For the past couple of weeks, Pajamas Media (PJM) has been pushing what they believe to be is a profound disclosure of personal information about new employees at the U.S. Department of Justice Civil Rights Division. PJM contributors Hans von Spakovsky and J. Christian Adams have been struggling to make the case that the Obama administration is politicizing the DOJ the way the Bush administration was found to have done, and now that they've gone through the trouble of filing a lawsuit to obtain the resumes of everyone hired at DOJ's Civil Rights Division since 2009, they are desperate to make their investment worthwhile. As a result, PJM has decided to run with the theme that "every single one" of the new hires is a "far-left" liberal.
Their arguments have so far provided no evidence whatsoever that qualified, similarly-situated conservative applicants to the Civil Rights Division were turned away for a lack of liberal credentials. Instead, they rely on the assertion that because all of the new hires are liberal, it defies probability that conservatives weren't rejected for political reasons. Despite the logical inadequacy of this argument, it relies on a definition of "liberal" that is completely constructed by von Spakovsky and Adams. Their frantic attempts to make a case of politicization against Attorney General Eric Holder and the Obama administration results in a broad, and at times ridiculous, characterization of what activities and affiliations constitute sufficient evidence of one's liberal worldview.
Here are just a few of the previous employers and affiliations that PJM believes are liberal (which by contrast reveals a lot about what von Spakovsky and Adams must believe conservative values do or do not encompass):
Hans von Spakovsky is continuing the feeble Pajamas Media (PJM) campaign against Attorney General Eric Holder and the U.S. Department of Justice's Civil Rights Division with a fourth column in a series highlighting the allegedly "liberal" resumes of individuals hired by DOJ. PJM's oft-repeated (and just as often unsupported) claim is that Holder and the DOJ are engaged in "politicized hiring" that is "nearly unprecedented in scope and significantly eclipses anything the Bush administration was even accused of doing."
Today, Spakovsky spends five pages tirelessly reciting what he believes are the liberal affiliations of new career attorneys at the Civil Rights Division's Special Litigation Section. He then concludes:
No one is suggesting any of these individuals' activist backgrounds disqualifies them from working as attorneys in the Civil Rights Division. The point is that such liberal bona fides appear to be a prerequisite for employment in the Division -- there is no other explanation for this. These resumes are an example of a legal doctrine that law students learn in their first year: res ipsa loquitur -- "the thing speaks for itself."
Res ipsa? Perhaps Spakovsky has forgotten what he learned in his first year, but res ipsa loquitur is a common law negligence doctrine which presumes that a harmful act could only have occurred as a result of a defendant's carelessness, even if the plaintiff has no direct proof of the defendant's carelessness (one of the prototypical cases is a scalpel left in someone's body while the patient was under general anesthesia).
But Spakovsky isn't accusing the DOJ of negligently filling their rosters with liberals. He's alleging that they purposefully considered a candidate's liberal credentials as a precondition for hiring them into the Civil Rights Division. In his words, "None of this is an accident."
As part of its extended campaign against the Obama administration Justice Department's hires, Pajamas Media has turned to noted experts on the subject of politicization: Hans von Spakovsky and J. Christian Adams.
Yes, the conservative media outlet is again attacking the Obama administration for hiring civil rights attorneys for the Civil Rights Division. And they've decided that the best people to push their months-long investigation are a beneficiary of the Bush DOJ's policy of politicized hiring and a Bush DOJ staffer known for injecting his own politics into the department's work.
It's the sort of takes-one-to-know-one decision reminiscent of Fox News' decisions to hire Judith Miller as a media critic and book Michael Brown to discuss disaster relief.
Who's next? Will PJM drag out fellow Bush DOJ alums Bradley Schlozman and Monica Goodling to write the next installments in this breathtakingly mundane series?
Pajamas Media has been scandal-mongering for months with hollow allegations of politicization in the hiring process at the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ). Today, Hans von Spakovsky published the first piece "in a series of articles by Pajamas Media about the Civil Rights Division's hiring practices since President Obama took office." He claims the supposed tainting of the hiring process by the DOJ's Civil Rights Division under Obama is "nearly unprecedented in scope and significantly eclipses anything the Bush administration was even accused of doing."
Spakovsky and PJM are responding defensively to allegations that under President Bush, political appointees at DOJ's Civil Rights Division illegally considered applicants' political leanings when making hiring decisions. These claims have been backed up in a report completed by the DOJ's Inspector General and Office of Professional Responsibility, who declared the hiring activity a "viola[tion] of federal law."
For months, PJM has been waging a campaign alleging the Obama administration is committing the same sins. The crusade continues today, with Spakovsky's piece outing the so-called "new radicals" in the Civil Rights Division's Voting Section. Instead of bolstering his argument, however, he's instead just highlighted the many exemplary qualifications and relevant civil rights law experiences the new employees have brought to the table. Indeed, von Spakovsky's complaint often appears to be that the Civil Rights Division has hired attorneys with backgrounds in civil rights.
Specifically, Spakovsky has published the employment histories of the 16 new hires in the Voting Rights department of the Civil Rights division. He rails at length about the alleged liberal affiliations of the DOJ hires, detailing their past civil rights work with groups like the ACLU and NAACP, but his complaining notably lacks any accusation or evidence that DOJ was hiring unqualified lawyers or excluding applicants based on their political predilections - something the Bush administration was found to have done.
The question, after all, is not whether DOJ hired too many conservatives in the Bush administration or too many liberals in the Obama administration; the question is whether either of those administrations improperly used an individual's political leanings as a pro or con in their hiring deliberations. Spakovsky offers no evidence that the DOJ is doing this other than the circumstantial claim that it's more likely than not that politicization took place because so many liberals have been hired.
The Washington Times is 0-2 in their assessment of the Justice Department's handling of military absentee ballots. As we pointed out earlier, the Times inexplicably and repeatedly swaps the names of their story's primary source (a GOP activist) from Eric Eversole to "Eric Loveland" in their article criticizing the DOJ. While this mistake may seem superficial, the substantive distortions within the piece are anything but. The Times uses partisan sources and cherry-picks quotes and statistics from a Military Voter Protection Project report to construct the façade of a Justice Department scandal.
First, the Times identifies Eversole (or "Loveland," if you prefer) only as "MVP [Military Voter Protection Project] founder and author of the report" and as "a veteran and former Justice Department official." Left out is how he was hired to work in the DOJ's Civil Rights Division during the period when the Bush administration was illegally considering political affiliation in the hiring of career attorneys. The Times also fails to mention that Eversole went on to advise Sen. John McCain's presidential campaign, join the Republican National Lawyers Association and write articles for right-wing websites.
The Times' second source is Hans von Spakovsky, another discredited Bush-era DOJ hire who writes for the conservative media outlets National Review and Pajamas Media and is a fellow at the conservative Heritage Foundation (the Times at least acknowledges his position at Heritage). With sourcing like this, any pretense of a reasonable news report about a department overseen by a Democratic president is thrown out the window.
The statements the Times attempts to pass of as facts are similarly untrustworthy. Toward the end of the article, the Times claims that DOJ suggested that the state of Maryland should "prevent troops from voting," an allegation so absurd only a Times subscriber could believe it:
In some cases, the [DOJ] recommended that a state prevent troops from voting. In Maryland, the Justice Department told the state to send ballots for federal elections only because ballots for local elections would have violated the 45-day deadline, the report says.
"They were basically telling Maryland that they could disenfranchise these voters' rights to vote in local elections," Mr. von Spakovsky said.
Not even close.
DOJ did not tell "the state to send ballots for federal elections only," as the Times claimed. What actually happened was that Maryland originally sought a waiver (provided under the MOVE Act of 2009) from the federal requirement that absentee ballots be sent to military and overseas voters at least 45 days before the election; elections officials believed that they would not have been able to certify the results of the state primary elections in time to finalize the ballot by the deadline.
Maryland later withdrew its waiver request, instead proposing to send ballots containing only federal races to military and overseas voters before the Act's 45-day deadline, and a complete ballot including federal and state races after that ballot had been finalized. As federal law places requirements only on the distribution of ballots for federal elections, both DOJ and the Department of Defense indicated that this proposal would comply with the law.
As this letter from Maryland's election administrator makes clear, DOJ did not tell the state to do this; Maryland "worked to identify a solution" and submitted the proposal to DOJ and DOD personnel for approval. And yes, contrary to what the Times would have you believe, local elections boards began sending full ballots to military and overseas voters on October 8, 2010.
Back in February, Hans von Spakovsky trumpeted news of a supposed plan by the Justice Department to use their power under the Voting Rights Act to review redistricting plans and reject those they deem discriminatory in order to benefit the Democratic Party. The former Bush Justice Department official warned that if Republican-controlled legislatures drew up redistricting plans that "Democrats don't like," "the Left's effort to exploit the Voting Rights Act for crass political purposes may reach a degree of success once thought unimaginable" as the Voting Section would strike those plans down for purely partisan reasons.
According to von Spakovsky, those Republican-led legislatures could only save their plans by choosing to bypass DOJ and taking their redistricting plans directly to federal court. Former Bush DOJ attorney J. Christian Adams quickly picked up von Spakovsky's call, warning of the "Eric Holder buzzsaw" and urging Republican-dominated states to take his words to heart.
But a funny thing has happened over the past few months. Republican-controlled legislatures in states like Louisiana and Virginia have submitted redistricting plans to DOJ. But the fears of Adams and von Spakovsky notwithstanding, those plans were precleared by the Voting Section.
If you're wondering whether this factual record has led Adams to reconsider his belief in the supposed partisanship of the Justice Department, the answer is no. Indeed, wedded to his conviction that DOJ simply must be filled with politicized ideologues, Adams doubled down, insisting that the only reason DOJ approved those plans was that the states submitted their plans to the U.S. District Court in Washington at the same time they submitted them to DOJ.
By this line of reasoning, the Voting Section's actions don't prove them to be nonpartisan - in fact, the actions even more strongly prove their political commitments. DOJ could have stopped Republican-backed redistricting, if it weren't for those meddling states, but once the plans were submitted to court, DOJ had no choice but to hide their true goals and approve the plans. The cunning of the Voting Section's lawyers is apparently unparalleled.
Of course, one could logically propose another reason for why DOJ's Voting Section didn't reject the Virginia or Louisiana plan: they engaged in legal, not political, analysis, and did not find the plans to be illegal. But by engaging in this way, Adams has made it very easy to again trumpet DOJ's partisanship if they ever do find a submitted plan to be discriminatory.
Note that Adams doesn't seem at all worried with whether or not those redistricting plans are actually discriminatory, but he does seem extremely worried about whether the Republican plans will be approved. It's almost as if his concerns are entirely partisan! And indeed, Adams is a longtime GOP supporter who was hired during the period when DOJ was illegally hiring people on the basis of partisanship. Likewise, von Spakovsky was a Bush recess nominee who was criticized by career DOJ lawyers for improperly "inject[ing] partisan political factors into decision-making."
But of course, none of this matters, because as Adams and von Spakovsky will be the first to tell you, it's the current DOJ attorneys who are the real partisans.
In a USA Today op-ed, Pajamas Media blogger and former DOJ Civil Rights Division official Hans von Spakovsky employed numerous falsehoods to defend statutes requiring all voters to show identification before casting ballots. In fact, contrary to von Spakovsky's argument, legal voters have been turned away from the voting booth because they lacked proper identification, the effects of voter ID laws may fall disproportionately on the poor and members of racial minorities, and instances of fraudulent voting are very rare.
Conservative media outlets are deriding a memo recently released by the National Labor Relations Board, claiming that it "shows that the board wants to give unions much greater power over employers and their investment and management decisions." In reality, the memo addresses a narrow portion of labor law that requires employers to bargain with unions if labor costs are a factor when businesses decide to relocate. The changes contemplated in the memo would simply "encourage the use of bargaining rather than after-the-fact assessment of whether bargaining might have been successful."
From the May 17 edition of Fox News' Your World With Neil Cavuto:
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J. Christian Adams and Hans Von Spakovsky, the chief proponents of the New Black Panther Party manufactured scandal, have branded as "uber-political" "militant leftist partisan[s]," "hyper-Democratic loyalist[s]," and "liberal ideologues" those who disagree with their interpretation of the Justice Department's handling of the case. This is ironic given their own partisan and ideological records.
I really wish Hans Von Spakovsky would make up his mind.
In a report that aired today on NPR's Morning Edition, the Bush-DOJ-official-turned-right-wing-apparatchik complains that the Obama Justice Department's Civil Rights Division is no longer "filing the really traditional kinds of cases the division has always gone after":
CARRIE JOHNSON (CORRESPONDENT): Conservatives have made no secret of how they feel about the Obama administration's approach to civil rights. Republican analysts have been pointing out examples of what they call major overreach for over two years. Hans von Spakovsky worked at the Civil Rights Division in the Bush Justice Department.
VON SPAKOVSKY: Instead of filing the really traditional kinds of cases the division has always gone after, where there's real discrimination going on, they are trying to push and stretch the laws to reach areas that the laws were not intended to cover.
So "filing the really traditional kinds of cases" is a good thing. Right?
That's funny, because I recall right-wingers claiming that when an Obama DOJ appointee used similar language to describe the kind of cases she wanted filed, it was evidence of her sinister unwillingness to protect white people. You know who said that? Hans Von Spakovsky.
J. Christian Adams and Hans von Spakovsky have a problem. For some time now, these right-wing operatives and former Justice Department lawyers have been beating the drum over the Obama Justice Department's actions in the New Black Panthers pseudoscandal. With that manufactured controversy continuing to fall apart, they are now desperately lashing out at perceived enemies in a frantic attempt to salvage it.
According to them, the decision by senior career lawyers at DOJ to drop charges against some of the defendants in the case demonstrates racially biased corruption. These claims never stood up to scrutiny, and now, according to Adams' DOJ sources, the DOJ's Office of Professional Responsibility is preparing to issue a report that will find that the attorneys who overruled Adams and his trial team did not act improperly.
Adams and von Spakovsky are responding by declaring that "the fix is in" and that the report is a "whitewash" (yes, they both use the exact same language). They are also attacking OPR and its head as "partisan." The irony is thick.
The right-wing media have repeatedly mischaracterized Attorney General Eric Holder's recent reference to "my people" to claim that he is a "black nationalist" or that the Obama Justice Department is motivated by "racial bias." In his statement, Holder actually took issue with the suggestion that a 2008 incident involving the New Black Panther Party was a more "blatant form of voter intimidation" than what occurred in the 1960s; Holder said the suggestion "does a great disservice to people who put their lives on the line, who risked all."
Earlier this month, conservative activist Hans von Spakovsky penned a Pajamas Media post accusing James Graves, an African American Mississippi Supreme Court justice, of engaging in racism in favor of African Americans in his judicial decision-making. As we documented, the charge was highly dubious, especially in light of the strong Republican support Graves received when President Obama nominated him to a federal judgeship.
Senate Republicans and Democrats have now resoundingly rejected von Spakovsky's attack, confirming Graves to a seat on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit, one step below the Supreme Court by a voice vote -- a procedure reserved for non-controversial judicial nominees. On the Senate floor, Republican Sen. Roger Wicker (MS) said: "I am proud today to speak on behalf of Justice Graves. I urge my colleagues to vote in support of his nomination to the Fifth Circuit." And Republican Sen. Thad Cochran (MS) said: "It is with pride and pleasure that I am able to recommend to the Senate the confirmation of Justice James E. Graves, Jr."
Now, this isn't the only half-baked racism charge that von Spakovsky has made. He often hypes the trumped-up charges that the Justice Department mishandled a voter intimidation case involving the New Black Panther Party and allegations that the President Obama's Justice Department has a policy of not enforcing voting rights laws in a race-neutral fashion.
Let's hope that congressional Republicans give von Spakovsky's New Black Panther Party allegations the same credence they gave to his charges against Graves.
Hans von Spakovsky is no stranger to race-baiting. He is most often seen these days hyping the trumped-up charges that the Justice Department mishandled a voter intimidation case and alleging that the President Obama's Justice Department has a policy of not enforcing voting rights laws in a race-neutral fashion. Yesterday, he took his attacks a step further, essentially accusing Obama judicial nominee James Graves of engaging in racism in favor of African Americans in his judicial decision-making.
His attack is highly dubious in light of the fact that his target is a Mississippi Supreme Court judge who was elected to his position in 2004 (after initially being appointed to the seat in 2001), has the strong support of both of Mississippi's Republican senators, and who received the support of the Senate Judiciary Committee without dissent after a committee member asked him about the cases in question.