On the Manhattan Institute's Point of Law blog, conservative lawyer Ted Frank notes his "impatience with the inaccurate myth that the Supreme Court is unreasonably pro-business." In support, he cites a forthcoming law review article by Michael Greve, John G. Searle Scholar at the American Enterprise Institute, who, in Frank's words, "goes farther: he persuasively argues that the Constitution effectively anticipated that the Supreme Court would be pro-business, and that is a good thing."
In other words, according to Greve, the Founders not only established a charter for democratic government, under which the people's elected representatives would enact appropriate legislation, they also prospectively and irrevocably enacted the policy preferences of contemporary think tank libertarians. What an amazing coincidence!
As for Frank's view that the Roberts Court is not "unreasonably" pro-business, many thoughtful observers have concluded otherwise. A 2010 article by New York Times Supreme Court corespondent Adam Liptak on the increasing success the U.S. Chamber of Commerce is experiencing in cases before the Court found that:
The chamber now files briefs in most major business cases. The side it supported in the last term won 13 of 16 cases. Six of those were decided with a majority vote of five justices, and five of those decisions favored the chamber's side. One of the them was Citizens United, in which the chamber successfully urged the court to guarantee what it called "free corporate speech" by lifting restrictions on campaign spending.
The chamber's success rate is but one indication of the Roberts court's leanings on business issues. A new study, prepared for The New York Times by scholars at Northwestern University and the University of Chicago, analyzed some 1,450 decisions since 1953. It showed that the percentage of business cases on the Supreme Court docket has grown in the Roberts years, as has the percentage of cases won by business interests.
The Roberts court, which has completed five terms, ruled for business interests 61 percent of the time, compared with 46 percent in the last five years of the court led by Chief Justice William H. Rehnquist, who died in 2005, and 42 percent by all courts since 1953.
In its most recent term, the Roberts Court's conservative majority continued the trend, by handing major victories to AT&T and Wal-Mart in cases in which it greatly restricted the rights of consumers hit with unfair fees and victims of employment discrimination, respectively, to use the courts to seek compensation.
From the January 9 edition of Current's The Young Turks with Cenk Uygur:
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Last week, teenage mother Sarah McKinley used a shotgun to shoot and kill a home intruder in defense of her infant son. The case made national news after the media obtained the audio of her call to 911, in which she asked the operator for permission to fire.
It didn't take long for the National Rifle Association supporters in the right-wing media to deploy her harrowing experience as a cudgel against their political foes. Here'sNational Review editor Rich Lowry in his latest column:
Instances of self-defense are the anecdotes that gun controllers never want to hear. The NRA keeps a running list of them on its website: attempted armed robberies, home invasions, and other attacks rebuffed every month by the would-be victims. Surely, Sarah McKinley's assailants thought the young, slender, widowed mother was an easy mark. Her shotgun meant they were wrong. Who would have it any other way? Otherwise, the intruder has the knife and she has nothing except a cellphone and the wan hope that someone armed with a gun makes it to her in time.
Lowry's question is revealing, largely because he doesn't bother to attempt to name any of the "gun controllers" who wouldn't want McKinley to be able to defend herself.
Major gun violence prevention groups are upfront about their support for law-abiding citizens to be able to keep firearms for their own protection. Here's what the website of the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence says:
We believe that law-abiding citizens should be able to buy and keep firearms. And we believe there are sensible gun laws that we can and should insist upon when it comes to gun ownership.
And here's Mayors Against Illegal Guns:
We support the Second Amendment and the rights of citizens to own guns. We recognize that the vast majority of gun dealers and gun owners carefully follow the law. And we know that a policy that is appropriate for a small town in one region of the country is not necessarily appropriate for a big city in another region of the country.
The NRA's "running list" of self-defense anecdotes to which Lowry refers exists simply to push the myth that "gun controllers" don't want law-abiding citizens to be able to defend themselves.
Back in September, National Rifle Association executive vice president Wayne LaPierre drew ridicule after claiming the existence of a "massive Obama conspiracy" to take no action on gun control in his first term, get reelected, and then "erase the Second Amendment from the Bill of Rights."
What the "Obama not coming after your guns is really evidence of his desire to come after your guns" thesis lacks in accuracy or logic it makes up for in convenience. The NRA's "massive Obama conspiracy" justifies the need to help them raise contributions and encourage people to buy more guns.
It's no surprise the NRA's election year message is starting to spread to their faithful allies at Fox.
During a segment last night on Fox Business' Follow the Money, guests Bo Dietl and Lars Larson agreed that the reason gun sales have supposedly seen a "dramatic increase" is because of this fear that if Obama is re-elected "they're going to go after your guns." Of course, since gun manufacturers heavily contribute to the NRA, this fear helps the organization as well.
Former National Rifle Association (NRA) chief Ray Arnet once said, "You keep any special interest group alive by nurturing the crisis atmosphere." The organization has long taken this sentiment to heart. For years, the NRA has warned that nationwide gun bans and confiscation were right around the corner. These threats made up in hysterical rhetoric for what they lacked in credibility.
Arnet's comments demonstrate why the organization has adopted such a dishonest strategy. To sustain its $200-million-plus annual budget, the organization relies upon donations from both its members and the gun industry; constant fearmongering boosts donations from both. By working their members into a frenzy, they can better convince them to financially support the NRA and thus stave off that dark future.
The effort also encourages existing gun owners to purchase more firearms in case such laws are actually passed; new sales to current gun owners are essential to the gun industry given that the number of households owning a gun is in long term decline. Terrifying gun owners bolsters gun sales, which in turn keeps the gun industry profitable enough to direct more funds back to the NRA.
But sometimes, your run-of-the-mill fearmongering just isn't enough. In 2011 the NRA repeatedly turned to one of their favorite weapons to keep alive this crisis atmosphere justifying their extremist political agenda and their own existence: conspiracy theories. Below, Media Matters documents a few of our favorites of the year.
Fox host Eric Bolling frequently allows his programs to degenerate into gun-related antics. In the last month alone, he has repeatedly urged guests to brandish firearms on-air, defended a gun club that allows families to take pictures with Santa and assault weapons, posed with a sign depicting a handgun and the phrase, "Obama's War On Christmas," and on at least seven occasions referenced taking his 13-year-old shooting.
From the December 21 edition of Fox Business' Follow the Money:
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From the December 21 edition of Fox News' Fox & Friends:
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Charlie Savage's New York Times profile of Attorney General Eric Holder and how he has become a "lightning rod" for partisan criticism must have seemed like an early Christmas present to The Daily Caller's Matthew Boyle: It lets him accuse The New York Times of bias and attack Holder in one fell swoop.
It was clearly so exciting that he didn't bother to put together even a minimal arrangement of facts before suggesting the Times should issue a retraction.
Boyle suggests that Savage inaccurately reported that neither testimony nor documents have contradicted Holder's statements that he didn't know about the controversial 'gunwalking' tactic used in Operation Fast and Furious. In fact, just as Savage reported, there has not been any documents or testimony that suggest Holder knew about those tactics.
"Mr. Holder has denounced the tactics used in the operation, known as 'gunwalking,' but said he did not know about them or sanction their use," Savage wrote. "No documents or testimony have shown otherwise, but Republicans have pummeled him at oversight hearings and in news media appearances."
Savage made these statements without attribution.
Despite those assertions, Holder's office was provided with multiple briefings and memos about Operation Fast and Furious by top Justice Department officials. The memos contained intimate details of how Holder's DOJ allowed guns to walk.
The claim is specific: neither documents or testimony have shown that Holder himself knew about gunwalking tactics.
It seems that this year's effort to wage war against Christmas will be better armed than usual.
The National Rifle Association's website is currently featuring a "Happy Holidays" message from NRA radio hosts Cam Edwards and Ginny Simone and "the entire NRA News team."
This follows an email fundraising missive from NRA chief lobbyist Chris Cox, who offered his "best wishes to you and your family for the holiday season" before asking for donations to stop "four more years of President Barack Obama imposing his anti-freedom values on the American people."
In his December 16 Washington Times column, Ted Nugent wrote that "[b]eing poor is largely a choice, a daily, if not hourly decision," and that "we need to punish poor decisions instead of rewarding them. We cannot continue to offer a safety blanket to those Americans who make poor choices. The fewer social welfare programs, the better." From the Times:
Being poor is largely a choice, a daily, if not hourly, decision. If you decide to drop out of school, fail to learn a skill, have no work ethic or get divorced, a life of poverty is often the consequence. The children of parents who choose a life of poverty quite often pay a horrible price, and so does all of America.
Poverty rates among college graduates, those who learn a trade or skill and parents who stay married are much lower than the rates among those who choose opposite paths. As author William J. Bennett pointed out a number of years ago in his book "The Index of Leading Cultural Indicators," children of single parents are much more likely to be involved in crime and premarital sex, to drop out of school and to get involved with drugs. Ugly and uncomfortable as that may be, it's the truth.
The question is: What to do about lowering the poverty rate?
First, we need a government that respects the free market and private sector instead of spitting on them. The more our government embraces the private sector, the more opportunity there is available for people who choose it. That will be good for kids.
Second, we need to punish poor decisions instead of rewarding them. We cannot continue to offer a safety blanket to those Americans who make poor choices. The fewer social welfare programs, the better. This, too, may be ugly and uncomfortable, but we must make hard choices that force people into making smart, responsible decisions.
From the December 16 edition of Fox Business' Follow the Money:
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When National Rifle Association (NRA) executive vice president Wayne LaPierre isn't pontificating about the purported "massive Obama conspiracy," there's a decent chance he's hurling personal insults and employing other types of overheated rhetoric in pursuit of his political agenda. Some of LaPierre's greatest hits:
LaPierre is free to say whatever he wants, but do the media really have to cover his comments? According to the Media Research Center (MRC), the answer yes, even when the NRA doesn't bother to the return its calls.
This morning, the MRC blog NewsBusters posted a critique of Reuters' coverage of a recent investigation of online guns sales by New York City that showed that many private sellers were willing to sell guns to people who identified themselves as unable to pass a background check.
MRC complained there was insufficient gun lobby criticism of Bloomberg in the article:
The next big misstep in this article is its one-sentence dismissal of Bloomberg critics. "The National Rifle Association, the powerful U.S. gun lobby, was not immediately available for comment on the study."
MRC's message to the media: Print overheated NRA talking points whether or not the NRA gets around to giving you a comment before your deadline.
What should Reuters have done according MRC? Dig through the NRA's website and find the most recently available blog posts written about Bloomberg's efforts with Mayors Against Illegal Guns. The blog posts the MRC identifies as appropriate representations of the NRA's views were written before the online gun sale investigation was announced, so naturally, they weren't responsive to the topic of the article.
The first of the two blog posts MRC suggests could have been represented in the Reuters report includes LaPierre's suggestion that Bloomberg could aptly be viewed as a "petty tyrant." The MRC:
In the first post, which deals with an earlier anti-gun address Bloomberg gave to students at MIT, the NRA's Wayne LaPierre made the observation that "Bloomberg should also remember that a 'ruler' (which is what he seems to think he is) that denies the people of their Right to Keep and Bear Arms while maintaining a large 'army' (the NYPD) is apt to be viewed as a petty tyrant, not a benevolent and wise leader."
The second post highlighted by the MRC suggested that by opposing the NRA's favored legislation, Mayors Against Illegal Guns was engaging in a "shameful attack on the individual liberties of law-abiding Americans".
LaPierre's history of demonizing those who disagree with him might well deserve more media attention than it gets, but it's hardly essential context for a news report documenting the ease with which criminals can get guns online.
In his December 14 Washington Times column titled, "Occupy stooges on parade: It's fun watching Democrats getting hauled off to jail," Ted Nugent wrote about the "hearty laugh[s]" he had after "watching the cops pounce on and pepper-spray a few Occupy stooges and then drag the dirtballs off to jail in shackles." Nugent, and NRA board member, went on to say that this was "good for my conservative soul and gold for my sense of humor." From the Times:
While I don't condone violence, watching the cops pounce on and pepper-spray a few Occupy stooges and then drag the dirtballs off to jail in shackles is good for my conservative soul and gold for my sense of humor. Everyone needs at least one hearty laugh every day.
You have to admit that watching a stinky, dirty hippie being dragged off to jail is as funny watching James Brown drive across railroad tracks on the rims of his pickup truck, listening to Joe Biden stick his foot in his mouth, or watching Moe hit Larry and Curly with a pipe wrench. This is funny stuff, funny stuff. Lighten up.
From the December 14 edition of Fox News' America Live:
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