Saturday, December 11, 2010

Hannity whines about Obama's 'incendiary rhetoric' -- then calls him a 'failed president'

-- by Dave

Frank Luntz and Sean Hannity were all appalled last night at the vicious and harsh language being used by those eeeeevil liberals this week in describing poor, put-upon conservatives as "hostage-takers" for merely holding up unemployment insurance payouts for poor people in order to force tax cuts for the wealthy down everyone's throat. It was heart-wrenching.

Of course, when your scenario is a heavy-duty fantasy like this one, it means that you're going to be doing a lot of projection. Sure enough:

HANNITY: Let me disagree with you. This is the liberals doing this. This is Obama attacking Republicans as hostage-takers. This is the Democratic Party saying, you know, the president f'd up, f him, screw him, he betrayed us, he's betraying other - give me the example of where are conservatives using this rhetoric?

LUNTZ: But nobody is listening. The problem is that the right isn't listening to the left. The left isn't listening to the right.

HANNITY: I'm talking about the harsh vitriol and rhetoric is coming from the left.

LUNTZ: I don't disagree with the rhetoric, but I'm out with the public and I'm doing this now almost every other night and in all of the focus groups even when it is done for corporate clients or media clients.

People aren't listening to each other and they don't want to hear what each other says. They are taking their news based on what affirms them rather than what informs them. They don't even share the same basic facts and basic understanding. Sean, this country is more divided now than it has been since Vietnam.

HANNITY: I see that, but -- if I were to call President Obama the things that he's calling conservatives, or that liberals are calling him, I probably would be, you know, victim of a boycott or firing.

Hmmm. No small irony in Luntz observing that people are now "taking their news based on what affirms them rather than what informs them" on Fox News, of all places.

And goodness, where could this disparaging rhetoric be coming from? Certainly it couldn't be inspired by right-wing talkers like Sean Hannity, could it? After all, his rhetoric is always calm and reasonable and respectful, right?

Well, maybe not so much ...

HANNITY: Because they are so harsh in their rhetoric, is this going to backfire? In other words, does this hurt the Democrats? Forget about the disagreement, which I think we have two very fundamental different views of which direction the country ought to go. I think Obama has failed as president, but this language, this incendiary rhetoric does that come back to hurt them?

Pretty funny, isn't it, how utterly un-self-aware these right-wing fanatics are. They can utter their own self-contradiction in the same sentence and not even recognize it.

And when it comes to Obama, only Glenn Beck outdoes Hannity in terms of vicious and incendiary rhetoric on Fox.

Of course, it's unsurprising that Hannity would declare Obama a failure now, since he and his pal Limbaugh have been openly working for Obama's failure from the very get-go, and he has constantly predicted that Obama would be a failure.

And when it comes to vicious rhetoric toward liberals, he is again outdone on Fox only by Beck. Hannity mostly likes his little eliminationist jokes ("If we get rid of liberals, we solve our problems").

So yeah, Sean, we're gonna cry you a river over being called out for being the hostage takers you are. Boo freaking hoo.

[Cross-posted at Crooks and Liars.]

Friday, December 10, 2010

Glenn Beck's epic apocalyptic conspiracism: Violent revolution by 'radicals' in the adminstration is imminent! Oh yeah.

-- by Dave

BREAKING NEWS: Glenn Beck is certifiably insane!!!

Oh. You knew that.

Yeah, we could run that lede just about every day, actually. But this week, Beck has been whipping it to another level of Bats--t Crazy.

Now he's predicting IMMINENT VIOLENT REVOLUTION led by those evil progressive radicals who hate the Republic inside the Obama administration. In case he didn't notice, the actual dynamic in Washington these days is actually just a wee bit different, since it's become manifestly clear that President Obama is anything BUT a radical revolutionary. But hey, nothing ever deters the intrepid Beck in the pursuit of his apocalyptic conspiracy theories.

Well, let's be clear: Beck has been warning about this dire imminent threat for quite awhile now. You'll recall he predicted last spring that eeevil progressives were planning a 'summer of rage' filled with violence, death and chaos.

Yeah, that really panned out, eh? Instead we got Byron Williams. Hmmmm.

This theory really is just a warmed-over version of the IMMINENT DIRE THREAT Beck has been shouting at us about since he signed onto Fox. It's become repetitive but more intensified, a manifestation of Beck's steadily creeping paranoia.

After all, he's been theorizing that Obama's band of administration radicals are planning a "global redistribution of the wealth" for a long time -- often flavored with black-helicopter militia theories about a "New World Order". He's been predicting George Soros would try to kill him, and warning that the eeeevil Left is plotting to frame the Tea Partiers for an act of domestic terrorist violence, adding that if right-wing violence does break out, it will have been provoked by Obama and the liberals.

More recently, there have been such similarly credible theories that the European Union Parliament building was intended to resemble the Tower of Babel, and that the evil Holocaust survivor George Soros is plotting to take over the world.

That provoked this rant, earlier this week, when he demanded an apology from Forbes for correctly calling him out for his vicious, classically anti-Semitic smear of Soros:

As you can see, it was a pretty complete meltdown. We could've run today's lede then, too.

This can only end badly for Fox. And they will richly deserve it.

As Byron Williams put it:

"Beck is gonna deny everything about violent approach and deny everything about conspiracies, but he'll give you every reason to believe it."

[Cross-posted at Crooks and Liars].

Ignore the disinformation: DREAM Act remains on track for Senate vote Monday

-- by Dave

There was a lot of disinformation floating about yesterday regarding the DREAM Act's progress in the Senate, including Megyn Kelly and Shannon Bream on Fox, repeating long disproven canards about the legislation -- embodied, perhaps, by the chryon running with the report calling the act "sweeping immigration reform" (in reality, this law is very limited in its reach and scope, and falls far short of anything even remotely like comprehensive reform). Both of them characterized it (second-hand, of course) as "amnesty" -- which is how they describe any path to citizenship for brown people.

Then there was CNN, which filed the following bulletin:

-- Senate Democrats cancel vote on DREAM Act, meaning the immigration measure is likely dead for the year.

Ah, not quite. In reality, as Carl Hulse reported in the NYT:

Senate Democrats on Thursday pulled a measure that would allow illegal immigrant students to earn legal status through education or military service after Republicans refused to allow a vote on a version of the legislation that had cleared the House on Wednesday.

Rather than try to break a Republican filibuster against the Senate’s so-called Dream Act, Senator Harry Reid, the majority leader, instead forced a vote to call off the attempt, presumably so he could try again later. Democrats prevailed on the motion to table the legislation, 59-40.

Ishita at Restore Fairness explains:

Since the Republicans in the Senate have vowed to block all bills until the issue of tax cuts was resolved, Sen. Reid made a motion to table the cloture vote on the DREAM Act that was otherwise scheduled to take place at 11:00 AM this morning. By tabling it, the Senate Democrats will be able to bring the version of the bill that has already been passed in the House, up for a vote in the coming week, once the other issues have been resolved. Immigrant rights advocates now have additional time to build on the momentum created by the House victory yesterday, and work on getting more Senate support for the DREAM Act, so that when it does finally come up for a vote, it can have the same success that it had in the House of Representatives.

Here's Jackie Mahendra at America's Voice, reporting yesterday:

After the historic victory yesterday in the House of Representatives, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid made a bold move today to shelve a vote on the Senate's original version of the DREAM Act, scheduled to be voted on today. In doing so, he paved the way for the Senate to take up the House-passed version of the bill in the next few weeks.

Essentially, Senate leadership just breathed new life into the DREAM Act.

Faced with lock-step Republican opposition to deal with anything before tax cuts, today’s scheduled cloture vote on the motion to proceed was widely predicted to fail, which would have doomed the DREAM Act this year.

Here's a reaction from the national United We Dream Network, who have been lobbying all week in Washington:

The DREAM Act must now gather critical support from a number of Senators still sitting on the fence, both Democrats and Republicans. Having more time between votes gives us time to shift our focus from the House to the Senate and make sure our voices are heard.

Some republicans have blurred the debate by painting a negative portrayal of undocumented students. Senator Sessions took to the Senate to claim that DREAM-eligible people would buy fake diplomas online. Our lives are real and our diplomas are real. We need Senators to rise above the fakeness and get real, the time for DREAM is now. We urge everybody who has ever supported the DREAM Act to take time to make some phone calls and urge senators to vote YES on DREAM. As Representative John Lewis shared last night, “The time is always right to do what is right”.

The DREAM Act has traditionally been a bipartisan measure that has attracted real Republican backing. In 2007, eleven Republican Senators voted for the DREAM Act, and seven of them are still in office: Lugar, Bennett, Brownback, Hutchison, Snowe, Collins, and Hatch. In 2003, Republican Senators Kyl, Grassley, and Cornyn voted for the measure in the Senate Judiciary Committee. Last night, eight Republican representatives voted for the bill. What’s needed in the Senate is for Republicans to shift from posturing on process to negotiating a bill that can pass next week.

We'll also be keeping up the pressure on a handful of shaky Democrats who still refuse to invest in America's future.


Maegan “la Mamita Mala” Ortiz sums it up nicely:

All in all this gives DREAM a better chance in passing, especially when considering that there are Senators on the fence who do not want to be targeted and be in the spotlight twice. And obviously this gives advocates, activists, and you more time to call and ask that DREAM be supported. (via VivirLatino)

You heard her – keep up the phone calls!

Dial 866-996-5161 or click here.

Now, we keep up the fight!

[Cross-posted at Crooks and Liars.]

Thursday, December 09, 2010

Barbara Walters fares no better with Palin: Now she reads C.S. Lewis and NewsMax

-- by Dave

Once again, Sarah Palin made Barbara Walters' list of the year's 10 most fascinating people, and in the little preview Walters gave us today of the accompanying interview (set to run in full this weekend), it looks like it went a little less than smoothly for the Wasilla Wonder:

BARBARA WALTERS: And Sarah Palin, for the third year, we have had Sarah Palin. Because every year, she does something fascinating. And you know, the Katie Couric question that caused her so much trouble? What do you read?


WALTERS: Okay. I gave her another chance. And here's the answer.

[Cut to interview]

WALTERS: Well, you know, governor, many people find the thought of you as president a little scary. You hear, 'Oh, she's very charming, but she's uninformed.' Would you like to tell us what newspapers, magazines or books you are reading right now?

SARAH PALIN: I read a lot of C.S. Lewis when I want some divine inspiration. I read Newsmax and Wall Street Journal. I read all of our local papers, of course, in Alaska because that's where my heart is. I read anything and everything that I can get my hands on, as I have since I was a little girl. And that's one of those things, Barbara, where that issue that I don't read or I'm not informed, it's one of those questions where I like to turn that around and ask the reporters, why would it be that there is that perception that I don't read?

Ummmm ... I dunno ... how about the fact that you don't even seem to realize that this sort of question is a stock interview item for politicians?

Palin has a journalism degree and would know this if she had bothered to pay attention while attending class. (I certainly know it, and I attended the same school as Palin. Her appeal to claims of supposed media elitism here don't exactly wash.)

Perhaps even more to the point, the fact that Palin was caught flat-footed with such an obvious, stock question when Katie Couric asked it demonstrated to millions of discerning viewers that she is in fact horribly uninformed -- not to mention incurious and intellectually rigid and limited. Not the kind of person you want occupying the White House.

Of course, the wingnuts have their shorts in bunch over Walters' questions, which were actually rather neutral and matter of fact. Reality alert: The idea of Palin as president DOES scare the crap out of a lot of people. Deal with it, dudes.

[Cross-posted at Crooks and Liars.]

Fox 'straight news' reporter James Rosen raises laughable Obama 'security' concern, lies about Obama's promises

-- by Dave

One of the favorite pretenses at Fox News is to pretend that there is some magical barrier of objectivity between their "opinion" anchors and their shows and their "straight news" hours featuring "real" reporters -- guys like James Rosen.

'Course, it's all a farcical facade -- their news segments are only marginally less biased than their opinion shows. Though they sure whine loudly enough whenever someone points it out.

Just the past couple of days, Rosen has coughed up a couple of real hairballs demonstrating (once again) just how "fair and balanced" Fox News really is.

First, on Bill O'Reilly's show Tuesday, Rosen argued, with a perfectly straight face, that President Obama had raised some serious concerns about national security because he had described Republicans in Congress as "hostage takers" with whom he had negotiated:

Rosen: One other point, Bill, if I may, and this should concern a broader spectrum than just the president and his supporters. And that is the potential national security implications of a president of the United States broadcasting to the world that he is willing to negotiate with hostage takers if he believes the hostage is being harmed.

O'Reilly actually burst out laughing, assuming that Rosen was kidding. He wasn't.

Then yesterday, on Happening Now, Rosen followed up with a segment about Obama's record regarding how well he's keeping his promises. It featured a clip of Obama saying, "Look at what I promised during the campaign. There is not a single thing that I said that I would do that I have not either done or tried to do," and "And if I haven't gotten it done yet, I'm still trying to do it."

Rosen then told his audience: "That leaves little terrain as ground for contradiction, and yet the Pulitzer Prize winning website lists more than 500 broken Obama campaign promises."

But as Simon Easter at Media Matters observes, that's a far cry from what PolitiFact actually reports -- namely, that of the 506 campaign promises they've monitored, Obama has actually broken only 24 of them:


And the best part is that, because he said all these things on Fox News, Rosen will never have to run a correction. And Bill O'Reilly can keep laughing at his absurd "concerns".

Y'see, at Fox, spreading misinformation and lies and wild conjecture isn't cause for correction. It's the job description.

[Cross-posted at Crooks and Liars.]

Wednesday, December 08, 2010

Right-wing pundits all too happy to help Democrats tear each other apart over Obama's tax-cut deal

-- by Dave

Probably the most aggravating aspect of President Obama's deal with the devil hostage-takers of the Republican Party is the way both the act itself -- and Obama's churlish spurning of the people who elected him at yesterday's press conference -- has been the opening it has created for the crass opportunists of the right-wing pundit class.

Guys like Sean Hannity, whose greatest aspiration of the past couple years has been to separate Obama from his supporters, have been all too happy to take that wedge Obama has handed them and drive it right down our gullets.

Take Hannity last night:

HANNITY: All right. Amidst all the controversy on Capitol Hill surrounding the extension of the Bush tax cuts, one thing is crystal clear. This deal marks a major defeat for the anointed one who let political gamesmanship get the best of him.

Well, now he's backtracking on one of his central campaign promises. But apparently that's not how he sees it.

Let's take a look at this exchange from his press conference earlier today.


BEN FELLER, ASSOCIATED PRESS: You've been telling the American people all along that you oppose extending tax cuts for the wealthier Americans.


FELLER: You said that again today. But what you never said was that you oppose the tax cuts, but you'd be willing to go ahead and extend them for a couple of years if the politics of the moment demand it.

So what I'm wondering is, when you take a stand like you had, why should the American people believe that you're going to stick with it? Why should the American people believe that you're going to flip-flop?

OBAMA: Hold on a second, Ben. This isn't politics of the moment. This has to do with what can we get done right now.


HANNITY: What can we get done right now? Now that sounds like the politics of the moment to me and the president's base is fed up that he caved in. A brand new survey "USA Today" poll shows that a whopping 74 percent of those who contributed to the anointed one in 2008 oppose the president cutting a deal to extend tax cuts for small business and, quote, "higher income earners."

And even more frightening for the president, 51 percent of those contributors said that the tax cut deal will make them less likely to contribute to the anointed one's reelection campaign in 2012. Well, that's music to my ears.

Hannity later invited on our favorite Faux defender of all things Democrat, Lanny Davis, who managed to point out that Hannity's logic wasn't exactly clear: Did he, as a conservative, really want Obama to stick to his guns?

Remember, this is the same Hannity who just a couple weeks ago was declaring Obama too doctrinaire to ever compromise:

HANNITY: Well, look, I would argue and I have argued that Bill Clinton changed after '94 and the Republican Revolution. I contend, and my analysis of President Obama is that he is a rigid, left wing, radical ideologue.

And I've said it many times on the program. I've never seen any inclination in his adult professional life that he has a willingness to be pragmatic to move to the middle to change.

Do you see that in him? Because I don't see it.

It's clear that, in a right-wing field of pundits full of rank opportunists, Sean Hannity is one of the most rank and ham-handed in his obviousness. And it's a reminder of what we all are up against.

It's too bad Obama doesn't seem to have figured that out; he appears more than happy enough to castigate his thoughtful liberal critics as "sanctimonious" and hold his supporters up for ridicule, exposing them to this kind of garbage. But we mustn't let our justifiable anger at Obama become a tool for right-wingers like Hannity and his fellow Fox pundits to divide and conquer. Obama may not be smarter than that, but the rest of us need to be.

[Cross-posted at Crooks and Liars.]

Chris Christie's bullying style is inuring Americans to ugly discourse

-- by Dave

Digby caught this bit of bizarre right-wing behavior from New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie this weekend:

Keith Chaudruc, of Madison, got the final question of the night.

The Livingston school district elementary teacher launched into a list of complaints about drops in municipal aid, increasing NJ Transit fares and tax cuts for those making more than $1 million.

His question: How could Christie sign off on a tax cut for the most wealthy, ignoring the regressive nature of the sales tax, while those at the bottom were getting squeezed with increases like the transit fares?

The two adversaries went back and forth for a few minutes, until Chaudruc, a Republican, interrupted the governor.

"You want to come up here?" Christie shouted. "You come up here ... Let’s have a conversation.."

Chaudruc, who stands 5’6" and weighs about 160 pounds, backed away until the governor insisted "bring him up here," and a state trooper escorted him to the stage.

Christie, a few inches taller and several pounds heavier, loomed over Chaudruc as he launched into a tirade.

"Your wonderful increase in taxes would have killed jobs in this state," Christie said pointing his index finger at Chaudruc. "You and I have different ideas of what being a Republican is all about because I’m not going to raise taxes."

Before he could get another word in, Chaudruc was ushered off the stage and out of the room by a trooper.

It looks like the schtick is wearing thin in New Jersey, at least:

By bullying a citizen, hogging the microphone and condescendingly dismissing him, Christie was the rude one. But it’s nothing new.

Christie has turned state politics into one never-ending yo’ mama joke. It doesn’t matter who you are — school superintendent, teacher, student, U.S. senator, state Assembly leader, former education commissioner or just a regular guy trying to have a conversation: If you disagree with him, Christie will try to humiliate you publicly.

Some find Christie entertaining, but his combativeness is counterproductive and breeds the kind of hate speech that plaques the nation.

However, as Alex Pareene at Salon observes:

But some people find this totally delightful, because Chris Christie is basically an amusing comic television show character, like Charlie Sheen or Pat Buchanan. Whether it helps Christie politically depends on whether New Jersey residents find it funny or get bored with it. But Christie will continue doing it, because it's a major part of his "brand."

In lieu of class solidarity, which is a privilege only afforded to the wealthy these days, American politics are mostly about tribal self-identification. Most Republicans get this, and that's why being a shouty asshole doesn't hurt Christie. Democrats -- with a couple of exceptions, like Anthony Weiner -- are not so good at this, which is why MSNBC's liberal hosts whine about how Obama needs to "get tough" all the time without ever explaining how that would help him achieve policy goals and not just make them feel like they're backing a winner.

Like Digby, I find his bullying behavior clearly fascistic -- this is how real fascists, the kind you get in Hayden Lake and at Joe Arpaio rallies, behave. I guess Americans are getting accustomed to that and a lot more approve of it. And that may be the scariest aspect of Chris Christie.

[Cross-posted at Crooks and Liars.]

Monday, December 06, 2010

Add Idaho bomb-builder to list of violent extremists inspired by Glenn Beck

-- by Dave

Well, you can add another name to the list of violent nutcases inspired to act by Glenn Beck -- this time, a northern Idaho militiaman arrested last summer for building grenades at his home in the Panhandle. From Meghann Cuniff at the Spokesman-Review:

A self-described militia leader pleaded guilty this week to federal gun charges connected to a grenade manufacturing operation at his trailer in Spirit Lake, Idaho.

Kenneth B. Kimbley Jr., 58, discussed bombing local bridges with an undercover federal agent and made threatening statements toward President Barack Obama, leading investigators last July to seize 20,000 ammunition rounds and several firearms from Kimbley’s property, where he and other suspected militia members gathered to construct grenades, according to court documents.

Kimbley, who remains in federal custody, pleaded guilty to Monday to unlawful possession of a firearm and attempt to make a firearm in violation of the National Firearms Act. He faces up to 10 years in prison when he’s sentenced Feb. 22.

... An undercover agent said Kimbley described himself as the leader of the “Brotherhood of America Patriots” militia and said “he would kill members of his group that did not follow orders,” according to court documents.

Kimbely reportedly described extensive booby traps he’d built and said his militia’s purpose “was to resist in the event the government started rounding up the patriots” and to resist foreign invasions or societal breakdowns.

His public defender, Kim Deater, did not return a phone call seeking comment. In court documents, she described Kimbley as a nonthreatening man who has passionate political views.

Though prosecutors have emphasized his militia ties and his dislike for Obama, Kimbley “made absolutely no threats to harm anyone at anytime,” Deater wrote in court documents.

“In fact, everything said by Mr. Kimbley is no different than what his idol, TV commentator Glenn Beck, typically states on the air and is protected free speech.”

This is now the third such case, following Byron Williams, the would-be Tides Foundation terrorist, and Richard Poplawski, the Pittsburgh cop-killer who believed, thanks to Glenn Beck, that authorities were going to take his guns away.

As Leah Nelson at SPLC's Hatewatch notes:

The connection between Kimbley’s beliefs and Beck’s provocative on-air statements seems clear, especially his fear that the government plans to round up and intern liberty-loving Americans, a fear that was also expressed by Poplawski and Byron.

Moreover, this is now the fourth violent incident in which Fox News' mainstreaming of extremism played a significant role:

Make no mistake: Glenn Beck has been inciting acts of terrorist violence, and the Byron Williams case clearly establishes it -- even though it is far from the first such case. It in fact was preceded by several similar cases in which the dehumanizing rhetoric, scapegoating and conspiracist smears promoted by Fox clearly played a powerful role in the violence that ensued:

-- Jim David Adkisson's shooting attack on a Knoxville Unitarian church. Adkisson left behind a manifesto that repeated numerous right-wing talking points generated by Fox commentators and specifically cited a Bernard Goldberg book. His library at home was stocked with books by Bill O'Reilly, Sean Hannity and Michael Savage.

-- Richard Poplawski's shooting of three Pittsburgh police officers, because he believed a conspiracy theory that President Obama intended to take Americans' guns away from them, and he reportedly believed the cops had arrived to carry it out. Poplawski, a white supremacist, liked to post Beck videos about FEMA concentration camps to the Stormfront comments board.

-- Scott Roeder's assassination of Dr. George Tiller. Roeder was heavily involved in Operation Rescue and avidly read its newsletters -- which featured weekly pieces from Bill O'Reilly, including several attacking Tiller as a "baby killer" -- and its website, which liked to feature O'Reilly videos attacking Dr. Tiller. Indeed, O'Reilly had indulged a high-profile and unusually obsessive (not to mention vicious) jihad against Tiller, resulting in 42 such attacks on Tiller, 24 of which referred to him generically as a "baby killer."

[Cross-posted at Crooks and Liars.]