An appeals court ruling has trashed the right of Oregon residents to vote on issues in their state by affirming the state's refusal to count referendum signatures even when they were verified in person by the voter.
The ruling from the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals affirmed an Oregon judge's decision denying state citizens the right to vote on a referendum on a new state law critics contend violates the state's voter-approved definition limiting marriage to one man and one woman.
The appeals court cited the opinion of a handwriting analyst instead of the voters who signed the petition and called the state's "interests" more important than voters' rights.
The district court at that point simply ruled that Oregon voters have no legal right to have their signatures counted, and the appeals court has upheld the ruling.
The court, of course, denied nobody's rights; it merely affirmed that the method for checking signatures on a conservative-promoted Oregon petition to place on the ballot a reversal of the state's recognition of same-sex couples was valid.
WND quotes only right-wing groups criticizing the ruling, such as Alliance Defense Fund and Restore America, and offers its own creatively biased view of the case:
The state reviewed the tens of thousands of signatures submitted on the referendum issue by a sampling method, ultimately determining there were 55,083 valid signatures, 96 short of what was required. However, a change in just a half a dozen signatures in the sampled portion would have tipped the decision the other way.
At the time the state made that announcement, individual voters checked with their local county officials and found their valid signatures had been arbitrarily disallowed, and state officials had issued orders that county election offices not allow anyone to correct the mistakes.
The court opinion, instead of citing the voters who signed the petition on the issue of the validity of their signatures, cited a handwriting analysts' opinion on whether the signatures were valid or not.
Needing 55,179 valid signatures, sponsors of the referendum turned in 62,000 signatures on petitions to election officials, who followed standard procedures by examining a random sample. After invalidating signatures that didn't match those on registration cards, they concluded that only 55,083 valid signatures had been submitted.
The judge upheld the signature-counting process on Feb. 1 and was affirmed Thursday by a three-judge appeals court panel, which said Oregon took reasonable measures to validate petition signatures.
Sponsors of the referendum argued that election officials should have notified voters whose signatures were rejected and given them a chance to prove their identity. But the court said county registrars are trained in signature verification, allow sponsors of a ballot measure to attend the counting sessions and challenge their decisions, and refer all rejected signatures to a second elections official for added scrutiny.
The question was never about "rights" as WND repeatedly claims. The court did not eliminate or even question the right of voters to intiate ballot referendums -- indeed, WND states "the campaign on the recognition of same-sex relationships now will be restarted with plans for voter decisions on the issues in November 2010." The issue at hand was whether Oregon state law on ballot signature verification was followed and was reasonable. The court ruled that it was.
Given that state law "allow[s] sponsors of a ballot measure to attend the counting sessions and challenge their decisions," WND does not explain why those sponsors did not challenge the disqualification of the signatures at the time.
They have been the subject of an international campaign to obtain their freedom from the madrassa, and according to documentary promoters were escorted from the madrassa by American consular officers in Karachi who then dispatched them on the long trip back to the United States.
"I have been working for months to secure their exit from the madrassa and from Pakistan," said Imran Raza, writer and director of the "Karachi Kids" documentary. "This is great news, but we need to get the other American children out of there, now.
"There are nearly 80 other Americans currently at this Jamia Binoria madrassa – that teaches Deobandism – the religion of the Taliban. Our government, and the Pakistani government, has more work to do to get the other American children out of there," he said.
Just one small problem: The madrassa the boys attended wasn't linked to the Taliban, and they weren't brainwashed. From a July 31 CNN.com article:
It's a documentary with an alarming message: Two American boys are held captive in a madrassa, a Pakistani religious school, once visited by Osama bin Laden and with ties to the Taliban.
The film, "Karachi Kids," describes threats to artistic freedom of expression from the teaching of conservative Islam. Early copies of the film prompted outrage after the story of the American boys appeared on Fox News, CBS and other news outlets. It also led to demands from Rep. Mike McCaul, R-Texas, for the boys to be returned home.
But the independent filmmaker may have confused the madrassa with one with a similar name tied to Islamic extremists.
The madrassa the boys attended isn't linked to bin Laden or Muslim radicals; instead, it's one the U.S. State Department says is preferred by Pakistani-Americans for its moderate Islamic teachings and one recently visited by a top U.S. diplomat in Pakistan.
How could the filmmaker have got it so wrong? He blames the error on researchers he says he has since dismissed.
"I do need to take responsibility for these things in terms of these were errors that sort of spun out of control," filmmaker Imran Raza said. "I have to take responsibility for the mistakes. I take responsibility for the error in the allegation that Osama bin Laden was there. I take responsibility for the error that some of the Taliban leaders were there."
Both teens returned to their suburban Atlanta home in July after completing their studies. But before the boys returned home, CNN visited them at the Jamia Binoria madrassa in Karachi.
The boys appeared proud that they had completed their studies, including the memorization of the Quran. But they also were very glad to be heading home to American food.
"Hot wings," exclaimed Mehboob, giving the CNN reporter a high five. "I feel very happy that after four years, I'm going back."
CNN was welcomed in the school and spoke to its head, who denied the allegations made in the documentary.
"This is a madrassa, not some jail," said Mohammad Naeem, the head of the school known as a mufti.
Naeem said his school -- one of 13,000 madrassas registered in Pakistan -- never keeps students against their will, adding that the Khan brothers stayed of their own free will. He, too, denied any ties to militant groups, saying that if students or teachers were ever tied to extremists groups, they would be removed from the school immediately.
Back in Atlanta, Noor Khan said the whole experience gave him a better appreciation of America, his family and his faith.
"I am glad I was sent to Pakistan because it taught me to be a better person. It taught me to appreciate what I had before, and I knew when I came back I wasn't going to make the same mistake of not appreciating what I have," he said.
He says the comments of his talking about September 11 in the documentary were twisted and taken out of context. He said what he meant was that the hijackers weren't "true Muslims."
"If those were Muslims, they weren't true Muslims," he said. "We Muslims, we don't kill people. We're not terrorists. ... We're not violent people. We just want to live a happy life."
He then sought to make clear: "I've never met the Taliban; no one showed me how do any terrorist training or activities. I've never witnessed that with my own eyes, and when the media comes to our madrassa, our principal tells to their face, 'All the classes, all the rooms are open to you. You are free to go wherever you want.' "
Will WND tell its readers about the debunking of a film it promoted? Don't count on it -- it has been more than two weeks since the CNN report.
Nor, by the way, should we count on a correction from Accuracy in Media, where a July 23 article by Robin Beshar also promoted the film.
Meanwhile ... Topic: WorldNetDaily Richard Bartholomew deconstructs an Aug. 14 WorldNetDaily article promoting a book claiming that the relative distances of various cities from the site of Jerusalem's Temple Mount is a key to history. Not only are there historical inconsistencies, it turns out the book's author, David Flynn, believes all sorts of things, such as "biblical ufology," which tries to fit space aliens into God's master plan.
Who Else Does Farah Stand With? Topic: WorldNetDaily
Joseph Farah devoted his Aug. 15 WorldNetDaily column to declaring his man-love for Jerome Corsi and his Barack Obama-bashing book. Early on, Farah endorses literary sloppiness:
Unlike most of the critics of "The Obama Nation," I have actually read the book from cover to cover. It is a thoroughly well-documented piece of first-rate journalism.
Are there mistakes in it?
Show me a first edition that doesn't have some – other than the Bible.
Of course, what has manifested itself in Corsi's book aren't merely"mistakes" but, rather, major errors of fact that would likely have been caught by a more diligent (and less hatred-driven) researcher than Corsi. After all, the very first publicized allegation in Corsi's book, reported by WorldNetDaily -- that Obama "never revealed" when or if he stopped using drugs -- turned out to be demonstrably false. In order to minimize his falsehood, Corsi is now engaged in a disingenous game of catch-22: Yeah, OK, Obama did say when he stopped using drugs, but "self-reporting from people who admit they use drugs is not reliable as to when they quit." In other words, no answer would satisfy Obama.
Further: So it's OK to make mistakes in a book? Does that sloppy standard apply to all of WND's journalistic efforts as well? (Read any random ConWebWatch article about WND for the answer.)
Farah continues with an old chestnut:
WND has been described by many of the Obama apologists as "conservative," as "right-wing," as "Republican leaning." To regular readers of WND who understand our commitment to fierce independence, our willingness to dig deep no matter which politician is exposed, those characterizations will prove laughable.
What's laughable is Farah's oft-repeatedinsistence that -- contrary to all the available evidence -- WND is not a right-wing site. As far as WND's purported "willingness to dig deep no matter which politician is exposed," that's another laugher. As we've documented, WND's first original article on Republican congressman Randy "Duke" Cunningham's corruption didn't appear until five days after he resigned from office in disgrace, and WND has undertaken a kid-glove treatment of John McCain on its news pages despite relentless attacks on Obama.
Farah evnetually goes into full man-love mode:
I stand with Jerry Corsi today as he is viciously maligned by an attack media that would prefer to aim its potent artillery at a man who dared to do their job when they refused, when they laid down, when they sucked up, when they failed to ask the tough questions, when they took sides.
He is simply a courageous, dedicated journalist – an intrepid investigator, a two-time No. 1 best-selling author, a Harvard Ph.D and a man of principle.
I am proud to have him working for WND.
I stand with Corsi.
Having Joseph Farah stand with you is not quite the ringing endorsement he makes it out to be. Let's look at other people Farah "stands with," either through statement or continued employment by WND:
Tony Hays and Charles Thompson II. When Tennessee car dealer Clark Jones sued WND in 2001 over a series of articles by Hays and Thompson that Jones said made false claims about him, an April 2001 WND article stated that "WND has consistently stood by the stories and their authors," and Farah himself is quoted as saying, "WorldNetDaily has made every effort to ensure that its reporting in this series –- and in everything it has covered -– was fair, honest, truthful, balanced and accurate." Of course, we know that's true, not just in general but in this specific case -- as we documented, WND admitted in lawsuit documents that it did not fact-check Hays and Thompson's articles before publishing them. Seven years later, WND abruptly settled Jones' lawsuit just before it was to go to trial, admitting not only that Hays and Thompson's claims about Jones were false, but also that "sources named in the publications have stated under oath that statements attributed to them in the articles were either not made by them, were misquoted by the authors, were misconstrued, or the statements were taken out of context."
Had Farah done any actual fact-checking, he would have known that he was standing with a pair of fabricators -- yet since the settlement of Jones' lawsuit, WND has made no apparent effort to fact-check other claims in the Hays-Thompson articles for further false claims. What does that tell you about Farah's judgment?
Bob Unruh: This WND news editor rejected what he learned at the Associated Press, where he worked before joining WND, by routinely writing one-sided articles that deliberately distort the side he's not telling. He's also not shy about smearing those he disagrees with by likening them to Nazis.
David Kupelian: WND's managing editor has no problem skewing WND's "news" coverage to promote a book he wrote. He also presents long-debunked claims as fact and rewrites history to shift blame for societal ills toward his enemies (liberals, the Clintons) and away from his friends (fundamentalist evangelical Christians).
These are the kind of people Farah "stands with." Which pretty much explains all you need to know about Farah -- and Corsi.
Why You Can't Trust WorldNetDaily, Example No. 8,573 Topic: WorldNetDaily
Talk-radio host Michael Savage has announced he will bring his recently dismissed copyright infringement lawsuit against the Council on American-Islamic Relations to the U.S. Supreme Court in hopes of making public the Islamic group's sources of funding.
Conservative talk show host Michael Savage has changed his mind and is reluctantly dropping his lawsuit against an Islamic rights group that launched an advertisers' boycott after he attacked Islam and the Quran on the air, his lawyer said Thursday.
CNS Repeats Falsehood About Casey Topic: CNSNews.com
An Aug. 14 CNSNews.com article by Pete Winn asserted that former Pennsylvania Gov. Bob Casey "was barred from speaking at the 1992 Democratic National Convention because he was a pro-life Catholic."
In fact, as Media Matters points out, others who opposed abortion rights were given speaking roles at the convention, so Casey's opposition to abortion rights alone could not have been the deciding factor in the decision not to give him a speaking role. Indeed, The New Republic reported that Casey was denied a speaking slot because he refused to endorse the Clinton-Gore ticket.
A ConWebWatch Corsi Compendium Topic: WorldNetDaily
As Jerome Corsi and his anti-Obama book slowlydisintegrate, it seems like a good time to highlight ConWebWatch's coverage of Corsi over the years, which further supports the theory that his work is egregiously agenda-driven and less than trustworthy:
-- WorldNetDaily, where Corsi has served as a staff writer and columnist, hid Corsi's history of bigoted remarks -- made public during the 2004 election shortly after the Corsi-penned John Kerry attack book -- refused to note Corsi's remarks until well after the election, when it could give Corsi a forum in which to explain them away.
-- Corsi hid information that called into question the veracity of President Bush's claim that no one pulled strings for him to get into the National Guard until after the 2004 election.
-- Corsi served up a handy how-to guide for terrorists looking to plant a nuclear device in New York City.
-- In 2006, Corsi co-wrote a WND-published book with conservative Ken Blackwell, then a candidate for Ohio governor -- then used his perch at WND to repeatedly hurl spurious attacks at Blackwell's opponent, Ted Strickland (at first not disclosing that he co-authored a book with Blackwell). Corsi denied any connection between his work and Blackwell's campaign. Nevertheless, Strickland crushed Blackwell in the election.
-- Corsi also wrote a book with Minuteman Project co-founder Jim Gilchrist. But when Gilchrist endorsed Mike Huckabee for president -- whom Corsi viewed as insufficiently anti-immigrant -- Corsi wrote several WND articles with the apparent purpose of badgering Gilchrist into withdrawing his endorsement.
Indeed, Mr. Obama is the Paris Hilton of politics. Neither one of them had basically accomplished much after they obtained a certain pinnacle – Paris Hilton's nightclubbing and subsequent imprisonment and Barack Obama being elected to the U.S. Senate.
-- Jackie Mason and Raoul Felder, Aug. 14 WorldNetDaily column
Aaron Klein Labeling Aversion Watch Topic: WorldNetDaily
Keeping up his longtimeaversion to specifically stating the ideological orientation of right-wing Israeli politicians, an Aug. 13 WorldNetDaily article by Aaron Klein noted that two members of the Knesset who allegedly attempted to claim "ownership of a Jewish-owned Jerusalem property that had been illegally settled by local Arabs" were members of the National Union party, but not that the party is, as Wikipedia states, a right-wing party.
Speaking of Apologies ... Topic: Media Research Center
The Media Research Center has ratcheted up a little outrage against Newsday columnist Jenna Kern-Rugile, who suggested that conservative radio hosts played a role in the shooting deaths of two people at a Unitarian Universalist church in Tennessee. An Aug. 14 MRC press release quotes Brent Bozell howling:
"Yesterday's Newsday column was absolutely despicable, and they should be ashamed and embarrassed for having printed it.
"Jenna Kern-Rugile's wretched words were nothing more than an in-print character assassination of Rush Limbaugh, Sean Hannity and Bill O'Reilly, a foray into absurd Leftist delusions of links between them and the vile murderer in a Tennessee church this past July 27.
"This is not a freedom of speech issue. This is Newsday giving this woman a license to assault these fine men in print, accusing them of complicity in murder.
"Newsday should immediately publish a full retraction, and an abject and absolute apology to those defamed by this woman's wretched words. And Ms. Rugile should never again appear in their pages."
An Aug. 14 CNSNews.com article by Penny Starr on a ballot measure in South Dakota to ban abortions uses the inaccurate descriptor "pro-abortion" for a group opposed to the measure and the euphemistic descriptor "pro-life" for the anti-abortion groups supporting it.
New Article: The Newsmax Democrat Topic: Newsmax
For a self-proclaimed "lifelong Democrat," Jerry Zeifman sure spends a good chunk of his time bashing his alleged fellow Dems on the ConWeb. Read more >>
Bethany Stotts takes us to task in an Aug. 12 Accuracy in Media column for noting that in an earlier item she wrote, she seemed to be ignoring that John Hagee appeared to be retracting his apologies for his hateful remarks about Catholics and blaming Hurricane Katrina on God's desire to smite gays. She writes:
"Stotts ignores that Hagee’s new apparent defense of his inflammatory remarks—and more specifically, his claim that his critics ‘do not understand the Bible view’—seems to contradict his previous retraction of them,” Krepel writes.
The author then goes on to quote Pastor Hagee’s apology about his comments connecting Hurricane Katrina with God’s wrath on homosexuals.
Krepel fabricates a sense of contradiction, underplaying Hagee’s consistent stance on his belief in God’s sovereignty.
Pastor Hagee said at the 2008 CUFI summit that “It is deeply troubling to pick up a newspaper and read sweeping condemnations of things you did in fact say but which are not new or controversial to those who believe in an all-powerful God who is sovereign and intervenes in human history.”
In both instances, Pastor Hagee was consistent in his assertions about God’s sovereignty and control over human events.
The question is not whether Hagee was consistent in invoking "God’s sovereignty and control over human events"; it's whether his insistence that his critics "do not understand the Bible view" means that Hagee still believes the claim he had to publicly retract because of those critics -- that God sent Katrina to smite gays.
As for Hagee's statements about Catholics, Stotts notes "If Pastor Hagee were intent on 'attacking' Catholics, it wouldn’t make much sense to invite them to his Summit. During the banquet Pastor Hagee recognized Bill Donohue and two other Catholic leaders as his honored guests." Stotts added an excerpt from Hagee's Christians United for Israel speech in which he proclaimed his "greater understanding" of Catholics, adding, "Perhaps Krepel didn’t actually listen to Pastor Hagee’s speech?"
Well, we never claimed to be going by anything beyond AIM's own video of excerpted remarks by Hagee and others from the CUFI event. But we'll concede the point that Hagee genuinely appears to want a rapprochement with Catholics.
Stotts wasn't done with us, however:
Krepel’s column is most dishonest in that not only does he focus on unrelated—and unfounded—topics, but criticizes this correspondent for getting distracted by the very purpose of my original article. “Perhaps because she was too busy trying to decouple Hagee from McCain, even though prominent McCain supporter Joe Lieberman was a featured speaker at Hagee’s CUFI event,” writes Krepel. Mr. Krepel thereby shows that he either failed to grasp the original message of the article or intends to mislead his audience about AIM’s reporting.
“Would Stotts let Obama get away with Barack Obama, for instance, claiming that a close adviser who, say, spoke at an event that also featured Rev. Jeremiah Wright was acting "independent" from him? We suspect not.”
Regardless of the arrogance communicated by his claim to know how a person he has never met would act in a hypothetical situation, Krepel’s argument is logically inconsistent.
We can agree to disagree about to what extent Hagee is McCain's Rev. Wright. But it's not at all arrogant to forward the claim that Stotts has a interest in minimizing the McCain-Lieberman-Hagee triumverate to benefit McCain -- indeed, that seemed to be the whole point of her original article. And certainly these sorts of double standards, real or hypothetical, exist on both sides of the political spectrum -- Stotts might want to have a chat with her AIM seniors on the subject of political scandals reported in supermarket tabloids. And besides, as Peggy Noonan might say, it would be irresponsible not to speculate.
Stotts concludes by claiming that we "focus more on fitting Accuracy in Media’s reporting to a preconceived ideological model rather than the dissemination of truthful and accurate information." But by immediately labeling us as a "left-wing blog," she does the exact same thing, never mind that we don't endorse candidates or advocate for political viewpoints, left-wing or otherwise.
Finally, nowhere does Stotts link in her column to the article of ours that she's criticizing. What's up with that?
Last December, when a man took hostages at a Hillary Clinton campaign office in New Hampshire, NewsBusters' Noel Sheppard wondered if Hillary "orchestrated this entire crisis to make herself look battle-hardened."
Is Sheppard similarly wondering if the shooting death of the Arkansas Democratic Party chairman was staged by Democratic officials in order to generate a sympathy vote?
WND Still Misleads on Christian Textbook Lawsuit Topic: WorldNetDaily
An Aug. 12 WorldNetDaily article misleadingly claims that a court ruling means that the University of California "discriminate against coursework done by high school students that includes a Christian viewpoint," further claiming that the ruling "concluded the UC system was correct to reject courses from major book publishers, including Bob Jones University Press and A Beka Books, a Florida publishing powerhouse, because they include a Christian perspective."
In fact, according to the San Francisco Chronicle, "U.S. District Judge James Otero of Los Angeles said UC's review committees cited legitimate reasons for rejecting the texts - not because they contained religious viewpoints, but because they omitted important topics in science and history and failed to teach critical thinking."
The unbylined WND article goes on to misleadingly assert: "According to the lawsuit, a variety of textbooks with supplemental perspectives were accepted – just not those with a Christian perspective." In fact, according to the Chronicle (and not mentioned by WND):
[T]he university has approved many courses containing religious material and viewpoints, including some that use such texts as "Chemistry for Christian Schools" and "Biology: God's Living Creation," or that include scientific discussions of creationism as well as evolution.
UC denies credit to courses that rely largely or entirely on material stressing supernatural over historic or scientific explanations, though it has approved such texts as supplemental reading, the judge said.
Another rejected text, "Biology for Christian Schools," declares on the first page that "if (scientific) conclusions contradict the Word of God, the conclusions are wrong," Otero said.
He also said the Christian schools presented no evidence that the university's decisions were motivated by hostility to religion.
The WND article also failed, as did a previous article, to explain or justify a biology textbook that does not put science first.