As advocates prepare for oral arguments in the challenge to California's Proposition 8 and the federal Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA), the right-wing media, typified by The Wall Street Journal, is wrongly pushing the idea that ruling in favor of same-sex couples would lead to the problems they claim resulted from the Court's Roe v. Wade decision, which struck down laws banning abortions.
Perry v. Hollingsworth, which will be argued on March 26, is a challenge to a California constitutional provision that excludes same-sex couples from marriage. Windsor v. U.S., to be argued March 27, challenges a federal statute, Section 3 of DOMA, which denies married same-sex couples and their families protections and benefits provided to different-sex married couples under federal law.
Some in the right-wing media have taken this opportunity to push a parade of falsehoods about marriage equality. For example, after Sen. Rob Portman (R-OH) announced his support for marriage equality, which he attributed to having an out gay son, WND editor Joseph Farah wrote "I guess we should all be grateful Rob Portman's son didn't choose to become a polygamist or a serial killer." Fox News contributor Cal Thomas promoted the same myth that marriage equality leads to polygamy.
However, with support for marriage equality rapidly on the rise, this faulty logic is not likely to persuade a majority of Americans or of the justices. The right-wing media have pivoted to another scare tactic: if the Court strikes down democratically-enacted laws, then the country will have a political and cultural backlash similar to the one they say the Court unleashed in Roe v. Wade, which struck down abortion bans 40 years ago.
Radio host Rush Limbaugh attempted to draw this comparison between Roe and the gay marriage cases. On the March 25 edition of his radio show, Limbaugh claimed that the reason "abortion so roils our culture is that it hasn't been democratically decided. The Supreme Court, nine people in black robes just decided one day that abortion is in the Constitution, and that has led to constant acrimony."
Former federal Judge Michael McConnell invoked a similar argument when he wrote in an op-ed for The Wall Street Journal:
We learned from Roe v. Wade that the Supreme Court endangers its own legitimacy and exacerbates social conflict when it seeks to resolve moral-legal questions on which the country is deeply divided without a strong basis in the text of the Constitution. The court sometimes intervenes when the legislatures of the 50 states are approaching a consensus. When it jumps into a live political controversy, the justices look like they are acting like legislators.
A March 25 Wall Street Journal editorial states that "the two cases before the High Court are less about the institution of marriage than the sanctity of democratic institutions and the proper role of the courts." It warns against the Justices interrupting "the give-and-take on contentious moral and social issues the Constitution is designed to encourage." It compares this possibility to abortion:
The Supreme Court does not have a good record legislating cultural change. A ruling on behalf of same-sex marriage could enshrine Hollingsworth and Windsor with Roe v. Wade, the 1973 abortion decision that imposed a judicial diktat even as laws in many states were liberalizing. Instead of finding a rough consensus inside the political mainstream, abortion became an all-or-nothing combat that still rages.
This characterization of abortion laws 40 years ago is flatly inaccurate. As Linda Greenhouse, a veteran Supreme Court writer and lecturer at Yale Law School, and Yale Law Professor Reva Siegel wrote,
Before Roe, despite broad popular support, liberalization of abortion law had all but come to a halt in the face of concerted opposition by a Catholic-led minority. It was, in other words, decidedly not the case that abortion reform was on an inevitable march forward if only the Supreme Court had stayed its hand.
After Roe: The entanglement of abortion in party realignment explains how, over time, Republicans and Democrats came to switch position on the abortion issue, leaders before base, and assume their current polarized positions on abortion, an evolution that took nearly twenty years after the Court handed down Roe. Our paper argues that when you line up the evidence, political realignment better explains the timing and shape of political polarization around abortion than does a court-centered story of backlash.
To the question of whether one can avoid conflict over such issues by avoiding courts, the answer from an accurate pre-history of Roe v. Wade is: no. The abortion conflict escalated before the Supreme Court ruled.
And because a strong majority of Americans believes that Roe should not be overturned, Roe might not be a particularly persuasive cautionary tale.
With Sen. John Kerry's confirmation hearing as secretary of state scheduled for January 24, media reports will likely invoke the coordinated 2004 campaign to "Swift Boat" Kerry. While the smears from the Swift Boat Veterans for Truth (SBVT) have long-since fallen apart under scrutiny, Jerome Corsi, one of the masterminds behind the campaign, is revisiting his old attacks.
A look at Corsi's "reporting" during the 2008 campaign and Obama's presidency confirms what quickly became clear during his efforts to hamstring Kerry's presidential run: he has utterly no credibility and his alleged reporting should not be taken seriously by media outlets.
Prior to the 2004 election, with the backing of major Republican donors, Vietnam veteran John O'Neill co-founded SBVT in an attempt to derail Kerry's presidential bid by casting doubt on his military service. The group launched a series of dishonest ads in August of that year, accompanied by Unfit for Command, a book co-authored by O'Neill and Corsi. In its review of Unfit for Command in October 2004, The New York Times explained that while the book was filled with "discredited," "faulty" and "totally unconvincing" claims, if Kerry's presidential bid were to fail, the tome would "go down as a chief reason."
When the book was released, co-author Corsi was practically unknown in political circles. He was a regular poster at conservative message board Free Republic and worked at a financial marketing group. After Media Matters highlighted a series of offensive comments he had made at Free Republic -- including calling Muslims "ragheads" and "boy buggers" and labeling Hillary Clinton a "fat hog" -- Unfit for Command co-author John O'Neill repeatedly tried to distance himself from Corsi to tamp down the controversy. While O'Neill tried to claim Corsi merely helped edit Unfit for Command, Corsi was listed as co-author on the book jacket and promotional materials for the book touted his involvement in co-writing it.
Shortly before the 2004 election, Corsi was hired by conservative publication WorldNetDaily, which has served as his main outlet. During the 2008 campaign and Obama's presidency, Corsi has used his WND platform to promote a staggering number of outlandish conspiracies about the president, including that Obama has a fake birth certificate and stolen Social Security number; that Obama is both secretly gay and secretly Muslim; and that Obama and his family have lied about the true identity of his father, who may be either communist writer Frank Marshall Davis or "some Indonesian."
In this report:
- "Where's The Birth Certificate?": Corsi Is Leading Birther Conspiracy Theorist
- "Where's The Real Birth Certificate?": Corsi Led Charge To Declare Obama's Long-Form Fake
- "I've Always Thought The Father Was Indonesian": Corsi's Quest To Find Obama's "Real" Father
- Corsi: Obama Is Possibly Gay, Definitely A Muslim
- A Superhighway To The Education Camps
The strange story of Joseph Farah and the conservative Presidential Inaugural Prayer Breakfast has taken a bizarre turn, with the WorldNetDaily birther conspirator returning to the breakfast's list of distinguished guests and its organizer reportedly repudiating her repeated statements to Media Matters that she never intended to give Farah a leading role.
Rev. Merrie Turner, the top organizer for the January 21 event, told Media Matters on January 9 that Farah had been incorrectly listed as a program guest and she would seek to remove him.
"He was not invited to be involved," she said at that time in a phone interview. "He had permission to write an article about it and it's gone much further than that. That was the initial intent, I never met him before and I didn't know anything about his efforts."
Asked then if she would seek to keep Farah, who as CEO of WorldNetDaily has been the driving force behind conspiracies about President Obama's birth certificate, from being among the event's official speakers, Turner said, "Absolutely, this is not going to by any means be an event for anything being said negative about the president, that will not be allowed."
Turner also told Media Matters, "The fact that [Farah] actually ended up on some of the literature so far was not run by me, it was, it came through [keynote speaker] Mr. [Jonathan] Cahn, who is his friend. He is not on the speakers bureau... it was an error." Turner also claimed that she had never met Farah.
Since the Media Matters story ran, Turner has made no effort to contact Media Matters with any complaint about the report or any requests for corrections or clarifications about her comments.
On January 16, however, WorldNetDaily posted an article that questioned the story, claiming Turner was disavowing the comments she made to Media Matters.
WorldNetDaily founder and birther conspiracy theorist Joseph Farah will not be among the speakers at a right-wing Presidential Inaugural Prayer Breakfast according to the event's organizer, who criticized his work and said he had been incorrectly listed as a featured guest. It's surprising that Farah is considered too toxic to speak at the event -- which his publication had promoted -- considering the history of its organizer and other reported attendees.
Rev. Merrie Turner, the conservative pastor who is hosting the event and says she has done so since 1993, told Media Matters, "It is against my beliefs to be openly targeting someone like the president of our country, we have enough enemies outside the country."
Turner said Farah's name had been wrongly listed among the speakers headlining the January 21 event and would be removed: "It was incorrectly picked up by our staff, I am going to be correcting that." Farah's website had also reported that he was a "distinguished guest" who was "scheduled to appear at the breakfast to lead prayers for the nation."
Farah is the founder and CEO of WorldNetDaily, the conservative website that has been the driving force behind conspiracies about President Obama's birth certificate and a wide range of other outlandish and incendiary theories.
Prayer breakfast materials still list Rep. Michelle Bachmann and televangelist Pat Robertson as "Special Guests & Speakers" for the event. But Farah's name has been removed since Media Matters contacted the organization. His name still appears in a press release announcing the event, and a flyer linked to on the prayer breakfast site also features Farah's name and picture.
Asked if she was aware of Farah's past anti-Obama work, Turner said, "I was not, honestly."
"He was not invited to be involved. He had permission to write an article about it and it's gone much further than that. That was the initial intent, I never met him before and I didn't know anything about his efforts," Rev. Turner added.
Farah and Bachmann's office did not respond to repeated requests for comment.
Asked if she will seek to keep Farah from being among the official speakers, Turner said, "Absolutely, this is not going to by any means be an event for anything being said negative about the president, that will not be allowed."
Despite Turner's suggestion that Farah didn't fit the theme of the event due to his history of anti-Obama commentary, both Turner and other scheduled speakers have their own history of outrageous remarks.
A large group of conservative activists and media figures -- including CNN's Erick Erickson and WND.com founder Joseph Farah - have published an open letter to House and Senate Republicans threatening them not to compromise in any way with the "leftist agenda" of the Obama White House and congressional Democrats, as reported by Ari Melber of The Nation. Aside from raising the specter of primary challenges for apostates, the signatories insist that the election actually showed that America is clamoring for conservatism.
According to the letter: "In the House, the nation elected in 2012 one of the largest Republican majorities in the past 100 years. You have a mandate to fight for conservative principles that is arguably much broader than the one that narrowly reelected President Barack Obama claims to have for his leftist agenda."
"Arguably." Indeed, one could argue that the reelection of the House Republican majority supersedes both the reelection of the Democratic president and the expansion of the Democratic Senate majority. There are just a few things you have to disregard: logical sense, the hard reality of the tax situation, and the available polling that shows public confidence in Democrats and the White House regarding the so-called "fiscal cliff."
Taking National Rifle Association conspiracy theories to the next level, WorldNetDaily founder Joseph Farah is suggesting that President Obama might be spurring gun sales so that he can later confiscate those weapons after the occurrence of "civil strife" or "armed rebellion." According to Farah, Obama will do this because his "real goal -- the objective he has in common with all true leftists and socialists -- is to create chaos."
I have always believed Obama's real goal - the objective he has in common with all true leftists and socialists - is to create chaos. As a former leftist, I understand the paradigm. It's classic Cloward-Pivens [sic] strategy. Obama seeks "to heighten the contradictions of capitalism," as they say. He does a lot of crazy things to further that objective - to prove, if you will, that America is incapable of self-government, that smart people like him and Michelle are needed to guide our every move.
Maybe he wants to create civil strife. Maybe he wants to foment armed rebellion. Maybe he realizes that would provide him cover to take sweeping and repressive actions that effectively subvert the Constitution.
In Farah's disillusioned reality, Obama is planning to end private firearm ownership while acting as the driving force behind gun sales. As Farah puts it, "There's a lot of irony here to digest."
In the wake of President Obama's re-election, right-wing media outlets and figures compared the president to a dictator, called for a revolution, and baselessly suggested impeachment.
In his latest column, WND editor Joseph Farah takes the right-wing media's misreading of President Obama's declaration of executive privilege with regard to some documents concerning the ATF's failed Operation Fast and Furious sought by congressional Republicans to its "logical" conclusion: President Obama has declared himself, "quite possibly, an accessory to murder." From the piece:
Now understand what this means. Obama cannot claim executive privilege for any member of his administration. He can only do so for himself and his inner circle of advisers, and should never do so unless it's a matter of national security.
What Obama did, in apparent desperation, was to expose his own personal complicity in this scandal, making him, quite possibly, an accessory to murder.
Can you imagine how big this scandal is and how far it reaches for the administration to take such a gamble?
Farah's point appears to be that by claiming executive privilege for these documents, Obama has acknowledged personal involvement in the authorization of Fast and Furious, and thus, since guns trafficked to Mexico through that program were used to kill people, he could be an "accessory" to those murders.
This doesn't make any sense.
First of all, the documents in question don't deal with the authorization of Operation Fast and Furious, but rather the administration's response to congressional inquiries in response to that operation. Even if Obama was directly involved in that response, it would in no way indicate his "personal complicity in" the operation.
But the administration has not claimed executive privilege on the basis of the president's personal involvement. Which brings us to another problem with Farah's column: his statement that "Obama cannot claim executive privilege for any member of his administration" is simply not true.
As Ohio State University law professor Peter Shane wrote at CNN.com this morning, the Obama administration has claimed deliberative privilege with regard to the documents in question, which "aims to protect documents generated anywhere in the executive branch that embody only the executive's internal deliberations, not final policy decisions."
For conservatives, it never gets old. It's 2012 and Obama's dedicated media foes are still writing about his possible foreign birthplace.
But now, in a confusing twist, conservatives are demanding the mainstream press pay great attention to the latest Kenya-related blip-of-a-revelation, that a 21-year-old publishing pamphlet not meant for public distribution erroneously claimed that Obama had been born in Kenya. (The author of the pamphlet insists it was a simple mistake.) One Breitbart blogger is now insisting that the press take this story very, very seriously and follow it up with detailed reports. And if journalists don't, well, that's just proof that the liberal media is covering for Obama.
Please note that up until very recently, conservatives were making the exact opposite claim. You'll recall that birtherism, according to some right-wing pundits, was a liberal media conspiracy and the only reason the story lived on was because the Obama-loving press wouldn't stop writing about it in hopes of making the president's opponents look like "right-wing nutjob kooks." (Hint: They didn't need any help.)
The claim, of course, was pure fiction. Last year, it was Fox News that went all-in on the birther story and gave Donald Trump a national platform to embarrass himself with his birth certificate expedition.
Nonetheless, right-wing commentators were in heated agreement: Talk of Obama's birthplace was a deliberate "distraction" cooked up by the press and the White House to keep people's minds off the real issues of the day.
If so, then Breitbart.com is now part of that vast left-wing conspiracy, as the site has morphed into a clearinghouse this week with scores of blog posts about burning questions that surround Obama's birthplace. Or at least the burning question that surrounds a 1991 pamphlet that mentioned his birthplace.
Team Breitbart is making all the strenuous claim that by raising questions about Obama being listed as "Born in Kenya" on an old publishing pamphlet, and blogging about the topic incessantly, they're not wallowing in birtherism. But it's a distinction without a difference, really. Either you purposefully feed this conspiratorial jibberish or you don't.
This week there has been lots of feeding going on and naturally it's been loudly promoted by professional birthers, such as Joseph Farah, who heralded the Breitbart pamphlet story as a "breakthrough." (Although Farah was upset the Breitbart crew was "still reticent about publishing this blockbuster for fear of being labeled 'birthers.'") Breitbart.com contributor Pam Geller also held up the pamphlet story as validation of her previous birther nonsense.
Last year, Karl Rove and Bill O'Reilly, two birther non-believers, were lamenting the story's astonishing staying power when Rove noted, "Every moment that conservatives talk about this, they marginalize and diminish themselves in the minds of independent voters."
Rove and others please take note, it wasn't the liberal media or the Obama White House that forced the entire right-wing blogosphere to, once again, wallow in questions about Obama's birthplace this week. That dubious distinction came from within the heart of the conservative movement, Breitbart.com.
UPDATED: According to a Breitbart post today, the press is now ignoring, or covering up, the site's birther scoop. So, last year the press protected Obama by hyping the birther story. Now the press is protecting Obama by not hyping the birther story.
Declaring that he "has had enough" of "national news programs" that mislead American voters, Fox News host Bill O'Reilly said he will now aim to tell viewers "every time I see craziness in the national media during the campaign." However, the examples of "craziness" O'Reilly cited, including the myth that "Obama was not born in America," have all been promoted on Fox News -- something he did not mention.
From the January 31 edition of Fox News' Hannity:
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Joseph Farah is annoyed. The editor of WorldNetDaily and prominent birther has discovered that questioning the eligibility of a presidential candidate can be a distraction.
Here's how Farah begins his January 13 WND column:
How do these things get started?
No wonder people are so confused about the issues of the day.
I am literally deluged with emails from Americans insisting that Mitt Romney is not constitutionally eligible to be president.
It's not true.
Really? The man whose website is so obsessed with the eligibility of Barack Obama to be president that it ignores facts and descends into the realm of absurdity is wondering how such things "get started"?
Furthermore, while I remain a strong advocate of the position that Obama is not eligible for a variety of reasons, I have never made this assertion based on the fact that I detest everything for which he stands. That assertion is based on fact, on reality, on verifiable truth.
Given his willingness to overlook overwhelming evidence to the contrary, it's difficult to believe that Farah would be such a "strong advocate" of Obama's purported ineligibility if he did not "detest everything for which he stands." As for Farah's claim that his assertion "is based on fact, on reality, on verifiable truth," this ignores reality as well. For example, a new book debunks many birther claims, and one prominent birther, Philip Berg, has shot down the WND-promoted idea that Obama is using a fake Social Security number. Curiously, WND has yet to report on either of these things, and WND's Jerome Corsi has refused to debate the book's author about his conclusions.
Farah then complains again that questions about Romney's eligibility is becoming a distraction to "my team at WND":
So can you please stop writing to me and to my team at WND with suggestions that Mitt Romney fails the constitutional eligibility test? It's not true.
I don't think he gets a passing grade on understanding and interpreting the Constitution, but - unfortunately, from my perspective - he passes the litmus test for serving as president.
Can we move on to more substantive issues in this campaign?
Presumably, Farah and his WND team don't think eligibility questions about Obama are a distraction from "more substantive issues," even though no factual basis for them exists.
While there's plenty of well-deserved blame to go around for Penn State's handling of the horrific abuse scandal at their school, some conservatives have determined that there's a larger villain that deserves the lion's share of responsibility for what happened.
Opponents of equal rights for gays and lesbians often resort to the canard that tolerance of homosexuality damages the very fabric of our nation and does nebulous (though grave) harm to families and society as a whole.
Because their predictions of things like "anarchy" in New York in the event of the legalization of gay marriage never pan out, anti-gay activists are forced to make absurd leaps of logic in order to blame acceptance of homosexuality for a whole host of society's ills.
Enter Joseph Farah, editor of conservative website WorldNetDaily, who holds the impressive distinction of managing to stand out as a crackpot even among the fever swamps of far-right conservative online media.
In a WND column titled, "Penn State: A comfortable place for child rape," Farah says, "There are new rules in effect regarding what types of sexual behavior is appropriate and lawful." Farah posits that these "new rules" have moved "the lines between right and wrong sexual behavior" and that these "sudden moral changes ... may explain why our system failed the victimized children in the sex scandal at Penn State."
The "new rules" Farah refers to are, predictably, the fact that homosexuality is no longer viewed as a "disorder" and a "perversion," but is accepted (or, as Farah puts it, "considered a virtue").
Sean Hannity hosted WorldNetDaily (WND) founder Joseph Farah on his Fox News show to discuss whether the allegations against GOP presidential candidate Herman Cain are valid "from a journalistic perspective." Yet Farah has a long history of outrageous statements, smears, and conspiracy theories.
The right-wing media have spent much of this month sniping at President Obama for taking a vacation. Now, some are taking the criticism up a notch, venturing into racially charged territory in the process.
In an August 22 column, WorldNetDaily founder and editor Joseph Farah wrote that "You won't hear me complain that Obama is taking his 17th vacation in the last two-and-half years," adding: "We should be grateful the man has no work ethic. Just imagine the damage he would have done to the country if he did." Farah also asserted that Obama "vacations more than any of his predecessors," which is simply false.
Then, in his August 23 column, WND's Burt Prelutsky took a break from hurling epithets like "loathsome" and "Chicago cockroach" at Obama to declare: "I wouldn't care if Obama was a Muslim if he weren't such an arrogant, lazy, snotty, lying socialist."
That's twice this week that WND columnists have portrayed Obama as lazy. The idea of the lazy black man is among the hoariest bits of stereotypical racial imagery out there, as we noted when Fox News' Eric Bolling described Obama as "chugging 40s" and having "hoodlums in the hizzouse."
It's not the first time that the birther-obsessed WND branch of anti-Obama activism has ventured into this territory. Last year, the WND-affiliated Western Journalism Center published an article with the headline "Is Obama Stupid and Lazy?"