Tag Archives: David Freddoso

Introduction To Catholicism And Modern Catholic Thought Not Being Offered For Fall Semester

Associated Press:

The University of Illinois has fired an adjunct professor who taught courses on Catholicism after a student accused the instructor of engaging in hate speech by saying he agrees with the church’s teaching that homosexual sex is immoral.

The professor, Ken Howell of Champaign, said his firing violates his academic freedom. He also lost his job at an on-campus Catholic center.

Howell, who taught Introduction to Catholicism and Modern Catholic Thought, says he was fired at the end of the spring semester after sending an e-mail explaining some Catholic beliefs to his students preparing for an exam.

“Natural Moral Law says that Morality must be a response to REALITY,” he wrote in the e-mail. “In other words, sexual acts are only appropriate for people who are complementary, not the same.”

An unidentified student sent an e-mail to religion department head Robert McKim on May 13, calling Howell’s e-mail “hate speech.” The student claimed to be a friend of the offended student. The writer said in the e-mail that his friend wanted to remain anonymous.

“Teaching a student about the tenets of a religion is one thing,” the student wrote. “Declaring that homosexual acts violate the natural laws of man is another.”

Howell said he was teaching his students about the Catholic understanding of natural moral law.

“My responsibility on teaching a class on Catholicism is to teach what the Catholic Church teaches,” Howell said in an interview with The News-Gazette in Champaign. “I have always made it very, very clear to my students they are never required to believe what I’m teaching and they’ll never be judged on that.”

Don Suber:

He taught “Introduction to Catholicism and Modern Catholic Thought.”

Teaching Catholicism and Modern Catholic Thought to students in an “Introduction to Catholicism and Modern Catholic Thought” class is against the law in Illinois.

David Freddoso at The Examiner:

The e-mail in question discussed the differences between consequentialist moral thought (the idea that an act’s morality can be determined by its consequences) and morality based in natural law, which depends only on the acts themselves. It’s pretty hard to discuss morality without having this discussion.

The email offered homosexuality and other sexual behaviors that are against church teaching (everything from the use of contraception in marriage to sex with children) as examples of things that a consequentialist might approve of under the right circumstances, whereas a Catholic cannot approve under any circumstances.

Unfortunately, this conversation about the class’s subject matter is verboten. Someone who apparently doesn’t even take the class or understand the subject matter decided to report this academic conversation to the campus gestapo. This is what we call the Dictatorship of Moral Relativism. We live in America, where only Islam receives such deference.

Emily Zanotti at Chicago Now:

First off, let me say that I am Catholic – hardcore – and that I’ve had a significant amount of instruction on the subject of Catholic Social Teaching, which is why when this story came out, I went to find the emails, which, of course, had been conveniently posted for me on the Interwebs.

I have to say, I’m not buying the kid’s side of the story for a couple of reasons.

One, the Catholic Church does actually believe that homosexual acts violate the natural laws of man, and Dr. Ken does a pretty fantastic job of laying out about ten years worth of education on the matter. Like it or not (and I’m guessing, in the general population, you’ll find more people siding with the latter), the Church has some strong feelings about two men or two women doing it, and those strong feelings are not open to interpretation, though I’m sure there are some modern scholars who like to pretend that Catholicism has a liberal American brand that is a fully competing dogma rather than the slips of paper in a Vatican suggestion box they happen to be. Fr. Pfleger comes to mind. At any rate, the Catholic Church is pretty damned clear on this stuff, no pun intended, and Dr. Ken was stating, pretty comprehensively, the party line. Better than a lot of people, I might add. In other words, Dr. Ken wasn’t just making sh*t up for the purposes of pissing off an entire demographic. And, for what it’s worth, the discussion never went into a judgment on the people having Teh Gay Sex, just the nature of the act itself, which is frankly unusual when people discuss this stuff. And admirable, because it’s pretty clear he’s trying to discuss this matter in a way that doesn’t disrespect the reader.

Two, I find it hard to believe that, when one signs up for a class on Catholicism, even at a major university, that one won’t expect to be taught the tenets of Catholicism. Call me crazy, but generally, a course on Catholic teaching would probably involve teaching what the Catholic Church believes. I would suspect students might also be required to regurgitate this on a test. I suspect that some students may disagree with the subject matter. But I also suspect that by age 20, you’re more inclined to take sources into consideration and approach the subject from an academic, professional standpoint. Put more concisely, if you take a class on a religion knowing you disagree with the tenets of that religion, perhaps you shouldn’t get your panties in a bunch when the professor outlines those tenets. Professors should not be required to preface every culturally “controversial” statement they make on any subject with “If you cannot handle a viewpoint that differs from yours, please stand in the hallway until I can safely call you and your fragile viewpoint back into the conversation.”

This sounds like a disagreement between this kid and the Catholic Church with Dr. Ken caught in the middle, punished for just being a member. The disagreement is understandable. I mean, I get it. Try rectifying a libertarian viewpoint with a strong Catholic faith, and yeah, I get it. The firing over the disagreement, however, is not. If you don’t like the Catholic faith, take it out on the Catholic faith, not the people teaching about it. You’re not going to like the result of that little game; if it’s true that speaking the realities of a faith are enough to disqualify a professor from academia, then honesty about sex is going to disqualify pretty much every professor of any dogma at any academic institution anywhere in the United States.

Like it or not, the world is not full of people who subscribe to the happy-clappy, Sesame Street, “everyone in the world is friends and nothing you do can ever be judged as objectively wrong” progressive liberal understanding of the universe. Sooner or later, you’re going to have to deal with it, and you’re going to need to be prepared. The whole point of a university is, shockingly, to give people an education: to teach students to think critically about reality and their beliefs, and, more importantly, communicate in the real world where there are, occasionally, ideas and actions that make us uncomfortable. At least, that was the whole point. If you use “people being uncomfortable hearing something they disagree with” as the golden standard for firing professors out of a university, you’ve got a big problem on your hands. The standards of academia and the exchange of ideas that drives them will be pretty much all but lost to a four-year indoctrination program on how to become overly sensitive, easily outraged and how to petition any semblance of authority for the redress of even the most basic of grievances. Not to mention, all sense of critical thinking and rational argument will be erased. That’s cool if you’re, say, in Cuba, but notsomuch in the Western world.

So here’s the gist of it: maybe Catholicism is wrong about homosexual sex (we can hash that puppy out another time), but that doesn’t mean that someone should be fired for teaching an authentic viewpoint. When someone tries to beat an academic institution over the head with idealism, forcing professors to scrub out all the parts that their precious little angles’ ears can’t bear to hear, things get f**ked up. Look at Texas and imagine if this situation were reversed and a “liberal” professor’s head was on the chopping block for teaching the realities of evolution to a student who didn’t like how a fossil record conflicted with his carefully sheltered world view. The effect, and the result, is exactly the same.

PZ Myers at Science Blogs:

I hate to say it, but I think the student was wrong. I read the professor’s email, and I don’t think it is hate speech at all.

It’s stupid speech.

A letter that condemned students, that threatened students if they didn’t agree with his views, that discriminated against a segment of society, or that denied people full participation in the culture for their views or background or private practices…that would be hate speech. This letter, though, is a pedantic and polite explanation of the views of the professor and of the Catholic church and of his interpretation of utilitarianism, and in fact is careful to say that he isn’t condemning any individuals. We can’t endorse using this kind of discussion as an excuse to expel people from academia — we want professors and students to be able to communicate freely with one another, without fear of retaliation. I see no sign that the professor was discussing the matter in a way that disrespects any of his students.

And the student complaining was doing so poorly. The professor’s ideas made him uncomfortable. He disliked what he said. He thought the professor was insensitive.

Those are not good reasons. If a student is never made uncomfortable, that student is not getting an education.

Bad reasons are given, but I still think UI made the right decision in not renewing this guy’s contract. Kenneth Howell is in ignorant fool who mistakes his religious dogma and his personal prejudices for knowledge.

Here’s an example. Keep in mind that this fellow is a professor, supposedly teaching college students something about philosophy. Here he’s trying to explain why homosexuality is wrong.

But the more significant problem has to do with the fact that the consent criterion is not related in any way to the NATURE of the act itself. This is where Natural Moral Law (NML) objects. NML says that Morality must be a response to REALITY. In other words, sexual acts are only appropriate for people who are complementary, not the same. How do we know this? By looking at REALITY. Men and women are complementary in their anatomy, physiology, and psychology. Men and women are not interchangeable. So, a moral sexual act has to be between persons that are fitted for that act. Consent is important but there is more than consent needed.

One example applicable to homosexual acts illustrates the problem. To the best of my knowledge, in a sexual relationship between two men, one of them tends to act as the “woman” while the other acts as the “man.” In this scenario, homosexual men have been known to engage in certain types of actions for which their bodies are not fitted. I don’t want to be too graphic so I won’t go into details but a physician has told me that these acts are deleterious to the health of one or possibly both of the men. Yet, if the morality of the act is judged only by mutual consent, then there are clearly homosexual acts which are injurious to their health but which are consented to. Why are they injurious? Because they violate the meaning, structure, and (sometimes) health of the human body.


Here’s reality. A penis fits nicely in the hand, and a hand is usually better at stimulating the clitoris than a penis in the vagina, and our anatomy is such that our arms are of the right length to comfortably reach our genitals. Therefore, masturbation is a moral sexual act. We can extend this to point out that a man’s hand can stimulate a clitoris and a woman’s hand can stimulate a penis, and therefore, mutual masturbation, as is being practiced by tens of thousands of teenagers on this Friday night, is also a rightful act. There is no practical difference in anatomy or physiology between mutual masturbation between a heterosexual couple and a homosexual couple, so these acts are also entirely natural.

This reasoning can be extended to a great many sexual acts: oral and anal sex, frottage of various kinds, fantasy play, sadomasochism, etc. There are more aspects of male and female anatomy in which they are alike than in which they differ, and in fact the only act which can be uniquely performed by a male and female couple is penile-vaginal intercourse. So this one act out of many is all that this professor can point to in order to justify heterosexuality as the only proper interaction, but this requires ignoring the majority of human sexual behaviors. I have to wonder if all Catholic teaching permits in the bedroom is genital-genital contact. How sad for them.

Rod Dreher:

Read the professor’s own account of his dismissal. I hope we hear the university’s side. Before people take their usual culture-war positions, understand that if the facts are as the professor relates them, this is not essentially a question of whether or not one approves of homosexuality. This is about academic and religious freedom. The professor was teaching a course on Catholicism and Catholic morality. The Catholic Church unambiguously teaches that homosexual expression is immoral. You are perfectly free to disagree with that in a university, but that’s what the Church teaches, and the professor is obligated to present that teaching in a course on Catholicism. According to the professor, students in the past have argued against that position in class, always respectfully. This was the first time an aggrieved student went to pieces over it, and demanded that the university take action against the professor — which it did.

Again, we await the university’s side of the story. But if the facts are substantially the same, then we have a case in which a professor cannot even teach his subject in a straightforward, accurate manner, without putting his job at risk. Is this really the kind of scholarly atmosphere we want? Is it conducive to a free exchange of ideas, and actual learning? As Beckwith writes in his blog commentary, imagine the reverse, and that a Catholic student complained to the university that he felt “excluded” by a gay professor’s arguments in favor of the licitness of homosexuality in a class on LGBT Studies. In what conceivable world would the university fire the professor? What kind of university lets a whinypants student dictate the content of a professor’s course?

I well remember sitting in a history course at LSU in which the professor, an avowed secularist, was making fun of the medieval church. One student stood up, yelled at him for “anti-Christian bigotry,” and stomped out. I felt that the professor really had been laying it on thick re: the Church, but he was an excellent professor, and I could put up with his prejudices because I learned so much from him. Besides, we could dispute him in the classroom with no problem. This isn’t exactly the same thing as the University of Illinois case here, because this history prof could have taught his subject matter that day without snarky editorial commentary about medieval Christianity; it’s hard to see how a professor teaches a class on Catholicism while ignoring the Church’s teaching on sexual morality. Still, that people are so willing to be grievously offended by thoughts that conflict with their own beliefs, and universities and other institutions are willing to kowtow to the most delicate student sensibilities — provided they are expressed by members of politically approved demographic groups — is dreadful for robust, honest discourse, to say nothing of actual scholarship.

Stories like this make one see the university as an increasingly Orwellian place where “tolerance” means putting up with people who already agree with you. To paraphrase Dorothy Parker, their tolerance for religious and academic freedom runs the gamut from A to B.

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Filed under Education, LGBT, Religion

As La Bamba sings: “In The Research Two-Thousand, In The Research Two-Thousand!”

Markos Moulitsas at Daily Kos:

A bit over two weeks ago, a group of statistic wizards (Mark Grebner, Michael Weissman, and Jonathan Weissman) approached me with a disturbing premise — they had been poring over the crosstabs of the weekly Research 2000 polling we had been running, and were concerned that the numbers weren’t legit.

I immediately began cooperating with their investigation, which concluded late last week. Daily Kos furnished the researchers with all available and relevant information in our possession, and we made every attempt to obtain R2K’s cooperation — which, as I detail in my reaction post here — was not forthcoming.  The investigators’ report is below, but its conclusion speaks volumes:

We do not know exactly how the weekly R2K results were created, but we are confident they could not accurately describe random polls.

The full report follows — kos

More Kos:

Since the moment Mark Grebner, Michael Weissman, and Jonathan Weissman approached me, I took their concerns seriously and cooperated fully with their investigation. I also offered to run the results on Daily Kos provided that they 1) fully documented each claim in detail, 2) got that documentation peer reviewed by disinterested third parties, and 3) gave Research 2000 an opportunity to respond. By the end of last week, they had accomplished the first two items on that list. I held publication of the report until today, because I didn’t want to partake in a cliche Friday Bad News Dump. This is serious business, and I wasn’t going to bury it over a weekend.

We contracted with Research 2000 to conduct polling and to provide us with the results of their surveys. Based on the report of the statisticians, it’s clear that we did not get what we paid for. We were defrauded by Research 2000, and while we don’t know if some or all of the data was fabricated or manipulated beyond recognition, we know we can’t trust it. Meanwhile, Research 2000 has refused to offer any explanation. Early in this process, I asked for and they offered to provide us with their raw data for independent analysis — which could potentially exculpate them. That was two weeks ago, and despite repeated promises to provide us that data, Research 2000 ultimately refused to do so. At one point, they claimed they couldn’t deliver them because their computers were down and they had to work out of a Kinkos office. Research 2000 was delivered a copy of the report early Monday morning, and though they quickly responded and promised a full response, once again the authors of the report heard nothing more.

While the investigation didn’t look at all of Research 2000 polling conducted for us, fact is I no longer have any confidence in any of it, and neither should anyone else. I ask that all poll tracking sites remove any Research 2000 polls commissioned by us from their databases. I hereby renounce any post we’ve written based exclusively on Research 2000 polling.

I want to feel stupid for being defrauded, but fact is Research 2000 had a good reputation in political circles. Among its clients the last two years have been KCCI-TV in Iowa, WCAX-TV in Vermont, WISC-TV in Wisconsin, WKYT-TV in Kentucky, Lee Enterprises, the Concord Monitor, The Florida Times-Union, WSBT-TV/WISH-TV/WANE-TV in Indiana, the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, the Bergen Record, and the Reno Gazette-Journal. In fact, just last week, in an email debate about robo-pollsters, I had a senior editor at a top DC-based political publication tell me that he’d “obviously” trust Research 2000 more than any automated pollsters, such as SurveyUSA. I didn’t trust Research 2000 more than I trusted SUSA (given their solid track record), but I did trust them. I got burned, and got burned bad.

I can’t express enough my gratitude to Mark, Michael, and Jonathan for helping bring this to light. Sure, our friends on the Right will get to take some cheap shots, and they should take advantage of the opportunity. But ultimately, this episode validates the reason why we released the internal numbers from Research 2000 — and why every media outlet should do the same from their pollster; without full transparency of results, this fraud would not have been uncovered. As difficult as it has been to learn that we were victims of that fraud, our commitment to accuracy and the truth is far more important than shielding ourselves from cheap shots from the Right.

Soon, we’ll have a new pollster (or pollsters) to work with, helping us to fulfill our vision of surveying races and issues that are often overlooked by the traditional media and polling outfits. As for Research 2000, the lawyers will soon take over, as Daily Kos will be filing suit within the next day or two.

Justin Elliott at Talking Points Memo:

R2K president Del Ali tells TPMmuckraker in an email, “I have much to say, however, I am following my attorney Richard Beckler’ ESQ’s counsel and referring all questions to him. I will tell you unequivocally that we conducted EVERY poll properly for the Daily Kos.”

Beckler is the co-chair of the Securities Litigation, Government Enforcement and White Collar Defense practice at Howrey LLP in Washington. Kos, for his part, tell TPMmuckraker that Daily Kos is represented by Adam Bonin of Cozen O’Connor in Philadelphia. Bonin’s bio says he “represents clients in campaign finance, election law and lobbying compliance matters and has been a leader in efforts on behalf of the rights of online speakers.”

Kos has promised to sue R2K in the next day or two.

R2K is an extremely well-established pollster that has been employed and quoted by countless national and state-level newspapers as its website describes:

Some of our most active media clientele include the Bergen Record, The Raleigh News & Observer, The Concord Monitor, The Manchester Journal Inquirer, The New London Day, The Reno-Gazette, The Fort Lauderdale Sun-Sentinel, The Spokesman-Review, KCCI-Television in Des Moines, Iowa, WRAL-Television in Raleigh, North Carolina, St. Louis Post-Dispatch, and KMOV-Television in St. Louis, Missouri.Our Polls can be seen on CNN’S “Inside Politics” and are also mentioned frequently in the National Journal’s “Political Hotline”, The Washington Post, The New York Times, The Christian Science Monitor, and The Wall Street Journal

Kos said in a post today that R2K has not offered a substantive response to the statistical analysis. R2K President Ali is described in his bio as having “analyzed over 2000 political races for media as well as for advocacy organizations and businesses.

Late Update: Here’s more from lawyers for Kos and Ali.

Nate Silver:

Although I expect to proceed fairly carefully with respect to Research 2000, which Daily Kos will be suing for alleged fraud, I have suggested here and to at least one reporter that I had my own suspicions about Research 2000 which paralleled some of the findings in the study by Mark Grebner, Michael Weissman, and Jonathan Weissman. I want to be a bit more explicit about what I mean by that.

This is a copy of two e-mails that I sent to Mark Blumenthal of Pollster.com in the wee hours of the morning on February 4th. Like the examples in the Grebner study, they point toward cases in which Research 2000’s data appeared to be other-than-random (although, as I declaim in the e-mails, not necessarily triggered by fraud).

from Nate Silver [xxx@xxx]
to Mark Blumenthal [xxx@xxx]
Mark Blumenthal [xxx@xxx]
date Thu, Feb 4, 2010 at 4:17 AM
subject Research 2000 weirdness
mailed-by gmail.com


Not to sound too conspiratorial, but to be honest I'm getting
a little bit suspicious about Research 2000, or at least the
polling they've conducted for Markos over the past two years.
Do you know those guys at all?

I'll keep this pretty brief.  In part it's because of the
occasionally really weird result they turn out -- for instance,
they had only 27 percent of Republicans or something in favor
of gays in the military whereas Gallup and ABC/Post have had
those numbers in the 60s.  There are two or three other examples
like this I could point to.  For another, their contact
information and web presence is pretty sketchy relative to that
of other pollsters and there's not a lot of detail about the
scope of their operations.

But mainly, it's that that their data feels way too clean for
me.  Take a look at the attached chart, for example: these are
the age breakdowns in the Democratic vote share for the last
20 contests surveyed by R2K and PPP, respectively.  The age
breakdowns in Research 2000's numbers are almost always close
to "perfect" -- in 20 out of 20 cases, for instance, the
Democrat gets a lower vote share from among 30-44 year olds
than among 18-29 year olds.  PPP's data, on the other hand,
is *much* messier -- which is what I think we should expect
when comparing small subsamples, particularly subsamples of
lots of different races that are subject to different
demographic patterns.

Likewise, take a look at their Presidential tracking numbers
from 2008 (http://www.dailykos.com/dailypoll/2008/11/4).
They published their daily results in addition to their
three-day rolling average ... and the daily results were
remarkably consistent from day to day.  At no point, for
instance, in the two months that they published daily results
did Obama's vote share fluctuate by more than a net of 2
points from day to day (to reiterate, this is for the daily
results (n=~360) and not the rolling average).  That just
seems extremely unlikely -- there should be more noise than

Megan McArdle:

To his eternal credit, that evidence is being published by Kos himself.  I wish more commentators were this forthright when they’ve been taken in by bad data.

I also wish he hadn’t been taken in by bad data, including this infamous poll which proves that Republicans are, like, the awfulest, stupidest people in the entire known universe.  Given the patterns that the investigators who published on Kos have found, it seems like that poll is probably bunk–concocted or massaged to fit the thesis of the person who commissioned it.  (Just to be clear, I don’t think Kos knew that this was happening.  A customer who is told what he wants to hear is a customer who is happy to buy more polls.)

However, the fact that R2K has apparently been discredited will not prevent this poll from popping up, over and over, in the work of pundits and bloggers.  The speed and openness with which Kos has exposed this problem is admirable.  But we need to be even faster at sniffing out bad apples before they pollute the data barrel.

Jonah Goldberg at The Corner

Jim Geraghty at NRO:

Even worse for Markos Moulitsas, he apparently was working on a book, entitled “American Taliban” that relied heavily on a Research2000 poll of American conservatives.

UPDATE: Markos declares via Twitter, “No premises in American Taliban depend exclusively on R2K polling.”

On his site, he elaborates, “Of references to R2K, except in two instances where I couldn’t do so without affecting page count (too late for me to do that since the index was done), but those two examples also references other supporting polling, so my premise didn’t depend on the R2K results.”

Moe Lane:

Jim Geraghty is too polite to admit that he’s laughing his ass off at the thought that Markos Moulitsas is going to go sue R2000 for supposedly faking up the polls done for his website.

I’m not.


Did I mention that we’ve been calling these polls crap for a long time?  And that no one with the sense that God gave a drunken wombat took these polls seriously?


Guess who was writing a book that relied on R2000 telling Markos everything that he wanted to hear about how awful we RepubliKKKans are?



Ed Morrissey:

Give Markos Moulitsas some credit for full disclosure, at least.  It would have been very easy for dKos to quietly drop Research 2000 as their pollster and put their resources into a more worthy vendor without ever explaining why.  That would have certainly cost them less than hiring attorneys to sue the pollster.  Given the fact that the firm claims to be operating “out of a Kinko’s office,” it seems less than certain that Markos will ever see much of his money returned to him, assuming he can prove fraud, which is not an easy task.

I’m also not inclined to crow over the failure of dKos polling.  That ship had sailed long ago anyway, and Markos knew it, which is why he launched an independent study of the data.  Political campaigns commission their own polls and so do traditional media outlets.  If Markos had the resources to do the same, why not?  It allowed him to play with the bigger outlets, although in the end the task proved beyond his ability to manage it.  Still, one never knows until one tries.

He also makes another good point:

Sure, our friends on the Right will get to take some cheap shots, and they should take advantage of the opportunity. But ultimately, this episode validates the reason why we released the internal numbers from Research 2000 — and why every media outlet should do the same from their pollster; without full transparency of results, this fraud would not have been uncovered. As difficult as it has been to learn that we were victims of that fraud, our commitment to accuracy and the truth is far more important than shielding ourselves from cheap shots from the Right.

Again, I’m disinclined to take cheap shots, mainly because Research 200o did have an existing clientele that lent respectability to their product.  It’s also important to note that this is Markos’ take, and that the firm itself will probably have a very different position on the end of their relationship.  But Markos is right when he warns that pollsters should provide full transparency for their surveys so that people can assess performance properly, such as sample size, question formulation, demographics, and so on.  Without that information, polls can easily manipulate both respondents and readers alike.

The only criticism that comes to mind is the lawsuit itself.  Why bother?  Markos would be better advised to cut his losses.

UPDATE: Greg Sargent

Dan Amira at New York Magazine

UPDATE #2: Patrick Ruffini at The Next Right here and here

Allah Pundit

UPDATE #3: David Freddoso at Washington Examiner


Filed under New Media

Exit The Great Orange Satan

Keith Olbermann at Daily Kos:

I was checking in tonight to see what was new, came across a diary trashing first me and my colleague Rachel, and scrolled through it shaking my head, sadly, until I got to one comment that leaped off the page.

can’t verify, of course… (2+ / 0-)
but a friend in the news biz tells me he got a damaging e-mail from one of his pals at NBC.  something to the effect that their anger was pre-planned because “beating up on the President has been good for ratings.”

I haven’t checked but I’m hearing that Olbermann slammed the speech on Twitter before it even started.

“Can’t verify”… “haven’t checked”…It can’t be verified because it’s nonsense, and it wasn’t checked because nobody bothered. Unfortunately there’s been a lot of this here lately.

And what’s more, I didn’t “slam” the speech on Twitter before it even started. I got off the phone with my White House source at about 7:35, and then summarized his description of the speech thusly::

I gather this may not be the big picture broad canvas “never again” speech redefining our nation’s energy addiction that many are expecting

Wow. What a slam!

For years, from the Katrina days onward, whenever I stuck my neck out, I usually visited here as the cliched guy in the desert stopping by the oasis. I never got universal support, and never expected it, nor wanted it (who wants an automatic “Yes” machine?). But I used to read a lot about how people here would ‘always have my back’ and trust me this was of palpable value as I fought opponents external and internal who try to knock me and Rachel off the air, all the time, in ways you can imagine and others you can’t.

Now I get to read how we pre-planned our anger because ‘beating up on the President has been good for ratings’.

If I can understand people’s frustration with seeing a speech by a Democratic president criticized in a venue such as mine, why is it impossible for some people here to accept my frustration about the speech? You don’t agree with me, fine. You don’t want to watch because you don’t agree with me, fine. But to accuse me, after five years of risking what I have to present the truth as I see it, of staging something for effect, is deeply offensive to me and is an indication of what has happened here.

You want Cheerleaders? Hire the Buffalo Jills. You want diaries with conspiracy theories, go nuts. If you want this site the way it was even a year ago, let me know and I’ll be back.

Steve Krakauer at Mediaite:

Salon’s Glenn Greenwald tweets, “Not saying this isn’t thin-skinned – it is – but what he’s reacting to is very common.”

It’s interesting to see Olbermann react strongly to the commenters who, almost universally, have been supporter of his show and his network. As he sticks with his ‘non-Obama-cheerleader’ position, it’s now clear there are some in this country far farther left than he is. It is a testament to the polarized American public that Olbermann would be on the outs with the Daily Kos and his liberal Twitter followers.

Peter Wehner at Commentary:

As a friend wrote me, “It’s a bit like the Iran-Iraq or Germany–Soviet Union wars. But who does one root for?” That is an existential question I cannot possibly hope to answer. But watching this all unfold is quite fascinating.

Liberals do seem quite unhappy these days, don’t they? Call it the Obama Effect.

David Freddoso at Washington Examiner:

Allow me to suggest that there are two kinds of crazy in politics.

First, there’s the crazy of the minority — a crazy consisting of wild conspiracy theories by the powerless. A significant minority on the liberal side excelled at this in the Bush years with conspiracy theories about 9/11; a smaller group still went further with protest violence, advocacy for violence against the military, and anti-war rallies at which the yellow Hezbollah flag flew proudly.

In the Obama era, this kind of crazy has been carried forward by the minority of conservatives who are birthers and believers that President Obama is a Muslim; there also the smaller group that actually calls for violence. (And I mean militia groups here, not just people who use figurative campaign language that causes liberals to whine.) In the Clinton era, we had the same thing in the form of the Vince Foster murder conspiracy, etc.

Then there’s the crazy of the majority, characterized by empowered groupthink. As President Bush steamrolled conservative hopes with his Farm Bill, subsidies for unsustainable businesses and executive power grabs, the Right was nearly silent. When he tried to “fix” 9/11 by creating a new and incompetent federal bureaucracy in the Department of Homeland Security, you could hear the crickets. The wisdom of the Iraq War was barely questioned at all by conservatives, and those who did question it (like my old boss, Robert Novak) were denounced by groupthinkers as “unpatriotic.” It wasn’t until the Harriet Miers debacle that the Right really began pushing back.

But now that the Right is out of power, liberals are suffering from this majority variety of crazy. As President Obama fails to keep his promises to the Left on curbing lobbyists and Bush-era executive power grabs, on closing Guantanamo, on showing basic competence in government, only a few on the Left are raising the skeptic’s flag.

The most prominent liberal to do so was Keith Olbermann, whose scathing criticism of Obama’s Tuesday night address nearly earned him a firing squad at the left-wing site Daily Kos.

Matt Welch at Reason

Dan Riehl:

Oh. Oh. Oh. This is so precious, it effin’ hurts through the laughter. Keif Olbermann has gotten his panties in a bunch over something he read at DailyKos and has crawled under his desk, pledging to leave the site. Keif! Come back!

Or don’t, who cares? Over 1,000 comments and counting. Enjoy the tasty goodness of it, this is a day that will live in the infamy that is Keif Olbermann. And enjoy the Blogasm sure to come via Memeorandum. I feel dirty just watching it. ha ha ha!

UPDATE: Bill Scher and Matt Lewis at Bloggingheads

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Filed under Mainstream, New Media, Political Figures

All Our Senate Candidates Bring Us Scandal

Reid Wilson at Hotline:

The GOP is pleased Rep. Joe Sestak (D) won a competitive primary, and not just for the revenge factor: An off-hand comment Sestak made in Feb. is giving GOPers the chance to accuse the WH of attempting to twist arms and play politics.

In an interview with a local radio station during his primary race, Sestak said he had been offered a job by the WH if he were to drop out of the race. Sestak has refused to elaborate on the claim, even though Sen. Arlen Specter (D-PA) made it an issue in their primary.

“I was offered a job, and I answered that,” Sestak said Sunday on “Meet the Press.” “Anything that goes beyond that is for others to talk about.”

GOPers have used the issue to raise questions about the WH’s honesty, transparency and ethics.

“What did the president offer and when did he offer it? It seems like a very straightforward answer to me,” RNC chair Michael Steele said on “Fox News Sunday.” “Is it proper, ethical and legal for the White House to try to get a sitting member of Congress out of a race because they have other plans? I don’t know. The White House has to answer the question.”

Rep. Darrell Issa (R-CA), the top GOPer on the House Oversight and Government Reform panel, has pressed the admin for answers as well. Sestak has “alleged what amounts to 3 felonies,” Issa told AG Eric Holder at a May 13 hearing. Issa’s press shop has hammered the WH on the issue, going so far as to call for the appointment of a special prosecutor to probe the matter.

Though a WH source initially denied the job offer to the Philadelphia Inquirer, WH spokesman Robert Gibbs has since refused to confirm or deny Sestak’s claims. On Sunday, Gibbs appeared to suggest for the first time that a job offer had been extended.

“I’m not a lawyer. But lawyers in the White House and others have looked into conversations that were had with Congressman Sestak. And nothing inappropriate happened,” Gibbs said on CBS’s “Face the Nation.” Pressed as to whether the WH offered Sestak a job, Gibbs would only add: “I’m not going to get further into what the conversations were.”

The stonewalling has gone to incredible lengths. On Thursday, Gibbs parried with reporters 13 times, refusing to address Sestak’s claims, referring to previous comments he made in March. The refusal to talk about Sestak at all has given GOPers an opening.

“This is about both the White House and Sestak. That the White House has repeatedly refused to answer questions on this demonstrates that not only do we not have the openness and transparency Obama promised, but also that the ‘change’ Obama promised is in fact the same old politics he decried,” RNC spokesman Doug Heye said in an email. “This is a very serious allegation and the White House has done nothing but stonewall.”

For the GOP, the disparate lines present a win-win scenario. If the WH did offer Sestak a job, they have an angle of attack that can play out in the nation’s editorial pages, which could express indignation that Obama isn’t only failing to deliver, he is participating in the system he promised to change. If Sestak isn’t telling the truth — an unlikely scenario, given Gibbs’ comments on Sunday — his own credibility is undermined as he faces a tough general election opponent.

Chris Good at The Atlantic

Daniel Foster at The Corner:

Even Rep. Anthony Weiner (D., N.Y.), whose usual pastime is foul-mouthed conservative-baiting, is now calling on the White House to spill the beans about conversations it is believed to have had with Rep. Joe Sestak (D., Pa.) as part of an effort to convince him to drop out of the Pennsylvania Democratic Senate primary

Ed Morrissey

Hugh Hewitt:

Seems to me that Rod Blagojevich can ask with some reason why his conversations about President Obama’s Senate seat merit his prosecution but those with unnamed officials and Joe Sestak don’t even get follow-up questions on Meet the Press.

Even Anthony Weiner sees the cover-up here.  Reporters shouldn’t let Sestak drone on with his talking points as long as he is covering up details of what could be a crime.

UPDATE:  An email from an Assistant United States Attorney:

If two more people discussed offering him a job in exchange for dropping out, and one of those people then had a conversation with him about that, whether he was ever offered the job is IRRELEVANT.  It’s an inchoate offense.

Jonah Goldberg at The Corner:

Maybe one of my fellow Cornerites can explain to me why, exactly,  it’s a scandal (or would be) if it’s proven that the White House offered Joe Sestak a job to abandon his race against Specter.

Update: Ah, well, these are the perils of blogging after a long day. I meant to save this post and finish it later, not publish it publicly. Anyway, I understand that the alleged offer was (almost certainly) against the law (as many readers eagerly informed me), but what’s scandalous about it? I mean, offering jobs to inconvenient politicians is what presidents do.

David Freddoso at The Examiner:

Some people wonder why Sestak’s allegations matter. After all, isn’t this what all presidents do, cut deals with taxpayer-funded jobs in order to defuse intra-party rivalries? The answer is, maybe they do, but it’s still illegal. Such deals are not usually discussed in public, but this one has been and now its potential illegality matters.

The relevant statutes:

18 USC 600:

Whoever, directly or indirectly, promises any employment, position, compensation, contract, appointment, or other benefit, provided for or made possible in whole or in part by any Act of Congress, or any special consideration in obtaining any such benefit, to any person as consideration, favor, or reward for any political activity or for the support of or opposition to any candidate or any political party in connection with any general or special election to any political office, or in connection with any primary election or political convention or caucus held to select candidates for any political office, shall be fined under this title or imprisoned not more than one year, or both.


18 USC 595 (I include part in boldface to spare the reader all of the law’s fine points):

Whoever, being a person employed in any administrative position by the United States, or by any department or agency thereof, or by the District of Columbia or any agency or instrumentality thereof, or by any State, Territory, or Possession of the United States, or any political subdivision, municipality, or agency thereof, or agency of such political subdivision or municipality (including any corporation owned or controlled by any State, Territory, or Possession of the United States or by any such political subdivision, municipality, or agency), in connection with any activity which is financed in whole or in part by loans or grants made by the United States, or any department or agency thereof, uses his official authority for the purpose of interfering with, or affecting, the nomination or the election of any candidate for the office of President, Vice President, Presidential elector, Member of the Senate, Member of the House of Representatives, Delegate from the District of Columbia, or Resident Commissioner, shall be fined under this title or imprisoned not more than one year, or both.

Jonah Goldberg asks why, even if it is illegal, this is such a scandal. Don’t presidents do this all the time? It’s a legitimate question. I would answer it first by pointing again to the fact that such deals are not often made public. Sestak has only himself to blame for trying to exploit the offer to increase his own support while he was running against Specter.

Second, I would refer back to the Plame controversy, during which liberals salivated over the opportunity to see Karl Rove frog-marched off the White House grounds in handcuffs. Do you think it would be a scandal if they frog-marched someone off the White House grounds?

Michelle Malkin:

Oh, to be a fly on the wall in the offices of Joe Sestak and the White House spin shop right now…

UPDATE: John Dickerson at Slate

Caleb Howe at Redstate

Jonathan Chait at TNR

Jon Ward at Daily Caller

John McCormack at The Weekly Standard

UPDATE #2: Allah Pundit

Greg Sargent

Michelle Malkin

David Weigel

UPDATE #3: Andrew Malcolm at The LA Times

Allah Pundit

UPDATE #4: Norm Ornstein at American Enterprise Institute

UPDATE #5: Ana Marie Cox and Rich Lowry at Bloggingheads


Filed under Political Figures

Happy Easter!

Chris Dierkes at The League:

By going from death on Good Friday straight to Resurrection on Easter Sunday, the process is taken to be very individualistic and the grief cycle and the entire train of the religious movement are not embodied:  caught between heaven and earth (Good Friday), laid in the tomb and descended to the dead/hell (Holy Saturday), raised from the dead (Sunday).

The essential key of Holy Saturday is found in the prayer above:  it is the Great Sabbath.

The Great Sabbath links to the Jubilee, the cycle of Seven Sabbath years (7 cycles of 7 years=49/50th year), when the land will lie fallow, the slaves released, and God will sacrifice himself (Yom Kippur) in order to bring Atonement and Re-Creation (i.e. Redemption) to the entire Universe.

The Tomb is one pole whose equal and opposite is the creation of the Universe.  As God rested on the 7th day of Creation, so God now rests in death on the 7th day.  God’s life in human flesh in the character of Jesus of Nazareth (according to this story’s framework) is now fulfilled.  Just as the completion/fulfillment of prayer lies in silent repose, the completion of the Incarnation lies (literally) in The Tomb.

While it would seem God has failed, that Death has won the ultimate victory killing even God, the truth (so this day proclaims) is otherwise.

A new creation will be born.  Death is defeated by its over-reach.

The Cosmic Jubilee on this day is announced to Hell, i.e. to the Dead.

Easter Sunday then becomes the 8th Day of Creation.  A new Adam Paul will say.  A new humanity (The Body of Christ, The Corporate Body of the 8th Day, the Church of the 8th or Resurrected Day) is called to walk in this world.

The late great Roman Catholic theologian Hans Urs von Balthasar wrote movingly of Holy Saturday.

Balthasar picks up on theme of hell in ancient pagan writings.  Think for example of Odysseus in hell, meeting the shades.  There is a mania about the place, a frenzy, a confusion, a dis-integration.  For Balthasar, Jesus on Holy Saturday loses all personality and succumbs to the state of modern, anemic souls, lost in the isolation of industrialized existence, full of isolation and meaningless.  Jesus enters into the godless state of our existence.  He is no more.  Dis-membered.  Un-articulated both physically and spiritually.

Only to be re-membered and re-vivified by The Father through the power of The Holy Spirit on Easter Sunday.  To be born into a new universe of life and discourse, a new bodily body and language, an 8th day existence.

But for today, the Great Sabbath pointing towards the hope for an Ultimate Sabbath, when all of the land, when the very heart of creation will experience liberation.

Erick Erickson at Redstate:

In the end of the sabbath, as it began to dawn toward the first day of the week, came Mary Magdalene and the other Mary to see the sepulchre. And, behold, there was a great earthquake: for the angel of the Lord descended from heaven, and came and rolled back the stone from the door, and sat upon it.

His countenance was like lightning, and his raiment white as snow: And for fear of him the keepers did shake, and became as dead men. And the angel answered and said unto the women, Fear not ye: for I know that ye seek Jesus, which was crucified.

He is not here: for he is risen, as he said. Come, see the place where the Lord lay.

And go quickly, and tell his disciples that he is risen from the dead; and, behold, he goeth before you into Galilee; there shall ye see him: lo, I have told you.And they departed quickly from the sepulchre with fear and great joy; and did run to bring his disciples word.

And as they went to tell his disciples, behold, Jesus met them, saying, All hail. And they came and held him by the feet, and worshipped him.

Matthew 28:1-9

Rod Dreher:

I will never forget the snowy Easter morning of 1998, watching Cardinal O’Connor stride up the center aisle of St. Patrick’s Cathedral, crozier in hand, while we all sang the magnificent Catholic hymn, “Lift High the Cross.” As a former Catholic, now happily Orthodox, I miss “Lift High the Cross,” and I deeply miss the Easter Vigil liturgy, especially the Service of Light in the beginning, with the Easter fire, the Paschal candle, and the chanting of “Christ our Light.” It is awe-inspiring.

While Catholics and Anglicans celebrate the Service of Light, the Orthodox tradition begins with prayers in the dark church, then involves the entire congregation parading three times around the Church singing ancient hymns, and ends with the chief priest knocking on the doors of the church, as if it were Christ’s tomb. When the doors burst open, the lights come on, and Easter (Pascha) is here. Everyone sings this marvelous hymn: “Christ is risen from the dead, trampling down death by death, and upon those in the tombs bestowing life!” I love that, and I love the Paschal sermon of St. John Chrysostom, which is read from every Orthodox pulpit on Pascha. It begins like this:

If anyone has labored from the first hour, let them today receive the just reward. If anyone has come at the third hour, with thanksgiving let them feast. If anyone has arrived at the sixth hour, let them have no misgivings; for they shall suffer no loss. If anyone has delayed until the ninth hour, let them draw near without hesitation. If anyone has arrived even at the eleventh hour, let them not fear on account of tardiness. For the Master is gracious and receives the last even as the first; he gives rest to him that comes at the eleventh hour, just as to him who has labored from the first. He has mercy upon the last and cares for the first; to the one he gives, and to the other he is gracious. He both honors the work and praises the intention. Enter all of you, therefore, into the joy of our Lord, and, whether first or last, receive your reward. O rich and poor, one with another, dance for joy! O you ascetics and you negligent, celebrate the day! You that have fasted and you that have disregarded the fast, rejoice today! The table is rich-laden; feast royally, all of you! The calf is fatted; let no one go forth hungry!It is a hymn of mercy and thanksgiving both.

Today I was driving around listening to the Easter broadcast of Nick Spitzer’s terrific public radio show “American Routes.” Nick was playing black gospel music, and white gospel roots music. He played Lucinda Williams’ version of “Great Speckled Bird,” and I listened to all of this and thanked God silently for the black and the country white traditions of sacred music. You don’t get hymns like that or singing like that in white Catholic or Orthodox churches, and it is a great and glorious thing.

Tim Fernholz at Tapped:

Forgive me for this parochial digression, but I will not be going to Mass this Easter Sunday.

You’ll know why if you’ve been reading the papers. The rash of newly uncovered sexual-abuse scandals in the United States and Europe paints a terrible picture of the church’s ability to protect its most vulnerable charges from the predations of its leadership. While the pattern of abuse in the church has been known to Catholics in the United States at least since the scandals in Massachusetts were revealed at the beginning of the decade, the news of Pope Benedict XVI’s own complicity has finally worn through my tolerance.

That, and the awful timing. Easter is a holiday of joy for Christians: Christ is risen! These scandals, though, call for reflection more appropriate to the current Lenten season of repentance, and I sense very little remorse from the church — not enough for me to celebrate with it when Lent ends this weekend.


The events of the last decade increasingly convince me that it is not people who are leaving the church; it is the church that is leaving the people. How can Benedict expect to bring sinners to God or dare write that gay relationships are the “destruction of God’s work,” when he cannot admit to the church’s own complicity in actual moral transgressions? It is truly a sad day when an institution designed to be a contemporaneous intermediary between humans and the divine is increasingly less relevant than the ancient texts at the center of the faith. The church’s mandarins see their future in a faith that is narrower and clings to the past. They couldn’t be more wrong.

John Allen, a correspondent for the National Catholic Reporter who is more deeply versed in church politics than I, argues Benedict deserves credit for improving the church’s response on sexual abuse. It is a low bar. The church’s glacial pace of reform may have been appropriate in the Middle Ages, even in the last century, but for Catholicism to be vibrant in the future depends on greater, and more rapid, change. This must begin not with the doctrinal debates I would have but with the far, far simpler task of confession and penance that it would expect from any believer.

This weekend I’ll pray to commemorate the Resurrection and share an Easter meal with friends. For this Sunday, at least, I’ll choose exit, in the hopes that the church might someday hold itself to its own high standards.

David Freddoso at Washington Examiner:

Tim Fernholz of the American Prospect announces that he will not be attending Mass on Easter.

To sum up, he offers two reasons he will stay home this weekend:

1) The child sex scandals demonstrate that Church leaders are too evil, too incompetent, and/or both, for him to celebrate Christ’s resurrection with them.2) The bishops’ opposition to abortion and same-sex marriage demonstrates that the Church teachings do not match his personal views.

To the second objection, not even God can force a man to belong to a Church whose moral teachings he rejects.

But to the first objection, we are now seven centuries past Dante putting dozens of popes and bishops in Hell in his Inferno. We are eight centuries past Saint Dominic’s warning to the Pope that his greed had crippled the Church’s mission. And we are twenty centuries past the apostle Judas betraying Jesus Christ for 30 pieces of silver.

Perhaps millennia of experience can confirm that it is too much to expect men of the cloth to be either holy or competent. This is no excuse for what any of them did or allowed to happen — especially to children: remember what Christ said about the millstone. But the clergy’s shortcomings present the feeblest, lamest excuse for skipping Mass. It would at least be understandable if Fernholz pleaded out on account of unbelief or a desire to smoke weed instead behind the bell tower.

Catholics don’t attend mass because they approve of the pope, the bishop, or the priest. We attend because we want to share in the Body and Blood of Christ. If Fernholz believes it is the holiness of its members or leaders that makes the Church holy, then he is unfamiliar enough with the Gospel from Holy Week that he should do himself the favor of attending the Good Friday service (which is not a Mass). It  serves as a good reminder of what we did to Jesus the last time we had a crack at him in the flesh.

Washington Post Peeps Contest

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Filed under Religion

Why Don’t Any Of These Sixties Revivals Include A Beatles Reunion? Oh. Yeah.


Jerry Seper in the Washington Times:

Associate Attorney General Thomas J. Perrelli, the No. 3 official in the Obama Justice Department, was consulted and ultimately approved a decision in May to reverse course and drop a civil complaint accusing three members of the New Black Panther Party of intimidating voters in Philadelphia during November’s election, according to interviews.

The department’s career lawyers in the Voting Section of the Civil Rights Division who pursued the complaint for five months had recommended that Justice seek sanctions against the party and three of its members after the government had already won a default judgment in federal court against the men.

[…] At issue was what, if any, punishment to seek against the New Black Panther Party for Self-Defense (NBPP) and three of its members accused in a Jan. 7 civil complaint filed in U.S. District Court in Philadelphia.

Two NBPP members, wearing black berets, black combat boots, black dress shirts and black jackets with military-style markings, were charged in a civil complaint with intimidating voters at a Philadelphia polling place, including brandishing a 2-foot-long nightstick and issuing racial threats and racial insults. Authorities said a third NBPP member “managed, directed and endorsed the behavior.

A post and an article by Hans A. von Spakovsky at NRO, here and here.

The Southern Poverty Law Center says that the New Black Panther Party is a hate group, similar to the Ku Klux Klan. Whether that is so or not, two of the officers of the NBPP were caught red-handed, one brandishing a weapon, threatening white voters at the polls. One complaining witness, Bartle Bull (a former Robert Kennedy campaign staffer and civil-rights lawyer) said “it would qualify as the most blatant form of voter intimidation” he had ever encountered.

As a former DOJ alumnus, I have never, ever heard of the Division refusing to take a default judgment, especially in a situation where the defendants are basically admitting they violated the law. The facts indicting the DOJ seem damning, and no good explanation seems possible. Indeed, it raises a serious question whether straightforward but pernicious racial-identity politics are at play, the same kind driving the president’s Supreme Court nomination. Do the same people who excuse Sonia Sotomayor’s racist speeches allow Holder and Co. to dismiss racist intimidation by the New Black Panther Party? Should application of the civil-rights laws (by Sotomayor in the Ricci case and the DOJ in the NBPP case) really  turn on the sympathies the officials have for different racial litigants? Should racist minority members get a pass when whites would not? Does the Left believe that only white supremacists (or Republicans) can engage in racism or intimidation of voters? Do the prohibitions in federal voting-rights laws not apply to radical organizations with Marxist orientations?

Two posts by Andy McCarthy at NRO, here and here.

The Obama political appointees overruled experienced line prosecutors, experienced civil-rights division supervisors, and the Justice Department’s appellate division. Not that the Justice Department under AG Holder is politicized or anything.

The decision has Congressman Frank Wolf (R., Va.) asking, “If showing a weapon, making threatening statements and wearing paramilitary uniforms in front of polling station doors does not constitute voter intimidation, at what threshold of activity would these laws be enforceable?”

Good question. Looks like Obama’s stewards decided the Bush DOJ “acted stupidly” in enforcing the civil-rights laws.

Michelle Malkin

Erick Erickson at Redstate:

Mr. Perrelli was a Janet Reno flunky when Clinton was in the White House and, naturally, a Barack Obama donor.

John Hinderaker at Powerline:

DOJ’s decision to dismiss the case has been mysterious, in part, because it came after the defendants had defaulted. So the case had been won, and Justice decided to give it away.

Republicans in Congress have tried to find out who decided to let the Panthers off, and why, but they have been stonewalled by the Justice Department and the Obama administration. The Washington Times has been investigating, however, and reports that the decision to drop the case was approved by Associate Attorney General Thomas J. Perrelli. Perrilli is a Democratic Party activist who raised $500,000 for President Obama’s campaign and was rewarded with the number three spot in the Department of Justice.

UPDATE: Paul Mirengoff at Powerline

UPDATE #2: David Weigel in the Washington Independent

Ed Morrissey

UPDATE #3: Investigation of the DOJ

Jerry Seper at Washington Times

Michelle Malkin

UPDATE #4: Washington Times editorial

David Weigel at Washington Independent

UPDATE #5: David Freddoso at Washington Examiner

Jerry Seper at Washington Times

UPDATE #6: Washington Times editorial

Michelle Malkin

Jennifer Rubin at Commentary

UPDATE #7: David Weigel

UPDATE #8: J. Christian Adams in The Washington Times

UPDATE #9: Fox News

UPDATE #10: John Fund at WSJ

UPDATE #11: Adam Serwer at The American Prospect

UPDATE #12: More Serwer

John Hinderaker at Powerline


Filed under Crime, Political Figures

Something New To Carve Into The Monument


Senator Roland Burris (D-Ill) in trouble.

Michelle Malkin

Ed Morrissey

There’s much more, all of it bad, and all of it proving that Burris and Robert Blagojevich wanted to build a way for Burris to contribute to the Blagojevich Enterprise without making it look like a purchase of the seat.  Burris never says that he was reluctant to hold a fundraiser during the conversation; in fact, he practically begs Blagojevich to allow him to hold one, while repeatedly reminding the governor’s brother of his interest in Obama’s seat.

Moe Lane

Zachary Roth at TPM

Marcel Pacatte at HuffPo:

There may or may not be anything legally actionable in the footsie Burris plays with Rob Blagojevich in wondering how to raise the money the brothers Blagojevich wanted and still make it look as though he wasn’t buying his way into the U.S. Senate, but it’s morally and ethically repugnant. The fact that he audibly works through this amoral relativism is damning enough. Harry Reid and Dick Durbin had it right the first time, before this evidence was public: He is unfit.

Burris is a disgrace and should resign. We know, however, that he won’t.

UPDATE: David Frum

UPDATE #2: Ta-Nehisi Coates

UPDATE #3: David Freddoso at The Corner

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Filed under Political Figures

Speech And Consequences

Reacts from the right sphere on Preisdent Obama’s speech and the entire controversy.

Michelle Malkin, from before the speech.

Paul Mirengoff:

Today, President Obama spoiled graduation ceremonies for a more than de minimis number of University of Notre Dame students and/or their close family members by delivering the commencement speech and accepting an honorary degree. He did so to advance his political and ideological interests.

In fairness to Obama, these interests are considerable. Obama hopes to drive a wedge between the leaders of the Catholic Church and rank-and-file Catholics in order to substantially reduce Church leaders and their teachings as a moral force in the United States. Such a reduction, in turn, will remove a barrier to Obama’s left-wing agenda, especially his left-wing social agenda, just as the steep decline in the authority of Catholic Church paved the way the leftist agenda in certain European countries.

Allah Pundit

Greg Hengler at Townhall with video of the speech.

Mark Impomeni at Redstate:

But President Obama’s decision to accept the invitation, and to keep it in the face of the growing controversy, is worthy of examination as well.    President Obama may not have thought that his acceptance of the invitation to speak at Notre Dame would be controversial when he confirmed it.  However, as the controversy surrounding the speech grew from an online petition drive to angry comments from the Vatican, President Obama should have realized that his presence at the school on graduation day had become a distraction for the graduates and their families, and placed his host in an awkward situation.  As a guest has an obligation to avoid placing his host in embarrassing circumstances, President Obama should have found a way to gracefully extricate himself from the speech.  That he did not is evidence of a fundamental lack of decency in the President of the United States.

Several reactions from National Review. Ramesh Ponnuru has an article up.

David Freddoso

Jay Nordlinger

Rod Dreher has the whole speech and some thoughts

EARLIER: Notre Dame and Catholics in America

Fight Over The Fighting Irish

UPDATE: Michelle Malkin

More from Rod Dreher

UPDATE #2: Patrick Deenen:

The President’s speech – as could be expected – was quite masterful. He is a wordsmith of first order, but more, has a remarkable rhetorical ability to call for forms of higher reconciliation and transcendence of division that has otherwise been fomented by so many other politicians and opinion leaders of our age. While most on the Right either suspect him of bad faith, or impute such bad faith to him for political advantage, I believe he honestly desires to heal some of the worst divisions of the nation. His call yesterday both to include a “conscience clause” to protect professionals who object to the practice of abortion (and gay marriage?), and his call to reduce the number of abortions – including the commendation of adoption as an option – appeared to have been enthusiastically greeted by nearly everyone at the ceremony.

UPDATE #3: Alan Jacobs at The Scene

UPDATE: #4: Daniel Larison

More Paul Mirengoff


Ramesh Ponnuru in WaPo

And from the left, Kevin Drum on Ponnuru’s WaPo take.

UPDATE #4: Robert Cheeks at PoMoCon

At The League, Chris Dierkes and, responding to Larison, E.D. Kain

UPDATE #5: Jacob Sullum in Reason

UPDATE #6: James Poulos

UPDATE #7: Damon Linker responds to Larison, as does HC Johns and John Schwenkler

UPDATE #8: More from JL Wall on Larison, faith and doubt.


Filed under Abortion, Religion

Nancy In A Pickle

Did Nancy Pelosi know about waterboarding? The ABC report. Via Greg Sargent, we have the PDF of the intelligence documents here.

Jennifer Rubin at Commentary:

“It seems we’ve had a widespread and unseemly charade going on. As Congress calls for a witch hunt for those who drafted and carried out policies that protected us, they should consider just how abhorrent the public may find their feigned outrage.”

Emptywheel at Firedoglake doesn’t trust the CIA:

“First, there’s this paragraph the CIA included in the letter they sent with the briefing list to Crazy Pete (which ABC didn’t think important enough to include when they first posted this story):

This letter presents the most thorough information we have on dates, locations, and names of all Members of Congress who were briefed by the CIA on enhanced interrogation techniques. This information, however, is drawn from the past files of the CIA and represents MFRs completed at the time and notes that summarized the best recollections of those individuals. In the end, you and the Committee will have to determine whether this information is an accurate summary of what actually happened. We can make the MFRs available at CIA for staff review. [my emphasis]

CIA: “Here’s a list, but we won’t vouch for its accuracy.”

ABC: “We’ve proven that Nancy was wrong!!”

ABC, after having been burned in the past, took documents that the CIA itself said might not be accurate, and treated them as accurate.”

Allah Pundit has a post up:

“Follow the link and note ABC’s update about how many other Democrats knew what was up. I’m starting to think that “rebranding” really might be the answer for the GOP. Since all it takes to escape the left’s wrath on issues like torture or extending the war in Afghanistan or quadrupling the size of a deficit they claimed to care about under Bush is calling yourself a Democrat, why not just call ourselves Democrats from now on?”

Jed Babbin at Human Events has a post up.

Some on the left are saying there’s no proof that Pelosi knew. But others are saying that’s not the point.

Glenn Greenwald:

“One related point:  I’m truly amazed to watch the eruption of “controversy” today over the fact that Nancy Pelosi was briefed in 2002 on various aspects of the CIA’s interrogation program, as though (a) this is some sort of new revelation and (b) it has any bearing on whether there should be investigations and prosecutions into Bush crimes.  As many of us have long pointed out, the extent to which Democratic leaders in Congress were complicit in Bush lawbreaking — including torture — is a major issue that needs resolution, and is almost certainly a key reason why there have been no investigations thus far.”

Spencer Ackerman:

“This is what they call a teaching moment. Pelosi, like Richard Shelby, Porter Goss, Bob Graham, Jay Rockefeller, Pat Roberts and Jane Harman, received briefings about CIA torture. The Senate intelligence committee’s investigation of the CIA will not focus on what members of Congress knew; when they knew it; what they endorsed; what they objected to; or what they pushed back against. As such, it will be an incomplete picture, whitewashing the role of elected legislators in the torture apparatus. (Also worth remembering: the CIA has a very rich history of lying to Congress.) An incomplete picture of what was done in our name prevents us from moving on. Hence: the case for an independent commission to investigate the Bush administration, the CIA, the Justice Department, the Defense Department, the State Department and Congress about torture. No more lies, no more obfuscation, no more cant, no more excuses, no more torture.”

Back to the right, Victor Davis Hanson:

“Pelosi has repeatedly misled the country about her exact role in such oversight and the degree to which she was briefed — quite unlike Yoo, Bybee, etc. who have not denied their briefs, but sought to argue they were legitimate options given the crises of the times and the nature of the killers involved. All of which leaves us in a quandary — will those who are on record demanding to indict, impeach, disbar, etc. lawyers who offered legal briefs (and have told the truth of their role in offering such opinions), now turn their animus to others who (1) had the legislative authority to stop cold what they knew was going on, but instead approved it, and (2) have not been at all truthful about such complicity?”

Michelle Malkin has a post up, as well.

The reason I don’t have Instapundit here is I can’t figure out the permalink sitation. Clark Stooksbury in the American Conservative has a post up that helps me:

Glenn Reynolds has found a torture issue he can get behind—the Nancy Pelosi hypocrisy angle: “PELOSI LIED, THE WATERBOARDING ISSUE DIED: CIA Says Pelosi Was Briefed on Use of ‘Enhanced Interrogations’.” He has gone to that well several times.

Sully says:

“An observation about pure partisanship from the American Conservative. If you can only see even a moral issue as profound as torture through the prism of pundit egotism and petty partisanship, you really are lost.”

More when I find it.

UPDATE: John Cole

Via Cole, Scott Horton is in the camp with Emptywheel and Greg.

UPDATE #2: Marc Ambinder:

“Responses among the cognoscenti to the CIA’s contention that it briefed Nancy Pelosi on the use of enhanced interrogation techniques are fairly typical. Those inclined to defend Democrats point to the CIA’s history of misleading Congress and the incomplete record the CIA’s notes sketch out; those inclined to indict Pelosi are throwing out terms like “hypocrite” and worse.  The document itself is an interesting artifact of our intelligence culture and its relationship to the oversight committees. The White House might have been reluctant to share details of certain programs; it’s hard to know what the CIA’s motives were. By statute, they’re required to provide Congress with information that holds themselves accountable, and Congress’s ability to independently verify these facts is very limited. Pelosi, and Porter Goss, were the two ranking members of the House Intelligence Committee. That they were the only two so early briefed shows how highly classified and sensitive the program was at the time. It was probably an “Unacknowledged SAP” — a “special access program,” meaning that it was not only classified, dissemination of information about the program had to be communicated through highly classified channels.”

UPDATE #3: Josh Marshall at TPM:

“Speaking for myself though I’d be very surprised if the key Democrats at the time weren’t briefed on a lot of this stuff. And to the extent that they didn’t know the details, that it might have been not wanting to know rather than having been kept in the dark.

If it turns out that the Democrats in leadership were really kept wholly in the dark about this stuff, that’d be nice to know, I guess. I’d like to think they’re not compromised. But expecting or hoping for that strikes me as a recipe for disappointment and eventual special pleading in their defense.”

Moe Lane at Redstate:

“And here’s the important thing: we knew this already, and so did you. You’ve been lying to the American people about this for six or so years solely because that way you could maybe stop the screaming that was going on in your own head. It didn’t work, but then, it never was going to: you really shouldn’t have tried it in the first place.”

UPDATE#4: Via The Week:

Scott W. Johnson And via Johnson:

Jules Crittenden has a bunch of links.

Here’s Tom Maguire:

“In Pelosi-world, the “Use of EITs on Abu Zubaydah” was a presentation on things they might do in the future, not the stuff that had been done the previous month; “backgroud on authorities” was the focal point; and “a description of particular EITs that had been employed” was really a description of techniques that *would be employed*.  Uh huh.

Well, even in he unlikley event that her memory is accurate and the CIA memo to files is riddled with inaccuracies, we are left wondering why the enhanced techniques were aceptable to Ms. Pelosi when discussed in the abstract but only became objectionable when actually employed.  Is this her “talk is cheap” defense?”

Tony Campbell in Moderate Voice:

“Nancy Pelosi is not the only person on Capitol Hill who knew about and condoned these methods of gathering information. Congressional leaders in both parties are as culpable as the former President and Vice-President. If some on the left want to file charges against Bush and Cheney, fine… let’s make sure that we totally clean house and rid ourselves of everyone who had a part to play in this messy business.”

UPDATE #5: Michael Goldfarb

UPDATE #6: Sam Stein in HuffPo. Aide denies waterboarding was discussed.

UPDATE #7: Kevin Drum and Zachary Roth at TPM.

More from Ed Morrissey.

UPDATE #8: David Freddoso at National Review

UPDATE #9: Scott Horton

UPDATE #10: Jay Newton-Small

More from Jennifer Rubin

More from Allah Pundit

UPDATE #11: Lisa Schiffren

UPDATE #12: Walter Shapiro in Politics Daily.

UPDATE #13: Jon Stewart on Pelosi last night.

Ed Morrissey on Stewart.

Peter Wehner on Stewart.

James Kirchick in TNR.


Filed under Torture

Arlen Makes Some New Friends


Arlen Specter will soon no longer be (R-Pennsylvania).

The reactions thus far. First, from the right:

The Human Events article:


Mark Hemingway at The Corner: “I read that he was switching parties, but I was disappointed to learn he’s still a Democrat.”


Michelle Malkin: “Don’t let the door hit you on the way out.”


Allah Pundit (with a paragraph from Ed Morrissey) seems to be also in the “good bye is too good a word, so I’ll just say fare thee well” camp:


Eric Trager over at Commentary notes that Specter’s primary challenge was so tough, he had almost no choice to switch.


Erick Erickson just gave money to Pat Toomey:


James Joyner argues that it is unethical for elected officials to switch parties, without resigning and running in an election:


Alex Massie sees things differently: “And so, a heretic was cast into the wilderness and the conservative movement offered great hosannas of joy. Better to be small but pure than large and corrupted by moderation and squishy centrism. That this defection may ensure the Democrats have a filibuster-proof 60 votes in the Senate matters less than enforcing ideological conformity. That’s how you win these days, right?”


UPDATE: We got Larison’s take. He sides with Massie:


UPDATE #2: David Frum is with Larison and Massie.


Poulos, with an interesting take: “Two very dangerous and bad things seem just a little more likely today: that the Democratic party will increasingly become the party of doubling down on the political economy of Bushism — same old FAIL, brand new socialism — and the Republican party will increasingly become the angry inch left over.”


And the left reacts:

Paul Krguman calls it a “self-inflected wound” for the GOP.


Matt Y wonders how he will vote:


Kevin Drum gives him points for honesty in his statement. “It’s hard to avoid the conclusion that Specter finds his views more in line with Democrats these days solely because there are 200,000 more of them in Pennsylvania than there used to be.”


Jason Zengerle has Michael Steele’s statement:


Also at the New Republic, Chris Orr’s reaction:


Jonathan Cohn:


Atrios’s post has a simple title “Crap.” He’s less than excited.


Digby, too, less than thrilled, but ends with this shot at the right: “If you want to enjoy this watch Fox news. They all look like they’ve just sucked on a bag of lemons.”


And who better to speak to this matter than John Cole, another R turned D. He advises Specter: “Once you get over the patchouli smell and get used to all the barefoot hippies, it isn’t so bad.”


More to come, I’m sure.

UPDATE #3: Sully has a great round-up of re-acts, some seen here, some not, including Nate Silver, Steve Benen and Kos:


And his own thoughts:


UPDATE #4: It’s all anyone is talking about in the blogosphere. More posts, not organized by any ideological spectrum.

James Wolcott excerpts Frum and offers his glee.


Ed Morrissey on Frum’s piece:


Jane Hamsher’s thoughts:


David Freddoso at the Corner:


Michael Barone in the Washington Examiner:


Two posts at Powerline by Paul Mirengoff:



Daniel Drezner notes that the “Minnesota election law lawyers are going to get to triple their fees overnight.”


Steve Benen has a lot of posts up, including this one:


Too many posts on TNR to even keep track of, but here’s Jonathan Chait:



Filed under Conservative Movement, Political Figures