Jose Antonio Vargas, a Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist, recently revealed that he is an undocumented immigrant. Right-wing media responded with virulent anti-immigrant attacks, with Don Surber of the Charleston Daily Mail writing: "kick the lying, illegal alien Jose Antonio Vargas out."
Jose Antonio Vargas, a Pulitzer-prize winning reporter for the Washington Post, "outed" himself today as an undocumented immigrant in a self-authored New York Times Magazine piece detailing his experience as a young Filipino immigrant working hard to achieve the American dream. It wasn't until Vargas attempted to obtain a learner's permit at his local California DMV that he learned the citizenship documentation he had been provided by his naturalized grandparents was fake.
I decided then that I could never give anyone reason to doubt I was an American. I convinced myself that if I worked enough, if I achieved enough, I would be rewarded with citizenship. I felt I could earn it.
I've tried. Over the past 14 years, I've graduated from high school and college and built a career as a journalist, interviewing some of the most famous people in the country. On the surface, I've created a good life. I've lived the American dream.
But I am still an undocumented immigrant.
Predictably, it took almost no time for the right-wing slander machine to gear up its attacks on Vargas and his family.
First up, National Review's Daniel Foster accused Vargas of "fraudulent tax fraud," in a piece posted today:
Vargas entered the country illegally after his grandfather paid a coyote $4,500 to smuggle him in. The grandfather then obtained a fake passport and green card for Vargas, which they used to acquire a valid Social Security card. But that card, which subjected Vargas' right to work to the approval of the then-INS, was illegally doctored, allowing Vargas to secure job after job for more than a decade by showing nothing more than a photocopy of a fake document.
The first part of Vargas' story -- a kid living and loving America for years before his shocking discovery that he has been made complicit in a crime -- does indeed elicit sympathy. It's stories like these that make me open, at least in principle, to something like a narrowly-tailored version of the "DREAM" Act. But the second part of his story, in which a fear- and shame-driven Vargas, with the aid of his family, perpetuated and compounded those crimes (Vargas eventually got around to what you might redundantly call fraudulent tax fraud, repeatedly reporting himself as a citizen rather than a "permanent resident", when in fact he was neither), elicits from me nothing like the outpouring of support Vargas is already enjoying on the Left.
Right-wing media have seized on a line from a Peggy Noonan column -- "he made it worse" -- and have begun repeating the false message that President Obama's policies have worsened the economy. In reality, there is broad agreement among economists that the stimulus boosted growth and employment, and most of the deficit is attributable to Bush policies and the recession.
In the lead-up to Earth Day, members of the right-wing media have ridiculed conservation efforts and downplayed the concerns of environmentalists. This is nothing new for conservative media figures who have, in the past, used the Earth Day to attack conservationists by urging audiences to cut down trees and increase their energy consumption.
In a National Review article, convicted fraudster Conrad Black falsely claims that Fox News is honest about how its political views sway its news coverage. In order to prove his point, Black attacks other mainstream news outlets for their unfair coverage of former President Richard Nixon and his unconstitutional policy of wiretapping his political opponents without warrants.
Black, a businessman who has been convicted of a $600,000 fraud as well as obstruction of justice (other convictions against Black were thrown out by the U.S. Supreme Court) and is awaiting sentencing, argues that the mainstream media pretend that they are unbiased when in fact they favor progressives. By contrast, Fox News "makes no bones about its conservative penchant."
In fact, while Fox News admits that its opinion shows have a point of view, it strongly maintains that its supposedly "straight news" programs are objective, all evidence to the contrary aside. Furthermore, Bill O'Reilly, the only Fox personality that Black mentions in his piece, has repeatedly claimed that most of Fox News is "fair" and is not "out to hurt" President Obama (again, all evidence to the contrary).
But that's not all that's wrong with Black's piece.
In its forthcoming issue, National Review ridicules unnamed offenders who have purportedly distorted science to blame manmade climate change for both drought and flooding in Australia:
Weather extremes used to be taken for granted Down Under, but in recent years, each new drought has been attributed to (can you guess?) global warming. Unless greenhouse gases were sharply reduced, it was predicted, Australia would never again have enough water. Now the lucky country is experiencing violent, destructive floods, and the Australian intelligentsia has fingered the exact same versatile phenomenon as the culprit. Is there anything global warming can't do? We half expect Charlie Sheen and the NFL lockout to be linked to it. [National Review, 4/4/11, via Nexis]
National Review does a good job here of showing how much easier it is to create confusion than to inform on the issue of climate change. By mocking the notion that global warming could intensify both drought and flooding, National Review perpetuates misunderstanding of climate science and the false perception that scientists are clueless and/or dishonest.
It's simply not true that the climate science community has recently changed its tune from warning about drought in Australia to warning about flooding. Back in 2001, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change projected "[i]ncreased frequency of high-intensity rainfall, which is likely to increase flood damage" for Australia and New Zealand as well as "[r]egional reductions in rainfall in south-west and inland Australia and eastern New Zealand."
It should also be noted that National Review does not identify a climate scientist or scientific body, but rather criticizes a vague "Australian intelligentsia" for blaming climate change for both drought and recent floods. This may be because climate scientists are actually quite careful not to blame anthropogenic global warming for individual weather events since natural variation is a larger factor on shorter time scales than longer-term timescales. At the same time, as Australian science blogger John Cook explains, "it's equally false to say global warming has no effect on weather":
National Review's Mark Krikorian thinks it's just awful that women might play a role in making public decisions:
Look, I'm a sensitive New Age guy — I cook, I do laundry, I choke up at movies (well, Gladiator, anyway). But does anyone think our enemies abroad are as enlightened as we are about feminism? Steyn is right that the specific lesson they're learning is that nukes are the best insurance against invasion — but a broader one is that our commander-in-chief is an effete vacillator who is pushed around by his female subordinates. Prof. Althouse notes, "A feminist milestone: Our male President has been pulled into war by 3 women," and Senator Graham scored points with "I Thank God for Strong Women in the Obama Administration," but we're going to pay for this.
I don't know how much influence Hillary Clinton, Susan Rice, and Samantha Power had over the Obama administration's Libya policy, and neither does Mark Krikorian. What is clear is that Mark Krikorian thinks it is terrible that they are perceived as having been influential, and that it is terrible precisely because they are women. And no, I'm not over-interpreting Krikorian's comments -- he explicitly says this:
Before you send me any burning bras, the problem is not with women leaders — the enemies of the Virgin Queen and the Iron Lady can attest to that. The problem is not even with the president having strong female subordinates. Rather, Obama's pusillanimity has been hugely magnified by the contrast with the women directing his foreign policy and the fact that they nagged him to attack Libya until he gave in. Maybe it's unfair and there shouldn't be any difference from having a male secretary of state do the same thing, but there is.
Krikorian pretends that he doesn't (necessarily) think the influence of a female secretary of state should be viewed differently from the influence of a male secretary of state -- he's just describing the world as it is. But Krikorian's word choice gives him away: The three women, Krikorian writes, "nagged" Obama until he gave in.
Let's be clear about this: Mark Krikorian isn't describing sexism, he's demonstrating it.
I can't imagine the thought process that led National Review to post this garbage on its website's home page:
Believe it or not, the actual column is worse: At one point, David Kahan refers to President Obama simply as "Hussein" and suggests that if Obama loses re-election, he'll "call out every union thug and goon in these United States to occupy the Capitol, shred the drapery, steal the silver, and molest the servants." And he calls First Lady Michelle Obama fat:
My first thought was that we should offer Barry the vacant throne of his native Hawaiian Islands. Sure, he'd have to put on three or four hundred pounds to fit the royal robes of King Kamehameha, but even Barry might blanch at the thought of adding King Kam's full moniker to his roster of names: Kalani Pai'ea Wohi o Kaleikini Keali'ikui Kamehameha o 'Iolani i Kaiwikapu kaui Ka Liholiho Kunuiakea, the Second. Still, Michelle would have a real shot of slipping into Queen Kapiolani's muumuu collection and making it her own, especially after a few more meals of short ribs in Vail, the calorie count of which is only slightly offset by her incessant finger-wagging at the rest of us.
Remember, National Review is supposedly a bastion of respectable, intellectual conservative thought.
Previously: So They're Just Calling Michelle Obama Fat Now
Conservative media have promoted efforts to repeal provisions of the 2007 Energy Independence and Security Act, claiming that the law banned incandescent light bulbs and that Americans will no longer have choice over their light bulb purchases. In fact, the bill simply restricts the sale of inefficient bulbs and has lead companies to develop numerous alternatives, including energy-efficient incandescents.
Greg Pollowitz, the National Review's lead global warming hypocrite, strikes again. Pollowitz routinely uses examples of cold weather to mock the scientific consensus about global warming, even as he endorses the claim that "the warmists" are guilty of "attribut[ing] to global warming almost any unusual weather event anywhere in the world." It's a shameless combination -- accusing scientists of unscientifically cherry-picking data, while doing exactly that himself. It's made all the more shameless by the fact that Pollowitz doesn't constrain himself to bizarre examples of cold weather: If it snows in Moscow in February, Pollowitz will have you believe that disproves global warming. (And when a winter heat wave hits Moscow, Pollowitz pretends not to notice.)
Still not impressed by Pollowitz's hawkish commitment to his storyline? As I write this, it is 70 degrees in Washington, DC, approaching the all-time record for February 14. Now, if you were known for disputing global warming science by pointing to individual examples of cold weather, you'd probably think that a mid-February day that features 70 degree temperatures in the nation's capital would be a pretty good day to lay low and try not to draw any attention to your foolish habit of countering science with anecdote. But that's what sets Greg Pollowitz apart: He has absolutely no shame. And so he ignores DC's unusually warm temperatures, and scours the globe for some sign of cold weather in winter. And here's what he comes up with:
Ten days ago, crops in Mexico were hit by frost. Forget the science; global warming must be a hoax!
National Review is the latest right-wing publication to join serial fabricator Andrew Breitbart's campaign attacking the Pigford settlement for black farmers who were allegedly discriminated against by the Agriculture Department. National Review's Dan Foster mimics many of Breitbart's errors, including using flawed data to claim that "the vast majority" of Pigford claims are "frivolous at best and fraudulent at worst"; hiding the broad Republican support in recent years for reopening the settlement; and attacking Shirley Sherrod's Pigford settlement as part of a "feeding frenzy of claimants."
Yesterday, news broke that a bomb "capable of inflicting multiple casualties" was found along a Martin Luther King Day parade route in Spokane, Washington. The FBI has described bomb as a case of "domestic terrorism."
Today, CNN's Erick Erickson and National Review's Jim Geraghty had the following Twitter exchange:
Erickson has previously spoken of pulling shotguns on government officials and beating state legislators to a "bloody pulp for being an idiot"and written that "metaphorically speaking," Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner should get "punched in the face."
In other Erickson news, CNN has chosen him to provide "insight and analysis" for its State of the Union coverage.
Interestingly, on last night's edition of CNN's John King, USA, King apologized for a guest's use of the word "crosshairs":
Before we go to break, I want to make a quick point. We were just having a discussion about the Chicago mayoral race, just a moment ago. My friend Andy Shaw, who now works for a good government group out there, used the term "in the crosshairs" in talking about the candidates out there. We're trying-we're trying to get away from that language. Andy is a good friend, he's covered politics for a long time, but we're trying to get away from using that kind of language. We won't always be perfect. So hold us accountable when we don't meet your standards.
So, when a CNN guest uses the term "in the crosshairs" to describe political targeting, King apologizes to his audience and says "we're trying to get away from that language." And, at the same time, CNN gives a contributor who routinely uses far more graphically violent rhetoric a plum gig analyzing the State of the Union. And remember: Last week, King hosted Erickson for a discussion of inflammatory rhetoric, and adopted Erickson's criticisms of liberals' rhetoric without ever asking Erickson about his own track record.
I know, I said I try to ignore this "war on Christmas" nonsense, but National Review's Jay Nordlinger apparently took my prediction that Armstrong Williams had written the dumbest passage of the week as a challenge.
Some have said, "You just can't find cards that say 'Merry Christmas.' It gets harder and harder." I know. Kind of like trying to find products not made in China (for who's to say whether they come from laogai, the gulag?). I gave up on the China front long ago. Shameful, I know. But have you ever tried to buy an umbrella not made in China? Also, globalization has done wonders for the average Chinese, gulag or no gulag. Kind of a thorny, upsetting issue.
I gave up on the "Merry Christmas" front too, where cards are concerned. I just get a pretty card that says "Seasons Greetings" or "Whass Happenin' on the Holidays?" or whatever. Life's too short to hunt down "Merry Christmas."
Now: What is the most famous greeting card maker in the world? Hallmark, right? So upon reading of Nordlinger's struggles hunting down a card reading "Merry Christmas," I typed www.hallmark.com into my browser, and within seven seconds was looking at dozens and dozens of Christmas cards.
I do not believe Jay Nordlinger is actually too dumb to be able to find greeting cards reading "Merry Christmas." I think it's far more likely that Jay Nordlinger is the kind of person who would lie about how hard it is to find such a card in hopes of stoking culture-war resentment.
Isn't it great that we have people like Jay Nordlinger to remind us what Christmas is all about -- by telling lies and encouraging anger and resentment and strife? I'd like to send Nordlinger a card in recognition of his efforts, but it really is hard to find one reading "Stop lying."
According to National Review, Rep. Mike Pence is a viable presidential candidate because of his authentic fiscal conservatism:
Pence identifies himself as a fiscal and social conservative and has the voting record to prove it.
Unfortunately, National Review doesn't offer much explanation for what it means to be a fiscal conservative, though it suggests it has something to do with "voting against big-spending initiatives." But Pence supported the Iraq and Afghanistan wars -- big-spending initiatives that contributed greatly to the deficit. And he supported the Bush tax cuts, and wants to extend them all -- that's another huge driver of deficits.
But National Review doesn't even mention the words "tax" or Iraq in its Pence profile, much less make any effort to reconcile its description of Pence as a fiscal conservative with his support for massive government spending on war and policies that run up the deficit. So I'm honestly curious: What does the National Review think it means to be a "fiscal conservative"? Is it simply opposition to government spending the National Review doesn't like?
Here's National Review columnist Mona Charen in a column dated today:
Obamacare is deeply unpopular. But the president (unlike the country, we must hope) is stuck with it. The measure that was supposed to be the Democrats' bid for greatness has become Obama's tar baby. He must defend it or risk discrediting his presidency. And yet his resistance to repeal will hurt his bid for reelection.
The term "tar baby" has been described by Politico and the Washington Post as "racially charged." The New York Times, in reporting an apology by John McCain for using the term, noted it is "considered by some to be a racial epithet." A separate New York Times article noting its use by then-White House press secretary Tony Snow reported that the term "has been used as a derogatory term for a black."