Right-wing media personalities blamed President Obama for recent violence in Iraq, blaming the rise of violent militants in the country on Obama willfully refusing to negotiate a Status of Forces Agreement (SOFA) with Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki to leave behind some American forces and instead redeploying all U.S. troops. In reality, the Iraqi government refused to negotiate a viable SOFA with the U.S. despite Obama's efforts to maintain a military presence.
Here, the Weekly Standard's John McCormack writes of the possibility that Republicans might offer incoming Democratic Senator Joe Manchin "his pick of committee assignments" or "support for one of his pet projects" without so much as hinting that there would be anything wrong with such offers.
Here, the Weekly Standard's John McCormack pretends to be outraged at the (thoroughly bogus) possibility of the White House "selling judgeships for health care votes."
Here, the Weekly Standard's John McCormack refers to provisions in legislation designed to win the support of specific senators as "corruption."
Now, what's the difference between the "corruption" and "bribery" John McCormack just spent two years pretending to be outraged about and the potential offers to Manchin that don't bother him a whit? Right: the potential offers to Manchin would be coming from Republicans, so they're OK.
The Weekly Standard's John McCormack does his best to create a scandal out of a comment allegedly made by an Obama administration official about Koch Industries, the massive energy company that uses use the fortune it accumulated in part by stealing oil from US taxpayers and Indian lands to provide millions of dollars in funding for the conservative movement. But, as is often the case, McCormack's best isn't good enough.
The attempted scandal stems from an August 27 background briefing in which Obama administration official supposedly said: "So in this country we have partnerships, we have S corps, we have LLCs, we have a series of entities that do not pay corporate income tax. Some of which are really giant firms, you know Koch Industries is a multibillion dollar businesses." Supposedly this is scandalous because it raises questions about how the official is aware of Koch's tax status.
McCormack's source for the Obama administration official's alleged statement is Koch Industries senior vice president and general counsel Mark Holden. But even Holden is apparently unwilling to allege any wrongdoing by the Obama administration: "I'm not accusing any one of any illegal conduct. … I don't know what [the senior administration official] was referring to. I'm not sure what he's saying. I'm not sure what information he has. … [I]f he obtained it in a way that was inappropriate, that would be unlawful. But I don't know that that's the case."
Holden's unwillingness to actually allege any wrongdoing might have been a sign that there's less here than meets the eye, but McCormack credulously writes: "Holden claims that the revelation of tax information could have been improper, depending on how the information was obtained by the White House."
"Could have been"? "Depending on"? Can McCormack possibly include more wiggle-words? Yes he can: "Holden says that to his knowledge the tax status of Koch Industries has not been previously reported in the press."
But surely John McCormack didn't just take Holden's word for that? Surely he looked into it himself? Ah, no:
So, questions remain: Why won't White House officials say if the quotation about Koch Industries is accurate--or even if a transcript of the briefing exists?
And, if the quotation is accurate, why won't they say how the White House obtained tax information on Koch Industries?
But, as Politico's Ben Smith reports, obtaining the tax information isn't hard: It's on Koch's public web site:
[A]nother administration official said in an email this morning that the White House got the information from testimony before the the President's Economic Recovery Advisory Board (PERAB) and from Koch's own website.…
[The official writes:] This issue was raised repeatedly by outside experts that testified before the PERAB and Koch was cited to the PERAB as an example by outside commenters to the group. We assume it came up from publicly available information such as the Forbes magazine annual report listing Koch as one of the largest private companies in the nation or the fact that a high fraction of the largest companies within Koch Industries are listed on the Koch website as LLCs, LPs or other frequent pass-through entities. If this information is incorrect, we are happy to revise statements.
Sure enough, if you go to KochIndustries.com and click on "Fact Sheets," then on "Koch Facts," you'll see a list of Koch companies, many of which contain labels like "LLC" and "LP." Here are a few examples:
No wonder Holden wasn't willing to allege wrongdoing by the White House. The supposedly top-secret information is readily available on Koch's web site!
In the run-up to Delaware's Republican Senate primary, conservative media figures noticed that their colleagues are "lazy and unfair" "idiot[s]" and "mouthpieces for the Republican establishment" who engage in "ranting, not serious arguments" and whose commentary consists of "smear tactics," "mischaracterizations," "exaggerated claims," "slander," and "attributing sinister or corrupt motives to those who disagree with them."
Kagan Defends Discriminating Against Military at Harvard
In fact, Kagan didn't discriminate against the military, she ended the military's exemption from Harvard's anti-discrimination policy.
It says a lot about McCormack that he thinks ending an entity's exemption from an anti-discrimination policy constitutes discriminating against that entity.
Though, in fairness (I guess?) to McCormack, there's ample evidence that he doesn't actually believe the nonsense he writes.
UPDATE: McCormack also referred to Kagan's "anti-military policy," another bit of dishonest demagoguery. Applying the same rules to the military that are applied to other entities isn't "anti-military." It's "pro-consistency."
Right-wing media have falsely claimed that the White House offered Andrew Romanoff a job in exchange for dropping out of Colorado's U.S. Senate election, and have falsely alleged or suggested that the White House committed a crime in doing so. In fact, both Romanoff and the White House have said no formal job offer was made, and legal experts have repudiated the claim that this practice would constitute a crime.
You might not expect a magazine that once ran a 3,229-word cover story decrying an investigation into the outing of a CIA agent as the "criminalization of politics" to be particularly upset over the possibility that a White House official offered a Senate candidate a job. But the Weekly Standard is nothing if not, uh, flexible in its outrage.
And so, having published Fred Barnes' 2006 apologia for the kind of leak that former President George H. W. Bush once declared the work of "the most insidious of traitors," the Weekly Standard is now home to John McCormack's hilarious efforts to drum up support for a bribery investigation predicated on an unnamed White House official's alleged offer of an unspecified job to Joe Sestak. Because, you know, outing a CIA agent is fine; that's merely politics -- just don't offer someone a job!
I say "hilarious" for two reasons. First, the alleged offer is a bit of a non-starter as political scandals go. White House officials have been known to try to "clear the field" for their preferred candidates in campaigns for as long as anyone can remember -- and when Karl Rove and Dick Cheney did it, it was portrayed as a sign of their effectiveness. I don't remember calls for bribery investigations when Team Rove convinced Richard Vinroot to drop out of the 2002 North Carolina Senate race -- or when the RNC sent Vinroot $200,000 to pay off his campaign debt a couple of weeks later. (A Nexis search for Vinroot's name in the Weekly Standard library yields no hits.)
But now John McCormack wants you to think that offering a candidate a job is the worst thing since Watergate. And that brings me to the other reason this is so funny: John McCormack.
See, McCormack sees -- or pretends to see -- illegal White House bribes every time he turns around. Just a few months ago, he was peddling the baseless allegation that the White House tried to buy Rep. Jim Matheson's vote on health care reform by nominating his brother to a federal judgeship. McCormack quickly walked back that ludicrous claim, just as his former Weekly Standard colleague Michael Goldfarb had to walk back his ludicrous claim that the White House threatened to close a Nebraska Air Force base to win Ben Nelson's support.
I can't wait for McCormack's next theory -- it'll probably be something about how Rahm Emanuel offering a visiting congressman a cup of coffee constitutes an offer of a bribe in exchange for a vote on financial reform.
From the March 16 edition of Fox News' Cavuto:
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When Weekly Standard blogger Michael Goldfarb was mocked last December for making a far-fetched claim about the White House threatening to close an Air Force base in order to secure Ben Nelson's support for health care reform, Goldfarb quickly began walking back his claim, then abruptly stopped talking about it altogether.
So when I saw Weekly Standard writer John McCormack's baseless suggestion that the White House nominated Rep. Jim Matheson's brother for a judgeship in order to win Matheson's support for health care reform, it looked like history was repeating itself.
And sure enough, McCormack promptly began walking back his claim, telling Fox News viewers the next day there "probably" wasn't an "explicit" quid pro quo. The day after that, McCormack wrote that the "most likely" scenario was that "White House officials simply hoped that if they scratched Matheson's back with the nomination, he would scratch theirs with a vote for the health care bill." Then McCormack went silent on the matter.
So, here's how this played out:
March 3: McCormack writes "Obama Now Selling Judgeships for Health Care Votes?" and "Scott Matheson appears to have the credentials to be a judge, but was his nomination used to buy off his brother's vote?"
March 4: McCormack admits there was "probably not" an "explicit quid pro quo."
March 5: McCormack writes that the most likely explanation is that the White House simply "hoped" Matheson would vote for health care reform.
March 6 - Present: Silence.
Now, ideally, the Weekly Standard wouldn't run around peddling baseless conspiracy theories in the first place. But since they do, it's good to know they've perfected The Weekly Standard Walk-back.
And I'm willing to meet them halfway, by acknowledging that they probably don't subsidize their magazine publishing by selling intravenous drugs to six-year-olds.
Right-wing media figures have continued to attack President Obama's appointment of Scott Matheson to the 10th Circuit Court of Appeals, suggesting that the appointment was made to influence his brother, Rep. Jim Matheson's (D-UT) vote on health care reform. Those pushing the smear have cited no evidence to support their claims and have acknowledged Matheson's qualifications for the job; indeed, his appointment enjoys broad support and, according to Republican Sen. Bob Bennett, "has been in the works for a long time" and was not made in exchange "for votes on health care."
Right-wing media figures have recently concocted several baseless scandals in an attempt to portray Democrats as corrupt or guilty of wrongdoing. These include the suggestion that the Democratic leadership acted improperly after learning about sexual harassment allegations against Rep. Eric Massa, the baseless accusation that President Obama is "selling judgeships" for health care reform votes, and the false claim that Rep. Pete Stark has an "ethics scandal."
Right-wing media figures have run with The Weekly Standard's John McCormack's completely baseless accusation that President Obama is buying Rep. Jim Matheson's (D-UT) vote on health care reform by appointing his brother, Scott Matheson, to the 10th Circuit Court of Appeals. McCormack provided no evidence to support the allegation -- which both Rep. Matheson and the White House have called "absurd" -- and even those pushing the charge acknowledge that Scott Matheson is "plenty qualified for the job."
No, I don't have any evidence that the conservative magazine led by Bill Kristol is selling dime bags to school children. That's why there's a question mark at the end the headline above. So it isn't a despicable smear for me to suggest that The Weekly Standard pays John McCormack's salary by hooking innocent six year olds on deadly drugs that will destroy their lives. You know, because of the question mark.
Anyway, I'm sure McCormack, Kristol & co. won't mind that I've raised the question without any evidence whatsoever. After all, that's how they roll at The Weekly Standard.
Last December, for example, The Weekly Standard's Michael Goldfarb peddled the obviously ludicrous claim that the White House had pressured Sen. Ben Nelson to support health care reform by threatening to put Nebraska's Offut Air Force Base on the BRAC base closure list. The allegation was laugh-out-loud funny on its face -- BRAC simply doesn't work that way. And Goldfarb didn't have any evidence for his claim. And the whole thing appears to have been nothing more than out-of-control rumor-mongering by a couple of former McCain presidential campaign staffers. That didn't stop the media, particularly the right-wingers at FOX, from running with it. Nor did it stop 20 Republican Senators from demanding an investigation. Though none of the people hyping the story apparently had any actual belief that it was true -- after all, they went silent pretty quickly when its obvious flaws were pointed out.
Now comes John McCormack with the sensational headline "Obama Now Selling Judgeships for Health Care Votes?" McCormack writes:
Tonight, Barack Obama will host ten House Democrats who voted against the health care bill in November at the White House; he's obviously trying to persuade them to switch their votes to yes. One of the ten is Jim Matheson of Utah. The White House just sent out a press release announcing that today President Obama nominated Matheson's brother Scott M. Matheson, Jr. to the United States Court of Appeals for the Tenth Circuit.
So, Scott Matheson appears to have the credentials to be a judge, but was his nomination used to buy off his brother's vote?
Evidence? John McCormack doesn't need evidence -- he has question marks!
Oh, and McCormack didn't mention that conservative Republican Senator Orrin Hatch of Utah praised Matheson's nomination:
"I'm pleased President Obama has nominated Scott Matheson to fill the vacancy on the 10th Circuit," Hatch said. "I've known Scott a long time, and he is a capable, bright attorney whose experience has prepared him for judicial service. The Matheson family has had a significant impact on Utah and can rightly be proud of Scott's nomination."
UPDATE: And sure enough, this baseless Weekly Standard allegation is playing out just like the last one: The right-wing media is running with it, and Rep. Michele Bachmann is calling for an "independent investigation." How long before they all abruptly drop it and pretend they never said anything?
UPDATE 2: Even PowerLine doesn't buy it: "Thus, President Obama could not have found a more suitable nominee, from a liberal Democratic perspective, than Scott Matheson. It would be unfair to assume that he selected Matheson in order to influence his brother; on the contrary, if Matheson had no siblings at all he would be an ideal liberal judicial candidate. So I think we must acquit President Obama of that charge."