Archive for May, 2010

Memorial Day

May 30, 2010

Who better to turn to for articulate thoughts than Abraham Lincoln.  The Gettysburg Address:

Four score and seven years ago our fathers brought forth on this continent, a new nation, conceived in Liberty, and dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal.

Now we are engaged in a great civil war, testing whether that nation, or any nation so conceived and so dedicated, can long endure. We are met on a great battle-field of that war. We have come to dedicate a portion of that field, as a final resting place for those who here gave their lives that that nation might live. It is altogether fitting and proper that we should do this.

But, in a larger sense, we can not dedicate — we can not consecrate — we can not hallow — this ground. The brave men, living and dead, who struggled here, have consecrated it, far above our poor power to add or detract. The world will little note, nor long remember what we say here, but it can never forget what they did here. It is for us the living, rather, to be dedicated here to the unfinished work which they who fought here have thus far so nobly advanced. It is rather for us to be here dedicated to the great task remaining before us — that from these honored dead we take increased devotion to that cause for which they gave the last full measure of devotion — that we here highly resolve that these dead shall not have died in vain — that this nation, under God, shall have a new birth of freedom — and that government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth.

Republicans Sometimes Inflate Military Records Too

May 29, 2010

From the Washington Post:

The Republican candidate for President Obama’s old Senate seat has admitted to inaccurately claiming he received the U.S. Navy’s Intelligence Officer of the Year award for his service during NATO’s conflict with Serbia in the late 1990s. Rep. Mark Kirk (Ill.), a Navy reservist who was elected to Congress in 2001, acknowledged the error in his official biography after The Washington Post began looking into whether he had received the prestigious award, which is given by top Navy officials to a
single individual annually.

Oops.

Weekly Media Matters Update

May 29, 2010

Glenn Beck, Sestak-gate, and Arlington-gate on this week’s agenda:

Media Matters: Under pressure, Glenn Beck somehow finds a new low

If you wondered how long it would take Glenn Beck to make his simulation of President Obama pouring gasoline on a person look comparatively tame, the answer is about 13 months.

Welcome to the meltdown. It isn’t pretty.

Apparently feeling pressure from an investigation by Rep. Anthony Weiner into his promotion of Goldline and ongoing scrutiny from Media Matters and others, Beck uncorked an impressively paranoid conspiracy theory this week. According to Beck, the SEIU, AFL-CIO, Van Jones, Jim Wallis, the White House, Rep. Weiner and Media Matters are engaged in “Alinskyite” plots that seek to “destroy” him, his family, Fox News, Christianity, and the Founding Fathers.

Though all facets of this conspiracy theory are equally absurd, it’s worth noting that Beck’s call to “leave the families alone” rings especially hollow when viewed in light of the fact that earlier in the same radio show he suggested that Sasha and Malia Obama think “Jews are destroying the world” because they were exposed to Rev. Jeremiah Wright. Later in the week, he mocked 11-year-old Malia for several minutes on his radio show by impersonating her voice and saying things like “Daddy, why do you hate black people?” He proceeded to attack “the level” of Obama’s daughters’ “education.” Despicable — and entirely in character. While Beck subsequently apologized for his comments mocking Malia Obama, he has yet to address the balance of his attacks against the first family.

Earlier this week, while lauding his supposed Nostradamus-like ability to predict future atrocities, Beck suggested that his detractors merely rely on labeling him crazy, rather than factually debunking his paranoid ranting. Trying to “factually” debunk ideas like a widespread progressive effort to destroy Beck’s family and the Founding Fathers is akin to trying to debunk the conspiracy theory that the world is actually controlled by shape-shifting lizard people: It is self-refuting ridiculousness.

And while the idea that nobody can refute Beck on factual issues is a good line for his viewers, it simply isn’t true. Here are several examples just from this week.

Yet, Beck’s factual inaccuracies pale in comparison to his recent use of violent rhetoric. Starting with his speeches at Liberty University and the National Rifle Association two weeks ago, Beck’s fearmongering about impending violence from progressives has reached a fever pitch.

During a tear-soaked, unhinged commencement speech at Liberty, Beck told graduates that they “have a responsibility” to speak out, or “blood … will be on our hands.” His advice for graduates (as well as his daughter) included “shoot to kill.” He also claimed that God installed an “alarm bell” in people that is telling them that “your rights are being taken.” If you were wondering which rights these might be, he cleared up any confusion later that night during his speech at the NRA, when Beck agreed with Mao Zedong that “power comes from the barrel of a gun,” and then asked the audience, “Why do you think they want to take yours away?”

Since then — keep in mind we’re just talking about the last two weeks here — Beck:

  • informed listeners that “what’s coming is horrific. I don’t even want to speak it out loud.”
  • continued his bizarre obsession with administration official Cass Sunstein, who Beck suggested has “frightening similarities” to Joseph Goebbels and who “controls everything” and “will control your every move.”
  • talked about how the “world is on edge” and told his viewers that “those who survive” will “stand in the truth” and “listen.”
  • discussed the ongoing controversy over Arizona’s immigration law, telling his listeners that “we are being pushed” toward civil war and that Obama is “trying to destroy the country.”
  • told his listeners that “you have to be prepared to take rocks to the head. You have to be prepared to lose everything.”
  • responded to criticism from Media Matters and said, “You will have to shoot me in the head. We are not stopping.”
  • and attacked Jewish Funds for Justice’s Simon Greer for putting “the common good” first, which Beck claimed “leads to death camps,” adding, “a Jew, of all people, should know this.”

While he previously relied on vague hints about what progressives were going to do to people by running “documentaries” supposedly linking Hilter, Stalin, and Mao to progressivism, Beck has now discarded the relative subtlety. On Thursday, Beck continued his recent fearmongering about the “soft revolution” that is supposedly taking place in America (purportedly designed to silence voices like Beck’s), and claimed that if the administration “can’t get everyone to silence, that’s when the arrests come, or that’s when they start a hard revolution. That’s when they start just shooting people.”

Taken as a whole, Beck’s recent actions are outrageous and potentially dangerous. Beck claims that he is a Vatican-approved, “wildly important” warrior fighting on behalf of good against forces of “great darkness.” He also spends a lot of his time boasting about his purported ability to predict — with unerring accuracy — everything that is happening right now. He then transitions into predicting the coming death camps, imprisonments, shootings, and “rivers of blood” as a result of progressive policies.

What, exactly, is Beck trying to do here? Is this the kind of guy the GOP wants to elevate as the heir-apparent to Rush Limbaugh as the leader of the party?

Bored conservatives break out the impeachment card

Frankly, I’m surprised it took conservative media figures almost a year and a half to manufacture a reason to start clapping excitedly about impeaching President Obama.

Unsurprisingly, it’s a bunch of overblown nonsense.

Rep. Joe Sestak (D-PA) said that the Obama administration offered him a job in order to convince him to avoid a primary fight with Arlen Specter for a Senate seat in Pennsylvania. This is far from an unprecedented political gesture. For example, in 1981, the Reagan administration reportedly offered former California Sen. S.I. Hayawaka a job in the administration in exchange for not seeking re-election.

In the words of George Edwards, professor of political science and the Jordan Chair in presidential studies at Texas A&M University, the Sestak offer is “old news historically.”

Indeed, numerous legal experts have disputed the idea that the Sestak offer would constitute a crime, including former Bush Attorney General Michael Mukasey.

Most media conservatives ignored all of this and went into a full-on feeding frenzy, turning to discredited sources in order to push the falsehood that this constituted “bribery.” They declared the scandal “Obama’s Watergate,” and Glenn Beck, Rush Limbaugh, Dick Morris, and Sean Hannity all contemplated Obama’s impeachment.

Who could have guessed that Beck, Limbaugh, Morris, and Hannity all thought Ronald Reagan should have been impeached?

Following the administration’s response to the scandal today, Bush ethics chief Richard Painter said that there is “[n]o scandal. Time to move on.”

Considering that conservative media outlets thrive on trumped-up, hypocritical nonsense like this, the fact that this is “no scandal” will hardly encourage them to “move on.”

It’s OK if you’re a Republican: Memorial Day edition

On Monday, the Associated Press reported that President Obama would be attending a Memorial Day service in Chicago while Vice President Biden would lay the wreath at Arlington National Cemetery to honor our fallen troops. Hearing the words “Obama” and “troops” in close proximity, conservatives leaped into action.

Beck claimed that he is “sick and tired of people believing the lie” that Obama “has respect for the soldiers.” Erick Erickson labeled Obama’s actions “offensive.” Fox & Friends spent an entire segment discussing how this was “breaking tradition,” with on-screen graphics featuring the text “Trampling On Tradition?”, “Offensive To Soldiers?” and “Memorial Day Miss-Out?”

A few big problems with this attack: First and foremost, Beck’s asinine claim that Obama “decided not to honor the troops” is completely false. Obama will be speaking at a Memorial Day service at an Illinois cemetery that is dedicated as a national cemetery within the Department of Veterans Affairs’s National Cemetery Administration.

Also, despite conservatives’ suggestion that Obama’s decision is somehow unprecedented, it isn’t. Presidents George W. Bush, George H.W. Bush, and Ronald Reagan each missed the wreath laying at Arlington at least once during their presidencies and either marked the occasion elsewhere or sent a proxy in their place.

Conservatives like Erickson were undeterred in the face of these inconvenient facts. In a classic moment of circular logic, Erickson explained on Twitter that even though previous Republican presidents had not gone to Arlington on Memorial Day, Obama’s decision was different because “no one questioned their support for soldiers and belief in American Exceptionalism.” So, Obama hates the military because conservatives like Erickson smear Obama as anti-military. Right.

Hard to argue with logic like that.

This weekly wrap-up was compiled by Media Matters’ Ben Dimiero.

All That Is Wrong with the Roman Catholic Church

May 27, 2010

http://www.nytimes.com/2010/05/27/opinion/27kristof.html?th&emc=th

We don’t excommunicate priests that pleasure themselves with innocent defenseless young children; in most cases we allow them to continue to be priests no less.  But we do boot a nun who agreed to save a life.  Setting aside ideology in favor of reason for a moment, that unborn child was dead either way.  If they didn’t end the pregnancy the mother dies, and if the mother dies so does the fetus.  At 11 weeks there is absolutely no hope of removing the baby prematurely and saving in neo-natal intensive care.  Not even close.  There were two choices; two deaths or one death.  The nun agreed to one death and one life and she gets excommunicated for it.  Things like that really do make it hard to continue to be a member of that church.

Potters Name Conley Coach

May 25, 2010

2001 ELHS grad Nate Conley to be the new boys’ basketball coach at East Liverpool:

http://www.reviewonline.com/page/content.detail/id/527285.html?nav=5010

So now the coaches of both genders are younger than me.  Oh well.  I think its a good move to get someone off of the Nick Aloi coaching tree.  He was a very solid player in his time at the Fieldhouse, and followed it with a good career at Geneva College, and several years as an assistant coach at the small college level.  On the other hand, he has no high school coaching experience, or head coaching experience.  As such, having an old hand like Solterbeck on the staff could be a real asset.

I’m sure some in the community will make the obvious comparison to Beaver Local coach Jake Walgate, who was a teammate of Conley’s at East Liverpool, and then mention Walgate’s struggles.  Of course, he hasn’t had a ton  of basketball talent to work with at the Beaver Dome.

Either way Conley certainly will have some talent to work with next season, but also some challenges.  Marky Thompkins is a legit college-level talent that will be a junior next season.  Hopefully Conley can get Jason Dickey to care about basketball again for his senior season.  Brian Beverly should be recovered from his knee injury.  But the Potters don’t have a ton of apparent depth, especially in the low post.  Frankly, playing a Villanova style “all guards” lineup might be the way they have to go, with Derek Thompson playing a pseudo-post.  I look forward to seeing what Conley can come up with come December.

Jordan Spieth

May 22, 2010

Its not the strongest field this week at the Byron Nelson, but I still don’t think many people thought a 16 year old would be in contention heading into the final round.  Even if he is the 2 time state high school golf champion in Texas:

http://sports.espn.go.com/dallas/golf/news/story?id=5210867

Rather ironic that he is paired with old man Corey Pavin tomorrow!  And, almost irregardless of how the final round plays out, its a great story.  I’m sure CBS is happy to have it to add a little juice to the event.

Weekly Media Matters Update

May 22, 2010

Elena Kagan and Fox dominate this week’s e-mail:

Media Matters: The right wing alleges Kagan hates the Constitution

The relentless right-wing war on Kagan

The right-wing smear campaign against Supreme Court nominee Elena Kagan soldiered on this week, with media figures repeating the falsehood that Kagan “doesn’t like the Constitution” — the First, Second, Fifth, and 14th amendments, in particular.

De facto GOP leader Rush Limbaugh falsely claimed that Kagan has said the government could ban books and pamphlets like Thomas Paine’s Common Sense. Likewise, WorldNetDaily’s Nat Hentoff falsely suggested that Kagan supports prohibiting individuals from distributing pamphlets that criticize the government. In fact, Kagan did not advocate for restrictions on individuals’ rights to political speech. Rather, in her position as solicitor general, she argued that the government could penalize corporations and unions — not individuals — for distributing political pamphlets that advocate for the election or defeat of a candidate, which, she argued, would protect individuals from “distortion of the electioneering that is done by corporations.”

WorldNetDaily’s Aaron Klein also falsely suggested that Kagan supports government “disappear[ing]” some speech and contrasted that claim with Kagan’s statement that government bans on flag burning are unconstitutional. In fact, Kagan has clearly stated that the government “may not restrict” speech simply “because it disagrees with” it. Further, her position that government bans on flag burning are unconstitutional is consistent with conservative Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia’s position.

But despite all the fuss about Kagan’s views on the First Amendment, legal experts — and even Fox News’ Megyn Kelly — agree that Kagan’s views on free speech are in the mainstream.

Next, Townhall.com columnist Ken Klukowski and BigGovernment.com’s Ken Blackwell fearmongered that Kagan was also against the Second Amendment. As evidence, Blackwell and Klukowski cited Kagan’s decision as solicitor general not to file a brief in McDonald v. City of Chicago, a case dealing with the question of whether the Second Amendment individual right to keep and bear arms applies to the states through the “incorporation” doctrine, under which certain protections of the Bill of Rights apply to the states. In fact, Kagan’s decision not to file a brief in this particular kind of case is in line with what other solicitors general have done in the past. As the Constitutional Accountability Center’s Doug Kendall pointed out, the solicitor general actually “has a tradition of not weighing in on incorporation cases at all, regardless of where it may stand on the merits of the case.” Kendall also stated that Kagan’s decision not to file a brief “tells us nothing meaningful about Kagan’s views on the Second Amendment.” As Media Matters has noted, one cannot infer what Kagan’s personal legal opinions are from her actions on behalf of the United States as solicitor general.

On May 20, Glenn Beck falsely claimed on his radio show that Kagan supports holding suspected terrorists “without due process, indefinitely.” In fact, during her February 2009 solicitor general confirmation hearing, Kagan agreed that a detainee “has to have substantial due process” and that an “independent judiciary” would have to ultimately decide if a detainee is an enemy combatant.

This week, the smear that Kagan is “anti-military” also refused to die. A May 18 Washington Times editorial falsely claimed that Kagan “bann[ed] military recruiters from Harvard Law School” and baselessly claimed: “It’s obvious where her heart is — and that’s not with Americans in uniform.” Similarly, Kurt Schlichter wrote in a Times op-ed that Kagan and HLS “hold those who wear a uniform of the United States military in contempt.”

But as Media Matters has documented, Kagan’s support for the military is well established. Kagan frequently expresses respect for the military while denouncing its Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell policy as discriminatory. Students had access to military recruiters during Kagan’s entire tenure as dean through the Harvard Law School Veterans Association. Also, Harvard Law veterans have debunked this claim, among them one who wrote in The Washington Post today that Kagan “treated the veterans at Harvard like VIPs, and she was a fervent advocate of our veterans association.”

Even Fox NewsBrit Hume doesn’t buy these baseless attacks on Kagan, saying that “there’s no evidence” that Kagan is extreme. Likewise, Andrew Napolitano, Lis Wiehl, and Stephen Hayes have praised Kagan. If all of Fox News isn’t even on board, it might be time for the right-wing noise machine to give it a rest.

For an updated list of myths and falsehoods about Elena Kagan’s Supreme Court nomination, click here.

Fox’s race problem continues

Fox Sports looked a little bit like Fox News this week after comments made by Fox Sports host Chris Myers on Monday about the victims of Hurricane Katrina. Speaking about the flooding in Nashville, Myers stated: “We have disasters issues when people pull together and help themselves and I thought the people in Tennessee, unlike — I’m not going to name names — when a natural disaster hits, people weren’t standing on a rooftop trying to blame the government, OK.” Myers went on to refer to the people of Nashville as “hardworking, tax-paying, legal American citizens.” Myers’ comments were of course obtuse and offensive. Over 1,800 people perished in Katrina, many from drowning. The people on the rooftops did have a message directed at the government — “HELP!”

Myers earned “Worst Person” honors and Ed Schultz pointed out that Myers has “Fox News potential” and “drove right into the Rush Limbaugh territory.” Fox Sports president Ed Goren told Media Matters that there would be “internal discussions” about Myers’ comments and then later said it was a “serious elevated discussion with Mr. Myers.”

On Thursday night, Myers and Goren reportedly called New Orleans Mayor Mitch Landrieu to apologize, and Myers issued a written apology to Landrieu stating, in part, “I would very much like to apologize to you and the people of New Orleans for the inappropriate and insensitive remarks I made this past Monday. Clearly, these remarks demonstrated poor judgment and I sincerely regret making them.”

Myers’ comments are just the latest example of News Corp.’s race problem, a problem that usually rears its ugly head on Fox News. On Thursday, John Stossel defended comments made by Rand Paul, the Republican Senate candidate in Kentucky, in which Paul criticized the public accommodation section of the Civil Rights Act. Stossel said: “I would go further than he was willing to go, as he just issued the statement, and say it’s time now to repeal that part of the law.” He explained: “[P]rivate businesses ought to get to discriminate. And I won’t ever go to a place that’s racist and I will tell everybody else not to and I’ll speak against them. But it should be their right to be racist.” According to Stossel’s logic, those businesses that discriminated “eventually” would have “lost business. The free market competition would have cleaned the clocks of the people who didn’t serve most customers.”

In fact, Stossel’s comments were as erroneous as they were offensive. In an interview with Media Matters, Andrew Grant-Thomas, deputy director of the Ohio State University’s Kirwan Institute for the Study of Race and Ethnicity, characterized Stossel’s comments as “a silly statement,” adding, “Market forces hadn’t exactly made anti-black discrimination disappear during the several centuries before the Civil Rights Act.”

Conservative media boycotts legitimate public debate on immigration

Conservative media had some fun this week with the news that Attorney General Eric Holder and Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano had expressed concerns about Arizona’s new immigration law before personally reading the text of the statute. (Because if there’s anyone who reserves judgment about a bill before they have read through it, it’s certainly the right-wing media.) So far it hasn’t been shown that Holder or Napolitano misunderstand the law or that they have misrepresented its provisions. Which is more than we can say for Fox News.

Among the immigration misinformation pushed by Fox this week: the claim that the Arizona law directs law enforcement officers to question the immigration status of only those already suspected of committing an unrelated crime; the claim that prior to the new law, police officers in Arizona “could not ask” about the immigration status of criminals; the claim that it is “a gigantic lie” that the law could result in racial profiling; and the myth that border states are “inundated with violence and with crime” caused by undocumented immigrants.

When they weren’t misrepresenting the law and the situation in Arizona, conservative media were accusing the Obama administration of “apologizing” for America by publicly stating its unease about Arizona’s law. First, Assistant Secretary of State Michael Posner said in a briefing that the Arizona law was discussed during talks with China as “an indication that we have to deal with issues of discrimination or potential discrimination.” Then, President Obama stated in a press conference with Mexican President Felipe Calderon that the Arizona law “has the potential of being applied in a discriminatory fashion.” Never mind that conservatives, including several on Fox News, have also criticized the law. You’re not supposed to do it with foreigners around. Why? Because Glenn Beck — yes, Glenn. Beck. — says we’re “a family.”

Fox also accused Obama of maligning law-enforcement officers by saying that racial discrimination could result from the implementation of the Arizona law. And Fox went after Calderon for saying that the law will lead to racial profiling. The law, they insist, specifically prohibits racial profiling. Only problem is, legal experts say the language of the statue does not actually settle the question of whether racial profiling will occur. Indeed, law-enforcement officers and legal experts have reason to believe it inevitably will.

Rather than hosting any of those legal experts to discuss immigration, Fox News did bring on Phil Kent to attack a Georgia college student who was recently found to be undocumented. Kent works for an organization with close ties to white nationalists and for its sister organization, which laments on its website that “fewer than 15% of our immigrants come from Europe and share the heritage that made America strong.” According to The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, Kent himself was widely regarded as “racist” when he presided over the editorial page of The Augusta Chronicle. Kent has called Obama “the dangerous, anti-white multiculturalist.”

And if you thought this debate couldn’t get more worthless, conservative media also spent some time this week speculating about whether Miss Oklahoma did not win the Miss USA pageant because during the part of the pageant where they’re allowed to speak, Miss Oklahoma said she supports Arizona’s right to pass the immigration law.

This weekly wrap-up was compiled by Jocelyn Fong, Brian Frederick, and Brooke Obie.

PA Faces Specter of Senate Without Arlen

May 19, 2010

At the age of 80 Democratic voters in Pennsylvania denied the chance at a 6th term to the man who was swept into the World’s Greatest Deliberative Body on the 1980 coattails of Ronald Reagan.  The race got a lot of national attention the past couple days, and predictably some of that coverage was more accurate than others.  A lot is being said tying this result to the anti-incumbency wave hitting the electorate this spring.  But that is a gross over-simplification.  Specter probably could have survived that; remember he (barely) survived Lynn Yeakle’s 1992 challenge after his vicious attacks on Anita Hill.  Governor Rendell blamed the rain causing a low voter turnout in Philadelphia.  No sale.  The bottom line is Democrats in the Commonwealth couldn’t bring themselves to vote for a guy that had been a Republican for 29 years.  Its really that simple.

The ironic thing is Specter wasn’t always a Republican.  He was a registered Democrat working for the prosecutor’s office in Philadelphia in the late 1950s.  But Philadelphia at the time was controlled by a strong Democratic machine, which he was never going to be fully in favor with.  So when the Republican Party approached him about running for District Attorney on their ticket, Arlen, always the opportunist, agreed.  And he won.  And a Republican, albeit an independent thinker increasingly more moderate than the core of his party, he remained through several losses before he won a Senate seat in 1980.

Ultimately it was the Club for Growth that led to the demise of Specter.  He barely held off Pat Toomey in 2004 but with the political winds in the Republican Party continuing to blow more to the right Specter knew he could never win that primary.  So, ever the opportunist, perhaps nostalgic for his youth, he came back to the Democrats.  Kind of like Annikin Skywalker, who was a Jedi in his youth, spent his most powerful years working for the Dark Side, and who then came back to the Good Side in the final act 🙂  It allowed him to be part of a (short-lived) super majority in the Senate and be in the same party as the current President.  Also, as part of his deal he had the backing of the Democratic Establishment in DC and also in Ed Rendell, so it looked like Arlen was correct in saying, “my change in party will enable me to be re-elected.”  But Joe Sestak refused to make it that easy, and when his campaign managed to look viable, too many Democrats remembered Anita Hill, remember the farce of equivocation of “not proven”, and went with the career Democrat.

Rendell and the White House backed Specter as part of the super majority deal they struck with Specter, but I doubt deep down any of them mind running Sestak.  On issues he’s really no different than post-conversion Specter.  But he’s 21 years younger and a retired Navy Admiral.  I look for him to do fine against Toomey in the fall.  Also, whoever the consultant was that came up with the ad I alluded to above, he/she should have no trouble at all finding lucrative work in that business.  A line I would assume is already forming outside his door of prospective clients.

In the all-important Eastern PA/Western PA dichotomy which has recently been dominated by Philadelphia, a change is coming.  The Philly Rendell will be replaced with a Pittsburgher; for the first time since 1978 both parties nominated someone from the Steel City.  Of course, they didn’t reincarnate Dick Thornburg and Pete Flaherty.  Instead we have the Republican State Attorney General Tom Corbett and the Democratic Allegheny County Executive Dan Onorato.  My recommendation to Onorato is that he get himself well-known in the Philly suburbs.

Weekly Media Matters Update

May 16, 2010

This week’s e-mail is all Elena Kagen:

Media Matters: Conservatives claim Kagan is an inexperienced, socialist, Marxist bad driver who hates the military and wants to steal your guns

Well, that was predictable.

As we saw last year with the nomination of Justice Sonia Sotomayor, few events unleash a bigger torrent of conservative misinformation than when a Democratic president nominates someone to the Supreme Court. But there was a chance, albeit small, that this time might be different.

By all reasonable accounts, Elena Kagan does not fit the Marxist/socialist mold into which conservative media like to shoehorn all prominent figures to the left of Glenn Beck. (This is not to suggest that Sotomayor fit, either.) In fact, prior to — and in the days following — her nomination, numerous conservatives and legal scholars praised Kagan. Reagan Solicitor General Charles Fried endorsed Kagan’s nomination, describing her as “supremely intelligent” and “an effective, powerful person.” Bush judicial nominee Miguel Estrada called Kagan a “rigorous lawyer” who “should be confirmed.” Even Fox News personalities joined the chorus of praise, with reporter Shannon Bream calling her a “brilliant individual” with a “fantastic resume.” Fox News senior judicial analyst Andrew Napolitano said that Kagan’s credentials are “impeccable.”

Of course, it’s naïve to think the conservative noise machine would sit on its hands and not seize a good opportunity to rile up its base. After all, the conservative movement is fueled — both monetarily and electorally — by a cynical mix of outright misinformation and fearmongering about all things conservatives perceive as not conservative.

Prior to Kagan’s nomination, conservatives telegraphed their upcoming efforts to oppose any nominee, regardless of opinions or qualifications. Bill Kristol, who by this point is qualified to teach a master’s-level course in shameless dishonesty, said in April that while he “endorsed Elena Kagan,” Republicans “should oppose her anyway.” National Review Online said that the “question for conservatives will be not whether but how” to oppose the eventual nominee. Foreshadowing his future efforts to set the new land-speed record for lies about a Supreme Court nominee, Sean Hannity agreed that “it’s always good to have a fight over the courts.”

Additionally, as TPM reported earlier this week, conservative activist Curt Levey — whom the media should stop quotingcounseled the GOP on delaying the eventual confirmation to help block the president’s agenda. In a recording of a conference call between Levey and “Republican operatives,” Levey made it clear that conservatives shouldn’t be bound by pesky things like reality and honesty when opposing the eventual nominee. From TPM’s Brian Beutler:

Levey acknowledged that a filibuster likely won’t last–that Obama’s nominee, now known to be Solicitor General Elana Kagan, will almost certainly be confirmed. But he hammered home the point to Republicans that there’s value in mischaracterizing any nominee, and dragging the fight out as long as possible, whether or not Obama’s choice is particularly liberal.

“We wouldn’t have a lot to object to if it was [Interior Secretary Ken] Salazar. He’s quite moderate as Democrats come,” Levey admitted. “We’re not necessarily going to say that if he’s nominated, but I think that’s the truth.” Emphasis mine. This advice was met with laughter by one of the listeners on the call. (Salazar was cited in early reports as a long-shot candidate on Obama’s short list.)

So, conservatives made clear that their eventual opposition of Obama’s Supreme Court nominee would be motivated by political gain, with Levey suggesting that lying would be a good way to accomplish this goal.

And lie they did.

The two main themes that have dominated conservative attempts to derail Kagan’s confirmation have been that she lacks judicial experience and is “anti-military.” These are both rooted in blatant falsehoods, so let’s tackle them one at a time.

Immediately following Obama’s announcement of Kagan, Fox News, RedState, and several other conservative outlets rushed to brand her as “Obama’s Harriet Miers,” a comparison that conservatives themselves say doesn’t hold water.

The argument that Kagan’s lack of judicial experience should disqualify her is asinine for several reasons. First, it is far from unprecedented to have Supreme Court justices who’ve never served as judges. More than a third of justices had no prior judicial experience when they were first nominated to the court, including two of the past four chief justices and seven of the nine justices who decided Brown v. Board of Education.

In fact, Kagan’s legal experience is comparable to that of William Rehnquist, Clarence Thomas, and John Roberts at the time of their nominations.

But experience doesn’t matter if you hate the military, right? Kristol helped to get the ball rolling on this front, claiming on Monday that Kagan has a “hostility to the U.S. military” and urging conservatives to fight her confirmation. This may strike you as strange considering Kristol had previously “endorsed” Kagan — then again, if you are at all familiar with Kristol’s “work,” you’ll realize this probably doesn’t even rank in the top 100 most absurdly dishonest things he’s ever done.

The “anti-military” attacks on Kagan have hinged on the claim that she kicked military recruiters off campus at Harvard. First of all, most people who are “anti-military” don’t usually describe serving in the military as the “noblest of all professions.” But more substantively, Kagan did not actually kick military recruiters off campus at Harvard. Conservatives (looking at you, Sean) are having a hard time grasping this simple fact. Again, Elena Kagan did not “throw,” “kick,” “boot,” “ban,” or “bar” military recruiters from Harvard’s campus while she was dean of Harvard Law School. Harvard Law students still had access to military recruiters during her tenure. In fact, military recruitment at Harvard Law was not even diminished during Kagan’s tenure.

So, there go those talking points — but of course those weren’t the only smears conservatives tried to lob at Kagan. As Media Matters president Eric Burns said on MSNBC this week, “conservatives have nothing” so “they’re throwing everything at the wall.”

Indeed, we haven’t even covered some of the more ridiculous smears. Let’s take a quick tour of some of the inane things conservative media figures and outlets threw at the wall this week.

Walking embarrassment/Human Events editor Jason Mattera led the race to the bottom with an attack on Kagan’s looks. Mattera said that Kagan, Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano, and Sotomayor all “look like linebackers for the New York JETS.” Responding to a caller who referred to Kagan as a “horrendous creature,” radio host Michael Savage said that “although I find it personally grotesque, there are many who find it attractive. … Let’s talk about her radical, Marxist policies.”

Numerous conservative media figures seized on Kagan’s college thesis to claim, as Rush Limbaugh put it, that “it is clear this babe is hot for socialism.” Conservatives have run with this ridiculous claim despite the fact that the thesis did not express support for either socialism or radicalism.

Limbaugh and Beck claimed Kagan wants to censor right-wing speech. This is literally the opposite of true. In the article they cite, Kagan stated that the government “may not restrict” speech “because it disagrees with … the ideas espoused by the speaker.”

Taking a break from looking for Obama’s birth certificate and Noah’s Ark, WorldNetDaily.com distorted Kagan’s record to fabricate the smear that Kagan essentially supported terrorism sponsors.

Byron York, with an assist from Fox News, forwarded a decade-old smear against Kagan that even NRO judicial attack dog Ed Whelan called “highly speculative.”

Speaking of Whelan, he spent most of the week making things up, and actually hit Kagan for being a bad driver.

And it wouldn’t be a Supreme Court confirmation “debate” if conservatives didn’t tell their base the evil liberal judge wants to steal their guns. So they went ahead and lied about that, too.

So, just to recap: According to the unhinged right, Elena Kagan is an inexperienced, socialist, Marxist, anti-military, free-speech-censoring bad driver who supports terrorism and wants to steal your guns.

Not only are the smears the same — always — but we were also reminded that some other things never change. Namely, Bill O’Reilly has absolutely no idea what he’s talking about.

Oh, and Pat Buchanan still has a problem with “Jews.”

This weekly wrap-up was compiled by Media Matters’ Ben Dimiero.

Pens Go Out With a Whimper, Not a Bang

May 13, 2010

Damn was that a pathetic outing in Game 7.  I can understand losing, but for the first half of that game it seemed that the Pens just didn’t give a damn.  It was an incredibly lame penalty call against Crosby, but the usually listless penalty kill was even more listless than usual and it was 1-0.  From there the Pens blah’ed their way along.  Orpik wastes his time grinding a guy into the back of the net, then wanders aimlessly in front just in time to screen Fleury; 2-0.  Defense backpedals and blithely watches the Habs pass it around until Cammileri is wide  open for the zillionth time in the series; 3-0.  Turnover while on the power play, Gonchar  waves at the guy on his way to the net; 4-0 and Fleury is benched.  Then they wake up and if they could’ve beaten Halak on the power play early in the 3rd they may’ve actually perpetrated a fraud on the sporting world and won the game.  But of course they didn’t.

The inevitable next morning postmortems focus in a few directions:

1) It would help if the Pens had defensive-minded defensemen.  The problem wasn’t that Hal Gill was marking Crosby.  The problem is Hal Gill wasn’t playing for the Penguins.  And neither was Rob Scuderi.  The only good defenseman the Pens had left was Brooks Orpik.  Gonchar, Letang, and Goligoski are all better on offense, Eaton and Leopold are solid but unremarkable.  That meant every defense pairing had only one guy that was decent at playing defense.

2) Sid & Geno were non-factors.  Personally, I credit the Habs for that.

3) Fatigue.  Earlier in this playoffs the Pens hit the 300 games the past 3 seasons mark.  Additionally, several players participated in the Olympics this past February.

4) Fleury was inconsistent.  Personally I don’t put much stock in that.  They won when he played outstanding, but you can’t expect outstanding every night.

5) The Habs beat them.  More to the point, Halak beat them.

6) Stubborness.  Specifically, the Pens thought if they just kept playing “their game” everything would be fine they would overcome Montreal.  As such they never game-planned for the Canadiens.  If they had put resources into frustrating Cammilerri and Gionta the Habs would’ve scored like twice the whole series and the Pens could’ve won 2-0 type games instead of losing 3-2 type games.

The pity for Montreal fans is they don’t have anything to do now.  They just rioted after winning a conference semifinal.  What do they do if they win the Conference?  Shove the entire city into the St. Lawrence River?  Also, the ungrateful ignats won’t have Sidney Crosby, ie their national Savior, to heckle anymore.  If I had to watch one more game at the Bell Center w/ those absurd “Crosby sux” chants I would’ve driven up there and personally throttled 20,000 people one at a time with my bare hands.  What a bunch of dipshits.  The dude saved all your asses just 2.5 months ago.  You don’t have to applaud him every time he gets the puck.  But polite applause at player intros and then a non-reaction during the game would’ve indicated a level of intelligence above that of your typical potted plant.