In an editorial this morning, The Washington Examiner claims that Attorney General Eric Holder "should fire his aides -- or get fired himself" due to what the editorial suggests is either incompetence by the aides or a lack of candor about what Holder knew about the failed ATF sting Operation Fast and Furious and when he knew it.
Specifically, the Examiner claims that "senior Holder aides" knew about the operation's controversial tactics, and that it is "highly unlikely" they didn't inform the Attorney General:
[The Justice Department says] Holder knew about the program, but did not know about the program's details. But the emails obtained by CBS News show that is highly unlikely. For instance, an Oct. 17, 2010, email from Deputy Assistant Attorney General of the Criminal Division Jason Weinstein to Deputy Chief of the National Gang Unit James Trusty, questions the wisdom of having Assistant Attorney General Lanny Breuer attend a press conference associated with Fast and Furious, "given the number of guns that have walked." These emails make clear that senior Holder aides knew that allowing dangerous gun sales to go forward were at the heart of Operation Fast and Furious. It's highly unlikely that they did not alert Holder to these facts, Best case: Holder has surrounded himself with incompetents and should fire them forthwith. Worst case: Holder lied when he denied knowing about the gun-running scheme and should get the boot himself. [emphasis added]
The Weinstein email to which the Examiner refers states: "Do you think we should try to have Lanny participate in press when Fast and Furious and Laura's Tucson case are unsealed? It's a tricky case, given the number of guns that have walked, but it is a significant set of prosecutions."
But according to DOJ, Weinstein's references to "guns that have walked" wasn't to Operation Fast and Furious, but rather to "Laura's Tucson case," which Justice Department sources identified as the Bush-era Operation Wide Receiver. According to DOJ, as in Fast and Furious, Wide Receiver involved ATF allowing guns to be trafficked in hopes of tracing them and taking down a trafficking network. DOJ says Trusty and Weinstein did not know that guns had been walked in Operation Fast and Furious at the time of their email exchange.
In their frenzy to take down Attorney General Eric Holder, right wing media pundits have started comparing the brewing Fast and Furious scandal, in which a failed ATF operation allowed guns to "walk" to Mexico in order to track their delivery into the hands of drug cartels, to Ronald Reagan's Iran-Contra scandal in the 1980s.
Naturally, the conservatives making this comparison believe Fast and Furious is much worse than Reagan's scandal, in which the Republican hero trafficked arms into the hands of a tyrannical Iranian government, negotiated with Hezbollah terrorists and funneled money and military equipment into the hands of violent revolutionaries in America's own backyard.
Specifically, Fox News hosts are pushing the unlikely argument that Fast and Furious is worse than Iran-Contra because, as they put it, "nobody died" as a result of the latter scandal. The assertion -- that the Reagan administration's felonious dealings with terrorists and terror-sponsoring nations didn't lead to a single casualty -- is absurd to anyone with even the most elementary understanding of what Iran-Contra was or to anyone with access to the internet.
From the October 13 edition of Fox News' Happening Now:
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In July, Islamophobe Pam Geller suggested that she supported impeaching President Obama on the basis of the myth that his administration supported the release of the Lockerbie bomber. Now she's found a new false rationale for impeachment: Obama's supposed knowledge of the ATF's failed Operation Fast and Furious.
Geller claims that both Obama and Attorney General Eric Holder knew the controversial operational details of that failed gunrunning sting, which is currently under DOJ and congressional investigation. Her evidence? Obama's support for economic recovery legislation which did not fund the operation, and a speech in which Holder did not talk about Fast and Furious.
In a post entitled "Direct Evidence: Holder Lied, Bragged About Project Gunrunner In Mexico In 2009," Geller wrote:
This is the most corrupt and criminal administration in American history. And their contempt and disgust for the American people is degenerate, rotten, scandalous. Holder must be fired. Obama should be impeached for Fast and Furious. The Republicans must uphold the laws of this country.
Geller points to a blog post which details how "despite... repeatedly denying knowledge of Project Gunrunner," Obama approved stimulus funding for the program and Holder gave a speech referencing it.
Apparently we need to point this out again: Project Gunrunner and Operation Fast and Furious are not the same thing.
Obama and Holder never denied knowing about Project Gunrunner, a high-profile effort begun under the Bush administration in which ATF agents were directed from other offices to the Mexican border region in order to reduce cross-border gun trafficking. They have consistently denied knowledge of the details of Fast and Furious, the failed operation run under Project Gunrunner by a team from the ATF's Phoenix office, in which agents allowed guns to be transferred to known traffickers in the hopes of building a complex conspiracy case against cartels.
Indeed, Fast and Furious was not begun until fall 2009, months after Holder's comment.
Even right-wing bloggers have pointed out that people making this conflation are wrong. But Geller apparently can't be bothered to fact-check.
A study published in the prestigious journal American Economic Review estimates that the costs imposed on society by air pollution from coal-fired power plants are greater than the value added to the economy by the industry. The study concluded that coal may be "underregulated" since the price we pay for coal-fired power doesn't account for its costs.
According to a Nexis search, not a single major newspaper or television network has covered the study. By contrast, an industry-funded report on the cost of EPA regulations of these air pollutants has received considerable media attention.
The authors of the American Economic Review paper -- Nicholas Muller of Middlebury College and Yale's William Nordhaus and Robert Mendelsohn -- are considered centrists. Mendelsohn opposed the Kyoto climate treaty and spoke this year at the right-wing Heartland Institute's conference on climate change.
Economist Paul Krugman wrote that the study should "be a major factor in how we discuss economic ideology," adding "It won't, of course." From Krugman's post:
It's important to be clear about what this means. It does not necessarily say that we should end the use of coal-generated electricity. What it says, instead, is that consumers are paying much too low a price for coal-generated electricity, because the price they pay does not take account of the very large external costs associated with generation. If consumers did have to pay the full cost, they would use much less electricity from coal -- maybe none, but that would depend on the alternatives.
At one level, this is all textbook economics. Externalities like pollution are one of the classic forms of market failure, and Econ 101 says that this failure should be remedied through pollution taxes or tradable emissions permits that get the price right. What Muller et al are doing is putting numbers to this basic proposition -- and the numbers turn out to be big. So if you really believed in the logic of free markets, you'd be all in favor of pollution taxes, right?
The standard refrain from the anti-internet freedom lobby has, for some time now, been that the FCC's new open internet rules represent a "takeover" or "regulation of the internet." It's an argument that didn't have a lot of factual juice to begin with, and now that the FCC's rules are actually on the books, it comes off as pretty foolish.
But Americans For Prosperity vice president Phil Kerpen is sticking with it, and glamming it up with some amusing histrionics. This morning The Examiner published an excerpt of Kerpen's grandiloquently subtitled book: Democracy Denied: How Obama Is Ignoring You and Bypassing Congress to Radically Transform America -- and How to Stop Him. The battle for the internet, it seems, has transcended the stratosphere:
On Dec. 21, 2010, President Obama's Federal Communications Commission fittingly chose the darkest day in 372 years to impose potentially devastating regulations on the previously free-market Internet.
Early that morning, for the first time since 1638, the moon was eclipsed, blocking out the sun on the day of the winter solstice, already the darkest day of the year.
And just as the moon was eclipsed that day, Congress, the American people, and our constitutional system of government will be eclipsed if the FCC's regulatory coup d'etat -- orchestrated by the White House -- is allowed to stand.
Before we even get to internet policy, I have to point out that Kerpen doesn't quite understand the moon (a common affliction on the right). A lunar eclipse -- like the one that happened last December -- occurs when the Earth blocks the sun's rays from reaching the moon. What Kerpen describes is a solar eclipse, in which the moon blocks out the sun and prevents its rays from reaching the Earth.
Kerpen's poor description of lunar science is eclipsed (sorry) by his willful distortion of the new FCC rules:
On a party-line vote, three Democrats at the FCC decided to substitute their own judgment for the legitimate democratic process.
Those three FCC commissioners ordered that the Internet be regulated in the name of network neutrality, despite the fact that regulations had almost no support in Congress.
Untrue. The new rules apply only to internet service providers, and prevent them from regulating internet users' access to lawful online content. Nothing in the rules gives the FCC authority to "regulate" the content internet users can access.
Even still, Kerpen argues the American people are on his side:
The public overwhelmingly opposed regulation. A Rasmussen poll conducted at the time of the order found that only 21 percent of Americans supported Internet regulation, with 54 percent opposed. The poll also found that 56 percent of Americans thought the FCC would use its newly created powers to pursue a political agenda.
How did we get to the point where the FCC would ignore all of that and regulate the Internet? It took a remarkable political effort from the far Left, and a breakdown in our constitutional system that allowed regulators to bypass Congress. That breakdown must be corrected.
Here is the Rasmussen poll in question, which, given that it enthusiastically adopts the false right-wing framing of internet "regulation," falls more into the category of push-polling. A sample question: "What is the best way to protect those who use the Internet -- more government regulation or more free market competition?" That's both a false choice and a misrepresentation of the open internet rules.
Hysterically bad moon science aside, Kerpen's piece is just a retread of the same stale argument the opponents of internet freedom have been flogging for years. The message discipline is impressive, and likely appreciated in the corporate offices of telecom providers who are eager to promulgate that very same talking point. Verizon this week sued the FCC over the new rules, saying the agency asserted "broad authority to impose potentially sweeping and unneeded regulations on broadband networks and services and on the Internet itself."
KERPEN RESPONDS UPDATE:
Phil Kerpen responds via Twitter:
An excellent riposte to something I didn't write. No response thus far to the real point -- that he lies about the FCC's open internet rules.
From the October 7 edition of Fox News' Fox & Friends:
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Rush Limbaugh claimed that Sen. Charles Schumer (D-NY) "tr[ied] to destroy" IndyMac Bank and "thereby started a panic that probably started the financial collapse that led to the Great Recession." In fact, investigations have backed up Schumer's claim that IndyMac's deteriorating financial condition was a consequence of lax federal oversight, and federal officials stated that the bank "was already on a course for probable failure" when Schumer expressed his concerns.
From the October 4 edition of Fox News' Hannity:
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This afternoon, Rep. Lamar Smith (R-TX), chairman of the House Judiciary Committee, called for a special counsel to investigate whether Attorney General Eric Holder perjured himself over comments he made over the botched ATF gunrunning sting Operation Fast and Furious. Fox News immediately aired a "News Alert" report detailing these allegations; they have since devoted several segments to the charges.
It's worth pointing out that no such coverage was provided by the network's primetime lineup in 2007, when Senate Democrats accused then-Attorney General Alberto Gonzales of perjuring himself in congressional testimony about President Bush's domestic surveillance program. At the time, Fox's evening lineup devoted a total of three segments to the Senate Democrats' call for a special prosecutor, all on Fox News' Special Report, totaling less than 12 minutes of coverage.*
In segments on the July 26, 27, and 30 editions of Special Report, Fox personalities repeatedly downplayed the allegations against Gonzales or suggested that the Senate Democrats were politically motivated. Special Report host Brit Hume asked: "Did Attorney General Alberto Gonzales lie under oath in a senate hearing last week or was he carefully parsing words about two elements of the same terrorist surveillance program? Even if he were doing the latter, would it satisfy senators who were calling for his scalp?" Bret Baier asked whether Democrats are "barking up the wrong tree, calling this perjury"; Charles Krauthammer replied that they were.
In his forthcoming book, Injustice: Exposing the Racial Agenda of the Obama Justice Department, former Department Of Justice attorney and Republican activist J. Christian Adams desperately tries to maintain his credibility by doubling down on accusations of racially charged corruption in the Civil Rights Division. The book is filled with falsehoods, misrepresentations, and baseless allegations.
A sense of proportion has never been J. Christian Adams' strength.
From major overarching themes like his ridiculous claim that the New Black Panther Party case proved a pattern of racially charged "corruption" by the Justice Department to smaller mishaps like his comparison of diversity committees to "South Africa's apartheid regime," Adams is constantly going overboard. His new book is no different.
For instance, are you aware that we're currently experiencing a "national war over civil rights"?
[Ike Brown's] shocking campaign of vote fraud - the likes of which, most Americans believe, is rarely seen outside third world nations - sparked a national war over civil rights that continues to this very day. (Page 25)
Did you ever think how much African Americans who gained political power after the passage of civil rights legislation act a little bit like they during "the transition from white rule to black rule in Zimbabwe"?
The empowerment of formerly oppressed people often creates a volatile situation where much can go wrong and much can go right. In those situations, there is a natural human instinct toward vengeance and retribution that must be controlled by the law. In the transition from white rule to black rule in Zimbabwe, we find a start example of what happens when the law fails to control these instincts - legally sanctioned terror against the white minority, gangsterism, and economic collapse. We find a counter-example in South Africa, where Nelson Mandela presided over a peaceful transition from apartheid that, though imperfect, was marked by adherence to the law and full legal protections for all races.
In some American counties, as the black majority became empowered after passage of the Voting Rights Act, new political leaders emerged who sought racial payback. While they did not unleash wanton violence on the scale of Zimbabwe, the same sense of racial animus animated their cause. (Page 179)
In his new book, Injustice: Exposing The Racial Agenda Of The Obama Justice Department, New Black Panther fabulist J. Christian Adams goes to great pains to highlight campaign donations to President Obama from DOJ staffers and appointees.
In Chapter 3 ("Personnel Is Policy") Adams points out that several hires for career attorney positions in the Civil Rights Division were Obama donors. At the end of the book, he circles back to this point, urging future Republican administrations to "prevent the appearance of bias in the conduct of employees' duties" by banning career DOJ lawyers, specifically those in the Voting Section of the Civil Rights Division, from "engaging in political activities."
Adams then references several such attorneys who were involved in election-related DOJ functions who donated to Obama, creating "an appearance of impropriety to the American public."
At one point in the book, Adams even explains that on Election Day 2008, Voting Section chief Christopher Coates kept him at the Section's Washington desk because he didn't trust "key DOJ election officials" who were "large donors to Obama":
I received an early report about the Panther incident in Philadelphia. Voting Section chief Chris Coates had kept me at the Washington desk for just this sort of eventuality. Normally another lawyer would manage all traffic on election day, but Coates didn't trust him because there were already signs within the DOJ that some attorneys had used their position and power to aid the Obama campaign. Not only were key DOJ election officials large donors to Obama, but a wave of questionable inquiries and requests had come in over the previous few months from people such as Obama campaign lawyer Robert Bauer.
Yeah, it would be horrible if a donor for one of the presidential candidates had been in that position on Election Day, right? You'd never be able to trust whether they were acting to further the law or their candidate of choice.
Yup, J. Christian Adams was a John McCain donor. He received the first report about the New Black Panther case. The rest is history.
Anyone else see an "appearance of impropriety"?
New Black Panthers Party fabulist J. Christian Adams is a long-time right-wing activist who began working for the U.S. Department of Justice during its notorious era of politicized hiring and now blogs for the right-wing media site Pajamas Media, often issuing false attacks on the Obama DOJ for its supposed politicization and "racial agenda." His forthcoming book, Injustice: Exposing The Racial Agenda Of The Obama Justice Department, promises to cover similar territory.
From the September 29 edition of Fox Business' America's Nightly Scoreboard:
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