The Drudge Report is hyping a discredited attack that Elena Kagan's past praise of former Israeli Supreme Court Justice Aharon Barak is evidence that she is outside of the mainstream. In fact, conservative Justice Antonin Scalia and former Reagan administration Solicitor General Charles Fried also praised Barak.
In a June 21 Investors Business Daily column--which is being hyped by the Drudge Report--Thomas Sowell falsely claims that President Obama "extract[ed] vast sums of money" from BP and is set to "distribute it as he sees fit." In fact, as Media Matters has repeatedly noted, the account came as a result of negotiations between BP and the White House and will be administered by an independent third party. Sowell also repeatedly compared Obama to Hitler and described Obama's supporters as "useful idiots."
From Sowell's June 21 column:
When Adolf Hitler was building up the Nazi movement in the 1920s, leading up to his taking power in the 1930s, he deliberately sought to activate people who did not normally pay much attention to politics.
Such people were a valuable addition to his political base, since they were particularly susceptible to Hitler's rhetoric and had far less basis for questioning his assumptions or his conclusions.
"Useful idiots" was the term supposedly coined by V.I. Lenin to describe similarly unthinking supporters of his dictatorship in the Soviet Union.
Put differently, a democracy needs informed citizens if it is to thrive, or ultimately even survive.
In our times, American democracy is being dismantled, piece by piece, before our very eyes by the current administration in Washington, and few people seem to be concerned about it.
Just where in the Constitution of the United States does it say that a president has the authority to extract vast sums of money from a private enterprise and distribute it as he sees fit to whomever he deems worthy of compensation? Nowhere.
And yet that is precisely what is happening with a $20 billion fund to be provided by BP to compensate people harmed by their oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico.
Many among the public and in the media may think that the issue is simply whether BP's oil spill has damaged many people, who ought to be compensated.
But our government is supposed to be "a government of laws and not of men."
If our laws and our institutions determine that BP ought to pay $20 billion -- or $50 billion or $100 billion -- then so be it.
But the Constitution says that private property is not to be confiscated by the government without "due process of law."
Technically, it has not been confiscated by Barack Obama, but that is a distinction without a difference.
At about the same time, during the worldwide Great Depression, the German Reichstag passed a law "for the relief of the German people."
That law gave Hitler dictatorial powers that were used for things going far beyond the relief of the German people -- indeed, powers that ultimately brought a rain of destruction down on the German people and on others.
If the agreement with BP was an isolated event, perhaps we might hope that it would not be a precedent. But there is nothing isolated about it.
The man appointed by President Obama to dispense BP's money as the administration sees fit, to whomever it sees fit, is only the latest in a long line of presidentially appointed "czars" controlling different parts of the economy, without even having to be confirmed by the Senate, as Cabinet members are.
Those who cannot see beyond the immediate events to the issues of arbitrary power -- vs. the rule of law and the preservation of freedom -- are the "useful idiots" of our time. But useful to whom?
There are some things I'll always remember about the winter months of 2010. My travels among the Tea Party, for one thing, and getting stuck in Nashville to watch the Saints finally win a Super Bowl. Oh yeah -- and the non-stop parade of weather stories on the Drudge Report -- snowbound D.C., blizzards threatening public hearings on climate change.
Here's what Drudge and his pals were up to back in early February:
Earlier this week, Rush Limbaugh and other conservative commentators made light of the fact that the announcement of the creation of a new federal climate service on Monday had to be conducted by conference call, rather than news conference, because the federal government was shuttered by the storm.
As the first blizzard howled last weekend, the Virginia Republican Party put up an advertisement on the Web — titled "12 Inches of Global Warming" — criticizing two Virginia Democrats, Representatives Rick Boucher and Tom Perriello, who voted for the federal cap-and-trade legislation last year.
So guess what. Summer arrived officially today.
And it's hot. Real hot. Hotter than it normally is this time of year, and it's going to stay that way for a while. Here in Philadelphia, the mercury is going to top out at or above 90 all week, with high humidity. So I raced over to the Drudge Report, and you'll be shocked, shocked to learn there was nothing there about high temps or how that was going to change the debate on manmade global warming.
And truth be told, a hot week in June in the U.S. Northeast shouldn't impact the debate on climate change -- because that's only weather. What we need to watch is climate -- longer and more gradual shifts in planetary temperatures over time -- and the news in that department ought to be Drudge-worthy (he does rule our world, after all) even it it is not:
New data from some of the world's leading climate researchers and institutions suggest that 2010 is shaping up to be one of the warmest years ever recorded.
Scientists at the US National Snow and Ice Centre Data Centre (NSIDC) report today that Arctic sea ice – frozen seawater that floats on the ocean surface – is now at its lowest physical extent ever recorded for the time of year, suggesting that it is on course to break the previous record low set in 2007.
Satellite monitoring by the NSIDC in Boulder, Colorado, shows that the melting of sea ice has been unusually fast this year, with as much as 40,000 sq km now disappearing daily.
Meanwhile, here's a good new piece from Cynthia Tucker of the the Atlanta Journal-Constitution on the dangers of climate change denial in Washington.
Ironically, there's new talk of a push for energy legislation in Washington -- but it's because of the BP oil spill, and not because the earth is getting hotter.
And it's certainly not because of the pictures and headlines on the Drudge Report.
The Drudge Report and Ace of Spades both falsely suggested Rep. Bart Stupak said money in the BP escrow account could be used to "fund" national health care reform. In fact, Stupak said a "legitimate" use of the money would be to pay for the health care of those who lost their jobs and insurance due to the oil spill.
Under the headline "Barack Petroleum," the Drudge Report is highlighting recent comments made by oil and gas executives expressing support for comprehensive energy reform to connect the Obama administration's support for energy reform legislation to BP. But Obama's support for comprehensive reform long predates the comments -- made at a June 15 congressional hearing -- Drudge is amplifying, and he provides no indication of why industry support for reform is problematic.
From the Drudge Report, accessed June 15:
From the Drudge Report, accessed June 15:
The headline linked to this Daily Mail article.
From the June 9 edition of Fox News' America Live:
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Right-wing media have rushed to attack President Obama for responding to criticism that he spends too much time consulting experts rather than "kick[ing some butt]" by saying, "I want to know whose ass to kick." Many conservative media figures previously hyped criticism that Obama lacked emotion in his response to the oil spill.
From the front page of the Drudge Report, accessed June 7, 2010:
The image and headline linked to this clip.
Right-wing media are comparing false allegations that the White House "bribed" Rep. Joe Sestak (D-PA) with an administration job to the Watergate scandal. In fact, legal experts have rejected the claims that such offers are a bribe or are illegal.
Media outlets have misleadingly claimed that President Obama is "the single largest recipient of BP's cash" to back up Sarah Palin's baseless suggestion that contributions from oil companies have affected Obama's response to the Gulf oil spill. In fact, the money comes almost entirely from individuals employed by BP, not the corporation itself, and represents a minuscule fraction of Obama's total campaign contributions.
The Drudge Report is hyping a severely edited video of former Vice President Al Gore's recent commencement address at the University of Tennessee-Knoxville under the mocking headline, "Gore Gives Depressing Commencement Speech On Global Warming."
Drudge links to Real Clear Politics, which posted the video -- produced by Americans for Prosperity, the tea party-affiliated group reportedly financed by oil and gas tycoon David Koch -- and echoed AFP's derisive headline, "The Most Depressing Graduation Speech Ever."
Essentially, AFP grabbed about two minutes worth of cropped comments from Gore's 20-minute speech -- during which he discussed some of the potential effects of global warming -- and spliced them together to make it seem like Gore spent his time ripping the joy and emotion from graduation day by warning of Earth's impending doom. In a blog post that RCP dutifully reprinted, AFP mockingly wrote: "Instead of providing encouragement for the graduates of the University of Tennessee, Al Gore takes the opportunity to promote his doomsday global warming scenario."
In reality, Gore did not "promote" "doomsday global warming scenarios." The full video of Gore's speech makes clear that while Gore discussed serious problems facing not only the United States but the entire world -- primarily the effects of climate change and the global economic crisis -- he used the opportunity to issue a challenge to the graduates to find solutions to these problems that will lead to "economic renewal with millions of good new jobs being created in this transition to a sustainable economy and a sustainable society." In fact, he rejected the idea of a "world filled with chaos because the predictions of the scientists were allowed to come true," saying that he believed this generation of graduates would "find the moral courage to rise up and solve a crisis that so many said was impossible to solve."
Gore also said: "I believe in my heart that we are going to solve this crisis. I believe that this is the greatest opportunity that our society has ever had. And I'm excited about the fact that from this day forward, you're going to be a part of all of the great work that our society is doing."
Surely this sent the graduates into a fit of despair. Here's how one graduate described Gore's speech:
Bo Cox, a newly-minted graduate, said he was unsure about Gore's appearance at first.
"I was a little skeptical about what he'd say but really impressed by it. It was fun to have him speak and fun to have a big name at our commencement," Cox said.
Matt Drudge posted a headline stating that Elena Kagan is " 'Not Sympathetic' to Gun Rights Argument," referencing comments Kagan reportedly made in a 1987 memo about an appeal to the Supreme Court. In fact, the view that the Second Amendment does not protect civilian gun rights was generally accepted at the time Kagan wrote those words.
Conservative media have attacked a White House task force's report that recommends voluntary measures to combat the nation's childhood obesity problem as "cutting into our diets and our rights." However, the report makes recommendations for the food industry to voluntarily follow -- not federal mandates.