|May 29, 2009|
Suddenly it's OK to call a judicial nominee a racist
by Jamison Foser
When the nation learned in 2005 that Supreme Court nominee Samuel Alito had belonged to a Princeton University alumni organization that advocated a cap on the number of women and minorities allowed at Princeton, the news media quickly circled the wagons to protect the Bush nominee.
When Alito was asked by Senate Democrats about his membership in the organization -- which he touted while applying for a job in the Reagan administration -- the media denounced them for going too far. The merest hint of a suggestion of an implication that Alito was a member of a racist organization was shouted down as an unfair slander; Democrats were pilloried for making Alito's wife cry with their inappropriate questions (though Mrs. Alito didn't actually start crying until Republican Sen. Lindsey Graham took to the microphone).
Gloria Borger, for example, said that the pertinent question was not whether Alito agreed with the Concerned Alumni of Princeton's clearly racist and sexist stance on university admissions, but "whether the Democrats took this a step too far today." Katie Couric added: "Too much to take: Supreme Court nominee Samuel Alito's wife driven to tears after Democrats question his integrity. Did they go too far?" The media consensus that Democrats went "too far" in questioning Alito continues to this day. Fox News' Megyn Kelly recently claimed that during Alito's confirmation hearings, his wife was "crying hysterically after Ted Kennedy made her cry."
So it seems the news media treat even a suggestion that a Supreme Court nominee might be guilty of involvement in a bigoted organization as a vile slur. Even if the nominee touted his membership in a group that sought to limit the number of women and minorities accepted into his alma mater. Even then, such questions are treated as inappropriate and abusive scrutiny that have no place in civil discourse.
As long, that is, as the nominee in question is a conservative white male, nominated by a conservative white male president.
But as we learned this week, if the nominee is a progressive Latina nominated by a progressive African-American president, you can just come right out and call her a racist -- based on nothing more than a distorted quote and a ruling nobody has read -- and the media will take you seriously. They will amplify your complaints. Far from denouncing you for going "too far," they will pretend that your false descriptions of her comments are accurate.
Eight years ago, Sonia Sotomayor said that she would hope that in judging cases involving discrimination, a Latina woman would reach a better decision than would a white man who hasn't had her experiences. Past Republican Supreme Court nominees like Samuel Alito have said similar things, and it really isn't particularly controversial.
But if you change what Sotomayor said a bit -- drop a word here and there, change a few others -- to pretend that she said Latinas are better than white men ... well, that's racist!
And that's just what the right wing did. Newt Gingrich, Rush Limbaugh, Ann Coulter, Glenn Beck, and other conservative media figures quickly insisted that Sotomayor is a racist and a bigot. They even compared her to David Duke. (Now, at first, you might think that if Rush Limbaugh is calling someone a racist, he must mean it as a compliment. But if you listen to his tone of voice and the full context, it's clear he means it as an insult.)
And the media, particularly cable news, took their complaints seriously. They quoted them, and they adopted the right's inaccurate shorthand version of Sotomayor's comments in order to explain why the conservatives were upset. News reports that explained that conservatives are distorting Sotomayor's comments were few and far between; reports that noted that conservatives have said similar things in the past were even rarer.
Just a few years ago, the mere suggestion that Samuel Alito should explain his membership in an organization that sought to limit the number of women and minorities at Princeton was met with outrage by the media. How dare the Democrats! They've gone too far! But now, with conservatives explicitly calling Sotomayor a "racist" based on manufactured evidence, the media can't even be bothered to point out that they are distorting her comments. Instead, the conservative complaints get taken seriously, as though they are a reasonable and fair interpretation of what Sotomayor said.
So it seems that lying about a Latina in order to call her a racist is just fine, as far as much of the media is concerned. Just don't you dare question why a white male belonged to an organization that sought to keep women and minorities out of his college. That's over the line.
Friday, May 29, 2009
Thursday, May 28, 2009
Blown circuits: Rove levels attack on Sotomayor based on false claim that she and Alito were colleagues
From Reuters: MidAmerican's Sokol sees US housing staying weak (ht Alexander, Cord)
David Sokol, chairman of Berkshire Hathaway Inc's MidAmerican Energy Holdings and a contender to succeed Warren Buffett, warned that the U.S. housing market still has a ways to go before bottoming out.
"As we look at the economy, I have to be honest: we're not seeing the green shoots," Sokol said ... "We think the official statistics of 10 to 12 months' backlog is actually nearly twice that amount," ...
"There is an enormous shadow backlog of about-to-be foreclosed homes and of individuals who need to sell but have time, and there are already six (for sale) signs on their block," he said.
... "It will be be mid-2011 before we see a balancing of the existing home sales market." He defined "balanced" as a six-month backlog.
Fort Campbell, a military base in Kentucky known for having dealt with the most suicides at any army base this year, has halted routine duties for three days in order to seek out and aid distressed soldiers who may be thinking of taking their own lives. In the months of January through March alone, the base has seen one suicide per week.
The Kentucky New Era:
"But last week we had two. Two in a week," Townsend said. "This is not a place where Fort Campbell and the 101st Airborne Division want to be. "We don't want to lead the Army in this statistic."
[...] Army leaders are developing new guidance for commanders to help installations like Fort Campbell deal with rising suicide rates. Across the Army, suicides from January through March rose to a reported 56 - 22 confirmed and 34 still being investigated and pending confirmation.
Frequent deployments by the division since 2001 have contributed to the stress soldiers feel at Fort Campbell, said Col. Ken Brown, the head of chaplains for the base.
Wash. Times makes discredited claim that Sotomayor policy-making remark "runs counter to ... American legal tradition"
CNN Clip: Not Taking Shit From Right-Wing Gas Bags On "Law and Order" Issues from Open Left - Front Page
I appeared on CNN this weekend to debate right-wing gasbag Chris Plante about the ongoing debate over torture, Gitmo, detainees and President Obama's effort to curtail the Bush administration's most egregious legal transgressions. You can watch the debate here - it's about the most heated television debate I've ever taken part in.
As you'll see, Plante forwards former Vice President Dick Cheney's most tired, most discredited lies about torture supposedly saving "thousands of lives" - and when confronted with hard reporting exposing Cheney's dishonesty, Plante pulls the attack the messenger routine, saying you basically can't believe anything you read in any newspaper.
The facts, of course, speak for themselves - CIA officials have acknowledged that there is no verifiable evidence that torture stopped any terrorist attacks, or produced "actionable" intelligence, and certainly no evidence that torture tactics produced anything better or more valuable than legal methods of interrogation.
But Plante - and the right wing - aren't interested in facts. They are interested in demagoguery that aims to tap into the Jack Bauer Theory of National Security - ie. the idea that it's AOK to break laws because doing so will save the United States from certain peril. Suddenly, "law and order" Republicans don't care about law and order.
After Plante repeats his talking points for the third time, I kinda went off. I'm not sure I should have gotten so in his face, but frankly, I'm sick and tired of right-wing No Talent Ass Clowns using the media to push their dishonest hyper-nationalist bullshit that seeks to portray lawbreaking as strong and patriotic, and respect for the law as somehow weak and traitorous. Sometimes it's important to simply call them out and take it to them - and that's what I tried to do.
Watch the clip here - I think you will find it entertaining.
Earlier this month, President Obama announced that he would ban the release of photographs showing torture. While Obama said at the time that the pictures were "not particularly sensational," the London Telegraph reports that "at least one picture" from Abu Ghraib "shows an American soldier apparently raping a female prisoner while another is said to show a male translator raping a male detainee":
Maj Gen Taguba, who retired in January 2007, said he supported the President's decision, adding: "These pictures show torture, abuse, rape and every indecency. [...]
Among the graphic statements…is that of Kasim Mehaddi Hilas in which he says: "I saw [name of a translator] ******* a kid, his age would be about 15 to 18 years. The kid was hurting very bad and they covered all the doors with sheets. Then when I heard screaming I climbed the door because on top it wasn't covered and I saw [name] who was wearing the military uniform, putting his **** in the little kid's ***…. and the female soldier was taking pictures." [...]
Three detainees, including the alleged victim, refer to the use of a phosphorescent tube in the sexual abuse and another to the use of wire, while the victim also refers to part of a policeman's "stick" all of which were apparently photographed.
Wednesday, May 27, 2009
During the May 27 edition of Fox News' America's Newsroom, while co-host Bill Hemmer interviewed Wendy Long, counsel to the Judicial Confirmation Network, regarding Supreme Court nominee Judge Sonia Sotomayor, Fox News featured a series of on-screen graphics noting that Sotomayor quoted Norman Thomas, a six-time presidential candidate for the Socialist Party of America, in her Princeton University yearbook. According to a graphic included in a slideshow released by the White House, in her "Princeton '76 yearbook page," Sotomayor quoted Thomas' statement, "I am not a champion of lost causes, but of causes not yet won." Neither Sotomayor's yearbook page nor Thomas was discussed during the segment.
From the White House slideshow:
From America's Newsroom:
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Erich Muller, a rightwing Chicago shockjock known as "Mancow," recently agreed to be waterboarded to prove to all the big liberals that it's totally harmless and lasted all of six seconds. He appeared on Keith Olbermann's show to discuss how horribly misguided his views on waterboarding were previously.
We suppose it'd be easy to mock and ridicule "Mancow" here, as he does seem to be an extraordinarily massive tool, not even taking into consideration that he was one of the main guys spreading the "Obama is a closet Muslim" rumors during the election, but there's something truly admirable in a) being sufficiently curious and willing to undergo the procedure personally to truly see what it was like to be on the receiving end of a waterboarding, and b) appearing on the air with arguably the most unabashedly liberal host on television to profess how horribly wrong he'd been previously. So yeah, despite being a tool, "Mancow" deserves a tip of the cap, as does Olbermann for donating $10,000 to a support group for veterans in return for Muller going through with the waterboarding and then appearing on his show to discuss it.
During his appearance Muller said that his good friend Sean Hannity called him recently to hold fast to his belief that waterboarding is "still not torture," despite Muller's argument that it was "absolutely torture" and that he "would have confessed to anything to make it stop." He added, "I was willing to prove, and ready to prove, that this was a joke, and I was wrong. It was horrific. It was instantaneous. And look, I felt the effects for two days."
Again, we admire Muller for being a man and doing what he did, something his buddy Hannity promised to do a few weeks back but has yet to follow through on. And sadly we doubt he ever will.