• Block that metaphor!

    Blog ››› ››› ERIC BOEHLERT

    When Glenn Beck blogs:

    Right now, it's the bottom of the ninth and we are down to our last out and our last strike. Will our government take strike three looking? Or, will they wake up and save the day with a heroic three pointer on a penalty shot?

  • The WSJ's woeful Sotomayor coverage today

    Blog ››› ››› ERIC BOEHLERT

    And this was in the Journal's news pages, not even the anti-Sotomayor opinion pages. In general the Journal's Sotomayor reporting today is just awful, at least the political coverage of the pick. The Journal's analysis of her legal career is more insightful.

    Here's a passage from the Journal's A1 news story:

    Conservative opponents questioned the usefulness of "empathy" as a qualification. They will have ammunition as they seek to paint Ms. Sotomayor as a liberal activist and strong backer of affirmative action who would use the Supreme Court to make law, not interpret it. A video from Duke University in 2005 shows Ms. Sotomayor proclaiming the "court of appeals is where policy is made."

    Reading right off GOP talking points, the Journal twice hypes the phony "empathy" card, pretending it's a very big deal. In fact, three times, because the newspaper devotes an entire, separate article to the issue. The Journal news team thinks its hugely significant that at some point Obama made a passing reference to "empathy" in terms of traits that would best suit a Supreme Court Justice. Interestingly though, the Journal never actually quotes Obama saying anything about empathy. Readers are just supposed to assume that Obama's made a big deal about it even though it's the GOP that's focused on the silly word game. (The Journal also plays dumb about the fact that Republican senators in the past have praised "empathy" while discussing possible SCOTUS picks.)

    Nonetheless, the Murdoch's Journal dutifully plays along with the GOP's preferred narrative, not just with the "empathy" nonsense, but with the tape of Sotomayor at Duke saying the "court of appeals is where policy is made"? Without offering the slightest bit of context about the quote, the Journal states as fact that that quote will provide "ammunition" to her "conservative opponents."

    This is simply the Journal bypassing actual journalism in favor of regurgitating GOP talking points. Not once but twice. Here's the newspaper's sidebar article:

    [Critics] also circulated a YouTube video of a 2005 appearance at Duke University, where Ms. Sotomayor said that the "Court of Appeals is where policy is made." She joked that she shouldn't speak on tape, but went on to say the law percolated at the appellate-court level before its final interpretation by the Supreme Court.

    The Journal makes no effort to provide any sort of context to the quote. The Journal also makes no effort to do what the Huffington Post recently did, which was interview legal scholars to see if Sotomayor's Duke quote was in any way controversial, let alone newsworthy.

    Here's what the Huffpost found:

    Eric Freedman, a law professor at Hofstra University, was equally dismissive of this emerging conservative talking point. "She was saying something which is the absolute judicial equivalent of saying the sun rises each morning. It is not a controversial proposition at all that the overwhelming quantity of law making work in the federal system is done by the court of appeals... It is thoroughly uncontroversial to anyone other than a determined demagogue."

    Apparently the Journal would rather not have that kind of context collide with the rather shaky GOP talking points it presents as news.

  • Ramesh Ponnuru grudgingly concedes Sonia Sotomayor isn't of below-average intelligence

    Blog ››› ››› JAMISON FOSER

    Here's Ramesh Ponnuru, trying to bring the snark:

    It's also true, as Sotomayor's defenders keep saying, that Miers never served on the bench and didn't go to Ivy League schools. I am, incidentally, enjoying the spectacle of leftists who spent years saying President Bush was a moron carry on about how insane and probably racist it is for anyone to doubt the intellect of someone who went to those schools.

    True, George W. Bush attended Yale and Harvard Business School. Being the son of a millionaire oilman (and later congressman, CIA director, and President) and the grandson of a Senator, both of whom attended Yale, probably had a little something to do with that - especially given that he never made the honor roll at the elite prep school his family connections got him into.

    Sonia Sotomayor didn't have benefit of being a Fortunate Son like W. But that isn't the only way the comparison fails. While at his daddy's alma matter, George W. Bush compiled an academic record that led the University of Texas Law School to reject his application. While at Princeton, Sonia Sotomayor won the University's highest academic prize and graduated summa cum laude.

    In summary:

    George W: Attended Yale as a legacy descendant of the wealthy and powerful; compiled mediocre academic record.

    Sotomayor: Worked her way from South Bronx housing projects to Princeton University's highest academic honor.

    So, uh, they're a little different.

    To be fair, Ponnuru did concede that Sotomayor is of at least average intelligence:

    For whatever it's worth, I am perfectly willing to assume that Sotomayor's IQ is north of 100.

    Mighty generous of him, don't you think?

  • doesn't hear too good

    Blog ››› ››› ERIC BOEHLERT

    Or maybe RedState's Erick Erickson just doesn't want to hear certain things. But does he have to advertise that fact with a comically inaccurate blog post? Apparently, yes he does.

    Erickson was taking a whack at Pennsylvania Republican Tom Ridge who over the weekend committed a RedState mortal sin by tweaking Rush Limbaugh. Ridge had the audacity to suggest Limbaugh turn down the temperature on some of his hate speech rhetoric.

    Erickson did not approve and dubbed Ridge a liar:

    Tom Ridge, on CNN, said this of Rush Limbaugh:

    "Rush articulates his point of view in ways that offend very many… let's be less shrill… let's not attack other individuals. Let's attack their ideas."

    Since when has Rush attacked individuals? I listen to the show regularly. He certainly pokes fun at some of them, but he highlights absurdities of character, etc. in pointing out the fallacies of positions on the left.

    For example — the President of the United States wants us all to stop breathing to save the environment, but his administration sends Air Force One on a joy ride to take pictures.

    Is that an attack on Obama? No. It is pointing out the inconsistencies in Barack Obama's policies.

    According to RedState, Ridge had it all wrong. Limbaugh doesn't attack individuals, he merely questions policies. Rush is practically a policy wonk. Like when Rush recently claimed Obama supporters have "anti-American" feelings and don't like the U.S.A. Oh wait, that was an attack on tens of millions of individuals.

    More like when Rush said Obama's inner circle of "sycophants" would likely die of "anal poisoning." Oh wait, that's a hateful attack on specific individuals also.

    What about when Rush attacked Britain's prime minister Gordan Brown, suggesting that if he kept "slobbering" over Obama he'd also be stricken with "anal poisoning"? Oops, obvious attack on an individual (Read: head of state) there.

    And remember the time Rush likened Al Qaeda operative Abu Musab al-Zarqawi to "Howard Dean, Al Gore, Jimmy Carter, Harry Reid, Ted Kennedy, John Kerry ... Carl Levin, Nancy Pelosi"? That seemed sort of individual-ish.

    What the heck, lets dial up the way-back machine and travel to April 8, 2004 and listen in to Limbaugh's show:

    "Senator Kennedy, a simple question. Does it please you to learn who your friends are? Does it excite you, Senator Kennedy, to learn that the militant, firebrand, murderer of American civilians and military personnel is on your side, Senator Kennedy? Does it encourage you? Does it invigorate you? Does it inspire you, Senator Kennedy, to know that a murdering Al Qaeda-related terrorist has taken up your argument for use against his enemy? How does that make you feel, Senator Kennedy? Does it embarrass you? Because it should. Or does it probably excite you and think you're making headway now. You've got the enemy aligned with you."

    Or how about November 2002? From Spinsanity:

    On Nov. 15, [Limbaugh] asserted that [Tom] Daschle's criticism of the conduct of the war on terrorism amounted to "an attempt to sabotage the war on terrorism," called him "Hanoi Tom" and suggested that he is " a disgrace to patriotism." On other occasions, Limbaugh has suggested that "In essence, Daschle has chosen to align himself with the axis of evil" and has drawn an extended analogy between Daschle and Satan.

    I could probably go on for 34 more paragraphs, but I think you get the idea. Limbaugh apologists like Erickson pretend Rush would never say anything nasty about individuals. But grown-ups like Ridge know the truth.

  • Assumptions, part 2

    Blog ››› ››› JAMISON FOSER

    It looks like some reporters are latching on to the number of times Sonia Sotomayor's decisions have been overturned by the SCOTUS, as though it tells us something about her. But it doesn't mean nearly as much as they seem to think it means, simply because there is no particular reason to think Sotomayor was "wrong," and the Supreme Court "right" based solely on the fact that the Court overturned her.

    Liberals and conservatives alike can, with great ease, point to SCOTUS decisions that they think were incorrect. Having a decision overturned by SCOTUS doesn't necessarily mean a judge was "wrong"; it may just mean that the majority of Supreme Court justices at the time disagreed with her.

  • Politico catalogs attacks on Sotomayor, but is that journalism?

    Blog ››› ››› ERIC BOEHLERT

    Is it news to simply collect in one place all the knee-jerk talking points issued from Republicans to Obama's SCOTUS pick? Hard to see how it is. Nonetheless, that's the approach Politico takes with article headline:

    Sonia Sotomayor starts taking hits from opposition

    And that literally is what the entire piece consists of; a laundry list of press releases issued by conservatives such as Mike Huckabee, as well as outlets like the National Abortion Control Board, the Judicial Confirmation Network, Cato Institute raising objections to the Supreme Court nominee.

  • Yes, George H.W. Bush appointed Sonia Sotomayor -- and Al D'Amato praised her

    Blog ››› ››› JAMISON FOSER

    It seems the right is frantically trying to explain away the fact that the first President Bush nominated Sonia Sotomayor to the U.S. district court, and having some success getting reporters to buy their spin. A little bit ago, Washington Post reporter Robert Barnes downplayed the appointment, making a factual error aong the way.

    Now, Politico's Ben Smith says a Weekly Standard writer has "partially puncture[d]" the talking point that Bush appointed Sotomayor. Here's Smith:

    One of the key talking points about Sotomayor is that she was first appointed by a Republican, President George H.W. Bush.

    John McCormack partially punctures that one, noting that "Sotomayor was nominated as part of a compromise in which Democratic Senator Moynihan was allowed to recommend judges for two of the seven vacancies."

    So it's worth keeping in mind that New York's other senator, Republican Al D'Amato, spoke glowingly of Sotomayor. As Media Matters has previously noted:

    [D]uring the September 30, 1997, Senate Judiciary Committee hearing on the confirmation of several judicial nominations, D'Amato stated: "I predicted to this committee, almost five years ago, that Judge [Sonia] Sotomayor would be an exemplary, outstanding justice. She has demonstrated that, repeatedly. She has shown compassion, wisdom, one of the great intellects on the court."

    In fact, during D'Amato's 1998 unsuccessful re-election campaign, backers praised him for his support for Sotomayor. Here's a 1998 New York Post report:

    D'Amato, meanwhile, snagged Herman Badillo's endorsement, marched in the Hispanic Day parade and launched a radio ad in Spanish attacking Schumer for missing votes in Congress on Puerto Rican issues.


    Badillo praised D'Amato for spearheading the confirmation of Sonia Sotomayor, a Puerto Rican, to the U.S. Court of Appeals and for organizing disaster relief efforts recently for the hurricane-ravaged Dominican Republican and Puerto Rico.

    Finally, the right's effort to downplay Bush's appointment of Sotomayor by pointing to the fact that Moynihan recommended her is, well, nonsense. Moynihan may have recommended her, but Bush still appointed her. Nobody would say Ruth Bader Ginsberg doesn't count as a Clinton nominee because Orrin Hatch recommended her to him, would they?

  • WaPo reporter falsely downplays George H.W. Bush's appointment of Sotomayor

    Blog ››› ››› JAMISON FOSER

    Washington Post reporter Robert Barnes:

    Obama also said he would try to bridge the gap between Republicans and Democrats, and I think Republicans will argue this choice is not designed to appeal to them. That is part of the reason the President pointed out this morning that Sotomayor was initially appointed to the bench by President George H.W. Bush, although that was part of a deal with New York's Democratic senators.

    New York's senators at the time were Democrat Patrick Moynihan and Republican Al D'Amato.