To right-wing media, commencement speeches observing the anniversary of the desegregation of U.S. schools is no time to talk about race in America.
First Lady Michelle Obama and Attorney General Eric Holder each gave commencement addresses this month marking the 60th anniversary of the historic Brown v. Board of Education decision, when the Supreme Court ruled that state-mandated racial segregation of schools violated the U.S. Constitution.
Speaking to graduating high school seniors in Topeka, Kansas, the first lady referenced racial segregation that still exists today, according to The Kansas City Star:
Celebrating the 60th anniversary of the historic Supreme Court decision that outlawed segregated schools, Obama reminded the city where the case originated that the country is still racially divided -- although much more subtly than in the 1950s.
"Our laws may no longer separate us based on our skin color, but there's nothing in our constitution that says we have to eat together in the lunchroom or live together in the same neighborhoods," Obama told a full house at the 8,000-seat Kansas Expocentre.
At Morgan State University's commencement, Holder called on graduates to "take account of racial inequality, especially in its less obvious forms, and actively discuss ways to combat it."
Fox contributor and radio host Laura Ingraham attacked Obama's remarks as a "negative, cynical speech" that told kids their family members "were probably racists." Ingraham concluded that Obama was really just "projecting" her own racist beliefs.
The ties between conspiracy theorist Alex Jones and right-wing megaphone Matt Drudge remain strong, with Jones revealing that he spent time yesterday with one of Drudge's employees and crediting Drudge with pushing one of his conspiracy theories "into the mainstream media."
Matt Drudge, who has described 2013 as the "year of Alex Jones," promoted Jones' website, Infowars, 244 times over the last two years and 50 times since the year began on The Drudge Report. Conservatives have urged Drudge to stop linking to Jones after the latter suggested the Boston Marathon bombings were a "false flag" attack perpetrated by the federal government.
On his radio show today, Jones said he was "hanging out" with The Drudge Report's Joseph Curl at a hotel in Houston, Texas where the pair tried "to crash the private Bush-Cheney party" being held in concert with the dedication ceremony for President George W. Bush's presidential library.
In a November 20 Washington Times column, Joseph Curl pushed the debunked attack that President Obama called Americans "lazy" and claimed that Obama "holds a special disdain for the working American." Curl further wrote that Obama is "diss[ing] Americans while campaigning for their votes." From the Times:
While the Nobel Prize winner courts the world, looking for lost love, he holds a special disdain for the working American. Now, mind you, this from a guy who has never held down a real job: from community organizer to Illinois state senator to U.S. senator to president, taxpayers have been paying his salary since the mid-1990s.
In the past three months, his real feelings about the state of the U.S. economy have come out and, more important, just who's to blame for it. You won't be surprised: It's YOU.
Sometimes, he even disses Americans while campaigning for their votes, as he did in September during a TV interview. "The way I think about it is, you know, this is a great, great country that had gotten a little soft and, you know, we didn't have that same competitive edge that we needed over the last couple of decades. We need to get back on track," he said in Florida.
"We've been a little bit lazy, I think, over the past couple of decades. We've kind of taken for granted. 'Well, people will want to come here' and we aren't out there hungry, selling America and trying to attract new business into America," he said at the Asian economic summit.
So, there you have it: The American worker has lost his "ambition [and] imagination," is "lazy" and has gone "a bit soft."
Spoken like a true one-term president.
"Michelle's back, and she's madder than ever," writes Joe Curl, columnist for the Washington Times, offering the latest in an ongoing series of right-wing broadsides against first lady Michelle Obama. The idea that the first lady is publicly and uncontrollably "angry" -- frequently alleged, never demonstrated -- has been kicked around in the conservative blogosphere since the early days of campaign '08 and is reasserting itself as the 2012 season revs up.
Curl, who frequently and hackishly psychoanalyzes the first lady from afar, asserts that Mrs. Obama "was already pretty angry, seemingly unhappy with just about everything," and offers this anecdote as evidence: "A few months into her job as first lady, her French counterpart asked how she liked the gig: 'Don't ask!' she reportedly spat. 'It's hell. I can't stand it!' " (That report, from a British tabloid's review of a book on Carla Bruni, was denied both by Bruni and Mrs. Obama.)
The citing of ill-sourced, flatly denied tabloid rumor, however, can be considered the high point of Curl's screed.
In an August 28 Washington Times op-ed, Joseph Curl wrote that first lady Michelle Obama "doesn't seem all that happy with the man she married 19 years ago." Curl further asked, "Man, how miserable is Michelle Obama?" and provided analysis of the first lady's actions, writing that "a look at just this past month is illuminating." From the Times:
Man, how miserable is Michelle Obama?
About 2½ years into her ceremonial stint as first lady, Mrs. Obama seems to have had quite enough of the gig. More to the point, she doesn't seem to have ever warmed to the second-fiddle slot as other first ladies before her did. And even more than that, she doesn't seem all that happy with the man she married 19 years ago.
A look at just this past month is illuminating.
Then, we see the pictures. First, a shot of an unsmiling Michelle in the presidential limousine. Next to her, in the shadows, a grim husband. Unseen in the photo are the daughters, who sit across from her. But Michelle is tuned out: She's plugged into an iPod, neither willing nor able to listen to anyone.
Then, another photo. Mrs. Obama was going to stay on Martha's Vineyard when her husband returned Saturday ahead of the hurricane, but White House aides quickly nixed the idea. Upon arrival at Andrews Air Force Base, about to descend the stairs on her private 747, she could not have looked more grim. Her husband -- the president -- didn't look too happy, either.
No, there's something going on there. How else to explain all those vacations away from President Obama -- to Florida, California, South Africa, Latin America, Colorado, Spain? (That last trip was also a "mother-daughter" jaunt, although along for the ride were 40 "family" friends and a security squad of 75 agents.) How else to explain her decision not to accompany her husband to Chicago the day before his 50th birthday, when the first couple could have spent the night in their real home?
The Washington Times must have come up short when it went looking for opportunities to criticize President Obama today.
A number of world leaders, including President Obama, were slated to attend the funeral of Polish President Lech Kaczynski today in Krakow but were thwarted by volcanic ash from an eruption in Iceland, which has grounded many flights in Europe. The Associated Press reported that "[a]ll airports in Poland were closed Saturday to flights above the cloud level of 20,000 feet because of the ash cloud, including Balice in Krakow, where most of the dignitaries were expected to arrive Sunday morning." French President Nicolas Sarkozy and German Chancellor Angela Merkel, along with "numerous" other world leaders, also cancelled plans to attend the funeral.
So what is the Washington Times headline of Joseph Curl's article on the subject?
"Obama skips Polish funeral, heads to golf course."
With a headline that makes it sound like Obama just decided he'd rather go play golf than attend Kaczynski's funeral, it seems that the Times is trying to suggest that President Obama is responsible for the volcanic eruption in Iceland. Kind of a stretch, even for the desperate-to-attack-Obama Washington Times.
Back in March, we noted that numerous media figures had highlighted claims that President Obama's "plate" is too "full," suggested he has "bit off more than he can chew." Since the unsuccessful Christmas Day terrorist attack, conservative media figures have taken this meme in a new direction, asserting that the administration was unable to predict the attempted attack because they were too "distracted" by domestic priorities.
Fox & Friends' Gretchen Carlson advanced the theme today, claiming there are "people asking" if the White House was "too distracted" by "health care reform and cap and trade" to properly focus on national security. Similarly, The Washington Times' online poll question of the day asks, "Has President Obama's domestic agenda prevented him from properly addressing the terrorism threat against the United States?" while Joseph Curl's article in the paper uncritically channels the Republican Party's answer of "Yes."
This is ridiculous for any number of reasons (for instance, it seems unlikely that the CIA and State Department didn't keep the alleged terrorist off the plane because they were too busy trying to pass health care), but here's my take: If the Obama administration has been negligent for trying to simultaneously handle issues of domestic policy and national security, how horribly derelict in their duty was the Bush administration?
After all, in the fall of 2001 - in the very months after the September 11 attacks! - the Bush White House was working with congressional leaders on passage of the No Child Left Behind Act, the conference report of which passed in December of that year. America was under attack, and yet the president was busy trying to restructure the national education system!
Then in 2003, the Bush White House was "distracted" pushing a new massive piece of domestic legislation, Medicare Part D. And in 2005, they took their eye off the national security ball to try to "reform" Social Security.
It's amazing we're all still alive. Somehow, the federal government is capable of handling a number of different priorities at the same time. Go figure.
Joseph Curl and Matthew Mosk at the Washington Times came up with a heck of a non-story story today for the reportedly troubled newspaper, titled, "Top Republican lawmakers not invited to State Dinner." Take a look:
The print article ran on the Times' front page with the headline, "Obama's big tent leaves out GOP bigwigs; Dinner to honor India's leader." Slightly different, but it gets the same point across. From the headlines, one would think that Curl and Mosk had exposed President Obama as a biting partisan, who ran Republicans' invitations to the White House's first state dinner through the shredder while they eagerly awaited them at home. But one would have to read on.
As it turns out, Obama did invite "top Republican lawmakers." They just aren't attending. Let's run through the list of Republicans the Times names in its story, despite its headline:
House Minority Leader John Boehner: He certainly counts as a "top Republican lawmaker." Curl and Mosk write that "Boehner won't be there; he's on Thanksgiving break and home in Ohio." Left out of their story? That Boehner was reportedly invited.
Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell: Also a "top Republican" who "received an invitation" but "decided to skip the dinner."
Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal: He was invited, according to the Times, because he is a "prominent Indian-American." You could make a pretty solid argument that Jindal rose quickly in the GOP's ranks after they chose him to give a rebuttal to Obama's first address to Congress. At the time, the Times even decided that Jindal sounded pretty presidential.
Sen. John McCain: Not invited. The Times writes that this is despite the fact that "Obama the candidate pledged a post-partisan presidency."
House Minority Whip Eric Cantor: Not invited.
So let's recap: Mosk and Curl named five Republicans in their story who are "not on the A-list" for the White House's state dinner, two of which were apparently not invited. But they frame their story as "Top Republican lawmakers not invited to State Dinner." And of course, the clearest indication that this is a non-story is that Drudge has taken the bait by linking to the article with the outrageously false headline: "Not invited: Republican lawmakers..." Let's hope Times readers can wade through the muck and decide what's actually news today.
In a September 10 article, The Washington Times' Joseph Curl falsely claimed that President Obama "cut out" a line about "bring[ing] the best ideas of both parties together" from his prepared remarks during his September 9 address to the joint session of Congress. In fact, not only did Obama not "cut out" the line about working in a bipartisan manner to achieve health care reform, Curl's own paper quoted Obama as delivering it.
From Joseph Curl's July 29 Washington Times column:
Tuesday's vote on the Supreme Court nomination of Judge Sonia Sotomayor was so far in the bag that minutes before the Senate Judiciary Committee took a roll call, Chairman Patrick J. Leahy was on his cell phone, chatting and smiling and having a grand old time.
The Vermont Democrat had already drawn laughter from the crowd in Hart 216 when he said, "I look forward to a bipartisan vote."
While Mr. Leahy is legally blind in one eye, the fourth-most senior member of the Senate surely had no illusion that Republicans would support the self-described "wise Latina woman."
And they didn't. All but one voted against the first Hispanic nominee to the high court, and several seemed miffed at President Obama and his so-called "empathy standard -- his belief that judges should mine their compassion in addition to having a deference to the Constitution.
From Joseph Curl's July 14 Washington Times column:
Sen. Lindsey Graham, South Carolina Republican, did not take a clear stand on the balls-and-strikes issue, but did bring up a bitter defeat for his party stretching all the way back to 2001.
"No Republican would have chosen you, judge, that's just the way it is," he said to Judge Sotomayor, who looked at times as if she were on the verge of tears. "We would have picked Miguel Estrada," a Honduran-born judge who was President George W. Bush's nominee for the Court of Appeals and became the first-ever appellate court hopeful blocked by a filibuster.
"He never had a chance to have this hearing," Mr. Graham said before making two stark admissions -- that the nominee would be approved unless she had a "complete meltdown" and that the hearing "is mostly about liberal and conservative politics more than it is about anything else."
The Washington Times' Joseph Curl juxtaposed the Obama administration's initiative in "clear[ing] out" Guantánamo detainees with former President Bush's recent remark that "there are people at Gitmo that will kill American people at a drop of a hat," advancing the conservative claim that Obama is threatening to undo Bush's Guantánamo policies, which kept the U.S. safe.
But on Thursday, the captain was among comrades -- Mr. Kerry is an old Navy man, as is ranking committee Republican, Sen. Richard G. Lugar, who served from 1956 to 1960. Mr. Kerry, who captained a Swift boat in Vietnam during the war, clearly enjoyed talking to a fellow seafarer.
But on Thursday, the captain was among comrades -- Mr. Kerry is an old Navy man, as is ranking committee Republican, Sen. Richard G. Lugar, who served from 1956 to 1960. Mr. Kerry, who captained a Swift boat in Vietnam during the war, clearly enjoyed a taste of the seaman.
Reporting on Maersk Alabama Captain Richard Phillips' appearance at an April 30 hearing presided over by Senate Foreign Relations Committee chairman John Kerry (D-MA) , The Washington Times' Joseph Curl wrote:
But on Thursday, the captain was among comrades - Mr. Kerry is an old Navy man, as is ranking committee Republican, Sen. Richard G. Lugar, who served from 1956 to 1960. Mr. Kerry, who captained a Swift boat in Vietnam during the war, clearly enjoyed a taste of the seaman.
Update: The Washington Times has changed the text so it now reads: "But on Thursday, the captain was among comrades -- Mr. Kerry is an old Navy man, as is ranking committee Republican, Sen. Richard G. Lugar, who served from 1956 to 1960. Mr. Kerry, who captained a Swift boat in Vietnam during the war, clearly enjoyed talking to a fellow seafarer."
In discussing Sen. Judd Gregg's decision to withdraw his nomination for commerce secretary, media outlets have echoed myths and falsehoods about the census, advancing conservative misinformation about potential census procedures, the Obama administration, and progressives.