For months, the right-wing media has been desperately trying to tie the ATF's failed Fast and Furious operation to the upper reaches of the Justice Department and the White House, claiming that President Obama and Attorney General Eric Holder must have known the flawed techniques used by the ATF despite their denials.
The right-wing media claimed that the stimulus funded the operation; that wasn't true. They claimed that Attorney General Holder "took credit" for Fast and Furious in a speech; that wasn't true either. They've even claimed, absent any evidence whatsoever, that the Obama administration deliberately set up the operation to arm Mexican drug cartels in order to justify increased gun control.
But in an appearance today on Fox News, Michael Sullivan, acting director of the ATF under President Bush, pushed back against such claims, saying that Operation Fast and Furious was "well within the rights of the director [of ATF] to approve or reject," and that he would be "surprised" to learn that "authorities outside the ATF" would have known the details of a specific firearms trafficking operation.
KELLY WRIGHT (ANCHOR): The President says he knew nothing about the operation, but the Justice Department has been slow in responding. Do you think this will lead all the way to the White House being involved?
SULLIVAN: I would be surprised. From our experience at ATF, firearms trafficking cases were fairly routine in terms of the nature and scope of the investigations. They didn't require authorities outside of ATF, and for the purpose of initiating it. Could folks have been briefed up, considering the violence in Mexico and the violence on the border, about the strategy, that's clearly possible. But the project itself was well within the rights of the director to essentially approve or to reject.
Thus far, the Freedom Of Information Act lawsuit that PajamasMedia.com filed against the U.S. Department of Justice has resulted in the disclosure of dozens of DOJ employee resumes and nine largely ignored columns by Hans von Spakovsky, J. Christian Adams and Richard Pollock.
"Every Single One" is their ongoing series of posts that tediously tick off the prior work experiences of DOJ lawyers followed by commentary declaring them unabashed left-wing radicals. Ostensibly, the point of the exercise is to establish a case that the administration of President Obama is engaging in the same kind of politicized hiring at DOJ that President Bush was found to have done. Their work has been an utter failure.
Von Spakovsky et al have provided no evidence of politicized hiring practices and have been content to make the lazy claim that, given "every single one" of the latest DOJ hires is liberal, improper procedures must have been used. Unfortunately, they've failed even at this. In order to make their case that every DOJ hire is liberal, they've concocted a definition of liberal so broad that even Pollack himself likely would have to be labeled as a radical leftist.
Washington Times columnist, Fox News regular, and National Rifle Association board member Ted Nugent is no stranger to violent rhetoric. But today's column seems to sets a new standard for depraved bloodthirst.
Nugent notes that the war in Afghanistan has cost the lives of more than 1,500 American soldiers, along with hundreds of billions of dollars. He comments than "Americans should demand to know specifically what we got for the lives and treasure." That seems like a reasonable statement... until Nugent lays out those specifics.
Nugent wants a "voodoo-vermin body count." He wants to know not only how many "voodoo terror maggots our military has killed," but also wants estimates for how many the military has "wounded and maimed," how many "caves and tents used to provide refuge for terror punks have been destroyed" and how many of their goats we have killed.
He goes on to write:
We can go to Recovery.gov to see how "every cent" of our tax dollars has been spent on reigniting the economy and how many jobs have been created. Why can't we go to a website such as Wipethemofftheplanet.org and see how many voodoo whack jobs our warriors have killed and wounded every day and how many in total we have caused to assume cave temperature and wounded?
I want to see a voodoo-vermin body-count digital board updated in real time much like the debt clock.
The real reason Americans aren't told how many voodoo vermin our military have killed and wounded is that it would not be politically correct. The current crop of Fedzillacrats running America probably believe that those statistics would offend other terrorists and cause them to get even angrier at America. Good.
We should want to make other terrorists and those who support them filled with rage. We should want the enemy to hate us, call us the Great Satan. No, we can't all just get along.
In July, Nugent's publicist denied a Media Matters request for an interview after seeing a list of our questions, which focused on his violent and extreme rhetoric. The publicist told us they wanted to maintain a focus on Nugent's "music and not political statements."
That's a smart PR strategy, but it won't end the questions about Nugent's violent rhetoric or the complicity of the right-wing media and the NRA who provide a forum for his extremism.
From the August 30 edition of Premiere Radio Networks' The Rush Limbaugh Show:
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Last summer, Minuteman Project co-founder Jim Gilchrist appeared on CNN's Larry King Live to defend Arizona's notorious immigration crackdown law, SB 1070.
The law requires that local and state police officers check the immigration status of any individual they encounter in the course of their law enforcement duties who the officer reasonably suspects to be an immigrant in the country illegally.
Pressed by CNN host Larry King to explain what sort of criteria officers might legitimately use, Gilchrist said, "Responding to an officer, 'No hablo English, Gringo go back to Europe.' Obviously there's an issue there that probably the person may be illegal and perhaps the officer should pursue that."
King identified Gilchrist as the founder and president of the Minuteman Project. That's half-true. Gilchrist is co-founder of the Minuteman Project, the nativist group that popularized the concept of placing armed but untrained civilian volunteers on the U.S.-Mexico border to discourage immigrants from entering the country illegally. But he's not been the group's president since February 2007 when the Minuteman Project board of directors fired Gilchrist for allegedly stealing donations.
Gilchrist promptly launched a new organization called Jim Gilchrist's Minuteman Project, which is little more than a website promoting Gilchrist.
Long after he was being drummed out of the civilian border patrol movement he played a major role in creating and despite repeated revelations of the white supremacist ties of his followers, including murderer Shawna Forde, Gilchrist continued to be invited to speak at universities and appear on major cable news shows. He's been treated by the media as a legitimate authority on immigration issues and often misidentified as the current president of the Minuteman Project.
Last campaign season, Gilchrist further raised his profile by endorsing and stumping for at least ten Republican state and national candidates who sought his help in burnishing their tough-on-immigration credentials. Through all this, Gilchrist has continued to deny that he misappropriated funds. On the issue of white supremacists involving themselves in the movement he played a major role in creating, however, Gilchrist expresses regret.
"Racial supremacists have been a thorn in my side from day one," he told me earlier this year. "They existed in the Minuteman movement, but they had no legitimate reason for being there, because they do nothing to promote equal treatment under the law for all, which after all was our main goal."
"I've said it before, and I'll say it again, that I am very, very disappointed and saddened at the outcome of the Minuteman Project and the citizen border watch movement," Gilchrist said. "All these different organizations and groups just started calling themselves Minuteman this or Minuteman that and unfortunately it turned out that some of the people involved in them had sinister intentions."
Are you a right-winger with an axe to grind and a book to sell? Having trouble getting anyone to pay attention to your expensive non-story about liberal evildoers? Then call Caroline May, intrepid reporter for Tucker Carlson's The Daily Caller! The Caller has substantial experience repeating verbatim the politically-tinged accusations made by right-wing figures, and May knows just how to conceal your conservative credentials in an effort to make your story seem credible.
In the latest example of ethical subterfuge, May has written a news story that repeats the claims by conservative bloggers J. Christian Adams and Hans von Spakovsky that the hiring practices at the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) "have become politicized under Attorney General Eric Holder and the Obama Administration."
Importantly, May doesn't turn a critical eye to the research methods used by Adams and Spakovsky to come to their conclusion that "every single new hire" at DOJ's Civil Rights Division "boasted far-left resumes," she simply pushes their complaints forward. More importantly, May -- for the second time -- completely omits any mention that Adams and Spakovsky played a central role in the saga of politicization at DOJ under President Bush.
May's story is only newsworthy if the "former Department of Justice officials" (Adams and von Spakovsky) she cites are trustworthy sources whose call for investigation is objectively warranted and not based on an ulterior political motive. It's ethically imperative, then, that their significant right-wing backgrounds are disclosed so that readers can fairly assess the credibility of their work and their claims. May does not even attempt this.
An August 25 Red State post falsely claimed the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) "skirt[ed] Congress" by issuing a recent rule requiring employers to notify employees of their labor rights. In fact, the NLRB has legal authority to issue rules which regulate employers under the National Labor Relations Act.
|From Trace The Guns|
The National Rifle Association's (NRA) favorite talking point is that we need to "enforce gun laws on books already before passing more." This sentiment was echoed by Pennsylvania blogger Sebastian at the gun blog Snow Flakes In Hell recently as he dismissed efforts to improve gun laws that combat gun trafficking.
Sebastian has been a featured guest on the National Rifle Association's (NRA) media outlets so it's not surprising to see he is blind to the role the gun lobby has played in making gun laws largely unenforceable.
Sebastian takes issue with the below segment in a The Times of Trenton column by Brady Campaign vice president Daniel Vice:
But our country's weak gun laws allow traffickers and killers to stockpile guns in states with weaker laws and smuggle them into our communities. In New Jersey, strong laws make it so much harder for criminals to get firearms that guns flood in from states with weak gun laws at a rate seven times higher than the number of crime guns trafficked out of the state.
Responding, Sebastian writes:
That's funny, because in the country I live in this practice is a felony. So I would like to understand how our "weak guns laws" are allowing criminals to "stockpile guns" in states with "weaker laws." In all 50 states, it's a felony for criminals to have a single gun or round of ammunition, let alone stockpile them. I'm afraid the weak laws they are speaking of are laws which allow them to be sold at all. One reason firearms are trafficked into New Jersey is that New Jersey only has a relatively small number of FFLs compared to most other states. There are few legal channels in the Garden State, so criminals do what the law abiding can't, go out of state.
Regardless of how New Jersey compares to other States there are lots of Federal Firearms Licensees in New Jersey. Further, there is no reason to assume the gun traffickers Vice mentions are necessarily previously convicted criminals unable to legally obtain firearms.
But to answer the question of how weak gun laws facilitate trafficking is pretty straight forward: the gun lobby kneecaps enforcement efforts at every possible opportunity.
Americans for Legal Immigration PAC (ALIPAC) leader William Gheen has frequently presented himself as a moderate within the American nativist movement since founding ALIPAC in 2005.
Last May, for example, Gheen yanked ALIPAC's backing of a major rally for Arizona's notorious immigration crackdown law, S.B. 1070, after learning that one of its organizers was linked to racist skinhead groups.
Such anti-extremist posturing has lent Gheen mainstream media credibility. He's been quoted often, nearly two dozen times by mainstream papers in the last six months, according to a Nexis search. Even The New York Times included his comments in a story on border security published August 9.
Earlier this week, however, Gheen appeared to relinquish his mainstream legitimacy in favor of predicting race war and endorsing violence in response to the immigration policies of "Dictator Barack Obama."
As first reported by Right Wing Watch, Gheen argued on the air that the Obama administration is preparing for "conflict with White America" by allowing millions of non-white immigrants into the U.S. to "back them up."
Gheen advocated for "illegal and violent" actions in response.
GHEEN: What Janet Napolitano has spent most of her time doing in the last couple of months has been, one, preparing the new spy network that's available now, the new data-collecting, see everything you do online, beyond the normal terrorist list that they're creating, they're creating a much larger list now of people who might be troublesome here in the country. And putting out videos and propaganda telegraphing what I believe to be a conflict with White America they're preparing for after they get another 10 or 15 million people in the country to back them up.
We're no longer referring to him as President Barack Obama, our national organization has made the decision and made the announcement we now refer to him as Dictator Barack Obama. That's what he is. And basically at this point, if you're looking for a peaceful, political recourse there really isn't one that we can think of, and I'm really not sure what to tell people out there other than I guess they need to make decisions soon to just accept whatever comes next or some type of extra-political activities that I can't really even talk about because they're all illegal and violent.
The Southern Poverty Law Center notes that while open expressions of racial radicalism are new for Gheen, the ALIPAC leader is "no stranger to more more garden-variety bigotry and fear-mongering":
He has accused Mexican immigrants of carrying infectious diseases and plotting to take over the Southwest. In April 2010, he targeted Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.), claiming that the 56-year-old bachelor is gay and saying he should come out to avoid being blackmailed into working with Democrats on immigration reform. In July 2010, Gheen told revisionist "historian" David Barton that LGBT people secretly want to import undocumented immigrants as a way of "replacing many core Americans and American values," part of an overall "war" against Americans.
For the past couple of weeks, Pajamas Media (PJM) has been pushing what they believe to be is a profound disclosure of personal information about new employees at the U.S. Department of Justice Civil Rights Division. PJM contributors Hans von Spakovsky and J. Christian Adams have been struggling to make the case that the Obama administration is politicizing the DOJ the way the Bush administration was found to have done, and now that they've gone through the trouble of filing a lawsuit to obtain the resumes of everyone hired at DOJ's Civil Rights Division since 2009, they are desperate to make their investment worthwhile. As a result, PJM has decided to run with the theme that "every single one" of the new hires is a "far-left" liberal.
Their arguments have so far provided no evidence whatsoever that qualified, similarly-situated conservative applicants to the Civil Rights Division were turned away for a lack of liberal credentials. Instead, they rely on the assertion that because all of the new hires are liberal, it defies probability that conservatives weren't rejected for political reasons. Despite the logical inadequacy of this argument, it relies on a definition of "liberal" that is completely constructed by von Spakovsky and Adams. Their frantic attempts to make a case of politicization against Attorney General Eric Holder and the Obama administration results in a broad, and at times ridiculous, characterization of what activities and affiliations constitute sufficient evidence of one's liberal worldview.
Here are just a few of the previous employers and affiliations that PJM believes are liberal (which by contrast reveals a lot about what von Spakovsky and Adams must believe conservative values do or do not encompass):
From the August 23 edition of Fox News' Hannity:
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Behind Chuck Norris' beard, there is only another fist. Behind his latest column are a variety of National Rifle Association (NRA) myths about gun trafficking between the United States and Mexico and the Obama administration's latest attempt to curb that problem.
Norris is a fervent supporter of the (NRA), cutting ads and serving as honorary chairman of their voter registration efforts in 2010. So it's no surprise that he devotes much of his column to echoing claims recently offered by his friend and the executive vice president of the NRA, Wayne LaPierre.
Norris' piece is filled with absurd hyperbole. He declares that President Obama is "trying to eliminate our Second Amendment rights" and "restricting the right to bear arms, "which he says "primarily ties the hands of good guys." Norris also accuses Obama of trying to "demonize good, law-abiding American gun dealers."
Norris' argument makes no sense at all, unless the goal is to enrage gun owners rather than inform them; the rule Norris is attacking will not prevent a single American from purchasing a gun. All it does is require gun dealers in the Southwest border states to inform the ATF when the same person purchases two or more certain types of rifles - including AK-variant assault weapons - in a five-day span. They can still buy as many of the guns as they want as quickly as existing law allows; gun dealers will just have to inform law enforcement, helping them establish patterns that can help detect trafficking.
Norris goes on to push LaPierre's claim that the Obama administration is disingenuous in trying to "disarm cartels with a form." But according to ATF agent and Fast and Furious whistleblower Peter Forcelli, whom the NRA has previously cited as an expert on tactics, these reports would be a "huge tool" for the ATF, providing them with an investigative tool that could help them crack down on gun traffickers who buy these weapons in large numbers and then turn around and sell them to Mexican drug cartels.
Norris goes on to claim:
The facts are, as Wayne LaPierre points out, that cartels get their machine guns, grenades, missile launchers and tanks from Central and South America, Russia, China, international black markets and defections from the Mexican army. State Department cables, released by WikiLeaks, support those facts.
But the same cables show that while the cartels get their heavy arms (arms not generally available to U.S. civilians) from other countries, their handguns and many assault rifles come to Mexico through the U.S.
The former Walker, Texas Ranger even takes time to promote the NRA's lawsuit seeking to bar the enforcement of the rule, calling its implementation "just one more example of the feds exceeding their powers and averting congressional permission." In fact, such "congressional permission" exists, through the Gun Control Act of 1968, which requires licensed firearms dealers to submit such records as the Attorney General "may specify." According to the ATF, "courts had upheld similar regulations in the past -- including the rule requiring reports about bulk handgun sales."
Perhaps Norris should spend more time pushing the Earth down, and less time spouting NRA talking points.
From the August 21 edition of CNN's Reliable Sources:
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From the August 18 edition of Premiere Radio Networks' The Rush Limbaugh Show:
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Hans von Spakovsky is continuing the feeble Pajamas Media (PJM) campaign against Attorney General Eric Holder and the U.S. Department of Justice's Civil Rights Division with a fourth column in a series highlighting the allegedly "liberal" resumes of individuals hired by DOJ. PJM's oft-repeated (and just as often unsupported) claim is that Holder and the DOJ are engaged in "politicized hiring" that is "nearly unprecedented in scope and significantly eclipses anything the Bush administration was even accused of doing."
Today, Spakovsky spends five pages tirelessly reciting what he believes are the liberal affiliations of new career attorneys at the Civil Rights Division's Special Litigation Section. He then concludes:
No one is suggesting any of these individuals' activist backgrounds disqualifies them from working as attorneys in the Civil Rights Division. The point is that such liberal bona fides appear to be a prerequisite for employment in the Division -- there is no other explanation for this. These resumes are an example of a legal doctrine that law students learn in their first year: res ipsa loquitur -- "the thing speaks for itself."
Res ipsa? Perhaps Spakovsky has forgotten what he learned in his first year, but res ipsa loquitur is a common law negligence doctrine which presumes that a harmful act could only have occurred as a result of a defendant's carelessness, even if the plaintiff has no direct proof of the defendant's carelessness (one of the prototypical cases is a scalpel left in someone's body while the patient was under general anesthesia).
But Spakovsky isn't accusing the DOJ of negligently filling their rosters with liberals. He's alleging that they purposefully considered a candidate's liberal credentials as a precondition for hiring them into the Civil Rights Division. In his words, "None of this is an accident."