A Fox & Friends segment reported that the Transportation Security Administration will begin testing airline passengers' DNA at airports. In reality, the Department of Homeland Security is planning to test a portable DNA screener for use in certain immigration cases; the TSA is not testing the device and says it has no plans to test DNA.
The right-wing media have repeatedly mischaracterized Attorney General Eric Holder's recent reference to "my people" to claim that he is a "black nationalist" or that the Obama Justice Department is motivated by "racial bias." In his statement, Holder actually took issue with the suggestion that a 2008 incident involving the New Black Panther Party was a more "blatant form of voter intimidation" than what occurred in the 1960s; Holder said the suggestion "does a great disservice to people who put their lives on the line, who risked all."
From the March 2 edition of Premiere Radio Networks' The Glenn Beck Program:
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In a March 1 editorial, The Washington Times stated that "restrictions on things like the size of handgun magazines" are "pointless." The Times also wrote that President Obama is "a bigoted man who derisively describes small-town America as a place where people 'cling to guns.'"
From the Times' editorial:
The left has permanently lost the argument on gun control. Despite their best efforts to take advantage of the tragic shooting in Arizona to promote pointless restrictions on things like the size of handgun magazines, the propaganda campaign is unlikely to go anywhere. Instead, the right to keep and bear arms continues to gain steam as state lawmakers around the country are enacting measures that would have been unthinkable not so long ago.
At the national level, Rep. Cliff Stearns, Florida Republican, and Rep. Heath Schuler, North Carolina Democrat, introduced a measure providing for national reciprocity of concealed carry permits. That means anyone with the legal ability to carry in his home state could do so in another state as long as he abides by all applicable state laws. It's unfortunate this common-sense bill has no chance of getting past the Oval Office as long as it is occupied by a bigoted man who derisively describes small-town America as a place where people "cling to guns."
Politico reports this afternoon that Attorney General Eric Holder showed real exasperation today at a House Appropriations subcommittee hearing when he was asked about the New Black Panther Party (NBPP) case. After being told by Rep. John Culberson (R-Texas) that a poll watcher had said the New Black Panther incident -- in which two members of the fringe group stood menacingly outside a Philadelphia polling station and produced exactly zero reports of voter intimidation -- was "the most serious act of voter intimidation he had witnessed in his career," Holder fired back:
"Think about that," Holder said. "When you compare what people endured in the South in the 60s to try to get the right to vote for African Americans, to compare what people subjected to that with what happened in Philadelphia, which was inappropriate....to describe it in those terms I think does a great disservice to people who put their lives on the line for my people," said Holder, who is black.
Holder noted that his late sister-in-law, Vivian Malone Jones, helped integrate the University of Alabama.
"To compare that kind of courage, that kind of action, to say some Black Panther incident is of greater concern to us, historiclally, I think just flies in the face of history," Holder said with evident exasperation.
This followed, according to the report, Culberson saying to Holder: "There's clearly overwhelming evidence that your Department of Justice refuses to protect the rights of anybody other than African-Americans to vote."
That the attorney general should have to remind a congressional panel of America's tragic history of race-based disenfranchisement is nothing short of remarkable. Also remarkable is the fact that these questions are being posed by a member of Congress to the attorney general in the first place. And for that we have the Fox Cycle to thank.
PHOENIX, Ariz.--The endless carnage of the Mexican cartel wars may seem a world away from the climate control and free Starbucks within the Phoenix Convention Center, where leading border security experts gathered this month for the fifth annual Border Security Expo. Yet it's only 150 miles from downtown Phoenix to the northernmost cartel war zone of Nogales, Sonora. Even closer are the badlands on the U.S. side of the border where last December a Border Patrol agent was killed in a firefight with Mexican drug smugglers. They were armed with AK-47s purchased legally from a gun store in Glendale, Arizona, less than a year before.
Weapons seized in March 2010 by Mexican military police from La Familia Michoacana Cartel, more commonly known as La Familia, a Mexican drug trafficking organization and criminal syndicate.
More than 73,000 firearms have been seized in drug raids or recovered from the scenes of cartel gun battles in Mexico since December 2006. According to law enforcement officials, "90 percent of the weapons that could be traced were determined to have originated from various sources within the U.S." Weapons sold over-the-counter in the U.S., including thousands of cheap, military-style assault rifles, are being used in Mexico to commit horrific violence on a massive scale.
Conservative politicians routinely demand that the federal government to do more to secure the border -- often championing nativist and draconian anti-immigrant policies. Yet they reflexively oppose even modest efforts by law enforcement to better track the flow of high-powered weaponry.
Meanwhile, the violence in Mexico continues to escalate. More than 34,000 people have died in the cartel wars since late 2006, many of them law enforcement officers, elected officials, or innocent civilians. On February 15, a U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement agent was shot and killed and his partner was seriously wounded while they were investigating cartel gunrunning in Mexico.
That same day marked the start of the Border Security Expo, a gathering of law enforcement and government officials from the U.S. and Mexico, as well as private security and defense contractors.
Standing at the Phoenix conference hall podium, U.S. border security expert Alonzo Peña, the former Deputy Director of ICE, called for America to own up to its responsibility for the bloodshed in Mexico.
"We are the consumers of the drugs and we are the suppliers of the weapons," said Peña. "The drugs come to America, the money and the guns go back. U.S. weapons are giving these cartels the firepower they need. Much more needs to be done. There is a huge gap between what we are capable of doing to stop illegal gun trafficking to Mexico and what is actually being done."
On February 22, Gun Owners of America (GOA) president Larry Pratt appeared on America Live and presented a variety of misleading reasons for his opposition to Andrew Traver, President Obama's nominee to head up the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF). Pratt's objections during the segment were political in nature, wholly ignored Traver's distinguished record as a law enforcement officer and veered into far-flung accusations of criminal conspiracies by the ATF.
Asked about why he and other gun lobbyists have opposed the Traver nomination, Pratt first pounced on the opportunity to link the ATF to the case of border patrol agent Brian Terry, who was tragically killed in a firefight with five armed assailants in December. Questions recently surfaced about ATF awareness of the purchase of two of the weapons used in the attack against Terry and his fellow agents.
PRATT: But with the, know the looming crisis that the agency breaking about how they were, their agents were literally running guns into Mexico to jack up the numbers to make it look like they needed more money for their agency. [1:27]
Pratt and the GOA have been advancing the accusation that "the ATF is actually helping to move illegal guns across the border." In fact, according to the Washington Post, the accused straw buyer linked to the Brian Terry shootings has been arrested by the ATF as have 33 others. The paper also reported that court records "do not indicate that the agents deliberately allowed weapons to cross the border into Mexico. On at least two occasions, agents stopped and seized arms shipments headed for the border." The Department of Justice has responded to Congressional inquires regarding this allegation in a February 4th letter saying:
At the outset, the allegation described in your January 27 letter- that the ATF "sanctioned" or otherwise knowingly allowed the sale of assault weapons to a straw purchaser who then transported them into Mexico- is false. ATF makes every effort to interdict weapons that have been purchased illegally and prevent their transportation to Mexico. [Emphasis added]
Pratt's accusation distracts from the role American-bought guns play in fueling cartel violence, and to discredit efforts by the ATF to clamp down on the southward flow of firearms. More then 65,000 guns recovered by Mexican law enforcement have been traced to the United States, so to suggest that American law enforcement -- and not Mexican cartels -- are behind this widespread trend is not only pure fantasy, but deeply dishonest. Finally, there have been zero reports that have linked Traver, who runs the Chicago area office of the ATF, to the Brian Terry case.
When pressed by host Megyn Kelly to actually discuss reasons he opposes Andrew Traver, instead of espousing conspiracy theories, Pratt continued to make unsubstantiated assertions and all but dismissed the relevance of Traver's record as a law enforcement officer.
PRATT: Well, if he wants to be the head of police agency where he has to get congressional confirmation he needs to get off his anti-gun kick. It's just totally unacceptable and we're not going to look at the rest of his record. If he thinks his job is to come after gun owners, legitimate guns owners in this country, then we're against him. And we just really don't care how many arrests he can tout, he will also be making arrests of gun owners who haven't done anything, because those are even easier arrests to make than going after real criminals. [2:50]
Pratt offered no explanation why he thinks that Traver would come after, "legitimate gun owners" as part of his "job." Reached for comment on what actions Traver has taken against "legitimate gun owners," Pratt told Media Matters he was referring to the Great Lakes Summit States Summit on Firearm Violence. Traver was a "Summit Advisor" but the summit did not advocate in any way targeting legitimate guns owners for arrest. Pratt did not respond with any examples of actions Traver took as a law enforcement officer to backup his assertion.
Pratt also seemed intent on exaggerating the influence of the ATF.
KELLY: How much power does he have? Because the Obama administration did not, uh, did not propose to reinstate the lapsed the assault weapons ban. So, can this guy do it as head of the ATF? [3:20]
PRATT: Sure, the ATF intervened with the State Department and got them to cancel permission to import 830,000, almost antique rifles now, M-1 carbines from Korea. That's a huge, that's probably the biggest gun ban in history. It was done all by regulation, by dictate from the FBI and BATF. [3:31]
In fact, Traver would have no authority to reinstate the assault weapons ban, as doing so would require Congressional action. While the State Department's decision to deny permission for the importation of the Korean War-era guns was regulatory in nature, the authority to do so was based in previous legislation and in no way beyond the legitimate authority of the State Department.
Even Kelly seemed to recognize the excessively political nature of Pratt's complaints as she unsuccessfully tried to get Pratt to address Traver's bipartisan support from Illinois' senators and his support from U.S. Attorney for Northern Illinois Patrick Fitzgerald, who called Traver's actions to combat gang violence "excellent."
Since 2006 the position of ATF director has been held by temporary appointees as the Senate has failed to confirm both Traver and President Bush's proposed director Micheal Sullivan. The ATF is going on 5 years without a permanent director -- is it time to ask if anyone can be confirmed by the Senate?
Today, NewsBusters decided to criticize ABC's Good Morning America over an interview host George Stephanopoulos conducted with New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg, complaining that Stephanopoulos didn't call Bloomberg a liberal and that the interview included a shot of a billboard truck that FixGunChecks.org is currently driving across the nation to highlight the deficiencies in the National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS). The truck's banner highlights the 34 Americans who are murdered with guns each day.
From the NewsBusters post by Scott Whitlock:
Good Morning America's George Stephanopoulos on Wednesday conducted a softball interview with Michael Bloomberg, touting his new gun control campaign and never once calling the New York mayor a liberal.
GMA even featured a truck promoting Fixgunchecks.org, highlighting the parked vehicle just outside ABC studios. Ignoring ideological labels, Stephanopoulos introduced, "New York Mayor Mike Bloomberg joins us now. He's co-founder of Mayor's Against Illegal Guns and he's unveiling a new campaign today to toughen gun control." [Emphasis in original]
Highlighting the inclusion of FixGunChecks.org's truck and discussing the issue of background checks for less than two minutes is pretty thin gruel for the "liberal media bias" that NewsBusters purports to expose. FixGunChecks.org exists to highlight two common-sense policies -- entering the names of all people prohibited from buying guns into the NICS, and requiring a background check for every gun sale in America -- that are widely popular among all Americans.
Fixing the gaps in the government background check databases by adding missing records, which currently number over 2 million, is broadly popular according to a recent poll that shows 89 percent of Americans and 90 percent of gun-owning households support doing just that. Closing loopholes that allow people to buy guns without a background check is also broadly popular, 86 percent of Americans and 81 percent of gun-owning households support requiring all gun buyers to pass a background check at gun shows. Even 69 percent of NRA members support requiring all sellers at gun shows to conduct criminal background checks. It seems that NewsBusters has its facts wrong in trying to paint these policies are "liberal."
The practical reasons for these measures are laid out by Omar Samaha, who's sister Reema was shot and killed during the 2007 Virginia Tech mass shooting, in his explanation of why he joined the National Drive to Fix Gun Checks:
Our family's grief later turned into outrage when we were told that Reema's killer never should have been able to buy a gun. But because his mental health records hadn't been loaded into the background check database, he actually passed a background check and purchased the firearms that he used to murder 32 innocent people.
I looked for ways to get involved in the campaign to fix this broken system. I learned that flawed background checks are just one way guns fall into the wrong hands. The truth is, even if my sister's killer hadn't passed a background check, he could have gone to any private gun seller in Virginia and bought his weapons. All you need is cash, and you walk away with guns -- no questions asked.
From the February 15 edition of Fox News' Fox & Friends:
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From the February 12 coverage of CPAC 2011:
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From February 12 coverage of CPAC 2011:
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From the February 10 edition of Fox Business Network's Freedom Watch with Judge Napolitano:
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Conservative wannabe-whistleblower J. Christian Adams is banging the (same) drum again, repeating claims that his former employers, Attorney General Eric Holder and President Obama's Department of Justice, are unwilling to protect the rights of white voters. Republicans sent him invitations to testify before the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights, he's scheduled to speak at CPAC, and now The Washington Times has provided him another opportunity to advance his fabrications, and therefore presumably his stature as a conservative icon, in his latest diatribe intended to promote the New Black Panther Party phony story.
The content of the latest Adams column is nothing new. He begins by claiming that scurrilous DOJ enforcement of the Voting Rights Act of 1965 are sufficient to make the Act unconstitutional under a theory of unequal enforcement on the basis of race... if only the U.S. Supreme Court were made aware of what's going on at DOJ (guess where Adams comes in?).
Adams repeats the bogus claim that the Obama administration's actions in Noxubee County, MS, show that the DOJ engages in a racial double standard with regard to enforcing election laws. He opines in The Washington Times:
Eric H. Holder Jr.'s Justice Department has become notorious for enforcing election laws with a racial double standard. From the corrupt dismissal of the New Black Panther voter-intimidation case to the refusal to enforce voter integrity laws, Mr. Holder's tenure has been politicized and race-based.
The Supreme Court may be surprised to learn that the Justice Department refuses to conduct any analysis under Section 5 when the racial minority is white, as is the case in many towns and counties covered by Section 5.
This failure to enforce the law equally is not simply a theoretical problem. There are real victims.
During the George W. Bush years, the department brought and won a discrimination case in rural Noxubee County, Miss., against a black official who used fraud and lawlessness to discriminate against the white minority. Yet when a submission under Section 5 was made by this same wrongdoer to facilitate continued discrimination in 2010, the Holder Justice Department didn't even review the discriminatory proposal under Section 5.
Why not? Because Mr. Holder's Justice Department believes as a matter of policy that its resources should not be used to enforce Section 5 on behalf of white victims.
However, as we've noted, this is entirely inaccurate. What the DOJ actually did when the Noxubee County Democratic Executive Committee submitted their request was state that only the "Referee-Administrator" assigned during the Bush years had standing to make a determination. The Justice Department then asked the court to prohibit those plans from moving forward. DOJ stated that by submitting the request in the first place, the defendants were in violation of the Bush-era injunction, concluding:
The Defendants have violated the Remedial Order in this case in two ways. First, the Defendants have assumed electoral duties that this Court has exclusively reserved for the Referee-Administrator. Second, the evidence surrounding the Defendants' decision to implement this new party loyalty standard indicates that, like the party loyalty standard previously implemented by Defendants in Noxubee County, its genesis is one that is, at least in part, racially motivated.
DOJ also sought to extend the injunction against the NCDEC and their leader, Ike Brown, specifically citing potential harm to white voters. The DOJ filing read:
The current effort by the Defendants is a part of the same pattern of behavior described by the Court in its liability opinion, in which Mr. Brown was seen to combine partisan motives with underlying racial motives. In the liability opinion, the Court noted that the list of 174 voters Mr. Brown threatened to challenge on party loyalty grounds included only white voters, despite the presence of black voters who met the terms of his party loyalty standard. Brown, 494 F. Supp. 2d at 476. These facts established that Mr. Brown's actions were motivated in part by racial concerns.
The United States therefore respectfully requests that the Court enjoin the Defendants from making any attempt to enforce the provisions of their "Motion to close Democratic Primary."
There's no doubt that, as a career attorney and a conservative, the strength of Adams' personal brand depends upon the credibility of his Holder/DOJ attacks. Unfortunately for him, the DOJ's actions in the Noxubee case are in fact a "smoking gun" of proof that the administration is keeping a just and vigilant eye on the concerns of all U.S. voters, regardless of race.
Washington Post columnist Michael Gerson writes:
[T]hough it is hard to identify a distinctive Catholic voter, there is certainly a distinctive Catholic teaching on politics - a highly developed and coherent tradition that has influenced many non-Catholics, myself included. Human life and dignity, in this view, are primary.
Gerson never gets around to explaining what he means by human dignity, so it's worth remembering that Gerson (like so many Post columnists) defends the Bush administration's use of torture:
Gerson pays lip service to opposing what he tactfully calls "harsh interrogations," but when you get past the throat-clearing, Gerson argues that firm opposition to such tactics simply "is not an option for those in government." And he has bitterly denounced efforts to investigate Bush administration interrogation methods, using rhetoric Nathan Jessep would appreciate:And now Obama has described the post-Sept. 11 period as "a dark and painful chapter in our history." In fact, whatever your view of waterboarding, the response of intelligence professionals following Sept. 11 was impressive. ... Now the president and his party have done much to tarnish those accomplishments. So much for the thanks of a grateful nation.
Kelly O'Brien, whose fiancee was murdered in the Tucson shooting, appeared on Good Morning America to make the case that regulating high-capacity magazines made sense. O'Brien stated:
I absolutely support it...And it is so sad to see 19 people gunned down in just 15 seconds by one of these extended capacity clips
As you know Jared was stopped when he ran out of bullets. And I believe, even if not Gabe, other people could have been saved that day. And absolutely more people could have not had the injury and stuff that they had to sustain.
O'Brien's support for regulating high-capacity magazine follows similar calls from both Democrats and Republicans, including former Vice President Dick Cheney.
Even Robert A. Levy, who was co-counsel in the landmark legal case that established the Second Amendment as protecting an individual's right to bear arms, acknowledges that regulating high-capacity magazines would be constitutional. As reported by NBC:
Robert A. Levy, who served as co-counsel in the landmark Supreme Court case that established a Second Amendment right to bear arms, said there was no reason the court's decision in that case should apply to the purchase of high-capacity gun magazines.
"I don't see any constitutional bar to regulating high-capacity magazines," Levy said in an interview with NBC. "Justice [Antonin] Scalia made it quite clear some regulations are permitted. The Second Amendment is not absolute."