The conservative media today attacked the Obama administration by attempting to link them to the Food and Drug Administration's decision to phase out "over-the-counter asthma inhalers containing chloroflouorocarbons (CFCs)." The Weekly Standard published a piece by Mark Hemingway headlined "Obama Administration Set to Ban Asthma Inhalers Over Environmental Concerns," which claimed that the "Obama administration would rather make people with Asthma cough up money than let them make a surely inconsequential contribution to depleting the ozone layer."
But it turns out that the FDA was simply following through with plans put in place when George W. Bush was president.
Remember how Obama recently waived new ozone regulations at the EPA because they were too costly? Well, it seems that the Obama administration would rather make people with Asthma cough up money than let them make a surely inconsequential contribution to depleting the ozone layer
Hemingway went on to cite an Associated Press article that explains some details of the inhaler ban, but Hemingway must not have read the AP article too closely. That's because the AP reported that "[t]he FDA finalized plans to phase out the products in 2008" when Bush was president, not Obama. From the AP article:
The FDA finalized plans to phase out the products in 2008 and currently only Armstrong Pharmaceutical's Primatene mist is available in the U.S. Other manufacturers have switched to an environmentally-friendly propellant called hydrofluoroalkane. Both types of inhalers offer quick-relief to symptoms like shortness of breath and chest tightness, but the environmentally-friendly inhalers are only available via prescription.
I suppose it was inevitable.
For months, right-wing bloggers have been linking the ATF's Operation Fast and Furious to a wide array of increasingly ridiculous conspiracy theories. The operation itself was a failed attempt to take down Mexican cartels that certainly deserves (and is receiving) scrutiny after many guns involved in the program ended up at crime scenes, but the right-wing media's preference for wild theories over solid facts has gotten well out of hand.
Now, they've decided that the "ultimate goal" behind the program was to -- try not to laugh -- collapse the system as part of the "Cloward-Piven strategy" and initiate a "coup de d'état." You may recall "Cloward-Piven" as the Glenn Beck-pushed conspiracy which claims that the motive force of the last forty years of progressive policy is an article written by two obscure college professors that calls for "collapsing the system" by overloading government services in order to implement new policies. After Beck repeatedly devoted his programs to attacking the surviving professor, Francis Fox Piven, she began receiving death threats.
What does that have to do with a failed operation aimed at stopping Mexican drug cartels? Pajamas Media blogger Bob Owens provides the following "speculation" (emphasis added):
Gunwalker purposefully increases social unrest (increased gun violence/destabilizing Mexico), with the possible result of overloading the U.S. public welfare system (more illegal aliens fleeing the violence in Mexico and Central America). Gunwalker's perpetrators could then use that influx to create an insurmountable constituency of poor seeking handouts from the Democratic Party. The hope of the strategy is to force a system-wide collapse of the current system, and then to rebuild the government in a variant of the strongest socialist model they think the public will accept.
Operation Fast and Furious doesn't make sense as a anti-cartel operation, but it makes perfect tactical sense as a way of implementing Cloward-Piven, something that President Obama, Attorney General Holder, Secretary Napolitano, and Secretary Clinton have long embraced as followers of those radicals and Saul Alinsky. Gunwalker is the start of a coup d'état against the republic by the very souls entrusted to guard it.
The idea that the Obama administration wants dramatically increased illegal immigration in order "force a system-wide collapse of the current system" is, of course, at odds with their record of increasing deportations and reducing illegal immigration.
(As an aside, it's interesting that Owens now has a problem with "a coup d'état against the republic," given that he previously called armed revolution the "morally-required alternative" if other efforts to repeal health care reform fail.
Fast and Furious blogger Mike Vanderboegh, who thinks that if Hillary Clinton doesn't run for president again it must be because "she's got some dirty Gunwalker underwear she doesn't want outed in public," is also highlighting Owens' conclusions.
It's almost as if these people are desperate to not be taken seriously. But that's pretty much par for the course for the right-wing media.
It's a shame that Owens is just teasing us with the reference to how Obama, Holder, Napolitano, and Clinton are "followers of... Saul Alinsky." I was looking forward to a detailed explanation of the Alinskyite tactics.
Thus far, the Freedom Of Information Act lawsuit that PajamasMedia.com filed against the U.S. Department of Justice has resulted in the disclosure of dozens of DOJ employee resumes and nine largely ignored columns by Hans von Spakovsky, J. Christian Adams and Richard Pollock.
"Every Single One" is their ongoing series of posts that tediously tick off the prior work experiences of DOJ lawyers followed by commentary declaring them unabashed left-wing radicals. Ostensibly, the point of the exercise is to establish a case that the administration of President Obama is engaging in the same kind of politicized hiring at DOJ that President Bush was found to have done. Their work has been an utter failure.
Von Spakovsky et al have provided no evidence of politicized hiring practices and have been content to make the lazy claim that, given "every single one" of the latest DOJ hires is liberal, improper procedures must have been used. Unfortunately, they've failed even at this. In order to make their case that every DOJ hire is liberal, they've concocted a definition of liberal so broad that even Pollack himself likely would have to be labeled as a radical leftist.
Eleven months ago, J. Christian Adams triggered weeks of frenzied right-wing coverage after he quit the Department of Justice and claimed that under President Obama, the Department of Justice was engaged in a campaign of racially-motivated corruption, highlighted by its actions in the New Black Panther Party case.
Complaints that the DOJ is hiring attorneys for the Civil Rights Division who have backgrounds in civil rights law? Sure. Declarations that those lawyers are "radicals," "committed leftist[s]," "militants," and so on? Of course. Complete lack of comprehension of the irony of a guy hired under a regime of improper DOJ politicization complaining about politicization? You betcha!
But then, via TPM's Ryan J. Reilly, we come to this paragraph:
Tamica Daniel: Ms. Daniel comes to the Section only a year out of Georgetown's law school, where she was the diversity committee chair of the law review, volunteered with the ACLU's Innocence Project, and participated in the Institute for Public Representation Clinic. For those in the real world, diversity committees are groups set up to hector for race-based outcomes in hiring employees and student matters. It is an entity with close cousins in South Africa's apartheid regime and other dark eras in history.
Yup. Adams thinks that committees intended to increase diversity are "close cousins" with "South Africa's apartheid regime."
This isn't the sort of comparison that you make when you want to be taken seriously as a critic of the DOJ's fictional policy of racial corruption. With every additional comment, Adams discredits the right-wing freak show that promoted his wild claims.
As part of its extended campaign against the Obama administration Justice Department's hires, Pajamas Media has turned to noted experts on the subject of politicization: Hans von Spakovsky and J. Christian Adams.
Yes, the conservative media outlet is again attacking the Obama administration for hiring civil rights attorneys for the Civil Rights Division. And they've decided that the best people to push their months-long investigation are a beneficiary of the Bush DOJ's policy of politicized hiring and a Bush DOJ staffer known for injecting his own politics into the department's work.
It's the sort of takes-one-to-know-one decision reminiscent of Fox News' decisions to hire Judith Miller as a media critic and book Michael Brown to discuss disaster relief.
Who's next? Will PJM drag out fellow Bush DOJ alums Bradley Schlozman and Monica Goodling to write the next installments in this breathtakingly mundane series?
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."
One of enduring, albeit unintentional, charms of monitoring the right-wing media, and especially the right-wing media during the Obama years, is that the major players like to think of themselves as hardened truth-tellers who can take a punch. But it turns out they box with a glass jaw and are easily frightened by the most routine political developments.
This week has already produced two examples showcasing how the tough-talking conservative media is actually populated by a pack of Wizard of Oz lions in desperate need of some courage.
The first instance came from the New York Post's hollow claim that Obama aides are out "digging up dirt" on New Jersey's Republican governor, Chris Christie. (The laughable article included zero evidence of any Christie "dirt" being dug up by anyone. Zilch.) And the second was that the White House, with an eye on 2012, had created an online position within its communications team to push back against online falsehoods being spread about Obama.
At the very most, the two articles suggested the Obama team was engaged in conducting opposition research and fact-checking, which is like saying the Obama team was engaged in hiring speech writers and consultants. i.e. Both activities are utterly mundane in today's world of professional politics.
But oh my, cue the far-right freak-out:
More thuggery from our wannabe Dictator-in-Chief.
Progressive Is A Synonym for Dictatorship
Obama's Smear Machine
"Team Obama" preparing "for a little mud slinging"
Obama's "trying to intimidate his way to re-election"
This is typical behavior of partisan bullies. They spend their days and nights launching hateful, phony attacks against the president, but then run scared when their opponent even hints at fighting back.
A couple of months ago, J. Christian Adams put up the following breathless headline on the Pajamas Media blog: "Bombshell: Justice Department Only Selectively Complies with Freedom of Information Act (PJM Exclusive)." In the post, Adams claimed that the Obama Justice Department has "politicized compliance with the Freedom of Information Act. According to documents I have obtained, FOIA requests from liberals or politically connected civil rights groups are often given same day turn-around by the DOJ. But requests from conservatives or Republicans face long delays, if they are fulfilled at all."
If anyone had asked us, we would have warned them not to take the bait without closely double-checking Adams' claims. After all, Adams is a long-time Republican activist who appears to be willing to promote any falsehood in order to attack President Obama's Justice Department. However, Republicans on the House Judiciary Committee did fall for Adams' claims, pressing DOJ on whether it has politicized FOIA responses.
As we've noted, Attorney General Eric Holder has already testified that he looked into the issues raised by Adams' blog post and "I can assure you there is no ideological component with regard to how we can respond to FOIA requests." Now, the Justice Department has sent a detailed response to a letter from Judiciary Committee Chairman Lamar Smith (R-TX) answering Adams' claims, and the response shows that the "bombshell" Adams touted was actually a total dud.
It turns out that Adams' claims are based on falsehoods and apples-to-oranges comparisons. In fact, the letter shows that Adams even lied about the FOIA request made by his own organization, Pajamas Media, in his original post.
Earlier this month, conservative activist Hans von Spakovsky penned a Pajamas Media post accusing James Graves, an African American Mississippi Supreme Court justice, of engaging in racism in favor of African Americans in his judicial decision-making. As we documented, the charge was highly dubious, especially in light of the strong Republican support Graves received when President Obama nominated him to a federal judgeship.
Senate Republicans and Democrats have now resoundingly rejected von Spakovsky's attack, confirming Graves to a seat on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit, one step below the Supreme Court by a voice vote -- a procedure reserved for non-controversial judicial nominees. On the Senate floor, Republican Sen. Roger Wicker (MS) said: "I am proud today to speak on behalf of Justice Graves. I urge my colleagues to vote in support of his nomination to the Fifth Circuit." And Republican Sen. Thad Cochran (MS) said: "It is with pride and pleasure that I am able to recommend to the Senate the confirmation of Justice James E. Graves, Jr."
Now, this isn't the only half-baked racism charge that von Spakovsky has made. He often hypes the trumped-up charges that the Justice Department mishandled a voter intimidation case involving the New Black Panther Party and allegations that the President Obama's Justice Department has a policy of not enforcing voting rights laws in a race-neutral fashion.
Let's hope that congressional Republicans give von Spakovsky's New Black Panther Party allegations the same credence they gave to his charges against Graves.
Hans von Spakovsky is no stranger to race-baiting. He is most often seen these days hyping the trumped-up charges that the Justice Department mishandled a voter intimidation case and alleging that the President Obama's Justice Department has a policy of not enforcing voting rights laws in a race-neutral fashion. Yesterday, he took his attacks a step further, essentially accusing Obama judicial nominee James Graves of engaging in racism in favor of African Americans in his judicial decision-making.
His attack is highly dubious in light of the fact that his target is a Mississippi Supreme Court judge who was elected to his position in 2004 (after initially being appointed to the seat in 2001), has the strong support of both of Mississippi's Republican senators, and who received the support of the Senate Judiciary Committee without dissent after a committee member asked him about the cases in question.
Somehow the conservative media found a way to link a program promoting childhood health to an increase in pedestrian deaths. The magic word? "Obama."
The Drudge Report linked to this Washington Examiner story that gave the impression that there was a link between the "Let's Move!" campaign begun by first lady Michelle Obama and increased pedestrian deaths.
Rush Limbaugh promoted the version of the story appearing on his affiliate in the DC region, WMAL. That story was headlined "Michelle Obama's 'Get Moving' Program Linked to Pedestrian Deaths." Serial misinformer Jim Hoft wrote on his blog Gateway Pundit, "Michelle Obama's 'Get Up & Get Moving' Program Linked to Increase in Pedestrian Deaths," while Clarice Feldman of Pajamas Media wrote that "Michelle's 'Get Moving' Led to Increases in Pedestrian Deaths." The Daily Caller didn't want to be left out of the story, and produced a story with the headline "First Lady's anti-obesity campaign could be causing more pedestrian deaths."
From the Examiner:
First lady Michelle Obama's campaign to get people to exercise outdoors might be a factor in an increase in the number of pedestrian deaths during the first half of last year, according to the Governors Highway Safety Association.
GHSA executive director Barbara Harsha said her organization doesn't know why there were more deaths in the first six months of 2010 than in 2009, but the increase is notable because overall traffic fatalities went down 8 percent during this period, and the increase ends four straight years of steady declines in pedestrian deaths.
But the "get moving" movement, led by Obama's "Let's Move" campaign to eliminate childhood obesity, could be to blame, Harsha told The Washington Examiner.
The Examiner had this tidbit four paragraphs in, however:
"There's an emphasis these days to getting fit, and I think people doing that are more exposed to risk [of getting hit by a vehicle]," said Harsha, who conceded to having no scientific evidence that the Let's Move campaign has led to an increase in walkers and runners, or deaths. (our emphasis)
In comments to Media Matters, GHSA spokesman Jonathan Adkins called the story a "total sham," and said, "some people have an agenda" to tie the non-partisan group to a "partisan" story, and noted that more mainstream outlets like USA Today reported the story accurately. Adkins said that GHSA "support[s]" the Let's Move program. Adkins also told Media Matters that none of their research showed any connection at all between the Let's Move program and pedestrian deaths.
TBD.com spoke to Harsha after the story gained traction:
Well, the folks at GHSA were awfully surprised when they read this morning's paper. In fact, Harsha tells us, she didn't tell the Examiner that at all. "It's ridiculous," she says. According to Harsha, the first lady's fitness campaign never even came up in her discussion with [Scott] McCabe. "Absolutely not," she says, adding that she actually supports the "Let's Move" campaign.
But as McCabe points out to us, the Obama nugget came from the GHSA's pitch to him for the story, which he passed along: "Why the increase? We don't really know but speculate that it could be a couple factors. One is the possible increase in distracted pedestrians and distracted drivers. We've been focusing on the drivers, but perhaps we need to focus some attention on distracted walkers! Additionally, Mrs. Obama and others have been bringing attention to 'get moving' programs, so perhaps pedestrian exposure has increased."
Harsha says her theorizing to the Examiner never went beyond the predictable and mundane: More people seem to be walking and running, particularly while listening to music or fiddling with their smartphones, and not paying attention to traffic signals. "What we were trying to say is if people do walk more, there's more risk," says Harsha. "We're concerned with the increase in pedestrian fatalities, and we need to monitor it. Maybe some education needs to be done for people who are into physical fitness."
This is just sad.
Presented with a fatally flawed report that omits critical evidence disproving allegations that the Obama administration refuses to enforce voting-rights laws when the alleged perpetrators are racial minorities, Bush era DOJ official Hans von Spakovsky has turned to misrepresentation to revive the phony New Black Panther Party scandal.
Yesterday, Spakovsky got his hands on a draft report detailing the conservative-dominated U.S. Commission on Civil Rights' utterly discredited "investigation" into the DOJ's handling of voter-intimidation charges that were filed against members of the New Black Panther Party. Right-wing activists connected to Bush-era politicization of the DOJ claimed the case illustrated "hostility" within the DOJ toward enforcing voting rights laws when the alleged defendant was a racial minority.
In a Pajamas Media post, von Spakovsky claims the report is "devastating." And to prove just how "devastating" it is, von Spakovsky distorted what the report actually said, taking the report's descriptions of testimony presented by Christopher Coates and J. Christian Adams -- both of whom were connected to the politicization of the Justice Department during the Bush administration -- and presenting that testimony as the conclusions of the commission itself.
Washington Examiner editorial page editor Mark Tapscott writes in an October 12 blog post: "Nobody knows with certainty how many illegal votes were cast in the 2008 presidential and congressional elections, but odds are the total was in the millions, thanks to systematic vote fraud campaigns by leftist groups such as ACORN and mis-guided laws that allow individuals to register and vote on the same day."
Tapscott, however, offers no evidence of "systematic vote fraud" that resulted in "illegal votes" numbering "in the millions" -- perhaps because it didn't happen. As the San Francisco Chronicle reported in 2008, election experts say that voter registration issues that had been associated with ACORN rarely result in fraudulent votes being cast because false and duplicate registrations are typically weeded out. The Chronicle goes on to state that "it's virtually impossible to pull off large-scale voter fraud without being discovered."
Tapscott's reference to ACORN is nothing more than yet another invocation of a right-wing bogeyman that has become so played out that it was getting tossed around indiscriminately; The Wall Street Journal's John Fund, for instance, insisted that one purported case involved people who allegedly "associated in the past with Acorn" that "may have" been involved in "advising" people "on how to perform" voter fraud, citing unnamed "local politicos." Scaremongering aside, Talking Points Memo's Josh Marshall has pointed out that any actual vote fraud cases allegedly involving ACORN have been isolated.
Tapscott's baseless claim came in service to promoting Pajamas Media's "Voter Fraud Watch." He touted how one prominent name linked to Pajamas Media's project is "J. Christian Adams, the courageous former Justice Department attorney who blew the whistle on the Obama administration's craven cave-in to Political Correctness and left-wing ideology in the New Black Panthers Case."
The supposed "legal expertise" Adams intends to provide to "Voter Fraud Watch" doesn't exactly enhance the credibility of Pajamas Media's little project.
Right-wing media are citing the testimony of Justice Department attorney Christopher Coates before the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights to revive the phony New Black Panther Party scandal. But Coates reportedly became "a true member of the team" in the highly politicized Bush DOJ.
Earlier today, J. Christian Adams called on readers to "ponder" how the Justice Department's handling of voter intimidation charges against members of the New Black Panther Party could "restrain future enforcement activity against intimidation." Imagine, Adams asks, if the allegations involved white men harassing minority voters:
Think about this -- even taking the facts in the most favorable light for the defenders of the dismissal, ponder how it restrains future enforcement activity against intimidation. There may come a day when two skinheads are in front of a poll, say, in suburban Atlanta. The precinct is 90 percent white, but about 10 percent African-American. One has a baseball bat, but the other does not. They are dressed identically in skinhead uniforms with swastika insignia. They work together and shout racial slurs we all know and hate. Worse, the week before, the national skinhead party had announced a nationwide deployment of skinheads, and these clowns show up on cue. NAACP poll monitors there to aid voters see voters turn away upon seeing the skinheads. The skinheads try to block the NAACP staff from entering the polls, and brandish the bat. The NAACP staff swear this all happened under oath. Then days later the national skinhead leader admits they were indeed deployed as part of the party activities and the use of the weapon was an "emergency response."
Worse, after claiming to banish these two skinheads, video emerges with the national leader standing on stage with the two at a rally, praising them and welcoming them back into the skinhead nation.
Every American knows what should happen on these facts. Sadly, these facts are precisely identical to what happened in Philadelphia, except the races are reversed.
Someone with some intellectual honesty please explain to all of us something. In the future, how can the DOJ stop the behavior I described above? The dismissal of the case against the New Black Panthers harms future efforts to stop voter intimidation, especially on any fact pattern less egregious than what happened in Philadelphia.
The only thing devoid of intellectual honesty here is Adams' argument. Adams joined the Bush-era Justice Department voting section in 2005. According to Thomas Perez, the assistant attorney general for the Civil Rights Division, the Justice Department in 2006 declined to bring charges against members of the Minutemen, one of whom reportedly carried a gun while they allegedly attempted to intimidate Hispanic voters outside a polling station in Arizona. By contrast, the Justice Department under the Obama administration successfully obtained default judgment against Samir Shabazz, the member of the New Black Panther Party who carried a weapon outside a polling station on Election Day 2008. The Obama DOJ has also requested additional judgment against black leaders in Mississippi who were found to have discriminated against white voters.
Of course, in 2006 Fox News never told the media to cover the alleged voter intimidation.