Saturday, February 28, 2009

Like Athena from Zeus, he was born fully formed from Bennett's head

From Huffington Post

Jonathan Krohn, the author of "Define Conservatism" and political prodigy voted "Atlanta's Most Talented Child" in 2006, was the talk of the Conservative Political Action Conference for a brief portion of the afternoon session.


How, exactly, a 13-year-old (Krohn turns 14 on Sunday) got to this place is story of an intense, downright obsessive, interest in politics. Sitting at a table and signing copies his books -- his red tie flopping on top of the white tablecloth, a flag pin pinched to his sports coat -- he assigns credit for his fast ascension to none other than Bill Bennett.

"I got into politics when I was eight years old. Six years now. And I got involved because I started listening to talk radio. It goes back to one event. The Democrats filibustered something in the Senate when I was eight years old. I don't remember what it was on and I didn't honestly care when I was eight years old. I cared about the history and the Senate rules," he told the Huffington Post. "I listened to Bill Bennett and tons of other talk show hosts who talked about that and other policies and started branching out and caring about other issues in regards to politics. Bill Bennett really became an idol for me. I listened to him every morning from 6 to 9 for, oh, years. And I started learning more and started to be able to think on my own, understanding politics on my own. I started to be able to use my mind to engage in political conversations under the conservative banner."

He talks fast and with high-pitched emotion (no cracking of the voice), often banging his two fists against the table (each one holding a pen) for dramatic effect. His mother, naturally protective, reminds him at one point that he's talking to a reporter from the Huffington Post.

"I know he is a liberal," he replies. "But you are not the first liberal I talked to at CPAC."
Dude! It's like having a real life Alex P. Keaton speak at the conference.

Meanwhile, Jesus General has been doing some irreverent Twittering from CPAC. I noticed this entry: "The Youth for Western Civilization booth has the best deals on jackboots and truncheons at #cpac #"

Which I assumed was a joke about how "right-wing" the group is and how the name "Youth for Western Civilization" automatically makes one recall fascist youth propaganda. Then I googled the group's facebook page and saw this (bold emphasis mine):

The purpose of Youth for Western Civilization is to form a right wing youth movement.

Youth for Western Civilization educates, organizes and trains activists on campuses across the nation to create a subculture that promotes the survival of Western Civilization and pride in Western heritage.

Youth for Western Civilization provides guidance, educational materials, and funding for student groups which work for Western values on campus.

New groups will be established if none are present on a campus and all possible assistance will be given to those groups that wish to work with us.

The end goal of Youth for Western Civilization is an awakening of young Westerners that will fight for their heritage and their liberties against leftist occupation and restore sanity to American universities.
Then, to the right, I noticed the organization's crest: an arm carrying an axe. Which sure as heck looks like a fasces. If I had to guess, Jesus General's Twitter entry must have happened after he walked by the booth and saw the crest.

(Youth for Western Civilization crest) (Image of Fasces from Wikipedia)There isn't really much about the group on the web, but the SPLC has an entry about them at Hatewatch noting that the group's founders have flirted with white nationalist, xenaphobic and racist organizations.

A few days before CPAC, at a speaking event at American University sponsored by the group, Tom Tancredo (R - Colo)* suggested that immigrants need to adopt "white, anglo-saxon culture."

*See here for my previous entry on Tancredo's dog whistle nativism.

Update: In the comment section, Josh pointed out that the axe is actually a hammer symbolizing Charles "the Hammer" Martel. I offered some additional comments about this, here.

Friday, February 27, 2009

The RNC's choice for voice of the Republican everyman

From Think Progress

On Wednesday, Joe “the Plumber” Wurzelbacher said that if he were in Congress, he would “probably be in jail” because he’d be charged with “slapping some member.” He added, “And that’s not [bull] either.” ThinkProgress asked Joe at CPAC yesterday which members he would most like to slap. “Pretty much anybody that’s stood there and said anything bad about our troops, pretty much anybody who sat there and talked treasonous talk about America,” Joe said. He then implied that some members of Congress should be shot:

Back in the day, really, when people would talk about our military in a poor way, somebody would shoot ‘em. And there’d be nothing said about that, because they knew it was wrong. You don’t talk about our troops. You support our troops. Especially when our congressmen and senators sit there and say bad things in an ongoing conflict.
Hopefully, the sort of extremism that Wurzelbacher represents will eventually lead to some sort of reform of the Republican Party as voters are driven off. Unfortunately, in the short term, at least, this is the sort of voter that is driving Republican politics (via primary elections.)

Thursday, February 26, 2009

Eliminationist joke gets big laughs at CPAC

From Mother Jones

Appearing at the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC), the nation's largest annual conference of conservative activists, [John] Bolton, one of the hardest hardliners of the George W. Bush administration, spoke at length about Obama's naivet̩ and how various nations РRussia, North Korea, Iran Рwill be exploiting the new president. The most dramatic moment of his speech may have been when he cracked a joke about the nuking of Obama's hometown.

"The fact is on foreign policy I don't think President Obama thinks it's a priority," said Bolton. "He said during the campaign he thought Iran was a tiny threat. Tiny, tiny depending on how many nuclear weapons they are ultimately able to deliver on target. Its, uh, its tiny compared to the Soviet Union, but is the loss of one American city" – here Bolton shrugged his shoulders impishly – "pick one at random – Chicago – is that a tiny threat?"

Bolton wasn't the only one who thought this was funny. The room erupted in laughter and applause. Was this conservative catharsis, with rightwingers delightfully imagining the destruction of a city that represents Obama? Or perhaps they were venting vengeance with their laughter. (Bolton is no stranger to inflammatory remarks. He once infamously quipped, "There are 38 floors to the UN building in New York. If you lost 10 of them, it wouldn't make a bit of difference.")


Bolton received a standing ovation and got off to a fast start, declaring that "President Obama is the most radical president we have ever elected in this country." In Bolton's world, Obama's radicalism is matched only by his lack of backbone. The new president, he warned, simply doesn't have what it takes to go head to head with the world's baddest bad actors. And Obama's pusillanimous posture, Bolton predicted, will result in [America becoming] a "weaker and less safe nation."
Ah, yes. Nothing funnier than eliminationist fantasy combined with dolchstoss demagoguery.

During a Q & A segment, Bolton was asked if Americans will stage a "revolt" against Obama. The article does not recount his answer.

Change = doing the same?

From Raw Story

The Obama Justice Department continues to stand behind a Bush era law meant to prevent lawsuits against telecommunications companies accused of illegally sharing private customer information with intelligence agencies.
From Dispatches from the Culture Wars

Yet another absolutely appalling example of the Obama administration continuing a vile Bush administration position in a legal case with a profound effect on freedom and the rule of law. Now the Obama DOJ is continuing to support the Bush administration's position that prisoners do not have a right to access DNA evidence that may prove their innocence
From Dispatches from the Culture Wars

Do not adjust your monitor. This is not a repeat. The Obama administration is defending yet another Bush administration position in the war on terror, arguing that the courts have no jurisdiction over military prisons overseas other than Guantanamo Bay.
From Dispatches from the Culture Wars

Stop me if you've heard this one before. The Obama administration is now maintaining the Bush position on that missing email case in federal court, seeking to prevent a ruling that would require the government to preserve the backup tapes for millions of emails sent from within the White House.
From Dispatches from the Culture Wars

Bruce Fein writes about a second case where the Obama administration has continued the Bush position and invoked the state secrets privilege in order to avoid judicial scrutiny, this time of the warrantless wiretapping program:

Mr. Obama invoked the state secrets privilege a second time last week to block litigation challenging the legality of the Bush-Cheney "Terrorist Surveillance Program" (TSP) that he had assailed as a senator. For five years, the TSP targeted American citizens on American soil for electronic surveillance on the president's say-so alone to gather foreign intelligence in contravention of the warrant requirement of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA). Intentional violations are federal felonies.

Fein also writes of a case I haven't heard of yet where Obama has apparently chosen to defend John Yoo against a lawsuit by Jose Padilla:

At the same time, Mr. Obama was deciding to defend the arch-defender of torture, former Deputy Assistant Attorney General John Yoo, from a suit brought by Jose Padilla. The complaint alleges that Mr. Yoo concocted the legal justification for detaining and harshly interrogating Padilla as an "enemy combatant" without accusation or trial. (The United States later recanted its enemy combatant allegation).
From Dispatches from the Culture Wars

Nat Hentoff, the only rational person writing for the Worldnutdaily (okay, he doesn't actually write for them; he writes a syndicated column that they publish), writes about the many ways Eric Holder is maintaining the same positions the Bush administration did, some of which I was unaware of. For instance, he supports the Bush policy that allows the FBI to begin surveillance without ever getting a warrant


He also supports the amended FISA provisions that continue to allow the NSA to conduct warrantless wiretapping.

Economic Underpants Gnomes strike again!

Economic Underpants Gnomes say:

Step 1: Cut taxes for the super-rich/increase spending/decrease revenue
Step 2: ????
Step 3: Profit
And from Think Progress

In the budget released today, the Obama administration announced that it would end the Bush tax cuts on the wealthiest Americans, as well as shut off loopholes that effectively eviscerate corporate tax revenues, all in an effort to fuel a robust domestic agenda and start lowering the deficit.

Predictably, the right wing is up in arms over the small tax increase for the richest businesses and families. Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison (R-TX) complained to a friendly crowd at CNBC this morning that Obama’s tax increases would harm the economy, and insisted the best way to raise revenue is to cut taxes:

HUTCHISON: I think we get revenue the way we’ve done it in the past that has been so successful in the past and that is tax cuts…Every major tax cut we’ve had in history has created more revenue.
Look: There is something seriously wrong here when we have one of the two viable parties in America having been overtaken by a crank economics that is a theology of the rich, in which its tenets are believed dogmatically in the face of evidence demonstrating it to be false.

The notion that cutting taxes somehow — magically — increases government revenues is a myth that won’t die. “The claim that tax cuts pay for themselves…is contradicted by the historical record,” reported the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, which showed that revenues grew twice as fast in the 1990s, when taxes were raised, than in the 1980s, when taxes were cut. called a claim like Hutchison’s “highly misleading” and stated the obvious fact that “we can’t have both lower taxes and fatter government coffers.”

Excerpt of the day

From The Invention of Air: A Story of Science, Faith, Revolution, and the Birth of America by Steven Johnson

A few days before I started writing this book, a leading candidate for the presidency of the United States was asked on national television whether he believed in the theory of evolution. He shrugged off the question with a dismissive jab of humor. "It's interesting that that question would even be asked of someone running for president," he said. "I'm not planning on writing the curriculum for an eighth-grade science book. I'm asking for the opportunity to be president of the United States."

It was a funny line, but the joke only worked in a specific intellectual context. For the statement to make sense, the speaker had to share one basic assumption with his audience: that "science" was some kind of specialized intellectual field, about which political leaders needn't know anything to do their business. Imagine a candidate dismissing a question about his foreign policy experience by saying he was running for president and not writing a textbook on international affairs. The joke wouldn't make sense, because we assume that foreign policy expertise is a central qualification for the chief executive. But science? That's for the guys in the lab coats.

That line has stayed with me since, because the web of events at the center of this book suggests that its basic assumptions are fundamentally flawed. If there is an overarching moral to this story, it is that vital fields of intellectual achievement cannot be cordoned off from one another and relegated to the specialists, that politics can and should be usefully informed by the insights of science. The protagonists of this story lived in a climate where ideas flowed easily between the realms of politics, philosophy, religion, and science. The closest thing to a hero in this book - the chemist, theologian, and political theorist Joseph Priestley - spent his whole career in the space that connects those different fields. But the other figures central to this story - Ben Franklin, John Adams, Thomas Jefferson - suggest one additional reading of the "eighth-grade science" remark. It was anti-intellectual, to be sure, but it was something even more incendiary in the context of a presidential race. It was positively un-American.

Supreme Court rules that tax-payer funded religion is not subject to the First Amendment

From the New York Times

A public park in Utah that includes a monument to the Ten Commandments need not make room for a similar monument reflecting the beliefs of an unusual religion called Summum, the Supreme Court ruled on Wednesday.

Permanent monuments in public parks are not subject to the free speech analysis that applies to speeches and leaflets in public forums, the court ruled. Instead, Justice Samuel A. Alito Jr. wrote for eight justices, such monuments are “best viewed as a form of government speech.”

Since the government is free to say what it likes, Justice Alito said, the Summum church’s right to free speech under the First Amendment was not violated by the city’s rejection of its monument.
Look, I'm not in any position to comment on the legal legitimacy of the decision, but if you're declaring that government speech is not subject to the First Amendment, you're opening the door for the government promotion of religion, which is expressly prohibited by that very amendment. The government is not free to say what it wants. Public parks are tax-payer funded spaces that should not be in the business of respecting an establishment of religion. As James Madison put it, religion should be "wholly exempt from [government's] cognizance."

The Summum monument need not go up, but the Ten Commandments monument needs to come down.

Ed Brayton explains why he thinks this will ultimately be a good thing. I generally agree with him, although I think it will depend on the future composition of the court.

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

And they're worried about socialism

Via Think Progress

Northern Trust received $1.6 billion in bailout funds and announced in December that it was eliminating 450 jobs because “the macroeconomic environment has been extraordinarily difficult.” But as TMZ reports, that hasn’t stopped the bank from spending “a fortune last week in L.A. hosting a series of lavish parties and concerts with famous singers”:

Northern Trust, a Chicago-based bank, sponsored the Northern Trust Open at the Riviera Country Club in L.A. We’re told Northern Trust paid millions to sponsor the PGA event which ended Sunday, but what happened off the golf course is even more shocking.

Northern Trust flew hundreds of clients and employees to L.A. and put many of them up at some of the fanciest and priciest hotels in the city. We’re told more than a hundred people were put up at the Beverly Wilshire in Bev Hills, and another hundred stayed at the Loews Santa Monica Beach Hotel. Still more stayed at the Ritz Carlton in Marina Del Rey and others at Casa Del Mar in Santa Monica.
If there's a "socialism" we need to be worrying about, it's corporate socialism: the transfer of wealth upwards from the many to the very few. Or maybe call it corporate neo-feudalism or financial mercantilism.

I get visitors

For the last week, my blog traffic has been slightly higher than usual. It's because I've been getting visitors directed here from Tom Metzger's Pan Aryan Insurgent News (PAIN) website. The site describes itself as "the voice of progressive [white] racism."

My post on the New York Post cartoon, showing two white police officers having killed a monkey while saying to each other that another monkey will have to write the stimulus bill next time, apparently, got the site's attention because of the thread I found at Stormfront which voices approval of the cartoon and compares it favorably to a cartoonist from Metzger's neo-nazi White Aryan Resistance (War) paper. Currently, on the front page I'm linked to with the tag "White Racists voice their approval of 'racist' New York Post cartoon. " Previously, I was linked (a little more than half way down) in an entry titled "Are you sending cartoons to the New York Post."

I took another look at the original Stormfront thread and found this comment: "The New York Post only needs to say that Obama didn't write the stimulus bill and that that monkey could represent any number of people in Congress and that any resemblance between the monkey and Obama is pure coincidence." That doesn't indicate that this was the intention of the cartoonist, but it does indicate that this is something that a racist trying to disseminate his views subversively would consider doing. And it also demonstrates the point I was attempting to make that the cartoon is irresponsible regardless of what the cartoonist's intentions were: it still remains a vehicle to transmit violent, racially charged imagery.

I also noticed a commenter telling the other commenters that the cartoon was clearly not a reference to Obama but merely mocking the stimulus bill.

Daily Show lampoons Obama AntiChrist (and/or Hitler) hysteria

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Richard Hofstadter explains Rush Limbaugh

Rush Limbaugh, Feb. 17, 2009

This is one of the great battles in which we find ourselves today. How do you come to a compromise with people like that? Everybody said, "We ought to compromise, Rush, bipartisanship, we gotta all get along." How do you do that? How do you compromise good versus evil? How do you compromise victory with defeat? As I said last week, should Jesus have made a deal with Lucifer? Should Jesus have made a deal with Satan? How would that deal have come out? What would the compromise there be?
Richard Hofstadter, Anti-Intellectualism in American Life (1963)

One reason why the political intelligence of our time is so incredulous and uncomprehending in the presence of the right-wing mind is that it does not reckon fully with the essentially theological concern that underlies right-wing views of the world. Characteristically, the political intelligence, if it is to operate at all as a kind of civic force rather than as a mere set of maneuvers to advance this or that special interest, must have its own way of handling the facts of life and of forming strategies. It accepts conflict as a central and enduring reality and understands human society as a form of equipoise based upon the continuing process of compromise. It shuns ultimate showdowns and looks upon the ideal of total partisan victory as unattainable, as merely another variety of threat to the kind of balance with which it is familiar. It is sensitive to nuances and sees things in degrees. It is essentially relativist and skeptical, but at the same time circumspect and humane.

The fundamentalist mind will have nothing to do with all this: it is essentially Manichean; it looks upon the world as an arena for conflict between absolute good and absolute evil, and accordingly it scorns compromises (who would compromise with Satan?) and can tolerate no ambiguities. It cannot find serious importance in what it believes to be trifling degrees of difference: liberals support measures that are for all practical purposes socialistic, and socialism is nothing more than a variant of Communism, which, as everyone knows, is atheism. Whereas the distinctively political intelligence begins with the political world, and attempts to make an assessment of how far a given set of goals can in fact be realized in the face of a certain balance of opposing forces, the secularized fundamentalist mind begins with a definition of that which is absolutely right, and looks upon politics as an arena in which that right must be realized.
Limbaugh's Manichean mind-set also leads him to some truly bizarro beliefs. If you read that transcript, you'll see that the "people like that" he alludes to are Democrats who "are trying to undermine the Constitution because it's an obstacle to them." According to Limbaugh, "the Constitution is under assault" from immoral, atheistic Democrats "who come to find it restrictive and unpalatable."

See: In Limbaugh's mind, Republicans (who are movement conservatives, "RINOs" like Arlen Specter don't count) are Good and pro-Constitution. Democrats are Evil and anti-Constitution. These are axiomatic truths for Limbaugh that are not informed by reality, but instead shape Limbaugh's perception of reality.

Which is why he ends up on air denouncing Democrats for finding the Constitution to restrictive while the administration he spent the last 8 years championing put forth the most radical and unConstitutional view of Executive power in this nation's history.

Simply put, Bush and his lawyers contend that the president's national security powers are unlimited. And since the war on terror is currently scheduled to run indefinitely, the executive supremacy they're asserting won't be a temporary condition.

This extremity of Bush's position emerges most clearly in a 42-page document issued by the Department of Justice last week. As Andrew Cohen, a CBS legal analyst, wrote in an online commentary, "The first time you read the 'White Paper,' you feel like it is describing a foreign country guided by an unfamiliar constitution." To develop this observation a bit further, the nation implied by the document would be an elective dictatorship, governed not by three counterpoised branches of government but by a secretive, possibly benign, awesomely powerful king.

Monday, February 23, 2009

The Republican Hate Machine

I highly recommend Eric Boehlert's latest column summarizing the anti-Obama lunacy being generated by the Republican Noise Machine merely 30 days into the Obama presidency. The whole thing should be read, but here's the introduction

The Republican Noise Machine doesn't need the customary 100 days to size up the new president. Right-wing commentators barely needed 30 days to come to their conclusion that they hate everything Barack Obama stands for.

In terms of speed and efficiency, the right-wing collection of bloggers, AM talkers, pundits, and yes, newspaper cartoonists, may have set a new land speed record for becoming collectively unhinged, as they wail and moan about how the new Democratic president's turning America into a fascist state, or communist, or socialist, or whatever other bugaboo claim Glenn Beck and Laura Ingraham are tossing out to viewers and listeners on a daily basis.

Barack Obama is "arrogant," "dishonest," and "radical," Fox News' Sean Hannity announced during a single 10-second chunk of prime-time TV last week -- a casually hateful appraisal that didn't even raise eyebrows, simply because that kind of blanketed disdain for the new president has already become so commonplace.

Rush Limbaugh's original anti-Obama proclamation at the outset of his presidency -- "I hope he fails" -- already seems benign in retrospect. Since Inauguration Day we've learned Obama has "Marxist tendencies" and is "addicting this country to heroin -- the heroin that is government slavery" (Glenn Beck). That, "there are eerie, eerie similarities" between Obama and Nazis" (Michael Savage's guest host, Chris Stigall). And of course, Limbaugh himself famously bemoaned that "[w]e are being told that we have to hope [Obama] succeeds, that we have to bend over, grab the ankles ... because his father was black."

Meanwhile, last week widely read right-wing blogger Michelle Malkin was seen smiling while getting her picture taken with an Obama hater who proudly brandished a swastika placard at an anti-Obama rally in Denver. And the following day, Rupert Murdoch's far-right New York Post published a grotesque cartoon that seemed to associate Obama with a bullet-ridden monkey who'd been shot by two white cops on a city sidewalk.

If we just pause and take one or two steps back from the daily/hourly barrage of hate, it's obvious that faced with the new Obama presidency, the Republican Noise Machine has already lost all perspective -- has gone totally loco -- and it's only February, a mere month into Obama's first four years in office. Who dares to even imagine where the right-wing "conversation" goes from here?
I don't know, but recall the prediction I made before the election: "If a Democrat becomes president expect to have our public discourse overtaken and overwhelmed with the most extreme, insane, and rotten attacks and smears from the conservative movement that you can possibly imagine."

And the ultimate concern I had with this state of affairs: "The ... threat is the one [Richard] Hofstadter recognized, that this kind of endless mindless drivel that comes from the Drudge-Hannity-Limbaugh axis of misinformation will create a political climate in which rational pursuit of our well-being and safety is impossible."

If this concerns you, the most acute recent analysis -that I know of - of the decline of reasoned public discourse remains Al Gore's book The Assault on Reason. (See here for my review.)

It's like watching the Keystone Cops

In one of Greta Van Susteren's seemingly endless adventures with the Palin family, she interviewed Bristol Palin about her pregnancy. Palin, apparently mugged by reality, said that while abstinence should be a goal, "it's not realistic at all."

Sounds like she was saying abstinence isn't realistic, right?

Yes. Unless you have a conservative babel fish, in which case Palin saying that abstinence isn't realistic means that Palin was saying that abstinence is realistic.*

In an interview with Fox News’ Greta Van Susteren earlier this month, Bristol Palin, Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin’s teenage daughter who recently gave birth to a son, said that while she believes “everyone should be abstinent,” it is “not realistic at all“

BRISTOL: But I think abstinence is, like — like, the — I don’t know how to put it — like, the main — everyone should be abstinent or whatever, but it’s not realistic at all.It’s something that — I don’t know, you should just wait ten years. It’s so much easier.
In a segment discussing the “Ups and Downs” of the past week, Fox News’ Mort Kondracke and Fred Barnes said on Saturday that Bristol Palin is now “the new face of teen pregnancy.” After playing a clip of Palin’s abstinence comments, Barnes claimed that what she was really saying was that “abstinence is actually realistic”:

BARNES: I guess so. That means she’s saying that abstinence actually is realistic. Either way, it’s certainly not fool proof. People slip, particularly teenagers, but not only teenagers.
*Think Progress omitted the final sentence from Palin's statement (although they include it in the transcript), which makes Barnes' response seem more absurd than it already is, so I added it back in. Barnes seems to be intepreting Palin's statement about wanting to wait ten years to have a kid to mean Palin thinks that abstinence is realistic, despite the fact that the entire context of the interview (in addition to Palins explicit words) says otherwise. One thing to note about the link I just gave - the author says that Sarah Palin is not a proponent of abstinence-only education, yet Palin opposed comprehensive sexual education during her 2006 race for governor.

Sunday, February 22, 2009

Shooting the monkey: Dreaming of a coming civil war

Alan Keyes on President Obama

Obama is a radical communist and I think it is becoming clear. That's what I told people in Illinois and now everybody realizes it's true. He is going to destroy this country and we are either going to stop him or the United States of America is going to cease to exist ...


Is he President of the United States? According to the Constitution, in order to be eligible for president, you have to be a natural born citizen. He has refused to provide proof that he is, in fact, a natural born citizen. And his Kenyan relations say that he was born in Nairobi at a time when his mother was too young to transmit U. S. citizenship. So I'm not even sure he's President of the United States.

No, that's not a laughing matter, neither are many of our military people now who are going to court to ask the question: "Do we have to obey a man who is not qualified under the Constitution?" We're in the midst of the greatest crisis this nation has ever seen. And if we don't stop laughing about it and deal with it, we're going to find ourselves in the midst of chaos, confusion and civil war.
Meanwhile, Glenn Beck is busy speculating about what the coming revolution against Obama's liberal fascist communism is going to be like.

In the segment below, [Beck] convened a panel that includes former CIA officer Michael Scheuer and Ret. U.S. Army Sgt. Major Tim Strong. They discuss a coming "civil war" led by American "Bubba" militias -- Beck says he "believes we're on this road" -- and they contemplate whether the U.S. military would follow the President's orders to subdue civil unrest or would instead join with "the people" in defense of their Constitutional rights against the Government (they agree that the U.S. military would be with "the people"):
Which is one of the reasons why I consider that New York Post cartoon so disturbing. Even were the imagery involved not racially charged, it is still comparing the actions of Democrats to a crazed monkey that had to be killed to be stopped.

The inclinations of violent "right-wing" extremism are being given encouragement by the likes of Beck, Keyes, the New York Post, who continue to demonize Democrats as evil which needs to be "stopped." As I said before:

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.

Saturday, February 21, 2009

Friday, February 20, 2009

Things that are only true inside Sean Hannity's head

Last night, Sean Hannity and his "Great American Panel" discussed briefly the New York Post cartoon which depicted the author of the stimulus bill as a monkey that should be shot and killed. Hannity didn't actually have much to say, other than to wonder where the outrage and protests over cartoons attacking Condoleeza Rice were, at which point two cartoons were put up on screen.

The first was Doonesbury strip by Garry Trudeau. The strip consisted of four or so panels all featuring an outside shot of the White House with two word bubbles per panel. That's it. The genius production team didn't make the image large enough or clear enough so that you could actually read the text of the word bubbles.* But being a decades long reader of the strip, I'm fairly confident in asserting the dialogue didn't suggest Condoleeza Rice is a monkey who should be shot. In Hannity's mind, however, the violent imagery of the New York Post cartoon is the same as the Doonesbury strip.

The second cartoon was a Pat Oliphant one that depicted Rice as a sycophantic parrot of George W. Bush. I actually do have a problem with that cartoon. I'm not sure if the cartoon is racist, but it did dehumanize Rice, which in itself is unacceptable.** However, despite the caricature crossing a line, it still did not come close to the violent imagery associated with the Post cartoon.

Given what we've seen were Jim Adkisson's reasons for going out to kill "liberals," it is simply inexcusable for a newspaper to print a cartoon with such an implicit suggestion that the author of the stimulus bill (identified heavily with Obama in talk radio world) deserves to be shot and killed, whatever the intentions of the cartoonist were.

*I did a google search, and if I had to guess I suspect the panel shown was the one where Bush gives Rice the nickname "Brown sugar." The cartoon was satirizing Bush's habit of giving people around him stupid names of endearment, not making a racist statement. To say this is a stretch to compare that to the Post cartoon is understatement.
**I wouldn't really argue with anyone who found the Oliphant Rice depiction racist, either.

Update: The charming (sarcasm) history of the cartoonist behind the cartoon.

Thursday, February 19, 2009

White nationalists voice their approval of racist New York Post cartoon

The New York Post has run a cartoon depicting two white police officers having shot and killed a monkey, with one of the officers stating, "They will have to find someone else to write the next stimulus bill." The cartoon "was juxtaposed with a picture of President Obama signing the bill."

I find it somewhat staggering that this was published, even in Rupert Murdoch's Post. We have a paper running a racist cartoon which fantasizes about killing the president. Unbelievable.

I guessed that the Stormfront white nationalist crowd would be thrilled by the cartoon. They were.

- The cartoon in today's New York Post is very good! It is almost as effective as many of those created by `A. Wyatt Mann', Tom Metzger's incredible cartoonist in the relatively old `White Aryan Resistance' newspaper in the 90s.

- You might be a White Nationalist if:
1) You laughed at that cartoon.
2) You laughed harder at [Al Sharpton's] outrage.
3) You're only mad because you didn't think of it first.
4) You posted it on the office bulletin board.
5) You posted it on your black supervisor's door.
6) You copied it for Xmas cards.
7) You personally autographed a copy and sent it to your favorite black politician.
8)You only wonder what kind of ammo the cop was using.
9) You keep a copy in your wallet next to the kids' pics to show your friends.
10) You store it in in the ol' hard drive and repeatedly use it on Stormfront, (like the Heineken Looter Dude.)
How long before Ann Coulter tells us the cartoon reflects good old fashioned conservative values?

Update: From The Huffington Post

The mood inside the New York Post, it seems, is a mix of anger and bewilderment that the paper published a cartoon depicting the authors of the stimulus as a dead, crazed chimpanzee.

On Wednesday, an employee of the paper told the Huffington Post that the phone lines had been inundated with complaints over what was interpreted as a racially charged jab at Obama. "As they f--king should be," said the source.

Quote of the day

"It is immoral to hold an opinion in order to curry another's favor; mercenary, servile, and against the dignity of human liberty to yield and submit; supremely stupid to believe as a matter of habit; irrational to decide according to the majority opinion, as if the number of sages exceeded the infinite number of fools." - Giordano Bruno*, One Hundred and Twenty Articles Against Mathematicians and Philosophers

After eight years of imprisonment, Bruno was burned at the stake by the Roman Inquisition, for refusing to recant his opinions on the nature of the universe, on Feb. 17, 1600.**

*As translated by Ingrid Rowland in Giordano Bruno: Philosopher/Heretic.
**Bruno professed that he would recant were the Pope himself to declare him heretical, but would not recognize the authority of his inquisitors. The Pope did not respond.

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

The economy is bad, time to persecute the gays

Via Blog of Rights

Right now, our country is in the midst of the worst recession in recent history. The global financial system is facing a crisis of historic proportions. Government entities, from small school districts to the State of California, are facing budget nightmares and even financial insolvency. And in this environment, what have two members of the Tennessee legislature decided is a top priority? Preventing kids from getting adopted.

State Senator Paul Stanley (R-Memphis) and State Representative John DeBerry (D-Memphis) have introduced a bill that would prohibit cohabiting, unmarried couples from adopting in Tennessee. From among the dozens of reasons this law is a bad idea, let me mention just two. First, and most importantly, it would deny thousands of children the chance to be adopted into stable, loving homes simply because their potential parents are not — or cannot get — married in Tennessee. Second, it would interfere with parents’ right to determine who they want their children to be raised by in the event of their own death. You might think your lesbian sister and her partner would be the best people to raise your child if something happened to you, but under this law, the state of Tennessee wouldn’t allow it.
And via Think Progress

Last night, Utah’s local ABC station received leaked portions of an interview with state senator Chris Buttars (R), which will be highlighted in an upcoming documentary on Proposition 8. Buttars is an outspoken opponent of gay rights; in the latest interview, he compares gays to alcoholics and Muslim terrorists, and warns that gay people are “probably the greatest threat to America.” Some excerpts from the interview:

– To me, homosexuality will always be a sexual perversion. And you say that around here now and everybody goes nuts! But I don’t care.

– They say, I’m born that way. There’s some truth to that, in that some people are born with an attraction to alcohol.

– They’re mean! They want to talk about being nice — they’re the meanest buggers I ever seen. It’s just like the Moslems. Moslems are good people and their religion is anti-war. But it’s been taken over by the radical side. And the gays are totally taken over by the radical side.

– I believe that you will destroy the foundation of American society, because I believe the cornerstone of it is a man and a woman, the family. … And I believe that they’re, internally, they’re probably the greatest threat to America going down I know of. Yep, the radical gay movement.
This would seem an appropriate time to requote A.C. Grayling.

The great moral questions - the most moral and urgent ones - are not about sex, drugs and unmarried mothers. They are, instead, about human rights, war and genocide, the arms trade, poverty in the Third World, the continuance of slavery under many guises and names, interreligious antipathies and conflicts, and inequality and injustice everywhere. These areas of concern involve truly staggering horrors and human suffering. In comparison to them, the parochial and largely misguided anxieties over sex, drugs, gay marriage and the other matters that fill newspapers and agitate the ‘Moral Majority’ in America and Britain, pale into triviality. It is itself a moral scandal that these questions preoccupy debate in comfortable corners of the world, while real atrocity and oppression exist elsewhere.

Things that are only true inside Sean Hannity's head

Yesterday I heard Sean Hannity on the radio saying that "liberals" want to shut down talk radio because it's the only place where "conservative" voices can be heard, and that you never hear "conservatives" in the New York Times or the Washington Post ("Washington Compost").


Um, William Kristol. Heard of him? Republican operative and one of the leading voices of neoconservatism; a key architect of the blow-up the Middle East to spread democracy Bush militarism. Was a New York Times op-ed writer, now is a Washington Post columnist.

John Yoo and John Bolton. Heard of them? They were firm believers that the President (when Republican) is not bound by any laws -foreign nor domestic - and that Congress can not constrain in any shape or form the monarchical powers of the president (when Republican.) The New York Times published an op-ed from them comically asserting it is time for Congress to check the powers of the President (now a Democrat.)

Yesterday the first site I checked when I went on-line was Unclaimed Territory. This is what I read

David Rivkin and Lee Casey are right-wing lawyers and former Reagan DOJ officials who, over the last eight years, have been extremely prolific in jointly defending Bush/Cheney theories of executive power. Today, they have one of their standard Op-Eds, this time in The Washington Post, demanding that there be no investigations or prosecutions of Bush officials.
This has been the first edition of Things That Are Only True Inside Sean Hannity's Head.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Trivia of the day

Question: When was the National Academy of Sciences founded?

Answer: Via the NAS

The National Academy of Sciences (NAS) was signed into being by President Abraham Lincoln on March 3, 1863. As mandated in its Act of Incorporation, the Academy has, since 1863, served to "investigate, examine, experiment, and report upon any subject of science or art" whenever called upon to do so by any department of the government.

"Liberal balance" at Fox News

Every now and then I'll have someone say to me in conversation that Fox News isn't a propaganda arm of the Republican party because it employs "liberals" like Greta Van Susteren, Geraldo Rivera, and Alan Colmes.

Of the three, Colmes is the only one who regularly presents a liberal perspective. And I suppose it is somewhat telling that he's the one who is no longer with the network.

Last night I flipped by Van Susteren's program, only to see Susteren interviewing Sarah Palin - for what seems like the umpteenth time - at her husband's snowmobile race.

This is what counts as "liberal balance" at Fox? Cheerleading the anti-intellectual Christian nationalist career of Sarah Palin? When Susteren isn't busy promoting Palin or interviewing Sean Hannity or presenting the "breaking news" that someone from National Review is accusing Barack Obama and William Ayers of having associations, she's busy covering the missing attractive white female/attractive white female murders someone tabloid news beat (which is also Rivera's beat.)

Some balance.

Saturday, February 14, 2009

The Coulter crazy train keeps on rolling

When I last posted about Ann Coulter, author of Guilty: Jewish "Victims" and Their Assault on Germany Guilty: Liberal "Victims" and Their Assault on America, she was encouraging "strong Republican men" to punch 99 pound female anti-war protesters in the face.

Hatewatch notes that in Guilty she spends 3 pages defending the white supremacist Council of Conservative Citizens.

The CCC, Coulter opines, is “a conservative group” that has unfairly been branded as racist “because some of the directors of the CCC had, decades earlier, been leaders of a segregationist group.” “There is no evidence on its Web page that the modern incarnation of the CCC supports segregation,” she says. “Apart from some aggressive reporting on black-on-white crimes — the very crimes that are aggressively hidden by the establishment media — there is little on the CCC website suggesting” that the group is racist. Indeed, its main failing is “containing members who had belonged to a segregationist group thirty years earlier.”

Coulter could hardly be more wrong. And even if she can’t find time to read beyond a page of the CCC’s website, she really ought to know — after all, the organization where she frequently speaks, the Conservative Political Action Committee, has publicly banned the CCC from its annual gathering because it is racist. Also in the late 1990s, Jim Nicholson, then-chairman of the Republican National Committee, asked GOP members to stay away from the CCC because of its “racist and nationalist views.”

How could conservative Republicans be inspired to say such ugly things? Let us count the ways.

The CCC’s columnists have written that black people are “a retrograde species of humanity,” and that non-white immigration is turning the U.S. population into a “slimy brown mass of glop.” Its website has run photographic comparisons of pop singer Michael Jackson and a chimpanzee. It opposes “forced integration” and decries racial intermarriage. It has lambasted black people as “genetically inferior,” complained about “Jewish power brokers,” called gay people “perverted sodomites,” and even named the late Lester Maddox, the baseball bat-wielding, arch-segregationist former governor of Georgia, “Patriot of the Century.”

One day, the CCC ran photos on its home page of accused Beltway snipers John Muhammad and John Malvo, 9/11 conspirator Zacharias Moussaoui and accused shoe-bomber Richard Reed. “Notice a Pattern Here?” asked a caption underneath the four photos. “Is the face of death black after all?” On another occasion, its website featured a photo of Daniel Pearl, the “Jewish Wall Street Journal reporter” who had just been decapitated by Islamic terrorists. In the photo, Pearl was shown with his “mixed-race wife, Marianne.” The headline above the couple’s picture was stunning even for the CCC: “Death by Multiculturalism?” The CCC Arkansas chapter ran an essay waxing nostalgic for the days “when racial separation was the norm.”
The interesting thing is how Coulter frames this form of racism as good old fashioned anti-liberal conservatism. According to Coulter, the CCC:

is about “a strong national defense, the right to keep and bear arms, the traditional family, and an ‘America First’ trade policy.” Indeed, she says, The New York Times and other critics of the CCC are simply liberals “who have no principles."
This is pretty much the exact process of the mainstreaming of hate in the conservative movement by a media transmitter that Dave Neiwert wrote about in his essay "Rush, Newspeak and Fascism: An exegesis."

[T]hat is the role that media transmitters like Coulter play: Not only do they inject the extremist meme into mainstream conservatism, they also condition the mainstream to think of extremists in a generous and even collegial light. Simultaneously, they persuade extremists who might otherwise align themselves with marginal and powerless fringe groups to instead perceive that mainstream conservatives are capable of addressing their issues, thereby drawing them into the political ranks of mainstream conservatism.
Neiwert's soon to be relased book The Eliminationists: How Hate Talk Radicalized the American Right will be of interest to those concerned with the manner in which American media promotes the career of a figure such as Coulter.

Friday, February 13, 2009

Quote of the day

"The [Obama] administration’s decision this week to adopt its predecessor’s argument that the state secret privilege requires the outright dismissal of a case challenging rendition to torture was a step in the wrong direction and a reminder that legislation is required to ensure meaningful review of the state secret privilege." - Jerrold Nadler (D-N.Y.), speaking to the Boston Globe

via Blog of Rights

The world was not ready for his crazy eyes close-up

via Newshounds

Lithwick on "state secrets"

Slate's Dahlia Lithwick has written an excellent article (as she regularly does) about the Obama DOJ's decision to maintain the previous DOJ position on the assertion of the "state secrets" legal theory. Lithwick begins by noting how curious this stance is given what the administration has already done

Obama pledged to close Guantanamo within a year, halted the military commissions there, shut down CIA black sites, and limited interrogation practices to clearly legal methods. His vice president just announced in a major policy speech that "there is no conflict between our security and our ideals"—a line echoing his boss's inaugural address—and reiterated that America and her allies share "a common commitment not only to live by the rules but to enforce them." Obama has tapped for the most senior positions in his Justice Department people who have been outspoken critics of the Bush administration's extreme and secretive arrogation of powers; people like Eric Holder, Dawn Johnsen, Martin Lederman, and David Barron. This, perhaps more than any single action on Obama's part, has signaled how serious he is about capping the last administration's geyser of President-Is-King nonsense.

How then, is it possible that Obama's Justice Department chose to stay the course on one of the most embarrassing legal theories advanced by the Bush administration—the so-called state-secrets privilege? If you're going to cling to any aspect of the "war on terror," wouldn't it make sense to choose a power that could arguably forestall future terror attacks (like coercive interrogation) rather than the utterly bogus argument that courts are not fit to scrutinize government wrongdoing?
She goes from there to summarize the history of the state secrets privelege and the details of the case that the Justice Dept. is asserting it in. That "state secrets" are being asserted is even more absurd given that the details of the case are already generally well known.

Then the article concludes with a number of speculations as to what is motivating this position, most of which are plausible enough on the surface. But this is the one that I find particularly insightful

Finally, by keeping the worst of the Bush administration's secrets hidden, the Obama Justice Department can defer awkward questions about prosecuting the wrongdoers. In his press conference Monday night, Obama repeated his mantra that "nobody is above the law and if there are clear instances of wrongdoing, people should be prosecuted just like ordinary citizens. But generally speaking, I'm more interested in looking forward than I am in looking backwards." The principle once again is that Obama is for prosecuting Bush administration lawbreaking only when proof of such lawbreaking bonks him on the head. All the more reason to keep it out of sight, then.

It's a depressing hypothesis, and one about which I hope to be proved wrong. Blocking the Jeppesen suit from going forward serves no legitimate legal principle, although the political advantages of doing so may turn out to be overwhelming. Of course the Obama administration was supposed to understand the difference between the two.
Given the Democratic party's fear of being branded "partisan" by people who are nothing but partisan and the fact that there are numerous figures in the press who also consider holding top government officials accountable to the law a matter of "partisanship," I find it entirely conceivable that the Obama adminstration is afraid it might actually have to act on Bush administration lawbreaking and suffer the political backlash that will follow from those who either do not care about the rule of law or do not understand it. But at somepoint someone is going to have to point out that the true partisans are those who would excuse Executive lawbreaking consisting of torture, spying on American citizens, and inprisonment without due process and that what we are going to be looking forward to in the future is more lawbreaking if we don't punish lawbreaking. Obama's - and the Beltway's in general - vision of looking forward will become a license for lawlessness, where laws become optional and in which we hope that the person we voted for will decide to follow them.

In a more positive sign, Congress has shown that it might be inclined to take steps to regulate the assertion of this dubious legal principle. Given the Democratic party's history of proclaiming opposition to something and then rolling over for the president in the end, I remain skeptical. But this is all the more reason to pressure your representatives to take a strong stand on this matter.

Update: Scott Horton offers another guess

President Obama has committed to end torture and the extraordinary renditions program, and in light of that the decision to invoke state secrecy in the Binyam Mohamed cases can be understood as implementation of the commitment that Obama has made–and which I support–to grant immunity to intelligence operatives who implemented the Bush Administration’s felonious programs. But the proper price of immunity in these cases is a full and fair accounting for what happened and an appropriate system for compensating those who suffered torture and mistreatment. Canada already approached this issue in a fair and dignified manner in dealing with the claims of Maher Arar, another victim of a Bush Administration rendition to torture. Using state secrecy claims to cloak criminal conduct without any acknowledgment of the misconduct that occurred is a bad, even criminal, idea. It can only bring the government itself into disrepute and will serve to undermine the nation’s security and respect for state secrets.
If you read the rest of Horton's post, see if you find this a compelling reason to deny men kidnapped to foreign countries to be tortured access to the courts. I do not, not least of which because I am opposed to the use of "state secrets" as a tool to grant immunity by presidential fiat.

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Not funny

Via Media Matters

"I want to send [Media Matters] a cake, but I want something to be inside the cake, and I might be put in prison if that happens." - Bill O'Reilly

Ok, here's a general rule: joking about killing or poisoning the groups or person that you routinely tell your "T-Warriors" to hate is not responsible behavior, nor is it behavior acceptable for a professional journalist, or for someone who claims to be one.

You never know who in your audience might actually thinking doing some "S-P" killing is a good idea. Case in point.

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Change you can't believe in

One the principal means by which the Bush administration was able to shroud its efforts to expand the power of an imperial Presidency was to invoke the "state secrets" privelege in order to preclude judicial oversight of its actions.

Several years ago, Nat Hentoff wrote of this undemocratic development

But, as for the courts, increasingly the White House—with the full support of the president's faithful vassal Attorney General Alberto Gonzales—has been compelling judges to dismiss cases that could expose the administration's misrule of law. By invoking the "state secrets" privilege, the administration ensures that all documents and reports central to the case at hand are excluded—and the case cannot proceed.

For one of a growing number of examples of this gagging of the courts: Late at night on May 26, the alleged Justice Department invoked "state secrets" to shut down the Center for Constitutional Rights case CCR v. Bush, challenging the omnivorous and warrantless domestic surveillance by the NSA.

I'll let you know if, in this case, Judge Gerald Lynch of the Southern District of New York goes along with the other judges who have agreed to not even review the evidence before dismissing "state secrets" cases.

The government's weapon of "state secrets" was first unsheathed in a 1953 Supreme Court decision, U.S. v. Reynolds, that gave the administration the authority to prevent the disclosure of any information that would, according to the government, endanger national security.
Since nearly all judges obey, this darkness extends to the press. As Susan Burgess of the Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press (with which I am affiliated) points out:

"The press is denied a chance to inform the public about the workings of the government, and the public loses its ability to scrutinize the basis for the government's assertion of the 'state secrets' privilege"—let alone "the merits of the parties' claims."

So you have a stake in the expanding use of what has become the Bush administration's favorite means of staying in the shadows of the parallel legal system it keeps on inventing.
Glenn Greenwald also wrote about the use of "state secrets" as a means of hiding the administration's creation of a parallel "justice" system consisting of illegal torture, spying, and detainment in the shadows.

As a presidential candidate, Barack Obama denounced the Bush administration's assertion of "state secrets" to hide extralegal behavior. As president, however, his DOJ has stated its intention to continue its use in the same fashion as the Bush administration.

Presented with a first opportunity to break away from the Bush administration’s legacy of abuse and secrecy, and uphold commitments of transparency and openness, the Obama Justice Department stood by the previous administration’s claims of "state secrets" in our lawsuit (Mohamed et al. v. Jeppesen) against Boeing subsidiary Jeppesen DataPlan for its role in the extraordinary rendition program. Before the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals yesterday, once again, we heard government lawyers argue that the entire subject matter is a "state secret" — one that cannot be reviewed by any court. (You can listen to the oral argument here.)
It would be nice if we had a press that took an interest in matters relating to civil liberty and Constitutional governance at a fundamental level, but we don't. Which makes it all the more imperative that those who voted for Obama because of his promise to end such practices voice their dismay with this decision. Some Obama partisans will say that they are fine with this development because they trust Obama not to abuse the ability to cloak his administration's actions in secrecy, but this is the exact same reasoning that Bush partisans gave for ok'ing his secrecy.

We do not have a system of government based on the principle that you vote for someone you trust to act in secrecy. Contrary to what George W. Bush thought, elected officials are at all times to be accountable to the people, not merely at elections. The Obama administration has decided to continue one of the most destructive tactics that the Bush administration used to avoid accountabilty for egregious violations of Constitutional process, and has thus made itself complicit in those crimes.

For more on this disgraceful decision, see this post from Glenn Greenwald.

Update: This post from Greenwald is worth taking a look at, as well.

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

They taught him hate

Last July, I blogged about Jim Adkisson, a fan of conservative movement hate proponents such as Bill O'Reilly, Sean Hannity, and Michael Savage, who went on a shooting spree in a Knoxville Unitarian church.

The note he left explaining his actions is now available on-line in pdf format. With the exception of an instance or two of naked racism, it reads like exactly the sort of thing you would expect to hear from someone who filled his brain with the rantings of Coulter, Limbaugh, Savage, Hannity, Goldberg, O'Reilly, et al. More generally, it is clear that Adkisson's views about "liberals" are directly linked to the conservative movement's decades long efforts to demonize "liberals" as subversive, traitorous, unAmerican far leftists.

For example, in the letter Adkisson states "I'm protesting the liberal Supreme Court Justices for give [sic] the terrorists at GITMO constitutional rights." Sound familiar? It should, recall this from Mitt Romney at the Republican National Convention: "Is a Supreme Court liberal or conservative that awards Guantanamo terrorists with Constitution rights? It's liberal!"

But here is the essence of Adkisson's rant

Know this if nothing else: This was a hate crime. I hate the damn left-wing liberals. There is a vast left-wing conspiracy in this country & these liberals are working together to attack every decent & honorable institution in the nation, trying to turn this country into a communist state.
That is basically the message of Bill O'Reilly's Culture Warrior, a book which launders traditional "right-wing" conspiratorial hate and presents it in a more palatable and marketable mainstream form. Of course, O'Reilly prefers the "S-P" label. Adkisson, in the note calls the Unitarian church a cult which "worships the God of Secularism" and is the "fountainhead, the veritable wellspring of anti-American organizations like, Code Pink, and other un-American groups." O'Reilly demonizes such groups routinely.

Adkisson goes on to state that he wanted to "kill ... every Democrat in the Senate & House, the 100 people in Bernard Goldberg's book" and "everyone in the mainstream media" but since he couldn't reach these "generals & high ranking officers of the Marxist movement" he went after "the chickenshit liberals that vote in these traitorous people" in the hopes that others would be inspired to go out and kill the cancerous liberals ("Go kill Liberals!"). He also describes liberals as a pestilent termite infestation who are allies of Muslim terrorists.

Consider the above sentiments in the following context: Bill O'Reilly considers George Soros to be the mastermind behind the "S-P" plot to transform America into a far left socialist state and O'Reilly has framed Soros as an ally of terrorists; and he's previously said that someone "ought to hang Soros." Also consider that Soros appears as one of the 100 figures in Goldberg's book.

Here's what I said about this before

Another issue that this brings to light: Thomas Frank has a new book coming out in a few days called The Wrecking Crew about how the conservative movement in power yields incompetent and ruinous government. Yet, whether in power or not, the noise machine figures spend 24 hours a day, 7 days a week blaming "liberals" for all problems in America.

For example, they say vote for Republicans as a solution to fiscally irresponsible Democrats. They get in power and bankrupt the country and then say vote for Republicans as a solution to fiscally irresponsible Democrats. You get the idea ... they're very good at scapegoating, not so good at governing.

This guy Adkisson felt down and out. And he scapegoated "liberals" in the same terms that the authors of the books found in his home scapegoat "liberals" on a daily basis. I turned to Hannity's radio show yesterday - no lie - randomly and the instant I flipped it on I heard Hannity telling me "liberals" are to blame for high gas prices and that if Obama becomes president his tax policy will cause another Great Depression.

Kevin Phillips - a disenchanted Republican - had a chapter in his 1993 book Boiling Point about how middle class frustration after a decade of Reaganomics gave rise to "the politics of resentment" during the '92 presidential campaign which resembled the dynamic by which national socialism began to flourish in the Weimar Republic (remember that David Duke was making his runs for office back then.)

Fascism's violent populism tends to prey upon people feeling down and out like Adkisson - who read Michael Savage who pretty much is a fascist - and gives them a Demon to hate.
As Jeffrey Feldman puts it

O'Reilly's books and broadcasts are significant in the Tennessee murder because they are part of a broader media market that undermines the civic body and turns individual frustrations into violent civic habits.

In learning of Adkisson's hatred for 'the Liberal Movement' and his collection of right-wing books, one is struck by the sheer amount of right-wing punditry that advances a similar logic of liberals destroying America--and pushes the idea that the destruction of liberals is a logical response.

The overlap between the style of talk, the intellectual themes, and the performance put O'Reilly and Adkisson in a disturbingly common arena.

That arena can be described as a place where civic actors turn their frustration into violent habits--into violent expression, violent theories, and violent performance.

The broader issue, of course, is not whether Bill O'Reilly's book--and Michael Savages' book and Sean Hannity's book--caused Jim Adkisson to pick up a Remington shot gun and kill members of a Tennessee church who he perceived as worth of death because they were liberals. The more important question is how Bill O'Reilly's work--layered as it is with multiple forms of violent rhetoric and performance and broadcast to levels that it impacts millions of lives daily--has contributed to a fundamental collapse in the civic body. And once that collapse happens, violent results follow.

Monday, February 09, 2009

Anatomy of a disaster

If you haven't already seen it, you may want to bookmark Vanity Fair's "Farewell to All That: An Oral History of the Bush White House."

The threat of 9/11 ignored. The threat of Iraq hyped and manipulated. Guantánamo and Abu Ghraib. Hurricane Katrina. The shredding of civil liberties. The rise of Iran. Global warming. Economic disaster. How did one two-term presidency go so wrong? A sweeping draft of history—distilled from scores of interviews—offers fresh insight into the roles of George W. Bush, Dick Cheney, and other key players.
The essay is both concise and comprehensive, an impressive feat.

Saturday, February 07, 2009


I added an informal citation to the most recent Quote of the Day which I had meant to include when I first posted it.

On the freedom of thought

From Cato's Letters #15 (Febuary 4, 1720) by John Trenchard and Thomas Gordon

Without freedom of thought, there can be no such thing as wisdom; and no such thing as publick liberty, without freedom of speech: Which is the right of every man, as far as by it he does not hurt and control the right of another; and this is the only check which it ought to suffer, the only bounds which it ought to know.

This sacred privilege is so essential to free government, that the security of property; and the freedom of speech, always go together; and in those wretched countries where a man can not call his tongue his own, he can scarce call any thing else his own. Whoever would overthrow the liberty of the nation, must begin by subduing the freedom of speech; a thing terrible to publick traitors.
See here for my previous commentary on the influence of Cato's Letters.

Friday, February 06, 2009

Things that make me a tad bit upset

Coming out of the grocery store today, I noticed a warning on my receipt saying that I'd purchased in the past about 10 or so items that have all been recalled for potentional salmonella contamination. That doesn't do me any good since each item has long since been consumed.

And now I see that according to the FDA, the Ga. plant responsible for the tainted products knowingly shipped items contaminated with salmonella. And there's more

Problems at the plant are not new.

FDA inspectors also found in 2001 that products potentially were exposed to insecticides, one of several violations uncovered during the last visit federal officials made before the current food-poisoning scare, according to a report obtained by The Associated Press.
Of course, our top notch FDA regulators decided back in '01 to let the company fix the problems on its own. USDA workers also made visits to the plant, but they were "number crunchers" not trained in food safety inspection.

I agree with Thomas Frank. Better regulation, please.

And ditto this New York Times editorial

Consumers have faced far too many food-supply emergencies in the last few years. Some of the staples of the American diet — tomatoes, peppers, spinach, shrimp, to name a few — have caused illnesses and even deaths. The F.D.A., an important agency charged with protecting the food supply, was one of many hobbled by the Bush administration’s antiregulatory efforts.

President Obama has promised to do more to protect consumers. The White House and Congress need to work together to provide more resources and clout for the guardians of the food supply — and to demand more accountability.

Trivia of the day

Question: When was the first book burned in the New World?

Answer: 1650 in Boston, according to Nat Hentoff in The First Freedom: The Tumultuous History of Free Speech in America

The first public burning of a book in America ... took place in 1650, when Thomas Pynchon's The Meritorious Price of Our Redemption was ignited in the marketplace of Boston by the common executioner. The author's religious ideas, declared the authorities, differed from the colony's established religion and so had to be obliterated.
I suppose by Michael Savage's standards, the Puritans were "liberals."

Thursday, February 05, 2009

Al Gore compared to Nazis on Fox News. Again.

I went to Media Matters just now to see if they had an item up about something I caught mid-segment today on the Glenn Beck show. I'm not sure if the clip above featuring Beck comparing Gore to Goebbels is from the same epsidode or not, but it's not what I was looking for. The segment I saw featured Beck talking to Bernie Goldberg about Al Gore, except while they were discussing him the screen was split between them with footage of Hitler giving a speech, then with it cutting to Al Gore footage from An Inconvenient Truth.

With the hiring of Beck and the loss of Alan Colmes who, in the words of Jon Stewart, was apparently the sandbag holding down the hot air balloon of crazy that is Sean Hannity, Fox "News" really has loonified its line-up.

Update: Dave Neiwert has the segment I was looking for. The bit I caught ran after the clip above. As it turns out, the following quote from Al Gore is what led Glenn Beck and professional "liberal bias" windmill tilter Bernie Goldberg to conclude Gore is attempting to create a new Hitler's Youth.

When I was your age and the Civil Rights Revolution was unfolding, and we kids asked our parents and their generation, 'Explain to me again why it's okay for the law to discriminate against people for the color of their skin color? And when our parents' generation couldn't answer that question, that's when the law started to change. There are some things about our world that you know that older people don't know.

Why would that be? Well, in a time of rapid change, the old assumptions sometimes just don't work anymore because they're out of date.