Continuing the right-wing media's baseless attacks on anti-discrimination laws as assaults on freedom, National Review Online (NRO) conducted a one-sided interview with a baker about the alleged threat to liberty posed by having to treat gay customers the same as any other customer.
In an interview published on January 29, NRO editor-at-large Kathryn Jean Lopez spoke with Jack Phillips, owner of the Colorado bakery Masterpiece Cakes. In December, a Colorado administrative law judge found that Phillips had violated Colorado's anti-discrimination law when he refused to bake a cake for a same-sex couple. Represented by the extremistAlliance Defending Freedom (ADF) - a group working internationally to criminalize homosexuality - Phillips has appealed the decision, charging that it violates his First Amendment right to religious liberty and compels him to communicate a message with which he disagrees.
Contrary to the assertions of Phillips and his ADF attorneys, anti-discrimination laws don't police private beliefs - religious or otherwise - but simply require businesses operating on the public marketplace not to discriminate against customers based on arbitrary characteristics like race, sexuality, or gender. But aside from perfunctory questions asking Phillips to respond to the other side, Lopez went along with the ADF's religious persecution narrative (emphasis added):
LOPEZ: What was your reaction to having a civil-rights complaint filed against you? Did you see yourself as a civil-rights violator?
PHILLIPS: It is shocking that the government has attempted to take away my freedom, and really the freedom of all Coloradoans, simply for declining to design and create a wedding cake for a marriage that is not even recognized in the state of Colorado. I am being punished for living and working according to my faith and the marriage laws of the state of Colorado.
LOPEZ: What does Christianity mean in your life? Why can't you leave it out of your cake-making?
PHILLIPS: As I have said before, I am a follower of Jesus Christ and I am called to obey Him and His teachings in all aspects of my life. I cannot leave my faith out of my cake art, nor should I have to in a free country. I love doing what God has designed me to do. A marriage between a man and a woman represents the relationship of Christ to His Church. There are few things more sacred. This is one of the reasons I love making wedding cakes and why I have such passion and skill when I create wedding cakes. My religious convictions motivate me to make great wedding cakes.
LOPEZ: Has this changed the way you look at the First Amendment and freedom?
PHILLIPS: The coercion favored by the government and the ACLU in the name of "tolerance" is a chilling and unprecedented attack on freedom. If anything, this has actually strengthened my commitment to the First Amendment and the principles upon which this country was founded.
LOPEZ: What's the future for freedom look like from where you're standing?
PHILLIPS: I am optimistic that the courts will uphold the law and the constitutions of the United States and the state of Colorado. This country was founded on religious liberty and freedom for all, and I do not see the government's efforts to take our God-given rights away succeeding in the long run.
Right-wing media have mischaracterized the Affordable Care Act (ACA) provision that requires certain preventive health care services be included in employer-provided health insurance at no cost as a violation of the religious freedoms of corporations who object to contraception. In reality, this mandate, currently before the Supreme Court, accommodates religious employers' First Amendment rights without allowing secular, for-profit corporations to skirt federal law, and there is no legal precedent that gives corporations the right to exercise religious freedom.
National Review Online editor-at-large Kathryn Jean Lopez joined the right-wing media's outcry over a New Mexico Supreme Court decision affirming that businesses can't discriminate against gay customers, blasting the court's "soft tyranny" and declaring that the decision amounts to the effective death of religious freedom.
In an August 26 post for NRO, Lopez cited the successful lawsuit against Elane Photography, whose owner refused to photograph a same-sex couple's commitment ceremony, as evidence of the "tyrannical" trend in our nation's "libertine" culture:
The court ruled that it is "the price of citizenship" that, although you can believe whatever you want, you can't act as if you take certain beliefs all that seriously. It would seem the position of the New Mexico Supreme Court is that believing men and women are expressly made for the institution of marriage, for one another -- that their very biology suggests as much, naturally ordered toward the creative gifts that are children -- is somewhat akin to believing in unicorn gods who will come to set us free. That is: utterly absurd. Believe it in private if you wish; but don't ever try to operate in the world outside your active imagination or your codependent church with your crazy beliefs in mind.
But then, this is how the soft tyranny develops. Reporters trip over one another to refer to Bradley Manning as "she" because he asked them to. Loving a brother who is suffering doesn't require lying to him. Increasingly, though, lies are not only expected but mandated. That's not love. That's not freedom. That's where a dictatorship of relativism and cultural delusion lead us. And our very laws are coming to reflect this.
What are we going to do about it? You will recall that Tocqueville liked a lot of what he saw here. What he liked best is the civil society he saw flourishing. Today, that civil society is waning and threatened. When the government says that religious beliefs that conflict with its mandates on health insurance, in the realm of contraception, sterilization, and even abortion, are not fit for the public square, and when it subjects to punitive fines any employer who insists on acting on his beliefs, then it discourages service. It marginalizes a cast of characters a democratic republic needs. As much as some may believe they have found the perfect formula for happiness in the libertine realm, moral and even biological coherence does have its upsides. We would do well to leave some room for that. [emphasis added]
Right-wing media are claiming that a Republican "war on women" is "phony" and "invented" by the left to distract attention from issues such as the economy and gas prices. But Republicans throughout the country have indeed pushed a plethora of legislation during the past few years that would result in limiting women's reproductive rights, access to health care access, and access to equal pay; moreover, right-wing media themselves launched a bullying campaign against Georgetown law student Sandra Fluke after she testified in favor of expanded contraception coverage.
Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid has filed a cloture petition on President Obama's nomination of Goodwin Liu to be a judge on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit, and the usual suspects in the right-wing media are rehashing their reasons for opposing Liu.
You wouldn't know it from the vitriol of the right-wing media, but Liu actually has a large number of conservative and Republican supporters.
Among those supporters are former independent counsel and federal appellate judge Kenneth Starr; former Bush Justice Department official John Yoo, who authored the infamous "torture memos"; former GOP Rep. Tom Campbell (CA); conservative legal activist Clint Bollick; former Secretary of Transportation William T. Coleman; and law professor Richard Painter, who served as the chief White House ethics lawyer during the Bush administration.
Kenneth Starr. A letter supporting Liu that Starr co-wrote with Yale Law Professor Akhil Amar stated: "What we wish to highlight, beyond his obvious intellect and legal talents, is his independence and openness to diverse viewpoints as well as his ability to follow the facts and the law to their logical conclusion, whatever its political valence may be."
John Yoo. According to The Los Angeles Times, Yoo said of Liu's nomination: "[H]e's not someone a Republican president would pick, but for a Democratic nominee, he's a very good choice."
Tom Campbell. Campbell -- former dean of the business school at the University of California-Berkeley and an unsuccessful candidate for the 2010 Republican nomination for U.S. Senate in California -- stated that Liu "is one of the most capable colleagues I've had in my three decades in academia. I hate the thought of Berkeley losing him, but it's a higher calling and the nation's gain. His ability to analyze, communicate, and inspire will make him a favorite among litigants and a leader among judges."
Clint Bollick. Bollick, director of the Goldwater Institute, wrote that he "strongly support[s]" Liu's nomination, adding that, "[h]aving reviewed several of his academic writings, I find Prof. Liu to exhibit fresh, independent thinking and intellectual honesty. He clearly possesses the scholarly credentials and experience to serve with distinction on this important court."
William T. Coleman. Coleman, Secretary of Transportation during the Ford administration, stated: "I have known Goodwin Liu for many years as after he finished Yale Law School and then clerked for a Justice on the Supreme Court of the United States he worked at O'Melveny & Myers LLP in the Washington office for several years and did a tremendous job." Coleman later added, "I think he will make a tremendous Judge for the Ninth Circuit."
Richard Painter. Painter wrote: "Based on my own review of his record, I believe it's not a close question that Liu is an outstanding nominee whose views fall well within the legal mainstream. That conclusion is shared by leading conservatives who are familiar with Liu's record."
The conservative media are suggesting that former President Bush deserves more credit than President Obama for the death of Osama bin Laden. This is in stark contrast to their usual attacks that Obama is responsible for things that are happening during his presidency, including those tied to Bush-era policies like the Gulf oil spill, the weak economy, and the nation's deficit problems.
Right-wing media have rushed to defend Sarah Palin over her use of the term "blood libel," a term that historically refers to the grave anti-Semitic charge that Jews use the blood of Christian children in some religious rituals -- a myth that has long been the source of anti-Jewish violence.
Right-wing media have mocked Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid for saying that "But for me, we'd be in a worldwide depression." In fact, economists have credited legislation that passed the Senate under Reid's leadership for averting a far deeper economic collapse.
Remember when Joe Lieberman lost his Senate primary in 2006, then ran against his party's nominee in the general election, earning praise from National Review for recognizing the "importance of fortitude in a good cause"? Or when National Review's Kathryn Jean Lopez called Harry Reid a "bully" for suggesting that campaigning against Democratic nominees for Senate and President might carry some consequences for Lieberman?
As it turns out, National Review isn't quite so forgiving of lapses in party loyalty when the Republicans are the spurned party:
What does it take to earn the opprobrium of the Senate Republican caucus? Would running a write-in campaign against a Republican Senate candidate who won a fairly contested primary be enough to do it? If the offender is Alaska senator Lisa Murkowski, apparently not.
As we all know, Murkowski lost to Joe Miller a few weeks ago in the Alaska primary, proceeded to pout for a while, then announced a write-in bid for the Senate, which we had urged her in the strongest terms to forgo.
Given this, it would make sense to strip Murkowski of her status as the ranking member of the Energy Committee because 1) she deserves it; and 2) her appeal is primarily based on her pork-barreling prowess as an inside-D.C. player.
Glenn Beck advanced the discredited claim that federal funding will go to fund elective abortions in Pennsylvania in order to suggest that President Obama lied when he promised federal funds would not pay for such abortions.
From National Review Online editor Kathryn Jean Lopez's Twitter account:
National Review's Kathryn Jean Lopez is bothered by the fact that two consecutive Supreme Court nominees have been women:
On the surface, Lopez seems to be criticizing SCOTUS nominations that take potential nominees' gender into consideration -- but, in reality, she is endorsing exactly that. Lopez's post implies support for a quota system in which (at least) every other SCOTUS nominee must be a man.
I can find no record of Lopez wondering whether women are allowed to be nominated to the high court in the wake of consecutive men ascending to the high court as a result of nominations by President Bush. She did, however, write in 2005 that President Bush should "just go for the best. Quotas be damned" in making Supreme Court nominations. She also wrote in 2005:
There is no good reason that this next pick (or any subsequent one) has to comply with anyone's identity-politics rules.
Identity politics is a dangerous thing. It's all about the soft bigotry of low expectations. For the sake of having female role models on the Court--or whatever your "No Boys Allowed" reasoning or goal is--you say, A woman is not going to make it on her own. She won't rise to the top. She can't compete with the guys.It's unfair to all involved.
Now, just five years later, Lopez endorses "identity politics" by suggesting that (at least) every other nominee should be a man.
Right-wing blogs have responded to reported threats against Democrats who voted for the health care reform bill by trivializing the threats or suggesting that the reports are false, condemning the threats but making excuses for them, suggesting that Democrats themselves are to blame for receiving the threats, or suggesting other acts of violence that people could commit against their congressional representative.
Right-wing media figures have recently concocted several baseless scandals in an attempt to portray Democrats as corrupt or guilty of wrongdoing. These include the suggestion that the Democratic leadership acted improperly after learning about sexual harassment allegations against Rep. Eric Massa, the baseless accusation that President Obama is "selling judgeships" for health care reform votes, and the false claim that Rep. Pete Stark has an "ethics scandal."
Several conservative commentators have attacked Obama by claiming he "lowered himself" and diminished the office of the President by appearing at the bipartisan health care summit.