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Monday, December 8, 2008
Right-Wing Myths Shot Down By ... David Horowitz?
Topic: Horowitz

David Horowitz normally takes a back seat to no one in passing along right-wing talking points, particularly about Barack Obama (witness his pre-election Obama-bashing.) So it's a bit of a shock to see Horowitz shoot down one prominent right-wing Obama myth, as well as another falsely blaming the financial crisis on Democrats.

Horowitz devoted a Dec. 1 blog post to shooting down various right-wing attacks on Obama, starting with the birth certificate:

Is Obama a legitimate president of the United States? Well, let me put it to you this way: 64 million Americans voted to elect Barack Obama. Do you want to disenfranchise them? Do you think it's possible to disenfranchise 64 million Americans and keep the country? And please don't write me about the Constitution. The first principle of the Constitution is that the people are sovereign. What the people say, goes. If you think about it, I think you will agree that a two-year billion dollar election through all 50 states is as authoritative a verdict on anything as we are likely to get. Barack Obama is our president. Get used to it.

And what could conservatives be thinking when they push this issue as though it were important (as The American Thinker did last week)? Do we want to go challenging the legitimacy of an election that involved 120 million voters? Have we become deranged leftists like Al Gore who would attack the one binding thread that makes us a nation despite our differences? The mystique of elections is the American covenant. Respect it. Barack Obama is the president of the United States. Get used to it. 

But Horowitz's readers didn't take too kindly to that notion, so he responded to them the next day:

Among the many attacks on my previous blog both abusive and not, one common theme seems to stand out. This is the claim that I have slighted the Rule of Law in favor of some misguided principle of democracy, which is not a conservative idea -- or so my critics would argue. My error is to have elevated the principle of majority rule over the rule of law.


The people voted for Obama. Assuming for the sake of the argument that Obama is not a natural citizen of  the United States, the question is: what are the consequences of having 9 appointed justices -- or more likely 5 of 9 justices -- tell 64 million voters that their votes don't count? Would our constitutional democracy survive such a conflict, and then would our Constitution? Ultimately, the answer to these questions lies with the people. They are the ultimate authority not some abstract Rule of Law because the Rule of Law is in any case ajudicated and enforced by (highly political) men and women, while the people in its majority have it in their power to destroy the Rule of Law if they so will. The Constitution itself recognizes this fact by giving the people the right to amend it by a two-thirds vote. This is itself a recognition that the Rule of Law is an institution of men and women.


At bottom, the problem with all these comments is that the people who make them haven't accepted the fact that we lost the election. We lost the election. Get used to it. That's the necessary condition for thinking clearly about the next step.

His readers still weren't buying it, so Horowitz repeated his contention the following day, but added:

Consider the bitterness, the pathological hatred of Bush, the sabotage of America's war effort by Democrats who believed that his election was illegitimate. Consider the 2 month delay this caused in the transition to the new administration and how that affected our inability to prevent 9/11 (the comprehensive counter-terrorism plan commissioned by Bush arrived on his desk on 9/10). We are fighting wars on two fronts. The attack on Mumbai is a reminder that the same could happen here at any moment. Do we have the luxury of a fratricidal conflict within our borders?

In fact, the the controversy over the 2000 election did not result in a "2 month delay"; the election was held on Nov. 7, and Gore conceded on Dec. 13. Further, Horowitz offers no evidence that the election controversy kept Bush from commissioning a counterterrorism plan any earlier than he did, which might have been delivered earlier than Sept. 10.

But the criticism continued, which prompted Horowitz to slip into victim mode in a Dec. 4 post, declaring that "It seems like I've taken on the thankless task of keeping conservatives from behaving like liberals, acting like unpatriotic sore losers and attacking the legitimacy of the new commander-in-chief." He then decides to ratchet things up more, invoking "another issue on which conservatives have bent themselves out of shape, refusing to accept their share of responsibility for the financial crisis that is upon us. Contrary to conservative mythmakers, the subprime credit is not the cause of the current crisis and the Community Reinvestment Act is not its trigger."

Horowitz then copies-and-pastes are Federal Reserve report pointing out that "the long-term evidence shows that the CRA has not pushed banks into extending loans that perform out of line with their traditional businesses" and that "only a small portion of subprime mortgage originations are related to the CRA."

That didn't go over too well either. In a Dec. 6 blog post, Horowitz added a restatement of the origin of the financial crisis by another writer, adding, "I didn't write the following, but I'm not going to identify who did and open him to the kind of ad hominem attacks that I myself have been subjected to. Suffice it to say he knows more about the economy than anyone posting to this threat [sic]." Horowitz also reiterated his claims on the birth certificate brouhaha: 

The continuing efforts of a fringe group of consrvatives to deny Obama his victory and to lay the basis for the claim that he is not a legitimate president is embarrassing and destructive. The fact that these efforts are being led by Alan Keyes, an unhinged demagogue on the political fringe who lost a senate election to the then unknown Obama by 42 points should be a warning in itself.

In a Dec. 7 post, Horowitz played the victim again in answering his critics:

I have become accustomed to the fact that when it comes to political issues people are averse to complexities and messy facts and prefer to argue ideological simplicities instead. Thus I am lectured by many that the Constitution matters, that it can't be subordinated to politics, etc., etc. Then I am told that I have gone ideologically soft, that I am Obama Republican and that I am not a conservative. All because I have pointed out what should be some obvious truths.

First, the issue is not whether the Constitution should be subjected to the whim of an electoral majority. It should not.

Second, the issue is whether an election that has been decided by nearly 120 million people should now be thrown into the laps of  9.


The attempt by some so-called conservatives to declare the winner of this election illegitimate and to deny Obama his office is a radical assault on our constituional framework and system of law. 

Will this end the saga? Don't count on it -- the truth means nothing to these people. After all, WorldNetDaily has continued to distort and lie about Obama's birth certificate, even after first reporting the truth.

Posted by Terry K. at 12:55 AM EST
Sunday, December 7, 2008
Topic: Newsmax

Chris Kelly at the Huffington Post deconstructs Newsmax's promotion for a "new Sarah Palin book": "it's an old book, it's not by Sarah Palin, you'll pay three times the cost of shipping, and you'll have to subscribe to Newsmax magazine."

Kelly also notes that the book that's part of the promotion -- Kaylene Johnson's non-critical bio of Palin -- has undergone a slight title alteration to take advantage of Palin's popularity.

Posted by Terry K. at 1:44 PM EST
The Return of Clinton Sex Jokes at the MRC
Topic: NewsBusters

One hallmark of the Media Research Center's "research" in the late 1990s and early 2000s was to inject tasteless Clinton jokes, usually regarding sex, into it. Tim Graham harkens back to those days in a Dec. 6 NewsBusters post on a panel discussion of female TV news personalities.

When asked, "Do you think your subjects treat you differently when you cover them because of your gender?" CNN's Soledad O'Brien responded, "Does being hit on count?" That prompted Graham to interject: "Is that a Bill Clinton question?"

If the Clintons weren't around, what would the boys at the MRC do for humor? (And no, NewsBusted doesn't count.)

Posted by Terry K. at 1:14 PM EST
CNS Misleads on Prop. 8 Victory Margin (And the Musical)

A Dec. 4 article by Melannie Hunter-Omar reporting that "Christian group is calling for an apology from Hollywood celebrities who starred in a musical that it says mocks Christians, defames Christ, and distorts the teaching of the Bible" claims that "Prop 8: The Musical" was made "as a response to the overwhelming support of Proposition 8, a California initiative approved by voters that bans same-sex marriage."

"Overwhelming"? Proposition 8 won by a margin of 52.8 percent to 47.7 percent, a smaller margin of victory than that of Barack Obama over John McCain. According to a search of the CNS archive, Obama's victory margin is one that neither Hunter-Omar nor anyone else at CNS has similarly seen fit to describe as "overwhelming."

Hunter-Omar references the video's statement that "Leviticus says shellfish is an abomination" (Leviticus being the same book cited by anti-gay activists for its similar denouncement of homosexuality), then quotes a spokesman for the Christian Anti-Defamation Commission claiming that the video "intentionally distort[s] the Bible." No effort is made to explain how pointing out that Leviticus denounces eating shellfish in the same way it denounces homosexuality "intentionally distort[s] the Bible."

Posted by Terry K. at 12:21 AM EST
Saturday, December 6, 2008
Examiner Misleads on Autoworker Pay
Topic: Washington Examiner

A Dec. 5 Washington Examiner editorial rehashes a misleading right-wing talking point in attacking autoworkers, claiming that they receive "wages and benefits at least $25 an hour higher on average than those paid workers at the U.S. plants of Toyota, Honda and Nissan."

That notion appears to be cut-and-pasted straight out of a Nov. 19 Heritage Foundation "WebMemo" by James Sherk:

The typical UAW worker at the Big Three earned between $71 and $76 an hour in 2006. This amount is triple the earnings of the typical worker in the private sector and $25 to $30 an hour more than American workers at Japanese auto plants.

But that's false --  that figure includes the cost of providing pensions and health care to retirees. There's no evidence that, as Sherk goes on to claim, "The average unionized worker at the Big Three earns over $130,000 a year in wages and benefits."

Posted by Terry K. at 6:02 PM EST
Kincaid's Newest Anti-Obama Rant
Topic: Accuracy in Media

Cliff Kincaid is still desperately seeking ways to attack Barack Obama, this time taking an opportunity to invoke his ultra-anti-communism in the process.

In his Dec. 2 Accuracy in Media column, Kincaid criticizes Obama for even appointing anyone, let alone Susan Rice, to be U.N. ambassador. Why? Because it was created in part by Alger Hiss (and thus, he writes, not "truly 'American'"), because it was allegedly "a major base of espionage operations for Russia in the U.S.," and because "it is still infested with anti-American intelligence agents and foreign spies."

Kincaid then goes off on a tangent, ranting against the idea that Obama adviser Anthony Lake might be appointed to a position in the Obama administration -- which has not actully been seriously discussed anywhere that we've seen -- because he once "expressed doubt as to whether Alger Hiss was really guilty" when asked about it during a 1997 congressional hearing on his nomination to be CIA director (from which he eventually withdrew). Kincaid adds that last year "we urged AIM members to send him a postcard" asking, "Do you still doubt that Alger Hiss was a Soviet spy?"

Kincaid fails to note that, according to a 1997 PBS report, Lake retracted the statement. Further, that Lake was asked about Hiss at all shows the hyperpartisan nature of the confirmation hearing; a March 19, 1997, New York Daily News editorial noted, "That the process was a dressed-up witch hunt was sealed when Lake was asked his opinion of Alger Hiss the bogeyman of the McCarthy years." A Newark Star-Ledger editorial the same day noted that the Hiss question was part of "an endless game of gotcha" by Lake's main inquisitor, Republican Sen. Richard Shelby.

Further, as Lake himself pointed out during his hearing, "The Hiss case is not something, frankly, that the national security adviser deals with every day." 

Nevertheless, Kincaid uses Lake (and Hiss) as a cudgel to bash Obama. That AIM postcard also included the question,"What Is Senator Obama’s position on the question of Hiss’s guilt?" and Kincaid concludes his column by writing, "Obama already has special access to America’s national security secrets. Has he shared any of them with his 'intimate' friend Anthony Lake?" That's apparently an allusion to a pre-election Kincaid scare tactic, that Obama's purported "30-year association with people who hate the United States" meant that "it is highly doubtful that Obama could get a security clearance in the U.S. government he wants to lead."

Posted by Terry K. at 10:58 AM EST
Updated: Saturday, December 6, 2008 11:00 AM EST
Friday, December 5, 2008
WND Repeats Previous Lies About Obama
Topic: WorldNetDaily

From a Dec. 5 WorldNetDaily article on Barack Obama's purported views on the court system:


Obama said in a 2001 radio interview said 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.

In fact, as the excerpt from the radio interview WND included in the article clearly indicates, Obama said no such thing. Obama never "said the Constitution is flawed in that it does not mandate or allow for redistribution of wealth," nor did Obama describe the Warren court's refusal to address the issue of "redistributive change" as a "failure."

WND cited as a source for its interpretation an Oct. 27 WND article making the same false claims (as we've noted).

None of this is a surprise, given that WND and its employees lack the moral compass that would stop most normal people from spreading lies.

Posted by Terry K. at 4:02 PM EST
Huston Makes False Claim About Obama, Oprah
Topic: NewsBusters

In a Dec. 5 NewsBusters post, Warner Todd Huston stated that Oprah Winfrey "made some vague claim that she had "decided" not to open her show for political candidates despite the fact that she was an open participant in Barack Obama's campaign and had the now president elect and his wife on her show several times during the campaigns."

False. In fact, while Obama appeared on Oprah's show in 2005 and 2006, he did not appear after he declared as a candidate or during the presidential campaign, fulfilling her goal "not to use my show as a platform for any of the candidates."

Further, Huston repeats a claim reported by Matt Drudge that "Oprah had been heard to say that she would never interview Sarah Palin" as if it were true; he offers no evidence that it is. Needless to say, Huston makes no mention of Drudge's history of making false claims.

Posted by Terry K. at 1:49 PM EST
CNS Headline Doesn't Support Article

A Dec. 3 article by Penny Starr on the appointment on Cecilia Muñoz, "[a]n 18-year veteran of the National Council of La Raza," to President-elect Barack Obama's White House staff carries the headline, "Pro-Amnesty Activist Joins Obama White House Staff." But at no point in the article does Starr describe Muñoz as supporting "amnesty" -- indeed, the word "amnesty" appears nowhere in the article itself.

Starr does write that Muñoz "advocated for federal legislation to give the estimated 12 million illegal immigrants in the United States a path to citizenship," further desscribing her position as supporting "comprehensive immigration reform that required people who are in the United States illegally to come forward, prove they have no criminal record and are paying taxes, pay a fine, start to learn English, and then be put on a path to citizenship that would take about 10 years to complete." No effort is made to explain how this position equals "amnesty," or even to reconcile this position with Starr's quoting of an attack on Muñoz by FAIR's Bob Dane, who claimed "La Raza exists as a way to systematically dismantle enforcement and any semblance of discipline in the immigration system."

Posted by Terry K. at 9:20 AM EST
Depiction-Equals-Approval Fallacy Watch
Topic: NewsBusters

A pair of NewsBusters writers engage in the Depiction-Equals-Approval Fallacy:

A Dec. 4 post by Terry Trippany baselessly imputes political motives to the Associated Press for reporting on a county in rural Alabama that has decided to create "Barack Obama Day."Trippany claims that for the AP, the article is "one of those pivotal occasions where they can pursue what should be an obvious national event while at the same time implying the obvious racism of the rest of the state that supported John McCain 'largely on strong support from White voters.'" Trippany doesn't explain why noting the racial makeup of McCain's victory in Alabama constitutes racism.

Nevertheless, Trippany continues:

This wink and a nod style journalism has aspects of McCarthyism. Only now the media has new villains, white people that don't support Barack Obama, heterosexuals that don't support gay marriage, parents that propose abstinence as the best way to prevent pregnancy and global warming "deniers" that separate the politics of global warming from the science behind the cyclical nature to the planet's climate. This is just to name a few of the villains, usually Republican, religious and/or southern white Democrat.

Meanwhile, Clay Waters, in a Dec. 4 post purporting to express surprise that a New York Times writer would express criticism of Che Guevara, cited as an example of "the paper's long-time favorable treatment of Guevara the 'revolutionary icon'" an October 2007 post he did about an article on the reaction of Cubans to "Che Guevara chic," in which he took offense at a Times reporter's description of Guevara as a "revolutionary icon." But Waters missed the point of the reporter's duty -- to describe the feelings of Cubans about Che, who for better or worse feel that way about him. Waters does not contradict that.

That article leads to another Waters attack on the Times over Che from 2004, baselessly claiming that a Times reporter was "gush[ing]" over Che when, in fact, he was writing about attitudes toward Che in his home country of Argentina.

The MRC's Tim Graham has a similar problem in assuming that the only possible reason reporters would write about Che is because they are secret communists and think he's as a deity.

Posted by Terry K. at 1:15 AM EST
Thursday, December 4, 2008
Hostetter Misleads on Autoworker Pay
Topic: Newsmax

From a Dec. 3 Newsmax column by E. Ralph Hostetter:

Auto execs’ agreeing to nominal pay and forgoing perks won’t translate until much long term unless they address their main systemic problem: labor unions.

Using GM as an example, labor costs, including wages and benefits, have been $73.26 an hour, so a 40-hour week paid the GM worker $2,938 a week, including all benefits.

In fact, autoworkers do not make "$73.26 an hour" or "$2,938 a week," as Hostetter claims. That figure includes not only future retirement benefits for current workers, but also benefits paid to current retirees.

Hostetter has a history of making false and misleading claims. 

Posted by Terry K. at 2:37 PM EST
CNS Labeling Bias Watch

The headline of a Dec. 3 article by Tiffany Bell describes newly appointed Obama White House communications director Ellan Moran as a "pro-abortion activist," and the article references "pro-abortion women candidates" and "other pro-abortion activists." The term "pro-choice" is used only once, in a quote. By contrast, those on the other side of the issue are described as "pro-life groups," and the "activist" label is not applied to them.

This follows CNS' longtime labeling bias on the issue of abortion.

Posted by Terry K. at 9:16 AM EST
New Article: WorldNetDaily's Birth Certificate Fraud
Topic: WorldNetDaily
WND is still raising questions about Barack Obama's birth certificate, even though it determined months ago that the certificate is "authentic" -- a report it has refused to acknowledge (or retract) since. Read more >>

Posted by Terry K. at 1:51 AM EST
Klein Repeats Biased Attack on Kurtzer
Topic: WorldNetDaily

A Dec. 2 WorldNetDaily article by Aaron Klein uses the occasion of a -- what else? -- anonymously sourced claim that Obama adviser Daniel Kurtzer would be named U.S. envoy to the Middle East as yet another opportunity to rehash previous attacks on Kurtzer that Klein fails to label as coming from right-wingers.

Klein repeats his previous claim that Kurtzer "long has been seen in Jerusalem as one of the Jewish state's greatest foes in Washington" as claimed by Zionist Organization of America's Morton Klein, former AIPAC executive director Morris Amitay, and former Jewish leaders Benjamin Netanyahu and Yitzhak Shamir. As we detailed when Klein first forwarded their attacks on Kurtzer, Klein and Amitay are right-wingers, and Netanyahu and Shamir are members of the right-wing Likud party.

Further, Klein once again fails to mention, as we've also detailed, that Kurtzer is an Orthodox Jew, is the former dean of Yeshiva University and was caricatured in the Egyptian press during his tenure as U.S. ambasssador to Egypt -- all relevant information to readers. Yet Klein refused to tell his readers that.

Posted by Terry K. at 12:40 AM EST
Wednesday, December 3, 2008
Newsmax Promotes Another Skewed Anti-Labor Poll
Topic: Newsmax

For the second time in a week, Newsmax has published the results of a poll opposing the Employee Free Choice Act without describing the political agenda behind the group promoting it.

A Dec. 2 Newsmax article states that "A majority of both Republican and Democratic voters oppose The Employee Free Choice Act, according to a new poll by Public Opinion Strategies of 800 general election voters," a poll conducted by the Workforce Fairness Institute. But, as with a Nov. 25 article on a similar poll, Newsmax failed to tell its readers about the political agenda of the groups involved.

The Workforce Fairness Institute has a pro-business agenda (though it claims not to be "anti-union"). It states that it is "funded by and advocates on behalf of business owners who enjoy good working relationships with their employees, and would like to maintain those good relationships without the unfair interference of government bureaucrats, union organizers and special interests."

WFI's polling firm, Public Opinion Strategies, has a political client list that is almost exclusively Republican; it highlights a quote on its website calling it "Republican polling firm."

The article also claimed that poll respondents were "presented with neutral language describing the key provisions of the bill." But according to the poll, the supposedly "neutral language" falsely suggested that secret ballots on union representation were being eliminated entirely:

Instead of holding a federally supervised secret ballot election to decide whether to unionize, union organizers would be allowed to ask employees to sign a card saying they support forming a union.

In fact, according to the House Education and Labor Committee:

The Employee Free Choice Act does not abolish the National Labor Relations Board election process. That process would still be available under the Employee Free Choice Act. The legislation simply enables workers to also form a union through majority sign-up if a majority prefers that method to the NLRB election process. Under current law, workers may only use the majority sign-up process if their employer agrees. The Employee Free Choice Act would make that choice – whether to use the NLRB election process or majority sign-up – a majority choice of the employees, not the employer.

The poll also asked, "If this proposal passes and becomes law, how worried are you that LABOR UNION ORGANIZERS would use deception, harassment, and even coercion to get employees to sign a pro-union card?" It did not mention "deception, harassment, and even coercion" by business owners fighting union representation; for instance, the House committee noted that "in 2005 alone, over 30,000 workers received back pay from employers that illegally fired or otherwise discriminated against them for their union activities."

A truly unbiased poll with "neutral language" would have noted both, or neither. By painting unions, but not businesses, as engaging in "deception, harassment, and even coercion," WFI exposes its agenda, as well as contradicts its claim that it's not "anti-union."

Posted by Terry K. at 6:22 PM EST
Updated: Wednesday, December 3, 2008 6:23 PM EST

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