Friday, October 31, 2008

"It will only get worse ..."

When a Nazi party official brought Hilter proof that The Protocols of the Elders of Zion was a forgery in 1930, his curt reply was: "It doesn't matter. The Protocols are still true in principle." It is probably no coincidence that his words echoed [Henry] Ford's own response when confronted with the same facts years before: "The only statement I care to make about the Protocols is that they fit in with what is going on." That their lies were predicated on an earlier lie was inconsequential. All the lies dovetailed to a truth of which Ford and Hitler were unwaveringly convinced.
-- Max Wallace, The American Axis
What is most troubling to me is the promotion of hatred as entertainment. Moreover, they [conservative movement propagandists] have actively conspired to fan the flames of viscious hatred aimed at one group in particular: Americans with progressive political views. They speak of "liberals" with the kind of dripping contempt and virulent hostility that used to be associated with racism and sectarian strife. One of the best known right-wing commentators, Ann Coulter, advised her audience that she was in favor of executing an American citizen who had joined the Taliban "in order to physically intimidate liberals by making them realize that they could be killed , too."
-- Al Gore, The Assault on Reason
A few years ago I wrote a post in which I said that Ann Coulter promotes hatred of "liberals" that is comparable to standard forms of ethnic and religious bigotry; that her violent tribalistic rhetoric acts as a sort of corrosive acid dissolving the bonds of democratic society. I'd like to take a moment to look at a case study of precisely the sort of bigotry I was talking about, a bigotry that we'll see indeed parallels standard prejudice.

Which is why we'll be revisiting the Blogs for Victory "Nazism 2.0" post that I linked to on Friday. You'll notice that despite both contributors to the post - Matt Margolis and Mark Noonan - being well aware that the Ashley Todd assault story is a hoax neither has bothered to update the post saying so. Why? Because it's true anyway. Here's Noonan's response in the comments.

What have I to apologize for? The news story came across from credible sources and it is an action entirely in line with normal leftwing tactics - and, indeed, tactics we have seen used in this very election. That this poor woman is suffering from a mental defect doesn’t get your side off the hook for your persistent thuggishness against political opponents. I would have entirely discounted this if I didn’t have scores of examples at my finger tips of leftwingers using violence and intimidation just over the past 8 years or so - and volumes of examples over the past 50 years.

Clean up your side - make it so that any such story will be disbelieved; but don’t ask for an apology from me.
Unbelievable, right? "Tactics we have seen used in this very election," Noonan writes. Really? Black male Obama supporters looking for white female McCain supporters they can molest and mutilate and rob at ATM machines is a "tactic" of Senator Obama and his supporters("leftwingers" in Noonan speak.) As is obvious, even were the story true Noonan and Margolis would be guilty of taking an example of a single individual's behavior and using that to stereotype and demonize an entire class of individuals - and its important to remember that Noonan and Margolis are talking about everyday, mainstream normal American citizens who happen to be Democrats or intend to vote Democrat such as libertarians, liberals, moderates or disenchanted Republicans and conservatives - as violent, fascist Nazi thugs.

This sort of ad hoc thinking where reality is bent and twisted in order to arrive at the negative conclusion one already holds about a target of prejudice is the m.o. of racists. Which is why I find the Stormfront thread about the same fake Ashley Todd story so interesting. Over there you see the same thing going on, with the difference being that instead of the story proving how violent and thuggish Democrats are, the story for the white supremacists proves how violent and thuggish blacks are. And, to borrow Wallace's line, it is probably no coincidence then that the Stormfronters even gave the same rational for not apologizing when they found out the story was a hoax:

I said it was a negro who did it, and crucified him with my words, but you know what? If crimes like this( and much worse then this) weren't committed by blacks on a daily basis, then maybe I would have had reservations about her story. I didn't, and I was wrong, however that still doesn't ease my disdain for the entire negro race, and it still doesn't make them any smarter nor does it make them any less violent, all this did was show that some poor, mentally unstable WHITE woman liked to carve things in her face.
Besides not retracting the fake Zimbabwe style assault story which Margolis asserted is evidence that Obama and his supporters are violent fascists - and here we pause to again reflect on how irresponsible and despicable it is not to bother correcting the record on such a volatile subject as a black male attacking a white female in political violence, most especially in light of the recent news that federal ATF agents arrested two Neo-Nazis for allegedly plotting to kill Obama, shoot to death 88 blacks, and to decapitate 14 more (hold on to that thought, we'll come back to this) - the Blogs for Victory crew has continued on in hysterical paranoia about how dangerous and crazy murderous Democrats are.

The insanity on the left grows apace - from guns fired at a GOPer’s house, to tire slashings at a Palin rally here in Las Vegas, to this story of people issuing death threats over an unfavorable poll result. Get a grip, lefties - When we say things like “Obamessiah”, we’re just making a joke…we didn’t think you’d start to believe he’s a real messiah for whom you will kill the infidels over!
Noonan is outmatched in paranoia only by Michelle Malkin blogroll resident Misha, who also thinks Democrats are fascists and appears to genuinely believe that if Obama becomes president "conservatives" will be the target of a Rwanda style genocide campaign. Yes, he and his readers saw the same story referenced above by Noonan, and began to discuss how they might win Civil War 2.0.

Here’s a hint from an American patriot who has had fucking well ENOUGH of this blatant fascism, fraud and propaganda:While you’re busy trying to think of yet more ways to destroy the democratic process of this nation, pause and allow yourself to ponder this thought for a second:Who have all the guns again? And we’re quite proficient in their use, not to mention that the vast majority of us have sworn an Oath that obliges us to make use of them against all enemies, foreign AND domestic. The latter group would be you, you filthy, fascist scum. No matter how much your fanatical zeal for your Obameinf├╝hrer manages to convince you that you’re scary, tough guys, you’d do well to remember that all of us really are that. And we’re a lot better at taking out the trash too. Years of training will do that for you.

Consider this your last warning
Noonan - who himself has already been expecting Civil War 2 - issued a vague threat in a recent post (I bolded what Noonan emphasized since blockquote puts everything in italics)

Look, Democrats, there’s this thing called “morality”, you should look it up - its rather important to adhere to it, or at least attempt to do so. Among the many aspects of this morality thingy is a bit about fair play - about honesty and a sense of justice. You’re taking a big, nasty dump on America in this year of 2008, and you really need to cut it out. There really, really is a limit beyond which we won’t put up with this nonsense anymore.
Again we can see another parallel. The Stormfronters also think that no matter the outcome of the election, there will be politically motivated violence from a criminal class. For the Stormfronters, the violence will come from blacks and the Jews that enable them; for Blogs for Victory and Misha, "liberals" aka the "American Left." And both think that the election is being rigged and/or votes are being stolen.

Which leads me to a digression: The hysteria from Noonan and Misha over a few death threats to a poll unfavorable to Obama is completely disconnected from reality. I don't doubt that such a thing occurred, but how does one possibly link that to Senator Obama? Is Obama out there hitting up the campaign trail saying that "conservatives" are trying to steal the election with polls unfavorable to him? Has he done anything to generate a backlash against unfavorable polls? No, of course not. But in contrast, the McCain campaign has been hitting up the campaign and even a primetime presidential debate saying that ACORN is trying to steal the election (with fraudulent minority votes, AM radio and the Malkin-sphere reminds us) and that ACORN is an imminent threat to democracy. And guess what? ACORN offices have been vandalized and e-mails full of racist invective and death threats have been pouring in.

Now Margolis and Noonan believe that any incident they can find - real or imagined - of thuggish behavior means that Obama is the next Hitler and that the "American Left" are Nazis. So why can't we now say that the "American Right" are Nazis and that McCain is the next Hitler? Well, they can't say it because they are Manichean authoritarians, and we won't say that because it isn't true. What is true is that the McCain campaign's baseless accusations against ACORN are irresponsible and highly unethical and that it does bear burden of responsibility for helping to whip up the violence inclined American "right-wing" to such a level of furor.

Which brings up back to the 2 Neo-Nazis who just got arrested for a half-baked horrific plot to kill Obama and 104 black people by gun shot and decapitation. Here we have Margolis and Noonan talking about Obama being a Nazi based upon a fake black on white hate crime story while actual Nazis - who are motivated to violence by stories like the one Noonan and Margolis won't retract - are out there trying to kill Obama. It's sickening, and it's why I call such writings that don't display overt prejudice but still accomplish the same thing - like, for example, Neal Boortz wanting to purge poor "socialist" "parasites" from the voter rolls - as "functionally racist."
I'm also reminded of David Neiwert's objection to Jonah Goldberg's white-washing out of existence actual American fascists in order to - as Blogs for Victory and Anti-Idiotarian Rottweiller are doing - depict "liberals" as fascists. Ok, digression over.

What the Blogs for Victory crew, Misha, and the Stormfronters share in common is an unwavering belief that the target of their hate is a criminal subhuman; therefore they pick out or make up their own reality to fit that predetermined "knowledge". Which is why it's no surprise to see the Victory bloggers using typical eliminationist rhetoric to describe Democrats.

Matt Margolis, author of the unretracted "Nazism 2.0" post, has previously said that the book he and Noonan wrote - which was published by the same people who brought us the children's indoctrination classic Help! Mom! There are liberals Under my Bed! - shined a light on the corruption of the cockroaches known as Democrats.

From top to bottom, the Democratic party is corrupt...the only thing which has changed is that in today's world, the truth will come out, thanks to the internet and the blogosphere. The corrupt cockroaches have always been able to scurry out of the light, but now they're running out of places to hide.
Quick question: what do you personally do to cockroaches that have run out of places to hide? Right, then - that's the metaphor that's being implicitly invoked to envision what needs to be done to Democrats.

And in an older rant that would feel at home in the German Propaganda Archive, another author at the site talks about the life destroying, deceitful "dems."

Trying to make a lie stick to the wall by being totally oblivious to its obvious transparency, the dems are overplaying their hands, in much the same manner as they overplayed their hands during the Valerie Plame fiasco, the "Koran flushing (non)incident," and countless other causes du jour that in the end have not only left egg on their faces, but actually destroyed lives in their scorched-earth zeal to drum up some kind of relevance in the face of an agenda otherwise marked by abject tenuity. Hoping against hope that something will stick, the neo-socialists continue their painfully pitiful and scurrilous attacks, hoping that by murdering the messengers, they will no longer have to scurry like the cockroaches that they are when the light of truth is shone upon their unscrupulous existence.
Same author, in different rant accusing anyone and everyone who does not unconditionally, uncritically, mindlessly, and endlessly cheerlead for "victory" in Iraq as guilty of treason because of their sinister desire to gain power by stabbing America in the back.

But, to the democrats and willing RINOs [Republicans In Name Only]--the Murthas, the Pelosis, the Kerrys, (and yes, the [Republican] Hagels)-- opposition to our efforts in Iraq has never been, nor is now, about "supporting the troops" nor of the successful completion of their mission.

Rather, it has, and has always been about a Machiavellian quest to obtain and maintain power, no matter the cost, no matter who or what is jeopardized in the process; even to the extent of throwing the security of their own nation under the bus to achieve their nefarious political ends.

Some have been afraid to say it, but I'll say it unabashedly and scream it from the rooftops:

The "antiwar" democrats (and their willing RINO accomplices), who offer capitulation as the only alternative, are TRAITORS, in the most pejorative sense of the word.

They deserve no quarter, and deserve to be called out for who they are.

It's about time that the light of truth is shown upon these cockroaches for all the world to see.

Charming stuff.

Of course, this sort of rhetoric isn't unique to blogs like these. Rush Limbaugh has himself equated liberals with cockroaches and Melanie Morgan has gone a step further and actually suggested killing a "cockroach" (i.e. Eric Soltz). And there is no shortage of eliminationist rhetoric equating Democrats, "liberals" and RINOs with treason and villainy within the conservative movement (e.g. here); nor would you struggle to find examples of "liberals," Democrats, or Obama being compared/equated with Nazis and fascists. Media Matters has a round-up of media figures (one of which, of course, is Ann Coulter) comparing Obama to Nazis and Hitlers just since October 16; and today Bill Cunningham - who previously stated that he believes Obama might be the AntiChrist - said that "Obama wants to gas the Jews."

So let's move on the post title. The quote is take from this blog post by George Packer, who upon reading Jon Swift's satire of the ludicrous conspiracies that anti-Obama bloggers have generated, compared the habit of mind of those bloggers to the conspiracies generated by Arab nationalists and Islamic fundamentalists in Iraq.

The mental atmosphere is exactly the same—the wild fantasies presented as obvious truth, the patterns seen by those few with the courage and wisdom to see, the amused pity for anyone weak-minded enough to be skeptical, the logic that turns counter-evidence into evidence and every random piece of information into a worldwide conspiracy. Above all, the seething resentment, the mix of arrogance and impotent rage that burns at the heart of the paranoid style in politics.
Packer concludes by stating that if Obama is elected this sort of behavior will get worse. Which is exactly right - we can expect a non-stop stream of crazy conspiracies to be generated by these bloggers and the propaganda machine of the conservative movement. And this is because the conservative movement as a whole will be thrown into hysterical, paranoid panic the moment a Democrat takes office because they have a Manichean world view: a Democrat in office to them means America is under the rule of Evil. As Shadia Drury put it:

The American Right feels as if it is being held hostage by liberal society. This beleaguered mentality goes hand in hand with a world-view that is as demonic as it is dualistic. It is demonic in the sense that it sees the world as overrun by the forces of evil (now called liberalism) and dualistic because it regards its political opponents as the incarnation of cosmic evil.
I've previously described the mental process of Packer's paranoid bloggers as thus

Stage 1: "Liberals" are wrong
Stage 2: ?
Stage 3: "Liberals" are wrong

Like for the Underpants Gnomes, Stage 2 is a magic step (A.L. beat me to this analogy by about a year) which generates the desired outcome. Movement conservative "know" that "liberals" are wrong or liars or hypocrites or whatever the particular scenario calls for, they start with this premise and end with it as a conclusion. The in-between is coming up with the "evidence". But they approach this endeavor like the creationist looking for "evidence" that evolution is false, and [this]explains why being disproven (over and over again) does not lead them to abandon course. They just keep coming up with reckless accusation after reckless accusation.
Which was my crude way of independently observing the same thing that psychologist Robert Altemeyer had noticed doing research into authoritarianism

[I]f authoritarian followers like the conclusion, the logic involved is pretty irrelevant. The reasoning should justify the conclusion, but for a lot of high RWAs, the conclusion validates the reasoning. Such is the basis of many a prejudice, and many a Big Lie that comes to be accepted.
My favorite example of this was when Michelle Malkin and her Hot Air editor Bryan Preston fabricated a confession of treason from New York Times editor Bill Keller. When some commenters pointed out in the comments that the footage used by Malkin had been doctored, Preston answered that he did it because the proves what Preston already believes (i.e. that the Times is treasonous) even though the full quote demonstrates the opposite.

A more recent example of the paranoid hysteria that is a defining characterstic of the Malkin-sphere is the response that a Joe Biden interview with a local reporter - whose questions were so farcical that she may have put Stephen Colbert out of business as satire will now be nigh impossible - generated. After the Obama campaign decided to not conduct anymore interviews with that reporter Michelle Malkin asked her readers to keep her "in your thoughts and prayers" as if she's in some sort of danger or is a martyr for the conservative cause.

This tendency to look for or create confirming evidence of what you already believe about a target of prejudice is on display vividly when Bill O'Reilly or Michelle Malkin and their followers work themselves into a frenzy over some anonymous comments that they've found which they proclaim to indicate how angry and dangerous and extremist "the Left" (i.e. "liberals") are. This is another area in which we can draw a parallel to standard forms of bigotry, as Glenn Greenwald previously pointed out when responding to the same subject

It is hard to overstate how pervasive this lowly and manipulative weapon is wielded by right-wing demagogues to shape our political debates. LGF's simplistic trick, for instance, is to post individual stories every day of Muslims who engage in violent acts ("hey, look - I proved that Muslims are inferior and dangerous!"). Michelle Malkin repeatedly posts individual stories of supposed leftists engaging in illegal or violent acts ("hey, look -- I proved that liberals are unhinged"). Or the right finds a single obscure college professor nobody ever heard of who referred to 9/11 victims as "Little Eichmanns" ("hey, look - we proved that 'the Left' hates America and believes that the 9/11 victims deserved it!").

Those who rely on that cheap, tawdry tactic are really indistinguishable -- just in terms of the methods -- from, say, websites run by white supremacists who, every day, troll the news wires and post individual stories of crimes committed by African-Americans and then think that they've made a broader point. In that context, most people can see how transparently fallacious the tactic is, but in other contexts, they are blind to it.
Blogger's Note - I'm not actually finished with this post, but I wanted to go ahead and put this part up. Hopefully I'll be finished editing the rest and will have it up later tonight or tomorrow soon. I really have everything I want to write done, but am having trouble arranging and articulating my thoughts to my satsifaction so I'm taking a break from it. When I finish I'll republish this post at the top of the page with the final section added in.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Bigot watch

Senator Elizabeth Dole is now running an ad in North Carolina that says her opponent is Godless and takes Godless money.

The only problem is that Hagan is an elder at the First Presbyterian Church in Greensboro, NC, has taught Sunday School and accompanied youth mission trips. In a similar move, the North Carolina Republican State Executive Committee recently sent out homophobic mailers targeting Hagan claiming she seeks to advance a “radical homosexual agenda” and wants to remove “under God” from the Pledge of Allegiance. The Hagan campaign is seeking a cease-and-desist order against Dole for her latest ad.
But so what if she was an atheist. This is not a theocracy, despite however much Senator Dole might like it to be. Those who attempt to gain office by encouraging prejudice and intolerance, by demonizing a minority (not to mention slandering an opponent with lies) do not deserve to get elected.

I'm struggling to see the difference between this sort of rhetoric (atheists are "the most vile liberals in America" according to the campaign) and racists in late 19th century Germany who believed that Jews by definition were not good Germans.

Update: On second viewing, I don't believe the ad explicitly says that Hagan is Godless, so much as it engages in the McCarthyst tactic of attacking Hagan for associating with atheists. In this regard, it's not an outright lie, although the ad will clearly create the impression in the target audience that Hagan is Godless. Especially since the ad ends with a woman saying "There is no God" and a good number of people who hear that are going to assume Hagan said it (she did not.)
While I think it important that Hagan defend herself as a Christian - as I find the Religious Right's habit of characterizing anyone who does not share in it's rigid fundamentalism as "atheists" sickening - it would have been nice if Hagan had also pointed out the bigotry of attacking atheists in the first place, who are guaranteed by the first amendent the same rights as everyone else.

Cool site of the day

skepticblog

SkepticBlog is a collaboration among some of the most recognized names in promoting science, critical thinking, and skepticism. It also features the cast and producers of The Skeptologists, a pilot skeptical reality show.
And here is the introductory post.

On the corruption of our moral sentiments

"This disposition to admire, and almost to worship, the rich and the powerful, and to despise, or, at least, to neglect persons of poor and mean condition, though necessary both to establish and to maintain the distinction of ranks and the order of society, is, at the same time, the great and most universal cause of the corruption of our moral sentiments. That wealth and greatness are often regarded with the respect and admiration which are due only to wisdom and virtue; and that the contempt, of which vice and folly are the only proper objects, is often most unjustly bestowed upon poverty and weakness, has been the complaint of moralists in all ages." - Adam Smith, The Theory of Moral Sentiments

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

I can't keep up with the crazy

I'm in the process of writing a lengthy post that I want to have up today ... I've written half of it and have been debating whether or not I want to post that half while I keep working on the other half. A problem I'm encountering, today, is that I keep being interrupted by additional news that is relevant to the subject matter of my post.

For instance, I just noticed at Think Progress that a Republican rep from from Iowa said that if Obama is elected America will become a totalitarian dictatorship.

Earlier on Fox "News" - which is now running a 24/7 propaganda campaign against Obama - Carl Cameron said that McCain can't be linked to Bush's economic policies because he's on the record as having opposed them while Obama has a record of favoring higher taxes. Is Cameron an idiot, a liar, or both? He certinaly wan't being a journalist. Yep, McCain opposed Bush's tax cuts for the megawealth, but then McCain decided he had to sell his soul to the conservative movement to get the nomination in '08 and fully embraced Bush's supply side economics which he now plans to extend. And the middle class get a larger tax cut from Obama than McCain. This type of factual inaccuracy is simply inexcusable.

This morning on Fox and Friends, some Republican strategist was saying that the Obama camp canceling an interview with a local health reporter - whose husband is a Republican media consultant - who ambushed Joe Biden with AM radio smears so ridiculous that Biden had a hard time believing he wasn't being pranked is "scary" because it signals that an Obama administration will censor and intimidate the press. I'm actually already including this incident in my other post, but here I'll point out how absurd it is that folks who have no problem with the Bush administration spying on journalists and threatening them with criminal prosecution are oh so frightened for the first amendment when the Obama camp cancels an interview with a partisan hack masquerading as a journalist.

Also today, "Joe the Plumber," who has been sent out by the RNC to campaign for McCain told an audience member at a rally that he agrees that a vote for Obama is a vote for the death of Israel. Joe is also telling people that Obama is a Marxist, that Obama is gonna take his money and give it to poor people. This is just flat out surreal - a guy who will pay higher taxes under John McCain is the centerpiece of the McCain camp's faux populism because the guy has internalized so much AM radio cant that he can't connect with reality and see that Bizarro Robin Hood supply-side economics drains America's wealth upwards into fewer and fewer hands. Concetrating the wealth into the hands of a neo-aristocracy ain't capitalism. And the death for Israel comment ... crikey, the McCain camp is going to be remembered as worse than the Goldwater campain in terms of bringing out extremist views.

And more generally speaking, it's just crazy how so many people are working themselves into a frenzy expecting that America is about to become a communist state. I mean, we're basically talking about going back to the Clinton administration tax policy but with some tweaks, and yet this hysteria about communism. Hello, crazy people ... were we a communist state while Ayn Rand disciple Alan Greenspan's favorite Bill Clinton was in office?

Here's another one: a Republican email equating Obama with the rise of Hitler.

And to close (via Frameshop) another video of a racist mob at a McCain rally. This one begins with a guy suggesting Obama be eliminated ("bomb" or "get rid of him".)



I've been saying for a while now that the moment a Democrat steps into the White House many in the conservative movement are going to believe that they are living under totalitarian tyranny. Why? Not because of what the Democrat does - the complete disconnect with reality in believing Obama a Marxist demonstrates that. It's because these individuals are Manichean authoritarians who do not really believe in the rule of law so much as the rule of a Leader. If it's their guy (or gal) that's fine because it's Us and we're Good; but if it's a Democrat then it's Them and they're Evil.

Update: See, another case in point that I just came across.

And some Christian nationalists are fearing a "Obamageddon."

Theodicy lies at the heart of the evangelical right's political strategy: Christians must perpetually engage in spiritual warfare with Satan, and take dominion over governmental and legal institutions. God will be pleased then; but if these Christian soldiers fail to vanquish Satan, God won't be happy at all. Chaos ensues: socialism, Bible burning, abortions in public schools, boy scouts forced into homosexuality!

Religious-right honchos are girding the troops for political apocalypse. Townhall magazine, owned by Salem Communications, one of the largest Christian broadcasters in the country, ran a September feature, "Obamageddon: Could We Survive a Barack Presidency?" This month evangelical publishing giant Stephen Strang, whose magazine Charisma endorsed McCain, predicted that "life as we know it will end if Obama is elected." Last week, the political arm of James Dobson's Focus on the Family sent out a "Letter from 2012 in Obama's America", a 16-page (pdf) parade of horribles, and talk radio show host Janet Porter imagined that Christians will be imprisoned with Obama in the Oval Office.

Monday, October 27, 2008

Another quote from an ultra left-wing pinko Marxist socialist

"The necessaries of life occasion the great expense of the poor. They find it difficult to get food, and the greater part of their little revenue is spent in getting it. The luxuries and vanities of life occasion the principal expense of the rich, and a magnificent house embellishes and sets off to the best advantage all the other luxuries and vanities which they possess. A tax upon house-rents, therefore, would in general fall heaviest upon the rich; and in this sort of inequality there would not, perhaps, be anything very unreasonable. It is not very unreasonable that the rich should contribute to the public expense, not only in proportion to their revenue, but something more than in that proportion" - Adam Smith, The Wealth of Nations, Bk 5 Ch. 2

Friday, October 24, 2008

Ashley Todd's hideously vile attempt to stage a hate crime

Yesterday, Matt Drudge helped to sensationalize a story about a white, female McCain campaign volunteer being robbed and mutilated by a black, male Obama supporter. The story, dubious from the start, has now been revealed to be a hoax.

But it is difficult to express how villainous it is to attempt to advance your political views by fabricating a black-on-white hate crime in these times of a dangerously charged proto-fascist atmosphere. I have to assume that the young woman responsible for this hoax is mentally unstable, and while I have nothing but contempt and disgust for her actions, I still pity her more than anything else. But Matt Drudge I have less sympathy for.

The reason why is best explained at Frameshop (I hope Mr. Feldman will forgive me for quoting him at such length)

What Drudge has done, in other words, is reframe a report about a mugging to make it seem like the beginning of targeted political violence against the McCain campaign. Hence, it seems from his headline that there are criminals in the U.S. currently out looking for McCain volunteers with the goal of brutally assaulting them--that someone was looking for McCain volunteers to attack, found one, and beat her.

Now, Matt Drudge's blog is one of the most visited websites on the internet and is well-known for its Republican Party leanings, it's deep connection to right-wing media outlets, and the phenomenal speed with which it can disseminate a story--whether that story is true or false. It is important, therefore, to consider the grave danger carried Drudge's spinning of this story.

Given Drudge's choice of words, one could imagine the Drudge headline as the basis for right-wing media and the Republican base to conclude that political violence has begun against the McCain campaign--despite this being a false and misleading representation of the events.

Even worse, the immense site traffic at The Drudge Report enjoys, combined with Drudge's implication that this horrible mugging incident in Pittsburgh was in fact targeted political violence against Republicans, could result in widespread panic amongst by McCain supporters mislead by Drudge's manipulative reporting into thinking that they were the target of some kind of organized assault.

If either of those things were to happen, the Drudge headline of the WTAE story could quickly tip the the Presidential election into a dangerous place by heightening the 'us vs. them' tensions already set in motion by the McCain-Palin campaign rhetoric.
While there were notable exceptions of bloggers expressing skepticism to the story from the start - Michelle Malkin, for instance - there were at least several bloggers who were quick to jump to conclusions that Mr. Feldman worried would be jumped to.

As Mr. Feldman noted in his post, this sort of fear-mongering is dangerous because generating a belief that an In-group is being targeted for violence by an Out-group creates a pretense for that In-group to itself use violent measures for "self-defense" purposes. Indeed, in places where we've seen the ultimate possible consequence of this sort of fear-mongering - Nazi Germany or Rwanda - genocide was justified as a necessity of self-defense against a violent, thuggish Other.

To put it another way, Drudge's wreckless "journalism" - aka his attempt to play upon racial fears in the hopes of advancing his Republican political agenda - carries with it the very real possibility of itself contributing to a future hate crime.

If you find that hard to believe, then, if you can stomach it, go ahead and visit the white supremacist website Stormfront and notice that one of the first links in their News forum is to the Drudge headline. The thread begins with and contains hordes of hideously racist comments about how the attack signals the start of a black-on-white race war and how the commenters are ready to defend themselves by killing some blacks. Then, when the story was revealed to be a hoax, they concluded that their having believed the hoax - remember, sensationalized by Drudge - in the first place proves that whites being attacked by blacks is a real threat. Can't follow that logic? Not surprising. The thread also was starting to fill up with speculation that the hoaxer is really a "Demogrant Jewess" who did this as part of a sinister plot to make McCain look bad and to put the "chimp" Obama in office.

As bad as those comments were, in terms of sheer hysterical paranoia they still can't compete with this jaw-droppingly insane post from Blogs for Victory (whose blogger Mark Noonan I previously have described as proto-fascist, for such reasons.)

Yes, in a post titled "Nazism 2.0," after saying that the "American Left" are the new Nazis and linking to the fake politically motivated mutilation story, the site's other author Matt Margolis writes:

And Obama is their Hitler

[snip]

The American Left, if we let them win, will usher in a new era of fascism that will rival George Orwell’s dystopian vision in 1984.

I am not being dramatic… The [fake attack] story above is hardly unique. I am merely responding to the truth that is very much in plain sight. I am dead serious.

God help us if Obama wins.
The story is hardly unique? Right, white female McCain supporters being robbed and mutilated by black male Obama supporters happens all the time. It's simply amazing to see someone so caught up in ideology that the individual becomes blinded to the absurdity of such a statement. But to be clear: Margolis is not merely saying that an Obama supporter targeted a McCain supporter for an attack, but that on Obama supporter attacked a McCain supporter because Obama encouraged his supporters to engage in political violence!!!!

Noonan chimes in in an update

As for me, I believe the story - it was reported out here in Las Vegas that some of the people who attended the Palin rally and had McCain/Palin stickers on their cars suffered tire-slashing. The left’s MO has long been this sort of thuggish intimidation - they want people to be afraid to speak their minds and openly proclaim their views in the public square.
As of this posting neither of these two geniuses have updated the post and pointed out it's a hoax. But even if they do, the on-going campaign to rebrand liberalism as fascism will continue forward. The irony is that hysterical anti-"fascist" fear is making folks like Noonan and Margolis sound like fascists, and it's why they end up doing stuff like this. As Orcinus put it:

It is by small steps of incremental meanness and viciousness that we lose our humanity. The Nazis, in the end, embodied the ascension of utter demonic inhumanity, but they didn't get that way overnight. They got that way through, day after day, attacking and demonizing and urging the elimination of those they deemed their enemies.

They did this by not simply creating them as The Enemy, but by denying them their essential humanity, depicting them as worse than scum -- disease-laden, world-destroying vermin, in desperate need of elimination. But that kind of behavior, over the years, has hardly been relegated merely to the Nazis; indeed, it has a long history in America as well, and has been bubbling up on the right increasingly in recent years.

...

The right's attempt to smear liberals isn't merely a Bizarro World inversion of reality. It's becoming, in content and nature, the very demonic thing it claims to fear.
Update: I couldn't help noticing at Blogs for Victory a flashing adverstisement for the political cartoons of Michael Ramirez. That's the same cartoonist who has made explicit the developing stabbed in the back mythos of the conservative movement. That's some irony, given that Blogs for Victory is a site saying that the "American Left" are the new Nazis; recall that fascist Germans in the post WWI Weimar Republic felt that their troops had been stabbed in the back by anti-German "Jews" (who were equated with the German "Left.")

You can't make this stuff up

Tuned into the Neal Boortz radio show earlier today. A caller was on the line. Said caller was comparing Obama to Hitler; saying Hitler promised change and was not a real German but an Austrian (thus implicitly saying that Obama isn't a real American but a foreigner.)

Boortz did not take offense at the comparison or chastise the caller. At first, Boortz jokingly asked the caller if he was talking about Germany or New York, citing mayor Bloomberg's proposal to extend his term limit.* Then, getting back to the caller's point, Boortz said that while he wasn't sure he'd compare Obama to Hitler (while he has on previous occasion described Democrats such as H. Clinton and Obama as fascists, citing Jonah Golberg's Liberal Fascism as a source for that claim) he would say that if Obama could, he would send capitalism to the oven.

Although I don't expect it was his intention to make the implication, but it is easy to see how some members of Boortz's wild-eyed audience - a caller once suggested, quite seriously, making Newt Gingrich dictator of America for five years - might make the inference that Obama would literally persecute capitalist persons.

I've sent Media Matters a tip about this and hopefully they'll post the audio and a transcript so that the exact conversation can be presented.

*For the record, I'm against the extension.

[Blogger's Note] - I've edited this slightly since originally posting it. I had written that "it is easy to see how Boortz's wild-eyed audience ..." but changed it to read "some members" as I do not think it fair to stereotype his entire audience as being that paranoid.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Anti-secularist/atheist eliminationism

Via Dispatches From the Culture Wars, Don Wildmon of the American Family Association

*If the liberals win the upcoming election, America as we have known it will no longer exist.* This country that we love, founded on Judeo-Christian values, will cease to exist and will be replaced by a secular state hostile to Christianity. This "city set on a hill" which our forefathers founded, will go dark. The damage will be deep and long lasting. It cannot be turned around in the next election, or the one after that, or by any election in the future. The damage will be permanent. That is why it is so important for you to vote and to encourage friends and family to vote. This is one election where your vote really counts.
By "hostile to Christianity" he means that a secular state won't allow he and others who think like him to establish an authoritarian theocracy. And nevermind that an America "founded on Judeo-Christian values" has never existed in the first place; or that the American secular state is what has allowed American religions to flourish; or that the "city upon a hill" is not the United States of America but the Massachusetts Bay Colony settled by Puritans.

I've noted before that attacks on "liberals" come across - to me - as an evolved form of the more standard "right-wing" anti-semitic memes.

A commenter replied that "the mainstream punditocracy comes about as close to 'Jew hate' as you can get when they start talking about 'decadent coastal elites', 'Hollywood elites' and 'international financiers'... the only things missing are, well, the word 'Jew' and grotesque caricatures of obese, unshaven, hook-nosed men in tophats and tails," and another added that, "much of today's anti-Semitism is hidden behind codewords. Funny how these words also conflate "Jew" with "Liberal (that is, Communist)."

I then answered that I agree that there is hidden anti-semitism in the culture war punditry, but that it is hidden from the right-winger himself. The horrors of WWII demonstrated the wrongness of anti-semitism, so the meme evolved to scapegoat a group that was acceptable to blame: liberal secular progressives. People like Bill O'Reilly who warn about the secular elites in Hollywood and the evil anti American ACLU are not conscious of how such rhetoric seems to be the same rhetoric that was employed previously, minus the overt anti-Semetism.
Well, you can see that the AFA also engages in standard anti-Jewish bigotry. I've also written about how Bill O'Reilly serves to bridge the gap between the secular mainstream and the extreme versions of these memes.

Not only does this statement display O'Reilly's demonization of "s-p"s, it also shows how he can so perfectly act as a medium for the transmission of the Dominionist message ..."oppressive, totalitarian, anti-Christian forces" are assaulting "traditional" America ... that IS the Dominionist (also see here) message, as well as being pretty much the same message peddled by white supremacists with the exception that they add in "anti-White" forces. The only difference is the name given to the designated scape-goat and the fact that O'Reilly most likely does not share the totalitarian theocratic vision that the likes of Falwell, Robertson, LaHaye, or white supremacists (like the ones who belong to Christian Identity) adhere to.
Ok, so my point about O'Reilly can best be summed up by this Orwell quote:

Another thing that that inquiry, if it ever takes place, will have to deal with is the magical properties of names. Nearly all human beings feel that a thing becomes different if you call it by a different name.
In other words, O'Reilly has the same message as Religious Right extremists and bigots but he just uses a different name for his demonized enemy. Now take a look at this from the AFA website (bold emphasis mine)

The following material is taken from Bill O’Reilly’s book Cultural Warrior. Pages are noted. You can order Cultural Warrior by clicking here. (While AFA recommends the book, we receive no income from sales.) We have added boldface for emphasis. Also, material in brackets is not from the book. Mr. O’Reilly refers to the Radical Left as “secular-progressives,” or S-Ps.
And you can go ahead and read the portions at the link that they bolded to see exactly why the extremist bigots are such fans of O'Reilly's book. [Hint - It's because O'Reilly spreads their extremist bigot ideas.] This is one of the reasons I focus so much time on responding to O'Reilly: he has a huge audience and is one of the largest spreaders of anti-secularist bigotry in this nation - and his form of hate-mongering is particularly insidious because he presents extremist views in a more palatable mainstream form (e.g., it's easier to recognize the bigotry of "Jew" scapegoating than it is "S-P" scapegoating.) As Reason's Cathy Young put it

The O’Reilly Factor always ends with a segment called “The Most Ridiculous Item of the Day.” These days, the most ridiculous item of the day may be O’Reilly himself. But his culture warmongering is no laughing matter. O’Reilly does, at the moment, have considerable influence—and he uses it to whip up hatred of secularists, people with liberal social values, war critics, and others who don’t fit his concept of a good American.
And now here's some more eliminationism, spotted by Atheist Ethicist, from our favorite neoconservative Melanie Phillips, notorious around these parts for previously using a white supremacist as a source for pro-war propaganda.

Melanie Phillips decided that "militant" atheists are to be blamed for the financial meltdown. She decided to go to print with an article where she instructed the people that they should turn their fear and concern for their economic future into hatred of atheists. (See: The Culture War for the White House)

I see this financial breakdown, moreover, as being not merely a moral crisis but the monetary expression of the broader degradation of our values – the erosion of duty and responsibility to others in favour of instant gratification, unlimited demands repackaged as 'rights' and the loss of self-discipline. And the root cause of that erosion is 'militant atheism' which, in junking religion, has destroyed our sense of anything beyond our material selves and the here and now and, through such hyper-individualism, paved the way for the onslaught on bedrock moral values expressed through such things as family breakdown and mass fatherlessness, educational collapse, widespread incivility, unprecedented levels of near psychopathic violent crime, epidemic drunkenness and drug abuse, the repudiation of all authority, the moral inversion of victim culture, the destruction of truth and objectivity and a corresponding rise in credulousness in the face of lies and propaganda -- and intimidation and bullying to drive this agenda into public policy.
When the world entered the Great Depression in the 1930s, it became popular in America and, particularly, in Europe to blame the Jews for that economic collapse. People seeking political power for themselves named Jews as the culprit, either through the corruption of their influence and their values on (otherwise) 'good' Christians, or as a part of a conspiracy to take over the world – or, at least, the global economy.

That vilification of the Jews had some very ugly consequences.

Today, blaming the Jews for economic bad news is not as popular as it used to be. Consequently, bigots need to find a new target group – one that can be effectively blamed where the people might actually believe the hate-mongering that the writers engage in. Or, at least, where nobody would be foolish enough to actually stand up and defend the target group (and condemn those who did the targeting).

The vulnerable group in America today, of course, is those who do not believe in God.
You'll notice how similar this sounds to what I wrote previously about the evolution of the "right-wing" meme.

Update: Rightly or wrongly, I tend to take it for granted that readers will be inclined to read the links I quote from in posts, and I also tend to take for granted that readers will not need to be reminded of the following, but in light of the sort of paranoia I've been coming across today, I'd like to quote from Atheist Ethicist the qualification that follows the segment that I quoted: "This is not to say that we can expect atheists to be herded into gas chambers in this country within the next ten years."

The point is that

We could argue about how a certain type of false accusation 50 years ago would have gotten the accused a death sentence, whereas now the same false accusation 'only' results in 20 years in prison. However, the fact that the harm suffered by those who are falsely accused has been reduced does not argue that it is now permissible to make false accusations.

It is still the case that Phillips' accusation that atheists are guilty of the economic problems we face today, and the accusations made 75 years ago that Jews were responsible for that economic downturn, are both morally outrageous examples of trying to promote hatred and bigotry of a target group.
I think this sort of nuance stands out in contrast to the hysteria I'm preparing to write about.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Snark of the day

The socialist conspiracy revealed!

Good documentary on global warming

Frontline: Heat



It premiered last night and is now available for on-line viewing.

See if you can watch the scene where the United States is booed by an international coalition when it tries to kill a climate change deal even after developing nations agree to negotiation emissions reductions without shaking your head in dismay.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Man who helped make anti-abortion central cause of Religious Right endorses Obama

And explains why:

AMY GOODMAN: I mean, your father was a famous evangelical preacher—

FRANK SCHAEFFER: Yeah.

AMY GOODMAN: —a person who gave sermons around the world. Really, you convinced him to take up the anti-abortion line—

FRANK SCHAEFFER: Absolutely.

AMY GOODMAN: —to make it central to his philosophy and your own.

FRANK SCHAEFFER: Right.

AMY GOODMAN: So, here you are, anti-choice, pro-life, and pro-Obama, Senator Obama, who is fiercely pro-choice.

FRANK SCHAEFFER: Right, right. And you know what? It’s an imperfect world, but I would rather have a president that I disagree with on the issue of choice who’s fit to be president than an old man who has just shown such a lack of judgment as to literally connect himself to the lunatic fringe of the lunatic fringe. It isn’t just someone you disagree with politically. That’s one point.

And I’d say something else about the choice issue. I am pro-life. I haven’t changed in that regard. If people read my book, Crazy for God, they’ll see that I’ve gone left, if you want to put it that way, in many, many areas, but not that one. But I actually believe that if your interest is not ideology and ideological purity, but rather abortion itself, i.e. you want more or less abortions, that the medical and social programs that Barack Obama is talking about for our country, in terms of care of women and children and families, improvement in education and possibilities for all Americans, actually will result in less abortions. So my interest in the abortion issue is that I think abortion is a tragedy. My interest is not the politics of it, as in always appearing to vote for the person who has the correct ideology.

And so, I think there’s a choice for Americans interested in this issue who are like me, pro-life, and that is, do you want to choose ideological purity attached to a party that will so destroy our economy and all the social programs that there will be more abortions, i.e. as there have been through the Republican-controlled years, when they’ve been talking about this issue for thirty years and done nothing about it for actually helping women and children, or would you rather have a president like Barack Obama, who you disagree with on this one ideological point, in terms of what you might call the theology of the issue, but whose program would practically result in a more conducive environment for families to prosper, for people to have children, for kids to go to school, for women to be taken care of? And I would rather vote for a person who’s going to do the job rather than just have the correct ideology.
The rest of the interview is worth reading or listening to.

Monday, October 20, 2008

YouTube of the day



"Dear Mr. President" by Pink

Dedicated to the "MBA-in-Chief" who failed his way to the top, getting rich while shifting the burden of the bankruptcy in his wake onto other people.

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Seeing parallels



Given the recent neo-McCarthyist call from a member of Congress to investigate "liberals" for anti-Americanism, which essentially suggests that all non-pseudoconservative views are traitorous/criminal, this Haynes Johnson talk on the subject of his book The Age of Anxiety: McCarthyism to Terrorism might make for timely viewing.

P.S.
What she says (below)

On the danger of developing a nationalist "stabbed in the back" mythos

From "The Revolt Against Civilization" (1934) by Ludwig Lewisohn

The whole thing would be more like a ghastly farce if it did not constitute so grave a danger for human civilization, if it were not corrupting the souls and hopelessly addling the brains of a whole generation of the German people. For it is clear today that they will act according to their myths. They have begun. The scapegoat is being slain; the Jew is crucified.
As quoted by Daniel Goldhagen in Hitler's Willing Executioners.

The "whole thing" Lewisohn alludes to is the dolchstoss legend of post WWI Germany.

Communist Adam Smith on spreading the wealth

"Servants, labourers, and workmen of different kinds, make up the far greater part of every political society. But what improves the circumstances of the greater part can never be regarded as an inconveniency to the whole. No society can surely be flourishing and happy, of which the far greater part of the members are poor and miserable. It is but equity, besides, that they who feed, clothe, and lodge the whole body of the people, should have such a share of the produce of their own labor as to be themselves tolerably well fed, cloathed and lodged." - Adam Smith, The Wealth of Nations Bk. 1, Ch. 8

Saturday, October 18, 2008

We will not be driven by fear into an Age of Unreason

In a previous post I recommended The Age of Anxiety, a book in which journalist Haynes Johnson explored parallels between McCarthyism and post 9/11 America. Ok, well now - amidst the McCain campaign's explicit strategy of linking the Democratic presidential candidate to fears of terrorism, economic angst and racial prejudice against minorities while conflating all with "socialism" - we have a member of Congress on national tv calling for "liberals" to be investigated for anti-Americanism.

I hope that the voters of MN tell Rep. Michele Bachmann that they will not be driven by her - or anyone else - into an age of unreason. Every sane person in this country who does not wish to see the hate and paranoia that is fomented in AM radio world continue to tear at the fabric of democracy need to send a message that this sort of behavior will not be profitable (at the polls, at least.)

Blog changes

I added a blog roll with the hopes of creating some secular and political humanist ambience for this blog. Unfortunately, doing so required switching to Blogger's newer layout feature, which I'm not all too pleased with since it makes the site appearance more boring and I lack the know-how to mess around with the template to get it to look like the original, more "scribey" version.

If your blog wasn't included, please don't take offense. I've left out multiple blogs that I read on a daily basis (including one - Orcinus - because it won't work with the post update feature). As I mentioned, this is because I was trying to create a specific ambience and what not. Additionally, many of the blogs I read cover the same topics so I didn't want to oversaturate the blog roll with the same material.

Friday, October 17, 2008

Quote of the day

"Another means of silently lessening the inequality of property is to exempt all from taxation below a certain point, and to tax the higher portions of property in geometrical progression as they rise." - Thomas Jefferson, letter to James Madison Oct. 28, 1785*

*Source

Conservative website featuring Bill O'Reilly's syndicated column says America guilty of "Negrophilia"

So long as Bill O'Reilly continues to state that Daily Kos is a hate site featuring hate akin to Nazis or KKK members in order to create a false equivalency between the Obama and McCain campaigns, I will continue to point out O'Reilly's own connection to actual hate.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Eaten alive

Click here to witness Matt Taibbi absolutely demolish National Review's Byron York during an on-line interview after the subject of discussion became York's attempt to fault minorities for the financial meltdown.

(h/t Glenn Greenwald)

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Puncturing another Republican Big Lie

I'm sure you've heard by now about how Obama is trying to steal the election with fraudulent minority votes via ACORN. Certainly, the conservative movement has already conditioned itself to believe that if Obama wins it will because he stole the election and thus his administration will not be legitimate. We are witnessing the well of democracy being poisoned by the Republican noise machine: there is going to be an angry, probably protofascist contingent of Americans who believe they are living under an illigitimate socialist-friend of terrorists-Manchurian black Muslim supremacist-maybe anti-Christ NWO regime - and the McCain camp and the "conservative" media will have helped shape that perception for them.

It is somewhat staggering to consider how audacious and sinister this lie is; one reaches for a copy of The Origins of Totalitarianism to find a description of similar behavior. It seems to have gone down the memory hole that attempts at using ACORN to prosecute Democrats for voter fraud were AT THE HEART OF THE ATTORNEY GENERAL FIRING SCANDAL. Ok? That's the same scandal that is now the subject of a criminal inquiry. As Ed Brayton put it:

We know beyond any doubt that the GOP has an active strategy of trumping up these voter fraud charges against ACORN. How do we know that? Look at the DOJ Inspector General's report on the US Attorneys scandal, especially the section about New Mexico's David Iglesias. Republican political operatives, including Karl Rove himself, put pressure on Iglesias to bring voter fraud charges against ACORN based on a single canvasser who turned in some fraudulent applications in that state.

When he refused to do so because there was no evidence, he was put on the list of attorneys to be fired. The report contains emails and memos from Rove and from Republican activists throwing a fit over the fact that Iglesias - a man who ran for office as a Republican, so he hardly has any reason to be biased in favor of ACORN - would not do their bidding and bring a fraud case against them.
That Brayton link contains a fact sheet that was independently verified by Brayton for the news service he works with. You can also read more about the Karl Rove designed strategy of using bogus voter fraud charges to persecute Democrats and suppress their vote, here.

Update: As I was writing this post, specifically this line- "... Americans who believe they are living under an illigitimate socialist-friend of terrorists-Manchurian black Muslim supremacist-maybe anti-Christ NWO regime" - I was wondering if perhaps that was going to come across as too over-the-top and maybe I should spend sometime explaining why it actually isn't. A few minutes after hitting "Publish Post" I visited Media Matters and this was the first item that I saw.

Summary: Stating that 666,000 new voters have registered in Ohio, Bill Cunningham said on October 10: "Six, six, six. The mark of the beast. The great majority, of course, are registered by ACORN. ... Who conducted ACORN seminars to tell ACORN employees and others how to cheat the system? Barack Hussein Obama. I may declare him to be the beast. Six, six, six. It could be the end of all days." On the October 13 edition of Cunningham's show, a caller said of Obama, "He may be the Antichrist."
And as the graphic at the link shows, this is a man who gets to go on Fox "News" and spread this sort of lunacy.

Just when you think you may be overstating how insane the Republican noise machine is behaving, it turns out that you're actually understating it.

Update II: Sacramento County Republicans had up on their website an image saying that the only difference between Osama and Obama is BS and to WATERBOARD OBAMA with a wavy American flag image inbetween waterboard and Obama.

Monday, October 13, 2008

"Breaking news"

If you've seen the documentary Outfoxed, then you're familiar with how Fox News has misappropriated the "Breaking News" concept and used it to sell sensationalize soft news for ratings purposes.

I don't know if what I've been noticing recently is a new trend or something Fox has been doing all along, but the network has managed to get even less shameful about using the "Breaking News" chyron. For example, last night I turned over to Hannity's America in progress to see this "breaking news":

Juan Williams
NPR Contributor

Seriously. That was the the "Breaking News" - it would alternate between that and Juan Williams, Fox News analyst (or something like that ... I didn't have my notebook handy.) Um, I think it goes without saying that your regularly scheduled guest discussing a predetermined topic is not breaking news.

Yet I've also seen "Breaking News" consisting of throwing Karl Rove's website up on the screen and the same for Newt Gingrich, along with multiple other occasions consisting simply of putting up the name of the person talking.

Although Fox once again leads the pack in crappy news standards, MSNBC isn't too far behind. Witness this clip from Hardball with Chris Mathews, where 3 minutes in you get the "Breaking News" that Kareem Adbul Jabbar endorses Obama for president. In this instance they at least got the concept right, but it is still a pale shadow of what actually would be breaking news; say for instance, that Mathews had been interviewing Al Gore and he announced for the first time he'd be entering the race.

If at some future date an historian writes the Decline and Fall of the American Republic, I expect that the quality of the mainstream journalism will be attributed a significant role.

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Puncturing the pseudo-conservative economic Big Lie

Last night, while flipping through the channels I had the misfortune to catch a moment of the latest Pravda Fox News propaganda video blaming the housing crisis on FDR's New Deal and Democrats for forcing Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac to make risky loans to minorities. Once again we see the wrecking crew principle in action: wreck the government through gross incompetence and deliberate sabotage, then use that as an excuse to dismantle the liberal democratic state.

Media Matters gave an adequate response to the video, but McClatchy - as opposed to Fox, an actual news organization - investigated the claims and gives a more definite rebuttal.

As the economy worsens and Election Day approaches, a conservative campaign that blames the global financial crisis on a government push to make housing more affordable to lower-class Americans has taken off on talk radio and e-mail.

Commentators say that's what triggered the stock market meltdown and the freeze on credit. They've specifically targeted the mortgage finance giants Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, which the federal government seized on Sept. 6, contending that lending to poor and minority Americans caused Fannie's and Freddie's financial problems.

Federal housing data reveal that the charges aren't true, and that the private sector, not the government or government-backed companies, was behind the soaring subprime lending at the core of the crisis.
You can read on at the link to see the figures and explanation of why Fox News and the AM dial are full of it. But I must say I'm impressed - along with being disturbed - at how quickly a meta-narrative has developed in right-wing fanstasy world that our current economic troubles are the fault of Liberals using the government to force risky loans to welfare "parasites" and Mexicans (i.e. "illegal immigrants" - in Michelle Malkin world there's hardly a difference).

As Digby put it

[T]his is one of the crudest racist attacks we've seen in a while. The liberals who ran Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac gave mortgages to blacks and Mexicans who everybody knows can't be trusted to manage their money and they ruined the economy for hardworking Real Americans.
Which is probably why we're seeing video footage of people at McCain rallies sounding like Klan members (e.g. Obama is a terrorist because of his "bloodlines") and part of why we're going to have a resurgence of proto-fascism, with extremists going off into the woods, stockpiling weapons, and preparing to wage war against the liberal fascist socialist black Muslim supramacist anti-Christ New World Order regime of Obama which staged a coup with fraudulent minority votes via ACORN so that he can take money from hard working Americans (read: white fundamentalist Christians) and give it to an army of invading Marxist Mexicans, welfare "parasites" (read: black people), and terrorists.

Imperative towards minimizing the extent to which the level of insanity generated by the Republican Noise Machine inhibits our ability to function rationally as a society over the next few years is puncturing the mythology of Republicans and fiscal responsibilty. Which is why you should take a moment and look at Alan's summary of postings at Angry Bear about Republicans, Democrats and the economy.

And for a rational, non-insane understanding of America's financialization driven finacial woes, see Bad Money by Kevin Phillips. You can watch a video or read a transcript of his discussion of the subject with Bill Moyers, here.

Saturday, October 11, 2008

Pork barrel spending that isn't pork barrel spending

When I heard John McCain speak out against 3 million dollars of funding for bear DNA research during the first presidential debate as an example of the type of wasteful spending he'd put a stop to, my immediate reaction was to think to myself that doesn't exactly sound like pork spending so much as probably beneficial spending on necessary research.

Checking Scientific American I see that

"This is not pork barrel at all," says Richard Mace, a research biologist with Montana Fish, Wildlife & Parks (FWP). "We have a federal law called the Endangered Species Act and [under this law] the federal government is supposed to help identify and conserve threatened species."

The grizzly has been listed as a threatened species since 1975 and scientists say that it is essential to get a handle on the population to preserve it. But, according to Kendall, until the feds decided to invest in this grizzly bear DNA study, researchers lacked the funds to conduct research at the scale necessary to get a reliable measure.
and

Still, for many Americans who have never seen and probably never will see a grizzly bear, the question remains: Why should one bear population merit millions in taxpayer money?

The reason, grizzly expert Servheen says: the bears are a threatened species. He estimates that only about 1,500 still reside in the 48 contiguous states, compared with some 50,000 before the arrival of Europeans in the 15th century (a 97 percent population decline). The once far-reaching grizzly habitat, which stretched from the Mississippi River to California and ranged north to south from Alaska to Mexico, is today restricted to four western states: Wyoming, Idaho, Montana, and Washington. In these states, only two populations—those living in and around Yellowstone National Park and in the Northern Continental Divide Ecosystem—number more than 50 bears and offer hope for long-term viability, Servheen says.
Considering that we've literally lost billions of dollars in Iraq, picking on a study that cost about 5 million dollars that might help save a species that is an American icon and a major tourist attraction (which means they generate revenue in return) seems a bit strange.

Footage of the latest McCain/Palin rally

Friday, October 10, 2008

John McCain booed at John McCain rally by John McCain supporters

For saying that Obama is a decent person who you don't have to be scared of - the mob was not happy to not be able to have a 2 Minutes Hate moment. Absolutely surreal.



After watching the following video



I suspect that were McCain to shout that Obama should not only be voted against, but lynched, there would be a number of folks in attendance who would give him a standing ovation. The hate displayed by these people in the video is disturbing, to say the least.

Paul Krugman gets it exactly right

We’ve seen this before. One thing that has been sort of written out of the mainstream history of politics is the sheer insanity of the attacks on the Clintons — they were drug smugglers, they murdered Vince Foster (and lots of other people), they were in league with foreign powers. And this stuff didn’t just show up in fringe publications — it was discussed in Congress, given props by the editorial page of the Wall Street Journal, and so on.

What it came down to was that a significant fraction of the American population, backed by a lot of money and political influence, simply does not consider government by liberals (even very moderate liberals) legitimate. Ronald Reagan was supposed to have settled that once and for all.

What happens when Obama is elected? It will be even worse than it was in the Clinton years. For sure there will be crazy accusations, and I wouldn’t be surprised to see some violence.

The next few years are going to be very, very tough.

Argh!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

This is testing my sanity

Earlier this week, the House Oversight Committee revealed that just one week receiving an $85 billion bailout, AIG executives went on a retreat to a luxury resort, spending nearly $500,000 on manicures, facials, pedicures, and massages, among other things.

Anti-war nuns on terrorist watch list

Jesus f'ing Christ, how can anyone vote for more of this unAmerican insanity?

Turning pseudo-fascism into proto-fascism

Yesterday I flipped on Rush Limbaugh and heard him saying that the current economic problems are completely the fault of Democrats (including Jimmy Carter) and liberalism. Today at Glenn Greenwald's I read this about the idiot racists showing up at McCain rallies

And worst of all, all of this rage and this innuendo is taking place in the most volatile climate of all — one of severe economic distress and anxiety — and these mobs are increasingly becoming convinced, because the Right and the McCain/Palin campaign is leading them to believe it, that this economic crisis is the fault of the black candidate — Obama — for making banks give mortgages to racial minorities. As an email printed just now by Jonah Goldberg put it — defending someone at a McCain/Palin rally today who screamed he was “very angry” at Obama the “socialist”:

He, and the rest of the conservatives in this country are sick and tired of being taken for granted, having our money stolen by the government and given to lazy, ungrateful people who don’t contribute or produce (or often, aren’t even citizens) anything.
This scapegoating against the poor and minorities, xenophobia, and anti-"Leftism" in the midst of fears of terrorist attack and economic meltdown are creating ripe conditions for fascism to get a foothold here. Hell, the campaign is helping to normalize and legitimize malicious attacks on Obama - such as those from Jerome Corsi or Andy Martin - that are common to the extreme Stormfront white supremacist right.

What McCain is doing - selling his soul to try to become president - is dangerous. It is dangerous to the future of democracy in America.

Thursday, October 09, 2008

Montel Williams thinks helping fraud rob people is good entertainment (or at least a good way to make money)

If Montel Williams simply believed the lies of charlatan "psychic" Sylvia Browne I would find that frustrating, but finding out he doesn't believe her but promotes her as if he does anyways, that makes me angry.

Montel: Oh, come on, I′ve said it clearly on my show a million times, I don′t believe in psychics. You know, I happen to believe that, that for, for whatever reason, this woman has a little bit more intuition than most people I know, but the thing that′s funny about it, she′s great, she′s a funny character ...
In every appearance I've seen of Browne on his show, I have never witnessed Williams do anything but act as if Browne is legitimate. I certainly never saw Williams indicate in any, way, shape or form that he doubts Browne's "abilities."

Did Williams also consider it funny when Browne erroneously told the parents of the since found Shawn Hornbeck that their son was dead (scroll down) and offered to assist them further for 700 dollars an hour?

Racist idiots for McCain



This is what happens when a campaign desperate to win starts appealing to the basest emotions in the public, when a campaign tries to capitalize on the vile hate laundering of rabid racists by the likes of Sean Hannity or Michael Savage.

Wednesday, October 08, 2008

Could an Obama surrogate please point this out?

Having remote "associations" with a former 60s extremist radical is totally unacceptable if you're a Democrat. Having a former 60s extremist radical play a prominent and significant role in Republican politics, however, is fine and dandy.

During the 2000 presidential and congressional elections, every Republican member of the U.S. Congress received a free pamphlet, compliments of Congressman Tom DeLay, the party's majority whip. Written by conservative activist David Horowitz, the pamphlet was called The Art of Political War: How Republicans Can Fight to Win. It came with an endorsement on the cover by Karl Rove, the senior advisor to then-candidate George W. Bush. According to Rove, The Art of Political War was "a perfect pocket guide to winning on the political battlefield from an experienced warrior." In addition to DeLay's gift to members of Congress, the Heritage Foundation, one of the leading conservative think tanks in Washington, found Horowitz's advice so impressive that it sent another 2,300 copies to conservative activists around the country.

True to its title, The Art of Political War argues that "Politics is war conducted by other means. In political warfare you do not fight just to prevail in an argument, but to destroy the enemy's fighting ability. ... In political wars, the aggressor usually prevails." Moreover, "Politics is a war of position. In war there are two sides: friends and enemies. Your task is to define yourself as the friend of as large a constituency as possible compatible with your principles, while defining your opponent as the enemy whenever you can. The act of defining combatants is analogous to the military concept of choosing the terrain of battle. Choose the terrain that makes the fight as easy for you as possible."

This concept of politics as warfare is intimately connected to Horowitz's personal political roots. In the 1960s, he was a militant Marxist and editor of Ramparts, one of the most radical leftist magazines in the United States. He also lent his vocal support to the Black Panther Party, which advocated and practiced armed "self-defense" against what it viewed as the "foreign occupying force" of racist white police. After becoming disillusioned with the Panthers, Horowitz took a hard swing to the right, thereby winning the admiration of the conservatives he used to denounce. His memoir of the 1960s, Destructive Generation, was one of three books that Karl Rove recommended to George W. Bush in 1993 as Rove began grooming Bush for the presidency. Horowitz has visited Bush personally on several occasions to offer advice, beginning with Bush's days as governor of Texas and continuing during his presidency.

Of course, Horowitz is not the only disillusioned leftist from the sixties. What makes him significant is that his militancy has remained constant, even as his worldview has changed. In a strange way, he remains a Leninist, right down to his appearance (balding, with a Lenin-like goatee). He even continues to offer Lenin's words as advice. "You cannot cripple an opponent by outwitting him in a political debate," he explains in The Art of Political War. "You can do it only by following Lenin's injunction: 'In political conflicts, the goal is not to refute your opponent's argument, but to wipe him from the face of the earth.'"

Monday, October 06, 2008

Skeptic site of the day

what's the harm?

We are all confronted with new information daily. It comes to us via newspapers, radio, television, websites, conversation, advertising and so on. Sometimes it seems like a deluge. Not all information is created equal. Some of it is correct. Some of it is incorrect. Some of it is carefully balanced. Some of it is heavily biased. Some of it is just plain crazy.

It is vital in the midst of this deluge that each of us be able to sort through all of this, keeping the useful information and discarding the rest. This requires the skill of critical thinking. Unfortunately, this is a skill that is often neglected in schools.

This site is designed to make a point about the danger of not thinking critically. Namely that you can easily be injured or killed by neglecting this important skill. We have collected the stories of over 225,000 people who have been injured or killed as a result of someone not thinking critically.