Fox News regular Hans von Spakovsky used a recent U.S Court of Appeals decision striking down Michigan's affirmative action ban as an opportunity to denigrate the "modern 'civil rights' movement" and misrepresent the Sixth Circuit decision as "abusive activism." Contrary to von Spakovsky's claims in the National Review Online, the appellate decision that found the process behind the ban unconstitutional is based on U.S. Supreme Court precedent.
Repeatedly discredited von Spakovsky is infamous for continuously stressing in the right-wing media the prevalence of voter fraud, despite a dearth of evidence. On November 16, he took on equal protection jurisprudence in the National Review Online and criticized the "continued legal decay" of the Sixth Circuit appellate court and its "liberal activists." His scorn was in response to the recent decision of this federal court of appeals which - for the second time - declared that the 2006 Michigan ballot initiative that passed a constitutional amendment banning affirmative action was an unconstitutional restructuring of the state political process. As reported by SCOTUSblog's Lyle Denniston:
By imposing a total ban on any consideration of a race-based education policy, the main opinion said, the majority of voters who opposed affirmative action created a situation in which they not only had won on a policy point, "but rigged the game to reproduce [their] success indefinitely." Minorities are not guaranteed that they will win when they enter into political policy debates, the opinion stressed, but they must not be put at a special disadvantage in seeking policies that they favor and that will benefit them in particular.
The Circuit Court majority opinion, written by Circuit Judge R. Guy Cole, Jr., relied explicitly upon two Supreme Court rulings, both based on the same "political process" reasoning used by Judge Cole. The first was Hunter v. Erickson, a 1969 decision striking down a move by voters in Akron, Ohio, to change the city charter to make it much harder for city officials to adopt any housing policy to benefit racial minorities. The second was Washington v. Seattle School District No. 1, a 1982 decision striking down a voter-approved statewide law that bar the use of busing to achieve racially integrated public schools.
Other conservative media reporting has at least acknowledged that the ACLU and NAACP based their successful challenge to Michigan's ban - known as "Proposal 2" - on Supreme Court precedent. Forbes, although it wrote in opposition of the holding, recognized such precedent but theorized it "would probably be treated differently by the Supreme Court today" because there are likely four justices currently opposed to all affirmative action. Unfortunately, Forbes also misrepresented the opinion as holding "minority groups are entitled not just to equal protection under the laws, but special measures designed to correct past discrimination."
In fact, the winning argument and opinion explicitly did not turn on the constitutionality or "entitlement" of affirmative action, but rather on the restructuring of a state political process to the specific detriment of a racial minority. As reported by The New York Times:
[The decision] was not based on racial discrimination, but rather on a violation of the 14th Amendment's guarantee of equal protection. The ban, the court said, unfairly placed a special burden on supporters of race-conscious admissions policies.
People trying to change any other aspect of university admissions policies, the court said, had several avenues open: they could lobby the admissions committee, petition university leaders, try to influence the college's governing board or take the issue to a statewide initiative. Those supporting affirmative action, on the other hand, had no alternative but to undertake the "long, expensive and arduous process" of amending the state Constitution.
"The existence of such a comparative structural burden undermines the equal protection clause's guarantee that all citizens ought to have equal access to the tools of political change," said Judge R. Guy Cole Jr., writing for the majority.
Von Spakovsky, however, did not bother to analyze this reasoning or acknowledge Supreme Court precedent in his condemnation of the Sixth Circuit's "duplicitous legal reasoning." Instead, he summarily relied on the dissent's assertion that the holding was an "extreme extension" of civil rights law and concluded:
The Sixth Circuit's decision shows just how far the modern "civil rights" movement and their supporters in the judiciary have gone in adopting the arguments and actions of the discriminators and segregationists of prior generations. Their support for racial discrimination makes them indistinguishable.
Conservative media outlets are praising Mitt Romney's newly released energy plan, claiming it will lower gas prices, create jobs, and "make America an energy superpower." But experts say Romney's goal of energy independence by 2020 is a "pipe dream" and that his plan overlooks environmental consequences and fails to address the real obstacle to U.S. energy security: our dependence on oil.
As automakers are starting to bring electric vehicle (EV) technology into the mainstream, conservative media outlets have repeatedly misled consumers about electric cars by trying to paint them as environmentally harmful and unsafe, among other false claims.
As many faith leaders have recognized, climate change presents a massive ethical challenge since those least responsible for global warming are among the most vulnerable to its consequences, including water scarcity, climate-sensitive diseases, and sea level rise. Yet in response to the recent international climate talks, conservative media outlets are mocking developing countries for seeking adaptation assistance, saying they just want to "cash in" on "climate gold."
Anonymous hackers recently released another batch of emails taken from a climate research group at the University of East Anglia in 2009, along with a document containing numbered excerpts of purportedly incriminating material. Many of these selections have been cropped in a way that completely distorts their meaning, but they were nonetheless repeated by conservative media outlets who believe climate change is a "hoax" and a "conspiracy."
In an August 4 post titled "If On The Dole Why Do You Still Get To Go To The Poll?" Forbes columnist Bill Flax wrote, "Before we devolve into a Third World dictatorship where the mob denies the liberties of losing minorities we ought to ponder several potential solutions." His list of suggestions:
- A basic literacy assessment;
- A non-partisan test ensuring competency of basic constitutional principles;
- A stake in the community reflected by property, employment or other measures;
- Restrict the franchise to lessen conflicts of interest regarding state employees, lobbyists, contractors, etc.;
- Surrender one's voting privileges when seeking public assistance.
The rest of Flax's post touched on familiar right-wing falsehoods: half of Americans don't pay taxes; fighting poverty is a waste of money; the poor in America aren't really poor because they can buy appliances.
As a reminder, the Voting Rights Act of 1965 banned the institution of "basic literacy assessment[s]" and other "voting qualifications or prerequisites" based on race. Apparently, Flax thinks it's OK to discriminate against people based on their jobs -- public employees -- or economic status -- the recipients of "public assistance" -- by removing their ability to vote.
Though Flax's suggestion that voting rights should be rolled back came in a blog post, his writing is also published in Forbes magazine.
Flax's bio says he "live[s] in Cincinnati, Ohio and work[s] in the banking industry." Last year, he had a book published called The Courage to Do Nothing: A Moral Defense of Markets and Freedom. The back cover says, "Read The Courage to do Nothing to learn economic truths ignored by the cultural elites determined to change America into a European-style socialist boondoggle."
"Has a central tenant [sic] of global warming just collapsed?" That's the first sentence of a July 29 Fox News article about a recent study which shows nothing of the sort, demonstrating just how broken climate change coverage is at news outlets like Fox, where scientific illiteracy meets political slant.
Last week, Roy Spencer of the University of Alabama in Huntsville (UAH), one of the few climate scientists who think we don't need to worry much about global warming, published a paper purportedly challenging mainstream climate models that is both limited in scope and, by many accounts, flawed. After a Forbes column by James Taylor of the libertarian Heartland Institute misinterpreted the study and declared that it blows a "gaping hole in global warming alarmism," an avalanche of conservative media outlets, including Fox, followed suit:
A Forbes column falsely attributed to climate scientist Phil Jones a quote that appears to have been written by conservative commentator Steven Hayward. The Forbes column also attempts to undermine global surface temperature records with several other misleading claims.
In at least 40 instances since the beginning of 2011, conservative media outlets wrongly told consumers that the light bulb efficiency standards scheduled to take effect in 2012 will require them to use compact fluorescent light bulbs (CFLs).
In a column for Forbes magazine, Steve Forbes endorsed Republicans' proposal to repeal light bulb efficiency standards signed into law by President Bush in 2007 and attempted to debunk the fact that compact fluorescent lamps (CFLs) save consumers money by using less energy. However, tests have shown that CFLs can save households money even under the least ideal conditions.
As I suspected, there's dissension within the Forbes ranks over the widely controversial, and widely condemned, Obama attack piece that recently graced the magazine's cover.
When I asked late last week why there was a deafening silence from inside Forbes about the piece, it was because it just didn't make sense that professional journalists who work for the glossy mag would possibly be okay with being associated with such a rank piece of misguided partisan propaganda. And worse, being associated with an error-filled article that so thoroughly embarrassed the magazine.
I understand Editor-in-Chief Steve Forbes finally came forward Friday afternoon and defended the D'Souza article, claiming it represented great journalism. But politically, Forbes really had no choice but to back the nasty, get-Obama article. Others who work for the magazine are under no such partisan restraints and we're now getting a glimpse into their disdain for D'Souza's work.
For instance, take this money quote from Forbes columnist Shikha Dalmia, writing on the magazine's web site [emphasis added]:
Writers these days are supposed to cultivate a niche, and D'Souza seems to have homesteaded the intellectual goofiness spot all for himself.
And then she lowers the boom:
Gingrich aside, many commentators have already pointed out the factual problems with many of D'Souza's claims. One involves a $2 billion loan that the administration handed via the Export-Import bank to encourage off-shore drilling in Brazil. "He is funding Brazilian exploration so that the oil can stay in Brazil," D'Souza rails. This is a foolish decision, no doubt, but one that was unanimously endorsed by the bank's five board members, none of whom were Obama appointees.
But there is a problem more basic than factual inaccuracies with D'Souza's thesis. If Obama were seriously motivated by a moral desire to protect poor countries from being ruined by excessive American consumption then his biggest priority would be to rein in this consumption. But that is the exact opposite of what he has done since assuming office. His entire economic agenda is one big and desperate attempt to boost American consumption.
What is even more unsettling than D'Souza's unsubstantiated ideological accusations against Obama are his gratuitous digs at polygamy in Obama's family. He plays this up repeatedly. What is the point of this except to remind Americans that Obama is a Muslim – the most dreaded of "others"?
Good for Dalmia. Meanwhile, I'd sure love to hear Steve Forbes explain again how the D'Souza piece represented "terrific journalism."
He's wrong. The article was a train wreck. And even people who write for Forbes know that to be true.
In a September 9 Forbes cover story that has been praised by Newt Gingrich and Glenn Beck, Dinesh D'Souza asserts that President Obama's policies should be understood as a manifestation of his African father's "hatred of the colonial system." Forbes has said it "stands by the story" and that "no facts are in contention," but D'Souza's article contains numerous falsehoods and distortions.
Fox News contributor Newt Gingrich recently made news by suggesting that President Obama is engaged in "Kenyan, anti-colonial behavior," but he isn't alone in using the African heritage of Obama's father and grandfather as fuel for ridiculous smears.
Cheered on by Fox News and the rest of the right-wing media, conservative activists spent the past year engaged in an anti-Muslim campaign that included efforts to block the planned Islamic center in lower Manhattan and demonize the imam spearheading the project. The bigotry has culminated in a Florida pastor's now-"suspended" plans to burn Qurans on September 11 -- plans that the pastor has explicitly linked to the controversy over the Islamic center.
In recent days, right-wing media have attacked Imam Feisal Abdul Rauf's upcoming State Department trip to the Middle East to "discuss Muslim life in America and religious tolerance." However, Rauf began participating in the outreach program during the Bush administration, which considered this kind of outreach as useful "[i]n the struggle against violent extremists."