During the confirmation proceedings for Supreme Court Justice Elena Kagan, bloggers at National Review Online took it upon themselves to defend the Supreme Court from charges that it had tilted far to the right and in favor of corporate interests since John Roberts had taken over as Chief Justice of the United States. For instance, this summer, Ed Whelan strongly criticized Alliance for Justice President Nan Aron for "contend[ing] that the 'Roberts court has repeatedly placed corporate interests first and the rights of individuals second.' "
But now The New York Times has reported on a new study finding that "[t]he Roberts court, which has completed five terms, ruled for business interests 61 percent of the time, compared with 46 percent in the last five years of the court led by Chief Justice William H. Rehnquist, who died in 2005, and 42 percent by all courts since 1953." The study added that the "differences are statistically significant."
And the study is not the work of progressives alone. Indeed, one of its co-authors is federal appellate Judge Richard Posner, a Ronald Reagan appointee and a conservative hero.
This all leads me to wonder: Which NRO blogger will be the first to throw Judge Posner under the bus in defense of the Roberts Court?
Media conservatives are condemning President Obama for using the word "hostage" as a metaphor while discussing negotiations. Yet Presidents Ronald Reagan and George W. Bush also used the same rhetoric in describing their political opponents.
The right-wing media have been attacking President Obama's New Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty (New START), claiming it "may harm national security." But the treaty enjoys widespread support among military leaders, who have called its passage a "no-brainer," and have argued that "the treaty makes us safer."
Winter, spring, summer, or fall,
All you have to do is call
And I'll be there, yeah, yeah, yeah.
You've got a friend.
"You've Got a Friend," Lyrics & Music by Carole King (1971)
As Salon.com's David Weigel notes:
Pat Toomey Remembers His Friends
The incoming U.S. Senator from Pennsylvania lends his image, Obama-ized, to a National Review fundraiser:
After sitting for a three-hour interview with C-SPAN on November 7, National Review's Jonah Goldberg wrote two posts on National Review Online complaining about progressives who called into C-SPAN to question him.
In one post, he complained that there "was a significant share of stupidity and asininity from some callers, but much less than I had any right to expect." In a second post, he claimed that "a plurality of the lefty callers were simply obsessed with race," claimed that "many liberals ... can't conceive of the idea that their ideological opponents aren't racists," and called another progressive caller "a jerk."
Goldberg also seemed upset that someone would mention Media Matters for America to him, writing: "I suspect that one or two of them were professionally invested in the topic (the guy who plugged FAIR and Media Matters smelled like a seminar caller to me)."
I haven't listened to the whole three-hour interview, but it's hard to think that these callers could possibly have been more defamatory to conservatives than Goldberg is to progressives. After all, Goldberg has written a book called Liberal Fascism: The Secret History of the American Left, From Mussolini to the Politics of Meaning, has claimed that "you can draw a line, but it's not a straight one" from Mussolini to Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama, and has suggested that Hitler was a liberal.
Following the debate between Delaware senatorial candidates Christine O'Donnell and Chris Coons, conservative media have rushed to paint the moderators as biased, either by providing no evidence or by pointing to a question that is commonly asked in debates, as proof of bias.
No, you didn't misread that. John Derbyshire, National Review Online contributor, today rehashed his 2003 argument that nonmilitary government employees shouldn't be allowed to vote. Here's today's post, written in response to fellow contributor Pat Sajak's article about how public employees have a "conflict of interest" when voting:
Pat Sajak: "I'm not suggesting that public employees should be denied the right to vote ..."
Go ahead, Pat: say it. I did, back in 2003.
[Quoting 2003 article:] "If you let public employees vote, what do you think they are going to vote for? For more public spending, more government jobs, higher government wages. Can you vote yourself a pay raise? No, and neither can I. Bill Bureaucrat and Pam Paperpusher can, though, and they do. Bill and Pam have no problem at all with ever-swelling public budgets, with ever-expanding public services, with the creeping socialism that is slowly throttling our liberties out of existence."
It's an idea whose time will soon come.
Other conservative commentators, like WorldNetDaily's Robert Ringer, have also advocated taking away public employees' voting rights. Using Derbyshire and Ringer's logic, I guess anyone who uses public services -- like the post office, roads, schools, libraries, police, firefighters -- probably has a "conflict of interest" when voting. So does anyone who pays taxes.
Elsewhere in the 2003 article, Derbyshire writes that public servants should be content with the "privilege" of working for the government: "Working for the State, or the nation, is a great privilege and an honor. It brings with it great security, since States and Nations very, very rarely go out of business. Let privilege, honor and security be rewards enough; let's not gild the lily with fripperies like voting rights."
Lest you think he's kidding, note that public employees are hardly the only group Derbyshire thinks unworthy of such "fripperies." In a 2009 interview with Alan Colmes, he also suggested we'd "probably" be a better country if women didn't vote.
Basically, he's saying our country would be a better place if people who don't agree with him couldn't vote. Who's "throttling our liberties out of existence," again?
Doubling down on his fallacious argument that food stamps do not stimulate the economy, Newt Gingrich told National Review Online: "With regards to her comment that food stamps are actually an effective way to stimulate the economy, well, I don't know any economist who would agree with that. It shows you how inaccurate they are about the very nature of the American economy."
In fact, economists from across the spectrum have said that food stamps do stimulate a weak economy including Martin Feldstein -- a Reagan administration economist cited in Gingrich's book Winning the Future. In January 2008 testimony, Feldstein stated that, in the context of a very weak economy, he favored "increasing federal government payments for food stamps" in order to stimulate the economy.
From Feldstein's January 24, 2008, testimony before the Senate Finance Committee:
The fiscal package should be designed to stimulate economic activity and not to achieve other policy goals.
Its purpose is to increase household and business spending in order to raise total GDP. It should not be taken as an occasion to rebuild infrastructure, to reduce poverty, or to strengthen economic incentives. It should not be taken as an occasion to redistribute the burden of taxes.
That leads me to favor a flat tax rebate to all who paid taxes plus an increased cash transfer to low income groups who are not taxpayers. This could be done by increasing federal government payments for food stamps, TANF (Temporary Assistance of Needy Families) and Supplemental Security Income. The key is to use those transfer payments that can be achieved quickly. [emphasis added]
In addition, as we've noted, other economists also say that food stamps are an effective way to stimulate a weak economy:
National Review Online blogger Ed Whelan was last seen suggesting that Judge Vaughn Walker acted unethically by presiding over the case in which he declared California's ban on same-sex marriage unconstitutional despite being a gay man who is possibly in a long-term relationship. Legal experts pronounced this argument meritless and "ridiculous."
Now Whelan's back at it. He's used the occasion of Walker's announcement that he will resign his position next year to come up with the completely baseless and bizarre theory that Walker may have used the marriage case to "feather his nest."
Walker's decision to retire is no surprise. Indeed, the buzz from local courtwatchers is that Walker was going to retire last year (when he first became pension-eligible) but changed his mind when the anti-Prop 8 case, through the wonders of supposedly random assignment, fell into his lap.
Applying Ockham's razor, I will readily presume that Walker's wild course of misconduct in the anti-Prop 8 case was driven entirely by his ideological fervor for same-sex marriage and that Walker wasn't also trying to feather his own post-judicial nest. That said, if he were trying to feather his nest, his high-profile invention of a constitutional right to same-sex marriage, including his remarkable (and overturned) denial of a stay of his judgment pending appeal, would be one way to build a lot of goodwill among many prospective San Francisco employers. (On the other hand, anyone who actually read his ruling, and followed his actions, with care would be less than impressed by his legal ability.)
The entire anti-Prop 8 farce would be complete if Walker were to join either Ted Olson's or David Boies's firm. But negotiations could be complicated if Walker were to make a well-deserved request for back pay.
Let's count the baseless theories Whelan packs into these three paragraphs: (1) Walker may have manipulated the random case assignment system; (2) Walker may have decided the case because of "his ideological fervor for same sex marriage"; (3) and last, that perhaps he made his decision not because of "ideological fervor" but to improve his job prospects.
Or maybe Walker decided the case in the way he did because he found the plaintiffs' case that Proposition 8 unconstitutionally discriminated on the basis of sexual orientation legally compelling.
Despite the right-wing media's claim that their opposition to Park51 -- the planned Islamic community center in Lower Manhattan -- is not about restricting religious freedom, protests have sprung up nationwide in opposition to local mosques and Islamic community centers in the wake of the manufactured controversy. These protests follow the right-wing's relentless assault on not just Park51, but Islam in general.
Right-wing media have responded to President Obama's comments that he "believe[s] that Muslims have the same right to practice their religion as everyone else in this country" by falsely claiming that opponents of the proposed Islamic community center in Lower Manhattan have not talked about restricting Muslims' religious freedom. In fact, opponents have advocated using government intervention to restrict construction of the center or have asserted that the planners don't have a right to build it at the proposed location.
In recent days, right-wing media have attacked Imam Feisal Abdul Rauf's upcoming State Department trip to the Middle East to "discuss Muslim life in America and religious tolerance." However, Rauf began participating in the outreach program during the Bush administration, which considered this kind of outreach as useful "[i]n the struggle against violent extremists."
The right-wing media is attacking Imam Feisal Abdul Rauf's upcoming State Department trip to the Middle East to "discuss Muslim life in America and religious tolerance," by falsely claiming he will use the trip as a "taxpayer-funded fundraising jaunt" to finance construction of his Islamic cultural center in New York City. In fact, the State Department has made clear that fundraising of any kind is prohibited during the trip, and Rauf has previously participated in this program, first under President Bush.
Conservative media figures have repeatedly claimed or suggested that it would be unprecedented and "corrupt" for Democrats to address "controversial" issues during Congress' lame duck session following the 2010 elections. But in 1998, Republicans impeached President Clinton during such a post-election congressional session.
Following Judge Vaughn Walker's landmark decision to strike down California's ban on same sex marriage, the right wing has falsely attacked him as an extremist member of the "liberal court" and pushed the ridiculous argument that as a gay man who may be in a long-term relationship, he should have recused himself from the case.
In reality, Walker was nominated by Presidents Reagan and George H.W. Bush and has been praised by Republican lawmakers, and as we've pointed out, if Walker should have recused himself because he was gay, by that logic, straight judges who have ruled against gay rights should have recused themselves from those cases.
The recusal argument is so bogus that, out of the hundreds of documents filed in the Prop 8 case, not one includes a motion asking Walker to recuse himself.
Not content to merely attack Walker, the right is now questioning the plaintiffs' experts because "many or most are in same-sex relationships." Here's the latest from NRO's Bench Memos:
Short version [of Walker's opinion]: Everything that plaintiffs' "experts" say is beyond dispute. E.g.: "[T]he evidence shows beyond any doubt that parents' genders are irrelevant to children's developmental outcomes." "The evidence shows conclusively that moral and religious views form the only basis for a belief that same-sex couples are different from opposite-sex couples." (I would have thought that it's equally clear that "moral and religious views form the only basis for a belief" that the laws against murder should protect all persons.)
Judge Walker makes little or no reference to the fact that nearly all of plaintiffs' "experts" are political activists for gay causes and that many or most are in same-sex relationships. They're just neutral experts. In the same way that Walker is just a neutral judge.