The New York Times' Frank Bruni didn't have a good time on the Obamas' Date Night.
See, the Obamas dined at Blue Hill, a restaurant that Bruni concedes is "excellent" and "romantic" and "very much among the city's standouts." All of which would seem to make it an ideal choice for Date Night. But the Obamas failed to consider whether their meal at Blue Hill would be sufficiently exhilarating for their uninvited third wheel, Frank Bruni.
In the very predictability of this choice, in its all-too-neat squaring with the officially sanctioned food agenda, in its absence of surprise or abandon, isn't it ever so slightly disappointing? Just a little too pat and controlled?
During the 2008 campaign Mr. Obama sometimes came across — and was often portrayed — as someone almost joylessly disciplined and restrained around food, and that discipline and restraint went hand in hand with an unflappability that, on occasions, made it difficult for him to connect.
It would have been fun to see the president contradict that impression and play against type when he and the first lady sat down to dinner in New York. It would have been interesting to watch him bust loose and reach for something rich, messy, decadent, gluttonous: a plate of fatty lamb ribs at Resto; some pâtés and terrines at Bar Boulud; one of the offal dishes at Babbo; that killer bone-in New York strip at Minetta Tavern; the oyster pan roast at the John Dory . . .
I'm sure the Obamas are kicking themselves for not thinking about how they could make their date more fun for Frank Bruni.
But is Bruni really suggesting that the Obamas' restaurant was too predictable -- and that they instead should have gone to a restaurant (Babbo) owned by Mario Batali? Batali is, no doubt, a fine chef. But is it even possible to imagine a more predictable choice for out-of-towners in New York looking for an upscale meal than a Batali restaurant? You can't turn on a television without seeing Batali; Crocs make a "Mario Batali Edition" of their shoes. In his complaint at the predictability of the Obamas choice, Bruni hasn't exactly recommended an obscure outter-borough hole-in-the-wall; he has suggested one of the most famous restaurants in the country, run by one of the most famous chefs in the world.
Anyway, the point is -- and I can't believe this needs to be spelled out -- the Obamas' Date Night really isn't about entertaining Frank Bruni, no matter what Bruni thinks.
Oh, and that difficulty Obama had "connecting" during the 2008 campaign? Nonsense. Clowns like Chris Matthews claimed that Obama's food choices made it hard for him to "connect" with "regular people" (he ordered orange juice in a diner!) But it didn't actually happen. The guy won Indiana and North Carolina, for crying out loud. Sane people -- regular people -- just don't care whether their president orders orange juice in a diner, or which salad green he prefers, or whether he eats at Blue Hill or Babbo or Bar Boulud.
See Glenn Greenwald for the conclusion to this sad journalism chapter. But basically, Rosen wrote a wildly irresponsible hit piece on Judge Sonia Sotomayor prior to her nomination pick--a piece that relied on anonymous sources who trafficked in nasty gossip and a piece in which Rosen admitted he hadn't had time to examine Sotomayor's work in detail--and now he says well, he was just blogging and he'll never do that again.
Y'know blogging, where ordinary standards of fairness do not apply and where you can just post whatever scraps of unconfirmed misinformation you find laying around. Y'know, blogging.
The excuse that Rosen was merely "blogging" is, just as a factual matter, so obviously false: his Sotomayor piece wasn't on any of the TNR "blogs" (as happens when Rosen is actually "blogging") but instead was presented as a stand-alone article; it was, as NPR notes, "more than 1,000 words"; and TNR touted it as "the first in a series of reports by TNR legal affairs editor Jeffrey Rosen about the strengths and weaknesses of the leading candidates." Does that remotely sound as though they intended it to be a "mere blog post"?
From WorldNetDaily's unscientific internet poll, headlined, "A VIEW TO A KILL: What's your reaction to the murder of abortionist George Tiller?"
Accessed at 7:19am E.T.
Randall Terry, founder of Operation Rescue, led protests against George Tiller's late-term abortion clinic in Wichita in 1991.
Randall Terry, founder of Operation Rescue states, "George Tiller was a mass-murderer. We grieve for him that he did not have time to properly prepare his soul to face God. I am more concerned that the Obama Administration will use Tiller's killing to intimidate pro-lifers into surrendering our most effective rhetoric and actions. Abortion is still murder. And we still must call abortion by its proper name; murder.
"Those men and women who slaughter the unborn are murderers according to the Law of God. We must continue to expose them in our communities and peacefully protest them at their offices and homes, and yes, even their churches."
On the February 2, 1992, edition of CBS' 60 Minutes (accessed from the Nexis database), Lesley Stahl reported:"While Terry insists he has never committed any violent acts himself, this footage, taped by the staff of the Boulder Abortion Clinic in Colorado, shows him asking his followers to pray for either the salvation or the death of the clinic's doctor." 60 Minutes then aired video of Terry stating "But pray that this family will either be converted to God or that calamity will strike him." Stahl added, "The doctor he's talking about is Warren Hern, who runs the clinic. He's been a major target of pro-life groups for years because he's one of only three doctors in the country who specialize in late-term abortions."
On Thursday, David Corn explained just how unexpected Larry Klayman's endorsement of Sonia Sotomayor is. Corn did a nice job of listing Klayman's ... uh ... eccentricities.
But there's one thing he missed, and it's a rather interesting bit of the Klayman biography in light of frequent suggestions by media figures that Sotomayor might not be able to rule objectively because of her Puerto Rican heritage.
As Corn noted, Klayman has blamed his bad press on a cabal of Jewish journalists (including Corn) that he thought were out to get him because "as a Jew who believes in Christ" he was "a threat to the liberal Jewish creed, a kosher Uncle Tom."
And (here's the new part) Larry Klayman was once barred from practicing law in New York City after he suggested that an Asian-American judge was unable to rule impartially because of his race.
Klayman, in other words, is prone to thinking that minorities cannot be objective because of their backgrounds. His endorsement of Sotomayor, then, should throw some cold water on the claims by (mostly right-wing) media that because of her background, Sotomayor may be incapable of objectivity.
An appeals court in New York last month upheld a decision by a Chinese American judge to sanction attorney who accused him of ruling against them because of his race.
[Judge Denny] Chin had dismissed a suit filed in 1991 by McDraw Inc., an importer and distributor of wire-drawing equipment, against CIT Group Equipment Financing Inc. alleging contract and fraud charges. A judge who had been assigned the case earlier had also come to similar conclusions about the merits of the claim.
In response, the lawyers in the case, Larry Klayman and Paul Orfanedes of Washington, D.C., filed briefs challenging Chin's impartiality.
Klayman has been one of the leading figures in pursuing allegations of corruption within the White House. As chair of the conservative legal rights group Judicial Watch, Klayman was part of an investigation on John Huang, the former Democratic Party fund raiser who may have raised money from foreign sources.
After his litigation defeat, Klayman sent a letter to Chin demanding to know whether the judge had "any business, political, or personal dealings" with Huang. To support his speculation that Chin was somehow connected to Huang, Klayman found an AsianWeek article mentioning a half-dozen individuals appointed to various posts by President Clinton. Among those individuals were Chin and Huang.
In filing his briefs and referring to Huang, Klayman may have been engaged in zealous advocacy. In a courtroom colloquy, however, he made it much more clear that he was accusing Chin of wrongdoing because of his racial heritage.
Chin asked Klayman, "You asked questions of the court, at least in part, because of my race?"
Klayman replied, "In part. And let me tell you why ... We are all human, and sometimes, sometimes subjective criteria can unwittingly, no matter how ethical, no matter how decent, no matter how honest someone is--and we believe you to be that--they can subjectively influence our decision-making."
Klayman continued, "Your Honor has to search his own soul to a large extent."
At that point, Chin ended the proceedings. He sanctioned Klayman, giving him a relatively light penalty. Klayman, who is a lawyer in Washington, will not be permitted the privilege of practicing in New York City.
In affirming the decision by Judge Chin, the appeals court said that the "charge that the judge is racially or ethnically biased" is serious, because it is a charge of violating "the oath of office."
The appeals court said that such a charge "should not be made without a factual foundation going well beyond the judge's membership in a particular racial or ethnic group." It added that Klayman's conduct was "insulting and smacked of intimidation."
The appeals court also noted with respect to the AsianWeek article that, "The article did not suggest any connection between the two [Chin and Huang], other than their having been appointed by the same administration and their being Asian American."
Ironically, Klayman also was sanctioned a few years ago in the California courts. He had accused a federal judge of being anti-Semitic toward him and anti-Asian toward his a client, a Taiwanese national. The court found no basis for his accusation.
On Friday, Michael Goldfarb suggested that Princeton gave Sonia Sotomayor "preferential treatment" by allowing her to teach her own class and grade her own work, and that she may have graduated with honors only because she was allowed to grade herself. Goldfarb then whined that he went to Princeton, but was never afforded such luxuries. At least one blogger took Goldfarb's claims a step further, writing that Sotomayor's "Princeton degree is not worth the paper on which it is printed" and calling it a "self-granted degree."
But it was immediately obvious that Goldfarb was full of it. The blog post he cited for this smear linked to a Princeton University press release that made things perfectly clear: Sotomayor didn't teach the class, didn't grade herself, and there was absolutely nothing unusual about the "treatment" she was given - the seminar she persuaded Princeton to offer was the 132nd such student-initiated seminar in the previous 12 terms.
I pointed all of that out at 12:48 pm on Friday, just two hours after Goldfarb's own post. Adam Serwer and Steve Benen and Julian Sanchez and Matt Yglesias and Scott Lemieux and Jason Zengerle all joined in, pointing out that Goldfarb was wrong; Sotomayor hadn't taught the class or graded herself.
Still, Goldfarb didn't correct his post. And he can't use the excuse that he took off for a long weekend, without access to the Internet. He posted again at 3:15 pm on Friday, and again at 5:00 pm, and at 7:42 pm, and again at 11:49 pm. But no correction.
Well, now Goldfarb has finally "updated" his post. But he didn't retract his dishonorable smears, or tone down his pathetic whining about not being allowed to teach a class at Princeton (based on his inability to successfully read a press release, he should be grateful he was allowed to take a class there.) Instead, he simply quotes an innuendo-laden email from National Review writer Matthew Franck:
Update: Matthew Franck of NRO's Bench Memos blog emails:
I thought the same thing about that bit of ethnicity-hustling that Sotomayor engaged in as a Princeton student-that she and her classmates got to run the whole show themselves when they got their seminar on "the Puerto Rican experience"-until I saw the press release from 1974 that the Daily Princetonian dug up. It seems they applied for a class of their own, and even got to set the readings and syllabus, under a loopy 1968 policy that handed this kind of curricular initiative over to students. But they did get an assistant professor of history to "teach" the class, after they designed it. (Some academic freedom he had!) Presumably he handed out the grades, but since he was (conveniently) an untenured assistant professor running a little class with some experienced Mau-Maus, you could almost predict the A's all around from day one.
That's all Goldfarb added to his post. No retraction of or apology for his false claims. Just a screed that continues to imply that Sotomayor essentially graded herself, and continues to obscure how common student-initiated seminars were. And note that the email makes it look like the press release in question was buried in some dusty archive somewhere - how was Goldfarb to know? Well, maybe because the press release was linked to in the very Stuart Taylor blog post that Goldfarb used as the basis for his smear?
Goldfarb has done a nifty job of pretending to meet the requirements of a correction, while actually obscuring the irresponsibility and stupidity of his original post, and continuing its unfair and baseless implications.
Maybe he's desperate to make the world forget about this by behaving even more deplorably?
In her May 31 column, conservative commentator Kathleen Parker addresses the conservative media's criticism of Sotomayor's 2001 "wise Latina" comment on the basis that a white male could not "get away" with a "comparable" statement:
Nevertheless, most criticism has been aimed at perceived racist-sexist remarks from a 2001 diversity speech in which Sotomayor suggested that she, as a Latina, could be more qualified than a white guy. Pause: Don't most women think they're more qualified than most men when it comes to making wise decisions? Kidding, kidding.
What she said: "I would hope that a wise Latina woman with the richness of her experiences would more often than not reach a better conclusion than a white male who hasn't lived that life." Sotomayor may be misguided, but she isn't necessarily a sexist-racist. I say this as a mother of white males (perfect in every way) and author of "Save the Males." Notwithstanding the preceding, I see her point.
Could a white man get away with saying something comparable about a Latina? Of course not. After Latinas have run the world for 2,000 years, they won't be able to say it ever again either.
Of course Schieffer leaves out all the context when he hypes the "Latina woman" quote from Sonia Sotomayor. That's to be expected. That has become a cardinal rule within the Beltway. Because the only way to keep the phony 'racist" debate afloat is to leave out all context and fool news consumers into thinking Sotomayor was making some sort of wild, sweeping statement about Latina judges being superior to white male judges. The press must to leave out the fact that Sotomayor was specifically addressing discrimination cases when she made the "Latina woman" claim.
Fine, Schieffer purposefully left out all context. He had no choice because it's a Village thing. But Schieffer then went one better by asking a Republican senator if Sotomayor's "Latina woman" comment would be "enough to keep her from being confirmed as a justice on the Supreme Court."
Keep in mind that you can't find four Republican senators on the record today opposing Sotomayor, but Schieffer wants to know if her nomination is doomed--if every Republican senator will oppose her and be joined by scores of Democrats--because of the "Latina woman" quote.
Is someone can find a dumber question ever asked by Schieffer, we'd like to hear it.
From Farah's May 30 column, headlined "A racist for the Supreme Court":
Sotomayor is a member of the National Council of La Raza. What is La Raza?
It bills itself as a "civil rights" organization. It would be more appropriate to say it disguises itself as such. It camouflages itself as such. It hides its real purpose and true intents as such - with the willing and skillful assistance of many of my media colleagues.
In reality, La Raza is a racist hate group - a band of "Hispanic supremacists," if you will, though it is seldom characterized that way.
It is no more a civil rights group than the Ku Klux Klan is a group promoting the civil rights of white people. It is no more a civil rights group than the neo-Nazi scum who marched a generation ago at Skokie, Ill., with the legal protection of the American Civil Liberties Union, another misnamed organization. It is no more a civil rights group than the Aryan skinheads who victimize Jews and others they detest in trying to lift themselves up from the gutter.
La Raza is part of the movement in this country to destroy it from within by dividing and "reconquering."
Its members and leadership are linked directly to those who believe the Southwestern U.S. was unjustly seized from Mexico in the 19th century. It should, they believe, by any means necessary, be reconstituted either as part of that thoroughly corrupt, socialist regime fled by tens of millions of refugees or as an independent, autonomous, Spanish-speaking socialist state - like the mythical land of Aztlan.
The only real differences between La Raza and the neo-Nazis and the KKK are its wealth, power and level of sophistication.