Friday, July 17, 2009

On vacation

I'll be back in a week. In the meantime, here's a video slideshow with orca sounds from the same trip last year.

Thursday, July 16, 2009

O'Reilly attacks 'far-left zealot' Rick Perlstein for Newsweek piece on the rabid right

-- by Dave

We knew that Bill O'Reilly had done a nasty segment on Rick Perlstein -- including running his picture -- Tuesday night on Fox News because Perlstein called me shortly afterward and asked:

"Hey, did Bill O'Reilly or someone on Fox do something with me in it tonight?"

"I dunno. I'm recording but not watching. Why?"

"My inbox just started getting deluged with hate mail a little bit ago."

"What time did it start?"

"About 7:30 [Chicago time]."

"Yep, that would be O'Reilly."

"I think they ran my picture. A lot of the mail is about how ugly I am."

I pulled my recording and yep, sure enough, there was a segment attacking Perlstein for his Newsweek op-ed column this week. He invited on his frequent guest, Bernard Goldberg, to talk about it.

As you can see, what set O'Reilly off was Perlstein's characterization of O'Reilly's audience as working-class whites whose more unstable elements sometimes act out violently:

O'Reilly: The most recent Newsweek contains a nasty piece on Sarah Palin that implies she is an intellectual moron supported by poorly educated conservative idiots.

[Hmmmm. Read the piece for yourself. As you can see, it certainly does not use language like that, and in fact discusses to working-class whites in largely respectful tones -- but points out that they don't get much respect among Republican elites. O'Reilly's caricature of the column is actually rather self-revealing.]

O'Reilly: The article goes on to say that these stupid conservatives are influenced by extremist commentators. Quote:

Now [William F.] Buckley is gone, and the most prominent spokesmen -- the Limbaughs and O'Reillys and Becks—can be heard mouthing attitudes once confined to the violent fringe. ... Fox heavily promoted anti-administration "tea party" events this past Fourth of July -- rallies in praise of secession ...

Well, obviously, that paragraph is pure propaganda.

Actually, let's read the whole passage, and you can judge for yourselves. Again, what O'Reilly omits is telling:

Another thing that makes some elite conservatives nervous in this recession is the sheer level of unhinged, even violent irrationality at the grassroots. In postwar America, a panicky, violence-prone underbrush has always been revealed in moments of liberal ascendency. In the Kennedy years, the right-wing militia known as the Minutemen armed for what they believed would be an imminent Russian takeover. In the Carter years it was the Posse Comitatus; Bill Clinton's rise saw six anti-abortion murders and the Oklahoma City bombings. Each time, the conservative mainstream was able to adroitly hive off the embarrassing fringe while laying claim to some of the grassroots anger that inspired it. Now the violence is back. But this time, the line between the violent fringe and the on-air harvesters of righteous rage has been harder to find. This spring the alleged white-supremacist cop killer in Pittsburgh, Richard Poplawski, professed allegiance to conspiracist Alex Jones, whose theories Fox TV host Glenn Beck had recently been promoting. And when Kansas doctor George Tiller was murdered in church, Fox star Bill O'Reilly was forced to devote airtime to defending himself against a charge many observers found self-evident: that O'Reilly's claim that "Tiller the baby killer" was getting away with "Nazi stuff" helped contribute to an atmosphere in which Tiller's alleged assassin believed he was doing something heroic.

At least in the past, those who wished to represent their movement as cosmopolitan and urbane could simply point to William F. Buckley as the right's most prominent spokesman. Now Buckley is gone, and the most prominent spokesmen—the Limbaughs and O'Reillys and Becks—can be heard mouthing attitudes once confined to the violent fringe. For the second time in three months, Fox heavily promoted anti-administration "tea party" events this past Fourth of July—rallies in praise of secession and the Articles of Confederation, at which speakers "joked" about a coup against the communist Muslim Barack Obama like the one against Manuel Zelaya in Honduras. "What's going on at Fox News?" Frum recently asked, excoriating Beck for passing out to followers books by the nutty far-right conspiracy theorist W. Cleon Skousen. If you were an elite conservative, you might be embarrassed too.

The difference between "propaganda" and "journalism" is that (ideally, at least) the latter is built on a robust consideration of the facts at hand -- and Perlstein's piece clearly is that. Indeed, his piece brings up a lot of inconvenient facts that O'Reilly conveniently omits.

Indeed, here's a supplemental fact that was edited out of Perlstein's piece, and which he provided us:

Then, in July of 2008, a Tennessee man who opened fire on a Unitarian church left behind a note expressing his hatred of 'Liberals in general, as well as gays' and announced as his desired victims 'every Democrat in the Senate & House' and 'the 100 people in Bernard Goldberg’s book.' Golbderg, a frequent guest on Bill O’Reilly’s Fox News program, is author of 100 People Who Are Screwing Up America (and Al Franken Is #37).

Well, at least Goldberg managed to point out to O'Reilly that Perlstein's piece accurately focused on a very real rift within the Republican Party, a point on which O'Reilly chose not to dwell for very long. Funny how that works. All that matters to O'Reilly is that he is "a far-left zealot."

Instead, one evidently becomes an Enemy of the State -- complete with grainy profile shot -- for simply treading on Bill O'Reilly's narcissistic ego.

Perlstein did say that a Fox producer contacted him beforehand and asked if he was willing to go on the show. He declined.

"I told them to send Jesse if they wanted, and here was my address," he added.

I think he's busy practicing the words "Andrea Mackris" as we speak.

Cross-posted at Crooks and Liars.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

O'Reilly, Carpenter deride Presente Action's defense of Sotomayor as a 'tentacle of MoveOn'

-- by Dave

It's kind of funny how Bill O'Reilly can benignly declare a nakedly nativist organization like the Minutemen, despite a clear proclivity for attracting racists and violent extremists, "in the great tradition of neighborhood watch groups" -- and indeed assiduously decline to report on it when the violent evidence at hand makes clear they are much, much more than that.

And then he can turn around, as he did last night on The O'Reilly Factor -- assisted by his "internet cop" Amanda Carpenter -- and attack a relatively benign advocacy organization like Presente Action, a project of Color of Change, whose purpose revolves around providing an effective voice on the Web for minorities.

What has his goat, of course, is their campaign to defend Sonia Sotomayor by pointing out the prominent role played by hatemongers like Rush Limbaugh and Bill O'Reilly. So he dismisses them as merely a "tentacle" of and the "radical left."

Funny how that standard is a one-way street in O'Reillyland.

You have to wonder if maybe he, like Jeff Sessions, believes that "Empathy for one party is always prejudice against another".

Cross-posted at Crooks and Liars.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Ingraham puts crosshairs on Planned Parenthood: What are these people at Fox thinking?

-- by Dave

When Laura Ingraham filled in for Bill O'Reilly on Friday's night's O'Reilly Factor, she ran a segment on abortion that was ostensibly an "investigation" into Planned Parenthood. It featured a logo that placed a red set of crosshairs -- the kind you find on a rifle scope -- over PP's logo.

I'd just like to ask one question:

What the hell were these people thinking?

Now, presumably, Ingraham herself did not order up this graphic, or if she did, it at least went through the hands of the show's regular producers and overseers. These are the same people who just went through a well-deserved round of approbation for their role -- in the form of those 28 references to Dr. George Tiller as a "baby killer" -- in the murder of Tiller by an anti-abortion fanatic.

And now they're running a graphic suggestive of what Ann Coulter calls "a procedure with a rifle" -- something, in fact, that Coulter has actually encouraged on The O'Reilly Factor.

Really, I'm serious. What are these people thinking?

Of course, we know all too well that O'Reilly and Co. did their best to disavow any culpability in the matter whatsoever -- somewhat less than convincingly. So maybe the continuing demonization of abortion providers on this program is part and parcel of that defiance.

And the same sort of anecdotal demonization that characterized O'Reilly's attacks on Tiller were similarly at play in this segment on Planned Parenthood. It essentially involved an ambush team using a youngish-seeming woman posing as a 14-year-old entering a variety of Planned Parenthood clinics and recording the responses -- most of which, as described by the fake teen here, actually fit the standard response of most properly run clinics in trying to make sure that younger patients feel at ease.

The overriding message, once again, is that these abortion providers are a pack of morally depraved sickos who deserve to be in the crosshairs. Lovely.

I can think of three possibilities here:

1. Someone just thought putting an organization in the crosshairs was the best way to represent that they were under investigation, and the other implications of such a graphic just didn't cross anybody's radar.

2. They thought about it, recognized that it might not be appropriate, but did it anyway, either out of defiance or simply not caring.

3. They did it with full intent, understanding full well that the suggestion of violence against Planned Parenthood was present, and in fact designing the graphic with that in mind.

Of the three, I think the second is the most plausible. But it's only slightly less appalling, for different reasons, than the other two.

Look, despite what the O'Reillys and Glenn Becks and Laura Ingrahams like to claim, no one is trying to "silence" them for expressing their opinions. This is about being responsible with that big media megaphone they hold. Promoting a violent mindset toward abortion providers, as we have already seen, is profoundly irresponsible. It's long past time that it stop.

Cross-posted at Crooks and Liars.

Monday, July 13, 2009

Sheriff Joe's rabid supporters spew hate: 'Kill any man, woman or child who comes across the border illegally'

-- by Dave

Well, we've seen plenty of recent evidence that Sheriff Joe Arpaio, the nativist law-enforcement chief of Maricopa County, Arizona, attracts genuine extremists in support of his cause.

This recently released YouTube by Humanleague makes the case even more starkly. Its centerpiece is the opening comments by an avid supporter of the Minutemen and Sheriff Arpaio named Brandi Baron, who opines thus:

Baron: I say, give orders to shoot to kill, and kill any man, woman or child who comes across the border illegally. I'll bet you, you kill enough of them, right off the bat, people will stop coming over that way.


That's what I just said. Personally, I think a minefield would be good. Why build a fence when you can plant some mines?

Q: You just said that you would kill kids.

Baron: If they're being drug across the border, hell yes. The difference between those people and us -- Our country is No. 1. Theirs? Pffft!

This sort of inhuman callousness and disregard for human life is part and parcel of why nativist movements like the Minutemen -- and the mainstream embrace of such factions by public figures like Arpaio -- inevitably spawn violent offspring like Shawna Forde and her gang of killer Minutemen, who gunned down a family in cold blood because they mistakenly believed the father was a big-time drug dealer with cash on the premises. There's a powerful continuum between gangs like Forde's and "mainstream" nativists like Arpaio and his supporters.

As Jill Garvey at Imagine 2050 observes:

This is exactly why Shawna Forde felt justified in breaking into a Latino family’s home and murdering a little girl and her father.

While some of the individuals featured on this video may be unstable or exhibit strange behavior, they are not crazy. These are functioning adults who are perfectly capable of behaving in a reasonable manner. They choose not to. They choose hate over tolerance. They choose to advocate violence over rational dialogue. Violence against immigrants occurs because bigots in positions of power (Sheriff Joe) set the stage and provide an atmosphere that make it acceptable.

Incidentally, sentiments such as these are nothing new to the Minutemen. In the video below -- featuring Minuteman leader Chris Simcox -- you can watch one of his Minuteman cohorts opine similarly:

No, we ought to be able to shoot the Mexicans on sight, and that would end the problem. After two or three Mexicans are shot, they'll stop crossing the border and they'll take their cows home, too.

This is what I'm talking about when I talk about eliminationism.

Cross-posted at Crooks and Liars.

The militia extremists of the '90s are back, and organizing quietly in the woods

-- by Dave

A couple of months ago, a newly formed militia reared its head in a familiar place -- the Panhandle of Northern Idaho. Sisyphus at 43rd State Blues had a full description:

Sporting a photoshopped image of the Statue of Liberty with the torch replaced by an assault rifle, as well as displaying the flag from the "Republic of Idaho", another newly formed Idaho militia crawls out from the wilderness to register their displeasure with the status quo yet offering no solutions other than vague grade school platitudes and a thinly veiled threat of revolution. As is their wont they invoke the civil war cry of state sovereignty. ...

The General applied to be a sniper with them, and got a positive response. Kewl!

But it's not just northern Idaho. It's occurring across a broad swath of the Northwest, mostly in rural precincts, as a Missoulian story recently explored:

“It's the old Freemen days,” Anderson said. “That's what we're seeing here again. And it's not just Lincoln County.”

Lincoln County Detective Capt. Jim Sweet agrees that “there's an uprising of anti-government groups that's definitely connected to the election of the Obama administration.”

Law enforcement agencies throughout the multi-state region, Sweet said, are “talking about the patterns. It's obviously bigger than Lincoln County.”

People are afraid of losing gun rights, he said, and they're stockpiling weapons and ammunition, and they want a sheriff who will stand up to federal agents.

“It's a power thing,” Anderson said. “They want the power to buck the fed and federal gun laws.”

Anderson said he traveled recently to Kalispell for an “intelligence meeting” with several federal, state and local jurisdictions - including the FBI, county sheriffs and city police - to discuss “this radical response to Obama's election, and to make sure we all know what's going on.”

And Sweet said he likewise met with authorities in northern Idaho to discuss the same “resurgence of the radical right. It's not something you can ignore at this point.”

Certainly, Anderson said, people have the right to gather and debate and prepare, but authorities similarly have an “obligation to try to stay ahead of the game, so things don't get blown out of proportion like they did before.”

Sweet believes the Eureka petitioners are likely “harmless in and of themselves,” but he worries that opportunists - more dangerous elements with increasingly radical anti-government sentiments - might be attracted to the activity in Lincoln County.

“Our fear is that, once it fails, their recall petition won't be good enough for them,” Sweet said. “We have people tied to the Freemen trying to take over the sheriff's office. We'd be foolish not to pay attention.”

At its most extreme, this same tide of paranoia and fearfulness is also washing up more bona-fide hate groups on our shores -- particularly our old friends the neo-Nazis from Aryan Nations:

[media=8965 embeddl]

"Six months ago, I had four contacts a month, wanted information and membership applications," O'Brien said. "Now it's up to four or five a day."


"It means that white America is waking up," O'Brien said. "That's what it says to me that people are starting to get involved and understand the plight of our race.

The KOMO piece also contained a real nugget of wisdom from an experienced voice:

Eradicating the hate can be a long road.

"You never, never decrease the problem by ignoring it," said Tony Stewart of the Kootenai County Task Force on Human Relations.

Cross-posted at Crooks and Liars.

Nazis in the U.S. military: SPLC will ask Congress for action

Shawn Stuart-764380_36d56.jpg

-- by Dave

In his "about me" section, "SoldatAMG" describes himself as a "Sergeant in USMC stationed at Camp Lejeune. I recently returned from my 3rd trip to Iraq. I fight every day to stem the tide of multicultturalism and to ensure that my children have a better world. SIEG HEIL!" -- Stars and Stripes

Why, it feels like only yesterday that every right-wing talker on the planet -- from Michael Savage to Greta Van Susteren -- was denouncing the Department of Homeland Security for supposedly "smearing our veterans" by issuing a bulletin for law-enforcement officers warning that right-wing extremists and neo-Nazis intended to recruit members of the military and returning veterans.

Well, we've already seen just how prescient the bulletin actually was -- after Richard Poplawski, Scott Roeder, and James Von Brunn all proved its point.

Now Stars and Stripes is reporting on just how far, indeed, neo-Nazis have infiltrated our military ranks:

It is Facebook for the fascist set, and the typical online profiles of its members reveal expected tastes.

Favorite book: “Mein Kampf.”

Favorite movie: the Nazi propaganda film “Triumph of the Will.”

Interests: “white women.”

Dislikes: “anyone who opposes the master race.”

But there’s one other thing that dozens of members of, a white supremacist social networking website, have in common: They proudly identify themselves as active-duty members of the U.S. armed forces.

The Southern Poverty Law Center, the Montgomery, Ala.-based watchdog group that tracks extremist hate groups, has compiled a book containing the online user profiles of at least 40 users who say they are serving in the military, in apparent violation of Pentagon regulations prohibiting racist extremism in the ranks.

The military has been shrugging this off. So the SPLC is going to take the matter up with Congress:

On Friday, the SPLC will present its findings to key members of Congress who chair the House and Senate committees overseeing the armed forces and urge them to pressure the Pentagon to crack down.

“In the wake of several high-profile murders by extremists of the radical right, we urge your committees to investigate the threat posed by racial extremists who may be serving in the military to ensure that our armed forces are not inadvertently training future domestic terrorists,” Morris Dees, SPLC co-founder and chief trial counsel, wrote to the legislators. “Evidence continues to mount that current Pentagon policies are inadequate to prevent racial extremists from joining and serving in the armed forces.”

Added Mark Potok, editor of the Intelligence Report, a magazine produced at the law center: “The Pentagon really has shrugged this off and refused to look at this in any serious way.”

We've been reporting on this trend for some time now, and have discussed especially the ramifications of this development.

As an FBI assessment made last year noted:

The prestige which the extremist movement bestows upon members with military experience grants them the potential for influence beyond their numbers. Most extremist groups have some members with military experience, and those with military experience often hold positions of authority within the groups to which they belong.

... Military experience—often regardless of its length or type—distinguishes one within the extremist movement. While those with military backgrounds constitute a small percentage of white supremacist extremists, FBI investigations indicate they frequently have higher profiles within the movement, including recruitment and leadership roles.

... New groups led or significantly populated by military veterans could very likely pursue more operationally minded agendas with greater tactical confidence. In addition, the military training veterans bring to the movement and their potential to pass this training on to others can increase the ability of lone offenders to carry out violence from the movement’s fringes.

America has really been fortunate for the past 30 years or so in that the vast majority of right-wing domestic terrorists -- from the militiamen who plotted to blow up a Sacramento propane facility (likely dead: about 3,000) to the cyanide-bomb maker to the would-be dirty-bomb builder -- have proved to be incompetent or catchable; in many cases, we've simply been lucky they were done in by fate. When there have been exceptions -- Timothy McVeigh and Eric Rudolph particularly -- there has also been a military background.

In other words, our luck may be about to run out. And we can thank right-wing yammerers for having delayed and distracted us from dealing with it in a timely fashion -- before it happens.

Cross-posted at Crooks and Liars.