National Review Online blogger Ed Whelan is trying to aid the unprecedented obstruction tactics Senate Republicans are using to block President Obama's nominees.
On June 20, 2012, American Bar Association president William T. Robinson III sent a letter to Sens. Harry Reid (D-NV) and Mitch McConnell (R-KY) urging that the Senate hold confirmation votes on three judicial nominees who had strong bipartisan support but were being blocked despite the merits of their nominations. Whelan, a blogger with significant influence in the media and Capitol Hill, responded to the letter by saying: "A Senate staffer in the know tells me that the ABA never sent a similar letter on behalf of George W. Bush's nominees."
But it would have been impossible for the ABA to send a "similar letter" on behalf of President George W. Bush's judicial nominees, because Bush's judicial nominees were not subject to the type of obstruction experienced by the Obama nominees in question.
As the ABA noted in its letter, Obama nominees William Kayatta, Jr., Robert Bacharach, and Richard Taranto "are consensus nominees who have received overwhelming approval from the Senate Judiciary Committee." In addition, Kayatta and Bacharach have "the staunch support of" the Republican senators from their home states. And Taranto, who is nominated to a court with nationwide jurisdiction, has the "endorsement of noted conservative legal scholars."
Nevertheless, Senate Republicans have announced that they are blocking all three of these nominees along with every single one of Obama's judicial nominees until after the presidential election, regardless of whether they would be good judges.
Despite pouring millions of dollars into ads attacking President Obama for supporting clean energy, Republican strategist and Fox News political analyst Karl Rove expressed his support this week for extending tax incentives for wind power. His remarks stand in stark contrast to the conservative media's push to eliminate federal support for renewable energy.
For months, the conservative media have been spreading falsehoods about wind energy to make the case against extending the production tax credit (PTC), which is set to expire at the end of this year. The most recent example is an op-ed by Paul Driessen at The Washington Times, which rattles off a series of myths about wind power's impact on human health and the environment, and its ability to compete with fossil fuels. Last month, a Wall Street Journal editorial suggested that the wind industry will never be "economically sustainable" without government subsidies. A Washington Times editorial concurred, calling wind power "hopelessly uneconomic."
In fact, wind power is increasingly affordable, thanks in large part to the PTC. According to an analysis by the Brookings Institution, the Breakthrough Institute and the World Resources Institute, the tax credit lowers the cost of new wind power to make it "broadly competitive with new gasfired generation." A Bloomberg New Energy Finance report found that some wind farms "already produce power as economically as coal, gas and nuclear generators," and predicted that "the average wind farm will be fully competitive by 2016."
U.S. wind capacity has expanded rapidly in recent years, and the Department of Energy estimates that wind could meet up to 20% of our electricity needs by 2030. But the PTC is vital to the American wind industry's continued success. Extending the tax credit would create or save 54,000 jobs in the next four years, according to a study by Navigant Consulting.
For these reasons, the tax credit enjoys broad bipartisan support among politicians, business leaders, and environmentalists -- and now, even Karl Rove. The conservative media stands out in its opposition to a policy that has facilitated the growth of a promising industry and supported thousands of green, American jobs.
In a National Review blog post, Katrina Trinko falsely accused Massachusetts Senate candidate Elizabeth Warren of plagiarism. She alleged that Warren lifted passages for her 2005 book All Your Worth, which she co-wrote with her daughter Amelia Warren Tyagi, from another book:
Trinko has since deleted that blog post and published a correction:
I took down my earlier post on Elizabeth Warren plagiarizing from the book Getting On the Money Track. On Amazon.com, the Warren book All Your Worth is listed as having been published January 9, 2006. As it turns out, that is the paperback publication date; the hardback book was published in March 2005. As such, it appears that Getting on the Money Track (published in October 2005) plagiarized from All Your Worth, not the other way around.
I apologize for the error.
On Fox News' flagship news program, Special Report, guest host Shannon Bream repeated National Review's false report:
Will Special Report issue a correction on Monday?
On May 17, The New York Times reported on a plan presented to Joe Rickett's Ending Spending Action Fund that would highlight controversial remarks made by Reverend Jeremiah Wright and link these remarks to President Obama. Soon after the report received widespread coverage, the Romney campaign rejected the attack on Obama, despite having brought up Rev. Wright himself in Sean Hannity's radio show as recently as February. After having obsessed about Rev. Wright in the 2008 election, the right-wing media reacted to the decision by lamenting the opportunity to reignite the attack.
The New York Times article reported that in a report titled "The Defeat of Barack Hussein Obama," a "group of high-profile Republican strategists" proposed a plan that:
[C]alls for running commercials linking Mr. Obama to incendiary comments by his former spiritual adviser, the Rev. Jeremiah A. Wright Jr., whose race-related sermons made him a highly charged figure in the 2008 campaign.
"The world is about to see Jeremiah Wright and understand his influence on Barack Obama for the first time in a big, attention-arresting way," says the proposal, which was overseen by Fred Davis and commissioned by Joe Ricketts, the founder of the brokerage firm TD Ameritrade.
The $10 million plan, one of several being studied by Mr. Ricketts, includes preparations for how to respond to the charges of race-baiting it envisions if it highlights Mr. Obama's former ties to Mr. Wright, who espouses what is known as "black liberation theology."
The group suggested hiring as a spokesman an "extremely literate conservative African-American" who can argue that Mr. Obama misled the nation by presenting himself as what the proposal calls a "metrosexual, black Abe Lincoln."
But the right-wing media has not followed Romney as he has attempted to distance himself from the ad campaign.
A story bubbled up in the right-wing media suggesting that the White House requires "that unborn children get security clearance" if their parents want to tour the building. The reporting was based on an email from the White House that instructs potential visitors about "how to enter security information for a baby that has not yet been born."
The Daily Caller, Washington Free Beacon, Drudge Report, National Review Online, and Fox Nation all highlighted this story and presented it in the context of President Obama's support for abortion rights.
However, a closer reading of the email shows that expecting parents are required to fill out security information for a child who is not yet born only if they anticipate giving birth by the time they want to visit the White House. The email clearly refers to "newborns" and gives instructions for what to do once "the baby is born."
The Huffington Post spoke to a representative from the Secret Service who said that "all White House guests are required to provide information at the time of their request for the tour, including for children and infants, and those expected to be on the tour once born."
So, no, the White House does not require pregnant visitors to register their fetuses as people for security purposes.
The Obama campaign has introduced its slogan for the 2012 campaign: "Forward."
This prompted an urgent warning from the right-wing media: The word "forward" is totally socialist!
This is unspeakably stupid. The word "forward" is not socialist. It is an English word that has aspirational connotations. The Obama campaign's decision to use it is not veiled evidence that he bears allegiance to Karl Marx.
Allow me to offer some proof that the word "forward" is something other than a coded message of love for the radical left.
Several media outlets have distorted comments by an EPA official, falsely suggesting that he said "oil companies should be crucified." In fact, the official was using an analogy, which he has since apologized for, to describe a common approach to regulatory enforcement: making examples out of those who break the law.
On April 22, 1970, 20 million Americans participated in the first Earth Day, rallying across the country to raise awareness about pressing environmental challenges. Organized by a Democratic senator and a Republican congressman, Earth Day 1970 "achieved a rare political alignment, enlisting support from Republicans and Democrats," according to Earth Day Network, and provided momentum for the passage of landmark legislation to protect our air, water, and endangered species.
But in today's political climate, even Earth Day has become the target of partisan attacks from the right.
This past Sunday, as millions of Americans celebrated Earth Day, conservative media figures spent the day downplaying the impact of human activity on the environment, advocating for more fossil fuel development, and taking credit for misleading the public about the threat of climate change. Others attempted to spread fear about the holiday by noting that it falls on Vladimir Lenin's birthday, and by linking it to a convicted murderer who falsely claimed to be behind the first Earth Day.
And one right-wing blogger recalled how he tried to delay his son's birth because he "really didn't want a child born on Earth Day."
It was not long ago that Earth Day -- and the values of conservation and environmental responsibility it represents -- enjoyed bipartisan support. The Times-Picayune reported on Sunday on the shift that has taken place over the last 40 years:
A recent New York Times article highlighted two studies that the article claimed "question the pairing of food deserts and obesity" and may "raise questions about the efforts to combat the obesity epidemic simply by improving access to healthy foods." While right-wing media have seized on the article to claim that food deserts are a "make-believe" issue, food experts have called the Times article "sloppy" and have said the two studies it highlights are "definitely outliers," in the face of "over 50 studies" in the past three years finding "the opposite."
Both mainstream and conservative media outlets have responded to the recent spike in gasoline prices by circulating talking points rooted in politics rather than facts. As a whole, these claims reflect the misconception, perpetuated by the news media, that changes in U.S. energy policy are a major driver of oil and gasoline prices.
Right-wing media are claiming that a Republican "war on women" is "phony" and "invented" by the left to distract attention from issues such as the economy and gas prices. But Republicans throughout the country have indeed pushed a plethora of legislation during the past few years that would result in limiting women's reproductive rights, access to health care access, and access to equal pay; moreover, right-wing media themselves launched a bullying campaign against Georgetown law student Sandra Fluke after she testified in favor of expanded contraception coverage.
Conservative media figures have been attacking President Obama's economic record by citing the fact that approximately 88 million Americans are not considered part of the labor force. In fact, only a small fraction of those "not in the labor force" actually want to work, and economists say the long-term decline in labor force participation is due to changing demographics -- a trend that is likely to continue over the next decade.
Experts on Korea and U.S. national security have commended a recent deal between the United States and North Korea on nuclear testing as "a positive development" and an indication that the U.S. has "turned a new page with the North Koreans." Nevertheless, conservative media are attacking the deal as a "sham" and a "fool's deal."
The majority opinion did not hold that the Constitution requires all states to allow same-sex couples to marry. Instead, the decision held that a law that has no purpose or effect "other than to lessen the status and human dignity of gays and lesbians" violates the Equal Protection Clause of the Constitution.
The majority took great pains to explain the special circumstances in California that led to this decision. In California the state constitution previously allowed same-sex couples to marry. California then enacted a constitutional amendment that stigmatized same-sex couples by taking away the designation of marriage from their relationships, but the state -- by retaining a civil union law -- did not change any substantive legal rights involved.
Earlier today the Susan G. Komen Foundation released a statement "apologizing" for their decision earlier this week to cease grants to Planned Parenthood to pay for breast cancer screenings. Komen says it will "continue to fund existing grants, including those of Planned Parenthood," though what will happen in the future seems a bit murky.
Regardless, the same conservatives who cheered Komen's decision earlier in the week are now upset at the breast cancer awareness charity's apparent reversal of course. National Review's Daniel Foster this morning called the backlash to Komen "disgusting" and lashed out at Planned Parenthood and "the Left" for their "gangsterism":
In the NROHQ kitchen just now, Charlie Cooke wondered aloud, and here I paraphrase: "Does anyone on the Left even ask the basic question of whether a private charitable organization has the right to dispose of its money as it sees fit?" But in fact, that anyone thinks there is a question here is a sign we've already lost.
The Komen Foundation is a private organization. Planned Parenthood is ostensibly a private organization as well, but one with the highest of public profiles, a maximally polarizing mission, and a conduit of taxpayer dollars. If either of the two should be wary of politicizing its decision-making process, it should be PP, no? And yet Komen is getting hammered for a practical organizational decision (for the zillionth time: PP does not provide mammography) while pro-choice auxiliaries are gleefully fomenting the rage.
Will Wilkinson, who is pro legal abortion and probably the libertarian with whom I agree least often, gets it exactly right on this score, observing that there is more than a little gangsterism in the response from the PP set.
There are a couple of things to point out here. First, to look at the Komen situation and see Planned Parenthood as the bad-faith actor requires an astonishing amount of willful obtuseness. Komen's executives and PR team have spent the better part of the last three days dissembling their way through various media debacles claiming that they didn't alter their grant-making rules specifically to target Planned Parenthood (The Atlantic's Jeffrey Goldberg obtained quotes from Komen insiders and uncovered internal documents showing this to be false).
As to the "gangsterism" charge and the exasperated kitchen quotes about "the Left's" lack of respect for a private organization's private donating decisions, I'd point out that anti-abortion rights activists have been pressuring Komen for years to end their relationship with Planned Parenthood. When Komen's decision was announced on January 31, National Review's Kathryn Jean Lopez celebrated the longstanding efforts by those activists:
This Komen-Planned Parenthood relationship has long been a target of pro-life activists and, media bias aside, this appears to be a remarkable turning point. Planned Parenthood may have trained the AP well -- and has been as American as apple pie to Republicans and Democrats alike for all too long -- but it has really seen itself exposed in new and deep ways since Lila Rose started her gutsy undercover work.
Scott Lemieux points out the obvious: the right of a private institution to dole out money in the ways they see fit does not exempt that institution from criticism. The anti-choice crusade against Komen's Planned Parenthood funding should be proof enough of that, and reason enough not to pop off about liberal "gangsterism" when things don't go your way.