Saturday, October 31, 2009

Stray bullet hits Lou Dobbs' home, he claims victimhood, and Bill O'Reilly buys it

-- by Dave

Lou Dobbs claimed on his radio show this week that the evil people who have targeted him for removal from his CNN anchor's seat are now taking shots at him and his wife in their home:

"But I want to tell you, when you talk about what they've done - they've created an atmosphere and they've been unrelenting in their propaganda," Dobbs said. "Three weeks ago this morning, a shot was fired at my house where I live. My wife was standing out and that followed weeks and weeks of threatening phone calls."

Dobbs detailed the event, the notification of law enforcement and threatening phone calls he had received after the fact.

"And, as I told the state patrol, and by the way, the New Jersey State Patrol is absolutely terrific - they responded instantly. But this shot was fired with my wife not, I don't know, 15 feet away and we had threatening phone calls that I decided not to report because I get threatening phone calls," Dobbs continued. "I now - it's become a way of life - the anger, the hate, the vitriol, but it's taken a different tone where they've threatened my wife. They've now fired a shot at my house while my wife was standing next to the car. It's become something else."

The CNN host later took a shot at the "national liberal media," which he claims has taken a side on the immigration issue and has created this sort of reckless environment.

Naturally, not only did Newsbusters sucker for this story, but so did Bill O'Reilly on his Fox News show Thursday night, tut-tutting the incident as "a very serious matter."

The only problem: It was almost certainly a stray shot from a hunter's rifle, as Andrea Nill at ThinkProgress reported yesterday, well before O'Reilly's broadcast:

While Dobbs and his anti-immigrant supporters were quick to jump to conclusions about the motive of the shooting, Sgt. Stephen Jones confirmed to ThinkProgress this morning that the New Jersey State Police are stilling “looking at all the possibilities” and that a hunting-related accident has not been ruled out.

Sgt. Jones, a spokesperson for the New Jersey State Police, confirmed that a bullet was found which struck the siding of Dobbs’ house. However, he pointed out that Dobbs’ residence is located in a “very rural” area. “With hunting season starting up,” such incidents are “not at all uncommon,” Jones told us.

CNN had even more details:

"State Police Sgt. Steve Jones said Thursday that his department received a call from Dobbs' wife, who heard a shot and said a bullet hit her house. Jones said she had been outside her house with "an employee who worked with Dobbs" at 10:25 a.m. October 5.

Jones said a bullet struck the section of the house where the attic is but didn't penetrate the dwelling. He said the bullet fell to the ground and was recovered. Dobbs' wife saw damage to the siding, Jones said.

"The bullet was taken by our detectives and turned over to our ballistics unit for further analysis," Jones said. "At this point, all I can say is that it appears to be a long gun, not a handgun or shotgun."

..... Police aren't saying for now that the shot was fired at the house but only, as Jones said, that it struck the house. A stray shot from a long gun would not be a "totally uncommon occurrence because of the hunters and target shooters" in the region, Jones said.

Jones couldn't give his opinion on what kind of shooting this might be, and he said the incident is being investigated "further past a stray hunter's bullet" because of Dobbs' "public persona." Police have conducted interviews and patrolled the area, Jones said."

A shot fired deliberately to terrorize the Dobbses would have been fired from a distance close enough to penetrate the house siding. The fact that it fell off the siding tells you this shot was fired from very, very far away.

We take violence seriously, and any actual incident of anyone taking a shot at Dobbs, his wife, or even his home would be a terrible thing.

But crying wolf -- and especially trying to blame his critics for such an incident -- that's a whole 'nother ball game. One that invites nothing but contempt.

Cross-posted at Crooks and Liars.

Friday, October 30, 2009

Pat Robertson denounces hate-crimes bill, falsely claims it doesn't cover religious bias

[H/t Dave E/]

-- by Dave

Yesterday, a genuinely historic moment passed with scarcely a blip of attention from the media: President Obama signed into law the nation's first genuine federal bias-crimes statute.

Everyone interested in advancing civil rights in America and defending the nation's minorities from the deprivation of their rights by terroristic thugs -- particularly their historic victims, from African Americans and Asian Americans to Latinos, to Jews and other religious minorities, to gays and lesbians and transgender folk -- have real cause to celebrate. Brian Levin has a nice collection of their thoughts at HuffPo.

Then, of course, there's the Religious Right, which is holding its collective breath and pouting over the event. Case in point: Pat Robertson at The 700 Club, ripping into the new law both Wednesday and Thursday on his show.

His basis for opposing the law, however, is completely detached from reality. For instance, Robertson argues:

Robertson: You know, there’s a law – what about a law that says it’s a federal crime to attack somebody because of his religious beliefs? Not a chance!

Robertson seems completely unaware that in fact religious bias is one of the categories of bias crime covered by hate-crime laws -- and it has been from the very start, since these laws were first enacted on the state level in the early 1980s!

Hint to Pat: Religion was covered as a bias category from the start because Jews have long been some of the most common victims of bias crimes. For instance, in the FBI's hate-crime statistics for 2007, some 1,400 of the nation's 7,600 or so reported bias crimes were of the "anti-religion" category; of those, some 118 were varieties of anti-Christian bias.

Indeed, he needs only read the text of the the Matthew Shepard Hate Crimes Prevention Act to see that religion is one of the categories of bias it covers:

“(1) OFFENSES INVOLVING ACTUAL OR PERCEIVED RACE, COLOR, RELIGION, OR NATIONAL ORIGIN.—Whoever, whether or not acting under color of law, willfully causes bodily injury to any person or, through the use of fire, a firearm, a dangerous weapon, or an explosive or incendiary device, attempts to cause bodily injury to any person, because of the actual or perceived race, color, religion, or national origin of any person—


“(A) IN GENERAL.—Whoever, whether or not acting under color of law, in any circumstance described in subparagraph (B) or paragraph (3), willfully causes bodily injury to any person or, through the use of fire, a firearm, a dangerous weapon, or an explosive or incendiary device, attempts to cause bodily injury to any person, because of the actual or perceived religion, national origin, gender, sexual orientation, gender identity or disability of any person—

, claiming that the law will attack people's free-speech rights. This is, of course, a completely bogus claim, since the bill has very specific free-speech language built into it.

Finally, as Media Matters points out, religious discrimination has long garnered special federal attention in the federal criminal code.

The mewling and fearmongering from the religious right should actually tell progressives they're on the right track here.

Below, I've preserved video footage of President Obama signing the bill into law.

Cross-posted at Crooks and Liars.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Doctor-killing zealots hold an online fund-raiser for the assassin of Dr. Tiller -- in hopes of using "necessity" defense

-- by Dave

Judy Thomas in the Kansas City Star has an amazing piece (picked up by MSNBC) about the online fund-raiser being planned for Scott Roeder, the right-wing extremist who shot Dr. George Tiller in the head in his church:

An Army of God manual. A prison cookbook compiled by a woman doing time for abortion clinic bombings and arsons. An autographed bullhorn.

These are among the items that abortion foes plan to auction on eBay and other Web sites in a fundraiser for Scott Roeder, the Kansas City man charged with killing Wichita abortion doctor George Tiller.

“This is unique,” said Regina Dinwiddie, a Kansas City anti-abortion activist who will sign the bullhorn. “Nobody’s ever done this before. The goal is that everybody makes money for Scott Roeder’s defense.”

One abortion-rights leader called the auction deplorable and said it could lead to more violence.

“The network of extremists promoting and defending the murder of doctors is contributing to escalating threats against clinics and doctors across the country,” said Kathy Spillar, executive vice president of the Feminist Majority Foundation.

Roeder, charged with first-degree murder in the May 31 shooting of Tiller, is scheduled to go to trial in January.

Perhaps even more appalling is the line of defense they hope to pursue in the courts with this money:

Leach and others would like to help Roeder hire a lawyer to present what is known as a necessity defense. That strategy would argue that Tiller was killed to prevent a greater harm — killing babies. Other anti-abortion activists charged with violent crimes have tried to use such a defense but with little success.

Yeah, let's legalize killing abortion doctors. Sounds like a job for Antonin Scalia. One can only hope this defense has zero success, as it has in the past.

Rachel Maddow also featured a segment on this story last night on her MSNBC show, including an interview with the attorney for Tiller's family, who says he'll move to have the court attach any funds they raise on Roeder's behalf:

[media=10495 embeddl]


Joining us now is Lee Thompson. He's an attorney who represented the late Dr. George Tiller for 16 years. He's currently the attorney for Dr. Tiller's widow and the doctor's estate.

Mr. Thompson, thanks very much for coming on this show.


MADDOW: First, I'll just ask for your reaction or the reaction of Dr.

Tiller's family to this planned fundraising effort for Mr. Roeder.

THOMPSON: Well, obviously, we believe that this is nothing more than a reprehensible publicity stunt that is fostered by the same people trying to sell the same publications that generated the climate of hatred and fear that led to Dr. Tiller's murder. Fortunately, it's probably also a useless exercise, because the drawings and other materials from criminals would generate funds that ought to be attached by the Kansas victim compensation fund under our Son of Sam Law.

So obviously, if this goes ahead, we'll be asking the attorney general of Kansas to simply attach whatever funds and use them to help other victims of crimes.

MADDOW: Separate from the question of fundraising or, as you say, it would in this case probably be attempted fundraising, how present are your concerns about more violence coming from the radical anti-abortion movement? Certainly, it is troubling to see Mr. Roeder as he sits there charged with first degree murder in Dr. Tiller's death to see him celebrated in this way.

THOMPSON: Absolutely. And I think it's obvious, when you look at these very materials, that it's the rhetoric that was promoted by these groups that has led to violence. The handbook of the Army of God, for example, had hints on gluing locks at abortion clinics, which Roeder did in Kansas City; hints and directions on flooding clinic roofs, which they did to Dr. Tiller's clinic in Wichita; bombing instructions and other violent directions that all led to that climate that made people think it was OK to do this.

They also suggested, I think, that it was justified and, thus, gave the impression that there was some justification, a defense which the law has routinely rejected.

MADDOW: Since Dr. Tiller's murder, clearly, the very far fringe, the violent fringe of the anti-abortion movement, has decided to celebrate Mr. Roeder. The pro-choice movement and I think a lot of centrists who see themselves as allied with this issue at all before Dr. Tiller's murder, have also organized in the wake of the assassination and I think tried to change minds and tried to change the climate in the country in the wake of that assassination-what's been your reaction to the overall way in which Dr. Tiller's murder has affected the country on both sides?

THOMPSON: Well, obviously, any attempt to use it to promote anti-abortion feelings is awful. It is sick. It is the worst possible thing that could be done.

This was a criminal act. It was a premeditated act. And anything that says it was OK or good is simply wrong.

Dr. Tiller provided a service that provided constitutionally protected rights for his patients. And it's extremely disturbing that the climate of fear is still being generated. Whether or not it should be used to promote the pro-choice approach is something that I'll leave up to those who are doing it. I think the family would just assume people remember Dr. Tiller for the service he gave to women over a long and distinguished career.

MADDOW: Mr. Thompson, what happens next in the case of Scott Roeder? I wonder if, legally, you believe that we can conclude from this fundraising effort that he's going to try to put abortion rights on trial, that he'll try to put the memory of Dr. Tiller on trial in his own defense?

THOMPSON: Well, they say the fundraiser is to hire an attorney to advance what's called the necessity defense, a justification for some violent act. But that's been routinely rejected by virtually every court and certainly been rejected by the supreme court of Kansas, which in 1993, in an abortion case, said, to permit such a defense would invite chaos and perhaps could lead ultimately to anarchy.

So, I can't imagine that any judge sitting in Wichita, Kansas, would go against the Kansas Supreme Court on that issue. I think that we really don't see that sort of publicity stunt working in Kansas courts very often. And I believe-with everything I hold dear-that that will be the case in this case.

MADDOW: Lee Thompson, attorney for Dr. George Tiller's widow and Dr. Tiller's estate-I know this has been an upsetting turn of events both for you and Dr. Tiller's family, thanks for being willing to talk to us about it tonight.

THOMPSON: Appreciate you having us. Thank you.

Cross-posted at Crooks and Liars.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Jogging Bernie Goldberg's memory: 'Who exactly at Fox News is inciting a rebellion against the government?'

-- by Dave

Bill O'Reilly is still all worked up about the White House's "war" on Fox -- which, actually, he says he hopes end soon. Yeah, I'll bet he does. I'll bet a lot of people at Fox are not happy that we are having this national conversation right now and kicking over all kinds of rocks.

You never know what turns up when you start looking at Fox's record, do you?

What angered O'Reilly was Joe Klein's recent column in Time, which really was a classic piece of Village excrement (a la Sally Quinn) about how silly the Obama White House is to stand up to Fox. Along the way, of course, he offends O'Reilly by writing this:

Let me be precise here: Fox News peddles a fair amount of hateful crap. Some of it borders on sedition. Much of it is flat out untrue.

But I don't understand why the White House would give such poisonous helium balloons as Glenn Beck and Sean Hannity the opportunity for still greater spasms of self-inflation by declaring war on Fox.

If the problem is that stories bloated far beyond their actual importance--ACORN's corruption, Van Jones's radical past--are in danger of leaching out of the Fox hothouse into the general media, then perhaps the Administration should be a bit more diligent about whom it hires and whom it funds.

If the problem is broader--that Fox News spreads seditious lies to its demographic sliver of an audience--the Administration should probably be stoic: the wingnuts will always be with us. The best antidote to their garbage is elegant, intelligent governance. The next-best antidote is occasional engagement: I thought Obama came away from his O'Reilly and Chris Wallace interviews much the better for it. (Though you don't want to sit down with a thug like Hannity or a weirdo like Beck.)

Now, understand: The Fox-bashing here is simply classic Villager ass-covering, so that Joe Klein can go back later and say, "See? Both sides are mad at me. I must be right!"

Nonetheless, it outrages O'Reilly, who not only devotes a whole Talking Points Memo to "refuting" the Klein column with an even larger dose of flatulence, but then brings on Bernard Goldberg to chew it over some more:

Goldberg: But when you start throwing words around like sedition. I mean, who exactly at Fox News is inciting a rebellion against the government?

Not that we're much interested in defending Joe Klein, but this was too silly not to take note. So we've provided Bernie with some handy reminders just who at Fox News has indeed been inciting rebellion against the government -- some of it by outright, straight-on incitement (see the tea parties for more of this), and some by fear-mongering. Enjoy.

UPDATE: I remembered this morning that, while not on Fox, Rush Limbaugh has touted the idea of a military coup against Obama.

Cross-posted at Crooks and Liars.

CNN tries to repair damage with Latinos, but Lou Dobbs remains an open, bleeding sore

-- by Dave

CNN last week took steps to repair its tattered image with the Latino community by running a heart-warming series, Latino in America, that does a reasonable job of exploring the realities of daily life the nation's fastest-growing minority bloc.

But what they really don't want to talk about is Lou Dobbs -- the most Latino-bashing media figure of them all. And it's already biting them in the butt, as the New York Times noted this weekend:

CNN, a unit of Time Warner, has not commented on the protests or covered them on its news programs. One of the activists featured in the documentary said she tried to raise what she called Mr. Dobbs’s “hatred” on one of the channel’s news programs Wednesday, but her remarks were cut from the interview.

... Privately, when some executives are asked about the Dobbs complaints, they sometimes cite the production of “Latino in America,” with the implication being that the channel presents many points of view. The documentary, which drew an average of about 900,000 viewers on Wednesday and Thursday, follows two editions of “Black in America.” It presented Hispanic activists with a new rallying point this fall.

Isabel Garcia, a civil rights lawyer who was featured in “Latino in America” and organized an anti-Dobbs protest in Tucson on Wednesday, said that CNN edited her comments about the anchor out of an interview.

She had expected a 15-minute conversation about immigration opposite Joe Arpaio, the sheriff of Maricopa County, Ariz., and a staunch supporter in immigration enforcement, on the prime-time program “Anderson Cooper 360.” During the taped interview Wednesday, she said she made several unprompted comments about Mr. Dobbs.

She said she called Mr. Arpaio and Mr. Dobbs “the two most dangerous men to our communities,” and said that “because of them, our communities are being terrorized in a real way.” She also asserted that CNN was “promoting lies and hate about our community” by broadcasting Mr. Dobbs’s program. The comments were not included when the interview was shown Wednesday night.

“They heavily deleted what I did get to say,” she said.

CNN said the segment in question was tied to “Latino in America.”

“As with all pre-taped interviews, they are edited for time and relevance to the topic of discussion,” a spokeswoman said. “The debate between Isabel Garcia and Joe Arpaio was no exception.”

Yeah, right. And Dobbs' birther coverage never promoted any conspiracy theories, either.

Basta Dobbs has been organizing a Dobbs advertising boycott, as well as protests of CNN by Latinos last week to coincide with the broadcast of Latinos in America:

“Our message to CNN is clear: You cannot have it both ways. It’s either promotion of hatred by Lou Dobbs or real news regarding the Latino community,” said Isabel Garcia, a prominent civil and human rights attorney in Arizona who is highlighted in the “Latino in America” series and who is also participating in the effort.

“Lou Dobbs abuses the CNN platform to dehumanize and spread fear about Latinos and immigrants. It is no surprise that hard-working Latinos in this country are increasingly victims of hate-motivated violence,” added Angelica Salas, executive director of the Coalition for Humane Immigrant Rights of Los Angeles (CHIRLA). “CNN must be accountable to one of the largest minority groups in the United States if it seeks to gain their following and respect”.

It's becoming evident that CNN has told Dobbs to chill. Unlike any similar time period in the past eight years, Dobbs has done only a handful of segments on immigration in the past couple of months. Of course, when he has discussed it, he can't help referring to comprehensive immigration reform as "amnesty" and fetishizing over the "amnesty question" -- as he did last week:

[H/t Heather]

Cross-posted at Crooks and Liars.

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Beck Goes Batsh*t: To depict Obama White House as Capone-like thugs, he waves a Louisville Slugger

-- by Dave

You know where the phrase "jumping the shark" originates, right? It's from the episode of Happy Days where Fonzie, wearing his leather jacket and some swim trunks, jumps over a confined shark with a pair of water skis. As Wikipedia explains, the phrase originally referred to TV shows whose desperation for ratings leads them to indulge stunts that underscore their having "lost it."

Well, Glenn Beck is hardly desperate for ratings -- yet -- but on his Fox News show yesterday, he jumped an entire school of Great Whites with Pinky Tuscadero on his shoulders.

He devoted an entire 14-minute-plus rant to depicting the Obama White House as being like Al Capone and his gang of thugs in The Untouchables, bashing people's heads in with baseball bats. And to illustrate the point, he waved about a big wooden Louisville Slugger and affected a tough-guy gangster voice, all to depict the administration as a bunch of petty thugs who threaten their opponents.

Because it was so long, I've divided it into two parts, just to preserve the whole thing for posterity. I want to be able to tell my grandchildren that yes, your grandpappy was alive when the most popular man on TV could rant for a quarter-hour that the president was a violent thug, while himself wielding a big baseball bat and urging his audience to take action.

There is something profoundly creepy about all this. I know that, on the surface, Beck appears to just be depicting what he sees as the underlying thuggery of the Obama administration. But there is something suggestive of a call to retaliatory violence in this rant, especially when he calls his troops to action.

Beck: You can all sit around the table, like those people did, and then you can say which one’s gonna to get whacked? You can sit there and you can live in fear. Or you can stand up and say ‘Enough of your bat!’ I warn ya, that means that some people are gonna get whacked ... You gotta take a stand, even though you know, in the end, you pull out a knife and they’re gonna pull out a gun. The question we have to ask ourselves , what is it we truly believe in? What do we believe in? Who are we? Are we the guy who sits around the table in fear? Or are we the guy who stands up and says, ‘Hey! What the hell are we all doing? He’s one guy! There’s more of us than there is of him!’ But I warn you, you have to ask yourself, if you stand up, what are you willing to do? Sure, you might get whacked, but let me tell you something, if you spend too much time in the bed with the mob, if you spend too much time at that table, you’re gonna get whacked eventually anyway.

Oh yeah, just for good measure, Beck returns a little later with the same theme, with a photoshop of Rahm Emanuel, the White House chief of staff, as Capone. Beck explains that the White House is in the process of destroying our freedoms. Which ones? Welllll ...

Beck runs through a checklist:

Freedom of speech

Freedom of the press

Right to work

Right to profit

Right to make medical choices

Right to assemble

In the delusional world that is Planet Beck, Obama is attacking all of these rights. For instance, the "right to work" is under assault by labor unions. Health-care reform attacks your right to make medical choices. And calling out the tea parties for their wingnuttery is an attack on the right to assemble.


These people are insane. There's just no way around it.

Want a glimpse into the mind of your average Glennbeckian? Check out Victoria Jackson's love letter to Beck:

But I must especially thank you Glenn Beck for your blackboard. I love your blackboard! And your thorough research. Your facts. Your diagrams. Your teaching. Finally, someone is clearly explaining to us, the taxpayers, exactly what is happening inside that mysterious, gigantic, corrupt political system we have. We, the working middle class, have always been afraid of the machine, and I think the politicians/criminals wanted it that way. With their pompous, pious faces and sneaky hands, they have been stealing and lying. We were too busy raising children, working and going to church to have time to research them. Now, finally, one man has done it. Cracked the Code. Exposed the Fraud. Shone the Light on the Basement Rats! Now, the rats are all scurrying around, all nervous. They are calling The Man With The Flashlight names. Mean names. Squeak! Squeak!

Wow. Insane, I tell you.

Cross-posted at Crooks and Liars.