Thomas Sowell

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  • INFOGRAPHIC: The Conservative Civil War Over Donald Trump

    Blog ››› ››› MEDIA MATTERS STAFF

    Conservative pundits are bickering over Donald Trump's campaign, especially after National Review's "Against Trump" issue and the backlash it engendered. On one side are pundits who want to stop Trump's candidacy in its tracks. On the other are conservatives who are lauding Trump's candidacy, even if they have not officially endorsed him. Media Matters breaks down exactly who is on which side (click for the full-sized image):

    Civil War over Donald Trump

    Graphic by Sarah Wasko, Research by Eric Hananoki
     
  • The Extremism Of National Review's Trump Critics

    ››› ››› JULIE ALDERMAN

    The influential conservatives who penned essays for National Review urging voters not to cast their ballots for Republican presidential front-runner Donald Trump have their own histories of extremism. They have called President Obama a "racist" with a "deep-seeded hatred for white people" and compared him to a "skinny, ghetto crackhead"; termed Supreme Court Justice David Souter a "goat fucking child molester"; reportedly "helped push" Sarah Palin onto the 2008 GOP presidential ticket; and offered inflammatory Islamophobic comments.

  • National Review Launches Conservative War On Donald Trump

    National Review And 22 Conservative Media Personalities Call Trump A "Philosophically Unmoored Political Opportunist"

    ››› ››› THOMAS BISHOP, ANDREW LAWRENCE, BRENDAN KARET, BRENNAN SUEN & DAYANITA RAMESH

    The conservative National Review Online (NRO) released a comprehensive feature of conservatives attacking current GOP front runner Donald Trump, highlighting the divisive 2016 Republican primary season. National Review editors and right-wing personalities such as Glenn Beck, Bill Kristol, and Erick Erickson criticized Trump as a "philosophically unmoored political opportunist" and "the very epitome of vulgarity."

  • The Conservative War Over Impeachment

    Blog ››› ››› BEN DIMIERO

    There's a brewing conservative media war over whether to impeach President Obama.

    Largely relegated to the fringe for years, the prospect of impeachment has been invigorated thanks to conservative media figures like Fox News contributors Sarah Palin and Allen West, who have spent recent weeks loudly demanding Obama's removal from office. But not everyone in conservative media is on board, with several prominent figures arguing that impeachment is ill-fated, politically toxic, and could severely damage Republicans' chances in the upcoming 2014 midterm elections.   

    Last week, Fox News polled on the question, finding that while a strong majority of Americans (61 percent) oppose impeachment, 56 percent of Republicans are in favor of it.

    Over the weekend, impeachment got another boost thanks to Rep. Steve Scalise (R-LA), the incoming House Majority Whip, appearing on Fox News Sunday and refusing "to take impeaching President Barack Obama off the table if Obama takes executive action to limit deportations." On Saturday, Rep. Steve King (R-IA) announced on Breitbart News Saturday that if the president uses more executive actions on illegal immigration, "we need to bring impeachment hearings immediately before the House of Representatives."

    In June, House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) introduced a plan to sue the president over the delayed implementation of the employer mandate in the Affordable Care Act. While Boehner has repeatedly dismissed impeachment talk, reporters like the New Republic's Brian Beutler have speculated that the lawsuit was designed to "serve as a relief valve for the building pressure to draw up articles of impeachment."

    If Boehner's lawsuit was designed to cool impeachment fever, it's not working. Several conservative media figures have lashed out over his "political stunt" and continue to bang the impeachment drum. As November approaches, the fight over impeachment among conservative media is getting increasingly acrimonious with each side convinced the other is hurting the country. 

    Media Matters looks at where various conservative commentators currently stand on impeachment.

    Pro-Impeachment

    Sarah Palin

    Allen West

    Joseph Farah

    Alan Keyes

    Jeanine Pirro

    Andrew McCarthy

    Andrew Napolitano

    Mark Levin

    Anti-Impeachment

    Erick Erickson

    Wall Street Journal Editorial Board

    Kimberley Strassel

    Bernie Goldberg

    Karl Rove

    Bill O'Reilly

    Pat Buchanan

    Thomas Sowell


  • Why Is Economist Thomas Sowell Relying On Anti-Immigrant Arguments?

    Blog ››› ››› SOLANGE UWIMANA

    Thomas Sowell, a conservative economist and syndicated columnist from the Hoover Institution, is outraged. Actually, that's an understatement. Sowell is seething, judging from his latest column lashing out at Newt Gingrich and the Republican presidential candidate's comments stressing a "humane" immigration policy. But in a diatribe laden with falsehoods that mimics the tone most often employed by scores of anti-immigrant nativists, Sowell relies on agitprop from that same lobby to broadcast a flawed economic argument against immigration.

    Sowell begins by taking a swipe at Gingrich, slapping down his characterization of a "humane" immigration policy. He then reminds Americans that the supposed "purpose" of "American immigration laws and policies is not to be either humane or inhumane to illegal immigrants." It is "to serve the national interest of this country."

    He explains:

    There is no inherent right to come live in the United States, in disregard of whether the American people want you here. Nor does the passage of time confer any such right retroactively.

    But Sowell's argument of "no inherent right" for immigration is taken verbatim from the anti-immigrant movement. He writes:

    The more doctrinaire libertarians see the benefits of free international trade in goods, and extend the same reasoning to free international movement of people. But goods do not bring a culture with them. Nor do they give birth to other goods to perpetuate that culture.

    Why do people want to come to America in the first place? Because America offers them something that their native countries do not. This country has a culture which has produced a higher standard of living and a freer life than in many other countries.

    When you import people, you import cultures, including cultures that have been far less successful in providing decent lives and decent livelihoods. The American people have a right to decide for themselves whether they want unlimited imports of cultures from other countries.

    At one time, immigrants came to America to become Americans. Today, the apostles of multiculturalism and grievance-mongering have done their best to keep foreigners foreign and, if possible, feeling aggrieved. Our own schools and colleges teach grievances.

    As an economist, it's surprising that Sowell would invoke the argument that immigrants hurt the economy, seeing that study after study continues to prove that immigrants' economic impact is overwhelmingly positive.

  • Wash. Examiner Uses Heritage Study To Call Poor People "Human Shields" For "The Left"

    Blog ››› ››› MEDIA MATTERS STAFF

    In an August 2 op-ed, Washington Examiner columnist Thomas Sowell used a recent Heritage Foundation study, which determined that many of those living below the poverty line own household appliances like a microwave, to claim that those defined as poor by the government are not truly poor, writing, "If there were a contest for the most misleading words used in politics, 'poverty' should be one of the leading contenders for that title." In fact, regardless of the appliances they own, the poor in America still face hardships in areas such as health, education, housing, and access to healthy food and legal services.

    Sowell also claimed that " '[t]he poor' are the human shields behind whom advocates of ever-bigger spending for ever-bigger government advance toward their goal." From the op-ed (emphasis added):

    If there were a contest for the most misleading words used in politics, "poverty" should be one of the leading contenders for that title.

    Each of us may have his own idea of what poverty means, especially those of us who grew up in poverty. But what poverty means politically and in the media is whatever the people who collect statistics choose to define as poverty.

    This is not just a question of semantics. The whole future of the welfare state depends on how poverty is defined. "The poor" are the human shields behind whom advocates of ever-bigger spending for ever-bigger government advance toward their goal.

    If poverty meant what most people think of as poverty -- people who are "ill-clad, ill-housed, and ill-nourished," in FDR's phrase -- there would not be nearly enough people in poverty today to justify the vastly expanded powers and runaway spending of the federal government.

    Robert Rector of the Heritage Foundation has for years examined what "the poor" of today actually have, and the economic facts completely undermine the political rhetoric.

    Official data cited by Rector show that 80 percent of "poor" households have air-conditioning today, which less than half the population of America had in 1970. Nearly three-quarters of households in poverty own a motor vehicle, and nearly one-third own more than one motor vehicle.

    Virtually everyone living in "poverty," as defined by the government, has color television, and most have cable TV or satellite TV. More than three-quarters have either a VCR or a DVD player, and nearly nine-tenths have a microwave oven.

    [...]

    Actual studies of "the poor" have found their intake of the necessary nutrients to be no less than that of others. In fact, obesity is slightly more prevalent among low-income people.

    [...]

    [T]he political left hates means tests. If government programs were confined to people who were genuinely poor in some meaningful sense, that would shrink the welfare state to a fraction of its current size. The left would lose its human shields.

  • Sowell still fear-mongering about health care

    Blog ››› ››› BROOKE OBIE

    Thomas Sowell spent 2009 fear-mongering about health care reform. Though he failed to stop reform from becoming law in early 2010, Sowell is trying his hand at fear-mongering, again, but this time, warning that "if Obamacare doesn't get repealed before it takes full effect in 2014...It is not a pretty picture."

    In an August 25 Washington Examiner editorial, titled "Obamacare's facts and fables are chilling," Sowell painted the "not pretty" -- and untrue -- picture of "Obamacare":

    We have to go back to square one and the simplest common sense in order to get some rational idea of what government-run medical care means. In particular, we need to examine the claim that the government can "bring down the cost of medical care."

    It is cheaper to remain sick than to get medical treatment. What is cheapest of all is to die instead of getting life-saving medications and treatment, which can be very expensive.

    First, under the health care reform law, we do not have government run health care. In fact, as early as 2009, Politifact labeled this claim "false," noting that:

    [W]e've also found nothing in the [health care reform] proposals so far that would force people off their current coverage into a government-run plan, if they prefer and can pay for private coverage.

    Also in that paragraph, Sowell attacks the claim that health care reform will "bring down the cost of medical care." However, if he had read the Center for Medicaid and Medicare Services (CMS) report that was released in April of this year, Sowell would know that increases in national health expenditures are largest in 2016 and "gradually decline thereafter."

    Further, Sowell insinuated that under health care reform, health care decisions will be "out of your hands":

    Despite these facts, most of us tend to take a somewhat more parochial view of the situation when it is we ourselves who are sick or who face a potentially fatal illness. But what if that decision is taken out of your hands under Obamacare and is being made for you by a bureaucrat in Washington?

    We won't know what that leads to until the time comes. As Nancy Pelosi said, we will find out what is in the bill after it has passed.

    Of course, Politifact has long-since debunked the claim that bureaucrats will be responsible for making health care decisions for Americans, rating that claim a pants on fire lie.

    But Sowell obviously isn't reading CMS reports or Politifact. He is getting his health care information from a much more credible source -- Sally Pipes, who has written a book called "The Truth About Obamacare." It's not certain how Ms. Pipes' "BA with honors in economics" whose think tank, Pacific Research Institute, caters to special interest organizations like Phillip Morris and Exxon, qualifies her to speak, or write a book, on health care policy.

    What is certain, however, is that these "Obamacare" "fables" are getting old.

  • Sowell falsely claims Obama essentially "confiscated" $20 billion from BP and compares Obama to Hitler

    Blog ››› ››› JULIE MILLICAN

    In a June 21 Investors Business Daily column--which is being hyped by the Drudge Report--Thomas Sowell falsely claims that President Obama "extract[ed] vast sums of money" from BP and is set to "distribute it as he sees fit." In fact, as Media Matters has repeatedly noted, the account came as a result of negotiations between BP and the White House and will be administered by an independent third party. Sowell also repeatedly compared Obama to Hitler and described Obama's supporters as "useful idiots."

    From Sowell's June 21 column:

    When Adolf Hitler was building up the Nazi movement in the 1920s, leading up to his taking power in the 1930s, he deliberately sought to activate people who did not normally pay much attention to politics.

    Such people were a valuable addition to his political base, since they were particularly susceptible to Hitler's rhetoric and had far less basis for questioning his assumptions or his conclusions.

    "Useful idiots" was the term supposedly coined by V.I. Lenin to describe similarly unthinking supporters of his dictatorship in the Soviet Union.

    Put differently, a democracy needs informed citizens if it is to thrive, or ultimately even survive.

    In our times, American democracy is being dismantled, piece by piece, before our very eyes by the current administration in Washington, and few people seem to be concerned about it.

    [...]

    Just where in the Constitution of the United States does it say that a president has the authority to extract vast sums of money from a private enterprise and distribute it as he sees fit to whomever he deems worthy of compensation? Nowhere.

    And yet that is precisely what is happening with a $20 billion fund to be provided by BP to compensate people harmed by their oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico.

    Many among the public and in the media may think that the issue is simply whether BP's oil spill has damaged many people, who ought to be compensated.

    But our government is supposed to be "a government of laws and not of men."

    If our laws and our institutions determine that BP ought to pay $20 billion -- or $50 billion or $100 billion -- then so be it.

    But the Constitution says that private property is not to be confiscated by the government without "due process of law."

    Technically, it has not been confiscated by Barack Obama, but that is a distinction without a difference.

    [...]

    At about the same time, during the worldwide Great Depression, the German Reichstag passed a law "for the relief of the German people."

    That law gave Hitler dictatorial powers that were used for things going far beyond the relief of the German people -- indeed, powers that ultimately brought a rain of destruction down on the German people and on others.

    If the agreement with BP was an isolated event, perhaps we might hope that it would not be a precedent. But there is nothing isolated about it.

    The man appointed by President Obama to dispense BP's money as the administration sees fit, to whomever it sees fit, is only the latest in a long line of presidentially appointed "czars" controlling different parts of the economy, without even having to be confirmed by the Senate, as Cabinet members are.

    Those who cannot see beyond the immediate events to the issues of arbitrary power -- vs. the rule of law and the preservation of freedom -- are the "useful idiots" of our time. But useful to whom?

  • Sowell claims Dems are playing the race card and warns that it could lead to Rwanda-style "slaughters"

    Blog ››› ››› MEDIA MATTERS STAFF

    From Thomas Sowell's April 6 syndicated column:

    Few combinations are more poisonous than race and politics. That combination has torn whole nations apart and led to the slaughters of millions in countries around the world.

    You might think we would have learned a lesson from that and stay away from injecting race into political issues. Yet playing the race card has become an increasingly common response to growing public anger at the policies of the Obama administration and the way those policies have been imposed.