Saturday, April 09, 2011

A Look Back On Beck's Nutty Fox News Career: Turning Discourse Into A Series Of Stunts

[Cross-posted at Crooks and Liars.]

I'm not sure exactly what Roger Ailes and his fellow poobahs at Fox News were thinking when they hired Glenn Beck to join them in January 2009, but it is a telling fact that Beck's primary professional background was as a morning zoo-show host -- someone who specializes in goofy stunts and wild-over-the-top envelope pushing. Because that, of course, is exactly what they got for the next couple of years, before they finally decided to cut their losses.

Now, there are plenty of things to object to about Glenn's trainwreck of a career at Fox, particularly the noxious and yet little-noticed way he almost effortlessly mainstreamed extremist ideas and rhetoric, most recently with his full-bore descent into promoting John Birch Society conspiracism.

Undoubtedly, Beck's relentless fearmongering and the vicious eliminationism of his rhetoric were important components of what made Beck so toxic. Media Matters has compiled an impressive list of the "50 Worst Things Glenn Beck Said On Fox News" that gives a pretty good rundown -- but is really only a start.

Ultimately, the worst damage he caused was to the shape of our national discourse -- from all these factors, but especially in the way he wrapped it up in a "zany" morning-zoo-show format, dragging that discourse down to the level of a prearranged pro-wrestling match. As Will Bunch puts it:

Because the truth is that Beck's ouster isn't really the end of the nightmare, but just the beginning of the end. Over the last 27 months, Beck -- and let's be clear that he had a lot of help from the likes of Rush Limbaugh and Sarah Palin and Sean Hannity and Rand Paul and all the folks in the Tea Party Movement -- managed to do incalculable harm to the American body politic, that Beck was exactly like Tom and Daisy Buchanan in "The Great Gatsby" who "smashed up things and creatures and then retreated back into their money or their vast carelessness.."

You'll probably hear a lot about how Beck coarsened the political debate and how his words may have incited violence, but I think the wreckage is a lot more substantive, to actual policies that affect Americans every day. You see, there was a reason that Beck was so fond of a political theory called the Overton Window-- so enamored, in fact, that he made it the title of his (officially) fictional "thriller" novel last summer. The Overton Window is a notion that you can radically move the parameters of political debate by pushing talk to the outer limits, so that ideas that were once deemed extreme suddenly appeared to be normal.

Ironically, no one mastered the use of the Overton Window better than Beck. With all the focus on the leading edge of Beck's craziness -- the "caliphate" stuff, the flirtation with "the FEMA camps," or President Obama's "deep-seated hatred" of white people -- it's easy to foget how he rationalized once out-there ideas to millions of American conservatives, and how those ideas became ingrained in the Republican agenda that has thwarted progressivism from virtually the day Obama took office.

... You could go on and on -- the talk-radio jihad against big government that has put gutless Democrats so on the defensive that they no longer fight to protect vital programs but only over whether to agree to "steep" spending cuts or "draconian" ones, or the fear-mongering on terrorism and Gitmo that made quivering members of Congress afraid to house terror suspects in our supermax prisons. Don't think that Beck's nightly burst of insanity didn't have a lot to do with these things, because they did.

Don't believe me? Then ask a fellow in South Carolina named Bob Inglis who was a Republican congressman until he told his constituents to "turn off Glenn Beck," and lost a primary to an upstart who got 71 percent of the vote. Why do you think the Republicans in Washington remain in lock step, even as 90 percent of what they stay in lock step for is bat-guano crazy?
As Amato said, Beck inflicted the damage that conservatives needed him to inflict. Now the rest of us get to pay for the long, slow, and perhaps impossible job of repairing it.

Longtime Far-Right 'Patriots' Moving Into The Mainstream -- Thanks To The Tea Partiers

[Cross-posted at Crooks and Liars.]

Tim Steller had an interesting profile of Richard Mack in the Arizona Daily Star the other day:
For years, Richard Mack wrote books and gave speeches, arguing for gun rights, sovereign states and "constitutional sheriffs."

At first, not many people listened to Mack, a two-term Graham County sheriff who lives in Safford. Many wrote him off as a radical.

But that's changing. The tea party's nationwide emergence and Arizona's drift to the right are bringing Mack's ideas from the political edge into the eddies of the mainstream.

Since Barack Obama's election as president, Mack, 58, has been a hot national speaker, and some of his dearest ideas have come up in the current Legislature.

A system for Arizona to "nullify" federal laws reached the floor of the state Senate before being voted down last month. Another bill would have forced federal regulators to register with the sheriff in any Arizona county where they want to work.

The bill's author, Rep. Chester Crandell of Heber, said Mack inspired him.

"I think the county sheriff has that power and should be protecting the rights of the people," Crandell said. "This is a way to send a message and say we are a sovereign state."
This is, of course, the same scheme tea-partying legislators in Montana are attempting to pass, too.

And as you can see from the above video, it all emanates from Mack's ceaseless promotion of the radical right's extremist localism -- the belief that the sheriff, and not the federal government, represent the supreme law of the land.

Mack certainly didn't invent this system. Rather, it was first promoted back in the 1960s and '70s by the old Posse Comitatus movement, which contended that "there is no legitimate form of government above that of the county level and no higher law authority than the county sheriff. If the sheriff refuses to carry out the will of the county's citizens:"
...he shall be removed by the Posse to the most populated intersection of streets in the township and at high noon be hung by the neck, the body remaining until sundown as an example to those who would subvert the law.
Not only was the Posse one of the most radical far-right organizations -- it became closely associated with the racist Christian Identity movement -- it was also one of the most violent, inspiring acts of "lone wolves" like Gordon Kahl as well as the radicals at the Covenant, Sword and Arm of the Lord.

It's also the root of the sovereign citizen movement, which we've seen resurgent in the past couple of years as well, along with its accompanying violence and criminal plotting of violence.

And now, according to Steller, Mack is getting a broad audience at various Tea Party-related gatherings -- and lots of new adherents:
In the last 18 months, Mack said, he has given 125 presentations, including an April 15 speech last year before thousands in Amarillo, Texas, and a December appearance at Faneuil Hall in Boston.

But he's got plans, and they could include running for office in Pima County.

"Let's not beat around the bush here," Mack told about 25 people at the Dusenberry-River Library in the Catalina Foothills March 8. "We no longer live in a free country."

"They control our land, our air, our water, our education, our finances and now our health care," Mack said of the federal government in a later interview. "What do I get to decide for myself? Nothing."
Of course, we pointed out the meaning of Mack's involvement with the Tea Parties some time back -- namely, he represents an increasing flow of radical-right ideas into mainstream conservatism, where they are being gobbled up like candy. And now Republican legislators are trying to enact these extremist beliefs -- which are profoundly inimical to progressive ideals -- into law.

And no one seems to be paying it much of any mind.

Friday, April 08, 2011

Watch Glenn Go: When He's Finally Freed From Fox, Expect Beck To Build On His Apocalyptic Cult

[Cross-posted at Crooks and Liars.]

Finally, Glenn Beck really will get to feel a little like Martin Luther King -- because he is free, free at last, God almighty, free at last.

Unfortunately, our long national nightmare ... is probably just switching to a new phase.

He explained to his audience yesterday on Fox that he was leaving his regular show there because, gosh, he had to have his arm twisted in the first place just do it:
BECK: When Fox was generous enough to offer me the time at 5 o'clock, I originally didn't take them up on it. I turned them down. One of the reasons was I didn't want to -- I just -- didn't wanna do this. I hated doing it at the other place. This place is sweet! -- in comparison. But I also knew -- believe it or not, anybody who knows me in my real life as everybody -- wee little Erin will tell you too -- I avoid confrontation like nobody's business. Unless I am forced. But it also -- I don't like it.

But -- sometimes you have to stand. I took the job two years ago because I thought I had something important to share. I really thought if I could prove my case -- that something wicked this way was coming -- something in America was wrong, America would listen. And they have.
What noble guy. Brings a tear to your eye and puts a swell in your heart, doesn't it?

Beck's removal from the Fox daily lineup really is, as David Brock puts it, "A victory for civil discourse". (Media Matters, by the way, has put together a list of the 50 Worst Things Glenn Beck Has Said.)

And it was overdue. As George Zornick at ThinkProgress explains:
Beck entered the year without one-third of his earlier audience. Only months into his show, advertisers began deserting his program, and pressure by liberal groups resulted in a loss of nearly 300 advertisers during the course of his show.

Last month, Fox News officials told the New York Times anonymously that they were “contemplating life without Mr. Beck.” The Times also reported that “[m]any on the news side of Fox have wondered whether his chronic outrageousness — he suggested that the president has ‘a deep-seated hatred for white people’— have made it difficult for Fox to hang onto its credibility as a news network.”

That seems like a reasonable concern.
Beck, meanwhile, is actually in a bizarre defensive-gloating position, telling his radio audience this morning:
BECK: Let me just tell you something. Liberal left -- let me make a prediction. ... One year from now, you on the left will be crapping yourselves so much -- you haven't, you haven't crapped in your pants as much as you will in a year from now, as you did since you were a child. Maybe more. You'll be making -- you'll crap yourself more than when you were a baby! And you will find Jesus. You will suddenly find religion and you will be kneeling at some altar lighting candles every day praying to Jesus that Glenn Beck would please just do 5 o'clock on the Fox News Channel.There's my prediction.
Alexander Zaitchik, who (as the author of Common Nonsense) should know, forward his own speculation about Beck to Dave Weigel, who thinks Beck will do the Oprah thing now:
I'd be careful about comparisons to Oprah, who has a scale of resources, commercial appeal, and popularity that Beck never will. But he'll remain active and ambitious and his projects will continue to be controversial from time to time. He's been too much guilty-pleasure fun as a pinata for his critics to completely ignore him. But now that he has a shrunken media footprint, I think a lot of people will go on a much-deserved Beck Vacation, and maybe never return.

Moving forward, I see him turning into a sort of hybrid-figure, part Limbaugh, part Breitbart, part Pat Robertson, maybe a little Ben Stein on the documentaries front. But it's hard to avoid the conclusion that his days as a heavy, constant presence in the mainstream conversation are over. Whatever media shape-shift he's about to perform post-Fox, he's a greatly diminished national presence for those who aren't "Insider Extreme" members at Which is a blessed, blessed thing.
I wish I could be so optimistic. My own hunch, as I described it yesterday:
[L]ook for him to become Alex Jones on steroids. Which means that someday we probably CAN figure on watching the armed FBI standoff from the GlennBeckian Cult Compound someday down the pike.
Beck has been the leading figure for the Tea Parties this year, and he is certain to be out leading them in the trenches next year too -- probably organizing more Lincoln-Memorial-type rallies, and maybe doing a national tour promoting Tea Partyism. Along the way, he'll be gathering more cult followers and establishing them as an outside-politics force.

He's not going away, that's for sure. But we don't have to watch him mainstreaming his extremism to an audience of millions every day any more, either. And that's a real victory all by itself.

To Sell The Repeal Of Birthright Citizenship, Republicans Like Vitter Lie About Scope Of 'Baby Tourism'

[Cross-posted at Crooks and Liars.]

I guess this is how Republicans do the Latino-outreach thing: Demonize Latino children, threaten to take away their birthright citizenship, and blatantly lie about the numbers of "anchor babies" being born by mothers coming here specifically to have citizen children.

Here's Sen. David Vitter yesterday on Fox News, promoting his new federal bill to strip American-born children of undocumented immigrants of their birthright citizenship:
VITTER: It's a very real problem. About 200,000 women come into this country annually from other countries legally, with a tourist visa, something like that, to give birth in this country so that child can automatically become a U.S. citizen. 200,000 a year!
I'm guessing that Vitter's source for this number is either somewhere up his own nether regions, or those of hate groups such as FAIR and CIS that pump out fake statistics like this for eager Latino-bashers like Vitter and his three Senate colleagues to regurgitate into policy.

Because, as ABC News explained in their own report on this legislation:
Of the 4.2 million live births in the United States in 2006, the most recent data gathered by the National Center for Health Statistics, only 7,670 were children born to mothers who said they do not live here.

Some of those mothers could be "baby tourists," experts say, but many could be foreign college students, diplomatic staff, or vacationers. The government does not track the reasons non-resident mothers are in the United States at the time of the birth or their citizenship.
Indeed, as the story notes, the "anchor baby" problem is a statistical pimple:
"There's no evidence that birth tourism is a widespread problem," said Michele Waslin, a senior policy analyst with the Immigration Policy Center. "There are ways to dealing with that issue without such sweeping changes. This is like using a sledgehammer, not a scalpel."
Indeed, as we explained when Russell Pearce trotted out the same garbage in Arizona:
[T]his is a sick joke. Surveys of undocumented workers have made indelibly clear that they don't come here to have "anchor babies," or to get our free health care, or any of the other fantasies harbored by nativists: they come here for jobs.

Moreover, there's no serious benefit to be had from having your child be born a citizen -- because under American law, you can be deported anyway, and in fact thousands of parents of American birthright-citizen children are deported every year: 100,000 of them over 10 years, to be precise.

There is an exemption available: After the immigrant parent has been present for no less than ten years, he or she may apply for Cancellation of Removal if he/she can prove ten years of good moral character and establish that deportation would create an exceptional hardship to her citizen child. There is an annual cap of 4,000 on the number of illegal immigrants who can be granted such relief, and for the past several years the government has not even reached that cap.
Vitter goes on to make the shaky explanation that his bill would not require a repeal of the 14th Amendment -- rather, it would force an interpretation of the phrase "subject to the jurisdiction thereof" contained therein to somehow mean that non-citizens somehow are no longer "subject to the jurisdiction" of the U.S. when on American soil.

The Immigration Policy Center has a good rundown on the myths and facts about birthright citizenship. Among those facts are these:
The arguments for Congressional authority to limit birthright citizenship are all reliant upon an expansive interpretation of the term “subject to the jurisdiction” of the United States. For example, some opponents of birthright citizenship dispute that the Citizenship Clause embodies the jus soli definition of citizenship and instead argue that it confers citizenship only to children of those who give their complete allegiance to the United States. Under this view, because citizens of foreign countries still owe “allegiance” to a foreign sovereign, children born on U.S. soil to non-U.S.-citizen parents do not owe complete allegiance to the United States.

This argument is misleading and based on flawed premises. Even if “allegiance” were the defining characteristic of birthright citizenship, the Reconstruction framers understood allegiance to spring from the place of one’s birth, not the citizenship status of one’s parents. The 1866 debates established that a person “owes allegiance to the country of his birth, and that country owes him protection.” Similarly, one of the opinions from the Dred Scott decision, the backdrop against which the Citizenship Clause was drafted, acknowledged that “allegiance and citizenship spring from the place of birth.”

This understanding of allegiance deriving from one’s place of birth underscores the Reconstruction framers’ focus on the child born within the United States, not the status of his parents. The text of the Citizenship Clause thus refers to “[a]ll persons born … within the United States” and not “all persons born of parents born within the United States.” The Reconstruction framers expressly recognized this distinction: Senator Trumbull remarked that “even the infant child of a foreigner born in this land is a citizen of the United States long before his father.” Some even acknowledged that birthright citizenship could encourage immigration, noting that the civil rights bill was “not made for any class or creed, or race or color, but in the great future that awaits us will, if it become a law, protect every citizen, including the millions of people of foreign birth who will flock to our shores to become citizens and to find here a land of liberty and law.”
As Elizabeth Wydra put it in her Issue Brief for the American Constitution Society (titled "Born Under the Constitution: Why Recent Attacks on Birthright Citizenship are Unfounded") [PDF file]:
A close study of the text of the Citizenship Clause and Reconstruction history demonstrates that the Citizenship Clause provides birthright citizenship to all those born on U.S. soil, regardless of the immigration status of their parents. To revoke birthright citizenship based on the status and national origin of a child‘s ancestors, as some anti-citizenship activists are suggesting, goes against the purpose of the Citizenship Clause and the text and context of the Fourteenth Amendment.

Perhaps more important, the principles motivating the Framers of the Reconstruction Amendments, of which the Citizenship Clause is a part, suggest that we amend the Constitution to reject automatic citizenship at the peril of our core constitutional values. At the heart of the 14th Amendment is the fundamental belief that all people are born equal, and, if born in the United States, are born equal citizens regardless of color, creed or social status. It is no exaggeration to say that the 14th Amendment is the constitutional embodiment of the Declaration of Independence and lays the foundation for the American Dream. Because of the 14th Amendment, all American citizens are equal and equally American. Whether one‘s parents were rich or poor, saint or sinner, the 14th Amendment proclaims that ours is a nation where an American child will be judged by his or her own deeds.
To Real Muricans like David Vitter and Rand Paul, though, such qualms are insignificant. It's worth it to to destroy the meaning of the 14th Amendment and the long tradition of jus soli in America for the sake of a nonexistent "baby tourism" plague, you know.

Thursday, April 07, 2011

'Shut It Down!' Mike Pence And AFP Tea Partiers Leave Little Doubt Who's Pushing For A Shutdown

[Cross-posted at Crooks and Liars.]

Republicans have been playing the innocent the past couple of weeks as the now-imminent government shutdown began looming closer, even though it was obvious they were taking their cues from Fox pundits and Rush Limbaugh, who were urging them to embrace the concept.

Who, us, push for a shutdown? they've been saying. Why, it's the Democrats who've been pushing for it, they claim.

Well, Mike Pence cleared that up for us yesterday -- first in an interview with MSNBC's Contessa Brewer, then more loudly at a Tea Party gathering organized at the Capitol by those noted astroturfers 'entrepreneurial advocates' at Americans for Prosperity:
PENCE: It's time to take a stand. We need to say to liberals, 'This far and no further.' To borrow a line from another Harry, we've got to say, 'The debt stops here.' And if liberals in the Senate would rather play political games and force a government shutdown instead of accepting a modest down payment on fiscal discipline and reform, I say, 'Shut it down.'
After which, of course, the crowd chanted: "Shut It Down! Shut It Down!"

You get the idea of their idea of a workable compromise: Utter defeat for Democrats:
The crowd of bussed-in people from Pennsylvania, South Carolina, Virginia, Maryland and other states, repeatedly cheered for a shutdown and for deeper cuts. “A quarter of a trillion [in cuts] won’t be enough,” Rick Mishoe from South Carolina, told TheDC.

Yet Pence did not threaten to campaign against any deal cut by Boehner. He didn’t lay down any markers, nor demand any particular level of cuts.

Asked afterward if the GOP caucus would gain from a shutdown, he punted, and said that “the politics will take care of themselves.”

“It’s not 1995, the American people are more informed and more engaged… The taxpayer will win in any confrontation with big spenders in Washington,” Pence said.
Well, as Scott Keyes at ThinkProgress observes:
The reason for Boehner’s intransigence is increasingly clear: as Republicans and Democratic lawmakers negotiate, Boehner is giving the Tea Party veto-power. Sen. Chuck Schumer detailed this point while discussing the ongoing negotiations on Good Morning America this week, noting that “The tea party just continues to pull Speaker Boehner further back and back and back. They’re the people who say they don’t want compromise. They’re the people who say they relish a shutdown.”
I can't believe anyone who's watched Fox or listened to Limbaugh for the past couple of weeks would have any doubt about Republican thinking on the issue. Because that's obviously what's being executed here.

Donald Trump Claims To Be The Ideal Tea Party Candidate: 'I Represent A Lot Of The Ingredients Of The Tea Party'

[Cross-posted at Crooks and Liars.]

Donald Trump is now fashioning himself the darling of the Tea Party crowd:
TRUMP: I think the people of the Tea Party like me, because I represent a lot of the ingredients of the Tea Party. What I represent very much, I think, represents the Tea Party.
In this segment, Fox's Bret Baier mentions that Trump once sent a nice note to Nancy Pelosi, which is certain to get him into hot water with the Tea Partiers -- though even then, he probably managed to score points with them with his sexist dismissal of the question. Far more likely to get him in trouble both with Tea Partiers as well as with rank-and-file Republicans is his 2008 declaration that George W. Bush should have been impeached by Pelosi.

But in reality, Trump may be right. Bill O'Reilly has taken to identifying Trump as a "populist," which might seem absurd on its face -- for one of the world's richest men to claim to be a man of the people is like Colonel Sanders claiming to be a man of the chickens.

However, they're actually right, insofar as Trump is clearly a right-wing populist -- which means he's a manifestation of all their wildest Randian fantasies and the mythology attached thereupon. This might explain why Trump has been doing so well in Republican polls lately.

As we explained awhile back:
This kind of obeisance to the captains of industry and their utrammeled right to make profits at the expense of everyone else is a phenomenon known as Producerism, which is a hallmark of right-wing populism. It's accurately defined in Wikipedia as:
a syncretic ideology of populist economic nationalism which holds that the productive forces of society - the ordinary worker, the small businessman, and the entrepreneur, are being held back by parasitical elements at both the top and bottom of the social structure.

... Producerism sees society's strength being "drained from both ends"--from the top by the machinations of globalized financial capital and the large, politically connected corporations which together conspire to restrict free enterprise, avoid taxes and destroy the fortunes of the honest businessman, and from the bottom by members of the underclass and illegal immigrants whose reliance on welfare and government benefits drains the strength of the nation. Consequently, nativist rhetoric is central to modern Producerism (Kazin, Berlet & Lyons). Illegal immigrants are viewed as a threat to the prosperity of the middle class, a drain on social services, and as a vanguard of globalization that threatens to destroy national identities and sovereignty. Some advocates of producerism go further, taking a similar position on legal immigration.

In the United States, Producerists are distrustful of both major political parties. The Republican Party is rejected for its support of corrupt Big Business and the Democratic Party for its advocacy of the unproductive lazy waiting for their entitlement handouts (Kazin, Stock, Berlet & Lyons).

The Producerist narrative is why Henry Ford – who, as the ostensible author of The International Jew, a 1920 conspiracist tome that inspired Hitler’s paranoia, and whose capital later helped build the Nazi war machine in the 1930s, was also (and not coincidentally) perhaps the ultimate American enabler of fascism – is such a seminal figure for American right-wing populists, both as a leader in the 1920s and ‘30s, as well as a figure of reverence today. (Glenn Beck, in fact, has on several occasions on his Fox News show referenced Ford as something of a holy figure for his efforts to resist FDR’s New Deal in the 1930s.) The same narrative is also why, in today’s context, Ayn Rand and Atlas Shrugged – a tendentious novel speculating on the disasters that would befall the world if its great industrial leaders suddenly chose to stop producing – are so important in their mythology.

Right-wing populism is essentially predicated on what today we might call the psychology of celebrity-worship: convincing working-class schlubs that they too can someday become rich and famous -- because when they do, would they want to be taxed heavily? It's all about dangling that lottery carrot out there for the poor stiffs who were never any good at math to begin with, and more than eager to delude themselves about their chances of hitting the jackpot.

The thing about right-wing populism is that it’s manifestly self-defeating: those who stand to primarily benefit from this ideology are the wealthy, which is why they so willingly underwrite it. It might, in fact, more accurately be called "sucker populism."
I guess this means there's a Republican born every minute.

Just Listen To Bryan Fischer: How Can Newt Claim The AFA Isn't A Hate Group?

[Cross-posted at Crooks and Liars.]

As Igor Volsky at ThinkProgress reported the other day, Newt Gingrich insists that the American Family Association -- a group he channeled massive amounts of funding into -- really isn't a hate group, as the SPLC has designated them, along with other viciously gay-bashing groups like the Family Research Council.

Obviously, he hasn't spent any time listening to Bryan Fischer, or better yet, reading his columns (via JoeMyGod):
We have spent over $16 trillion fighting the war on poverty, and it’s time to run up the white flag of surrender. Poverty has won. We now have more people on food stamps - think children here - than at any time in our history. The war on poverty has been a total, dismal failure and it’s time to recognize that. You get more of whatever you subsidize. You subsidize poverty, which we have done since 1965, and you just get more of it.

Welfare has destroyed the African-American family by telling young black women that husbands and fathers are unnecessary and obsolete. Welfare has subsidized illegitimacy by offering financial rewards to women who have more children out of wedlock. We have incentivized fornication rather than marriage, and it’s no wonder we are now awash in the disastrous social consequences of people who rut like rabbits.

And children are the ones who get chewed up. Welfare, as Walter Williams has pointed out, has done what slavery, racism and Jim Crow laws could not do: destroy the black family. The Christ-centered statesman puts himself in the place of a fatherless black child, sees the catastrophic damage that the meltdown of the family has caused, and pursues policies to wean people off marriage- and child-destroying welfare, and pursues policies that incentivize marriage, incentivize self-reliance rather than abject dependence, and incentivize the reconstruction of the American family.
Got that? All those black folks are ruttin' like rabbits because we've let them have welfare instead of their previous condition, which involved starvation in poverty. Most likely Fischer prefers the previous option -- it builds character, as Glenn Beck would say.

This is stuff straight out of the David Duke handbook. Indeed, it isn't hard to envision Fischer intoning this into a mike through a Klan Grand Dragon mask.

The AFA was obviously embarrassed by this outburst of naked racist hatemongering and changed the text of the post so that the last sentence now reads:
We have incentivized fornication rather than marriage, and it’s no wonder we are now awash in the disastrous social consequences of those who engage in random and reckless promiscuity, whether they are Caucasian, Hispanic, or African-American.
[A screen grab of the original is here.]

But that didn't matter -- because then Fischer published a new post not only defending his original post, but actually stating it all over again, including the "rutting like rabbits" bit:
This was in response to my statement that our welfare policies - in which we subsidize and reward sex outside of marriage - is incentivizing people of all ethnic groups to “rut like rabbits.” This is a simple and unmistakable fact. You get more of whatever you subsidize, and we are clearly getting more sex outside of marriage and more children born out of wedlock than ever before. (I have since made changes in my original column to clarify any confusion and misinterpretation of my comments.)

I was commenting on the effect of our misguided welfare policies across the board, and was not singling out the African-American community in particular, although the consequences of our disastrous welfare policies are felt most acutely there. I was speaking generally to the fact that fallen human nature is going to gravitate to whatever behavior government rewards, even if the behavior itself is self-destructive.

Because we are subsidizing fornication and illegitimacy - every illegitimate baby means more taxpayer money for the mother - we now have 40% of all babies being born out of wedlock overall. In the Hispanic community, the number is over 50% and in the African-American community, the number is now catastrophically over 70%.
And that's just how he talks about black people. As Karoli has explained, he's every bit as bad when it comes to gays and lesbians.

Then there's the way he bashes Muslims -- by claiming they have no constitutional rights:
Islam has no fundamental First Amendment claims, for the simple reason that it was not written to protect the religion of Islam. Islam is entitled only to the religious liberty we extend to it out of courtesy. While there certainly ought to be a presumption of religious liberty for non-Christian religious traditions in America, the Founders were not writing a suicide pact when they wrote the First Amendment.

Our government has no obligation to allow a treasonous ideology to receive special protections in America, but this is exactly what the Democrats are trying to do right now with Islam.

From a constitutional point of view, Muslims have no First Amendment right to build mosques in America. They have that privilege at the moment, but it is a privilege that can be revoked if, as is in fact the case, Islam is a totalitarian ideology dedicated to the destruction of the United States. The Constitution, it bears repeating, is not a suicide pact. For Muslims, patriotism is not the last refuge of a scoundrel, but the First Amendment is.
And because they have no constitutional rights, there's no reason to permit Muslim to immigrate to America, either -- in fact, Fischer insists such immigration should be outlawed, along with the building of mosques on American soil:
Immigration is obviously a matter for Congress, since authority to control immigration is vested by the Constitution in Congress. But we must never forget that immigration to the United States is a privilege, not a right, and that we should follow the wisdom of the Founders who urged that we only admit to our shores those who will strengthen our nation and assimilate themselves into it, adopting our flag, our history, our heroes, and our values. This is something that devout Muslims simply cannot do. The privilege of immigration should be reserved for those willing to integrate into our culture, become unhyphenated Americans, and adopt American values.

So immigration is a congressional issue. But as I explained above, states have considerable latitude in religious liberty matters, and states are thus free to ban the building of any more mosques within their borders. If states won’t do it, then local planning and zoning commissions can and must do it. And if we understand the Constitution as given to us by the Founders, there is no constitutional impediment in their doing so.
More recently, his anti-Muslim rants have taken on a distinctly familiar cast. Via Brian at RightWingWatch:
We allow unrestricted Muslim immigration into the United States we are welcoming to our shores, welcoming to our borders, men who are determined to destroy us. They’ve said it themselves, it’s in their own writings, it’s in their own words; they’re out to eliminate and destroy western civilization. It’s just absolute folly to invite that kind of toxic cancer into our culture, but that’s what we’re doing every single day.
This, of course, fits my basic definition of eliminationism to a T:
[A] politics and a culture that shuns dialogue and the democratic exchange of ideas in favor of the pursuit of outright elimination of the opposing side, either through suppression, exile, and ejection, or extermination.

Rhetorically, eliminationism takes on certain distinctive shapes. It always depicts its opposition as beyond the pale, the embodiment of evil itself, unfit for participation in their vision of society, and thus worthy of elimination. It often further depicts its designated Enemy as vermin (especially rats and cockroaches) or diseases, and disease-like cancers on the body politic. A close corollary—but not as nakedly eliminationist—are claims that opponents are traitors or criminals and that they pose a threat to our national security.

Eliminationism is often voiced as crude "jokes," a sense of humor inevitably predicated on venomous hatred. And such rhetoric—we know as surely as we know that night follows day—eventually begets action, with inevitably tragic results.

Wednesday, April 06, 2011

Glenn Beck Predicts Imminent Revolutionary Violence From The Left This Summer -- Just Like He Did In 2010. And In 2009.

[Cross-posted at Crooks and Liars.]

Glenn Beck devoted his show yesterday to predicting another "summer of rage" from the oh-so-violence-prone American Left:
BECK: America, I want to warn you, this is the summer of revolution. Things are going to get worse, and I believe May is going to play a huge role, as will September. [draws breath] Oh, did I say something that I shouldn't have, socialists and communists? Yes, we're listening and we're reading, sometimes right over your shoulder, and you don't know it.
Funny thing -- that's just what he predicted would happen last summer too! From June 2010:
BECK: America, these guys joined with these guys -- the politicians joined with the revolutionaries so they could gain power. Now it is time to break apart -- because the summer of rage is about to begin.
And another funny thing: He predicted the same thing in 2009 too:
BECK: Now here is the One Thing that everybody seems to be missing: The extreme Left is actively calling for violence! As world economies go down the tank and unemployment continues to rise, disenfranchised people are set to explode.
It kinda reminds me of those apocalyptic cults who periodically predict that the world is really about to end, so their followers all gather in the cult compound (often in remote places like Montana) to prepare for it, and then they either all drink Kool Aid and die, or they hold intensive prayer sessions and then, when the predicted Day of Doom comes and goes without event, announce that their prayers have saved the world -- for now -- and go home as though nothing had happened.

Now that it's Sayonara Beck at Fox News, look for him to become Alex Jones on steroids. Which means that someday we probably CAN figure on watching the armed FBI standoff from the GlennBeckian Cult Compound someday down the pike.

Meanwhile, of course, Beck wants you to pay no mind to the picture of right-wing violence we're getting:


Tuesday, April 05, 2011

Fox Talkers Really Hate It When Progressives Cite MLK's Pro-Union Legacy

[Cross-posted at Crooks and Liars.]

For some strange reason, after having attacked and demonized Martin Luther King for the entirety of his Civil Rights career when he was alive, right-wingers now seem to want to claim him as one of their own -- a small-government conservative preacher who believed in fiscal restraint. Eh?

So yesterday, while union supporters marched on the anniversary of King's assassination, the talkers at Fox News were in full denunciation mode. First there was Neil Cavuto, claiming that the unions were "co-opting" King for their cause. To persuade us of this, he hosted Rev. Jesse Lee Peterson (the guy who previously had gone on the air and claimed that "Barack Obama is destroying America based on lies" and that "Barack Obama hates white people -- especially white men. Sorry folks, but the truth will set you free!"):
PETERSON: If it's possible to turn over in your grave, I believe that Dr. King is turning over in his grave today. I was born on a plantation down in Alabama, I participated in the Civil Rights movement, I did sit-ins. And Dr. King was about uniting the races, he wasn't about dividing them. Dr. King believed that the same law that protected white Americans should protect black Americans. He wanted us to have the freedom to move about in this country. He was about morality and justice. And for Jesse Jackson and others to take his movement, to take his purpose and use it for personal gain, I have to say, Neil, is nothing less than evil.
Cavuto apparently thinks it was a mere coincidence -- due to the fact that most of the workers were black -- that King was in Memphis to support striking garbage workers. Peterson, likewise, tries to claim that King had no special affinity for the cause of labor unions.

Then there was Glenn Beck, arguing that it was "absurd" to suggest that King was a supporter of the unions' cause:

BECK: Trying to take away the rights Dr. King gave his life for, really? ... This is what he gave his life for, a union? Now, he may have supported this event, this cause, but he gave his life -- fighting for civil rights. The right of all men to be judged by the content of their character, not the color of their skin, or, uh, their union label.

Is there a person within the sound of my voice -- outside the union halls -- that I could ask, Why did someone kill Martin Luther King? Why? And they would say, 'Good thing you asked me -- collective bargaining rights, of course!' That's absurd!
Of course, this shouldn't surprise anyone, since in the case of Beck we're talking about a guy who promotes the work of King-haters like Cleon Skousen on one hand while trying to claim King's legacy for himself with the other. A guy who viciously attacks progressives and their causes while conveniently overlooking the historical fact that his adopted idol was himself an ardent progressive.

Indeed, King fully understood that civil rights and labor rights are powerfully intertwined -- that ensuring the ability of black people to organize for their rights was part of a parallel fight for all working people to organize for theirs. And that the very people who opposed the rights of unions to organize were the same people who wanted to keep black people from enjoying their full rights as citizens.

Really, all you have to do to understand this is to read Dr. King's own words, which stand as stark repudiation of the union-hating garbage being spewed on Fox.

For instance, take his 1961 address to the AFL-CIO:
"Negroes are almost entirely a working people…. Our needs are identical with labor's needs: decent wages, fair working conditions, livable housing, old-age security, health and welfare measures, conditions in which families can grow, have education for their children and respect in the community. That is why Negroes support labor's demands and fight laws which curb labor. That is why the labor-hater and labor-baiter is virtually always a twin-headed creature, spewing anti-Negro epithets from one mouth and anti-labor propaganda from the other mouth."

"The labor movement was the principal force that transformed misery and despair into hope and progress. Out of its bold struggles, economic and social reform gave birth to unemployment insurance, old-age pensions, government relief for the destitute and, above all, new wage levels that meant not mere survival but a tolerable life. The captains of industry did not lead this transformation; they resisted it until they were overcome. When in the thirties the wave of union organization crested over the nation, it carried to secure shores not only itself but the whole society."

"Negroes in the United States read the history of labor and find it mirrors their own experience. We are confronted by powerful forces telling us to rely on the goodwill and understanding of those who profit by exploiting us. They deplore our discontent, they resent our will to organize, so that we may guarantee that humanity will prevail and equality will be exacted. They are shocked that action organizations, sit-ins, civil disobedience and protests are becoming our everyday tools, just as strikes, demonstrations and union organization became yours to insure that bargaining power genuinely existed on both sides of the table.

"We want to rely upon the goodwill of those who oppose us. Indeed, we have brought forward the method of nonviolence to give an example of unilateral goodwill in an effort to evoke it in those who have not yet felt it in their hearts. But we know that if we are not simultaneously organizing our strength we will have no means to move forward. If we do not advance, the crushing burden of centuries of neglect and economic deprivation will destroy our will, our spirits and our hope. In this way, labor's historic tradition of moving forward to create vital people as consumers and citizens has become our own tradition, and for the same reasons."
And he was similarly clear about the principles involved in the current labor battles:
"In our glorious fight for civil rights, we must guard against being fooled by false slogans, such as 'right to work.' It is a law to rob us of our civil rights and job rights. It is supported by Southern segregationists who are trying to keep us from achieving our civil rights and our right of equal job opportunity. Its purpose is to destroy labor unions and the freedom of collective bargaining by which unions have improved wages and working conditions of everyone…Wherever these laws have been passed, wages are lower, job opportunities are fewer and there are no civil rights. We do not intend to let them do this to us. We demand this fraud be stopped. Our weapon is our vote."
Or you can visit AFSCME's page devoted to King's role in the Memphis strikes to get a clear picture of why King was there and how intimately the causes of civil rights and labor rights were twinned.
Not that these right-wingers will ever admit that.

Monday, April 04, 2011

John Stossel's Racist Attack On Tribes As 'Freeloaders': A Farrago Of Ignorance And Lies

[Cross-posted at Crooks and Liars.]

I grew up a few miles north of the Shoshone-Bannock reservation in southern Idaho, and was exposed as a child to the very visceral bigotry against Native Americans that has been part of the landscape in the West for the past 150 years or more. I remember the bar downtown that had a sign in the window: "No Dogs or Drunk Indians Allowed." I heard them cursed and laughed at, watched them being abused, and watched them destroy themselves with alcohol too.

What was really entrenched, though, was the stereotype: Indians were crazy, unpredictable drunks who were lazy and always looking for a handout.

But over the course of my career as a newspaper reporter in the West, I was assigned coverage of tribal affairs on two different reservations (the Sho-Ban in Idaho and the Flatheads in Montana) and spent large sums of time on other reservations near where I worked and lived, including the Blackfeet res in Montana, the Nez Perce and Coeur d'Alenes in Idaho, and more recently, the Makah res in western Washington.

I learned a lot of things doing that work: I learned that treaty rights are irrevocable and supreme law, and whites can only mess with them at their own peril. I learned that no two tribes are alike: some are wealthy, some are not. I also learned that they all deal with powerful social issues arising from their status as the remnants of people who were the victims of a genocidal campaign of extermination, outrageous deceptions, and a ceaseless treatment by their conquerors as subhuman.

Most of all, I learned that the stereotype was a lie: The people who lived on reservations were often deeply impoverished and there was a high alcoholism rate, but they were very hard workers (though I will say they had their own unique work ethic), highly intelligent, with a great deal of pride. Many of them were capable of climbing out of the morass into which they had been thrown -- but not all.

Given the conditions into which they have been born -- deep poverty, a forced inability to make a living as tribes did traditionally (through sustenance hunting and gathering), and the ongoing failure of the federal government to make good on its treaty promises to the tribes -- that shouldn't surprise anyone.

Yet this weekend, on John Stossel's Fox News show, there was Stossel, rehabilitating that lie and giving it fresh clothing: The show, titled "Freeloaders," was all about how those chiseling Indians are constantly on the lookout for bigger handouts, and it clearly implied they were lazy bums whose federal dole should be axed.

It was an expansive version of the remarks he made last weekend along these lines, once again claiming that "no group in America has been more helped by the government than the American Indians ... But 200 years later, no group does worse."

As Nicole noted at the time, it was really a profound display of ignorance, and it intensified this week: Stossel -- like his libertarian idol, Rand Paul -- seems to advocate simply tearing up and abrogating those treaties -- as though that were a legal option. (I also enjoyed how he called the people who are demanding the government live up to those treaties "socialists" -- as if "socialism" existed in the period, 1824-1870, that the vast majority of the these treaties, which promised to provide sustenance help from the federal government in perpetuity, were made.)

Stossel, moreover, seems utterly ignorant of the historical reality that European diseases, fueled by white Americans' malign neglect of Native Americans, in the centuries prior to 1800 wiped out over three-quarters of the indigenous population and thus cleared the way for white settlement of the continent. There were, of course, surviving tribes who resisted futilely -- but they were largely rubbed out and forced onto these reservations. They finally agreed to cease hostilities when the government promised to provide for them.

But those promises, especially in the early years after the treaties were signed, were mostly deceptions intended to "control" the Indians, and for decades the government failed to meet the terms of their treaties, often resulting in mass starvation on the reservations -- followed by uprisings that were always violently suppressed. One such incident resulted in the Wounded Knee Massacre at the very Pine Ridge reservation that Stossel holds up for ridicule:

Wounded Knee.jpg

How much "help from the federal government" can one tribe take?

Stossel's account was also riddled with falsehoods in the particulars of the case he held up as an example -- the Lumbee Tribe of North Carolina, who Stossel claims have actually prospered by virtue of the fact that they do not have full federal recognition.

Of course, Stossel doesn't explain that, in fact, the Lumbees became a federally recognized tribe in 1956 -- but the bill doing so contained language restricting them from having reservation land and other benefits of full federal recognition. Lumbee tribal members are in fact fully eligible for a number of federal assistance programs, and the majority of the tribe participates in these special benefits: federal housing assistance, school grants, health services, and the like. Indeed, since they are one of the largest tribes east of the Mississippi, with 50,000 members, the Lumbees rank among the largest recipients of federal tribal-aid dollars in the East.

The biggest lie, though, was the larger picture that Stossel was trying to present: His depiction of the Lumbee community as extraordinarily wealthy and well off focused on a few wildly successful individuals, while ignoring the harsh reality that is life in Lumbee country. For example, Robeson County, the center of Stossel's story, is in fact the poorest county in North Carolina, having a majority nonwhite populace.

You know the town of Pembroke, the community where Stossel shot much of this segment? There, the percentage of families who live below the poverty line is 40.7 percent.

As Rob at Newspaper Rock observes:
Let's break it down for Stossel the conservative idiot. The Lumbee tribe has been seeking federal recognition for decades. This means that dozens of elected Lumbee tribal councils have sought federal recognition, which means the majority of Lumbee Indians must support recognition. Compared to that, who cares what somebody named Ben Chavis says?

Most of the nation's 565 recognized tribes could list businesses similar to the three Lumbee successes Stossel lists. Yet not one of them is demanding to be terminated and "set free." Not one of them wants to disband the BIA, sell its reservation, or eliminate its sovereignty. Not one of them is ready to abandon its treaty rights, which is the source of the government programs Stossel mislabels "freeloading."

Once in a while you do hear reactionary Indians who want to sell out their heritage, assimilate into the mainstream, and become just like the white man. I may have heard such calls a few times. Let's say five or so Indians want to do this...and five million or so don't. Stossel may be too stupid to realize it, but he's losing the debate 1,000,000 to one. For every Indian who agrees with him, roughly a million don't.

I've said it before and I'll say it again. What conservatives like Stossel, Bryan Fischer, Rush Limbaugh, Sarah Palin, Glenn Beck, Michele Bachmann, Pat Buchanan, Rand Paul, et al. are doing is obvious--to me, at least. These Tea Party Republicans are launching hateful, racist attacks on Indians and other minorities to see what they can get away with. It's like launching a trial balloon for white supremacy.
That sounds on the money to me.

Scratch An Arizona Bigot, And Underneath Is An Old-Fashioned Corrupt Politician

[Cross-posted at Crooks and Liars.]

Sure, we've known for awhile that, after Sheriff Joe Arpaio, Arizona's most prominent Latino-bashing bigot is none other than Republican Senate President Russell Pearce. If the authorship of SB1070 and the footsie games with neo-Nazis weren't enough, then the failed campaign to strip Latino children of their birthright citizenship pretty much sealed the deal.

Somehow, it figures that he'd turn out to be corrupt as hell too.

I've covered politicos like Pearce for many years, and if there's one thing I've learned about far-right nutcases who operate in the political realm, it's this: Most of them are deeply corrupt, and it's never too long before their criminal side comes bubbling to the surface. Guys like Pearce and Arpaio love to play the knee-jerk wrap-yourself-in-a-patriotic-flag game because they know it's terrific cover: Most right-wing True Believers would rather crap themselves than ever admit that one of their heroes had ever done anything corrupt or otherwise broken the law.

So it's with a sense of delicious irony that we've been watching the Fiesta Bowl scandal unfold down Arizona -- not just watching the corrupt pig who ran the bowl's organizing committee, John Junker, go down in flames and the bowl itself stand in danger of losing its BCS standing, but also realizing that one of the key players in the unfolding fiasco was none other than our old friend Pearce:
In 2005, state lawmakers led by then state Rep. Russell Pearce, now Senate president, passed legislation that capped championship game expenses for the Fiesta Bowl organizations and left taxpayers on the hook for anything over that limit. As a result, the state provided a $263,000 subsidy to the bowl through the Arizona Sports and Tourism Authority, which manages the stadium where the game took place. That helped limit the Fiesta Bowl's expenses.

In 2006, the non-profit that manages the Insight Bowl cut an agreement with Tempe, the bowl's new host city, to receive amounts ranging from $750,000 to $900,000 a year through 2013. In 2007, the non-profit that manages the BCS Championship Game received $34,500 and the Fiesta Bowl got $10,000 in unspecified government grants, according to tax returns.

Last year Fiesta Bowl officials sought another $300,000 subsidy that was halted only after the Arizona Sports and Tourism Authority, which has sued the Fiesta Bowl over unpaid bills, balked at the deal.

At the time, Pearce defended the subsidy, contained in a bill he sponsored, as a way to keep the Fiesta Bowl in the national championship rotation.

The Fiesta Bowl investigation identified Pearce as one of the state legislators who received tickets and traveled at Fiesta Bowl expense. On Friday, however, Pearce denied that he ever accepted free tickets and said he was "very disappointed" in bowl officials' activities.
An ethics inquiry has been launched. Pearce, of course, denies any wrongdoing and claims he paid for the tickets -- though, apparently, this is news to the Fiesta folks:
Pearce had been mostly silent on his involvement until Friday, when he told The Republic that he had paid for his tickets and that he was "very disappointed" in the bowl and its activities.

Asked when he paid for his tickets, Pearce said: "Immediately, at the time."

But Pearce's comments conflict with a portion of the report that states Fiesta Bowl employees paid for, and then were reimbursed by the bowl for, non-Fiesta Bowl tickets given to Pearce in 2007 and 2008.

The report makes no mention of Pearce or other politicians paying for the tickets. It states that the "Fiesta Bowl would sometimes provide items of value to certain politicians."

And it says that bowl employees told investigators that the bowl was not reimbursed for some tickets given to Pearce and Rep. Ben Arredondo, a Democrat.
And this was the guy who, as columnist Laurie Roberts observes, only last year was declaring: " 'We the people' must hold elected officials accountable if they refuse to enforce our laws."

You'll notice he said nothing about elected officials who refuse to obey the laws.