On Not Getting Distracted By Breitbart's Latest Smear


Those of you on twitter this weekend can't help but have been drawn into Andrew Breitbart's latest smear festival. The details are sordid and involved, as is usual with anything Breitbart touches.

Given that his latest victim is Rep. Anthony Weiner, it's important to remember what of Weiner's activities might be drawing the right wing fake video impresario's ire. Weiner discussed one of his current concerns with Rachel Maddow last Friday night.

Weiner is pushing hard for Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas to recuse himself on any decisions involving The Healthcare Reform Act.

From the link:

Clarence Thomas’ wife earned $700,000 from half the radical right-wing ideologues in Washington. Opposing health care reform was her specialty. For 13 years, Thomas didn’t disclose a penny of that income.

He’s trying to conceal a blatant conflict of interest. His family is getting rich off an issue that’s very likely to come before the Supreme Court.

I don't expect Breitbart is getting paid for this directly. Smearing Weiner is an end in itself, and I doubt it was specifically in order to distract attention from Weiner's efforts to shame Thomas into recusing himself. Weiner is an unapologetic liberal, which draws the hate of Breitbart and his drinking buddies no matter what issues Weiner promotes.

But it is essential that we as progressives don't get distracted by Breitbart's lies. The issue is Thomas and what a complete conflict of interest it is for him to vote on anything to do with the constitutionality of the Healthcare Reform bill. Given that conflict of interest didn't stop him from voting in favor of Bush in Bush v. Gore (when Thomas's wife was on the Bush transition team) I doubt Thomas has any shame but Weiner's efforts are still commendable.

I refuse to get distracted by Breitbart's promotion of lies. It is immoral for Thomas to vote on an issue for which his WIFE is a LOBBYIST. He should be shamed into recusing himself, and if he doesn't, he should be publicly reviled and ultimately impeached.

H/T Heather for the transcript below the fold.

MADDOW: You have been in the news today because you have been pressuring Supreme Court Justices to release their financial disclosure forms. Clarence Thomas' form shows that his wife Ginni earned salary and benefits from an anti-health reform group called Liberty Central as well as another group Liberty Consulting. And his wife... I was reading the forms after you posted them and I felt like there was also some sort of reference, maybe Clarence Thomas himself receiving some sort of funding from Liberty Consulting?

How did you interpret those disclosures? What do you think they mean?

WEINER: Well just so everyone understands, it's required that every year that members of the Supreme Court disclose anything that might be a conflict in their background. Well, as it turned out for almost twenty years Clarence Thomas' spouse was getting money from not only think tanks, but think tanks that were actively trying to persuade the court to do something, things like the Heritage Foundation and others.

And so now when that became public, we've been paying extra attention to when these filings were reported and here's the conflict. It is clear under the law that if any member of your household is going to benefit one way or the other from the outcome of a case, you've got to recuse yourself.

Well, Ginni Thomas is actively raising money, taking money from organizations that would benefit if the health care reform act was struck down. It's clear that Clarence Thomas should recuse himself. And let me just say this and make it very clear; Clarence Thomas' spouse can earn money any way she wants and be free to speak (inaudible), but the question becomes, does that income to that household present a conflict for Clarence Thomas.

And so yeah, we started a website ConflictedClarenceThomas.com and we put all of these documents up. And it's pretty clear that Justice Thomas should recuse himself from the healthcare reform debate at least, because it's clear his household is benefiting from one side of that debate.

MADDOW: Benefiting financially because she would not be getting the income that she's getting from these ideological groups if it were not for her perceived influence on her husband?

WEINER: Exactly. As a matter of fact, she goes as far to advertise that and talk about the idea. You know, she makes fun of the idea. She says oh yes, I've got a great deal of influence over these proceedings. And remember something, she's basically, her organizations are raising money by saying if you give money to me, we're going to try to stop the healthcare reform from being implemented.

Well she returns home to Justice Thomas who has to make that decision and probably in the next... less than a year. So we're pressuring him to recuse himself. To me it's a pretty clear case of the law that he should.

MADDOW: And of course, there's no way to force him to do it except by shame.

WEINER: That's right.


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