Saturday, September 25, 2010

Glenn Beck Claims Obama Is Taking America Down The Same Church-state Path As The Nazis. No Really.

[Cross-posted at Crooks and Liars.]

The chryon in the screen capture above pretty much crystallizes Glenn Beck's Bizarro World show yesterday on Fox: Um, wait, lessee, isn't the state the same thing as the government? So how do you keep it out ... ?, OK, don't you mean to say that church-state separation was actually about keeping the state out of the church? And wasn't it equally about keeping the church out of state business? ....

Oh, nevermind. It's hopeless.

I'd like to think the confusion was unintended. But you watch the segment, and you realize that it was just as likely intentional. It certainly fit in with the perversely and proudly irrational argument Beck presented over the course of the show. In essence, this was it:
  • Hitler seized control of the churches during the course of the Nazi reign in the 1930s and '40s.
  • The exact same thing is happening when progressives like Jim Wallis bring "social justice" doctrines to American churches.
  • The only way we can prevent this from happening is to elect Tea Party Republicans to control of the House in November.
Yep, that's pretty much it. And people lap this stuff up.

The key moment came when an audience member stood up and asked the question Beck had been gearing them up to ask all hour long, and he was answered by Kitty Werthmann, a right-wing Austrian who survived the Nazi regime and now loves to compare Obama to Hitler:
Audience member: There seem to be a great deal of similarities between early Nazi socialism and what we're going through right now in this country. I mean, what's the answer? Where -- how do we turn that back?

Werthmann: Well, right now we are very blessed that this is an election year. Uh, educate the voters. It's already happening. So we can take at least the U.S. House back, and hopefully the Senate.
Really, sometimes you just have to gape in wonder.

But the really disturbing aspect of all this is: What are these people going to do if they lose in November?

We're going to have millions of Beckians out there who will believe that a Nazi state is about to descend upon them. And God only knows how they will react then.

Bill O'Reilly Keeps Race-Baiting With 'New Black Panthers' Non-Story -- And Whitewashing The Record

[Cross-posted at Crooks and Liars.]

Everyone -- even Abigail Thernstrom -- knows what Fox News' endless flogging of the fake "New Black Panthers" controversy is really all about:
"This doesn’t have to do with the Black Panthers; this has to do with their fantasies about how they could use this issue to topple the [Obama] administration."
More than that: It's a classic case of race-baiting, using the incendiary rhetoric of the NBPP to whip up white racial fears and resentments. It is, in other words, a Fox specialty.

O'Reilly was flogging the story again last night, ignoring the inconvenient realities of the matter in order to claim that Obama's Justice Department under Eric Holder is discriminating against white people. O'Reilly wrapped it up with this observation:
O'Reilly: Everybody knows that if a Klan guy was outside a polling place with a club, shouting racial remarks, he would have been prosecuted. So you can draw your own conclusions here.
Oh, really, Bill?

Because a Klan guy in Arizona that same election was seen outside a polling place not just with a club, but with a gun -- and the same voting rights section ignored it!

We reported on this awhile back:
Leading off the pack is a fellow named Roy Warden. Roy is a well-known Latino-hating racist who is fond of threatening to kill his critics and anyone who opposes him -- and as you can see from the video, in fact packs a holstered pistol to all public events.

Warden is especially noteworthy because, just like those New Black Panthers, Roy Warden was in fact the subject of a DOJ voter-intimidation investigation -- and they indeed decided not to prosecute him based on a lack of evidence, just as in the NBPP case. Media Matters has more:
In his May 14 testimony before the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights, Thomas Perez, assistant attorney general for the DOJ's civil rights division, highlighted a case that completely undermines the notion that the DOJ's decisions in the Black Panthers case were unprecedented or racially motivated. Perez testified that in 2006, the DOJ "declined to bring any action for alleged voter intimidation" "when three well-known anti-immigrant advocates affiliated with the Minutemen, one of whom was carrying a gun, allegedly intimidated Latino voters at a polling place by approaching several persons, filming them, and advocating and printing voting materials in Spanish." [U.S. Commission on Civil Rights, 5/14/10]

Anti-immigrant activist in 2006 case reportedly had "9mm Glock strapped to his side" at polling place.
A November 8, 2006, Austin American-Statesman article reported (from the Nexis database): "In Arizona, Roy Warden, an anti-immigration activist with the Minutemen, and a handful of supporters staked out a Tucson precinct and questioned Hispanic voters at the polls to determine whether they spoke English." The article continued:
Armed with a 9mm Glock automatic strapped to his side, Warden said he planned to photograph Hispanic voters entering polls in an effort to identify illegal immigrants and felons.
Arizona Daily Star: "[A]nti-immigrant activist" "stood by with a firearm in a holster." A November 8, 2006, Arizona Daily Star article reported (from Nexis):
A crew of anti-immigrant activists, meanwhile, visited several South Side polling places in what one poll-watch group called a blatant attempt to intimidate Hispanic voters.

Anti-immigrant crusader Russ Dove circulated an English-only petition, while a cameraman filmed the voters he approached and Roy Warden stood by with a firearm in a holster.

Diego Bernal, a staff attorney with the Mexican American Legal Defense and Education Fund (MALDEF), said the trio was trying to intimidate Hispanic voters. "A gun, a camera, a clipboard before you even get to the polls - if that's not voter intimidation, what is?" he asked.

Bernal said his group encountered the men at the Precinct 49 polling place at South 12th Avenue and West Michigan Street and began documenting the scene with their cameras. "There was an interesting period where they were taking pictures of us taking pictures of them."
Tucson Citizen: Incident "reported to the FBI." A November 8, 2006, Tucson Citizen article (from Nexis) reported that Mexican American Legal Defense Fund lawyer Diego Bernal "said he reported the incident to the FBI." The article also reported that Pima County elections director Brad Nelson said: "If intimidation or coercion was going on out there, even though it might have been outside the 75-foot limit, it's something we take very seriously, and we'll be looking into it."
O'Reilly, incidentally, is trying to claim that Christopher Coates has no ideological ax to grind -- though in fact Coates is a converted right-wing ideologue with a serious ax to grind, based on his demotion within the Voting Rights Section. Coates, during his tenure with the Bush administration, in fact did an incredibly poor job of protecting the voting rights of blacks and other minorities, often overlooking their complaints in order to please his bosses upstairs -- which is why he got the boot.

And now we're supposed to consider his testimony definitive? I don't think so.

Fox News, in the meantime, is clearly playing the race card. Funny how readily they like to accuse others of that, isn't it?

Friday, September 24, 2010

What, Republicans Islamophobic? GOP Candidate's Ad In North Carolina Answers That Question

[Cross-posted at Crooks and Liars.]

Remember how, during this long-running controversy over the so-called "Ground Zero mosque" all the right-wing talking heads have insisted that heavens, no, they didn't have anything against Muslims generally -- and they certainly had no intention of violating their rights? They just think the location of the mosque is a bad idea. Riiiiiight.

But then they'd keep letting people like Pam Geller be their spokesperson.

What's especially interesting is the way Republicans out in the hinterlands, far away from New York, have picked up on the brouhaha as a way of waging the old culture wars against Democrats. And when they do, there's no pretense -- it's just outright Islamophobia.

Take, for instance, this ad from Renee Ellmers, the Republican running against Bob Etheridge in North Carolina's 2nd District:
After the Muslims conquered Jerusalem and Cordoba and Constantinople ... they built victory mosques.

And now, they want to build a mosque by Ground Zero. Where does Bob Etheridge stand? He won't say. Won't speak out. Won't take a stand.

The terrorists haven't won and we should tell them in plain English, No. There will never be a mosque at Ground Zero.

I'm Renee Ellmers and I'm running for Congress. I need your help.
Yes, Renee, you do need help.

And so do we -- just figuring out where to start in the sea of ignorance you managed to unleash in just a few short sentences.

Perhaps it would help if you could answer some questions first:

-- Did the entire Muslim faith attack the United States on 9/11? Or was it just a tiny faction of violent radicals?

-- Did they conquer New York City, as Muslim armies did in Jerusalem et. al.? If not, then how could they claim this as a "victory mosque"?

-- Does this mean that all Muslims -- including our current allies like Turkey, Pakistan and Uzbekistan -- are now our enemies?

-- Finally, just how exactly do you intend to say "No, there will never be a mosque at Ground Zero"? Will you assume super-dictatorial powers once you've become a member of Congress, powers that let you abrogate due government process and citizens' constitutional rights?

Just wondering.

Megyn Kelly And Steve King Are Outraged, Outraged We Tell You, At Colbert's Testimony

[Cross-posted at Crooks and Liars.]

Well, the immigration hornets were a-buzzing with consternation at Fox this morning over Stephen Colbert's remarkable testimony on migrant workers -- probably because he got to utter the immortal line: "Turns out even the invisible hand of the market doesn't want to pick beans."

Megyn Kelly and Rep. Steve King -- yeah, the same Steve King who empathizes with nutcases who fly their planes into IRS buildings -- were particularly nettled by the satirist's powerful counterpunch to the kind of nativism they love to revel in. Both proclaimed it a waste of taxpayers' dollars, and King even tried to claim that Colbert had "lied" about work he did alongside migrants.

Well, as Faiz Shakir at ThinkProgress ably limns, Colbert was telling the truth.

More important, he actually illuminated a larger truth about immigrant labor in America: Migrant workers really are doing work that Americans won't do anymore.

And there's nothing wrong with that. It is, in fact, a product of the American Dream.

Let me illustrate this with a story of my own:

I grew up in southeastern Idaho, and in high school in the early '70s, I made my summer money by working on the potato farms that formed the basis of the regional economy. The summer after my senior year of high school I spent hauling irrigation pipe on a potato farm near Shelley (actually, we grew potatoes, wheat and hay, and I hauled pipe in all three).

It was the hardest job I ever had, and it really taught me how to work. But even then, it took me about a month into the summer before I finally became a reliable worker who could get the job done. I probably was the exception. The truth was, our crew of suburban high-schoolers was poorly equipped to do the job, and at $1.25 a line -- a line being composed of 22 pieces of 20-foot-long irrigation pipe, properly connected in place -- we didn't really have any incentive to learn to do it, either. There were a lot better and a lot easier ways to make better money, even in high school.

But it also meant that our employer couldn't really rely on us to get the job done right day in and day out, to be on time for work, to be ready to haul ass and lay out the irrigation lines.

A couple of years later, I went back and visited my old boss, who I had become friends with, on the farm near Shelley. He was pleased to see me, and introduced me to his new pipe crew: all Mexican immigrants. I don't know if he was particular about their immigration status, but I suspect he wasn't.

Because this crew was quite the wonder -- about 180 degrees removed from my old crew. Not only were they the most reliable people he'd ever employed, they were the most efficient he'd ever had, too. At hay-cutting time, they pitched in and worked in between pipe-hauling sessions -- something we Caucasian kids simply didn't ever have the energy for. (I'm telling you, this was hard work.)

For awhile I thought it said a lot about how soft and spoiled we suburban white kids have become -- and there's probably something to that. But reflecting on it further over the years, I realized it was perfectly natural. That's how the American Dream works.

Working-class people who come to this country start out poor and often have to work hard -- but they do it with the idea in mind of making a better life for their children. My great-grandparents were farmers too, but they wanted their children to achieve greater things -- and they did, though largely still in the working class (my mother's family did road construction, and my father's dad was a Ford mechanic). By the time my generation came around, we were being schooled to move up the career ladder into the white-collar world. So yes, we were softer. Of course we were. But that really wasn't a bad thing. God knows my parents would have been distressed had I not aspired to attend college.

Which I did, that first year, by doing the kind of farmwork I spent the entire summer swearing I would never have to do again. And I didn't. (The next summer I worked as a mechanic/welder in a farm-machinery plant, and the summer after that I did road construction. And the summer after that I was in my first newspaper job ...) In my family, that's how the American Dream came true.

Of course, someday the same will be true of the children and grandchildren of these migrants. That's the American Dream. And that's what Stephen Colbert was talking about.

Not that Steve King or Megyn Kelly would have any idea.

Joe Arpaio's Corruption Wells To The Surface In Latest Revelations -- But You Won't Hear Of Them On Fox

[Cross-posted at Crooks and Liars.]

It was pretty bizarre, watching Joe Arpaio come on Neil Cavuto's show yesterday on Fox and tout the wonderfulness of his record as sheriff of Maricopa County -- and sneer at his pursuers in the Justice Department -- when only a few hours before I had been reading about the latest in a series of damning revelations about how corrupt his office has become:
Joe Arpaio's office misspent funds, analysis says

The Maricopa County Sheriff's Office misused at least $50 million from a fund for jail operations, and county supervisors may have to use the general fund to repay the money, top county officials say.

Findings by the county's Office of Management and Budget show the Sheriff's Office tapped the money to pay for functions not allowed under jail-fund rules, such as salaries for deputies who worked on public-corruption investigations into county supervisors and judges.
Ryan J. Reilly at TPM Muckraker has more:
Excerpts of the reports, obtained by TPMMuckraker, show officials from Arpaio's office made trips to Orlando, D.C., Honduras, Tempe, Belize, Alaska and Puerto Rico on the county's dime and racked up other questionable expenses, like $741 at Sardella's Pizza and Wings. The county was also charged $350 for a hotel room upgrade for one official's spouse. One employee went on multiple extradition trips without submitting receipts for the $62,750 he or she spent -- including $1,341 on Disney World Yacht Club Resort food and entertainment.

Others expenses charged to the county, according to the report, include $1,684 for a portable generator for parade lights on an army tank; $635 at Buca di Beppo when members of the Honduran National Police were in town; and $500 on a carriage ride.
Nary a word about this report was uttered on Cavuto's show -- instead, he was too busy whining that no one in the media would pay attention to Arpaio's clean audit on his handling of prisoners -- an inconsequential issue, since he's not under investigation for that.

Moreover, there was no mention whatsoever of the even more damning revelations coming from within his own office:
Top officials in the office of Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio used its anti-corruption unit to conduct politically motivated investigations, misled the public about a campaign fund that helped Arpaio win reelection and surveilled the Arizona lawman's campaign rivals, according to an internal memo from a high-ranking officer.

The 63-page memo, first reported Thursday by the Arizona Republic, blames Arpaio's longtime No. 2 man, Chief Deputy Dave Hendershott, for the alleged criminal wrongdoing.


The most significant part of the memo concerns a search warrant that Hendershott allegedly directed to be served on the Republican-dominated Maricopa County Board of Supervisors, with whom Arpaio, also a Republican, has been embroiled in a lengthy feud. Arpaio and an ally, former County Atty. Andrew Thomas, filed conflict-of-interest charges against two supervisors that were quickly dismissed by judges as legally unsound.

Those charges, and investigations of the judges and other critics that followed, are believed to be at the heart of the federal grand jury probe.

Munnell wrote that, since the anti-corruption unit was formed in 2007, "it has been the pattern and practice of this unit to conduct politically motivated investigations at the implicit direction of Hendershott."

Munnell wrote that Hendershott ordered the department's anti-corruption team to write the search warrant to raid county offices. But team members refused, saying there were no legal grounds for such a search.

Munnell wrote that Hendershott threatened to "machine-gun" his staff to get them to write a warrant. The next day, a top aide to Thomas urged sheriff's investigators to use "creative writing" to justify the search. The leaders of the squad refused again. Munnell wrote that Hendershott soon replaced several of them.
But you'll notice that this memo is actually designed to whitewash Arpaio's role in the undeniable trail of corruption and political thuggery here, as Stephen Lemons observes -- because Hendershott was explicitly operating at Arpaio's behest, and on Arpaio's orders:
Arpaio and Hendershott. Hendershott and Arpaio. Joined at the hip in iniquity, like the Sith.

In the affidavit, Hendershott makes it plain to Wetherell that he's doing his dirty deeds on the sheriff's behalf.

"The dime droppers are going to learn that if you fuck with the Sheriff, you die," Hendershott says at one point in the document.

Wetherell recalled Hendershott saying, "We have to protect the Sheriff from dime droppers," and, "We will make an example of Mark Battilana so that these fucking dime droppers will keep their fucking mouths shut."

Interestingly, Wetherell told Ortega at the time that Hendershott began to target the lieutenant after he began to raise questions about the pink underwear money.

One of those to whom Weatherell says he forwarded the info was none other Lisa Allen, portrayed as a white hat in the Munnell memo for supposedly warning Arpaio about Hendershott's misdeeds.

And people wonder why I'm skeptical of the Munnell memo.
Indeed, the recent firing of former assistant county attorney Lisa Aubuchon opened a real can of worms in the FBI's investigation of Arpaio's abuse of power in Maricopa County -- which is what the Munnell memo is meant to cover.

It appears that Arpaio and Munnell are trying to get ahead of the factual findings in the FBI investigation, and are planning to make Hendershott the scapegoat in that case. Lotsa luck with that. Arpaio's onetime right-hand men have a propensity to spill their guys once their boss turns on them.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Memo To Right-Wingers: That 'Bearded Marxist' Line Is A JOKE -- One That Makes Fun Of Idiots Like You

[Cross-posted at Crooks and Liars.]

OK, this whole "Chris Coons describes himself as a bearded Marxist" thing that's now the everyday talking point at Fox News -- embodied once again in Christine O'Donnell's interview with Sean Hannity on Tuesday night -- has really gone far enough:
O'Donnell: If the media is going to attack me for statements I made in my 20s, that's fair game. He made some very anti-American statements, apologizing for America and calling himself a bearded Marxist.
People. Fergawdsake.

It's a freaking joke!
My friends now joke that something about Kenya, maybe the strange diet, or the tropical sun, changed my personality; Africa to them seems a catalytic converter that takes in clean-shaven, clear-thinking Americans and sends back bearded Marxists,” Coons wrote, noting that at one time he had been a “proud founding member of the Amherst College Republicans.”
Of course, considering that the joke is predicated on making fun of clueless right-wing buffoons who see a "Marxist" behind every liberal rock, perhaps we shouldn't be surprised. You know: People like Christine O'Donnell, Sean Hannity, Glenn Beck, Bill O'Reilly, and the rest of the crew at Fox News, as well as the entire wingnutosphere.

No wonder they don't get that they're the butt of it.

Waaaah! O'Reilly Whines That Mean Liberals Are Blaming Poor, Innocent Fox News For Warping People's Perceptions

[Cross-posted at Crooks and Liars.]

Bill O'Reilly was whining all night long on his show last night about Fox News being blamed for the warped nature of American discourse these days (something, of course, that John and I tackle front and center in our book Over the Cliff: How Obama's Election Drove the American Right Insane). His opening "Talking Points Memo" set the tone for the rest of the night's whine:
A few weeks ago, the president went after Congressman John Boehner. That didn't go anywhere. So now some lefties are bringing Fox News back into the war zone.

If you visit the left-wing websites, the rhetoric is pretty much all the same: Fox News lies; Fox News is a propaganda arm of the Republican Party; Fox News doesn't give President Obama a chance.

And in the past few days, we've seen that internet rhetoric expand to TV.


REP. ALAN GRAYSON, D-FLA.: One of the fundamental problems is Fox, OK? Fox has turned into Monty Python's lying circus. All day long they spew lies out time after time, day after day. And they have created this bubble of irreality around the people who listen to them, and it's a threat to this country.

FORMER PRESIDENT JIMMY CARTER: Things have gone downhill, I think, in the last few years with the polarization of our country, with the evolution of a new kind of politics, with the birth of Fox News that now distorts everything rather than tells the truth.

RICK SANCHEZ, HOST, CNN's "RICK'S LIST": And then there is Fox News, which is essentially the voice of the Republican Party, whose job it is to make this man look bad no matter what he does.


This man, of course, is the president.

Since the war on Fox News failed the last time around, it is a bit perplexing that it would be resurrected. Americans can decide for themselves whether FNC is a propaganda mill. They don't need dishonest commentators to tell them that. We're here 24-7. You can see for yourself.

And the American people have. The CNN commentator you just heard gets beaten by "The Factor" about 7 to 1 in the ratings.

So blaming Fox News for the woes of the Democratic Party is another losing proposition. And like trying to demonize the Tea Party, it will backfire.

The troubling reality is that the USA is suffering economically and President Obama's leadership is being questioned. That's what's in play, and all the partisan bloviating in the world won't change that.
The problem is that Fox won't bring on anyone -- anyone -- who will demonstrate that Fox does indeed lie, and distort, and race-bait, and propagandize, all on a 24/7 basis. It's very easy to do -- but anyone who attempts to do so is immediately shut down. And anyone prepared to do so is never invited on. Indeed, we have considerable evidence that anyone prepared to criticize Fox is blackballed from their broadcasts.

O'Reilly claims his show has on Democrats all the time -- but it never has on critics of Fox. If O'Reilly really were to live up to his claim, he would invite John and me onto his show. But he knows we have the goods (just read Over the Cliff), he knows we'd make him look bad, and he'll never do it. Besides, he considers us to be too penny-ante -- which is pretty funny, considering he loves to present himself as a working-class guy who champions "the folks" all the time.

Moreover, Fox never invites on anyone (besides Alan Colmes) who will give a full-throated defense of what the Foxheads like to call "the left" -- not just President Obama, but the progressive agenda generally. Which is a large part of why the discourse that emanates from Fox is so distorted.

Let's use O'Reilly's centerpiece as our example here: the economy. It's true that Obama's economic recovery has not been as robust as any of us would have liked, and no doubt we can blame a large share of this on his conservative, Establishment-oriented economic team and his personal timidity.

But at the end of the day, his ability to be bold was constrained by the political realities created by Fox -- particularly its open advocacy and relentless promotion of an opposition movement (the Tea Parties) and its endless propagandizing on behalf of congressional Republicans who were rewarded for engaging in politics designed to make his programs fail.

Moreover, in spite of this, Obama has in fact done a reasonable job in turning things around -- a reality that you will never, ever hear expressed on Fox News.

To wit, here is a chart you will NEVER see shown on Fox:


That's a chart showing job growth in the USA. So much for "cutting taxes for the rich" as an effective job stimulus, eh?

O'Reilly may whine endlessly that Fox is being demonized as unfair to Democrats -- but it's simply a readily demonstrable reality.

Here's what we wrote in Over the Cliff -- Chapter 7, "Fox's War on the White House":
The Obama White House, in reality, did not “declare war on Fox News,” as the network’s favorite talking point claimed. Rather, it was self-evident to anyone watching cable news in 2009 that Fox had declared war on the Obama White House from the day of the president’s inauguration—and it took the White House until October to finally decide to fire back.

The campaign to undermine Obama, primarily by attacking his legitimacy, began almost the moment Obama took his oath of office on January 20. When administering the oath, Chief Justice John Roberts botched the reading of it aloud and was corrected, gently, by Obama as he responded.

Shortly afterward, Chris Wallace told the Fox News audience that Obama might not have been legitimately sworn in:
I have to say I’m not sure Barack Obama really is the President of the United States because the oath of office is set in the Constitution and I wasn’t at all convinced that even after he tried to amend it that John Roberts ever got it out straight and that Barack Obama ever said the prescribed words. I suspect that everybody is going to forgive him and allow him to take over as president, but I’m not sure he actually said what’s in the Constitution, there.
It emerged shortly afterward, in fact, that Obama had gotten it right and said the oath properly. But because these things take on a life of their own among the conspiracists of the Right, there was a brief oath-taking ceremony early that evening with Justice Roberts properly repeating the words so there would be no lingering questions.

Meanwhile, the Fox “opinion” anchors swung into immediate action on Inauguration Day. Sean Hannity attacked the new administration for the cost of the inauguration:
Barack Obama’s inaugural bash is going to be the most expensive celebration in U.S. history. Its opulence stands in stark contrast to our faltering economy, yet those who expected frugality from George W. Bush four years ago are strangely silent this go-around.
Hannity added that “the cost of Obama’s inaugural will dwarf past celebrations and make those of President Bush’s look like budget bashes.” In fact, as Eric Boehlert reported at Media Matters, the costs of the second Bush inaugural were roughly the same as those for Obama’s.

Hannity had made plain his intentions even before the inauguration. At his Web site, he began organizing in December what he called “the conservative underground” and asking people to “join the resistance” to the Obama administration. At the site’s discussion forum, one of his regulars posted an online poll asking respondents to answer: “What kind of revolution appeals most to you?” The possible answers: "A. Military Coup. B. Armed Rebellion. C. War for Secession."
We also discuss Fox's claims that its "news" shows provide straight, "objective" news free of the "opinion" taint, when in reality its news shows regularly pick up talking points from the previous day's "opinion" shows and treat them as news pegs ("Some are saying ..."):
This was just standard operating procedure for Fox’s daytime news shows, which regularly took their cues from stories drummed up in the afternoons and evenings by their “opinion” talkers. Some examples:
-- On March 24, Marsha MacCallum on Live Desk joined in furthering the then popular theme that President Obama’s programs were “socialist” by lauding her guest, Representative Michele Bachmann of Minnesota, when Bachmann claimed that Obama’s proposals are a “lurch toward socialism.” Said MacCallum: “I think you’re absolutely right about that.”

-- After Glenn Beck and Sean Hannity attacked Sonia Sotomayor as a racist, Megyn Kelly on America’s Newsroom told viewers that Sotomayor’s “wise Latina” remark “sounds to a lot of people like reverse racism, basically. Like she’s saying that Latina judges are obviously better than white male judges, and that that’s her assumption, and people get worried about putting a person like that on the U.S. Supreme Court.” Kelly later added, “I’ve looked at the entire speech that she was offering to see if that was taken out of context, and I have to tell you . . . it wasn’t.”

-- After Sean Hannity and other “opinion” talkers described President Obama’s trip to France as part of an “apology tour,” Jon Scott on Happening Now asked if “the president’s upcoming trip [to Europe and the Middle East will] be what conservatives might call another apology tour.” Both Scott and his co-host, Jane Skinner, showed viewers a set of clips from Obama’s remarks in an April 3 speech in France, carefully cropped to falsely suggest that Obama had criticized only the United States—just as Hannity had done two months before.

-- James Rosen attacked Cass Sunstein, the nominee to be the White House regulatory overseer, in a September 9 story on Special Report: “Rats could attack us in the sewer and court systems if all of Cass Sunstein’s writings became law. The Harvard Law professor . . . argued in 2004 that animals represented by human beings should be able to sue human beings and has even questioned whether humans can legally expel rats from our homes if doing so causes the rat’s distress.” The report came directly on the heels of a Glenn Beck segment making the same charges—albeit in a more incendiary fashion. Beck said that Sunstein was “a man that believes that you should not be able to remove rats from your home if it causes them any pain.” What Sunstein had actually written was: “At the very least, people should kill rats in a way that minimizes distress and suffering. . . . If human beings are at risk of illness and disease from mosquitoes and rats, they have a strong justification, perhaps even one of self-defense, for eliminating or relocating them.”
Similarly, as seen in chapter 5, these daytime news shows played an integral role in promoting the anti-Obama Tea Parties. America’s Newsroom, Fox & Friends, Live Desk, and Happening Now all avidly promoted Tea Party information on-air and online. The programs regularly hosted Tea Party organizers and posted protest dates and locations on-screen. Their Web sites all provided Tea Party information and directions as well.

If the news shows constantly blurred the line between opinion and news, at other times they obliterated the line between news and partisan propaganda. As Media Matters reported:
During the February 10 edition of Happening Now, co-host Jon Scott purported to “take a look back” at how the economic recovery plan “grew, and grew, and grew.” In doing so, Scott referenced seven dates, as on-screen graphics cited various news sources from those time periods—all of which came directly from a Senate Republican Communications Center press release. A Fox News on-screen graphic even reproduced a typo contained in the Republican press release. The following day, Scott apologized—for running the typo.
This wasn’t the only occasion when news pieces simply transcribed Republican talking points. Happening Now aired two April 1 segments featuring seven “FOXfact[s]” that purportedly detailed the House Republican budget proposal. The “FOXfact[s]” were lifted directly from an op-ed by Republican representative Paul Ryan of Wisconsin that had appeared in that day’s Wall Street Journal. On America’s Newsroom, host Bill Hemmer reported on four “interesting” projects being funded by the just-passed economic stimulus package as part of keeping track of “stimulus money” using Fox’s independent researchers. However, Hemmer had lifted the graphics, on-screen text, and all four of the projects directly from Representative Eric Cantor’s Republican-whip Web site.

Fox fobbed off this kind of outright propagandizing on the public every day as “news” reportage, mixed in with the predictable menu of car chases and stories about missing college students. It amounted to a mountainous barrage of misinformation posing as news. The compiled record stood as stark evidence putting the lie to Fox News’s claim, after Anita Dunn called it on the carpet, that its news reportage was distinct from and untainted by its “opinion” shows. Not only was the content of those “opinion” shows wildly incendiary and consistently (not to mention irresponsibly) afactual, but its “news” shows were carefully programmed to retransmit those fraudulent claims in the guise of straight information.
And we also point out that this really represents a massive failure on the part of the journalistic profession generally:
Journalism is largely a self-policed profession, one in which standards are maintained by both internal editing and peer competition, with fellow professionals playing the role of calling out their peers for violating those standards. But that standard-keeping aspect completely failed when it came to Fox News—even after the White House had presented journalists with a golden opportunity to seriously scrutinize it.

Fox News had amassed a record, even before 2009, of failing to live up to basic standards of factual accuracy, genuine fairness and balance, and journalistic responsibility. After Obama’s election, it seemed to abandon any pretense whatever of meeting those standards—running false “facts,” deceptively edited videos, and outright ideological promotions while seriously mainstreaming extremist ideas from the radical right. As Media Matters put it in its exhaustive report on the relationship between Fox’s news and opinion shows, “it is Fox News that has been waging a partisan political war against the White House since Inauguration Day, and while doing so, revealing both its disdain for journalistic standards and its all-consuming political agenda—qualities that differentiate Fox News from any credible news organization.”

Instead of dealing forthrightly with the problem, the Beltway Village circled its wagons around Fox for having been horribly attacked by the White House. Fox, unsurprisingly, ran a stream of guests willing to come on and denounce the White House as being misguided for choosing to defend itself.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Glenn Beck Hears The Helicopters Whupping: Obama Plans 'Global Redistribution' Of The Wealth

[Cross-posted at Crooks and Liars.]

For some reason, Glenn Beck is at his utter wingnuttiest when he makes his weekly appearance on Fox & Friends. After all, it was on the Fox morning show that he declared that President Obama is a racist who hates white people. Likewise, this was where he first promoted those FEMA concentration camps.

Yesterday he was at it again:
Beck: Look, here's what we have. We have a government that has built a cage. We have Marxist after Marxist after Marxist after Marxist -- anti-capitalists everywhere. We have John Holdren, the science czar, who has come out and said that we have to deindustrialize or devolve or de-develop the United States of America. Well, how do you do that?

You now have the Department of Energy this week coming out and saying, 'Well, we're going to go, and go through all of the regulations on all appliances to figure out which appliances will be available in the future -- for the United States consumer.'

I mean, we're going down really spooky paths that don't make any sense, unless you understand the framework of global redistribution -- not from the wealthy to the poor in America, but from the wealthy America to the poorest nations, and a global governance structure.

Gretchen Carlson: So you're alleging a big whole plot by the Obama administration to do this.

Beck: No, I'm not alleging it. I'm pointing it out. I'm showing it. It's in their own words.
I have a theory: In the mornings, Beck's handlers at Fox haven't gotten up yet and figured out what crazy ass crap they going to have to prevent him from saying that day on his afternoon show; usually they let him air it on his radio show, then they apply the filters. But they haven't had the chance to do that yet when he goes on Fox & Friends.

So we get the Crazee Beck, unfiltered, on those mornings. Black helicopters and all.

Why Do Right-Wingers Think A Terrorist Attack Is A Good Thing?

[Cross-posted at Crooks and Liars.]

Ever notice how right-wingers seem to positively relish the prospect of Americans being attacked by terrorists? Mainly it's because they love to wrap themselves in the bloody flag of these national tragedies and claim them for their own, almost purely as a way to proclaim themselves more patriotic than everyone else.

That, and as G.W. Bush and Rudy Giuliani can tell you, it gives you long-lasting cover for pushing the rest of your agenda, and something to blame for all your problems.

Adam Shah at Media Matters
observes the latest iteration from the wingnutosphere:
The right-wing media is in full freak-out mode over President Obama's reported statement that, while "[w]e'll do everything we can to prevent" another terror attack, but that if one comes "we can absorb" it. But no response may be able to match that of Warner Todd Huston, who says in a post on Jim Hoft's Gateway Pundit blog that "somehow I can't escape the feeling that this flippancy comes from Obama's envy that George W. Bush got a 'big event' to make his presidency."

Huston later adds:
I can just see him, green with envy that Bush got that big moment. If ONLY Hussein could get a big attack of his own, why THEN he'd show the world what a great president he could be! If only we could "absorb" a big one like 9/11, eh Barrack [sic]? And we'd take it.... and take it....
It's funny how conservatives see these tragedies as big political jackpots, isn't it? Because, hey -- for them, it was. Remember George W. Bush's little "joke," circa 2002?

"You know, I was campaigning in Chicago and somebody asked me, is there ever any time where the budget might have to go into deficit? I said only if we were at war or had a national emergency or were in recession. Little did I realize we'd get the trifecta." —President George W. Bush, Charlotte, North Carolina, Feb. 27, 2002
Of course, it was also noteworthy that this joke was a complete lie:
Bush's story, moreover, is fundamentally false as a purely chronological matter: Bush was already facing the certainty of deficit spending at the end of the summer of 2001, well before the attacks of Sept. 11. Some $4 trillion worth of budget surplus vanished over the spring and summer that year, and budget experts sounded the alarm about looming deficits then. The Congressional Budget Office warned Bush on Aug. 29 that Social Security funds would be needed to balance the books, forcing him to abandon a campaign promise not to use the retirement fund for other government spending.

Indeed, that is just what Bush proceeded to do in his actual budget, presented in January. According to the CBO, Bush’s budget plan would drain every dollar of the $527 billion surplus from the Social Security Trust Fund for the next two fiscal years even while creating a deficit. It would continue to raid the fund for varying amounts each year through 2012. Even with the fund’s help, the federal budget is expected to be in deficits through at least 2005.

Most economists peg the source of these nagging deficits on Bush's tax-cut plan, the deepest portions of which loom ahead. The administration sternly denies this. Yet it’s clear that while Sept. 11 may have deepened and broadened the budget-deficit problem, the administration was faced with chronic budget deficits no matter what.
I'm also reminded of Michael Scheuer's ardent wish from early in the Obama administration:

Scheuer: The only chance we have as a country right now is for Osama bin Laden to deploy and detonate a major weapon in the United States. Because it's going to take a grass-roots, bottom-up pressure. Because these politicians prize their office, prize the praise of the media and the Europeans. It's an absurd situation again. Only Osama can execute an attack which will force Americans to demand that their government protect them effectively, consistently, and with as much violence as necessary.
One can only imagine Scheuer's disappointment -- as well as Glenn Beck's -- that we haven't suffered such a tragedy.

After all -- contrary to Huston's fantasy -- such a political benefit would never apply to Obama, because the Republican Rules would be in effect here: No matter what a Democratic president does, any pretext will suffice for impeachment.

The fact we haven't had a significant terrorist attack is probably the only thing keeping them from trying to initiate impeachment proceedings against Obama. (Just as they certainly would have, had we had President Gore in 2001 as the voters intended.) And if they win in November, you can count on that happening anyway.

They're Ba-a-a-ack: A New Generation Of Haters Bring Their Racial Violence To The Suburbs

[Cross-posted at Crooks and Liars.]

Not-so-uplifting news, from Cincinatti's WLWT:
Two local attacks with one word common to both -- skinheads. Skinheads manufacture fear as if it was a craft, mixing intimidation and violence. What makes all this even more unsettling is that they’re doing it right here in the Tri-State.

The most recent attack occurred in Covington in August. A resident who asked to remain unidentified said, “I’ve never felt like I’ve had to worry about my safety around here until recently.”

The Covington community around MainStrasse has several gay bars and very little trouble. That’s why people there were surprised when a man tattooed with Nazi swastikas, along with a couple of his friends, was charged with beating two women outside of a gay bar. Police said the attackers shouted anti-gay slurs in the process of knocking the women to the ground and hitting them.

Devlin Burke is the tattooed man accused of leading the attack. He’s also charged with cutting a bystander who saw the attack and stopped to help the victims, sending that man to the hospital.
Not all of them are violent skinheads. Out on the other side of the country, in San Diego, they're trying to pose as normal white folks:
The former Army Ranger and small-business owner is wearing a plaid ivy cap over a shaved head. His T-shirt advertises “American Third Position: Liberty, Sovereignty, Identity.”

Though he asked CityBeat to withhold his surname, Damon is open about his views. He believes the government doesn’t represent the common man, that immigrants are a threat to public safety and employment (particularly in San Diego County, where he grew up) and that white Americans must become conscious of their race. He doesn’t censor himself when a server walks by, and he pays no mind to the customers a few tables over.

That’s the point of American Third Position—it’s white nationalism packaged for a mainstream audience.

Damon wasn’t always so tempered with his rhetoric. He was involved with neo-Nazi groups in the past—he has protested, pamphleteered and brawled. “In my youth, like I think a lot of people are, I was just at odds with the world, and you get a little angry and you move with that because it’s kinda all you know,” he says. “As I got older and a little wiser, I saw that what I was doing wasn’t really reaching the regular white guy on the street.”

Damon first came to CityBeat’s attention through the message board, the central online forum for the full spectrum of white nationalists, from Minutemen to skinheads. Damon participates under the username Cycoville. On his user profile, he identifies himself as “1/2 IRISH 1/2 SCOTTISH 100% CELTIC WARRIOR” and describes where lives as an “island of WHITE in a sea of mud.”

In May, Stormfront members from San Diego, including Damon, formed their own online “social group” to organize barbecues, hikes and a day trip to the Scottish Highland Games and Clan Gathering in Vista. But when one local neo-Nazi tried to use the forum to recruit members for protests against LGBT events—including “Out in Petco Park” on July 1 and San Diego Pride on July 17—Damon was quick to smack down the idea.

“If we want this movement to grow and work, we need to awaken the slumbering White Nationalists, the regular folks, and that doesn’t happen when we go and yell ni99er and fa66ot,” Damon responded on the site. “Makes us look like a bunch of ignorant a$$holes, and who want’s [sic] to be an A## Hole? I sure don’t.”

Damon told the user to be patient; San Diego’s white nationalists have something in the works—American Third Position or A3P.
This kind of mainstreaming has also been popular with Patriot/militia types as well.

It's all camouflage for the same old hate. But with the Tea Parties and right-wing pundits making overt racism fashionable again, it's not any surprise they're coming out of the woodwork again.