With recent campaign polls showing noticeable movement towards President Obama in recent days, and with some news accounts reporting that Romney aides concede they're losing ground, National Review editor Rich Lowry reached out to a nameless Romney "adviser" for a comment.
The aide insisted the Boston-based campaign "feels good" about the electoral map and its chances of defeating Obama in key swing states in November.
Aside from that expected spin, what was most curious was the aide's attack on the supposedly Democrat-leaning press corps and how it's working in tandem with the Obama campaign. Romney himself has pressed this same campaign conspiracy, which flourishes online among fevered conservative bloggers: Journalists are de facto White House employees. (If so, they're doing an awful job.)
But note this whopper that followed [emphasis added]:
And the more Washington DC controls our economy, the more important inside-the-beltway publications are and the more money they make. The 202 area code is dominated by people who will make more money if Obama is reelected, so it's not just an ideological thumb they're putting on the scale for him, it's a business interest.
The aides' comments mirror the increasingly aggressive right-wing media's attacks on the press. This assault is driven by the conspiratorial claims that not only do journalists have a liberal bias, and therefore spin the news in that direction, but that reporters go to work each day determined to re-elect Obama. The all-consuming allegations paint the picture of a completely rigged system where the White House and press corps work seamlessly to advance a Democratic agenda.
"This is all about the media OPENLY coordinating with the Obama campaign to win reelection for a failed president," proclaimed Breitbart.com this summer. It's a declaration that has been repeated on an endless loop ever since, and with increasing frenzy.
Now the latest twist is the claim that the media want Obama to win because the press corps will enrich itself with Obama in the White House because. How? Because Obama wants the government to control the U.S. economy, therefore D.C. media becomes more important. (Does that even make sense?)
In an attempt to shield Mitt Romney's campaign from criticism that many of its claims against the Obama administration are based on falsehoods, conservative media have resorted to attacking fact-checkers, accusing them of liberal bias or of "shilling" for the Obama campaign. This is in keeping with the position of the Romney campaign, which has said, "We're not going to let our campaign be dictated by fact-checkers."
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.
The National Review has attempted to distract from Rep. Paul Ryan's (R-WI) and Rep. Todd Akin's (R-MO) support of the extreme "Sanctity of Human Life Act" -- legislation that equates abortion and contraception to murder -- by neglecting to mention its relevance to Akin's rape comments and falsely asserting potential bans on abortion aren't a concern. But it is the act's radical redefinition of a fertilized egg as a person that Akin was defending with his imaginary claim that "legitimate rape" does not lead to pregnancy, and the fact that voters in conservative states have rejected similar "personhood" laws merely demonstrates how far outside the mainstream Ryan and Akin are.
In their move to distance conservative media from Akin's comments, the editors of the National Review called for Akin to withdraw his candidacy for the U.S. Senate. However, this calculated abandonment of Akin for announcing a right-wing view that the National Review acknowledges, but prefers kept under wraps, ignores the resurgent movement to criminalize all forms of abortion. By omitting the relevance of the Sanctity of Human Life Act to Akin's comments and the editorial's claim that "no state is going to ban abortion in the case of rape even if Roe v. Wade is overruled," the editorial is perpetuating frequent contributor Ramesh Ponnuru's attempts to gloss over Ryan and Akin's hostility to reproductive rights.
Indeed, the National Review's misdirection is even more apparent now that it appears the 2012 Republican platform will once again support a so-called "human life amendment" to the Constitution that would criminalize abortion in all circumstances. Furthermore, not only is the National Review's reassurance on state abortion bans irrelevant if reports on the GOP platform are accurate, it is wholly misrepresentative of recent state efforts to infringe on women's constitutional rights. In fact, conservative-leaning states have seen multiple attempts at "personhood" bills similar to Ryan and Akin's legislation. This fall, Colorado will likely again have a "personhood" ballot initiative presented to its voters, even though the unconstitutional measure just failed in Mississippi and was held "void on its face" in Oklahoma by the state Supreme Court.
Accordingly, it is unsurprising that Akin's apology for becoming "nationally notorious...for saying something stupid" was specifically only for the "words I said" in reference to rape and not for "the heart I hold," wherein presumably all abortion is criminalized pursuant to "personhood" legislation. A radical criminalization that, the National Review fails to mention, could also apply to in-vitro fertilization, stem-cell research, most forms of contraception, and even miscarriage.
National Review claims it has new evidence that President Obama associated with a minor political party in Chicago in the 1990s. This is apparently supposed to reveal more about Obama's political views and the way he governs than his service in the U.S. Senate and the three years he has been president.
The article instead appears to be part of the right's ongoing effort to further the absurd myth that the media has not vetted Obama -- an argument that is destroyed by the facts.
National Review's Stanley Kurtz writes that he has minutes from a meeting of the New Party's Chicago chapter showing that Obama requested an endorsement and joined the party in 1996. Kurtz describes the New Party as "deeply hostile to the mainstream of the Democratic party and even to American capitalism."
Kurtz is trying to create confusion about the New Party's place on the political spectrum. Questions about Obama and the New Party arose during the 2008 election, and in a Politico blog post, Ben Smith accurately described where the New Party fell:
[T]he New Party was a attempt to build a model of political fusion. It dissolved after losing a Supreme Court ruling aimed at making fusion -- a system under which more than one party can run the same candidate, which exists in some states -- universal.
It's strongest heir, run by another New Party founder, is New York's labor-backed Working Families Party, which cross-endroses (mostly) Democratic candidates in the hopes of pulling the party to the left. Such noted socialists as Hillary Clinton and various Republican state senate candidates have run on the line. There are running arguments over whether they're good for the political process, but no particular taint of radicalism.
Young Republican groups are criticizing National Review columnist Jonah Goldberg after he claimed the voting age is too low and that the supposed fact that "young people think socialism is better than capitalism" is evidence of their "stupidity and their ignorance" which needs to be "beaten out of them."
In a videoclip from an interview with the conservative website The Daily Caller, Goldberg affirms from the beginning he is "not particularly enamored with the youth," that youth politics is "not something very special or enviable" and he believes the voting age should be much higher. He makes it quite clear young people, in his opinion, are "so frickin' stupid about some things."
"It is a simple fact of science that nothing correlates more with ignorance and stupidity more than youth," Goldberg says. "We're all born idiots, and we only get over that condition as we get less young."
Goldberg's views sparked harsh criticism from leaders of young conservatives and young Republicans groups.
Brian Matos, spokesman for Chicago Young Republicans, said he understood Goldberg's frustration, but did not agree with his idea for change, citing the need for military personnel to be able to vote.
"About half of the enlisted military personnel are under the age of 25 and so when somebody suggests they don't matter, that people are too young in their judgment, 18-year-olds, 19-year olds; well if they are old enough to serve our country overseas in two wars, they have the right to go to the polls," he said. "They do deserve the right to go to the polls."
He also noted: "To say they are not important because of their age is short-sighted."
Christopher Sanders, president of the Atlanta Young Republicans, stated: "Mr. Goldberg has the right to express his opinion. However I disagree with him on an age increase. It is our civic duty to help educate those younger than us about the issues, not strip them of their right to vote."
Conservative pundit Jim Geraghty is deflecting attention from Mitt Romney's weak job creation record as governor of Massachusetts, pointing to overall unemployment trends at the time. But that statistic, which one economist has argued is a "false indicator," doesn't change the fact that during Romney's tenure, Massachusetts ranked 47th out of all states in job creation.
|NRO contributor Robert Weissberg (left)|
at American Renaissance conference
with "pro-White" radio host James Edwards
and editor Jared Taylor.
In a post last night at NRO, Rich Lowry announced that Weissberg "will no longer be posting" at National Review due to his appearance at the American Renaissance conference:
Unbeknowst to us, occasional Phi Beta Cons contributor Robert Weissberg (whose book was published a few years ago by Transaction) participated in an American Renaissance conference where he delivered a noxious talk about the future of white nationalism. He will no longer be posting here. Thanks to those who brought it to our attention.
National Review, which recently severed its relationship with writer John Derbyshire for a column in which he advised parents to teach their children to be wary of blacks, has another contributor who may draw similar scrutiny.
In March, National Review Online contributor Robert Weissberg spoke at the annual conference of the magazine American Renaissance, described as a "white supremacist journal" by the Anti-Defamation League. Reportedly proposing "A Politically Viable Alternative to White Nationalism," Weissberg described to the audience of 150 an "enclave" solution in which zoning laws and other methods could be used to create "Whitopias" in America.
Weissberg, an emeritus professor at the University of Illinois, is a regular contributor to National Review Online, having written 10 posts for its Phi Beta Con blog on education, the most recent coming within the last week.
During his speech at the conference, Weissberg discussed how to keep "Whitopias" white and the positives of "maintaining whiteness," according to the American Renaissance website:
Prof. Weissberg argued that an "80 percent solution" would be one that enforced the "First-World" standards of excellence and hard work that attract and reward whites. He pointed out that there are still many "Whitopias" in America and that there are many ways to keep them white, such as zoning that requires large houses, and a cultural ambiance or classical music and refined demeanor that repels undesirables. This approach to maintaining whiteness has the advantage that people can make a living catering to whites in their enclaves.
Prof. Weissberg went on to argue that liberals are beyond reason when it comes to race, that explaining the facts of IQ or the necessity of racial consciousness for whites "is like trying to explain to an eight-year-old why sex is more fun than chocolate ice cream."
Other speakers at the conference include James Edwards, known for his "pro-white" radio show, Political Cesspool, and the presidential and vice-presidential candidates of the white nationalist American Third Position party, Mervin Miller and Virginia Abernathy.
Last Thursday, longtime National Review writer Derbyshire published a piece for Taki's Magazine that urged parents to teach their children to, among other things, not "attend events likely to draw a lot of blacks." The piece was swiftly condemned across the ideological spectrum; on Saturday night National Review Editor Rich Lowry announced that Derbyshire could no longer write for National Review. Lowry did not respond to repeated requests for comment on Weissberg's standing with National Review Tuesday morning.
Weissberg spoke with Media Matters Monday evening about his views and American Renaissance involvement, first noted at LittleGreenFootballs.com.
Asked why he would appear at an event sponsored by American Renaissance, Weissberg defended the group.
"It really is, it's not a white supremacist, as far as I'm concerned. There are probably people in the organization who are white supremacists, okay. There are probably people in the Democratic party and the Republican party who are also, okay," he said. "But I would not tar an organization by singling out a few members who have odd extreme political views and then labeling the organization as endorsing those views. The problem, if I may digress here a little bit, I am a member of several organizations, sort of conservative, ranging from AR, which is, to much more respectable things and the thing about AR is that they cannot control who shows up. You walk in the door, or you pay your whatever it is, $75 convention fee, and you are part of the crowd, that's it."
From the April 7 edition of MSNBC's Up With Chris Hayes:
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Commentators across the ideological spectrum are denouncing National Review writer John Derbyshire for an essay he wrote recommending that parents tell their children to be wary of black people. This includes Derbyshire's colleagues at National Review, one of whom has called for Derbyshire to be fired.
Derbyshire's essay was published April 5 on the website Taki's Magazine. The New York Observer soon took note of the fact that Derbyshire's recommendations include warnings to "[a]void concentrations of blacks not all known to you personally" and to "[s]tay out of heavily black neighborhoods." The recommendations also include these assertions about black people's intelligence:
The mean intelligence of blacks is much lower than for whites. The least intelligent ten percent of whites have IQs below 81; forty percent of blacks have IQs that low. Only one black in six is more intelligent than the average white; five whites out of six are more intelligent than the average black. These differences show in every test of general cognitive ability that anyone, of any race or nationality, has yet been able to devise. They are reflected in countless everyday situations. "Life is an IQ test."
Liberal sites like Gawker and Think Progress published posts criticizing Derbyshire, and The Atlantic Wire compiled an extensive list of Derbyshire's previous racially inflammatory writings. (Last year, Derbyshire said that he was "on the same page" as Anders Behring Breivik, the Norwegian who allegedly killed 69 people in a rampage inspired by Islamophobia and other bigotry.)
Derbyshire's essay has also drawn fire from other National Review writers. For instance, senior editor Ramesh Ponnuru tweeted that he doesn't want to be associated with "someone who publishes" what Derbyshire wrote:
In a National Review article, Hans von Spakovsky and Travis LaCouter attacked the Department of Justice's Civil Rights Division for pursuing a case against an Arkansas center for people with mental disabilities. But the case was actually brought by the Bush administration. This is the latest failed attempt by a cadre of far right-wing critics to show that the Department of Justice under President Obama is up to no good.
In his zeal to paint the Obama administration and its Justice Department as extreme, von Spakovsky has previously misrepresented facts, baselessly charged a judge with racism, ignored evidence that totally undermined his claims, and gone on witch hunts against people who worked on behalf of the poor.
But von Spakovsky may have now managed to sink to a new level of incompetence. In his latest attack, von Spakovsky and his co-author LaCouter criticized the Civil Rights Division for pursuing and largely losing a lawsuit against the Conway Human Development Center, a state-owned facility housing individuals with developmental disabilities. The Justice Department alleged that Conway was violating the civil rights of its residents.
Von Spakovsky and LaCouter claimed that the case shows that "the ideologues in the Civil Rights Division of the Holder Justice Department are proving themselves to be ... blindly partisan" and "ideological zealot[s]."
Only one fact is necessary to debunk von Spakovsky's and LaCouter's claim that the case shows that the "Holder Justice Department" is "blindly partisan": The case was actually investigated and filed by President Bush's Justice Department. According to a brief filed by the Justice Department, the Civil Rights Division began investigating Conway in 2002. In April 2004, the head of the Civil Rights Division signed a letter finding that Conway was subjecting its residents "to a pattern or practice of egregious or flagrant conditions in violation of the Constitution or federal law." The letter proposed trying to find an amicable resolution to the case, but when that proved impossible, the Bush administration filed the lawsuit in question.
The complaint commencing the lawsuit was personally signed by Bush-appointed Attorney General Michael Mukasey. Von Spakovsky and LaCouter hid this fact by saying the case was filed in "early 2009." In fact, the case was filed on January 16, 2009, four days before Obama's inauguration and more than two weeks before current Attorney General Eric Holder was confirmed by the Senate.
Conservative media figures, led by Rush Limbaugh, have continually distorted and exaggerated the content of Sandra Fluke's testimony before Democratic members of Congress.
They have gone so far afield of Fluke's actual testimony that it often appears as if they never actually watched or read it.
Here are some of the conservative claims about Fluke's testimony, along with what she actually said.
Yesterday, Mark Hemingway of the Weekly Standard snapped a photo of the absurdly inflated price board at a gas station "within walking distance of the White House" and put it under the cheeky headline: "The Shocking Photo the Obama Administration Doesn't Want You to See!"
The gas station in question is the Watergate Exxon, one of DC's charming rip-offs that is infamous for its price gouging. It's a trap for unobservant tourists who don't realize that they can buy gas across the street for significantly less money.
Judging from the wry headline his Twitter feed, Hemingway was making an insidery joke for Beltway media types. Some on the right didn't get it.
Glenn Beck's news website, The Blaze, picked up Hemingway's post and republished the photo under the headline: "Inconvenient Photo Taken At Exxon Gas Station Just Outside White House." (The station actually is over a mile from the executive mansion.) As The Blaze put it: "The station is within walking distance of the White House and the listed price for its Supreme grade is frighteningly pushing $6."
Coincidentally, National Review's Jonah Goldberg has a column today on how gasoline prices are a "debacle" for the president, and accompanying the piece is a photo of an Exxon price board with the Watergate looming in the background.
Scary! But as The Huffington Post's Jason Linkins documented yesterday, the price of regular gas at the Sunoco just across the street from the Watergate Exxon was $4.10 -- the same as today's average price for the DC area. Which means the Watergate Exxon's prices are inflated about 32 percent over the average.
The lesson here: If you're buying gas or trying to get a sense of where gas prices stand, avoid both the Watergate Exxon and conservative blogs.
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.
Appearing on Fox News's media watchdog program over the weekend, National Review editor Rich Lowry complained the women who have accused Republican Herman Cain with sexual harassment haven't been treated with the same "pall of suspicion and disdain that surrounded Paula Jones and Gennifer Flowers."
Lowry's complaint though, is comically inaccurate. Last week Rupert Murdoch's American media properties (New York Post, Fox News and Fox Business) devoted all sort of times and energy to viciously smearing Cain's accusers. Or, to put it more politely, casting a "pall of suspicion and disdain" on them.
In Murdoch's Post, columnist Andrew Peyser took misogyny to whole new heights (depths?) by trashing Cain accuser Sharon Bialek as a "shameless" gold digging "tart."
Meanwhile, Murdoch's cable channel has been ankle-deep in Cain accuser sludge. Fox News Sean Hannity declared the public, detailed sexual assault allegations against Cain represented a "smear campaign," while Hannity guest Dick Morris chortled that he was looking forward to Bialek's "spread in Playboy." Hopping over to Fox Business, Morris attacked her as a "gold digger." Fox contributor Andrea Tantaros belittled Bialek a "scam artist," while demanding Cain accusers accept responsibility for inviting sexual harassment at the hands of the candidate.
And online, Fox dumped all over Bialek, accusing her of having "a Chicago smell." (Stay classy, Roger Ailes.)
As Media Matters' Solange Uwimana noted:
Indeed, those who tuned into Fox News the past two weeks were treated to just that: insults about the accusers, mockery, and dismissal of the alleged victims' claims. Sexual harassment "can have a devastating impact" on victims, but Fox News chose to make a joke of it. The network even devolved into blaming the victim, with Sean Hannity blasting one Cain accuser for "staying in the car" with him after the alleged harassment.
If Lowry's anxious to see Cain's accusers hit with a pall of suspicion and disdain, he should sample more Murdoch media. They're smearing the women in plain sight.