively in an attempt to characterize a belief as outlandishly false and held by a person judged to be a crank or a group confined to the lunatic fringe."
Is the birther path really the one that Philip Anschutz's aggressively conservative publication wants to take? It appears so.
On CNN, Diana West claimed that former Fannie Mae CEO Franklin Raines was among Sen. Barack Obama's "most trusted campaign advisers ... deeply implicated in the mess at Fannie and Freddie [Mac]." However, both Raines and the Obama campaign have denied that Raines is an adviser. Further, West did not note that Sen. John McCain's own "most trusted campaign advisers" have served as lobbyists for Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac, or both.
On CNN, Washington Times columnist Diana West said that "Senator Obama's made it very clear that he believes terrorism is simply a matter of cops and robbers." Host Lou Dobbs did not challenge West's assertion echoing claims by the McCain campaign that Obama has said are "demonstrably false."
On CNN, Washington Times columnist Diana West said: "What I would like to see is people really start thinking about what is torture. If putting people into human-size shredders, as Saddam Hussein did, is torture, then waterboarding, which my senior military sources tell me you wake up feeling fine the next day -- it is not torture." However, in congressional testimony, Allen S. Keller, M.D., director of the Bellevue Hospital Center/New York University Program for Survivors of Torture, stated, "To think that abusive methods, including the enhanced interrogation techniques [in which Keller included waterboarding], are harmless psychological ploys is contradictory to well established medical knowledge and clinical experience." Keller stated of waterboarding specifically, "Long term effects include panic attacks, depression and PTSD," and said it poses a "real risk of death."