Saturday, September 13, 2008

Sarah Palin's just fine with vicious sexist smears ... of her foes

Poor, poor, put-upon Sarah Palin.

The McCain campaign has been whining about the supposedly vicious smears being directed at Sarah Palin by liberals -- and of course, has been roundly knocked down for it, since it's a classic strawman argument. (The Web ad they made whining about Obama's "lipstick on a pig" remark was so thoroughly eviscerated that it's been taken down from YouTube.) Indeed, it's clear that much of the reason McCain chose her was so that they could reignite the culture wars by making an inviting target of Palin, and then making her an object of soccer-mom sympathy.

But it's funny: Palin hasn't objected to vicious, personal and profoundly sexist political attacks ... when they've been directed against her political opponents.

This January, Palin was on a right-wing radio talk show in Anchorage hosted by a typical conservative smearmeister named Bob Lester. Dan Fagan at the Anchorage Daily News filled us in with the details at the time:

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Lou Dobbs just loves to spread a little hate

-- by Dave

Lou Dobbs pays us a nightly visit from up-is-down Planet Bizarro in his weekday show. But this week, his special Bizarro launching pad is the "Hold Their Feet to the Fire" anti-immigrant lobbying push -- you know, the one sponsored by a hate group.

Sure enough:

DOBBS: Absolutely. And you're to be commended. The Federation for American Immigration Reform is to be commended. I know that you and I, our fellow radio talk show hosts, all of us who have been involved at the forefront of this issue for years now have taken a lot of heat. We have been called racists, xenophobes, all sorts of nastiness from groups that -- like the Southern Poverty Law Center, which has become a hate group of its own, referring to FAIR as a hate group simply because they want illegal immigration stopped and border security, port security put in place. How are you being received now? 

Actually, if all FAIR wanted was "illegal immigration stopped and border security put in place," no one would object, particularly not the SPLC, which takes no position on either of those issues.

What the SPLC cares about is the xenophobic demonization of immigrants, particularly Latino immigrants, in no small part because that kind of scapegoating serves as a major recruitment tool for hate groups that inflict violence on minorities. Watchdogging that part of the scenery is pretty much the SPLC's deal -- and FAIR has indulged it so egregiously that they've earned the bona-fide hate group distinction.

How do you earn a "hate group" distinction? The SPLC's criteria is fairly simple: You have to be involved in the routine degradation and demonization of a target ethnic or other minority group: "All hate groups have beliefs or practices that attack or malign an entire class of people, typically for their immutable characteristics."

How do we know that FAIR does this? Well, there are all the examples cited in the America's Voice ad, for starters. But we need actually look no farther than the reply to Dobbs given by FAIR's spokesman, former San Diego Mayor Roger Hedgecock:

HEDGECOCK: Well nationally, we both run up against this. And I'll tell you, it's a measure of our effectiveness. It's a measure of the unhappiness of the average American. The pragmatic middle of the road, problem solving, can-do American who has had it with the impacts of illegal immigration in their community.

The deteriorating schools, the filling prisons, the social costs, all the horrible stories that you know we have all talked about, and so I -- you know I wear the badge of their -- of their lies about us as an honor because it is an honor to see how much we are troubling these people who are enemies of sovereignty, who are enemies of our country, who want to open borders to the most -- in a national security moment, an open border is an invitation to suicide.

That's right, Lou -- because, as you know, these immigrants are bringing filth and disease and crime, lots and lots of crime with them. And terrorists too. No matter how many studies tell us that the case is otherwise, we just know these things to be true because, well, we want them to be.

Now how could anyone think these good folks are a bunch of racists? Jeeez.

Sarah Palin and Westbrook Pegler

-- by Dave

So it seems Sarah Palin – or at least one of her speechwriters – has been reading Westbrook Pegler. Here’s the Pegler quote she recited in her now Teh Awesomest Acceptance Speech Evah!

A writer observed: "We grow good people in our small towns, with honesty, sincerity, and dignity." I know just the kind of people that writer had in mind when he praised Harry Truman.

As TPM notes, another of that same writer’s observations:
[It was] "regrettable that Giuseppe Zangara hit the wrong man when he shot at Roosevelt in Miami."

Here are some other things that writer observed:

[It is] "clearly the bounden duty of all intelligent Americans to proclaim and practice bigotry." (November 1963)

[His proposal for "smashing" the AF of L and the CIO was for the state to take them over.] "Yes, that would be fascism," he wrote. "But I, who detest fascism, see advantages in such fascism."

"I am a member of the rabble in good standing" [in a column that defended a lynching in California]

Oh, and Harry Truman, the president he supposedly was extolling? Pegler called him a “thin-lipped hater”.

That’s some fine political mentoring Palin has going on there, dontcha think?

Tuesday, September 09, 2008

Calling Out FAIR: Lobbyists Descend At A Hate Group’s Bidding

[Cross-posed at Firedoglake.]

For years, the Federation for American Immigration Reform has gotten away with posing as a mainstream immigration-reform organization. The mask has finally started to slip off the fa├žade, thanks in no small part to the Southern Poverty Law Center’s devastating report on FAIR last year in which it was finally designated what we’ve known it to be all along: a hate group.

One of the main events involved in FAIR’s charade has been its annual “Hold Their Feet to the Fire” gathering of lobbyists, who then descend up on congressmen and legislators and their staffers to push their decidedly xenophobic brand of immigration “reform.” This year, CNN’s Lou Dobbs is even broadcasting from the event.

Well, turnabout is only, er, fair play. So this year, organizations seeking progressive immigration reform are holding FAIR’s feet to the fire – along with all the lobbyists and talk-show hosts participating. They’re running an ad campaign pointing out FAIR’s long history of indulging and promoting a frankly xenophobic and frequently outright racist campaign against immigrants.

The WaPo’s Mary Ann Akers reports:
The ad, paid for by America’s Voice and the Service Employees International Union, among others, asks, "When Did Extreme Become Mainstream?" And it notes FAIR has been "designated as a HATE GROUP by the Southern Poverty Law Center."
The ad includes three racially explosive quotes; one from John Tanton, founder of FAIR, saying, "As whites see their power and control over their lives declining, will they simply go quietly into the night? Or will there be an explosion?" FAIR president Dan Stein is quoted saying, "Should we subsidizing people with low IQs to have as many children as possible?" Another quote in the ad, attributed to former Colorado governor Richard Lamm, a former FAIR advisory board chairman, says: "New cultures [in the U.S. are] diluting what we are and who we are."
America’s Voice has a complete rundown on FAIR.

Does anyone want to wager on whether Dobbs will mention the SPLC’s hate-group designation? Or whether, if he does, he’ll dismiss them again as an “open borders advocacy group” – even though the SPLC in fact has never taken any position on either border security or immigration policy generally?

UPDATE: FAIR responds:
WASHINGTON, Sept 09, 2008 /PRNewswire-USNewswire via COMTEX/ — Having been unable to convince the American public that a mass illegal alien amnesty was justified or served any public interest, advocates for amnesty have launched an orchestrated and well-financed campaign to smear the Federation for American Immigration Reform (FAIR) and others involved in defeating last year’s immigration bill. Using full-page ads in today’s editions of The Politico and Roll Call, this coalition of special interest groups uses inflammatory language and stock photos of individuals who have no association with FAIR to incite hatred against anyone who has the audacity to oppose their views on immigration policy. The tone and content of these ads demonstrates that their strategy to silence proponents of immigration reform has resulted in the ugliest and most negative public relations campaign in the history of American politics.

Instead of seeking to promote rational, intelligent, meaningful dialogue on immigration reform, one of the most important issues facing our nation today, the ad utterly distorts FAIR’s 30-year record of advocacy on immigration reform and merely parrots previous distortions. La Raza has claimed that one in seven Americans (which equals 45 million people) are members of hate or extremist groups. In fact, considering how many Americans oppose amnesty and support the enforcement of our immigration laws, this coalition might want to consider whether they wouldn’t simply save themselves time and money and simply call the American public in whole a hate group.

The ad’s sponsors have also forgotten to disclose their own political and economic interests in the immigration debate. Each of the organizations responsible for placing the ads invested heavily in failed lobbying efforts to pass the 2007 Senate amnesty bill. In the first half of 2007, America’s Voice alone spent $420,000; the National Council of La Raza spent $340,000. During the whole of 2007, SEIU spent over half a million dollars lobbying Congress on immigration and other issues.

In contrast to today’s ads that employ vitriolic language and images, any earnest attempt to investigate FAIR will reveal 30 years of consistent advocacy for changes to our legal and illegal immigration policies that make the interests of the American people paramount, not an afterthought. FAIR supports overall reductions in immigration levels in order to avert massive U.S. population growth. We seek to protect American workers against the erosion of the jobs and wages due to policies that flood our labor markets. We oppose immigration policies that strain vital public services, such as education and health care. FAIR favors securing unguarded borders that are an open invitation not only to illegal workers, but to criminals and terrorists. FAIR has testified before Congress on these issues about 100 times over the years and has been a source of information, analysis and commentary to every major newspaper and media outlet in the United States.

FAIR’s record is equally consistent with regard to how this nation should treat immigrants. Unlike our critics who seek to blur important distinctions, FAIR distinguishes clearly between immigration policy – which can and should be debated like any other public policy – and immigrants who deserve to be treated with respect and dignity. We believe that immigrants to our country should be admitted based on their individual merits, without regard to race, religion, ethnicity, or country of origin, and should be welcomed and integrated into the mainstream of American society. Finally, FAIR is one of only 155 charities nationwide – and the only immigration-related nonprofit – to be accredited by the Better Business Bureau’s Wise Giving Alliance.

Does this ugly ad campaign reflect the tone of change we are to expect from the new wave of political operatives we can expect to descend on Washington at the end of this year? After all, isn’t a change from the nasty, divisive rhetoric of Washington what the American public is demanding? If it is, the state of public discourse in the U.S. truly is at a new low. FAIR stands by its record and we call upon all Americans to reject the blatant attempt on the part of a small coalition of radical organizations to halt meaningful debate about one of the most important public policy issues of our time.
Notice what’s missing: Any mention of the actual facts in the article. The only thing that’s "ugly" is the very real quotes from FAIR leaders and officials. Moreover, its listing as a hate group by the SPLC — which is not, by any stretch of the imagination, a "radical organization" — goes utterly unmentioned.

Memo to FAIR: It isn’t a "smear" by definition if everything that’s said is true.