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July 16, 2010


I'm sorry to see Obama compared to Hitler even on a single billboard. It lowers the tone of the debate. Of course, Bush was compared to Hitler routinely. "Bush hitler" gets over 5 million google hits. However, two wrongs (or five million and one wrongs) don't make a right.

Note that Sowell's column is a restatement of the thesis of Hayek's 1940's classic, The Road to Serfdom. Hayek asserted that massively powerful government or socialism automatically leads to totalitarian systems like communism or fascism. However, there are now counter-examples disproving Hayek's thesis. Since the end of WW2 the world has seen socialist countries that did not descend into fascism or communism, such as Sweden and Israel.

I don't buy Brendan's classification of the Justice Dept race scandal as a "he said," "she said" story. My understanding of that term is a situation where only 2 people know what really happened, and they disagree. In this case many people know whether or not the Justice Dept. was enforcing the law in a color-blind manner.

The Justice Dept race scandal has so many aspects that it's easy to spin in whichever direction one wants to. Those who Brendan linked want to pooh pooh the story. They have some good arguments.

OTOH their arguments omit some facts that point the other way, such as

-- The Justice Dept. refused to allow its employees to testify before Congress on this issue. That suggests that they had something to hide.

-- The primary witness, Adams, was a career employee. His resignation is a big financial sacrifice, as it will deprive him of a lavish federal pension.

-- Adams made his criticisms under oath, risking a perjury charge if he was lying.

-- As I linked to earler, two witnesses have given sworn testimony supporting Adams' testimony.

-- The two Black Panthers had essentially been convicted before Obama's Justice Dept. acted to reduce the charges to virtually nothing. For the Obama team to overrule a prosecution after it had been virtually completed could be seen as a smoking gun.

As I said, there are enough complications that the case may well not be as blatant as conservative critics claim. Even if it is, it may be receiving more coverage than it deserves from Fox News. However, IMHO Yglesias is out to lunch when he asserts that WaPo should not have even told its readers that this controversy was going on. At the very least, there are serious charges, made under oath that deserve to be checked out. Even the liberal LA Times editorialized that the accusations should be investigateed.

Apologize for having misread Yglesias' post. His complaint was WaPo's first sentence not the fact that they had reported on the Black Panther/Justice Dept. matter.

WaPo's ombudsman just reviewed the Post's coverage of this issue. He said their "story succinctly summarized the issues" and they should have begun their coverage sooner:

But in this case, coverage is justified because it's a controversy that screams for clarity that The Post should provide. If Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr. and his department are not colorblind in enforcing civil rights laws, they should be nailed. If the Commission on Civil Rights' investigation is purely partisan, that should be revealed. If Adams is pursuing a right-wing agenda, he should be exposed.

National Editor Kevin Merida, who termed the controversy "significant," said he wished The Post had written about it sooner. The delay was a result of limited staffing and a heavy volume of other news on the Justice Department beat, he said. http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2010/07/16/AR2010071604081_pf.html

Thanks to David for calling attention to the Washington Post ombudsman's column. I'm pleased that Andrew Alexander finds the coverage justified, and his "Better late than never" at least implies that the controversy should have been covered earlier. But his failure to examine critically the excuse given by the National Editor for not covering the story as it progressed is alarming, as is Alexander's statement, "If Adams is pursuing a right-wing agenda, he should be exposed."

If Adams is lying in his testimony, he should surely be exposed, but what does "pursuing a right-wing agenda" mean, and what difference does that make? Did the Post discount the Pentagon Papers based on whether Daniel Ellsworth was pursuing a left-wing agenda in releasing them? Did the Post find the Watergate revelations less troubling if some of those dogging the story were pursuing a left-wing agenda? Of course not, nor should it have. The story was the story, and the motives of those revealing the story mattered not at all if what they were revealing was true.

The Washington Post, like the New York Times, has distorted its news judgment based on political considerations, and their toothless ombudsmen can't bring themselves to express any serious outrage. I mean, jeez, you'd think these ombudsmen had been chosen by the papers' own publishers.

Here's another fishy-sounding excuse for failing to cover the Black Panthers/Justice Dept. issue.

Bob Schieffer interviewed Eric Holder on last Sunday's "Face the Nation," but didn't ask about it. He later explained:

Well, it's certainly a question that is a legitimate question to ask. And basically what happened was this all really became a story when the whistleblower came out and testified that he'd had to leave the Justice Department and so on. And, frankly, had I known about that, I would have asked the question.

I was on vacation that week. This happened -- apparently, it got very little publicity. And, you know, I just didn't know about it.

CBS News Chief Legal Correspondent Jan Crawford covers the Black Panther case at http://www.cbsnews.com/8301-504564_162-20010581-504564.html?tag=contentMain;contentBody
I was struck by her last sentence:

The [US Commission of Civil Rights] also renewed its demands that a former top lawyer in the voting rights section [of the Justice Dept.] be allowed to testify. The Department thus far has denied that request.


" the poll watchers all testified that they spoke with and saw voters approaching the polling place turn away and leave when they saw the NBPP thugs blocking the entrance."

Apparently evidence *was* presented at the Civil Rights Commission hearing that specific voters were intimidated by the NBPP but this fact remained unreported by those who covered the hearings (but it apparently in the public records).

So a career DOJ attorneys testifies under oath after resigning, receives support from others in the form of affidavits, others publicly testify that actual voters were intimidated, but this simply a "pseudo-scandal"?

Brendan, you need to read more widely.

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