A Dec. 31 Newsmax article by David Patten on the Al Franken-Norm Coleman Minnesota Senate race recount uncritically repeats a claim by Republican Sen. John Cornyn that Franken "is falsely declaring victory based on an artificial lead created on the back of the double counting of ballots," adding that "Minnesotans will not accept a recount in which some votes are counted twice, and I expect the Senate would have a problem seating a candidate who has not duly won an election."
Patten makes no attempt to explain the "double counting" issue -- perhaps because if he did, he'd have to reveal that it's not an issue at all.
As Nate Silver at fivethirtyeight.com explains, the issue is based around the fact that voters who cast ballots on election day that could not be read by the vote scanner were required to cast a duplicate ballot. But for the recount, the original ballots, not the duplicates, were counted. Coleman is claiming discrepancies between the original vote count and the recount as evidence that "double counting" was taking place. But as Silver points out:
Coleman's proposed remedy is that original ballots should be thrown out in any instances where they can't be paired with duplicates. If that remedy is adopted, then each of two things will happen: (#1) The state will prevent some ballots from being double-counted, and (#2) The state will also throw out some perfectly legal ballots. The process of identifying potential double-counted ballots is simply too imprecise to have the one thing without the other.
Can these two harms be weighed against one another? Suppose that if you rule on Coleman's behalf, you'll prevent 20 votes from being counted twice, but also throw out 20 legal votes. Most of us would probably not consider that to be a productive trade-off. But what if you could prevent 30 votes from being double-counted, in exchange for throwing out 10 legal ballots? Does the trade-off then become acceptable? Should you double-count 50 ballots if it prevents one voter from having his vote thrown out? Or, does the right of a voter to have his vote counted inherently trump that of the risk of counting some other voter's ballot twice?
By not explaining the duplicate ballot issue, Patten falsely suggests the issue has legitimacy when, in fact, it appears it's just a tactic by Coleman and fellow Republicans to forestall a Franken victory.
Cashill Still Clinging to His Obama Conspiracy Theory Topic: WorldNetDaily
We've detailed how conspiracy theorist extrordinaire Jack Cashill has been peddling the notion that William Ayers ghost-wrote Barack Obama's book "Dreams From My Father," despite a dearth of tangible evidence to support the claim.
Cashill is still clinging to his conspiracy in a Jan. 1 WorldNetDaily column, insisting that it's "the most consequential literary hoax of our time." Needless to say, Cashill's evidence is still circumstantial and speculative, still weirdly focusing on a purported shared love of nautical references by both Ayers and Obama, while "my own memoir on race, 'Sucker Punch,' makes no reference at all, metaphorical or otherwise, to any of the above words save 'current' and 'tides.'"
Cashill still hasn't apologized for falsely claiming that anti-abortion extremist James Kopp was innocent of killing abortion doctor Barnett Slepian, so don't expect to back down from this anytime soon. Part of being a conspiracy theorist, it seems, is that you blithely ignore all the stuff you get wrong.
CNS Promotes Anti-Gay Activists, Buries the Lede Topic: CNSNews.com
A Dec. 24 CNSNews.com article by Pete Winn is an unbalanced account of a non-binding United Nations vote to decriminalize homosexuality worldwide devoting nearly the entirety of its space to anti-gay activists who oppose the vote.
Winn also fails to fully detail the agenda of the two anti-gay activists he quotes. Gary Bauer is described only as a "former GOP presidential candidate" and "president of American Values," but he fails to note that American Values is a right-wing group, and Bauer himself has made wild accusations about a purported "militant homosexual movement."
Winn further describes Thomas Jacobson only as a "[c]onservative U.N. analyst ... who works for the conservative Focus on the Family." But Focus on the Family is a notoriously anti-gay group as well, and Jacobson himself has complained about previous U.N. proposals to decriminalize homosexuality: “What they are saying with this proposed treaty is that a person may practice any form of sexual behavior that is consensual with any other person ... with no reference to marriage, no reference to responsibility to any children which come forth from that union, and no limitation on the types of behavior."
Winn also buries the lede by putting a note that "More than 70 U.N. members currently outlaw homosexuality -- many of them Islamic nations" and Jacobson's statement that “What’s really going to make the huge difference is if the OIC (Organization of the Islamic Conference) countries and the other developing countries, especially from Africa – and we would hope from Latin America -- will stand their moral ground against this,” near the end of the article.
It's surprising that self-proclaimed Christians would accept the Islamic view on anything, let alone count on their support on a "moral ground" issue. Do Bauer and Jacobson actually endorse the Islamic view of homosexuality, which in many Islamic countries is punishible by death? Winn doesn't follow up.
Isn't it newsworthy that Christian activists appear to be embracing extreme Islamic views on an issue? Winn doesn't think so.
Does Aaron Klein Hate Olmert More Than He Does Hamas? Topic: WorldNetDaily
We've detailed Aaron Klein's hatred for Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert -- from trying to swift-boat Olmert in the run-up to an election to actively undermining his authority during an Israeli military action in Lebanon ( something WorldNetDaily and its writers did not tolerate regarding criticism of President Bush during the Iraq war) -- for not being right-wing enough.
So why is Klein running to the defense of Olmert's government now during Israel's military action in Gaza?
We've already noted that Klein has uncritically parroted Israeli government claims in bashing Hamas. Klein does so again in a Dec. 29 article, proclaiming "one precision strike hit a building of Gaza's Islamic University" that he claimed was being misreported in the media as striking a "women's wing" at the university. Klein again uncritically quotes an Israeli government spokesman defending the airstrike. Klein also uncritically quotes various Islamic activists describing the alleged activist bent of the university -- even though two days earlier he was bashing Hamas for issuing misleading claims about the number of casualties in Gaza.
Surprisingly, we've not heard from Klein -- not yet, anyway -- that the Israeli bombing of Gaza was a ploy to bolster Olmert's Kadima party in upcoming elections, as others have. Klein once accused Olmert of promoting peace talks with Syria to save his "flailing government," calling it an attempt "to distract from mounting domestic dissatisfaction regarding his government's management of the war in Lebanon."
It appears that this time around, Klein actually hates Israel's enemies more than Israel's leader. But where will that leave Klein's terrorist buddies, one important part of Klein's mighty Wurlitzer?
Kinsolving Peddles Global Warming Bamboozlement Topic: WorldNetDaily
Les Kinsolving's Dec. 30 WorldNetDaily column uncritically parrots the claims of the likes of Marc Morano that "Six hundred and fifty scientists from all over the world have challenged the global warming claims made by the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, and by former Vice President Al Gore."
But as we've noted, the list of 650 scientists promoted by Morano and Kinsolving merely is an extension of a previous report that was criticized for including a number of people with no expertise in climate science (or science, period).
Does Kincaid Think Soros Burned Down Palin's Church? Topic: Accuracy in Media
From a Dec. 29 Accuracy in Media column by Cliff Kincaid:
We had asserted during the campaign that “Palin is a target and possibly in harm’s way because she is being perceived as someone who can take a bold stand against George Soros and his nightmare vision and turn the country around on such critical [culture of life] issues.” Soros is a major funder of the Democratic Party and its causes, including abortion and homosexual rights. Soros also funds groups promoting legalization of drugs and rights for prostitutes and criminals.
It turns out that Palin was in harm’s way. Her home church in Alaska, the Wasilla Bible Church, which had been criticized by liberal media outlets as too conservative on matters such as abortion and homosexuality, was badly damaged in an arson fire on December 12. There were no injuries or deaths related to the incident but five women and children were inside the church when the fire started. Agents of the federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives have joined the investigation but no arrests have been made.
Soros, who is dedicated to destroying traditional values in America in the name of an “open society,” is a convicted inside trader and major funder of the Center for American Progress, whose president, John Podesta, is a co-chair of the Obama-Biden Transition Project. Soros personally contributed $50,000 to the Obama Presidential Inaugural Committee.
Palin is not easily intimidated and can continue to be a major spokesperson on cultural and social problems.
Is Kincaid implying that Soros burned down, or had a role in burning down, Palin's church? The juxtapositions here make it seem like that's the impression Kincaid wants to create.
We've previously detailed Noel Sheppard's uncanny ability to be surprised by things that aren't very surprising. He again engages in a form of this in a Dec. 27 NewsBusters post, in which Sheppard asks, "Can you imagine a major American newspaper publishing the headline '2008 Was the Year Man-made Global Warming Was Disproved'?" Sheppard adds that "the British Telegraph published a piece Saturday most climate alarmists on this side of the Atlantic would never dare," which he claims supports "the view that foreign press outlets are more willing to present both sides of this debate."
What Sheppard doesn't tell you: The London Telegraph is a conservative-leaning paper owned until recently by Conrad Black, the article in question is an opinion column, and the columnist (whom Sheppard curiously fails to name), Christopher Booker, has a history of spreading misinformation not only about globalwarming but also about asbestos -- Booker has peddled the false claim that some types of asbestos don't cause cancer.
Sheppard doesn't explain how a conserative opinion columnist in a conservative newspaper peddling conservative talking points, and misleading ones at that, is representative of telling "both sides of the debate."
With the Israeli military action against Hamas in Gaza, Aaron Klein has turned propagandist, bashing claims made by Hamas while uncritically promoting claims by the Israeli government.
A Dec. 27 WND article by Klein focuses on "Hamas' and the Palestinian Authority's long and sordid histories of greatly inflating casualty figures, complaining that news reports on casualties in Gaza failed to note that "the casualty numbers were provided by Hamas."
By contrast, Klein uncritically repeated claims by the Israeli Defense Forces about "some of the targets hit," that "the IDF maintains it tried to minimize casualties," and that the IDF strikes "were predicated on precise intelligence amassed in recent months to target specific Hamas facilities." Klein also quotes a spokesman for Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert saying that "Hamas has a major propaganda interest in highlighting civilian casualties while at the same time minimizing the number of Hamas combatants killed."
A real journalist might have noted that Israel, as the other combatant, has a propaganda interest in downplaying civilian casualties in its airstrikes. But that's not Klein's job here. His goal is to make Israel look good and Hamas look bad -- which makes him a propagandist, not a journalist.
It's Christmas time again, and you know that that means: time for Aaron Klein to disingenuously claim about other media reporting (not his own, of course) about Bethlehem.
A Dec. 24 WorldNetDaily column by Klein contains his apparently annual carping -- he melodramatically targets "but the cold deceit of the mainstream media, which, like clockwork, file misleading reports from this important Christian city every year" -- and like last year, he misleads about what he's criticizing (though, unlike last year, it doesn't appear that he got basic facts wrong, such as the name of the news agency he was attacking). His main problem is that the media doesn't parrot his right-wing agenda in which Israelis the right-wing ones, anyway) are always correct and justified in their behavior and all Muslims are always wrong.
Klein's first target is a Associated Press article on life in Bethlehem that he claims improperly describes the security wall erected by the Israelis. He accuses the writer (putting "journalist" in scare quotes to describe her) of claiming that the wall "encircle[s]" Bethlehem. In fact, the AP writer did not do that; she only described one property as being "surrounded on three sides by a gray cement wall."
Klein also claims that the writer's "main contention" was that "Palestinians in Bethlehem are suffering economically, and this is Israel's fault," which "couldn't be further from the truth." In fact, the AP article makes no such claim; rather, the writer makes no explicit claims about the economy of Bethlehem as a whole and points out how the wall has been disruptive to some but that residents are adapting.
Klein also engages in some whitewashing here by downplaying the impact of the fence: "Actually, unless one enters the city from the area interfacing Jerusalem, a traveler coming in from any other entrance will not even encounter the barrier." Klein concludes with a dissertation on Palestinian and Muslim aggression in Bethlehem.
The notion of Klein complaining about the biased reporting of others is laughable given the extreme bias of his own reporting. Most recently, as we've detailed, Klein has been whitewashing and explaining away violence by right-wing Israeli settlers in the West Bank against Palestinians. Klein has avoided reporting on it since even as the violence continues.
And Klein's whitewashing continues: In a Dec. 26 article, Klein quotes West Bank settler David Haivri, whom he benignly describes only as the "Shromron Community Council liason." As we'vedetailed, Haivri (or Ha'ivri) -- whom Klein has sympathetically portrayed in the past -- is a far-right activist aligned with Meir Kahane's movements who, in a CNN documentary, refused to criticize a plot by Jewish extremists to detonate a bomb outside a Palestinian girls' school.
If Klein is so offended by the "cold deceit" of the media, shouldn't he stop engaging in it himself?
Eugenics pioneer, Francis Galton, defined eugenics as "the study of all agencies under human control which can improve or impair the racial quality of future generations."
Global warming can be defined as: "The study of all agencies under human control which can improve or impair the environmental quality of future generations."
The eugenics movement, carried to its logical conclusion by Hitler, killed millions of innocent people. Global warming, when carried to its logical conclusion, will kill far more people than eugenics, and cause incomprehensible agony to people who desperately need affordable energy to survive and prosper.
A Dec. 25 NewsBusters post by P.J. Gladnick highlights a Slate article about "political media divas who refuse to appear with other guests." What Gladnick doesn't mention: a number of those media divas are at the Media Research Center.
Last year, we studied a three-month period of MRC staffers' appearances on Fox News. Our findings:
Of the 21 appearances on the channel by MRC employees we documented in the first three months of 2007, 11 were solo appearances with no other guests, and three more included guests who held similar conservative views to that of the MRC representative.
Only five appearances were made in a format that included the opportunity for questioning by ideological opposites.
Rarely was the MRC representative identified as conservative.
Indeed, we've continuedtodocument MRC appearances on Fox News in which not only is there no ideological opposite taking part in the conversation, the MRC rep nor the MRC are not identified as conservative. We don't know how strict the MRC's standards are for TV appearances, but it seems that there are too many friendly solo appearances on Fox for it to be a coincidence.
WND Still Whitewashing Ramos, Compean Topic: WorldNetDaily
WorldNetDaily has been agitating of late for a pardon of Border Patrol agents, Ignacio Ramos and Jose Compean, convicted in 2006 of shooting a fleeing suspected drug smuggler on the U.S.-Mexico border and then covering up their actions -- even offering a petition for people to sign (which, as we've noted, is a tad disingenuous). But as it did before, WND is shielding from its readers the most damning aspects of the case against Ramos and Compean -- namely, what exactly they did to earn their prison sentences.
A Dec. 15 article by Chelsea Schilling summarized the case this way: "Ramos and Compean are serving 11- and 12-year prison sentences, respectively, for shooting at a fleeing illegal alien drug dealer while he smuggled nearly 750 pounds of marijuana across the border." While Schilling did go on to note that the two "were convicted of assault, discharge of a weapon in the commission of a crime of violence, tampering with an official proceeding and deprivation of civil rights," at no point does Schilling explain it, preferring instead to tell the sob stories of the families of the agents. Schilling does admit that the Ramos and Compean's convictions on nearly all of the charges were upheld by the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals.
As we detailed when WND endeavored to suppress the full story the first time around, the agents were accused of covering up their involvement in the shooting by picking up their shell casings and failing to file an incident report. Further, pursuing fleeing suspects violates Border Patrol policy.
While this article had some semblence of balance, a follow-up Dec. 22 article by Schilling did not. She repeated the "illegal alien drug dealer" slant, noted the charges the two were convicted of -- then went on to claim, based solely on a claim made by an anonymous source, that Border Patrol agents "fear losing their jobs or ending up behind bars like agents Ignacio Ramos and Jose Compean."
Other recent WND articles on the case demonstrate a similar bias by not reporting the details of the case explaining why Ramos and Compean faced those charges and were convicted of them. A Dec. 15 article promoting the petition whitewashes things further, noting only that Ramos and Compean "were convicted and sentenced under a law requiring a minimum 10-year sentence for the use of a firearm in the commission of a crime – a law the Congress never intended to apply to law enforcement officers" without mention the cover-up charges. A Dec. 24 article by Bob Unruh recited some of the charges Ramos and Compean wereconvicted of but failed to detail the circumstances of the crime.
A Dec. 19 column by Joseph Farah engages in a total whitewash, stating only that "Ramos and Compean were Border Patrol agents who slightly wounded an illegal alien drug smuggler with a gunshot while in pursuit and in the line of duty" without explaining the attempted cover-up of their actions. Farah added that "They have already served nearly two years – mostly in solitary confinement" without explaining that they are in solitary confinement for their own protection. Law enforcement agents convicted of crimes typically are held apart from the general prison population for their own safety -- as illustrated by an assault on Ramos while he was held among the general prison population (and yes, WND complained about that, too).
Waters Ignores Falsehood to Praise Fox Attack on NYT Topic: NewsBusters
A Dec. 23 NewsBusters post (and TimesWatch item) by Clay Waters proclaims how "The roundtable on Monday night's Special Report with Brit Hume on FNC was not kind to the New York Times's hit piece on Sunday's front page that blamed President Bush and only Bush for the mortgage meltdown." But Waters failed to note that panelists Nina Easton and Charles Krauthammer got a major fact wrong.
As Media Matters details, both Barnes and Krauthammer claimed that the Community Reinvestment Act and efforts to expand affordable housing are at least in part to blame for the home foreclosure crisis. But according to experts, the CRA does not govern the vast majority of subprime lenders.
Apparently, conservatives aren't held to the same factual standards by the MRC as non-conservatives.
Examiner Misleads on Global Warming Topic: Washington Examiner
A Dec. 23 Washington Examiner editorial falsely claims that "the Earth has actually been cooling – not warming – since 1998." In fact, as we've repeatedlydetailed, while 1998 is the warmest year on record, overall global temperatures have risen in the ensuing decade.
The editorial also cites a claim regarding "more than 650 current and former members of the U.N. Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) who are now publicly questioning the non-scientist Gore’s major premise." The editorial fails to note that the claim is being peddled by Marc Morano, the staffer for Republican Sen. James Infofe who has a history of pushing bogus claims denying global warming.
First, the Examiner gets one detail wrong. The Inhofe/Morano report did not cite "more than 650 current and former members of the U.N. Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change"; it cited "over 650 prominent international scientists, including many current and former UN IPCC scientists."
Second, Morano's numbers are suspect here as well. As Climate Progress points out, the vast majority of people on Morano's list are recycled from a smiliar 2007 report, which was criticized for including a number of people with no expertise in climate science (or science, period).
The editorial also cited "recent freak snowstorms in Malibu, New Orleans and Las Vegas" as evidence that global warming doesn't exist. In fact, as we've detailed, a spell of cold weather in a particular place has no relevance to the overall global warming debate.
A Dec. 22 Newsmax article by David A. Patten, headlined, "ACORN, Soros, Linked to Franken Vote Grab," doesn't fulfill the promise of its headline. Rather, Patten attacks Minnesota Secretary of State Mark Ritchie as allegedly having "extensive ties to both the ACORN organization now under federal investigation for vote fraud, and to MoveOn.org ultra-liberal kingmaker George Soros."
And what are those "extensive ties"? Patten tells us: "In 2006, ACORN endorsed Ritchie in his bid to become secretary of state, and Ritchie also received a campaign contribution that year from Soros." That's "extensive"?
Patten also alleges that Ritchie was a beneficiary of a Soros-funded project whose "express purpose is to seed state election bureaucracies nationwide with partisan activists ... who are strategically positioned to influence the outcome of close recounts like the one now underway in Minnesota." Patten adds that the project "was founded after Democrats involved in George W. Bush’s narrow 2000 election victory blamed Florida Secretary of State Katherine Harris for influencing the outcome."
As for evidence that Ritchie is spearheading a "Franken vote grab" in the Minnesota Senate race recount between Democrat Al Franken and Republican Sen. Norm Coleman, Patten offers none -- instead, he quotes our old friend Matthew Vadum of the Capital Research Center calling Ritchie "a hard-core liberal who was endorsed by ACORN and funded by ACORN" and who has "a permissive attitude toward the recount process." Patten also states that "ruling after ruling by the Ritchie-led State Canvassing Board has gone against Coleman," but fails to note that Republican Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty approved the canvassing board's composition, and that a lawyer for Coleman's campaign reportedly said that the "state should feel good about who's on the panel."
If all this sounds a little familiar, it's because eight years ago, Newsmax was on the other side of a similar election controversy.
Newsmax was all about defending then-Florida secretary of state Katherine Harris during the 2000 presidential election recount, declaring her "the one and only hero to emerge from the election crisis" and asking its readers to email their support to her.
But a search of Newsmax's online archives found no reference to the one relevent piece of information about Harris that was the basis for much of the controversy surrounding her: she was the Florida co-chair for George W. Bush's campaign and had campaigned for him, and her certifying Bush as the winner in the face of controversies surrounding the voting process made him the president.
While that would seem to have relevance in an article on the alleged political affiliations of state election officials, Patten fails to mention that fact as well in his reference to Harris. Further, Patten offers no evidence that Ritchie is behaving any different than Harris, whose behavior Newsmax endorsed and defended.
UPDATE: MN Publius reports that people on the Newsmax mailing list have received a fund-raising letter from the Republican National Lawyers Association, which baselessly asserts that Franken and "his liberal allies are working feverishingly to steal the Minnesota Senate election."