Right-Wing Watchdogs Push "Bogus" EPA Map Conspiracy

A group of right-wing news sites coordinated across the U.S. are baselessly pushing a conspiracy theory that the Environmental Protection Agency has been hiding new maps that reveal an "alarming" power grab. But the maps of U.S. waterways were simply updated from versions created during the Bush administration, and are helping the agency keep drinking water safe more efficiently. Earlier this year, the EPA proposed clarifying which waterways are under the protection of the Clean Water Act, as companies have been able to pollute "beyond the law" due to legal confusion. Conservative media have been accusing the EPA of attempting "the biggest land grab ever" with this revision, even though the clarification will not add any new waterways compared to the EPA's historical authority -- in fact, it will cover fewer bodies of water than it did under President Ronald Reagan. In line with this conservative media narrative, Rep. Lamar Smith (R-TX) accused the EPA on August 26 of hiding maps that would allow them to advance the planned revision in order "to control a huge amount of private property across the country." Rep. Smith's claims are being uncritically touted by Watchdog.org, a conservative news website with state bureaus across the nation. Watchdog.org's Colorado bureau stated that the maps "graphically show the increase reach [sic] of the EPA's regulatory authority," including a map for Colorado they called "particularly alarming." Their North Dakota bureau published an article claiming that a landowner is already experiencing "the federal government attempting to regulate wetlands that aren't always wet." And an article from their Maryland bureau was boldly headlined: "Maps reveal EPA water grab in Maryland," going on to state that "the Maryland map plainly shows how much more authority the rule would give over bodies of water in the state of Maryland." However, the maps, which were created during the Bush administration and recently revised to reflect new data, are not intended to show the scope of the EPA's jurisdiction, but will provide a scientific tool for the EPA to better understand which water bodies need protection. An EPA spokesperson explained to the Washington Examiner: Let us be very clear -- these maps have nothing to do with EPA's proposed rule or any other regulatory purpose. They were first created during the Bush administration to identify waters that would be vulnerable as a result of a 2001 Supreme Court case and pending litigation. The maps were subsequently updated to reflect new data and a 2006 Supreme Court decision. The agency added in a response on their website that the maps "do not show the scope of waters" to be regulated but "show generally the location" of water bodies and "serve as a tool for visualizing how water flows across our nation and in regions of this country," and will ultimately help to "reduce leg work, saving time and money." Furthermore, the width of the waterways was distorted on the maps for ease of use by water resource managers "mak[ing] it seem like water is more prevalent than it really is." Jon Devine, attorney for the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC), stated on the NRDC's blog that "Only in the House of Representatives and the any-government-is-bad-government press could an expert agency having a map prepared from another expert agency's public data be a reason for hysteria." Devine's statement was prescient. The Watchdog.org bureaus are a project of the Franklin Center for Government and Public Integrity, which advocates "free markets" and "limited government," according to its president. The Franklin Center, which claims to provide 10 percent of daily reporting from state capitals and owns at least 55 news sites around the country, aims to "expose corruption and incompetence in government." Their funding comes almost completely from Donors Trust -- of which the Koch brothers are top contributors -- also known as the "Dark-Money ATM" of the right wing. Devine stated in an email to Media Matters that the media's concern over the EPA's maps characterize the "bogus" rhetoric of calling the rule unprecedented: People are using distorted maps to distort what the administration's Clean Water Protection Rule would do, but they can't escape one fact that shows how bogus all of the rhetoric is - if this proposal were finalized, fewer water bodies would be protected by the Clean Water Act than was the case during the Reagan administration. Because this proposal focuses on waters that science shows are important to people's health and well-being, it is critical that a strong rule be finalized as soon as possible.

Posted by on 2 September 2014 | 11:32 am

George Will's Ethical Problems Continue With The Kochs And AFP

Washington Post columnist George Will deepened his ethically challenged connections to big-money conservative groups by participating in an Americans for Prosperity summit where prominent Republican presidential hopefuls made their pitch to major donors. Will's attendance at the Koch-backed group's annual convention comes after he spent months promoting Koch-backed candidates for public offices and advancing Koch-backed policy issues in his syndicated column. On August 31, Politico reported that Will was part of an "exclusive group of major donors and VIPs" who "dined privately" at AFP's eighth annual Defending the American Dream summit. According to Politico, the summit "has become an increasingly important stop for aspiring GOP presidential candidates." In previous years, Will has also spoken at the summit and been given AFP's highest honor, the George Washington Award. Will's cozy relationship with AFP has not been disclosed in any of his recent columns promoting key Republican candidates for Congress or governorships, who have benefited from AFP's ad spending. Using his platform at The Washington Post, Will has promoted Michigan Senate candidate Terri Lynn Land, suggesting that she is "the GOP's best answer to the so-called war on women" and contrasting her with Sandra Fluke, whom he smeared as "a professional victim and virtuoso whiner." Will argued that by electing Land, Michigan voters would be able "to show what they think of 'war on women' hysterics as a substitute for thought." Like Will, AFP supports Land and, as Will noted, has already spent $5 million on her behalf. Will did not note his connections to the group. Will has similarly promoted North Carolina Republican Thom Tillis' candidacy for the Senate, parroting his anti-Obamacare campaign advertisements in a May 30 column. Will defended Tillis against charges that he is an "establishment" moderate by praising his conservative credentials: "Tillis has been an enthusiastic enactor and implementer of the conservatism that North Carolinians voted for." Will noted that AFP has spent $8 million on advertising attacking Tillis' opponent, Democrat Kay Hagan. Charles Koch and his family have also maxed out their contributions to Tillis, and he received a $5,000 donation from the Koch Industries PAC. Will has profiled Republican Bruce Rauner, who is running to be governor of Illinois, framing the election as a choice between Rauner's push for term limits and his "vows to change the state's fundamental affliction --its political culture" and "the acceleration of stagnation" under the Democratic incumbent, Pat Quinn. AFP has spent at least $120,000 attacking Quinn. Will also supported the candidacy of Monica Wehby in Oregon. In a July 25 column, he argued that since she has spent 17 years as a pediatric neurosurgeon, "She probably can cope with the strains of legislative life." He cited her "two X chromosomes," opposition to abortion rights, and support of marriage equality to claim she "complicates the Democratic Party's continuing accusation that Republicans wage 'war on women.' " Will also suggested that Wehby isn't too extreme for Oregon because she "won 50 percent of the vote in a five-candidate primary in which her rivals accused her of moderation." The Koch-affiliated group Freedom Partners, which Politico called the "Koch brothers' secret bank," plans to spend $3.6 million on Wehby's race. Organizations that receive large amounts of Koch funding have also been prominently mentioned in Will's recent columns. Will twice hyped the work of the Institute for Justice, which relied on Charles Koch for seed money, and has since received more than $1 million in money from Koch-backed groups. Will dedicated another column to pushing the Goldwater Institute's effort to create a balanced budget amendment. The group has received more than $1.6 million in donations from Koch-affiliated groups. Will also offered praise for U.S. District Judge Rudolph T. Randa, who halted a criminal investigation into possible illegal coordination between the campaign of Gov. Scott Walker (R-WI) and outside groups during a recall election. Walker has benefited from more than $10 million in spending by AFP. Will has previously had problems with nondisclosure. Will has been criticized by media ethicists and veteran journalists for citing groups that are funded by the Bradley Foundation without disclosing that he is a paid board member of that organization. Tom Fiedler, dean of Boston University's College of Communications and former Miami Herald editor, stated that Will's acceptance of an award from the Bradley Foundation "signaled his alignment with its philosophy." Washington and Lee University journalism professor Ed Wasserman said that Will's failure to disclose the relationship was "[o]f course" a problem, explaining that even though Will is known to be a conservative, readers should know if Will's commentary is "independently arrived at rather than a reflection of a nexus of relationships and entanglements that he is embedded in."

Posted by on 2 September 2014 | 11:20 am

Reported Central Contentions Of New Benghazi Book Already Debunked

A new book that seeks to damage Hillary Clinton over the 2012 attacks in Benghazi reportedly relies on long-debunked conservative myths.   On September 9, WND Books will publish Aaron Klein's The REAL Benghazi Story: What the White House and Hillary Don't Want You to Know. The book's release is the latest salvo from a conservative cottage industry that aims to make money and political hay out of both Benghazi and Clinton smears. Klein, a senior reporter for the birther site WND, is not a credible author -- one of his recent books portrayed President Obama as a "Manchurian Candidate" whose autobiography was ghostwritten by Bill Ayers. The Washington Examiner's Paul Bedard, who reviewed an advance copy of Klein's Benghazi book, reported that Klein argues "Clinton was unwilling to provide additional security to the diplomatic outpost and even played a role in sending Stevens to his 'doomed mission.'" Klein's contention that Clinton "was unwilling to provide additional security to the diplomatic outpost" seems to reference the long-debunked conservative claim that the then-Secretary of State personally signed off on cables rejecting requests for additional security. When congressional Republicans first made that claim in April 2013, diplomatic reporters noted that every cable sent to the State Department from overseas facilities is addressed to the secretary, and every cable sent from the State Department is signed by the secretary, even though the secretary rarely reviews them. In her 2014 memoir, Clinton wrote that she had never seen the cables in question, stating, "That's not how it works. It shouldn't. And it didn't." Klein's claim that Clinton "played a role in sending Stevens" to his death in Benghazi has also been debunked. The State Department's Accountability Review Board reported that Stevens "made the decision to travel to Benghazi independently of Washington, per standard practice," with the trip's timing "driven in part by commitments in Tripoli." Gregory Hicks, who was Stevens' deputy, also testified before Congress that the ambassador "chose to go" to Benghazi.

Posted by on 2 September 2014 | 3:16 am

As Children Go Back To School, Fox News Hosts Push Discredited Plan To Arm Teachers

The hosts of Fox & Friends roundly endorsed a Texas school district that allows teachers to carry guns, even though security experts reject the idea of armed teachers and civilians with concealed guns have not stopped past mass shooting incidents. During segments on August 27 and September 2, Fox & Friends hyped plans by the Argyle Independent School District (ISD) to arm teachers this school year. Media reporting on the school district's plans have focused on a sign outside of an Argyle school that reads, "ATTENTION: Please Be Aware That The Staff At Argyle ISD Are Armed And May Use Whatever Force Is Necessary To Protect Our Students." Co-host Brian Kilmeade told viewers, "Don't mess with this school in Texas, they're armed, they're ready, and letting everyone know about it," while co-host Elisabeth Hasselbeck described the sign as a "great warning there that is meant to protect the kids." While advancing the common but false right-wing media claim that mass shooters target places where guns are not allowed, Kilmeade later added, "If you want to drop your kid off and know that they are going to be protected, you know at least in that school they are going to be protected." Fox & Friends proceeded to host Greg Coker, who provides weapons training for schools, to tout armed teachers. What Fox neglected to include in the segment, however, is that Coker actually has a business relationship with Argyle ISD and was responsible for arming their teachers through his "Not On My Watch" program. According to a document posted on the Argyle ISD website, Coker charges $1,500 per teacher for a 30-hour training course that involves firing 900 rounds of ammunition. (The National Rifle Association, which endorsed armed teachers following the Sandy Hook Elementary School mass shooting, recommends that teachers receive between 60 and 80 hours of training before carrying a gun in school.)

Posted by on 2 September 2014 | 2:51 am

The Wash. Post 's Resident Scott Walker Cheerleader

Former George W. Bush speechwriter Marc Thiessen, who has a financial relationship with Gov. Scott Walker, is using his Washington Post column to lavish praise on the Wisconsin Republican and help position him for a 2016 presidential run. In 2013, Thiessen co-authored Unintimidated: A Governor's Story and a Nation's Challenge with Walker. According to the book's publisher, Unintimidated "tells the dramatic story of how one brave leader drove real change in his state, and what the rest of the country can learn from him. ... It's not just a memoir -- it's a call to action." A few months ago, Post reporters Philip Rucker and Robert Costa documented the trend of potential 2016 Republican presidential candidates attempting to "study up on issues and cultivate ties to pundits and luminaries from previous administrations." Among those listed was Walker, whom they reported has "developed a bond with Washington Post columnist Marc A. Thiessen." According to the Post, "when Thiessen helped Walker write the governor's memoir, they talked via Skype about many issues." The Post reported after the book's announcement that considering Walker's looming re-election campaign and possible 2016 presidential run, "writing a book with a high-profile GOP strategist is a notable step onto the national stage." Thiessen's help in getting Walker on the national stage isn't limited to the book -- he has also devoted significant column space to praising him, often at the expense of potential 2016 rivals. Given his career of service to Republicans in the White House and on Capitol Hill, Thiessen's support for Walker at the Post may preface a future role with a Walker campaign or administration.

Posted by on 2 September 2014 | 2:12 am

A Fox News Analyst Blames Obama For Islamic State's Beheading Of Steven Sotloff

From the September 2 edition of Fox News' The Real Story with Gretchen Carlson: GRETCHEN CARLSON: A sad day for America, right? K.T. McFARLAND: You bet. And I'm not sure it's a day that had to happen. You know, the president has stuck his head in the sand. We now have evidence that he's known about the threat that was mounting, coming, the ability of ISIS to take large areas, be well-funded, be well-armed, and have this jihadist agenda of killing, murdering, raping, crucifying, beheading anybody who gets in their way. Americans, Christians, religious minorities, even other Muslims. And the president stuck his head in the sand, and now we've seen two Americans have lost their heads. And this is not where it's going to be over, Gretchen. That's what's so upsetting. There are some 20 other unaccounted-for journalists who have been missing for the last year in Syria and in Iraq. There's one American -- 26-year-old girl who's an aid worker. We have hundreds, if not thousands, of Americans now in Iraq and doing -- in the oil industry, in the energy industry -- and doing aid workers and working at hospitals teaching at schools; they're all vulnerable.  Previously: The Foreign Leaders Conservative Media Wish Were In Charge Here Fox's Erick Erickson Understands Why "So Many" Believe Obama "Is A Closet Muslim Jihadist Sympathizer" Laura Ingraham Tells Radio Listeners That Obama Considers Them, Not Islamic State, The "True Enemy"

Posted by on 2 September 2014 | 1:44 am

News Outlet: Karl Rove Twisted Our Reporting For His Anti-Dem Attack Ad

The Colorado Independent criticized Fox News contributor Karl Rove and his political group for twisting its reporting into a misleading attack on the Affordable Care Act (ACA) and Democratic Sen. Mark Udall. Rove is the co-founder of Crossroads GPS, an IRS 501(c)(4) group that funds attacks against Democratic candidates across the country. The Associated Press reported on August 19 that GPS plans to spend more than $6 million on television ads in Colorado. The group's latest Colorado ad attacks incumbent Sen. Udall for supporting health care reform, with a narrator claiming that "on the Eastern Plains, patients now outnumber doctors 5,000 to one." The group cites the Independent for the statistic. But the news outlet responded that GPS is misrepresenting its work. Reporter Tessa Cheek, whose reporting was quoted by GPS, wrote that the commercial added the word "now" to deceptively suggest the patient-to-doctor ratio is a result of the ACA when in fact it "has nothing to do with the new law":

Posted by on 29 August 2014 | 10:12 am

Laura Ingraham Tells Radio Listeners That Obama Considers Them, Not Islamic State, The "True Enemy"

From the August 29 edition of Courtside Entertainment Group's The Laura Ingraham Show:Previously: AAJA And MPAC Demand Action After Fox Host Advocated For Violence Against MuslimsMuslim Leaders Have Roundly Denounced Islamic State, But Conservative Media Won't Tell You That Laura Ingraham Defies Reality, Suggests Muslim Leaders Haven't Condemned ISIS Violence

Posted by on 29 August 2014 | 9:56 am

Fox's Geraldo: Obama Should Encourage American Muslims "To Be Americans First"

From the August 29 edition of Fox News Fox & Friends: GERALDO RIVERA: I would like the President of the United States to say to Muslim Americans, you are our fellow citizens, we adore you. You are part of the American mosaic. We incorporate you. We extol the virtue of your wonderful religion. But I ask -- me speaking again as the president -- you Imams in the various mosques around the country, to begin preaching American patriotism. Begin spotting these troubled youngsters, disabusing them of the notion that their first loyalty is to jihad or  extreme Islam. I think that we now have to recognize that this is an urgent situation. Not merely the military situation in Iraq and Syria, as critical as that is. But right here at home and in Great Britain and in other countries where there has been a tremendous diaspora of the Muslim population, they are everywhere. We love them. They are business leaders, they are drivers, they are teachers, they are scholars. But there must be now a commitment by American Muslims, as encouraged by the President of the United States, to be American  first, and to let the kids know that to be a jihadist is a dead end street. BRIAN KILMEADE: I hate to tell you, don't hold your breath, because we've been trying to do that, and this president has been a very good friend to the Muslims. He actually just celebrated Ramadan again. So if they're not getting the message yet, I think we've had it. Previously: How Fox News Has A Conversation About Islam Fox Falls For Fake Story About Obama Personally Funding Muslim Museum During Shutdown Fox's Bolling Advances Obama-Muslim Myth Fox's Erick Erickson Understands Why "So Many" Believe Obama "Is A Closet Muslim Jihadist Sympathizer"

Posted by on 29 August 2014 | 9:19 am

The Foreign Leaders Conservative Media Wish Were In Charge Here

International incidents are a prime opportunity to daydream about foreign leaders who'd make better presidents than Barack Obama, at least inside the conservative media bubble. David Cameron has now joined Vladimir Putin and Benjamin Netanyahu on the right's list of foreigners they'd rather have in the Oval Office than the man the nation elected. On August 28, President Obama delivered remarks on the U.S. military's approach to the rising terror threat from the Islamic State (also known as ISIS or ISIL) and recent developments in Ukraine. Right-wing media figures responded with disdain, accusing the president of failing to view the Islamic State as a threat and even suggesting it's understandable to think Obama sympathizes with terrorists. Yet when Cameron delivered similar remarks on the Islamic State's threat to the United Kingdom the next day, the right's response was much different -- Fox News contributor Erick Erickson tweeted: Can we borrow David Cameron? He fights. -- Erick Erickson (@EWErickson) August 29, 2014 Cameron joins a select group of foreign leaders whom the right-wing media have determined to be better suited for the U.S. presidency than the man chosen by American voters.

Posted by on 29 August 2014 | 2:32 am

Fox Host Wonders Whether An Executive Order On Immigration Is "Shutdown Bait"

Fox News host Bret Baier raised the notion that a possible forthcoming executive order on immigration from President Obama may be government "shutdown bait." In June, President Obama announced he was considering issuing an executive order that could allow millions of law-abiding undocumented immigrants to stay temporarily in the United States. While the specifics of the possible order are still unknown, the Washington Post reported this "could include temporary relief for law-abiding undocumented immigrants who are closely related to U.S. citizens or those who have lived in the country a certain number of years."  On the August 28 edition of Special Report with Bret Baier, host Bret Baier speculated on whether President Obama's forthcoming order was "shutdown bait," designed to encourage the Republicans into shutting down the government in retaliation:  In fact, GOP lawmakers have been floating the idea of using a budget showdown in response to an executive order on immigration. In recent days, Republican lawmakers like Sen. Marco Rubio (FL) and Rep. Steve King (IA) have talked to reporters about using the budget and government funding mechanisms to address any action Obama takes on immigration. In a statement released by The Des Moines Register, King said that an executive order on immigration "changes the dynamic of any continuing resolution":   "If the president wields his pen and commits that unconstitutional act to legalize millions, I think that becomes something that is nearly political nuclear ...," King said. "I think the public would be mobilized and galvanized and that changes the dynamic of any continuing resolution and how we might deal with that."King said if that happens, House-passed legislation on border security, including rolling back the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, or DACA, order, "becomes a requirement" for a continuing resolution. Baier's question also came a day after The Week's Marc Ambinder noted that Rubio had "hinted that this might happen," and advised Democrats to "[g]o big on immigration. Wait for the GOP counter-reaction. Quietly pray for the government to get shut down. Use it like a cattle prod to wake voters up just before the midterms."

Posted by on 28 August 2014 | 9:16 am

Fox Revives Right-Wing Myth That Government Assistance Pays "Better Than Working"

From the August 28 edition of Fox News' Special Report with Bret Baier:Previously: Right-Wing Media Have No Clue How Anti-Poverty Programs Work Fox Claims That Declining Minimum Wage Is "Growing Exponentially" Dishonest Fox Chart Overstates Comparison Of Welfare To Full-Time Work By 500 Percent

Posted by on 28 August 2014 | 6:43 am

Fox's Erick Erickson Understands Why "So Many" Believe Obama "Is A Closet Muslim Jihadist Sympathizer"

Fox News contributor Erick Erickson responded to President Obama's press conference addressing the Islamic State by asserting that he understands why "so many" believe Obama "is a closet Muslim jihadist sympathizer." On August 28, Obama held a press conference to deliver remarks on the Islamic State and recent developments in Ukraine. During his statement, Obama explained that U.S. airstrikes have allowed Kurdish forces to push back the extremists, but added that more needed to be done with allies to root out the "cancer" that is the Islamic State: As I've said, rooting out a cancer like ISIL will not be quick or easy, but I'm confident that we can and we will, working closely with our allies and our partners. For our part, I've directed Secretary Hagel and our Joint Chiefs of Staff to prepare a range of options. I'll be meeting with my National Security Council again this evening as we continue to develop that strategy. And I've been consulting with members of Congress, and I'll continue to do so in the days ahead. Despite Obama's strong condemnation of the Islamic State, Erickson said on his radio show that "I don't believe Barack Obama is a closet Muslim jihadi sympathizer. But I now - today, after this press conference -- totally understand why so many of you think he is." Erickson repeated the incendiary comment on Twitter:  Erickson's inflammatory remark is the latest in a long line of extreme rhetoric from the Fox contributor. In 2012, Erickson called Obama a "composite Kenyan" on his blog RedState. He also has a history of sexist and homophobic comments: Erickson labeled Texas state lawmaker and gubernatorial candidate Wendy Davis "Abortion Barbie" and claimed that gay people need to "overcome" the "struggle" of homosexuality.

Posted by on 28 August 2014 | 6:27 am

Conservative Media's "Off-The-Rails" Claim About A Climate Deal And The Constitution

Conservative media are suggesting that the Obama administration is "working with foreigners to subvert the Constitution" by seeking a climate agreement with other nations without Senate approval, but legal experts agree that because it is not expected to be legally binding, the accord does not require Senate ratification. Obama Administration Announces It Is Seeking A Non-Legally Binding Climate Accord NY Times: Obama Is Seeking "Politically Binding" Rather Than Legally Binding International Climate Agreement. The New York Times reported that the Obama administration is seeking a "politically binding" rather than legally binding agreement that would "name and shame" nations that don't comply at the upcoming United Nations summit meeting in 2015: The Obama administration is working to forge a sweeping international climate change agreement to compel nations to cut their planet-warming fossil fuel emissions, but without ratification from Congress. In preparation for this agreement, to be signed at a United Nations summit meeting in 2015 in Paris, the negotiators are meeting with diplomats from other countries to broker a deal to commit some of the world's largest economies to enact laws to reduce their carbon pollution. But under the Constitution, a president may enter into a legally binding treaty only if it is approved by a two-thirds majority of the Senate. To sidestep that requirement, President Obama's climate negotiators are devising what they call a "politically binding" deal that would "name and shame" countries into cutting their emissions.  [...] Lawmakers in both parties on Capitol Hill say there is no chance that the currently gridlocked Senate will ratify a climate change treaty in the near future, especially in a political environment where many Republican lawmakers remain skeptical of the established science of human-caused global warming. [The New York Times, 8/27/14] Experts Agree This Is Clearly Constitutional And With Precedent Climate Law Expert: A Non-Binding Agreement Would Be Constitutional And Have Precedent. In an interview with Media Matters, Columbia University Law Professor Michael B. Gerrard, who is the director of the Sabin Center for Climate Change Law, stated that "from the press reports and from everything else I've heard, it would be a non-legally binding agreement of the sort that should not require Senate ratification." He added that "there are numerous international agreements that the U.S. enters into without -- without Senate ratification. The most prominent of them is in 1945, FDR negotiated the Yalta agreement with Churchill and Stalin -- an enormously consequential agreement -- but never obtained Senate ratification. So the President has considerable, you know, foreign affairs powers." When asked if he saw merit in the complaints that the potential accord is somehow unconstitutional or fits in with a pattern of President Obama overstepping his power, Gerrard laughed, saying "the short answer is no," before expanding that this is connected to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's plan to regulate greenhouse gas emissions under existing statutes and that the "Supreme Court has three times affirmed that the existing Clean Air Act authorizes EPA to regulate greenhouse gases without further Congressional action." [Phone Interview with Media Matters, 8/28/14] UN Expert: It's "Not Unconstitutional... Presidents Have Done It Countless Times In The Past." John H. Knox, a UN independent expert on human rights and the environment and professor of international law at Wake Forest University School of Law, said in an email to Media Matters that "[I]t isn't unconstitutional for the president to negotiate political commitments such as the climate accord," adding that  "presidents have done it countless times in the past": No, it isn't unconstitutional for the president to negotiate political commitments - presidents have done it countless times in the past.  Famous examples include the 1941 Atlantic Charter on cooperation among the Allies in World War II, the 1975 Helsinki Accords on East-West relations, and the 1992 Rio Declaration on environmental protection, among many, many others. These political accords aren't legally binding.  As a result, there's no requirement - under the Constitution or otherwise - for the President to seek Congressional authorization or approval, either through the two-thirds majority of the Senate required for "treaties" or for the majority of both houses required for certain other types of international agreements.  [Email to Media Matters, 8/28/14] American University Law Fellow: Proposal Has "Vast Precedent." William Snape, an environmental fellow and practitioner-in-residence at American University stated in an email to Media Matters that the proposal for a climate accord "is constitutional (and otherwise legal) and has vast precedent with regard to US trade agreements." [Email to Media Matters, 8/28/14] Earthjustice Attorney: Claim Of Unconstitutionality Is "Off The Rails." In an interview with Media Matters, attorney Erika Rosenthal, who specializes in climate policy and international negotiations at Earthjustice, called the allegations of a climate accord being unconstitutional "off the rails" and "completely without merit": This seems to be the go-to response when Fox News can't figure out anything else to say. [...] The charge that the President of the United States is trying to make progress on a critical issue for all Americans in the face of a do-nothing Congress is unconstitutional? It's off the rails. It's completely without merit. What the Obama Administration is doing is faithfully executing the law of the United States. [...] The Obama Administration is not making up a new category of international agreement. It is not trying to pull the wool over the American people; it is not trying to pull the wool over Congress. What he's doing and saying is he's working within the political realities of a broken Congress. [Phone Interview with Media Matters, 8/28/14] NY Mag's Chait: "This Is Not A Case Of Executive Overreach." In an article for New York magazine, Jonathan Chait cited experts explaining why "this is not a case of executive overreach": [U]nlike Obama's reported plans to enact sweeping immigration reform without Congress -- this is not a case of executive overreach. [...] You don't need a formal treaty to coordinate international action. Here we get into the core of the question. Exactly what level of commitment requires a formal treaty turns out to be a huge gray area. Daniel Bodansky, a law professor and former State Department climate negotiator, has a paper going through the ins, outs, and what-have-yous. The short answer is that political commitments that lack legal force can work as well, or possibly even better, than binding treaties. ("Agreed outcomes that are not adopted as treaties can have political force. Violations of such political agreements may have significant reputational costs, but they do not have any international legal consequences.") Center for American Progress fellow Peter Ogden, the former White House National Security staff director for climate change and environmental policy, points out in Foreign Affairs that the Copenhagen summit, which failed to produce a binding treaty, "was actually a turning point in international climate talks," and has produced significant carbon reductions. The danger in this approach is that a future administration could renege. But that possibility depends, in turn, on how well the regulations actually work. The Obama administration's climate regulations are modest, but they are also projected to impose low costs on consumers and business. If the regulations actually deliver, encouraging the market to find inexpensive ways to switch to cleaner fuels, and to save money through conservation, then the incentive to revert back to unregulated carbon emissions will be small. Doing so might even impose new costs on businesses that had adjusted to Obama's regulations. [New York, 8/27/14] Yet Conservative Media Claim Move Is Unconstitutional National Review Online Suggests Obama Is "Working With Foreigners To Subvert The U.S. Constitution." National Review Online's Jim Geraghty suggested the administration "confirm[ed]" on the "front page of the New York Times" that the president is "working with foreigners to subvert the U.S. Constitution": If you cannot get the Senate to ratify a treaty (technically, passing a resolution of ratification), then the United States is not a party to that treaty. Period. Full stop. The Constitution is not iffy on this. This part is not a suggestion. There is no wiggle room. There are a lot of nonsensical or highly exaggerated chain e-mails accusing the president of working with foreigners to subvert the U.S. Constitution. But this time you've got the foreigners and administration officials themselves confirming it on the front page of the New York Times! [National Review Online, 8/27/14]  Fox News' Stephen Hayes Suggests Potential Agreement Is "Constitutionally Indecent." Weekly Standard columnist and Fox News contributor Stephen F. Hayes said that this is "the kind of scheme" someone would expect to get from "your crazy uncle who's worried about a world government taking over" and is "more constitutionally indecent than potential strikes on ISIS." From the August 27 edition of Fox News' Special Report with Bret Baier: STEPHEN F. HAYES: This is the kind of scheme that I would've expected to get or somebody would expect to get from, you know, your crazy uncle who's worried about a world government taking over and Obama working with world government. This is -- you can't imagine that this is a real policy. And it turns out that people who were paranoid about it were actually right that the Administration would do this, and the most striking thing about this, in reading The New York Times story, which broke the story today, front page of The New York Times story, I think in paragraph three of four, you have Obama Administration officials in effect talking aloud about how they're going to work around the Constitution. You know there's this pesky little thing, this ratification thing that we need to work around and here's how we're going to work around it. It's unbelievable that they would actually talk about it in this open a fashion. And Josh Ernest, you know from the podium at the White House saying, well you know this is really how we have to get around Congressional dysfunction. That's total nonsense.  CHARLES KRAUTHAMMER: Would you say it's constitutionally indecent? HAYES: I would say it's more constitutionally indecent than potential strikes on ISIS. [Fox News, Special Report with Bret Baier, 8/27/14] Tucker Carlson: There Is "No Legal Justification" For Climate Accord. Fox News' America's Newsroom played a clip of Sen. Rand Paul suggesting that the potential climate accord is an example of President Obama acting like a "king." Daily Caller editor and Fox News co-host Tucker Carlson then agreed, saying there is "no legal justification" for this as the "U.S. constitution makes clear": TUCKER CARLSON: In the case of global warming, climate change, I mean, there is no legal justification for that. The U.S. Constitution is very clear, if you want to enter into a treaty with a foreign power you need the Senate to vote on it and to sign off on it, and that, of course, would never happen. So that's just completely over the top that they'd even talk about that. [Fox News, America's Newsroom, 8/28/14] FoxNews.com Suggests Obama May Be "Bypass[ing]" The Constitution. From the front page of FoxNews.com on August 27: [Screengrab from FoxNews.com, accessed 8/27/14]

Posted by on 28 August 2014 | 4:43 am

Scott Walker Calls On Republicans To Use Fox News To Get Their "Message Out"

From the August 28 edition of Fox News Radio's Kilmeade & Friends:Previously: Fox & Friends: Scott Walker's #1 Fan Fox Does Damage Control For Scott Walker On Criminal Investigation

Posted by on 28 August 2014 | 12:33 am