Right-wing media have responded to criticism of Rep. Paul Ryan's GOP budget plan by trying to reframe the plan as not actually calling for spending "cuts," but that it simply limits the rate of an increase in spending. But experts agree that Ryan's plan would indeed reduce funding to programs that assist millions of low- and middle-income Americans; as the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities (CBPP) has noted, Ryan's plan includes reductions in Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) funding that alone would "necessitate ending assistance for millions of low-income families."
Fox responded with outrage after Obama renewed his case for the Buffett Rule, which would set a minimum effective tax rate for millionaires, accusing Obama of waging "class warfare."
From the July 29 edition of Fox News' America Live:
Loading the player reg...
From the May 8 edition of Fox News' Fox & Friends Sunday:
Loading the player reg...
From the May 5 edition of Fox News' The O'Reilly Factor:
Loading the player reg...
As I've frequently pointed out, the fact that columnist Richard Cohen is what passes for a "liberal" at the Washington Post pretty thoroughly undermines the idea that the paper's opinion pages lean to the left. In response, people have occasionally asked me "Who says Cohen is supposed to be a liberal?" Well, now, the Post has removed any doubt about the role it thinks Cohen plays at the paper, officially designating him a "left-leaning" columnist:
Dana Milbank is the kind of "left-leaning" columnist who voted for Republican presidential candidates in 2000 and 2004 and a Republican-turned-independent in 2008. And who referred to Hillary Clinton as a "mad bitch." Just try to imagine the Post identifying as "right-leaning" a columnist who voted for Democratic presidential candidates in 2000 and 2004 and called Sarah Palin a "mad bitch."
But it's Richard Cohen's presence on the "left-leaning" list that's really remarkable. Here's a refresher:
Conservative media figures have attacked Republicans for voting to repeal a provision of the health care reform bill that mandates the businesses file 1099 forms to the IRS when they purchase more than $600 worth of goods or services from a vendor. These media figures also warn Republicans not to support similar measures in the future. They say the 1099 provision hurts business, but argue that voting for such provision is a "trap" for Republicans who want to repeal the entire health care reform bill.
On February 2, 81 senators voted in favor of a repeal of the 1099 provision, which both Republicans and Democrats, including President Obama, have called overly burdensome. Since then conservative media figures have been attacking Republicans for their vote:
Erickson and Thiessen both state that the 1099 provision was harmful to businesses. So why do they argue against its repeal? In Erickson's words: "[D]oing this, instead of keeping the pain in place until Obamacare is repealed, makes the pain less and less. And as the pain becomes less and less because Republicans work with Democrats to 'fix' Obamacare, it becomes less and less likely that Obamacare will actually get repealed."
But are these conservative commentators really deluded enough to think that repeal of the Affordable Care Act is just around the corner? Perhaps. Or perhaps they are afraid that with a few fixes, calling for repeal of the health care reform law will become a real loser politically.
Right-wing media have promoted a doctored image that supposedly shows that Daily Kos founder Markos Moulitsas used the image of a bull's eye in connection with Rep. Gabrielle Giffords (D-AZ). In fact, the original Daily Kos post did not contain an image of a bull's eye.
In a November 22 Washington Post op-ed, Marc Thiessen attacked the Obama administration over the verdict in the trial of terrorism suspect Ahmed Ghailani and argued that Ghailani should have been tried in a military commission because testimony not allowed in a civilian court would have been permitted by a military commission.
However, as Media Matters has noted, numerous legal experts -- including the federal judge presiding over Ghailani's case -- have argued that a military commission would have also likely excluded this testimony.
From Thiessen's op-ed:
And then there was the trial's coup de grace, when Judge Lewis Kaplan ruled that the government's star witness - the man who delivered five crates of TNT to Ghailani - could not testify because he was first identified by Ghailani during coercive CIA questioning.
Kaplan ruled that this made his testimony the "fruit of the poisonous tree." But in a military commission - under the rules put in place by the Bush administration and approved by Congress in 2006 - there was no "fruit of the poisonous tree" rule. Any statements Ghailani made through coercive interrogations could not have been used against him. But indirect evidence and the testimony of witnesses that trace back to those statements would have been permitted. And as I pointed out in an October column, even under the Obama administration's revised military commission rules, evidence obtained through involuntary statements can be admitted if the government can show that it would have discovered the evidence anyway, or if the court finds the "interests of justice" favor it.
Washington Post columnist Marc Thiessen writes:
Last night two centrist Democratic incumbents failed to stave off challenges from the left in Democratic Senate primaries. Pennsylvania Sen. Arlen Specter was defeated by left-wing challenger Rep. Joe Sestak. And Arkansas Sen. Blanche Lincoln was forced into a runoff by her left-wing challenger Gov. Bill Halter.
But don't hold your breath waiting for commentators to decry these shameful efforts at the ideological purification of the Democratic party. When Sen. Bob Bennett is challenged from the right, it is an ideological purge. But when centrists like Specter and Lincoln are challenged from the left, it's democracy in action.
Thiessen's overheated reaction to last night's primary results tell us more about him than about Sestak or Halter. Joe Sestak had the 136th most liberal voting record in the House of Representatives last year. In 2007-2008, Sestak had the 186th most-liberal voting record. That isn't "left-wing" -- not to anyone other than a deeply dishonest torture-loving ex-Bush-speechwriter, anyway. And I'd sure be interested in seeing Thiessen reconcile his derisive description of Halter as a "left-winger" with Halter's election to statewide office in Arkansas.
The Washington Post reported that there was controversy over whether to read the suspected Times Square bomber his Miranda rights after suspected Christmas Day bomber Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab "stopped cooperating with authorities after being read his rights." In fact, intelligence and law enforcement officials stated that Abdulmutallab cooperated both before and after he was Mirandized, as the Post itself reported previously.
From Marc Thiessen's book: Courting Disaster: How the CIA Kept America Safe and How Barack Obama Is Inviting the Next Attack:
Obama claims that by eliminating enhanced interrogations and closing Guantanamo, he is actually making America safer. In his view, both the CIA program and Guantanamo have driven the Muslim street into the enemy's camp and helped al Qaeda recruit new terrorists. As Obama put it in his speech at the National Archives, enhanced interrogation techniques "served as a recruitment tool for terrorists, and increase the will of our enemies to fight us." Moreover, he said, "There is no question that Guantanamo set back the moral authority that is American's strongest currency in the world ... [I]nstead of serving as a tool to counter terrorism, Guantanamo became a symbol that helped al Qaeda recruit terrorists to its cause."
This is demonstrably false. First, the terrorists were successfully recruiting suicide operatives long before the CIA interrogation program existed or there were any terrorists held at Guantanamo. There was no Guantanamo and no CIA interrogation program when terrorists first tried to bring down the World Trade Center in 1993. There was no Guantanamo and no CIA interrogation program when they blew up our embassies in Kenya and Tanzania. There was no Guantanamo and no CIA interrogation program when they attacked the USS Cole. And there was no Guantanamo and no CIA interrogation program on September 11, 2001. The terrorists found other excuses to recruit the operatives for these attacks. Evil always finds an excuse.
In the movie Batman: The Dark Knight, whenever the Joker is about to kill one of his victims, he points to the scars that form his hideous smile and tells the story of how he got his disfiguring wounds. Each time it is a different story. The first time he says they were carved into his face by an abusive father. The next time, he claims he did it to himself after criminals disfigured his wife. But when he says to Batman, "Do you know how I got these scars?" Batman says, "No, but I know how you got these," and pushes him off the side of a building. Batman is not interested in the villain's made-up excuses. We shouldn't be, either. [Pages 369-70]
From Marc Thiessen's book: Courting Disaster: How the CIA Kept America Safe and How Barack Obama Is Inviting the Next Attack:
I asked Cheney about the state of morale at the CIA. He says: "We live out there in McLean, [VA], about half a mile from the agency, so when I go into Starbucks to get a cup of coffee I always run into the agency personnel. And my experience has been they all come up and thank me for what we're doing." He says, "People out there are asked all the time to take risks. I had one of them tell me the other day, 'Look, we don't mind taking risks. That's our business, that's our line of work, we recognize that we have to do that. What we don't recognize and cannot tolerate is when we have to worry about what our own government is going to do to us if we carry out our orders. And if we're instructed to go out and undertake a difficult and dangerous mission, and succeed, that five or ten years later a new administration can come in and decide that we broke the law and that we deserve to be prosecuted for carrying out orders.' That's the kind of thing that will take a bold, dynamic, think-outside-the-box intelligence agency, and turn it into a bureaucracy where everybody is trying to cover their ass." [Pages 361-62]
That's right. As related by Thiessen, Cheney appears to be validating his views on national security through compliments he hears at his local Starbucks.
Washington Post columnist Marc Thiessen just won't give up on his defense of the witch hunt against DOJ attorneys who represented terror suspects even in the face of overwhelming criticism from conservatives and progressives alike. In his latest piece for The Washington Post, Thiessen lashes out at the critics, writing: "Defenders of the habeas lawyers representing al-Qaeda terrorists have invoked the iconic name of John Adams to justify their actions, claiming these lawyers are only doing the same thing Adams did when he defended British soldiers accused in the Boston Massacre. The analogy is clever, but wholly inaccurate."
In essence, Thiessen is saying that he is correct, and almost everyone else is wrong, since people from across the political spectrum have agreed that the DOJ attorneys were working in the Adams' tradition.
Here are just a few of the people who, unlike Thiessen, have said that there are similarities between John Adams and the attorneys who represented detainees: former independent counsel Ken Starr; Washington Post columnist Eugene Robinson; Larry Thompson, the former number two official at the Bush Justice Department; Peter Keisler, who served as acting attorney general under President Bush; senior Bush defense department officials Matthew Waxman, Charles "Cully" Stimson, and Daniel Dell'Orto; Bush associate White House counsel Bradley Berenson; former top advisers to Condoleezza Rice Philip Zelikow and John Bellinger III; Slate.com columnist Dahlia Lithwick; Atlanta Journal-Constitution columnist Jay Bookman; Col. Morris Davis, former chief prosecutor for the military commissions; Orrin Kerr, who served as special counsel to Sen. John Cornyn (R-TX) during the confirmation hearings for Justice Sonia Sotomayor; and Fox News host Bill O'Reilly. Former Bush administration Attorney General Michael Mukasey has also criticized the attack. Previously, Bush administration Solicitor General Ted Olson also defended lawyers who represented detainees from attacks.
Looking at the substance of Thiessen's attempt to differentiate Adams from the DOJ lawyers under attack, it's no wonder that so many people disagree with Thiessen. Thiessen's first argument appears to be that Adams was merely acting as a loyal British subject, defending his "fellow countrymen." Thiessen writes:
For starters, Adams was a British subject at the time he took up their representation. The Declaration of Independence had not yet been signed, and there was no United States of America. The British soldiers were Adams' fellow countrymen -- not foreign enemies of the state at war with his country.
Thiessen then appears to abandon the argument that Adams was acting in the British tradition, claiming rather that Adams was acting according to the "American tradition later enshrined in the Sixth Amendment":
Second, the British soldiers were accused of a crime. The constitution was not yet in place, but as I pointed out in my column this week, former federal prosecutor Andy McCarthy explains that the great American tradition later enshrined in the Sixth Amendment "guarantees the accused -- that means somebody who has been indicted or otherwise charged with a crime -- a right to counsel. But that right only exists if you are accused, which means you are someone the government has brought into the civilian criminal justice system and lodged charges against."
Hmm. So, Adams was actually acting according to a "great American tradition" that wouldn't be enshrined until Congress passed the Bill of Rights two decades later.
One more inconvenient fact for Thiessen: The trial of the Boston Massacre took place in the Massachusetts Superior Court of Judicature, the forerunner to the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court, a Massachusetts state court. The U.S. Supreme Court did apply the Sixth Amendment to criminal trials in state courts until 1932, when it held in Powell v. Alabama that the right to counsel applied to the states in capital cases. Furthermore, the Supreme Court did not extend the right to counsel to state courts in all felony cases until the landmark Gideon v. Wainwright decision in 1963, nearly 200 years after the Boston Massacre trial in which Adams participated.
Thiessen then goes on to reiterate his attacks against the DOJ attorneys:
In the 234 years since Adams and his compatriots fought for our independence, the United States has held millions of enemy combatants -- and not one had ever filed a successful habeas corpus petition until the habeas campaign on behalf of Guantanamo detainees began.
The habeas lawyers are not doing what John Adams did -- representing accused criminals already in the judicial system. Rather, they have reached outside the judicial system and dragged the terrorists in.
Importantly, Gideon -- a habeas corpus case -- explicitly overruled a prior Supreme Court case, Betts v. Brady, which held that, absent a capital trial or other extraordinary circumstances, states did not have to provide counsel to defendants. Gideon actually filed the habeas corpus petition himself, but once the Supreme Court accepted the case, numerous lawyers filed briefs supporting his case. One could say: "In the  years since Adams and his compatriots fought for our independence, [the states tried countless American citizens] -- and not one had ever filed a successful habeas corpus petition [fully extending the Sixth Amendment to the states] until the habeas campaign on behalf of [Gideon] began."
So, by Thiessen's logic, we should be excoriating the Gideon attorneys. Behold the Gideon 32:
Abe Fortas, by appointment of the Court, argued the cause for petitioner. With him on the brief were Abe Krash and Ralph Temple.
J. Lee Rankin, by special leave of Court, argued the cause for the American Civil Liberties Union et al., as amici curiae, urging reversal. With him on the brief were Norman Dorsen, John Dwight Evans, Jr., Melvin L. Wulf, Richard J. Medalie, Howard W. Dixon and Richard Yale Feder.
A brief for the state governments of twenty-two States and Commonwealths, as amici curiae, urging reversal, was filed by Edward J. McCormack, Jr., Attorney General of Massachusetts, Walter F. Mondale, Attorney General of Minnesota, Duke W. Dunbar, Attorney General of Colorado, Albert L. Coles, Attorney General of Connecticut, Eugene Cook, Attorney General of Georgia, Shiro Kashiwa, Attorney General of Hawaii, Frank Benson, Attorney General of Idaho, William G. Clark, Attorney General of Illinois, Evan L. Hultman, Attorney General of Iowa, John B. Breckinridge, Attorney General of Kentucky, Frank E. Hancock, Attorney General of Maine, Frank J. Kelley, Attorney General of Michigan, Thomas F. Eagleton, Attorney General of Missouri, Charles E. Springer, Attorney General of Nevada, Mark McElroy, Attorney General of Ohio, Leslie R. Burgum, Attorney General of North Dakota, Robert Y. Thornton, Attorney General of Oregon, J. Joseph Nugent, Attorney General of Rhode Island, A. C. Miller, Attorney General of South Dakota, John J. O'Connell, Attorney General of Washington, C. Donald Robertson, Attorney General of West Virginia, and George N. Hayes, Attorney General of Alaska.
The conservative media's witch hunts against President Obama's nominees and appointees has recently focused on Justice Department lawyers who previously represented terror suspects, as well as judicial nominees Goodwin Liu and Robert Chatigny, and Transportation Security Administration (TSA) nominee Robert Harding. The cases against all of these targets are falling apart.
On March 3, The Washington Times published an editorial misrepresenting Liu's record in order to call him a "radical." Sean Hannity also joined in the dishonest attack on Liu -- a law professor at Berkley and a nominee for the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit. Since then, conservatives including Liu's colleague at Berkley, John Yoo, and the Goldwater Institute's Clint Bolick have vouched for Liu. Bolick wrote: "Having 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." And according to the Los Angeles Times, Yoo -- the Bush administration lawyer who authored the infamous torture memos -- 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." Liu has also reportedly received the support of James Guthrie, education policy studies director at the George W. Bush Institute in Dallas.
So much for the idea that Liu is a radical leftist.
Today, Fox News' Gretchen Carlson claimed that "some are concerned" that Chatigny -- a federal trial judge who Obama has nominated for elevation to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit -- "may be biased in favor of sex offenders." Carlson's allegation was based on Chatigny's actions during the appeals of a death penalty case involving convicted serial killer and rapist Michael Ross. Chatigny strongly expressed concern that Ross' lawyer was not sufficiently investigating evidence regarding Ross' mental competency. Later, an ethics complaint was brought against Chatigny. But here's the important thing that Carlson left out: a panel of judges cleared him of charges and declared his actions "reasonable." And this wasn't a whitewash by a bunch of leftists; the panel included Michael Mukasey, who went on to become President Bush's attorney general. According to media reports, several legal experts have also defended Chatigny's actions in the case.
So much for the idea that Chatigny is "biased in favor of sex offenders."
The attack on Harding -- a retired Army general -- is unlikely to fare much better. As we've pointed out, in a March 8 article, WorldNetDaily wrote that Harding has "controversial" views on the need for diversity in the intelligence community. WND claimed that Harding "long has pushed for 'ethnic diversity' as a determining factor in hiring new teams for U.S. military and intelligence agencies." The article quoted November 2003 written testimony Harding gave to a Senate subcommittee stressing the need for diversity hiring in the intelligence community. But Harding's views are neither controversial nor unique. Indeed, President Bush's Director of National Intelligence Michael McConnell said during a conference, "It is now our policy across this [intelligence] community that we do not screen out first generation Americans. The very people that we need in this community to speak the languages, understand the cultures, are the ones who have come to America from the distant shores." He later said, "[O]ur focus is to get a more diverse culture," and that "[w]e have got to have more diversity." Other intelligence officials have made similar statements.
So much for the idea that Harding has controversial views on diversity.
Which brings us to the ridiculous attacks on DOJ lawyers who once represented detainees: Fox News, Investor's Business Daily, and Washington Post columnists Bill Kristol and Marc Thiessen have all participated in the attacks. Several of the attackers have suggested that -- in the word of Fox contributor Monica Crowley -- the DOJ lawyers are "terrorist sympathizers." These attacks have not led to any firings, but they have resulted in condemnation from the media and from several prominent conservative lawyers as well as Mukasey. Indeed, even former independent counsel Ken Starr has slammed these attacks and compared the DOJ lawyers to John Adams and Atticus Finch.
When the attacks on the Obama administration officials lead Ken Starr to compare the targets of the attacks to Atticus Finch, it's time for the witch hunters to pack it in and go home.