National Review Online blogger Matthew J. Franck published a guest blog post by Southern Illinois University professor Robert Clinton arguing that by supporting Roe v. Wade, "the strongest elements of the Democratic Party" belong to the "Party of Death." Comparing Roe to the notorious Supreme Court Dred Scott decision, Clinton added: "we seem to be approaching a situation of the kind that obtained shortly before the Civil War, in which a flawed Supreme Court decision was followed by an unbridgeable congressional divide and governmental paralysis."
While Clinton stated that he "would hardly venture so far as to predict another civil war," he then added: "the circumstances and the history cannot help but give one pause."
From a post on the National Review Online's Bench Memos blog:
The fact that the budget dispute resolved last night, threatening a partial shutdown of the national government, came down to the funding of Planned Parenthood, is a striking confirmation of Ramesh Ponnuru's description of the strongest elements of the Democratic Party as belonging to the "Party of Death."
If the decision whether to keep the government functioning at full strength boils down to resolution of a controversy over abortion, then we seem to be approaching a situation of the kind that obtained shortly before the Civil War, in which a flawed Supreme Court decision was followed by an unbridgeable congressional divide and governmental paralysis. As Hadley Arkes suggested around the time of the Bork hearings, Dred Scott and Roe are cut from the same cloth. While I would hardly venture so far as to predict another civil war, the circumstances and the history cannot help but give one pause.
Conservative media are claiming that the GOP is putting Democrats in a bind by cutting $12 billion in the one-week funding proposal while funding the military. Reporting on House and Senate budget negotiations, Fox News correspondent Carl Cameron adopted the GOP's characterization of the situation, stating:
CAMERON: House Republicans say if there's not a deal emerging from tonight's meeting with the president, they may push forward with that vote tomorrow. And if that's the case, it would leave it up to the Democrats in the Senate and the president to either accept the short-term extension or shut down the government on Friday night and deny funds to the troops.
Cameron also reported that the bill "has a rider to strengthen the prohibition on federal funds for abortion in D.C."
Similarly, National Review's Rich Lowry claimed that the "short-term measure is going to put Harry Reid and the White House in a tight spot." Lowry continued: "By putting the ball in their court, it puts them in the position of making the affirmative decision to shut the government and do it while turning away a bill to fund the military." Lowry concluded: "If they reject the bill anyway, it's going to make it easier to blame them for a shutdown; if they accept, Republicans will have gotten $22 billion in cuts even before a final deal."
It's rich for conservatives to be crowing about Republicans attaching irrelevant strings like abortion-related restrictions to a military funding bill.
By contrast, during the debate in 2007 and 2008 about war supplemental bills, conservatives were outraged when Democrats added a withdrawal timeline from Iraq to troop funding, a condition directly relevant to the military funding bill they were considering.
In a National Review Online blog post, Cato Institute director of tax policy studies Chris Edwards cheered the portion of Rep. Paul Ryan's (R-WI) budget plan that guts Medicare and replaces it with a system resembling government-provided vouchers for private insurance.
From National Review Online:
As Congress continues to battle over this year's budget, House Budget chairman Paul Ryan released a blueprint today to guide Republican fiscal policies for years to come. Ryan's budget proposes spending cuts, tax reforms, and the restructuring of entitlement programs.
His plan will dominate budget discussions for the rest of the year, and it will help frame the fiscal debate for the 2012 presidential campaign. That's why liberal pundits are already attacking it with gusto. In the Washington Post, E. J. Dionne called Ryan's plan "radical," "irresponsible," and "extreme." But serious fiscal experts know that the real extreme plan is President Obama's "do nothing" budget, which would result in disastrous levels of debt and crushing tax burdens on families in coming years.
As a first step toward budget sanity, Ryan proposes further cuts to discretionary spending beyond those currently being debated. However, his main focus is on transforming the so-called entitlements. He would transition Medicare from the current Soviet-style system to one based on consumer choice. Instead of a system based on payments to health-care providers, new retirees would receive a "premium support" payment to buy a private insurance plan of their own choosing.
The right-wing media have seized on an eight-second video clip of Rep. Jim McDermott (D-WA) to claim he called the Constitution "silly." In fact, McDermott was criticizing Republicans for not focusing on "job creation" in favor of doing "silly" things like reading the Constitution on the House floor.
As we have documented, National Review Online's Ed Whelan has strongly disagreed with a commentator who pointed out that Supreme Court Justice Samuel Alito appeared to employ an "empathy standard" when he disagreed with the eight-justice majority opinion siding with Westboro Baptist Church in a free speech case.
Whelan -- who has harshly criticized President Obama for saying that he would seek a Supreme Court nominee who has the "quality of empathy" and is "dedicated to the rule of law" -- stated that in the Westboro case, Snyder v. Phelps, the difference between the majority decision and the dissent is "a legal one, not a difference between dispassion and empathy." To make that claim, Whelan ignored the fact that in his dissent, Alito devoted more than 1,200 words to a recitation of Westboro's despicable attacks against the plaintiffs in the case, the family of slain Marine Matthew Snyder.
(Whelan subsequently conceded that it is possible that Alito acted out of empathy in the case.)
Now there's more evidence that the long recitation of the facts in Alito's dissent is not strictly about robotically searching for the correct rule of law, and it comes from a decision Alito himself joined.
Today, Alito joined a concurring opinion written by Justice Antonin Scalia (the justice for whom Whelan clerked) that attacked the dissenting judges for their lengthy recitation of the case's facts. The opinion said that the dissent's factual recitation was "puzzling" because the question at issue "is a legal one." From the concurring opinion in Connick v. Thompson:
The dissent's lengthy excavation of the trial record is a puzzling exertion. The question presented for our review is whether a municipality is liable for a single Brady violation by one of its prosecutors, even though no pattern or practice of prior violations put the municipality on notice of a need for specific training that would have prevented it. See Brady v. Maryland , 373 U. S. 83 (1963) . That question is a legal one: whether a Brady violation presents one of those rare circumstances we hypothesized in Canton 's footnote 10, in which the need for training in constitutional requirements is so obvious ex ante that the municipality's failure to provide that training amounts to deliberate indifference to constitutional violations. [emphases added]
So Alito himself believes that a "lengthy" recitation of the facts is "puzzling" when the Court is dealing with a legal question. Therefore, it stands to reason that Alito's own lengthy recitation of the facts in Snyder is about something other than just the pure legal question.
Following President Obama's national address on the crisis in Libya, the right-wing media has complained that he "bashe[d] Bush" by referencing the Iraq war, with Fox & Friends going so far as to suggest that Obama's reference was gratuitous because "nobody" is comparing Libya to Iraq. In fact, Obama made no mention of Bush and cited Iraq as an illustration of what could happen "[i]f we tried to overthrow Qaddafi by force"; additionally, Fox & Friends itself has pushed comparisons of Libya to Iraq.
There are few things that seem to dominate the front page of the Drudge Report more than attacks on climate change science and fearmongering about European-style laws coming to America. So it was no surprise today to see Drudge hyping a story out of the UK which claims that the European Union plans to "ban" cars from its cities - which Drudge, of course, touts as a sign of a "NEW WORLD ORDER."
Unsurprisingly, right-wing blogs quickly picked up the claim. Climate change skeptic Anthony Watts knocked the proposal, arguing that "it will [be] the EU that's banned by 2050, not the automobile." Meanwhile, the Washington Examiner's Mark Tapscott asked, "How long before Big Green Environmentalists here demand the U.S. ban cars, too?"
The Telegraph story that Drudge links to reports that "cars will be banned from London and all other cities across Europe under a draconian EU masterplan." However, while the EU's strategy document does call for a 60% reduction in greenhouse gas emissions in its transportation sector, it does not banish all cars from urban areas.
What the European Commission white paper does propose is the "gradual phasing out of 'conventionally-fuelled' vehicles" -- defined as those "using non-hybrid, internal combustion engines" -- from major cities by 2050. From the paper:
Cities suffer most from congestion, poor air quality and noise exposure. Urban transport is responsible for about a quarter of CO2 emissions from transport, and 69% of road accidents occur in cities. The gradual phasing out of 'conventionally-fuelled' vehicles from the urban environment is a major contribution to significant reduction of oil dependence, greenhouse gas emissions and local air and noise pollution. It will have to be complemented by the development of appropriate fuelling/charging infrastructure for new vehicles.
The Urban Institute recently published a report contradicting the claim often pushed by Fox News that the health care reform law will "kill jobs." But Fox's Bill Hemmer nevertheless used the institute's report to attack health care reform and its "effect on jobs."
Rush Limbaugh added to his long history of sexism yesterday with a particularly ugly attack directed at President Obama and his national security team. While discussing a CNN.com piece reporting that Obama heeded the counsel of three female advisors to intervene in Libya, Limbaugh dubbed the president and his male advisors "sissies" and "the new castrati":
LIMBAUGH: This is a piece by David Rodham Gergen. "After conversations with top players in Washington last week, mostly as I accompanied a group of Zuckerman Fellows" -- boy I wish I was part of that group, the Zuckerman Fellows -- "from Harvard on a field trip, here are some brief reflections on the mood there," at Harvard. We got a whole CNN piece on what they're thinking at Harvard. Remember, now, Harvard grooms people to do this, quote- unquote, "the right way." That's the purpose of Harvard, and the purpose of Yale, and Princeton and Brown, to train people to do this the right way, meaning the liberal right way.
"The head-snapping change in policy toward Libya has everybody guessing where the Mideast is heading, whether the U.S. has a good handle on it, and most of all, what Obama is trying to achieve." Get this next, see, get this next: "One irony, as a female friend put it, is that for many years many of us believed that if only more women could gain power, the world would surely become more peaceful. Yet, we now see that the three people who talked Obama into using force are women -- Hillary Clinton, Susan Rice, Samantha Power. Leading male advisers were opposed. Perhaps we should be less" -- we're talking about male liberals. Of course they were opposed. It's the New Castrati. Of course the males were opposed. They're sissies. And here's the number one, well, the leader of the club. He happens to sit in the Oval Orifice [sic].
Fox News' website the Fox Nation amplified Limbaugh's sexism, linking to a post on Mediaite with the headline, "Limbaugh: 'Sissy' Obama Dragged Into Libya By Women." On a similar note, on National Review Online, Mark Krikorian is complaining that three women "nagged" Obama until he gave in on Libya.
The phrase "new castrati" is a favorite of Limbaugh's. He has repeatedly used it to attack those on the left.
The right-wing media is grasping for coherence in its attempts to portray military action in Libya as "Obama's Iraq."
In a Washington Times piece, Kerry Picket criticized the Department of Justice for saying that its Civil Rights Division is "committed to ending bullying and harassment in schools" and for highlighting its "authority to enforce federal laws that protect students from discrimination and harassment at school because of their race, national origin, disability, religion, and sex, including harassment based on nonconformity with gender stereotypes."
Echoing The Washington Times piece, a National Review Online blog post also attacked the Justice Department's initiative on bullying.
What's wrong with the department's anti-bullying initiative? If harassment rises to the level of a civil rights violation, shouldn't the Department of Justice step in to do something about it?
Not according to Picket. Picket writes that there is a "catch" to what the Department of Justice is doing. It is only targeting some types of bullying, and not dealing with the scenario in which an "overweight straight white male who is verbally and/or physically harassed because of his size."
But here's the thing. If a person is harassed "because of his size," and his size alone, the Justice Department does not have the power to step in. And it's irrelevant whether the victim is straight, gay, or bisexual or white, Asian, black, or Native American. In this context, the Department of Justice enforces civil rights laws, and there is no current civil rights law dealing with discrimination on the basis of weight. On the other hand, if the white male were being bullied because of his race or gender, there may be a role for the Justice Department.
Perhaps law professor David Bernstein at the libertarian Volokh Conspiracy blog put it best: Picket's piece "seems like a cheap rhetorical trick-trying to insinuate that the administration has something against 'straight white males' when the administration is simply staying within the limits of its legal authority."
Continuing to demonstrate his extremism, National Review Online blogger Ed Whelan suggested today that the Supreme Court's landmark decision in Gideon v. Wainright establishing that states are constitutionally required to provide counsel for indigent defendants in all criminal trials is an example of "liberal judicial activism."
In today's edition of his near-daily series of blog posts titled, "This Day in Liberal Activism," Whelan quotes from a biography of former Supreme Court Justice William Brennan noting that on March 18, 1963, "the liberal bloc [of the Supreme Court] overturned four of the Court's long-standing precedents." Whelan -- a former clerk for Justice Antonin Scalia and a former high-ranking Justice Department official -- then goes on to describe the four cases, including Gideon:
In Fay v. Noia and Townsend v. Sain, in (as Justice Harlan puts it in his dissent in Fay) a "square rejection of long-accepted principles governing the nature and scope of the Great Writ," the Court dramatically expands the federal habeas corpus rights of state prisoners. In Gideon v. Wainwright, the Court, overruling its 1942 decision in Betts v. Brady, holds that the Constitution requires that states provide counsel for indigent defendants in all criminal trials. And in Gray v. Sanders, the Court rushes deeper into the thicket of state redistricting, as it adopts a theory of political equality that it had previously rejected.
But not every conservative thinks so poorly of Gideon. In fact, Chief Justice John Roberts said during his confirmation hearing: "I think the basic instinct and genius behind the Gideon decision was without counsel to protect people's rights, they were going to forfeit them, they were going to waive them, due to ignorance or inability to appreciate the proceedings. That's why you need counsel at that stage."
National Review Online blogger Ed Whelan has frequently misinformed in order to attack President Obama for saying that he would seek a Supreme Court nominee who has the "quality of empathy" and is "dedicated to the rule of law." So, when the Huffington Post published a piece highlighting that conservative Supreme Court Justice Samuel Alito appeared to rely at least in part on empathy in writing a lone dissent in Snyder v. Phelps -- a case dealing with the extent of Westboro Baptist Church's First Amendment right to protest near the funeral of a deceased Marine -- it didn't take long for Whelan to go on the attack.
In a piece claiming that the difference between the eight-justice majority opinion and Alito's dissent is "a legal one, not a difference between dispassion and empathy," Whelan -- a former Supreme Court clerk and high ranking Justice Department official -- points out that Alito cited the Supreme Court case of Chaplinsky v. New Hampshire to say that the First Amendment does not shield utterances that "form 'no essential part of any exposition of ideas, and are of such slight social value as a step to truth that any benefit that may be derived from them is clearly outweighed by the social interest in order and morality.' "
Whelan adds that "as Alito saw it, an abusive attack on a private figure rather than speech on a matter of public concern -- 'the First Amendment should not interfere with recovery.' "
Therefore, Whelan suggests, empathy played no part in Alito's coming to a different conclusion than all the other justices. But that only makes sense if you ignore much of what Alito wrote as well as Alito's own statements about how he views his role as a judge.
The conservative media have denounced unions in Wisconsin for attempting to negotiate contracts before that state's recently passed anti-union law goes into effect, referring to what they're doing as a "cheap trick." But the conservative media praised Wisconsin Republicans when they used questionable tactics to pass the bill in the state senate.
National Review Online blogger and conservative judicial activist Gary Marx accused Obama judicial nominee Caitlin Halligan of having "a very troubling record of dismissing the Second Amendment" during her time as New York state solicitor general. In fact, Marx's attack consists of criticism of Halligan for doing her job as solicitor general by filing briefs on behalf of the state of New York, and neither of the cases Marx cites deal with Second Amendment issues.