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Tuesday, September 1, 2009
WJC Touts Beck's Discredited 'Civilian Army' Claims
Topic: Western Journalism Center

An Aug. 28 Western Journalism Center post asserts that "Glenn Beck is setting the gold standard in investigative reporting," citing as an example Beck's asking President Obama, "Why do we need a civilian national security force that is 'just as strong, just as powerful' as the military? ... Who are we fighting? Who internally is threatening our security?"

In fact, as we've detailed, Obama answered that question a long time ago. His reference to a "civilian national security force" has to do with a reorganization of the State Department and federal aid agencies: "We need to be able to deploy teams that combine agricultural specialists and engineers and linguists and cultural specialists who are prepared to go into some of the most dangerous areas alongside our military." Obama has also used the term to apply to an expansion of the Foreign Service, AmeriCorps, and the Peace Corps. It has nothing to do with jailing Americans, as Beck suggests.

Wouldn't an organization supposedly dedicated to "quality journalism," as the WJC claims to be, have bothered to investigate Beck's claim before reporting it instead of presenting his rants as undisputed fact?

Posted by Terry K. at 1:18 AM EDT
Why So Serious?
Topic: Horowitz

As part of our continuing dialogue of sorts, David Swindle has taken us to task for having no apparent sense of humor, calling this blog "almost as bland and dull as a Nation editorial or a Noam Chomsky speech" and not finding Rush Limbaugh's joke about Barney Frank spending "most of his time living around Uranus" all that funny. Swindle adds: "It’s quite clear by the uptight, overly serious tone of his painfully boring blog that he was born without a funny bone."

Well, yeah, we're too busy documenting atrocities to regularly bring the funny -- we are a watchdog website, after all, which doesn't usually lend itself to knee-slapping humor. We will, however, occasionally display a bit of snark. But unfortunately for Swindle, telling the truth is simply not inherently funny; we're watchdogs, dammit, not comedians. If it's humor in liberal blogging Swindle wants, we recommend World O'Crap and Sadly, No!

Actually, we have quite a sense of humor in meatspace, with preferences toward the likes of "Mystery Science Theater 3000" and (Swindle will be happy to hear) Bill Hicks.

Swindle goes on to defend Limbaugh's "Uranus" joke:

Yes, homophobic jokes are acceptable as long as they’re funny. And so are the racist jokes of comedians like Lisa Lampanelli, the anti-white racist jokes of the comedians on Martin Lawrence’s First Amendment Stand-Up, the gay stereotype jokes of Margaret Cho, and the anti-Semitic satires of Sacha Baran Cohen. Dark humor about the Holocaust, child molestation (Michael Jackson joke anyone?,) and dead babies is acceptable too — as long as the jokes are funny and not made at inappropriate times and places. Surely this isn’t a very controversial point that I’m making. And there’s no ideological component to it either. This is something leftists, conservatives, and the apolitical should all agree on.

There's another factor to consider: the intent of the person telling the joke. A gay joke from Margaret Cho is not the same thing as a gay joke from Rush Limbaugh. Simply summarized: Cho is gay-friendly; Rush is not. Plus, factor in Limbaugh's weird obsession with anal sex, and it's clear that his intent in telling a gay joke about Frank is to mock and deride. And what is Limbaugh mocking about Frank? The fact that he's gay. That's it. Yeah, Barney Frank is gay -- so what? We're just not seeing the humor in that, however clever a line it might be.

Swindle also takes us to task for dismissing his previous likening of Obama to gangsters as guilt by association:

Terry: seek first to understand before you criticize. This isn’t “guilt by association.” Read David Horowitz’s ongoing “Alinsky, Beck, Satan, and Me” series to understand better the connections between Saul Alinsky, his gangster influences, and the tactics employed by the modern Left. Deal with the argument, don’t just dismiss it as a malicious smear.

Just because one purports to offer a historical argument for a malicious smear doesn't make it less of a malicious smear. Does Hilmar von Campe offering a historical argument for smearing Obama as a Nazi make it any less of a smear? Technically, there's a historical argument for likening George W. Bush to Nazis, but again, that doesn't make it any less of a smear to call him that (even though those who criticized that smear have been eager to hurl the same smear at certain Democrats). And while gangster is arguably a lesser smear than Nazi, it's still a smear (and besides, Ellis Washington hurled that one a long time ago, so Swindle is a little late to the parade).

Further, since Swindle offers no evidence of Obama associating with gangsters -- only of purportedly emulating the tactics of Saul Alinsky, who once allegedly associated with gangsters -- the smear is, yes, guilt by association.

One final question: Swindle has seemingly declared all tactics pioneered or popularized by Alinsky to be akin to gansterism. But Swindle, by likening Obama to gangsters, is arguably using the Alinsky tactic of "Pick the target, freeze it, personalize it and polarize it." Doesn't that mean Swindle himself is acting like a gangster too?

Posted by Terry K. at 12:48 AM EDT
Monday, August 31, 2009
Conservatives Consider WND Boycott
Topic: WorldNetDaily

The Next Right is suggesting a boycott of WorldNetDaily -- or, at least, any conservative groups that advertise there or rent WND's mailing lists -- over WND longtime looniness:

The Birthers are the Birchers of our time, and WorldNetDaily is their pamphlet. The Right has mostly ignored these embarrassing people and organizations, but some people and organizations inexplicably choose to support WND through advertising and email list rental or other collaboration. 


No respectable organization should support the kind of fringe idiocy that WND peddles. Those who do are not respectable. 

I think it's time to find out what conservative/libertarian organizations support WND through advertising, list rental or other commercial collaboration (email me if you know of any), and boycott any of those organizations that will not renounce any further support for WorldNetDaily.

But there might be a little hitch in that boycott plan. As we note over at County Fair, one of the organizations that has rented WND's email list is ... the Republican National Committee.

Posted by Terry K. at 3:24 PM EDT
CNS Buries Conservative Leanings of Ousted Japanese Party

In an Aug. 31 article on Japanese elections, Patrick Goodenough describes the victorious party, the Democratic Party of Japan, as "a center-left coalition including socialists" and a party that includes "left-leaning" members. But Goodenough buries the conservative leanings of the ruling Liberal Democratic Party, which was ousted after 54 years in power.

Goodenough states at one point that the LDP "has various ideological factions," but he does not identify the LDP's conservative leanings. But it's not until the 24th paragraph that Goodenough quotes a South Korean news agency referencing the "conservative LDP government" that the LDP's ideology is revealed.

Why? Perhaps because CNS didn't want to associate conservatism with the fact that Japan is currently undergoing, in Goodenough's words, "the worst recession in Japan’s post-war history" and would rather let the party's misleading name speak for itself.

Posted by Terry K. at 12:35 PM EDT
Farah Trashes Kennedy Again
Topic: WorldNetDaily

Joseph Farah uses his Aug. 31 WorldNetDaily column to conjure up outrage over a report by author Edward Klein that Ted Kennedy "enjoyed sharing Chappaquiddick jokes with his close friends."

What Farah doesn't report, however, is that Klein has a history of making false and inflammatory claims, specifically in a book about Hillary Clinton.

nevertheless, this provides all the excuse Farah needs to once again spew hate at Kennedy, this time calling him "sick and twisted," a "pervert" and "a user and a drunk and an abuser" who had "contempt for America, the nation that provided him untold wealth and opportunity."

Posted by Terry K. at 11:37 AM EDT
Blumer Dredges Up Misleading Schiavo Case Attacks
Topic: NewsBusters

In criticizing an Associated Press article on the death of Terri Schiavo's father, Tom Blumer rehashes a few discredited right-wing talking points on the Schiavo case in an Aug. 30 NewsBusters post.

Blumer asserted that "at least two prominent neurologists insisted that Terri was not in" a persistent vegetative state. But neither of those neurologists actually examined her. The LifeNews link Blumer supplied noted that one of the neurologists, Joseph Fins, did not examine Terri Schiavo (purportedly because "was not permitted by [husband] Michael Schiavo from examining her") but, rather, "review[ed] Terri's medical records" and "watched videotape footage of her and observed her at her hospice." The other neurologist cited in the LifeNews story, Robert Cheshire, also did not examine Terri Schiavo, as we've previously noted.

Blumer also asserts that "There's more than a little bit of evidence that [Terri's] care was far, far less than perfect" under Michael Schiavo. Blumer linked to a 2005 WorldNetDaily article touting claims to that effect by Carla Sauer Iyer, a "former caregiver" to Terri Schiavo. But as we noted at the time, Iyer's allegations were not treated as credible by the judge in the Schiavo case, calling her claims "incredible to say the least," and even Terri's parents, who unleashed and condoned all sorts of smears against Michael in order to keep Terri alive, never asked Iyer to testify at any court hearing.

Posted by Terry K. at 9:15 AM EDT
New Article -- Birthers Gone Wild: The Video
Topic: WorldNetDaily
WorldNetDaily's "A Question of Eligibility" is less about eligibility and more about Obama-bashing, discredited conspiracy theories and apparent violations of copyright law. Read more >>

Posted by Terry K. at 1:42 AM EDT
Sunday, August 30, 2009
Examiner Touts Bilderberg Conspiracy Book
Topic: Washington Examiner

The Aug. 26 print edition of the Washington Examiner promoted as that day's "Evening Read" the book "The Bilderberg Conspiracy" by H. Paul Jeffers (scan of paper below).

The copy -- taken directly from promotional copy and identical to that appearing on the page for the book at Barnes & Noble's website, reads:

Hidden behind many of today's major news stories, the Bilderberg Group is an elite clique of the most powerful names in politics, media, business, and finance, who want to impose a one-world government on the rest of us. Led by such iconic members as Henry Kissinger, Bill and Hillary Clinton, Richard Perle, Melinda Gates (wife of Bill Gates), David Rockefeller, Paul Wolfowitz, Donald Rumsfeld, Tony Blair, and Margaret Thatcher, their secret conferences (where press has long been banned) are rumored to have engineered many of today's monumental global events.

The Examiner apparently ran out of copy to actually list those "monumental global events," but they appear on the B&N page:

The September 2008 collapse of worldwide banking.

Bill Clinton's presidency and the passage of NAFTA.

The loss of America's jobs to foreign nations.

The toppling of Margaret Thatcher for trying to keep the U.K. out of the E.U.

Bildergerger conspiracies are typically fodder for the likes of WorldNetDaily, not a publication like the Examiner that's trying to pass itself off as a mainstream newspaper. But perhaps the fact that it's promoting this book is just more evidence that it's far out of the mainstream.



Posted by Terry K. at 9:43 PM EDT
Graham Misleadingly Smears Author of Ted Kennedy Profile, Fulfills His Prediction
Topic: NewsBusters

In an Aug. 29 NewsBusters post, Tim Graham describes Charles Pierce as "the self-impressed Boston clod who is so deeply a tool of the Kennedys that he infamously wrote in the Boston Globe Magazine in 2004 that 'If she had lived, Mary Jo Kopechne would be 62 years old. Through his tireless work as a legislator, Edward Kennedy would have brought comfort to her in her old age.'"

As we've detailed, the MRC has long taken that line out of context; in fact, rather than an example of sycophancy, it was part of a larger criticism meant to show that the death of Kopechne kept Ted Kennedy from having the "moral credibility" to be president.

Graham also noted Pierce's statement on Eric Alterman's blog at The Nation that Kennedy "leaves behind a pair of shoes that most of his Senate contemporaries could use for swimming pools." Graham snarkily added: "The swimming metaphors are probably not the best choice." Graham failed to mention that immediately after writing that, Pierce fired a zinger at ... a prominent Democratic senator: "Harry Reid, come on down!"

Pierce also seems to have predicted Graham's smear of him by concluding:

That long, extended, respectful peace beside the dark harbor is going to be a good bulwark of memory to have when the smugness and the vicious ignorance and the nearly bottomless banality that usually encrusts our politics reasserts itself, probably by Sunday. Amen. 

Pierce was off by an hour or so: Graham posted his NewsBusters item at 10:50 p.m. on Saturday.

Posted by Terry K. at 12:32 PM EDT
Updated: Sunday, August 30, 2009 10:13 PM EDT
Quantifying Your Religious Worldview
Topic: WorldNetDaily

An Aug. 29 WorldNetDaily column by David d'Escoto imploring right-wingers to pull their children out of public schools, citing an alleged "direct link between our country's precipitous slide into socialism and decades of indoctrination in leftist school ideologies," makes a curious claim:

Fact after fact shows that when children are subject to 12 years of liberal ideologies for about 14,000 hours of their lives, the overwhelming majority of them will grow up to think, act and vote like … you guessed it, liberals. We ignore all of that even when studies shows that "83 percent of children from committed Christian families attending public schools adopt a Marxist-Socialist worldview."

How is it possible to even quantify such a thing? We followed the link d'Escoto supplied, which went to a May 2007 CBN on a related subject. It cited the Barna Group, which calls itself "the leading research organization focused on the intersection of faith and culture," as the source for that claim. But a search of the firm's website uncovered no such research. (Barna does do research on religious worldviews, which we've previously noted.) But further Googling showed that other writers attribute the claim to the Nehemiah Institute.

The Nehemiah Institute is an organization that provides "Christian education programs" with the goal of "restoring our nation to a biblically-based society as it once was." Its main program is called the PEERS [Politics, Economics, Education, Religion, and Social Issues] test. It's described as "a series of statements carefully structured to identify a person's worldview" in those fivecategories, with the goal of "compar[ing] a student's worldview with that of their teachers or parents."

The more direct goal of the PEERS test is detailed on the institute's "about" page: "The purpose of the research is to help individuals and organizations identify key areas where their views of life are contrary to Biblical reasoning. The test serves as a survey of the 'damage to our walls.' "

In other words, it measures right-wing Christian indoctrination and the areas in which it has failed. That's made even more clear with the four worldview categories a student taking the PEERS test can fall under: Biblical Theism, Moderate Christian, Secular Humanist, and Socialist.

Despite the apparently biased nature of the grouping -- who says the polar opposite of "biblical theism" is socialism? -- the institute claims that its method is valid and reliable, adding: "The PEERS Test is accurate, relevant, timely, and the clear downward trend of youth requires immediate action."

For those not falling in the first category, the Nehemiah Institute is happy to sell you a course unsurprisingly called "Developing a Biblical Worldview ," which "is designed to lead an individual into thinking biblically about major areas of life with the goal of building a biblically-based culture. ... DBW includes a lesson on the Christian history of our nation and a lesson on major events of world history from a biblical point of view."

In other words, indoctrination, with a little salesmanship on the side.

Given that the Nehemiah Institute has an interest in portraying anyone who strays even slightly from its brand of "biblical theism" as someone in need of the indoctrination course it sells -- plus, a significant number of people administering such an opt-in test may very well be likely to administer it on students they already suspect of straying from "biblical theism," adding a certain level of confirmation bias and inflating any test result numbers the institute releases -- such an agenda makes its methodology and results somewhat suspect.

Also, World O'Crap did a fine job of deconstructing the PEERS test a few years back.

Posted by Terry K. at 12:12 AM EDT
Saturday, August 29, 2009
ConWeb Embaces Attack on Kennedy, Don't Consider the Source
Topic: The ConWeb

WorldNetDaily, NewsBusters and NewsReal have all uncritically repeated a claim made by author Edward Klein on a radio show that Ted Kennedy purportedly enjoyed jokes about Chappaquiddick.

Klein, as we've detailed, is the author of a 2005 book on Hillary Clinton filled with errors and distortions -- and whose claims the ConWeb, particularly Newsmax, similarly promoted without acknowledging those errors.

UPDATE: The Washington Examiner did, too.

Posted by Terry K. at 10:41 AM EDT
Updated: Sunday, August 30, 2009 5:12 PM EDT
ConWebWatch On the Air (In Germany)
Topic: The ConWeb

On Thursday, we did a radio interview with Danny Antonelli, an American expatriate who does a radio show in Hamburg, Germany called "Free Wheel." Click on the media player below to listen (interview begins around 19:37).

The rest of the show is worth a listen as well -- an eclectic mix of music, information, comedy and fiction readings:

Posted by Terry K. at 12:02 AM EDT
Updated: Saturday, August 29, 2009 12:06 AM EDT
Friday, August 28, 2009
Farah's Laughable Attack on Wikipedia
Topic: WorldNetDaily

The latest salvo in WorldNetDaily's war against Wikipedia is Joseph Farah's Aug. 28 column complaining about Wikipedia's entry on WND. After noting segements of the entry describing WND as "right-wing" and "conservative," Farah lamented that the entry portrays WND as "a mean, nasty, ugly right-wing website."

Farah didn't offer any evidence to contradict those claims -- indeed, WND is right-wing, and just the day before Farah himself fulfilled the mean-nasty-ugly part. He then complained: "I have taken steps over the years to attempt to edit the site to bring it more in line with objectivity and neutrality to no avail."

Excuse us for a sec -- we seem to have busted a gut from laughing so hard.

Why? Because Farah has explicitly rejected the idea of objectivity and neutrality for his own website. As we've detailed, WND doesn't believe in reporting the full story (or even anything true). Farah himself, in his book "Stop the Presses!" declared that his personal right-wing evangelical Christian version of the "truth" is "a higher calling than 'fair and balanced'."

For Farah to demand "objectivity and neutrality" from others when he has no interest in providing it himself is the height of hypocrisy.

But Farah wasn't done. He then asserted that "if you want to read 100 percent factual information about WND, I suggest you go to my website to find it."

Oops, we seem to have busted another gut.

Farah links to WND's "about" page, where this "100 percent factual information about WND" is supposed to reside. But we found two whoppers right off the bat:

  • "'s editorial policy reflects the old-fashioned notion that the principal role of the free press in a free society is to serve as a watchdog on government - to expose corruption, fraud, waste and abuse wherever and whenever it is found." That's provided "wherever and whenever it is found" is defined as 1) conducted by liberals and 2) conducted under Democratic administrations. As we've detailed, WND was largely silent about the two most corrupt conservatives during the Bush administration, Jack Abramoff and Duke Cunningaham. In fact, the first WND article to address Cunningham's corruption did not appear until five days after he resigned from office due to said corruption.
  • "Why is it the fastest-growing news service on the Internet? Founder Joseph Farah believes it is directly due to WorldNetDaily's editorial formula - 'credible, fearless, independent.'" WND is not credible, it's not fearless, and it's certainly not independent the way normal people understand the term as it applies to news organizations -- you know, embracing objectivity and neutrality without fear or favor.

Farah concludes:

Wikipedia is a joke – a very bad and vicious joke.

Warn your children away from it. It's not a place for serious research. It's not even a place for casual research.

The same thing can be said about WorldNetDaily.

Posted by Terry K. at 8:07 PM EDT
Updated: Friday, August 28, 2009 10:21 PM EDT
NewsBusters Chooses Tunnel Vision, Beck's Fearmongering Over Facts
Topic: NewsBusters

An Aug. 27 NewsBusters post by "Mithridate Ombud" echoes his employer's tunnel vision on blaming "liberal bias" on every media problem by suggesting that newspaper advertising has declined because the publications "have spoon fed the progressive movement to the United States for the last several decades."

"Ombud" adds: "The people have spoken and if newspapers don't want to ask the hard questions we don't want the product. Online or off." That "hard questions" link goes to a article by Glenn Beck listing questions that need to be asked "with boldness." The most recent entry at the time of "Ombud's" post is "Day 4," taken from his Fox News show that day in which he boldly fearmongers about the "civilian national security force" President Obama wants to create:

• Why do we need a civilian force?

• Who is posing a threat to us?

• Who will this "force" be made up of?

• Who is the real enemy?

• Does the president know of a coming event? If not, who builds an army against an unrecognized enemy?

• Why won't the media get off their butts and look into these radicals in the White House? And into this civilian army?

If "Ombud" had bothered to look outside the right-wing media sphere for his information, he/she would know that Beck's fearmongering about a "civilian army" has been discredited.

Posted by Terry K. at 12:45 PM EDT
WND Dares Not Call It Indoctrination
Topic: WorldNetDaily

An Aug. 28 WorldNetDaily article by Bob Unruh takes the side of the right-wing Alliance Defense Fund -- indeed, Unruh's article is in large part a rewrite of an ADF press release -- in telling the story of an ADF client, a homeschooled 11-year-old child who has been ordered to attend public school as part of a family court case involving her divorced parents.

The girl's mother homeschools the child, and the father believes that homeschooling "prevented adequate socialization for [the child] with other children of her age." But what the ADF and Unruh -- who, as we've noted, homeschools his children and has demonstrated such pro-homeschool, anti-public education bias that he portrays any critic of homeschooling as Nazis -- are really interested in is the father's belief that "exposure to other points ot view will decrease [the child's] rigid adherence to her mother's religious beliefs, and increase her ability to get along with others and to function in a world which requires some element of independent thinking and tolerance for different points of view."

ALso of interest to Unruh and the ADF is the finding of the child's guardian ad litem that the child "appeared to reflect her mother's rigidity on questions of faith" and that the child "would be best served by exposure to different points of view at a time in her lift when she must begin to critically evaluate multiple systems of belief and behavior and cooperation in order to select, as a young adult, which of those systems will best suit her own needs."

What's so objectionable to exposing children to different points of view? As Unruh quotes the ADF as saying, "It is a parent's constitutionally protected right to train up their children in the religious beliefs that they hold. It is not up to the court to suggest that a 10-year-old should be 'exposed' to other religious views contrary to the faith traditions of her parents."

But there's another issue here. WND has long railed against what it calls "indoctrination" in public schools -- for instance, in a 2006 article, WND described as "sexual indoctrination" a plan in California that would prevented any school teaching materials or activities from "reflecting adversely" upon homosexuals, bisexuals or transgenders.

And what is a child who rigidly adheres to a parent's religious beliefs but an indoctrinated child? Isn't all indoctrination bad, wherever it happens?

As this case illustrates, indoctrination goes on all the time in homeschooling -- but WND will never call it that, because its employees would have to admit that this what they are doing to their own children.

For WND, apparently, identifying "indoctrination" depends on who's doing the indoctrinating.

Posted by Terry K. at 9:27 AM EDT
Updated: Friday, August 28, 2009 9:30 AM EDT

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