Friday, January 14, 2011

Limbaugh Claims Ignorance of Sign; Says It Was Liberals SHOOTING AT HIM!

This guy is a clown. Really, he is. Rush Limbaugh, at his best, is an accidental political satirist drawing attention to the insanity of Rightwingville. He is especially hilarious when he tries to paint himself, like Sarah Palin, as the victim of us eeeevil Libs:

Said Rush: “I thought whoever put the billboard up wanted to make it look like people who didn’t like me were shooting at the billboard ... MEANING ANGRY LIBERALS!”

Hahaha ... The funny thing about this nonsense from Rush (you never know when he's, which is most of the time) is that it's totally out of character for Liberals to get off on shooting up a Rush sign. WE'RE JUST NOT THAT INTO GUNS AND THAT KIND OF ACTIVITY. This gun culture fetish (which includes shooting up targets or signs with names and faces of ideologically hated people) is, TOTALLY, a WINGNUT THING. I mean, it's weird, sexual even. I was listening to progressive (LIBERAL) talk radio, and there was a virtual infestation of GUN NUTS on the airwaves. The regular Lib and progressive listeners couldn't get a word in edgewise. These wingnut callers were ALL males, and they were getting a real hardon for their guns and 2nd Amendment protections.

Libs and Democrats, on the other hand, enjoy mocking Rush's rants, because they're quite unintentionally hilarious. Watch this video clip with Sherrif Dupnik responding to a Limbaugh attack. The Sheriff is trying really hard not to burst out laughing after Chris Matthews plays a clip of Rush in which the Sheriff's name rolls off Limbaugh's tongue as if it's the invocation of Satan ... Rush utters "Pima County" with drippy contempt, then imperiously stretches the syllable in "MEEEE" as if to say, "how dare this 'desert sheriff' attack the GREAT RUSHBO!"

One can tell the Sheriff is struggling to keep a straight face, but he manages to maintain his composure:

Limbaugh Whine: "I Haven't Been To Tucson In 20 Years ..." This Sign For His Show Was There 2 Days Ago

Is this GUN IMAGERY, the incessant drumbeat of Hate talk against what he calls the "Democrat Party"— all of this, ALL OF IT, ABSOLUTELY HARMLESS FREE SPEECH? How can anyone be so sure? The wingnuts claim ALL of the GUN INCIDENTS since President Obama took office have absolutely no correlation to right wing HATE SPEECH, SIGNAGE, INCENDIARY GUN RHETORIC, even as some of the deranged gun killers specifically mentioned NAMES on the Right as influences. Byron Williams and Richard Poplawski have been cited here. But to listen to the wingnuts, it's as if these violent, deranged gunmen existed in a kind of hermetic bubble before committing their heinous crimes. In fact, their hatred, anti-government phobias, and apocalyptic paranoia didn't suddenly emerge out of thin air. Here are a few clues for the deliberately clueless on the Right:
"That's three violent incidents in the past two years, perpetrated by people who were angry about gun control, abortion, or the work of liberal nonprofits. Two of them specifically targeted a person or organization that had been singled out by a Fox commentator. Fallen on emptiness, you say."

Oops ... we missed one. Jim D. Adkisson opened fire at a Unitarian church, because he thought it was "liberal," killing two people and injuring seven. In  his four-page "manifesto" he said this was a "symbolic killing" and "(w)ho I wanted to kill was every Democrat in the Senate, + House, the 100 people in Bernard Goldberg's book. I'd like to kill everyone in the Mainstream Media. But I knew these people were inaccessible to me." Goldberg is the right wing Fox pundit who wrote this book:

Gee, I wonder where Adkisson got his twisted ideas about liberals and the media: "Inside the house, officers found "Liberalism is a Mental Health Disorder" by radio talk show host Michael Savage, "Let Freedom Ring" by talk show host Sean Hannity, and "The O'Reilly Factor," by television talk show host Bill O'Reilly." And can anyone say with absolute certainty that Jared Lee Loughner, a Tucson resident, never, ever saw this sign with the bullet holes and the "STRAIGHT SHOOTER" reference to Rush? Limbaugh makes his living demonizing liberals and the Democratic Party — might this sign with the bullet holes glamorizing "straight shooter" Limbaugh have affected Loughner's psyche? One thing, at least, is certain: It was part of the gunman's world, the local milieu to which he was exposed.

The wingnuts make a big show of assigning blame and "personal responsibility" for these acts of GUN MAYHEM to deranged, mentally ill individuals. But they reject the fact that their own Dickensian policies of  slashing and neglecting mental health services contributed to the marginalization of our mentally ill population. Unless the mentally ill are insured, their care is inadequate and spotty at best. And even then, many insurance policies will not cover mental illness.

Worse, when these killers are deemed (legally) "sane" enough to stand trial, right wing media still rejects any responsibility for inciting, provoking, influencing, nudging (a Beck word) gun violence because, unlike the so-called "mainstream media," Fox and Hate radio have little or no journalistic standards and practices. One reason much of this gun violence is underreported in the MSM may be that in their editorial meetings editors will err on the side of caution; they do not want to overly publicize an act of gun violence by a madman that could encourage more violence or copycats.

It's understandable; journalists in the MSM frequently police themselves and will apply standards of fact and accuracy to what is published. This is standard journalistic practice, one that is largely nonexistent in Right wing media. Hate radio has minimal standards; a host must say something really outrageous — the "n" word, for example — to be sanctioned. Rush Limbaugh, with his $38 million annual salary, is a corporation unto himself. The fact that the Tucson sign was taken down by his parent radio network after it was publicized is itself unusual. Glenn Beck is given free rein by Roger Ailes to say just about anything he wants. It's ultimately about ratings, not about standards or facts or, heaven forbid, the truth.

No one is saying these individuals should be muzzled. But as Sherrif Clarence Dupnik of Pima County said: For "people in the radio business and some people in the TV business ...  to try to inflame the public on a daily basis 24 hours a day, seven days a week has impact on people, especially who are unbalanced personalities to begin with."

When Fox CEO Roger Ailes said, "I told all of our guys, shut up, tone it down, make your argument intellectually. You don’t have to do it with bombast. I hope the other side does that," he was conceding Dupnik's point. Reluctantly. Closing the barn door after the horse had fled. False equivalence regarding the "other side" notwithstanding, still — Ailes conceded the "argument."

Memo To Mark Levin: Do Something Positive; Donate Your $100,000 To Charity

I don’t listen much to Mark Levin. But from what little my ears can tolerate, Chris Matthews's description of Levin's and fellow wingnut Hate radio screamer Michael Savage's  angry, foaming-at-the-mouth hysterical tone is right on the money: "Every time you listen to them, they are furious. Furious at the left. With anger that just builds and builds in their voice and by the time they go to commercial they are just in some rage every night with some ugly talk. Ugly sounding talk and it never changes."

In response, Levin laid down a challenge: Here’s what the radio guttersnipe said: "I challenge Chris Matthews, I'll put $100,000 on the table, to find any example where Sarah Palin has promoted the murder of anybody. A hundred thousand on the table if Chris Matthews can find anywhere Mark Levin has urged the murder of people who have different political viewpoints. "

Chris never said or suggested any of that. He never said anything even close to the kind of irresponsible rhetoric that is Levin’s and Savage's stock-in-trade. So if Levin wants to do something positive with his $100 grand, donate it to a charity for victims of gun violence or one of the charities suggested by Gabby Giffords's husband. In a statement, Gabrielle Giffords’s astronaut husband, U.S. Navy Capt. Mark Kelly, said: “There is little that we can do but pray for those who are struggling. If you are inspired to make a positive gesture, consider two organizations that Gabby has long valued and supported: Tucson’s Community Food Bank and the American Red Cross.”

Or consider, the 100 Club of Arizona (with a 5-star rating) "Supporting families of public safety."

Thursday, January 13, 2011


This is great. Chris Matthews interviews Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz and (former, soon to be again in 2012) Speaker of the House Nacy Pelosi about that incredible moment when Gabby Giffords opened her eyes. They were there to witness it, and also Senator Kirsten Gillibrand of New York, all girlfriends. Nancy Pelosi, the senior Grandma, used the term GIRL POWER to capture the feeling of the moment when Gabby responded to their voices and rallied by opening her eyes and raising her arm to touch her husband. It was very touching to hear them describe it. I only wish it'd been a longer interview.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

A Healing Speech

President Obama delivered a beautiful speech. He set just the right tone as our healer-in-chief.

"Our hearts are broken by (Christina Taylor Greene's) sudden passing." The President, who has a daughter close to Christina's age, almost broke up as he talked of her. He spoke of her interest in government from the eyes of a child and then he said we, the adults, have an obligation to live up to our children's expectations. It was a wonderful moment.

President Obama Speaks of The Promise of Christina Broken By Her Death: "Our Hearts Are Broken."

"Gabby opened her eyes for the first time! She knows we are here, she knows we love her, and she knows we are rooting for her through what is to be undoubtedly a difficult journey." That was another  great moment, as President Obama related that Gabrielle Giffords opened her eyes for the first time shortly after his visit with her.

And to the solemn and oh so serious 20-year-old young man, Daniel Hernandez, the Congresswoman's intern who was the first on the scene to administer first aid to her and the other wounded victims, I'm with the President on this: You may not see yourself as a hero, BUT WE ALL DO, YOUNG MAN!

Caller to C-Span: "I wish Sarah Palin would cool her rhetoric and allow the nation to heal." Amen to that.

KGUN-TV? Unfortunate Call Letters of Local Arizona TV Station Covering President's Visit

Not to make light of this, but I hope these TV call letters are just a weird coincidence:

A Political Speech

Later this year, or early next year when Sarah Palin announces her candidacy for president of the United States, people (pundits, mostly) will point to this video statement as the opening speech of her campaign for the presidency. It was delivered with a fireplace in the background, invoking FDR's "fireside chats," and an American flag over her left shoulder. It was a carefully arranged backdrop for a well delivered statement despite her atrocious pronunciation of words like "ideas" (pronounced 'I'de-uhs') and ideal (pronounced 'I-dill'), whose centerpiece — the term "blood libel" used to denote rabid anti-Semitism through the ages — was an example of highly charged rhetoric by Ms Palin: “Acts of monstrous criminality stand on their own,” Ms. Palin said in this video posted to her Facebook page. “Especially within hours of a tragedy unfolding, journalists and pundits should not manufacture a blood libel that serves only to incite the very hatred and violence that they purport to condemn. That is reprehensible.”

Blood libel (also blood accusation) refers to a false accusation or claim that religious minorities, almost always Jews, murder children to use their blood in certain aspects of their religious rituals and holidays. Historically, these claims have – alongside those of well poisoning and host desecration–been a major theme in European persecution of Jews. The libels typically allege that Jews require human blood for the baking of matzos for Passover. The accusations often assert that the blood of Christian children is especially coveted, and historically blood libel claims have often been made to account for otherwise unexplained deaths of children. In some cases, the alleged victim of human sacrifice has become venerated as a martyr, a holy figure around whom a martyr cult might arise. A few of these have been even canonized as saints.

One could argue that in this debate over violent political rhetoric, Sarah Palin double pumped the rhetorical trigger with the "blood libel" accusation. Ms Palin seems to be casting herself and her followers as an oppressed minority — a strange notion, given the midterm election results in which her side was victorious — accused of murdering a child by zealots of another "religion" (journalists and pundits, who are a frequent target in Palin's martyred victim laments, and a genuine minority) determined to persecute her. I suspect some Jewish and Christian religious leaders may find such an analogy, redolent with the European history of Christian persecution of Jews, inappropriate and offensive.

In a strange reference to our "heated debate" Palin asks, "when was it less heated? Back in those calm days when political figures literally settled their differences with dueling pistols?" The practice of dueling, which reached its zenith in the first half of the 19th century in this country was, in effect, sanctioned gun violence permitted by the 2nd Amendment. Palin explains: "Our Founders' genius was to design a system that helped settle the inevitable conflicts caused by our imperfect passions in civil ways. So we must condemn violence if our republic is to endure."

Unfortunately for Ms Palin's mangled analogy, the Founders' genius was found wanting when dueling was a barbaric practice of 2nd Amendment sanctioned murder. Duels took place within the backdrop of a nation literally tearing itself apart over the question of slavery and states' rights. It took the Civil War and defeat of the pro-slavery Southern states at the cost of 600,000 American deaths to violently resolve the issue with the abolition of slavery. Ms Palin's historical analogy falls flat on its face insofar as the practice of dueling occurred at the height of this nation's civil unrest. Sometimes it was a reflection of that schism. But even then, it was seen as cold-blooded murder and outlawed for good after the Civil War. That Ms Palin should even mention this practice, outlawed for well over one century after the bloodiest civil war in our history, is regrettable to say the least.

"By the time of the Civil War, dueling had begun an irreversible decline, even in the South. Not surprisingly, public opinion, not legislation, caused the change. What once had been a formal process designed to avoid violence and amend grievances had deteriorated into cold-blooded murder. People at last were shocked by it, and they showed their disdain. It may have been too late to save Alexander Hamilton. But if American was to become a truly civilized nation, the publicly sanctioned bloodshed would have to end."

In an attempt to explain her own responsibility in guiding "responsible," "respectful," "peaceful" political debate, Ms Palin only adds to the confusion: "We know violence isn't the answer. When we take up our arms we're talking about our vote (emphasis mine). Yes our debates are full of passion but we settle our political differences respectfully, at the ballot box."

Can anyone explain the meaning of this sentence: "When we take up our arms we're talking about our vote"? What connection is there between ARMING OURSELVES AND TALKING ABOUT OUR VOTE? What is the connection? Honestly, I do not understand. The only explanation that comes to mind is that Palin and her followers regard our government as "the enemy" and as such they must guard their right to vote with the muzzle of a gun. This is a perfect example of wingnut insanity. This is a completely irrational non sequitur.

Typically, when Sarah Palin speaks out in prepared speeches (those were words written for her to recite) her language is subtly offensive. Listen carefully. Read the words, and one can spot the sophistry and their deliberately flawed reasoning. She refers to her followers "respectfully exercis(ing) their First Amendment rights at campaign rallies," adding that "(n)o one should be deterred from speaking up and speaking out in peaceful dissent" and no one should "muzzle dissent with shrill cries of imagined insults."

The "shrill cries" Palin alludes to must be a figure of speech, since most of the withering criticism of her for the crosshairs map has been in writing (blogs, press accounts) and media programs in which the shouting down of dissenting voices by Tea Party bullies at town halls does not occur. That is, outside Fox "News" and Right wing Hate radio, to which Palin has given her dispensation from criticism but which are in actuality central conduits of violent political rhetoric.

I wonder how Ms Palin would characterize this heckling of Congresswoman Giffords at the candidates debate, when her response was temporarily halted by an angry shout of "LIAR!" and a chorus of shrill Tea Party voices. Who is being muzzled or "peaceful" here? Anger and shouting are not emotions associated with "peaceful dissent." Tell us Ms Palin, is shouting "LIAR!" at Congresswoman Giffords an "imagined insult"?

The "irresponsible statements of those attempting to apportion blame" are her own and of those on the Right who bellow hate speech from their MEGA-MEGAPHONES and hurl violent anti-government invective with coded language such as "tyranny" and "treason" and "2nd Amendment remedies." No one compelled Sarah Palin to post a map with rifle gunsight crosshairs over Congressional districts and, if that wasn't enough, the individual names of the Congresspersons being "targeted" with crosshairs next to each name.

Chris Matthews And The The 40-Yard Curse

Our friend Chris Matthews loves to marginalize Liberals by describing us as “far left haters.” Such a pleasant fellow. I wouldn’t mind it so much, if not for his ludicrous false equivalence born of idiocy or 30 years of Reaganomics. In Chris’s “brain soup” the “far Left” is equidistant from the “far Right.” (It seems the Dean of the Idiot Punditocracy has lived up to his title. So, feeling magnanimous, we’ll let it drop.)

You see, Chris has come up with the perfect sports metaphor to describe himself politically. In fact, it is exquisitely accurate, if only Chris had the imagination to realize it. But being Dean of … you know, he cannot. Here’s the thing: Chris loves to use a football metaphor to say he exists politically around the 40-yard line, a little center-left a little center-right, depending on the play.

Now suddenly aware of his embarrassing error, his ultimate curse, Chris will frantically claim to be simply a spectator. But the refs overrule. So let’s be clear, they announce: Chris is a player. And let’s be perfectly clear about this one, too: The 40-yard line is the spot on the field where plays come to die, where the drive stalls, and where the advancing team has to punt the ball away. Uh-oh.

Where Chris Exists In The Matrix: Somewhere Between Short-Term Slash & Burn Elitist and His Buddy, Pat.

Resigned to his fate, Chris concedes he never makes it far enough even to kick a field goal. Which is the one enduring quality — posting zeros on the scoreboard — that makes Chris the perfect Dean of the Idiot Punditocracy.

Liberals, on the other hand, have the wind at our backs, a spring in our step, and the certitude of ultimate victory. We’re deep into enemy territory, already. On our Left side of the field, in the aptly named RED ZONE. We have the wingnuts pinned with their backs against the goal post, which they keep constantly moving, making it harder to score. But Libs are a persistent bunch. Our drive is ultimately a success as we punch through to score.

In the meantime, Chris has run into a spot of trouble in his game against the wingnuts. He thinks he might have stopped them at 4th and 1. But then the crafty wingnuts run a trick play and their pass is ruled a catch. Chris is convinced the wingnut stepped out of bounds and bobbled the ball. He throws the challenge flag.

Chris wants to talk about it. That’s what he does best.

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Tucker Carlson Emerges From His Defensive Crouch ...

And lands on his back.

Using the wingnut smear and fear propaganda broad brush against the so-called “professional Left,” DC Caller’s Tucker Carlson penned a rambling diatribe in response to withering criticism of the despicable and irresponsible role of the (insert: fascist, propagandizing, racist, xenophobic, bigoted, lying) Right. Tucker struggled to justify the Right’s conduct — he gave it the old college try — and failed.

The Right does BULLY and ATTACK DOG well. SOUL SEARCHING and FACTS — not so well.

In the wake of this tragedy, the most ridiculous wingnut talking point is that the Left “began to leverage (Gifford’s) shooting for political purposes.” That is the first reaction of those caught in the blinding glare of public reproach following a tragedy or crisis that occurred within a political context. It’s a nonstarter. There is no need to remind Carlson that the gunman was charged with the attempted assassination of a member of Congress, in addition to the six murders he committed: n
1.    the killing of a political leader or other public figure by a sudden violent attack.
For Tucker Carlson — who purchased Keith Olbermann’s internet domain so that he could behave like a petulant child and send fraudulent emails posing as Olbermann — to criticize Keith for denouncing “a long list of high-profile conservatives, ranging from newly-elected Florida Congressman Allen West to Glenn Beck” is, frankly, laughable. Keith “manned up” (to coin a wingnut term) to include himself in criticizing the rhetoric. Carlson has yet to get off the block.

Since Keith has taken names, let’s take a look at them for a moment. There is no need to once again recite the causal connection between Glenn Beck’s incitement and gun violence by deranged individuals. In at least two instances, it is well established.

The “newly-elected Florida Congressman Allen West,” as Carlson puts it, as if to imply a new car patina to this Tea Party wingnut, has been particularly venal right out of the gate. West’s partisan and inflammatory statements question the very loyalty of his Democratic colleagues. This extremist has a long list of hateful, incendiary, violent speech, most disturbingly directed against the President of the United States. These video clips speak for themselves.

Here West encourages physical violence against his opponent during the campaign:

And in this clip West questions the President’s patriotism and birthright. Such incendiary language from an elected member of Congress directed at the President is shocking and unprecedented:

To bolster his leaky argument Carlson plays the parent card: He mentions Giffords’s father who “suggested ‘the whole Tea Party’ might be suspects in the shooting” to get at Pima County Sheriff Clarence Dupnik, “an elected Democrat.”
“It’s easy to understand a father’s overwrought reaction. It’s harder to forgive demagogues like Clarence Dupnik, the sheriff of Pima County, Ariz., and an elected Democrat, who at a weekend press conference declared anyone with libertarian tendencies complicit in the shootings: “When you look at unbalanced people, how they respond to the vitriol that comes out of certain mouths about tearing down the government — the anger, the hatred, the bigotry that goes on in this country is getting to be outrageous.”

Have you complained about the stimulus package? You might as well have pulled the trigger yourself.”
It’s fascinating to watch wingnuts stumble and fall on their face outside the echo chamber of their protective cocoons at Fox or Right Wing Hate radio. I could have given Carlson a bit of friendly advice: “Tucker, you really REALLY do not want to go there …” Is Sheriff Dupnik a demagogue? Here he is, in his own words:

Watch Sheriff  Dupnik school the Fox barbie doll (Happy birthday, Sheriff: "Free speech is free speech, but it's not without consequences.") The Sheriff stands his ground through Megyn Kelly's cloying and disgusting prop-manipulation. This guy's been around for 50 years as a law enforcement officer. He's seen the worst of society. He was properly outraged at the violence done to his friends:

As for those on the Right with "libertarian tendencies" in Carlson's romantic whimsy — oh, are they to be vilified for complaining about the deficit too, he whined: "Have you complained about the stimulus package? You might as well have pulled the trigger yourself.” Not to mention the deficit, which these rational, thoughtful citizens are "within their rights to be upset about." (As if anyone would have tried to stop them from demonstrating on the capital mall and at presidential events packing serious heat.) Here's a challenge for you, Tucker. Do these representative images of Tea Party demonstrations show hate speech or people with "libertarian tendencies" concerned with the stimulus and the debt?

These "Concerned Citizens" With "Libertarian Tendencies" Are Protesting The Stimulus And Deficit Armed To The Ts, Just In case.
Loughner Fan Club (Oh right; Protesting Deficit And Stimulus.)

High-Minded Healthcare Debate Right In Front of GOP House Leadership; Can Libertarians Recognize Hate Speech?
Heartwarming How Respectful The Teabaggers Are Toward the President of The United States.
There is no question Jared Lee Loughner is mentally ill. One irony of the push for repeal of healthcare on the Right is that the law provides for community mental health centers which, if they had been in place in Tucson, may well have identified Loughner's pathology and treated it.

But the "shards" of Loughner's political motivation show every indication of his having been exposed, and very likely influenced, by the Right Wing negative zeitgeist, of gun violence and extreme anti-government rhetoric blanketing our nation like a contagion. Mark Potok's profile of Loughner for the Southern Poverty Law Center notes that amid his weird syllogisms, the philosophy to the extent it can be identified, resembles that of the extremist Right anti-government "Patriot" movement.

The idea that only gold and silver are constitutional currencies is a core Patriot belief. Loughner's obsession with language and grammar suggests he "is taking ideas from Patriot conspiracy theorist David Wynn Miller of Milwaukee. Miller claims that the government uses grammar to “enslave” Americans and offers up his truly weird “Truth-language” as an antidote." A recurring theme is of the individual v. the totalitarian state. The reference to a "second American constitution" is "commonly understood to refer to the Reconstruction amendments that freed the slaves and gave them citizenship, among other things... that “raises the question of a possible racist and anti-immigrant tie” in the Arizona shooting." Potok concludes:
"At this early stage, I think Loughner is probably best described as a mentally ill or unstable person who was influenced by the rhetoric and demonizing propaganda around him. Ideology may not explain why he allegedly killed, but it could help explain how he selected his target."
Carlson and his co-author seek to deflect any responsibility on the Right for the current climate of anti-government gun violence, threats, and extremism in our political discourse, which may have contributed to this tragedy. Words have consequences. It isn't the first time a mentally deranged "lone wolf" was influenced by hate speech to take action. Byron Williams is one example. Richard Poplawski another.

And while we would not question the sincerity of Carlson and his colleagues, of their horror at the "scale of human suffering"— for them to impute any less to progressives, or a cynical motivation to those who hold different views on the basis of what "an unnamed Democratic operative" said, is to fall back on the reprehensible but familiar practices of the Right's yellow "journ(o)lism" and smear tactics.

In the wake of this tragedy, the Right is lashing out because it has no argument.

Whenever a libertarian promotes their selfish, narcissistic political philosophy, I ask a simple question: "What has a libertarian ever done in government to promote the general welfare of the people?" Liberals can provide dozens of concrete examples of progressive policies, from Social Security to Medicare, clean air and water to the planting of millions of trees and the conservation of our natural resources, which have had a profound and generational impact on the general welfare and quality of life of the American people.

What have libertarians ever done for the common good?

“It’s no coincidence that most libertarians discover the philosophy as teenagers. At best, libertarianism means pursuing your own self-interest, as long as you don’t hurt anyone else. At worst, as in Ayn Rand’s teachings, it’s an explicit celebration of narcissism. “Man’s first duty is to himself,” says the young architect Howard Roark in his climactic speech in The Fountainhead. “His moral obligation is to do what he wishes.” Roark utters these words after dynamiting his own project, since his vision for the structure had been altered without his permission. The message: Never compromise. If you don’t get your way, blow things up. And there’s the problem. If everyone refused to compromise his vision, there would be no cooperation. There would be no collective responsibility. The result wouldn’t be a city on a hill. It would be a port town in Somalia. In a world of scarce resources, everyone pursuing their own self-interest would yield not Atlas Shrugged but Lord of the Flies. And even if you did somehow achieve Libertopia, you’d be surrounded by assholes.

–Christopher Beam, in New York Magazine

To put it more succinctly: A = A(sshole).

Monday, January 10, 2011

Fox Jell-O Jowls Opens His Trap To Attack The Left

That's Fox "News" Caudillo Roger Ailes, quivering jowls working overtime, making specious false equivalence partisan arguments: "He (Loughner) just was not attached to the Tea Party. It’s just a bullshit way to use the death of a little girl to get Fox News in an argument."

First of all, Jowlsy, no one on the Left (that I know of, and I read a lot of the top blogs and commentators) has claimed a direct connection between this deranged shooter and the Tea Party, let alone "use[d] the death of a little girl" in any inappropriate way. First of one long Ailes cheap shot. The Left's criticism is over the tone of political discourse, the incessant drumbeat on the Right of ballistic rhetoric which has created a climate of violence in this nation. Ailes' sickening sophistry is delivered in typical Fox propaganda skill.

Question for Roger 'Jell-O Jowls' Ailes: Do the names Tides Foundation, ACLU, and would-be assassin and mass murderer Byron Williams ring a bell?

No? REALLY? Not even when you draw a chalkboard line through all of them straight to Glenn Beck?

Here's a refresher, Roger. Byron Williams, a deranged assassin was only prevented from committing mass murder by the heroic action of the California Highway Patrol. Williams specifically credited Glenn Beck for pointing him to his "targets"— the Tides Foundation CEO and the ACLU. Williams, on parole for bank robbery, told investigators that he wanted "to start a revolution" by "killing people of importance at the Tides Foundation and the ACLU," according to a police affidavit. It's interesting to note how the word "revolution" is a common thread running through the deranged rhetoric of both Byron Williams and Jared Lee Loughner.

According to the Christian Science Monitor in an October 16, 2010 article entitled "Did Glenn Beck's rhetoric inspire violence?":
Fox News commentator Glenn Beck, who’s honed being provocative — even outrageous at times — to a fine and lucrative art, is the focus of criticism for inciting violence.

Specifically, his dozens of comments attacking the Tides Foundation are being linked to the attempt by a heavily-armed man to assassinate employees at the San Francisco-based foundation, which funds environmental, human rights, and other progressive projects. The attack in July was thwarted in a shoot-out with police in which two officers were wounded.

Since then, alleged attacker Byron Williams has said in jailhouse interviews that he wanted to “start a revolution.” He says Beck was not the direct cause of his turning violent. But he does say: “I would have never started watching Fox News if it wasn't for the fact that Beck was on there. And it was the things that he did, it was the things he exposed that blew my mind.”
Does Roger 'Quivering Jowls' need more convincing? REALLY? Naah ...

Considering how wingnuts advertise themselves as UBER pro-law enforcement, it was all the more hypocritical that Fox Boss Ailes was seemingly unconcerned that neo-Nazi Richard Poplawski gunned down three Pittsburgh police officers after viewing and posting one of Beck's paranoid rants about FEMA concentration camps. Once again, the MO of these killers is, not surprisingly, very consistent. Poplawski was a disturbed gunman "fueled by a toxic mix of white-supremacist, conspiracy-theorist paranoia and mainstream-media fearmongering, including from the likes of Glenn Beck and Fox News."
"Not only did Richard Poplawski avidly participate in white-supremacist online forums and right-wing conspiracy-theory sites, he also avidly consumed mainstream conservative media, particularly Fox. The classic instance of this: A few weeks ago, Poplawski posted a clip of Beck talking about FEMA concentration camps on the neo-Nazi Stormfront forum site."
So when Roger Ailes deigns to pontifically lecture liberals, the Emperor of Wingnuts isn't wearing any clothes — I know; it's a deliberately repulsive image of a repulsive man, leading architect of the right wing's reckless incitement to violence:
"It’s just a bullshit way to use the death of a little girl to get Fox News in an argument," Ailes said. "You know, they’re using this thing...apparently there was a map from one of Palin’s things that had her (Congresswoman Giffords) targeted district. So, we looked at the internet and the first thing we found in 2007, the Democrat Party had a targeted map with targets on it for the Palin district. These maps have been used for for years that I know of. I have two pictures of myself with a bull's-eye on my head. This is just bullshit. This goes on... both sides are wrong, but they both do it."
Love how Ailes uses the pejorative Democrat Party. Clearly he's throwing a stink bomb, and enjoying it. Ailes said, imperiously, that Fox's staff stay away from "bombast ... I told all of our guys, shut up, tone it down, make your argument intellectually. You don’t have to do it with bombast" ... Then he added piously (for Ailes): "I hope the other side does that."

I mean, REALLY Roger. You've outdone yourself. I love the deliberate "projection" — the transference of your biggest vulnerability to the "other side." It won't work, pal. We've got your Fox network guttersnipe world completely decoded. C'mon Roger, quit YOUR bullshit. Making "your argument intellectually" is an oxymoron.

Bullshit is as bullshit walks. Or wallows. In PIG MANURE, right up to his neck, in Jowlsy's case. And now, he's got blood on his hands. Roger Ailes is a ruthless, driven CEO with little concern for the public good; his only sense of responsibility is to Fox shareholders. Everything else is "bullshit" to be neutralized with relentless propaganda and messaging, or should I say, making "your argument intellectually."

Edit: I removed some gratuitous references to Ailes' girth here. Many of us (myself included) have weight issues, and such adjectives are over the top. This guy just rubs me the wrong way big-time because while he may be a master craftsman, he is also the epitome of everything, in my view, that is wrong with media today. The Jell-O jowls, though that's legit.

Sarah Palin's Responsibility: "We Are On Sarah Palin's Targeted List"

There are unconfirmed reports that Sarah Palin is busily scrubbing her websites of incriminating posts, tweets, graphics. Hardly the actions of one who does not feel guilt and responsibility; or is it just shameless CYA? In an interview to MSNBC following passage of the healthcare law, Rep. Giffords noted the CROSSHAIRS graphic (below) on Sarah Palin's PAC page, with this haunting comment:
“We are on Sarah Palin's targeted list. The way that she has it depicted has the crosshairs of the gunsight over our district. When people do that, they have got to realize there are consequences to that action.”
 This graphic has been removed as of yesterday from Sarah Palin's PAC site:

Palin aide Rebecca Mansour has been frantically backpedalling in defense of her story with the absurd claim that the crosshairs were "never ever, ever intended to be gun sights. It was simply crosshairs like you'd see on maps." The radio interviewer added helpfully they could, in fact, be seen as "surveyor's symbols." Mansour has to be incredibly disingenous if "it never occurred to us that anybody would consider it violent."

Oh really? Then how to explain these tweets from your boss, Ms. Mansour? It does not matter how many tweets you end up deleting; the internet "trail" once posted cannot be "shredded" like all copies of a paper trail.

Here Palin urges her followers, using GUN terminology to "RELOAD"— that is exactly what Jared Lee Loughner was trying to do but for a brave woman who prevented him from reloading. Otherwise the death count would have been higher.

And in this tweet Sarah Palin refers to her "BULLSEYE" icon "used 2 target ... incumbent seats." Palin's defenders are actually saying on her Facebook page that the "TARGET" was the "incumbent seats." Do you really think a demented gun-toting assassin will make such subtle distinctions, Ms. Mansour?:

Sunday, January 09, 2011

The Tragic Consequences of The Right Wing's Incendiary Rhetoric

Christina Taylor Green, the nine year-old child who was gunned down and killed at the event for Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords, was featured in the book, “Faces Of Hope: Babies Born On 9/11.” President Obama ran on the promise of hope and renewal in our politics. While many of his supporters may have been disappointed with the compromises of Obama two years into his presidency, he has secured his place in history as the Democratic president who finally delivered on the promise of universal healthcare coverage for the American people.

Democratic Congresswoman Gabby Giffords cast a YES vote for healthcare reform. She represents Arizona’s 8th Congressional District and those who know her best describe her as a “moderate” and “centrist” politician. Arizona’s conservative governor Brewer calls her a “friend.” Yesterday Giffords was shot in the head by a disturbed individual during a meet-and-greet event for her constituents. Six people were killed, among them the nine year-old child Christina Taylor Green, a federal judge, and an aide to Rep. Giffords. Many others were wounded, some critically, including Rep. Giffords who is fighting for her life after surgery. 

Who, or what, is responsible for this horrific killing spree? Are we once again to dismiss it as the act of one demented individual, a “loner,” yet another lone gunman?

It does not appear the shooter was a member of the Tea Party or any other extremist group, but it’s still too early to say. From what little we can gather of his murky online profile, he has dropped enough reading influences to place him in any number of political camps. The Tea Party has already distanced itself from the gunman. Judson Phillips, founder of the Tea Party Nation issued a typically vitriolic statement, a classless diatribe purposefully mischaracterizing Rep. Giffords and injecting political invective as she lies in a hospital fighting for her life:
Congressman Giffords was a liberal, but that does not matter now. No one should be the victim of violence because of their political beliefs and certainly a member of Congress should not be shot and killed on a street corner. Take a moment to say a prayer for her and her family, as well as the others who were so tragically murdered this afternoon.”
For some reason, Phillips uses the masculine pronoun “Congressman” to describe Giffords, then deliberately and gratuitously labels her “a liberal.” That is a lie. Giffords is a moderate, centrist Democrat. (Rep. Raul Grijalva, Chairman of the Progressive Caucus and a fellow Arizonan Democratic member of Congress said: “Her whole future's ahead of her. She's a moderate; I'm not. She's my friend. Our difference of opinion did not interfere with our friendship.”) As if to deflect the pejorative lie, Phillips says, “but that does not matter now.” It was the tasteless opening phrase to set up this political harangue:
“At a time like this, it is terrible that we do have to think about politics, but no matter what the shooter's motivations where, the left is going to blame this on the Tea Party Movement. Already on liberal websites, the far left is trying to accuse the Tea Party of being involved. While we need to take a moment to extend our sympathies to the families of those who died, we cannot allow the hard left to do what it tried to do in 1995 after the Oklahoma City bombing. Within the entire political spectrum, there are extremists, both on the left and the right. Violence of this nature should be decried by everyone and not used for political gain.”
[Italicized emphasis mine.]

While Phillips uses terms such as “left” and “far left” and “hard left” interchangeably without defining them, with the broad smear brush of right wing propaganda, I challenge him or anyone else on the right to point to a single group or organization on the left that promotes the right's violence, guns, racism and bigotry (birthers, racists, anti-Islamic bigotry, anti-immigrant nativists), to include politicians like Rick Perry of Texas talking up secession and the “tyranny” of government, and Sharron Angle, Nevada’s Tea Party candidate, citing “2nd Amendment remedies” if  “government” does not act in accordance with the people’s will, however that may be defined.

Whatever denunciations the right wing may hurl at the left, one thing they cannot say is that progressives are anti-government. The left does not favor the overthrow of government, cutting or ending taxes, repealing healthcare and financial reform, abolishing the Department of Education and the EPA, cutting and privatizing Social Security and Medicare, increasing the Defense budget, or radically changing the Constitution.

Although ideological underpinnings are relevant, the governing distinction is not between left and right — it is between those who believe government is the enemy and those who believe is is a power for good. It is between those who, at best, view government as “a necessary evil” and those of us who believe a strong central government is essential to the prosperity and survival of this great nation.

This argument is as old as the republic itself and it is central to understanding the violence.

The demented individual who pulled the trigger and shot Rep. Giffords, gunning down innocent bystanders gathered in a peaceful democratic assemblage of civic duty, may not have been a member of the Tea Party but he was driven to murderous violence by anti-government rhetoric and vitriol on the right, including that from the thuggish bullies at Giffords campaign events who yelled “LIAR!” at her and trashed her campaign offices, as they did the offices of fellow Arizona Democratic Rep. Raul Grijalva. Pointing an accusing finger at Sarah Palin, Mr. Grijalva said:
“The climate has gotten so toxic in our political discourse, setting up for this kind of reaction for too long. It's unfortunate to say that. I hate to say that. If you're an opponent, you're a deadly enemy,” Grijalva said in an interview with the Huffington Post of the mindset among Arizona extremists. “Anybody who contributed to feeding this monster had better step back and realize they're threatening our form of government.”
Grijalva said that Tea Party leader Sarah Palin should reflect on the rhetoric that she has employed. “She — as I mentioned, people contributing to this toxic climate — Ms. Palin needs to look at her own behavior, and if she wants to help the public discourse, the best thing she could do is to keep quiet.”

In an interview with MSNBC after her district office was vandalized the night the healthcare bill was passed, Rep. Giffords said, “We are on Sarah Palin's targeted list. The way that she has it depicted has the crosshairs of the gunsight over our district. When people do that, they have got to realize there are consequences to that action.” (Note: Disregard Chuck Todd's foot-in-mouth disease; he's part of the mealy-mouthed-media-seeking-equivalence-where-there-is-none problem.)

These are the images of the list of targeted Democratic Congresspersons in Sarah Palin’s crosshairs, taken from her PAC website and her Facebook page:

 And this is how Rep. Giffords’s opponent, Jesse Kelly, endorsed by the Tea Party advertised a campaign event:

Pima County Sheriff Clarence W. Dupnik was angry and emotional. Two of his close friends Ms. Giffords and Judge John Roll (who was killed) were among the victims. He said it was a “very sad day for Tucson” and a “horrendous, horrendous, senseless, unbelievable crime.” Sherrif Dupnik minced no words laying blame for this:
“When you look at unbalanced people, how they respond to the vitriol that comes out of certain mouths about tearing down the government, the anger, the hatred, the bigotry that goes on this country is getting to be outrageous and unfortunately Arizona has become sort of the capital. We have become the Mecca for prejudice and bigotry.” He said it is time for the country to “do a little soul searching” and added: “The vitriolic rhetoric that we hear day in and day out from people in the radio business and some people in the TV business ... This has not become the nice United States that most of us grew up in.

It's not unusual for all public officials to get threats constantly, myself included. That's the sad thing about what's going on in America: pretty soon we're not going to be able to find reasonable decent people willing to subject themselves to serve in public office.”
Indeed. It isn’t only the incendiary rhetoric of Sarah Palin and Sharron Angle (to name but an iceberg chip on the right) but that of Glenn Beck and Rush Limbaugh and the Fox network, incessantly day after day, stoking the flames of hatred and bigotry, and yes, violence. We reported on this blog how one of Beck’s constant targets, and the ACLU, narrowly escaped a similar fate to the horrible shootings at Rep. Giffords’s event, because the gunman was apprehended in a wild shootout with California Highway Patrol; en route to commit his killing spree. Later he confessed to having been influenced by Beck’s words, and targeted Beck’s targets. In a weird case of circular logic, the mainstream media underreported this, presumably on the rationale that to do so would be to encourage copycats.

Now it’s finally happened. After three years of  anti-Obama, anti-Democratic rhetoric from the right, after the threats against President Obama quadrupled compared to threats against any previous president and those against members of Congress, mostly Democratic, doubled in 2009 after passage of the healthcare law compared to the previous year — it finally happened.

And so I ask again: Who, or what, is to blame for this act of mass murder, for this act of violence directed at a member of Congress, our government?

In his disturbing YouTube site, the shooter Jared Lee Loughner, amid his lunatic ravings wrote these words, which are particularly telling of the rhetoric of the right — and therefore particularly disturbing:
“What’s government if words don’t have meaning?” This meaning, in his sick mind, must derive from the U.S. Constitution:

“[R]eading the second United States Constitution, I can’t trust the current government because of the ratifications: the government is implying mind control and brainwash on the people by controlling grammar.” This obsession with “grammar” feeds into the anti-immigrant nativism directed at Spanish-speaking residents of Rep. Giffords’ 8th District:

“If you’re literate in English grammar, then you comprehend English grammar. The majority of people, who reside in District-8, are illiterate – hilarious. I don’t control your English grammar structure, but you control your English grammar structure.”
And to “rationalize” or justify the violence he is about to commit, Loughner deligitimizes our government using much the same rhetoric of rabid anti-government “patriots” on the extreme right, e.g. Timothy McVeigh, who then commit horrific acts of violence:
“No! I won’t pay my debt with a currency that’s not backed by gold and silver!

Loughner’s anti-government rant proposes a new “currency” and “revolution” against our currency which has enshrined the phrase, In God we trust:

“No I won’t trust in God!”

Then Loughner offers his “revolutionary’s” rationale for committing a terrorist act:

“If the property owners and government officials are no longer in ownership of their land and laws from a revolution then the revolutionary’s (sic) from the revolution are in control of the land and laws.

The property owners and government officials are no longer in ownership of their land and laws from a revolution.

Thus, the revolutionary’s (sic) from the revolution are in control of the land and laws.”
One astute observer noted the connection between Loughner and Ayn Rand — whose book “We The Living” is mentioned in his YouTube profile — in which Loughner “appears to be attempting to use the basic rules of logic to frame his bizarre, paranoid philosophy.” Loughner pushed back against being labeled a terrorist: “I define terrorist. Thus, a terrorist is a person who employs terror or terrorism, especially as a political weapon. If you call me a terrorist then the argument to call me a terrorist is Ad hominem. You call me a terrorist. Thus, the argument to call me a terrorist is Ad hominem.”

Yesterday on the Huffington Post, former Colorado senator and presidential candidate Gary Hart wrote:
“The degree to which violent words and phrases are considered commonplace is striking. Candidates are “targeted.” An opponent is “in the crosshairs.” Liberals have to be “eliminated.” Opponents are “enemies.” This kind of language emanates largely from those who claim to defend American democracy against those who would destroy it, who are evil, and who want to “take away our freedoms.”

Today we have seen the results of this rhetoric. Those with a megaphone, whether provided by public office or a media outlet, have responsibilities. They cannot avoid the consequences of their blatant efforts to inflame, anger, and outrage. We all know that there are unstable and potentially dangerous people among us. To repeatedly appeal to their basest instincts is to invite and welcome their predictable violence.

So long as we all tolerate this kind of irresponsible and dangerous rhetoric or, in the case of some commentators, treat it with delight, reward it, and consider it cute, so long will we place all those in public life, whom the provocateurs dislike, in the crosshairs of danger.

That this is carried out, and often rewarded, in the name of the Constitution, democratic rights and liberties, and patriotism is a mockery of all this nation claims to believe and almost all of us continue to struggle to preserve. America is better than this.”
When the healthcare law was enacted, I wrote on this blog:

Finally, four days after repeated instances of violence and vandalism erupted against the home of one lawmaker’s brother and regional offices of House Democratic members who voted for healthcare reform, after phoned, mailed, shouted, faxed, signage death threats were made against individual House Democrats, after angry protesters hurled vitriol and racist invective against legends of the civil rights struggles John Lewis and James Clyburn, after homophobic epithets were screamed at Barney Frank and xenophobic language shouted at a Latino House Democrat, after an African American House member was spat on by a rabid Teabagger egged on by sign-waving Republicans outside, after Texas Republican Rep. Randy Neugebauer yelled “baby killer!” from the House floor at Democratic Rep. Bart Stupak, who then received multiple death threats — and after House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer and House Democratic Whip James Clyburn emerged from their Caucus meeting with Congressional security to denounce the incidents of violence, the climate of incivility, and report on the widespread threats

Only then did House Republican Leader John Boehner, with Eric Cantor, see fit to condemn the violence.

Democrats are not satisfied with the late Republican condemnation of violence, including a severed gas line in the home of Virginia Congressman Tom Perriello’s brother, who has four children. His address was posted online by the Teabaggers. The FBI is investigating. This is the result of a widespread campaign of lies, smears, and misinformation by a recklessly irresponsible (yes, it is an oxymoron) wingnut right.

There is a name for this — the “Obama Derangement Syndrome,” defined as the “pathological hatred of the President posing as patriotism has infected the Republican Party” from the violent fringes of its Teabagger storm troops. This hatred has now expanded to encompass all of the Democratic Party … as Rep. Bart Stupak affirmed, into acts of “domestic terrorism.”

As one Ohio Democratic Congressman who was targeted by the Republicans’ storm troopers said of a careless remark by John Boehner after confronting him: “Words and actions have consequences.” Indeed they do. You cannot yell “fire” in a crowded theater. Ever.

There are those on the Right who have incessantly, day after day, yelled FIRE! In a crowded theater. They are responsible for the shooting of Congresswoman Gabrielle Griffiths. It only takes one crazed lunatic to internalize this incendiary rhetoric and act on those words — with deadly force.

It happened yesterday.