National Review Online is attacking the Department of Justice's decision to hold the state of Louisiana accountable for apparently failing to comply with the terms of several longstanding court orders, incorrectly framing these enforcement efforts as an attempt to force minority students to attend failing schools.
This is not the first time that the NRO has advanced these outlandish claims against the DOJ and the Obama administration, but they continue to be dishonest. From a September 24 column on NRO's The Corner:
The Department of Justice's fight against school vouchers for poor children in Louisiana has not been popular, and the Obama administration knows it. So last night, in a particularly cynical move, the DOJ filed an additional motion, amending its suit in phrasing but not spirit.
This political maneuvering threatens the future of thousands of minority children who may soon be banished to failing schools.
The DOJ is making two main demands: First, it wants information about how the voucher program would affect the racial composition of public schools; and second, it wants parents to get pre-clearance from federal courts before they're allowed to transfer their own children to a school of their choice.
And if the DOJ succeeds, that would have repercussions not only within Louisiana, which has emerged as a national school-choice leader, but also across the United States; education reformers would have to assess how offering academic options to parents and their children might affect "desegregation."
The DOJ filed its suit because Louisiana is under numerous federal court orders that require the state to assess the impact of new educational policies on decades-long efforts to desegregate Louisiana public schools, not because it believes, as NRO puts it, "Minority kids mustn't leave for better schools." Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal ignored this legal obligation and went ahead with a voucher program before providing any information to the court regarding its effects, even after the DOJ warned the voucher program appeared to have "impeded the desegregation process."
Joining others in right-wing media, Fox News is using the GOP convention as an opportunity to push preferred candidates for Mitt Romney's cabinet. For example, on the August 29 edition of Fox & Friends, Gretchen Carlson promoted the prospect of Rudolph Giuliani serving as Attorney General in a Romney administration. However, in their endorsement of Giuliani for the position of the nation's chief law enforcement officer and legal advisor, the Fox News hosts did not mention Giuliani's patronage of convicted former Department of Homeland Security nominee Bernard Kerik, or Giuliani's questionable record on the protection of civil rights and liberties as Mayor of New York City.
Another chapter in the right-wing media's campaign against Attorney General Eric Holder was launched yesterday as they attacked Holder's efforts to discourage people from violating the District Of Columbia's gun laws as detailed in a speech Holder gave in 1995. Not surprisingly the 17-year-old speech about trying to convince young men not to illegally carry guns instantly became the latest excuse to use the ATF's failed Operation Fast and Furious to attack Holder.
Following Breitbart.com's release of a short portion of Holder's speech, Glenn Beck's The Blaze, The Daily Caller and Breitbart.com's own Mary Chastain all pushed the highly tenuous connection to Operation Fast and Furious. As Media Matters noted this morning, Holder's speech addressed his role of U.S. Attorney for the District of Columbia and efforts to teach young people in the city that "it's not hip to carry a gun anymore," an action that was illegal in the District Of Columbia at the time.
The Blaze opened with the suggestion that "New video of Eric Holder from 1995 has surfaced, and it may put "Fast and Furious" in a much broader perspective." The Daily Caller similarly suggested a connection saying "The revelation that Holder wanted to "brainwash" people into being "anti-gun" appears to be supported by what Congress and the American people have learned about Operation Fast and Furious." Breitbart.com's Chastain asserted that Fast and Furious was about providing Holder with "material" for the "anti-gun curriculum" described in this 1995 speech.
Despite a tremendous amount of hand waving, these attacks fail to personally link Holder to the initiation or approval of the controversial tactics used in Fast and Furious. As accurately noted by Charlie Savage in his December New York Times profile of Holder, "no documents or testimony" have disproved Holder's statement that he didn't know about Fast and Furious as it was underway.
Further, Bush-era investigations featured similar 'gun walking' tactics as those used in Fast and Furious. Rather then suggesting those investigations were gun control plots, Fox News and right-wing media outlets rushed to defend the Bush-era programs. The Democratic staff of the House Oversight Committee released a report in January documenting the three similar operations conducted under the Bush administration out of the ATF's Arizona offices.
Neither the Bush-era gun walking investigations or the dearth of evidence regarding Holder's purported connections to the tactics used in Fast and Furious have slowed down the right-wing media's increasingly nonsensical attacks against Holder.
This morning's edition of Fox News' America's Newsroom hosted Tea Party Nation founder Judson Phillips to discuss efforts by Tea Party leaders to pressure Republican congressional leadership regarding the ATF's failed Operation Fast and Furious.
Media Matters has previously noted that Phillips has a questionable claim to genuine Tea Party leadership and has made many inflammatory, conspiratorial and extremist statements that call into question the media's treatment of Phillips as either a mainstream or authoritative Tea Party figure.
Not surprisingly, Phillips spent the interview promoting the right-wing conspiracy theory that Fast and Furious was a plot to promote gun control instead of a failed law enforcement investigation. Phillips:
It [Fast and Furious] should be investigated, but we also have to remember the program itself was a partisan program. This was never a law enforcement sting as you described it earlier, this was purely a political operation. You send the guns down to Mexico, therefore you support the political narrative that the Obama administration wanted supported; that all these American guns are flooding Mexico, that they're the cause of the violence in Mexico and therefore we need draconian gun control laws here in America. So because the whole operation itself was political, yes by all means Congress should be all over this.
The suggestion that Fast and Furious was a gun control plot became a central talking point for the gun lobby last year and Fox News has been glad to help promote the conspiracy theory in spite of a report by House Oversight Committee chairman Rep. Darrell Issa (R-CA) and Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-IA) saying the purpose of Fast and Furious was to "identify other members of a trafficking network and build a large, complex conspiracy case."
Last month right-wing blogger Mike Vanderboegh accepted the "David and Goliath Award" for "intrepid" investigative journalism from Jews for the Preservation of Firearms Ownership (JPFO). The now-award winning "journalist" spent the past few days repeatedly posting a photoshopped image of Attorney General Eric Holder dressed in a Nazi officer's uniform.
Apparently having even a modicum of taste isn't part of JPFO's idea of award-winning journalism.
Vanderboegh is most well known for encouraging people to throw bricks through the windows of Democratic offices and has been featured on Fox News in recent months. Beyond his call to vandalism, Vanderboegh has a history of activism with militias, the extremist "three percenters," and the Minutemen border vigilante group, and has promoted Oklahoma City bombing conspiracy theories.
Vanderboegh is clearly a big fan of Photoshop. This weekend's Holder photo is based on a photo Wehrmacht Field Marshall Friedrich von Paulus with an Iron Cross across the neck and the Nazi's Third Reich symbol of an eagle atop a swastika pinned to his chest. He's also posted a picture of former Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives chief Ken Melson at the Nuremberg war crime tribunals.
Roger Ailes, Glenn Beck and Bill O'Reilly have all likened opponents to Nazis. Maybe Vanderboegh is auditioning to be a regular Fox News correspondent.
Fox News' Fox & Friends hosted the network's favorite disgruntled storyteller, J. Christian Adams, to complain about his former employer, the U.S. Department of Justice, and hawk his new book, "Injustice," which is out today. While on the curvy couch, interviewer Gretchen Carlson gave Adams the green light to talk at length about phony allegations that President Obama's DOJ dismissed their case against the New Black Panthers and enforces the law with an anti-white agenda.
It's no surprise that Adams' book tour would find a home on Fox News. After Adams pushed his claims in a two-part interview on Fox News' America Live last summer, Fox devoted hours of coverage to hyping the myths about the New Black Panther Party voter intimidation case.
Unsurprisingly, Adams' interview this morning did not delve into the results of the DOJ's extensive investigation into these allegations. In a March letter to Rep. Lamar Smith (R-TX), Robin Ashton of the Justice Department's Office of Professional Responsibility wrote that their investigation found that "department attorneys did not commit professional misconduct," and that there was "no evidence" that their decisions were improperly affected by political considerations or by the race of the defendants.
During their interview, Adams repeatedly pushed the falsehood that the DOJ dismissed the case against the New Black Panthers.
CARLSON: So let's go back to the Black Panther situation. You decide to come out and tell your side of the story, which was what?
ADAMS: Well, that they dismissed the case because there's a hostility to enforcing the law in a race neutral fashion. In the Black Panther case, the victims were white. The defendants were black and those were the sorts of things many people in the department don't want to enforce.
Adams failed to mention that it was the Bush DOJ who decided not to pursue criminal charges against the New Black Panther Party and that the Obama DOJ obtained a judgment against one of the defendants in the case.
The right-wing has labeled the Department of Justice's decision to block the merger of AT&T and T-Mobile as politically motivated and anti-jobs. In fact, experts say the DOJ's decision was based on clear violations of antitrust laws and would both protect consumers and prevent significant job loss.
Thus far, the Freedom Of Information Act lawsuit that PajamasMedia.com filed against the U.S. Department of Justice has resulted in the disclosure of dozens of DOJ employee resumes and nine largely ignored columns by Hans von Spakovsky, J. Christian Adams and Richard Pollock.
"Every Single One" is their ongoing series of posts that tediously tick off the prior work experiences of DOJ lawyers followed by commentary declaring them unabashed left-wing radicals. Ostensibly, the point of the exercise is to establish a case that the administration of President Obama is engaging in the same kind of politicized hiring at DOJ that President Bush was found to have done. Their work has been an utter failure.
Von Spakovsky et al have provided no evidence of politicized hiring practices and have been content to make the lazy claim that, given "every single one" of the latest DOJ hires is liberal, improper procedures must have been used. Unfortunately, they've failed even at this. In order to make their case that every DOJ hire is liberal, they've concocted a definition of liberal so broad that even Pollack himself likely would have to be labeled as a radical leftist.
Are you a right-winger with an axe to grind and a book to sell? Having trouble getting anyone to pay attention to your expensive non-story about liberal evildoers? Then call Caroline May, intrepid reporter for Tucker Carlson's The Daily Caller! The Caller has substantial experience repeating verbatim the politically-tinged accusations made by right-wing figures, and May knows just how to conceal your conservative credentials in an effort to make your story seem credible.
In the latest example of ethical subterfuge, May has written a news story that repeats the claims by conservative bloggers J. Christian Adams and Hans von Spakovsky that the hiring practices at the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) "have become politicized under Attorney General Eric Holder and the Obama Administration."
Importantly, May doesn't turn a critical eye to the research methods used by Adams and Spakovsky to come to their conclusion that "every single new hire" at DOJ's Civil Rights Division "boasted far-left resumes," she simply pushes their complaints forward. More importantly, May -- for the second time -- completely omits any mention that Adams and Spakovsky played a central role in the saga of politicization at DOJ under President Bush.
May's story is only newsworthy if the "former Department of Justice officials" (Adams and von Spakovsky) she cites are trustworthy sources whose call for investigation is objectively warranted and not based on an ulterior political motive. It's ethically imperative, then, that their significant right-wing backgrounds are disclosed so that readers can fairly assess the credibility of their work and their claims. May does not even attempt this.
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."
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.