A Dec. 15 Newsmax article by Tim Collie examining whether Senate Republicans will "filibuster on controversial [judicial] nominees" from Barack Obama fails to note that Republicans leaning toward filibustering opposed the practice when Democrats used the strategy for a few of President Bush's nominees.
Senate Minority Whip Jon Kyl, R-Ariz., has been more blunt, promising to “lead a filibuster if the nominee is the kind of radical leftist who decides cases based on empathy rather than the Constitution or the law. And if that’s what he intends to do, then I’ll try to get my colleagues to join in that as well,” Kyle said in a speech to the Federalist Society in November.
But as Right Wing Watch notes, in 2005 Kyl supported the "nuclear option," which would have wiped out the right to filibuster judicial nominees.
Collie also cites statements made by Curt Levey, an attorney executive director of the conservative Committee for Justice, in a Washington Post article. But as Media Matters notes, Levey also told the Post (though Collie doesn't quote it) that Republican senators should "play hardball" on Obama's judicial nominees. Nowhere does Collie mention that the CFJ previously called filibusters by a minority of senators to block judicial nominations "unconstitutional."
Could Joseph Farah be the most thin-skinned journalist on the planet? We've recently noted Farah's freak-out over a blogger for a weekly newspaper in Wisconsin making the (entirely accurate) observation that WND "is not an acceptable source of information."
Farah let loose another freak-out in a Dec. 14 column (note that it was posted on the evening of Nov. 14; Farah couldn't wait until the usual 1 a.m. ET posting time for new commentary secton items). The target of Farah's ire this time: Wikipedia. Why? Someone had changed the Wikipedia page on Farah to call him a "noted homosexual."
That's actually rather hilarious, given Farah's previous freak-outs about gay people and his website's anti-gay agenda. But Farah was too far gone in freak-out mode to see the humor.
Thus, all Farah has to offer instead is an screed calling Wikipedia a "wholesale purveyor of lies and slander unlike any other the world has ever known," a "vast wasteland of error and deliberate deceit," a "wholly unreliable website run by political and social activists promoting their own agenda" and a "a corrupt and morally bankrupt institution," not to mention pushers of "pseudo-journalistic terrorism and character assassination."
That's even more hilarious, because those same things can be said about WND.
"Wholesale purveyor of lies and slander"? "Vast wasteland of error and deliberate deceit"? Just ask Barack Obama. WND has promoted numerous lies about Obama, and WND's Jerome Corsi used bogus documents to falsely impugn him. WND enlisted former Nazis to smear Obama as a Nazi. And Farah and his website are engaging in journlaistic fraud by pimping claims that Obama wasn't born in America when it declared months ago that the birth certificate submitted by Obama's campaign is "authentic."
All of which make it, yes, a "wholly unreliable website run by political and social activists promoting their own agenda" (as we've detailed).
Farah even claims, "I actually had to threaten a libel suit against Wikipedia to get the site to remove the previous attempt at defamation." Farah clearly doesn't understand how Wikipedia works. According to a Wikipedia comment thread on Farah's complaints, a Wikipedia editor noticed Farah's screed and made corrections accordingly. Farah does not state whether he made any attempt to correct or complain (or threaten a libel suit) prior to grinding out his currrent column.
(Given Farah's record on libel lawsuits, he might not want to actually go there. And no, Farah has never threatened us with a libel lawsuit nor otherwise contradicted anything we've wrote, which hopefully speaks to our accuracy in reporting on WND.)
Considering that Farah once called us a "talent-challenged slug," the man definitely knows his way around "pseudo-journalistic terrorism and character assassination." It appears that while Farah loves to dish out the insults, he can't take them in return.
Farah concludes by calling Wikipedia "an electronic graffiti board under the control of high-tech Crips and Bloods." If so, then WND is run by the same gang, with Farah as its chief thug.
Remember, this is all about some anonymous prankster calling Farah a "known homosexual." How thin-skinned is that?
In his Dec. 13 WorldNetDaily column, Ellis Washington asserted that Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich "up to a few days ago was a good friend and a close political ally of President-elect Barack Obama."
That contradicts the known and documented history of relations between Blagojevich and Obama. As we've detailed, the Washington Post reported that while Obama worked on Blagojevich's campaign in 2002 and endorsed his re-election in 2006, the two were not close: "They sometimes used each other to propel their own careers but privately acted like rivals." The post also stated: "The two men have not talked for more than a year, colleagues said, save for a requisite handshake at a funeral or public event. Blagojevich rarely campaigned for Obama and never stumped with him. The governor arrived late at the Democratic convention and skipped Obama's victory-night celebration at Chicago's Grant Park."
Does that say "good friend and a close political ally" to anyone? Only, apparently, to Washington.
Washington also asserted that "Obama knows that he is neck-deep into the Blagojevich seat-selling scheme; after all, it is Obama's Senate seat that is for sale." That also contradicts known facts; prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald has specifically said that the criminal complaint against Blagojevich "makes no allegations about the president-elect whatsoever -- his conduct."
Would You Take Financial Advice From This Man? Topic: WorldNetDaily
As we've noted, WorldNetDaily in July launched Red Alert, a "global financial strategies newsletter" headed by Jerome Corsi. The newsletter was described as being for "for people of wealth and those who want to be people of wealth," specifically, those with "assets of $1 million or more to protect" or income of "$85,000 a year or more." It proposes to offer "the insights and behind-the-scenes reports and deep analysis of one of America's top political thinkers, journalists, commentators and financial gurus."
More recently, Corsi has predicted that "within one year, even an economic failure like President Herbert Hoover will look like a genius when compared to the failures we are likely to see from a President Obama." Corsi seems to be mixing some of his bogus-document fantasies in with his predictions.
Corsi has also gloated over financial problems faced by media companies: "The only good news this week is that the death throes of the mainstream media have begun in earnest."
It's important to note that Corsi's financial background is not in finance itself but it marketing. Corsi's bio on Red Alert states:
For 25 years, Corsi worked with banks throughout the U.S. and the world developing financial services marketing companies to assist banks in establishing broker/dealers and insurance subsidiaries to provide financial planning products and services to their retail customers. Corsi developed three third-party financial services marketing firms that reached annual gross sales levels of $1 billion in annuities and equal volume in mutual funds.
The distinction between finance and financial marketing is important, because Corsi appears to have been less than successful in the former.
As the Boston Globe detailed, Corsi was a principal in a group that launched an investment venture in Poland in 1995 that eventually lost about $1.2 million, much of it raised from a group of about 20 Minnesota investors -- at least two of whom received a court judgment against Corsi and the other principals but had yet to collect any money from Corsi because, according to one investor, Corsi's assets "had been moved into his wife's name . . . There was nothing to get out of him."
Corsi, meanwhile, had little to say beyond "no comment."
Still, the question must be raised given this history: Is Corsi a person from whom one should really be taking financial advice? Then again, he might be a better source on such things than, say, Dick Morris.
WorldNetDaily isn't the only ConWeb outlet who's peddling a cruise for its readers to buy.
For the second year in a row, WND is offering a Caribbean cruise; it claims it "has managed to put together an absolutely memorable, first-class Western Caribbean cruise, and yet charge half the cost of some cruises currently being promoted by similar organizations."
Featured guests on the WND cruise include Joseph Farah, Jerome Corsi, Aaron Klein and David Kupelian -- which might explain why WND had to cut the price to get people to join.
This is the cruise Farah has previously promoted as an opportunity to "plot the counterrevolution," adding that the idea "might be considered seditious after Jan. 20." Farah also claims: "And there's nothing like getting together with people who share your dread to kick around ideas not just about survival, but about fighting back, about overcoming, about victory." Yeah, nothing says "counterrevolution" like a Caribbean cruise. Rather Brooks Brothers riot-ish, actually.
Newsmax, meanwhile, has its own cruise from Rome to London planned to mark the website's 10th anniversary. Featured guests include Christopher Ruddy, Dick Morris, Ronald Kessler, and Dr. Russell Blaylock. Ruddy states:
Our meetings will be “off the record”— letting experts and insiders tell you what is really going on in the media, Washington, healthcare, Wall Street, and more.
We’ll discuss the hottest political issues facing the country in this post-election period, the most profitable opportunities in financial markets today, and life-enhancing strategies for greater health and longevity.
You will have one-on-one face time with me and our experts and celebrity friends. Plus, have all your questions answered by our distinguished faculty.
Isn't the whole "off the record" thing a bit odd for something that claims to be a journalistic website? And since when did Ruddy and Morris, et al, become "faculty"?
FrontPageMag Falsely Impugns AP Photographer Topic: Horowitz
The case of Associated Press photographer Bilal Hussein was a cause celebre among right-wingers a couple years ago. Some of them still haven't gotten over it.
One of them is David Paulin, who uses a Dec. 12 FrontPageMag article (which also appears at American Thinker and his own blog) to express dismay that Hussein was given an International Press Freedom Award after spending two years detained by the U.S. military in Iraq without ever being charged.In the process, Paulin repeats unsubstantiated claims about Hussein.
Paulin asserted that Hussein "hobnobbed easily with pro-Saddam loyalists and al-Qaida terrorists," which purportedly gave him "the uncanny ability to show up just as an attack occurred." No evidence is offered to support the claim. Paulin added that "To some, Hussein's photos raised troubling questions about the AP's hiring practices and objectivity." Paulin does not say who "some" are.
But anti-war liberals and media elites saw things differently. Hussein was a dedicated photojournalist doing his job – getting all sides of a story – only to be unjustly imprisoned without formal charges. One AP lawyer, apparently unaware Iraq was not a peaceful democracy but at war, even complained that Hussein was being denied “due process.”
It was a common complaint among liberals: Hussein had been denied “due process.”
Paulin does not mention why "due process" was a "common complaint": Hussein was never charged with a crime during his time in custody. Nor does Paulin explain why he apparently believes Hussein should have been denied "due process" and why he thinks it's acceptable to imprison a journalist without charges for two years.
Paulin also writes: "After two years in prison, he escaped the possibility of a criminal trial when he was freed under a general amnesty that took effect seven months ago." That's misleading; according to Hussein's attorney, Scott Horton: "When we say 'amnesty,' it’s usually an executive act. This was a judicial amnesty based on a review of the complete court record."
An Iraqi Judicial Commission reviewing his case took ten days to reach a conclusion: No basis existed for the terrorism-related charges which had been brought against him. The conclusion was a sweeping repudiation of accusations U.S. military figures have brought against him, backed by no evidence, but by a handful of strangely motivated American wingnut bloggers.
Paulin then snarked:
Hussein, during his live comments, also noted that Iraq was one of the world's most dangerous places for journalists. He was certainly right about that. More than 180 Iraqi journalists and media workers have died during the war – many targeted for asking too many questions or simply because they worked for Western news organizations. Obviously, none worked in the risk-free environment that Hussein did.
Again, Paulin offers no evidence that Hussein faced no risks in his photography, or that his relationship to terrorists is any more chummy that that of, say, Aaron Klein (whom we don't see Paulin ranting about).
Oddly enough, Paulin claims to be a journalist. You wouldn't know it from this little factually deficient attack.
NewsBusters Misleads on WaPo Article on Obama, Blago Topic: NewsBusters
A Dec. 12 NewsBusters post by Michael M. Bates objects to the premise of a Washington Post article, as stated by its headline: "Obama Worked to Distance Self From Blagojevich Early On." Bates counters that "Obama - far from distancing himself early on - played a key role in electing the now disgraced governor," falsely suggesting that the Post didn't report in detail on the history between Barack Obama and Rod Blagojevich.
In fact, the Post article did give a substantive account of their shared history, including the fact that Obama worked on Blagojevich's 2002 campaign:
Even though they often occupied the same political space -- two young lawyers in Chicago, two power brokers in Springfield, two ambitious men who coveted the presidency -- Obama and Blagojevich never warmed to each other, Illinois politicians said. They sometimes used each other to propel their own careers but privately acted like rivals. Blagojevich considered Obama naive and pretentious and dismissed his success as "good luck." Obama disparaged Blagojevich for what he viewed as his combativeness, his disorganization and his habit of arriving at official events half an hour late.
About all Blagojevich and Obama shared was searing ambition, which is what occasionally brought them together. Obama recognized that a Democratic governor could help him pass legislation and build his résumé in anticipation of a U.S. Senate run, so he helped Blagojevich's campaign as an informal adviser. Once Blagojevich was elected, he and Obama formed an awkward, arranged marriage: Obama passed a steady succession of legislation and built his reputation as a power player in Springfield; Blagojevich signed the bills and took the center seat at celebratory news conferences.
Now, why wouldn't Bates acknowledge this simple fact? Perhaps because he wouldn't have an item otherwise.
Your Bob Unruh Bad Journalism Alert Topic: WorldNetDaily
Joseph Farah likes to tout his WorldNetDaily reporter Bob Unruh as "a 30-year veteran of the Associated Press." That overlooks the fact that his WND work would never pass muster if he had turned it in to the AP, as we've detailed.
Case in point: We've repeatedlydebunked WND's assertion that Barack Obama, in a 2001 radio interview, said that the Constitution is "flawed in that it does not mandate or allow for redistribution of wealth" and that the Supreme Court's failure to address "redistributive change" is a failure of that court. In fact, Obama never said either thing.
Yet, what do we find in a Dec. 12 article by Unruh?
Obama said in a 2001 radio interview the Constitution is flawed in that it does not mandate or allow for redistribution of wealth.
Obama told Chicago's public station WBEZ-FM that "redistributive change" is needed, pointing to what he regarded as a failure of the U.S. Supreme Court under Chief Justice Earl Warren in its rulings on civil rights issues in the 1960s.
The Warren court, he said, failed to "break free from the essential constraints" in the U.S. Constitution and launch a major redistribution of wealth.
Unruh merely copied and pasted this false assertion from the October WND article where it was first made.
It is false. Unruh knows (or ought to) that it is false. Yet there it is, in an article under his name.
That Unruh permits this to happen, or does it himself, demonstrates that he learned nothing in those 30 years at the AP that his boss loves to tout as evidence of his credibility. As long as Unruh continues to peddle such falsehoods, he has no credibility.
And as long as it continues to repeat such easily debunked falsehoods without bothering to correct the record, neither does WorldNetDaily.
Examiner Misleads on Clinton, Travel Office Topic: Washington Examiner
Conservatives just can't let go of the Clinton Travel Office non-scandal.
In an effort to claim that a quick confirmation of Hillary Clinton as secretary of state would be a"gross dereliction of duty," a Dec. 12 Washington Examiner editorial states: "And let’s not forget that she was cited by the Independent Counsel for giving false testimony in her role as First Lady in the infamous White House travel office firings."
But it's the Examiner that has forgotten a few important things. As we've detailed, independent counsel Robert Ray also stated:
The evidence, however, is insufficient to show that Mrs. Clinton knowingly intended to influence the Travel Office decision or was aware that she had such influence at this early stage of the Administration. To a real degree, her interest in the matter was first generated by [Harry] Thomason's intervention, and then overstated by him to others. Thus, absent persuasive, corroborated, and admissible evidence to the contrary, there is insufficient evidence to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that Mrs. Clinton's statements to this Office or to Congress were knowingly false.
Further, the Examiner fails to note another important conclusion of Ray's report: "The decision to fire the Travel Office employees was a lawful one. The Travel Office employees served at the pleasure of President Bill Clinton, and they were subject to discharge without cause."
Can't the Examiner invent some new Clinton non-scandals to repeat ad nauseam?
Shocker: Kessler Defends -- And Praises! -- Obama Topic: Newsmax
After his months-long smearcampaign during the presidential race, the last thing we thought we'd see was Newsmax's Ronald Kessler coming to Barack Obama's defense -- and even praising the guy. But Kessler has done just that, albeit in something of a backhanded way.
In a Dec. 8 column, Kessler shoots down the conspiratorial assertion from the likes of WorldNetDaily that Obama is not a native-born American:
For months, I have been bombarded by e-mails claiming Barack Obama was born in Kenya and therefore does not meet the constitutional requirements to be president. I have also received hundreds of e-mails from readers asking why I do not expose the truth about his birth.
The truth is that Obama was born in Hawaii.
Kessler adds regarding lawsuits on the issue from folks like Philip Berg:
If there were any basis for Berg’s claims, one would think that the John McCain campaign and the Republican National Committee would have supported the lawsuit or at least blasted out e-mails touting the case. In fact, a McCain campaign aide told me that McCain campaign lawyers had looked into the allegations about Obama’s birth and found them to be bogus.
You would also think that Berg would be happy to be interviewed about the case by a journalist like me. But although he agreed to an interview at the conservative dinner, he has since failed to respond to my voicemails and e-mails asking for him to call.
Instead, Berg has stayed within the comfy confines of WND and right-wing readio for his interviews, where he knows he won't face any tough -- or even mildly skeptical -- questions.
Of course, that's just common sense. The real shocker is Kessler's Dec. 11 column, in which he states that "Barack Obama is getting high marks from the intelligence community for the way he responds to daily intelligence briefings." He adds:
"Obama is a quick study," says one intelligence official. "He absorbs a lot of information, digests it, and asks strategic questions."
"He has a way of being reflective about what we give him," says another intelligence official.
This appears to contradict Kessler's own pre-election assertions, in which he promoted claims (albeit by someone whom Kessler fails to identify as a McCain campaign official) that Obama's election "will endanger the country by making us more vulnerable to terrorist attacks."
At the same time, intelligence officials are troubled by the fact that Obama decided against appointing John Brennan, a deputy to former Director of Central Intelligence George Tenet, to be director of the CIA because Brennan served at the agency when it supposedly used torture as an interrogation technique.
The news that Brennan was Obama’s leading candidate provoked an outcry from left-leaning Obama supporters. In fact, the CIA does not believe outright torture produces reliable results and has never used it. Frightening prisoners with waterboarding is another matter. The technique was used on three terrorists, including Abu Zubaydah, Osama bin Laden’s field commander or chief of operations, and Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, the mastermind of the 9/11 plot.
In both cases, these and other coercive techniques — like subjecting prisoners to frigid temperatures or forcing them to stand for hours — have worked and have led to a takedown of other key al-Qaida operatives when they were planning more attacks that could have killed tens of thousands of Americans.
In fact, as we noted the last time Kessler made this claim, the waterboarding of Zubaydah reportedly produced a stream of statements of such dubious quality, according to journalist Ron Suskind, that intelligence officials now believe any evidence gleaned from Zubaydah to be worthless. Further, waterboarding produced "debatable results" from Mohammed.
Still, Kessler laments: "Since terrorists are now aware that they will not be drowned, the technique has become useless."
Graham's Lame Evidence of David Gregory's Bias Topic: Media Research Center
In the tradition of its attacks on Katie Couric, the Media Research Center has greeted David Gregory's appointment as host of NBC's "Meet the Press" with dubious claims of liberal bias.
A Dec. 8 "Media Reality Check" by Tim Graham features as its key piece of evidence that Gregory was "an arrogant question-yeller at Bush White House press conferences" the following:
Take this exchange with Scott McClellan on the Plame leak probe on July 11, 2005: “This is ridiculous. The notion that you're going to stand before us after having commented with that level of detail and tell people watching this that somehow you decided not to talk. You've got a public record out there. Do you stand by your remarks from that podium, or not?...Why are you choosing when it's appropriate and when it's inappropriate [to comment]?” McClellan replied: “If you'll let me finish,” but Gregory insisted: “No, you're not finishing! You're not saying anything!”
Graham doesn't bother to tell his reader the context of that conversation. Gregory had earlier noted that, in contrast to McClellan's 2003 statement that Karl Rove had assured McClellan that he was not involved in leaking Valerie Plame's identity to reporters. Rove had in fact done so, and McClellan was evading giving a direct answer about whether he still stood by his 2003 statements.Immediately prior to the "This is ridiculous" statement Graham exerpted, Gregory had asked McClellan:
QUESTION: Do you stand by your statement from the fall of 2003, when you were asked specifically about Karl and Elliot Abrams and Scooter Libby, and you said, "I've gone to each of those gentlemen, and they have told me they are not involved in this"?
And immediately after Gregory said, "“No, you're not finishing! You're not saying anything!” the questioning continued:
QUESTION: No, you're not finishing. You're not saying anything.
You stood at that podium and said that Karl Rove was not involved. And now we find out that he spoke about Joseph Wilson's wife. So don't you owe the American public a fuller explanation. Was he involved or was he not? Because contrary to what you told the American people, he did indeed talk about his wife, didn't he?
McCLELLAN: There will be a time to talk about this, but now is not the time to talk about it.
QUESTION: Do you think people will accept that, what you're saying today?
McCLELLAN: Again, I've responded to the question.
QUESTION: After the investigation is completed, will you then be consistent with your word and the president's word that anybody who was involved will be let go?
McCLELLAN: Again, after the investigation is complete, I will be glad to talk about it at that point.
QUESTION: Can you walk us through why, given the fact that Rove's lawyer has spoken publicly about this, it is inconsistent with the investigation, that it compromises the investigation to talk about the involvement of Karl Rove, the deputy chief of staff, here?
McCLELLAN: Well, those overseeing the investigation expressed a preference to us that we not get into commenting on the investigation while it's ongoing. And that was what they requested of the White House. And so I think in order to be helpful to that investigation, we are following their direction.
Rather than expressing arrogance, Gregory was simply pointing out the fact when he accused McClellan of not answering the question at hand. Yet to Graham, to do that is to express liberal bias.
And because there isn't a whole lot of diversity of thought at the MRC, Seton Motley copies-and-pastes Graham's claim in a Dec. 9 Human Events article (reprinted at NewsBusters) as among the purported "examples aplenty" of Graham's liberal bias.
Sadly, this is apparently the best Graham and Motley can come up with.
Media Matters points out that Dick Morris, in his Dec. 11 Newsmax column, repeats the discredited claim that Bill Clinton fired all the U.S. attorneys upon taking office in 1993 to cover that he was targeting one specific attorney who was investigation the Whitewater. In fact, that attorney resisted investigating the Whitewater matter in 1992, in defiance of pressure from officials in then-President George H.W. Bush's administration, who was apparently trying to find a way to bash Clinton during the campaign.
Horowitz Debunks Blaming CRA for Crisis, But His Writers Promoted It Topic: Horowitz
We've previously noted David Horowitz's attempt to talk some sense into conservatives by pointing out the unassailable fact that the Community Reinvestment Act did not cause the current financial crisis. So why did Horowitz's FrontPageMag publish writers who claimed it was?
To be sure, many economists dispute that deregulation is the principal cause of the current crisis. They cite the 1977 Community Reinvestment Act, which stipulated that banks had an “affirmative obligation” to make loans to low-income borrowers of dubious creditworthiness; the role of government-sponsored enterprises like Freddie Mac and Fanny May [sic]; and the activist interventions of the Federal Reserve in financial markets as the driving forces of the financial turmoil.
It was the left - the "liberals" or "progressives" - who led the charge to force lending institutions to lend to people whose credit history made them eligible only for "subprime" loans that were risky for both borrowers and lenders.
It started way back in the Carter administration, with the Community Reinvestment Act, and gained momentum over the years with legal threats from Attorney General Janet Reno and thuggery from ACORN, all to force lenders to lend where third parties wanted them to lend. Now we have a bad stomach ache - and now the left wants to start amputating the market.
Q: Are the subprime credit crisis and the stock market’s swoon and the dollar’s drop in value symptoms of a deeper, larger, broader problem?
A: Well, no, they are simply the problems that they are. The government has brought on the housing problem, partly by these very low interest rates, which encouraged many people to go way out on a limb. They’ve brought it on by highly restrictive building policies, which have caused housing prices to skyrocket artificially. And they’ve brought it on by the Community Reinvestment Act, which presumes that politicians are better able to tell investors where to put their money than the investors themselves are. When you put all that together, you get something like what you have.
-- Interview of Thomas Sowell by Bill Steigerwald, Feb. 4
Meanwhile, Horowitz is still strugging mightily to impose reason on those birth-certificate-obsessed right-wingers:
If this were to come to pass, the principles could not be enforced. In the second place, conservatives need to recognize and accept that they lost the election and it is important for Americans to accept their new president. He may do things, AS PRESIDENT, that will cause them to oppose him, and that is fine. But first they need to accept him as President, because that is the way our constitutional system works. And it is the only way it works.
And judging by the comments, it's going about as well as his previous attempts.