Friday, December 31, 2010

Holy xenophobes! Far-right whities all uptighty about another comic-book hero: A Muslim Batman

-- by Dave

Remember how the white supremacists at Council of Conservative Citizens got their panties in a wad over the plan to have a black man portray a Norse god in the movie version of Thor?

Now we have right-wing nimrods getting into the act, all because DC Comics has created a Muslim version of the Batman:

The argument against Nightrunner, led by conservative blogger Warner Todd Huston, is based on the bigoted belief that a Muslim superhero is by definition an exercise in deceitful political correctness, and that Muslims are natively evil.

Introduced in this month's Detective Comics Annual #12 and Batman Annual #28, Nightrunner is a 22-year-old Algerian Muslim who's lived in Paris his entire life (it seems reasonable to assume he was born in France, but at the very least he was raised there). Born Billai Asseiah, the character is uncommonly adept at the highly YouTubeable gymnastic form known as parkour. That and Asseiah's sense of justice make him an ideal recruit for Bruce Wayne's new Batman, Inc. initiative, whereby he franchises Batmen to cities all over the world.

Huston views French Muslims -- which is to say, immigrants or those descended from immigrants -- as inauthentically French, and, as such, that Batman would choose a Muslim as Paris' champion is gravely offensive to him and his loathsome ilk.

DC Comics has decided that the "French savior," the French Batman is to be a Muslim immigrant. The character's name is Bilal Asselah and he is an Algerian Sunni Muslim and an immigrant... Apparently Batman couldn't find any actual Frenchman to be the "French savior." is pretty condescending to France, too. France is a proud nation. Yet DC Comics has made a foreigner the "French savior." This will not sit well with many Frenchmen, for sure.

What we really hope will not "sit well" with Frenchmen and Frenchwomen is Huston's ugly assertion that French identification is exclusive to non-immigrants (read: white people).

I'm not as sure as Andy Khouri that Huston -- who is one of the regular contributors at the right-wing media critic outfit, NewsBusters -- is a racist per se. What's self-evident, however, is that he is a religious bigot and an ignorant,
hatemongering xenophobe:

Huston doubles down on the disgust and writes that a Muslim hero is patently ludicrous because Muslims are apparently congenitally terrorists. this age of international Muslim terrorism assaulting the whole world, Batman's readers will be confused by what is really going on in the world. Through it all DC makes a Muslim in France a hero when French Muslims are at the center of some of the worst violence in the country's recent memory.

The true cause of the riots and violence between Frenchmen of European stock and that of immigrant Muslim stock is glossed over as if it doesn't even exist. DC Comics makes the whole problem as simplistic as mere racism as if that is all there is to it ignoring the fact that Islam is the single most important factor in the strife.

Huston refers to the civil unrest France saw in late 2005, when a state of emergency was declared after Muslim youths began rioting in Paris and other cities, burning thousands of cars and several buildings. Huston, Green and other bigots in the conservative media read the tragic situation as an expression of nefarious Islamic purpose, but most commentators and reporters who followed the event described a matter having more to do with social inequality than religion. As is the case in America, where there have also been riots, the economic and social underclass of France is populated largely by minorities and immigrants, and many of those immigrants are Muslims.

You can read all of Huston's attack here. We recommend a shower afterward, though.

[Cross-posted at Crooks and Liars.

Paranoid Christine O'Donnell sees evil conspiracy by 'thugs' in FBI probe of her finances

-- by Dave

Yeah, well, we already kinda knew that Christine O'Donnell was a world-class nutcase. But lest anyone forget it, she responded yesterday to the news that she was facing an FBI investigation into her campaign finances by declaring that the FBI was a corrupt organization doing the bidding of President Obama and his "thugs":

O'Donnell: It appears that this is just the same thug tactics that they've been using for months to discredit this anti-establishment movement.

Then she issued a statement declaring that Joe Biden was the chief thug behind her persecution:

"Given that the king of the Delaware political establishment just so happens to be the vice president of the most liberal presidential administration in U.S. history, it is no surprise that misuse and abuse of the FBI would not be off the table."

Sure sounds like an innocent person to me.

We're still waiting for Roger Ailes to offer her a contract at Fox. Should happen any day now.

[Cross-posted at Crooks and Liars.]

Thursday, December 30, 2010

Fox's Griff Jenkins fluffs up vigilante Arizona border watchers

-- by Dave

Last night, with Dana Perino filling in for Greta Van Susteren, Fox aired a genuinely creepy bit of fluff journalism from Griff Jenkins, heretofore best known for his Tea Party cheerleading schtick as well as his lame-ass ambush-journalism stunts.

This time, he decided to tackle a story about vigilante border watchers in Arizona with the same kind of cheerleading zeal:

GRIFF JENKINS, FOX CORRESPONDENT: Here along Arizona's southern border, outside of Douglas (ph), Arizona, one of the nation's most trafficked areas for illegal human and drug smuggling, one man, Lynn Kartchner, an Army veteran from Vietnam, a retired civil servant, keeps a watchful eye day and night, using only his resources. He's not a part of any militia or any affiliated group. He's not a part of the border patrol. He simply goes out with a few of his colleagues and tries to find illegal activity and report it to the authorities. So we traveled with only a camera to follow him on patrol to see what he could find.

Tell me, what do you do out here, and why are you doing this?

LYNN KARTCHNER, VOLUNTEER BORDER SECURITY: Well, there are a lot of gaps in the border patrol surveillance out here because they know they've driven most of the illegals, especially the drug smugglers, onto the ridgelines on both sides of the valley. And we're here to maintain surveillance over the bottom of the valley and to keep the people herded into those narrow corridors where they can -- where the border control can really concentrate on them.

We watch them parade around with night-vision scopes mounted atop .50-caliber rifles, watching for anyone their searchlight beam turns up. Of course, no one is caught using these tactics, so the report concludes:

JENKINS: It's a few hours from dawn now. Lynn realizes that his bright beam certainly gives away his location of surveillance. However, after spending several hours through the night surveilling things, even with the border patrol actually on operation not far from here, he's pretty sure that his light will serve as deterrent for any other foot or drug-smuggling trafficking in the area.

Lynn, we didn't see anything tonight. It'll be dawn soon. What do you make of it?

KARTCHNER: I think we've lit up and beat up the area enough here that we're not going to see anything else. So it's time to pack it up and go home. But we can say that at this place tonight, no criminal activity happened.

JENKINS: What's your message to the cartel guys on the other side of that border may be watching us?

KARTCHNER: Well, this is our country, and we're not giving it up, not without a fight.

Makes you wonder if this crew had anything to do with those shootings of border crossers earlier this year, in an area about a hundred miles west of where Jenkins shot this segment:

Tuesday, local Arizona news stations began reporting that a group of undocumented immigrants were shot at in an area of Parker Canyon located near Rio Rico Arizona on Friday. According to reports, a group of undocumented border crossers were shot at by two men wearing camouflage using high-powered rifles. One of the five immigrants was hit by a bullet in the forearm and treated at an area hospital for his wounds. The migrants also told authorities that they came across two dead bodies.

... While little is known about the attackers, Sheriff Antonio Estrada has stated that “[i]t’s perturbing to hear of people with high-powered rifles and camouflage. It raises some real red flags.” He also told KVOA that the shooters might have been U.S. citizens. “I hate to think that is what we’re looking at but we’re not going to dismiss any possibilities,” Estrada stated. “They may be individuals who may be hunting illegal border crossers. That’s really a big concern for us.”

Indeed, it's been ironic how Arizonans have gotten worked up over supposed border violence, particularly the Bob Kercher case, when in fact the chief suspect in that murder is believed to be a U.S. resident -- while ignoring the deaths of Lartinos on their border in increasingly mysterious circumstances. Especially in a state that's developing a real white-supremacist problem.

Makes you wonder, though, why Jenkins didn't bother to profile that other group of vigilante border watchers down in Arizona -- namely, J.T. Ready and his not-so-merry band of neo-Nazis. Guess they were a little harder to fluff.

But it's always worth remembering that we've already seen, with the case of Shawna Forde and her band of killer Minutemen, where this kind of vigilantism leads.

[Cross-posted at Crooks and Liars.]

Megyn Kelly compares immigrants to rapists as a way to excuse dehumanizing them as 'illegals'

-- by Dave Megyn Kelly got all worked up yesterday over Leo Laurence's piece outlining an initiative by the Society of Professional Journalists' Diversity Committee to, as they put it, "engage in a yearlong educational campaign designed to inform and sensitize journalists as to the best language to use when writing and reporting on people of different cultures and backgrounds". (Notably, Kelly makes it sound as though this were some kind of active campaign, when in fact, as the SPJ notes, "The committee itself has taken no official initiative on the use of the phrase 'illegal immigrant.' ") So she brought in GOP operative Brad Blakeman and Jehmu Green from the Women's Media Center to engage in a classic Fox 'fair and balanced' debate in which the host and the right-wing guest get to run roughshod on the token 'liberal'. You could pretty much figure where Kelly was coming from when she lobbed this softball to Blakeman:
Kelly: How far could you take this? You could say that a burglar is an unauthorized visitor. You know, you could say that a rapist is a non-consensual sex partner which, obviously, would be considered offensive to the victims of those crimes.
Hey, nothing like a classic "fair and balanced" analogy to make the segment complete, eh? Memo to Megyn Kelly: You're comparing violent criminal acts to a civil misdemeanor, which is what having undocumented status is. (More on that in a moment.) Obviously Kelly was quite enamored with the analogy, because she returned to it with Green:
Kelly: What if there was a push by the criminal defense... bar to re-brand the use of the word rapist to nonconsensual sex partner?
Finally, she wrapped it all up in a bow with one of the dumbest comparisons of 2010:
Kelly: You know, we did a segment earlier in the year on how little people find the term midget offensive, and so you can't say that anymore. There's so many words that are suddenly becoming hurtful, and part of the group thinks it's hurtful, and the other group doesn't, and you're left as a journalist saying, I don't know what to do.
Sigh. Well, we've explained this before:
There's a reason the National Association of Hispanic Journalists urges their colleagues to avoid dehumanizing terms like "illegals":
The term criminalizes the person rather than the actual act of illegally entering or residing in the United States without federal documents. Terms such as illegal alien or illegal immigrant can often be used pejoratively in common parlance and can pack a powerful emotional wallop for those on the receiving end.
Moreover, as Eric Haas at the Rockridge Institute points out, it's a grossly misleading phrase -- and one that reveals a powerful xenophobia:
But the phrase "illegal immigrant" is misleading. There's a grain of truth, but the emphasis is only selectively applied -- it's misapplied -- we don't call speeders "illegal drivers" or people who jaywalk "illegals." And that selective application to immigrants is harmful.
Most people don't understand that "illegal immigration" is in fact only a civil misdemeanor -- which, as legal infractions go, places it on the same scale as speeding or illegal parking. Instead, we've managed to work it up in our minds that being undocumented in the United States is a big-time crime, and thus the undocumented are criminals. Thus we get Rep. Steve King saying this in response to the Democrats' common-sense efforts:
"If anybody can, with a straight face, advocate that we should provide health insurance for people who broke into our country, broke our law and for the most part are criminals, I don't know where they ever would draw the line," he said.
I wonder if Steve King has ever exceeded the speed limit while driving on the freeway. Because, applying his own logic, he would himself also be "a criminal." Moreover, nearly half of the undocumented workers in this country didn't "break into" the country -- they came here on legal visas that then expired, and they simply didn't leave. Calling them "illegals" and "illegal immigrants" is a noxiously dehumanizing habit -- one that only encourages hatefulness and violence against Latinos. It would always help, as Marisa Trevino at Latina Lista points out, if President Obama himself would stop using it. Because the logic of "illegals" eventually leads to a mindset like that noted by Albor Ruiz at the New York Daily News, describing the kind of commentary that usually accompanies discussions of immigration:
"Save the taxpayers of this country a great deal of money and kill them [the undocumented immigrants] on the spot, along with those who think [they] deserve anything better," he said as a reaction to "Immigration's self-deportation program is a real government gem," a column that ran in this space on Aug. 6. Ironically, the writer used the case of an illegal immigrant who committed murder in Texas to justify calling - patriotically, I guess - for a much more horrible crime, an "ethnic cleansing" of sorts against all immigrants and - why stop there? - thousands of people "who think these pieces of (I'll spare the reader the disgusting epithet) deserve anything better." If this guy and others like him had their choice, I and others like me would be well advised to "go back to where we came from." Or else.
That, of course, is classic eliminationism. It underlies the use of "illegals." And that alone is reason for major-network TV anchors to stop using it.
As Steve Benen observes:
Here's a tip, Megyn: call people whatever they want to be called. It's really not that complicated; even Fox News personalities should be able to keep it straight.
Ryan J. Reilly at TPM has more. [Cross-posted at Crooks and Liars.]

Tucker Carlson uses winter storm on East Coast to attack climate science: 'This is of course a religion'

-- by Dave

It's not hard to see why Tucker Carlson inspires such visceral dislike from the likes of sane people such as Jon Stewart. It's the way he wraps the dumbest propagandistic crap in such smug preppy smarm.

Like earlier this week, filling in for Hannity on his Fox News show: There's Carlson hosting a segment on global warming, pretending -- as Fox anchors did all last winter, too -- that those severe storms are somehow proof, as Hannity himself puts it, that "global warming is a fraud" or other denialist nonsense.

It's obvious, right off the bat, that Carlson either doesn't know, or doesn't want his audience to know, that climate is not the same thing as weather, and that global warming means just that -- it's a global phenomenon, and not just an Eastern Coast of the United States phenomenon:

Carlson: But despite the frigid temperatures and record snowfall this season, global warming true believers are still trying to spin the weather.

Carlson seems to have trouble grasping a simple principle: Global warming means more severe seasonal storms, precisely because it is putting more moisture into the air. Indeed, one of his guests, Betsy Rosenberg, tries to explain this to him, but Carlson is just too intent on forcing his spin onto everyone else.

Carlson: You know, I was interested to hear Betsy use the term biblical, because this is of course a religion, and one with particularly fervent believers. ...

Then he closes with a particularly snide shot:
Carlson: Good luck with your religion, I hope your spaceship lands.

Of course, Carlson is just keeping up the tradition at Fox of lying to its audience 24/7, especially when it comes to global warming.

But he really seems to enjoy being a complete dick about it.

[Cross-posted at Crooks and Liars.]

Russell Pearce gears up to push birthright-citizenship bill -- while Arizona crumbles

-- by Dave

Our favorite neo-Nazi-friendly legislator, Arizona's own Russell Pearce, has been hankering to revoke Latinos' birthright citizenship for a long time. But now he's actually the president of the Arizona State Senate -- which means he has real power.

And with SB1070 under his belt, he's ready to roll -- not just in Arizona, but nationally.

Interestingly, a recent Arizona Republic editorial actually begged him not to, considering that it's not going to do a thing to help Arizona get out of its budget crisis:

With Arizona facing huge shortfalls, this is no time for distractions.

It's hard to imagine a worse distraction than trying to write our own rules on citizenship.

Unfortunately, Senate President-elect Russell Pearce is a keen promoter of trying to reinterpret the 14th Amendment, which establishes birthright citizenship, through state law.

Never mind that the U.S. Constitution is completely outside the jurisdiction of state legislators. Or that the state faces its worst financial crisis ever.

This is like calling the fire department when your house is in flames - and the firefighters responding by rushing to Washington, D.C., to spray water on the Capitol.

There are wiser perspectives among the incoming legislators. Some senators supported Pearce, a Mesa Republican, for the top leadership job with the understanding that he wouldn't file a birthright bill.

That was, it turns out, more than a bit naive. Because there's nothing to stop someone else from dropping such legislation.

"I never pledged not to hear the bill," Pearce said in a recent Editorial Board meeting. "Will I facilitate it getting passed? Yes, I will."

Pearce claims that Arizona suffered no harm from Senate Bill 1070, his last do-it-yourself immigration-enforcement job. That's not what business people say. Arizona is still suffering from the economic damage, not to mention the bitter divisions, of that misguided law. The consequences - the opportunities lost, the long-lasting stain on our image - will stretch on for years.

In other words, Pearce pulled a fast one on his fellow Republicans in order to win the Senate presidency. Because yesterday, there he was on Fox's Your World with guest host Brian Sullivan, not only touting the bill essentially as his project -- and vowing to unveil it as a national project:

SULLIVAN: You are not keeping this in the Arizona borders. You are announcing this at the National Press Club, right, next week.

PEARCE: Yes. Yes.


SULLIVAN: Why do this on a national stage?

PEARCE: Well, because we have about 18 states that have joined us in this effort, a coalition of 18 states that agree with us. Others do, too. They just don`t think they can pass it through their congress or -- I mean, their legislative bodies.

So we actually have the majority of Americans on this issue on our side, too. The polls show 62 percent to 70 percent of Americans know that birthright citizenship is unconstitutional, that the practice ought to be stopped.

What you`re doing, you are inducing -- it is against the law to enter the United States in violation of federal law. And it`s against law to remain here without permission. And yet we induce you to break the law. It is absolutely outrageous. The common sense...

The best part is that Pearce openly admits that his strategy is intended to draw the state of Arizona into costly litigation when the inevitable lawsuits arrive, with the hope that they will be able to get the Supreme Court to overturn its previous rulings making clear the 14th Amendment grants citizenship to anyone born on American soil. As he told Sullivan:

PEARCE: So we know they will sue. That is a given. They sue you on everything. They don`t want the laws enforced. Their support for anarchists and for the -- and for destruction of the rule of law is outrageous.

Somewhat secondarily, we all saw how the fight over SB1070 became a nexus for right-wing extremist activity, to the point that it's now abundantly clear that Arizona has a white-supremacist problem, maybe even more substantial than Idaho's in its heyday. This bill will only pour gasoline on that particular bonfire.

All in the service of Russell Pearce's self-promoting ego. Arizonans and their budget can go to the devil for all he cares. He has a national image to promote.

[Cross-posted at Crooks and Liars.]

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

CPAC losing significant chunks of the gay-bashing Right over GOProud

-- by Dave

As Susie reported earlier, it seems right-wingers have brains with overdeveloped fear centers.

And what are they REALLY scared of? Why, Teh Gay, of course:

Two of the nation's premier moral issues organizations, the Family Research Council and Concerned Women for America, are refusing to attend the Conservative Political Action Conference in February because a homosexual activist group, GOProud, has been invited.

"We've been very involved in CPAC for over a decade and have managed a couple of popular sessions. However, we will no longer be involved with CPAC because of the organization's financial mismanagement and movement away from conservative principles," said Tom McClusky, senior vice president for FRC Action.

"CWA has decided not to participate in part because of GOProud," CWA President Penny Nance told WND.

FRC and CWA join the American Principles Project, American Values, Capital Research Center, the Center for Military Readiness, Liberty Counsel, and the National Organization for Marriage in withdrawing from CPAC. In November, APP organized a boycott of CPAC over the participation of GOProud.

As Steve Benen observes, they must be scared of getting cooties or something. Mustang Bobby at Shakesville has more.

You'll also note that many of the groups listed as stepping out from CPAC are groups newly listed as hate groups by the SPLC. They may be bitching and moaning about that, but then they keep proving its accuracy on a daily basis.

[Cross-posted at Crooks and Liars.]

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

McCain whines that Latinos turned their backs on him -- after he threw them under the bus

-- by Dave

We all saw what a vicious hypocrite John McCain really is last week when he voted against the DREAM Act -- a bill he not only sponsored, but campaigned before Latinos on.

Now he's justifying his mendacious flip-flop by complaining that Latinos turned their backs on him:

McCain also voted no Saturday on the Dream Act, which would have granted citizenship to thousands of foreign-born college students. He initially sponsored the legislation. Gullett said McCain constantly faced voters on the campaign trail last year asking about border security and that affected his stance. His communications director, Brooke Buchanan, explained that on immigration, McCain believes the border needs to be secured above all else, citing the increasing border violence over the last four years. "His opinion has evolved with time," she said. "Don't we expect our leaders to base their opinions and policies, don't we expect them to change with the time? And that's what Sen. McCain has been doing. It's truly in the best interest of our country."

Woods said "it hurts" McCain to vote against legislation like the Dream Act after years of working on reform but said the senator felt betrayed when Latinos overwhelmingly supported Obama in 2008. "When you carry that fight at great sacrifice year after year and then you are abandoned during the biggest fight of your life, it has to have some sort of effect on you," he said.

But as Kos observes, McCain actually threw Latinos under the bus in January 2008, during the Republican presidential debates:

MS. HOOK: Senator McCain, let me just take the issue to you, because you obviously have been very involved in it. During this campaign, you, like your rivals, have been putting the first priority, heaviest emphasis, on border security. But your original immigration proposal back in 2006 was much broader and included a pathway to citizenship for illegal immigrants who are already here.

What I'm wondering is, and you seem to be downplaying that part, at this point, if your original proposal came to a vote in the Senate floor, would you vote for it?

SEN. MCCAIN: It won't. It won't. That's why we went through the debate.

MS. HOOK: I know, but what if it did?

SEN. MCCAIN: No, I would not, because we know what the situation is today. The people want the border secured first. And so to say that that would come to the floor of the Senate, it won't. We went through various amendments which prevented that ever, that proposal.

He also backed the bus back up and ran over Latinos again in May, on Bill O'Reilly's show:

Bill O’Reilly: But do you understand what the New York Times wants, and the far-left want? They want to break down the white, Christian, male power structure, which you’re a part, and so am I, and they want to bring in millions of foreign nationals to basically break down the structure that we have. In that regard, Pat Buchanan is right. So I say you’ve got to cap with a number.

John McCain: In America today we’ve got a very strong economy and low unemployment, so we need addition farm workers, including by the way agriculture, but there may come a time where we have an economic downturn, and we don’t need so many.


O’Reilly: But in this bill, you guys have got to cap it. Because estimation is 12 million, there may be 20 [million]. You don’t know, I don’t know. We’ve got to cap it.

McCain: We do, we do. I agree with you.

A few months later, McCain held a secret meeting with Latinos in which he told Latinos, again, that he really was their friend -- but just didn't want them to tell anyone about it.

Yeah, Latinos betrayed McCain. Like Jesus betrayed Judas.

[Cross-posted at Crooks and Liars.]

Sarah Palin tries to lie her way out of 'refudiate' coinage

-- by Dave

Now that it has been immortalized, Sarah Palin wants to pretend on her TLC show that her coinage of 'refudiate' was just an accidental typo:

While in the car, Sarah also talked to Todd about the time she tweeted the word "refudiate." "I pressed an F instead of a P and people freaked out," said Sarah, pointing out that her blunder was the second-most-searched word on Google trends. "Make lemonade out of lemons," said Sarah.

Um ... right. Except, of course, that she made the tweet on July 18:

But as you can see, she actually said 'refudiate' on national TV, on Sean Hannity's Fox show, four days before that, on July 14.

No doubt she will claim that this was just a typo too.

[Cross-posted at Crooks and Liars.

Monday, December 27, 2010

'Kill them ... including the children': 'Security' firms train law enforcement to fight terrorism with bigotry

-- by Dave

I don't know about you, but I can't think of any better way to prepare our law-enforcement officers for potential terrorist attacks by teaching them that all Muslims are violent America-haters and that we should just kill them all. Also, President Obama is secretly a Muslim.

That's going to work out splendidly, isn't it?

From Chip Berlet:

This quote is from what one official involved in homeland security said was the theme of a speech by Walid Shoebat at an anti-terrorism training in Las Vegas in October 2010.

Our source had turned around after Shoebat's speech and asked the woman in the chair behind them at the conference what she thought was the solution offered by Shoebat.

"Kill them...including the heard him," was the full response.

Shoebat's Las Vegas speech was described by our source as "frightening."

You may remember Shoebat. Back in 2008, the Air Force Academy brought him in to teach cadets how to hate Muslims. Now he's doing it for law enforcement. As Berlet explains:

Shoebat has said that "Islam is not the religion of God -- Islam is the devil." According to religion writer Richard Bartholomew, "Shoebat is a pseudo-expert on terrorism, Islamic extremism, and Biblical prophecy, and he teaches that Obama is a secret Muslim and that the Bible has prophesised a Muslim anti-Christ." This means for some apocalyptic Christians that Muslims then would be allies of Satan in the End Times battle between good and evil. This battle ends when Jesus returns and with a vengeful God kills all these deemed to be non-believers in Christianity. This bloody and bigoted version of apocalyptic prophesies is rejected and condemned by the Catholic and Orthodox churches and every major Protestant denomination.

Michael Riker, president of the International Counter Terrorism Officers Association, which sponsored the event in Vegas, angrily defended Shoebat in a comment to an earlier Berlet HuffPo piece:

What you hear from Walid is the TRUTH. The attendees were glued to what [Shoebat] had to say and the majority of them agreed. The liberal media is afraid to hear what the truth really is. Who has been planning attacks on our country? We are in a war of ideology and if you don't know that you need to get you head out of the sand. Before you make judgment see what is really going on then make an educated decision for yourself.

As Berlet notes, there are a number of so-called "security" training consultants who indulge in this kind of bigotry. For a complete roundup of the issue, see the Public Eye's page devoted to it.

[Cross-posted at Crooks and Liars.]

Denialists want to pretend global warming will be good for some people -- and not bad for every species on the planet

-- by Dave

If you wanted a prime example of the kind of blinkered, circular dumbassery that passes for right-wing thinking on global climate change -- or for that matter, any kind of science issue -- check out the discussion that emerged this weekend over this absurd contribution from economist Stefan Karlsson in the Christian Science Monitor:

What has always troubled me the most with the view that we needs to stop "climate change" in the form of "global warming" is the idea that it would be bad if the Earth became warmer.

Sure, that could be negative in some areas for some reasons, but it would also be beneficial in other areas for other reasons. Suppose for example that Antarctica, or at least parts of it, would become habitable due to a warmer climate, wouldn't that be a good thing that could possibly outweigh possible problems elsewhere

... Note that some "climate change" theories argue that "global warming" could lead to colder weather in for example northern Europe. But even assuming that this is really true, it begs the question of why colder weather is bad there but good everywhere else. And this cold weather will largelly undo the initial warming effect, leaving us with little to worry about, assuming "global warming" is bad.

Fairly typical of an economist to only consider the surface economic effects of global climate change with nary a word about the far more significant biological impacts that are heading our way like a big runaway train careering down the tracks.

Sure enough, the usual half-thinkers of the wingnutosphere were happy to promote this nonsense, including Glenn Reynolds and Ann Althouse, who remarked: "The reason is that when [IF!] global warming sets in, there will be winners and losers, and those who predict that they will win understand the value of circumspection and restraint." (Even more absurd is the outright denialism that dominated the comments to this post.)

Actually, the reason to be concerned is that EVERYONE loses -- every species on the planet will suffer, including human beings. Even wealthy, conceited, arrogant conservative human beings.

But this is fairly typical right-wing cant when it comes to climate change -- believing that the only impacts of global phenomena are to be found in the obvious manifestations they can see. Remember how, last winter, everyone on Fox was trying to argue that the heavy East Coast snowstorms somehow disproved that global warming was occurring?

So let's leave aside the reality that rising ocean levels will seriously impact the globe's coastal populations, particularly those in the Third World. Leave aside the certainty that many of the world's forests (and thus their oxygen-producing capacities) are going to be burning up and dying because of climate change. And leave aside the likelihood that the world's storms -- hurricanes, tornadoes, rainstorms and snowstorms -- likely will be increasing significantly in intensity, killing many more human beings than they already do.

Let's consider instead simply a small spectrum of the impact global warming will have on the world's oceans -- our coral reefs. Because the evidence is nearly indisputable that, because of climate change, the world's coral reefs are rapidly dying.

This isn't even being seriously contested by anyone, and we've known it for awhile. In 2006, there was this National Geographic report, based on a study published in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, describing how global warming is devastating the world's coral reefs. It has been borne out by numerous studies, including one published in Science in 2007.

No one is even attempting to claim that this effect is not happening. Indeed, the concern has only been intensifying in more recent years. See, for instance, the maps showing the loss of calclifiers in the oceans, which inevitably is leading to a significant loss of biodiversity within the world's oceanic ecosystems.

Well, OK, the denialists might try to say -- sure, we can lose some coral reefs, but it really won't matter, except to tourists in Australia and Hawaii and Mexico and the people who make a living from them. At least, that's what one would expect, given the kind of dumbassery they regularly spout.

Consider the biological reality that the world's ecosystems are intricately interconnected webs -- and when you start pulling out strands, especially significant ones that form the backbone of the structure, eventually it all collapses.

But the significance of the loss of coral reefs runs even deeper than that. It is really only an indicator of the massive effects that human activity is having on the world's ecosystems -- an effect that endangers our ability to feed ourselves, and sustain ourselves as a biological species.

The chief problem here is the acidifcation of the world's oceans -- which, as the scientists studying it point out, is not even slightly controversial:

"Unlike global warming, which can manifest itself in nuanced, complex ways, the science of ocean acidification is unambiguous," said Andrew Dickson, a Scripps professor of marine chemistry.

"The chemical reactions that take place as increasing amounts of carbon dioxide are introduced to seawater have been established for nearly a century."

Even more important, the impacts include a significant loss for the world's food supply:

"We know that the increasing concentration of CO2 [in the air] is making the oceans more acidic," Mr Benn told BBC News.

"It affects marine life, it affects coral, and that in turn could affect the amount of fish in the sea - and a billion people in the world depend on fish for their principal source of protein.

"It doesn't get as much attention as the other problems; it is really important."

There are related effects involved here as well, including the impact that changing ocean temperatures have on oceanic upwelling, which is one of the important ways that a multitude of species -- from whales to salmon to herring -- are able to feed and sustain themselves.

All in all, it's absurd to contemplate that global warming might make make things more pleasant in some locales -- such as making the Antarctic habitable (as though that would not wipe out hundreds of animal species too) -- while ignoring the massive biological effects of the phenomenon, which ultimately have not just economic but other real-world effects too, such as mass starvation and increased conflict over the remaining and rapidly diminishing natural resources around the globe.

Maybe an economist like Karlsson should take the time to more seriously examine the economics of the problem. Here's a good place for him to start: The Economics of Ecosystems and Biodiversity.

As for the wingnutosphere denialists, they're beyond help. When the waves are lapping at their doors and they find themselves unable to feed their families because food simply isn't available, they'll somehow find a way to claim that it really isn't a problem. And it's all liberals' fault anyway.

[Cross-posted at Crooks and Liars.]

Saturday, December 25, 2010

Now that would be nice Christmas present: Hawaii's governor wants to finally demolish the birthers

-- by Dave

Neil Abercrombie, Hawaii's new governor, wants to give the country a Christmas present: He intends to finally demolish the conspiracy theories adopted by diehard Obama haters demanding to see the president's birth certificate, even after it has long been made available:

The governor, a Democrat and former congressman, said he has initiated conversations with the state’s attorney general and the chief of its Health Department about how he can release more explicit documentation of Mr. Obama’s birth on Aug. 4, 1961, at Kapiolani Maternity and Gynecological Hospital. He said he has done so of his own accord, without consulting the White House, which declined to comment.

“He’s a big boy; he can take sticks and stones. But there’s no reason on earth to have the memory of his parents insulted by people whose motivation is solely political,” Mr. Abercrombie said. “Let’s put this particular canard to rest.”

Abercrombie, you see, knew Obama's parents and met the president when he was a baby:

Mr. Abercrombie, 72, said that although he did not see the elder Obamas at the hospital with their newborn son, he did remember the couple bringing the baby to social events. He says the critics who suggest that Mr. Obama’s mother slipped off to Kenya to give birth are engaging in a “demonological fantasy.”

An L.A, Times story has more:

"What bothers me is that some people who should know better are trying to use this for political reasons," said Abercrombie, 72. "Maybe I'm the only one in the country that could look you right in the eye right now and tell you, 'I was here when that baby was born.' "

One of Abercrombie's aides said the governor is voicing the frustration of many Hawaiians who continue to be troubled by the rumors, which they see as emblematic of the view that Hawaiians are not Americans in the same way as those who live in the continental United States.

Of course, as the L.A. Times story points out, this really won't stop the birthers. But it will at least create the kind of hurdle to peddling their irrationality that will make it much, much harder to do so. And for that, he will have the nation's gratitude.

[Cross-posted at Crooks and Liars.]

Friday, December 24, 2010

O'Reilly and Coulter try to explain why right-wing scroogery is really Christian charity

-- by Dave

Bill O'Reilly really took it personally when Stephen Colbert made fun of O'Reilly's bizarre column claiming that Jesus really wouldn't have helped the poor at Christmas time -- or at least worried about their unemployment checks.

So O'Reilly earlier this week featured an opening segment responding haplessly to Colbert, attempting a serious theological argument with a comedian -- and miserably failing:

But Judeo-Christian tradition does not require blind largesse. We are not mandated to buy people gin or cocaine, or pay someone's bills if they refuse to work. If you want to do that, you can in a free society. But to force the responsible to pay for the irresponsible is immoral in my opinion.

The U.S. government makes no distinction when it comes to entitlements. The feds do not drug test or regulate the behavior of those on the dole. And there is no question that the feds waste billions of dollars every year, money taken from hardworking people.

Americans are the most generous people on Earth, but our government does not have a right to seize anyone's assets in pursuit of an impossible social nirvana. And I do believe that Jesus would agree.

The best part came when he invited on Ann Coulter to back him up. Coulter tossed out her usual turdlike bon mots: “Liberals think sending a check to the IRS constitutes charity” was about as cogent as she got -- while claiming that good Christian Republicans are “actually giving to poor people.”

Hey, I dunno about you, but when I think of Christian charity and kindness, Ann Coulter is the first person to spring to mind. That is, as someone in deep need of it.

Grade: Massive FAIL.

[Cross-posted at Crooks and Liars.]

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Righties are mad that so much got done during the lame-duck session. Cue the whining

-- by Dave

As Ezra Klein observes, the lame-duck session of Congress was unusually productive. And one of the keys was that, for a change, there actually were a few Republicans who decided to be, you know, sane:

The incumbent -- and the outgoing -- Republicans know that the fact that Republicans will have more power in 2011 doesn't necessarily mean that they'll use that power to pass sensible legislation. So those of them who wanted to pass sensible legislation decided to get it all done now, even if that meant handing Reid and Obama a slew of apparent victories in the lame-duck session.

Ooooooh! That wascawwy Obama! Laura Ingraham and Dick Morris were all worked up about it last night on The O'Reilly Factor, turning blue in the face

Morris: But what is crucial to focus on, is they didn't get any spending cuts in return! Had the Republicans simply said, 'No dice. This is an illegitimate, lame-duck session of people who are not entitled to vote because they were defeated. And we're not going to pass anything, and we're going to do it on January 2, and then we're going to demand spending cuts!' Which now will have to be fought for in the debt limit ceiling or the new budget. And in the meantime the deficit keeps clicking.

Morris then went on to list all the Republican Senators who were going to be facing primaries -- from Tea Party challengers, no doubt -- in the near future because of their various sins in the lame-duck session. Considering this is the guy who predicted a 100-seat gain for Republicans in the House, I'm sure they're quaking.

But I'm also struck by Morris's proposal: Evidently he doesn't care that the Constitution pretty explicitly lays out how this election stuff works. Congress keeps meeting after elections, and new members do not take office till they take their oaths. It's all there in the 20th Amendment.

Don't these guys have great reverence for the Constitution? Except, as always, the parts they find inconvenient.

Like every other Republican right now, Morris also seems to have conveniently forgotten about the 1998 lame-duck session when Republicans impeached President Clinton. Which is quite a remarkable case of amnesia.

[Cross-posted at Crooks and Liars.]

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Fox & Friends appalled Daily Show gets 9/11 responders credit: People 'think his show is real news, which is a problem'

-- by Dave

Now that the 9/11 first responders' health bill has passed the Senate, Jon Stewart and the Daily Show obviously deserve a round of applause for stepping up and playing a critical role in getting it done.

That really seemed to stick in the craws of the crew at Fox & Friends this morning. Check out this exchange between Gretchen Carlson (who I think is just still mad at Stewart for calling her out on the dumb-blonde schtick), Steve Doocy and Brian Kilmeade, culminating with this:

Carlson: I think it's interesting when you have Jon Stewart, who apparently decided to get really serious on this topic, have a serious show about it. That's like mixing apples and oranges, c'mon! I mean, people already think that his show is real news, which is a problem.

So then when you have comedy and then one day you decide to just get totally serious --

Doocy: He's an activist.

Carlson: But I don't know if that works in the mind of the -- mind of the American people.

You know what's an even bigger problem, Gretchen? That people already think every show on Fox News other than Shep Smith's is real news. When in fact, it's demonstrably little more than lying, smearing, fearmongering propaganda. Now THAT'S a problem.

[Cross-posted at Crooks and Liars.]

Barbour's 'clarification' of White Citizens' Council apologia is still more whitewashing

-- by Dave

Haley Barbour is obviously eager to walk back his boneheaded apologia for the old White Citizens Councils in Mississippi, so yesterday he issued a "clarification":

"When asked why my hometown in Mississippi did not suffer the same racial violence when I was a young man that accompanied other towns' integration efforts, I accurately said the community leadership wouldn't tolerate it and helped prevent violence there. My point was my town rejected the Ku Klux Klan, but nobody should construe that to mean I think the town leadership were saints, either. Their vehicle, called the 'Citizens Council,' is totally indefensible, as is segregation. It was a difficult and painful era for Mississippi, the rest of the country, and especially African Americans who were persecuted in that time."

Barbour is actually just making matters worse, because this too is false information and incredibly misleading. First of all, Yazoo City certainly did not reject the Klan -- it was very much a significant and well-reported presence on the local landscape at the time.

Moreover, it didn't need violence because the White Citizens Council in Yazoo City had so thoroughly intimidated and threatened its local black population into abject fear and silence. Let's recall Barbour's original exchange here, especially the question that prompted it:

Both Mr. Mott and Mr. Kelly had told me that Yazoo City was perhaps the only municipality in Mississippi that managed to integrate the schools without violence. I asked Haley Barbour why he thought that was so.

Well, as Adam Nossiter describes in some detail in his remarkable book, Of Long Memory: Mississippi and the Murder of Medgar Evers, the real answer is that the White Citizens' Council's intimidation campaign was so successful that it took years before blacks had the wherewithal to challenge school segregation in Yazoo City:

And fear forced people out of the NAACP. It atomized the community, making any kind of association a frightening undertaking. Whites saw any grouping of blacks as a threat.

"The Negroes will not come together, and our former president has not cooperated at all," Evers wrote despairingly from the Delta town of Yazoo City in 1956. Blacks there had filed a petition to desegregate the schools, as they had in a number of other Mississippi town, in the wake of the Supreme Court's desegregation decision in 1955. The Citizens' Council responded with a well-honed campaign of intimidation and published in the local newspaper the names of parents who had signed the petition. The people working for whites almost immediately lost their jobs, and soon all but two of the petition signers had backed down.

The Citizens' Council had intimidated the local NAACP president to such a degree that the group could no longer hold meetings in Yazoo City. "It appears that they have gotten next to him and we just can't get any results, not even a call meeting. One thing, the people are afraid. I would say is is worse than being behind the Iron Curtain," reported Evers.

Indeed, the assassination of Evers in the nearby city of Jackson, was committed by a charter member of the White Citizens' Council, a Greenwood man named Byron de la Beckwith -- who also happened to be a leading member of the Ku Klux Klan.

Leonard Zeskind has a good deal more on this:

Actually, the line between the Klan and the Citizens Councils in Mississippi was often a distinction without a difference. Consider Byron de la Beckwith, a member of the Greenwood Mississippi Citizens Council. He was also associated with Sam Bowers' White Knights Klan. In 1963, Beckwith used a sniper rifle to gun down the president of the Mississippi State NAACP, Medgar Evers, while he was virtually on the doorstep of his home in Jackson. And when Beckwith went to trial the first time for this brutal slaying, the Citizens Councils provided essential aid and succor. Haley Barbour would have been a sophomore in high school the year of the murder. In 1994, when Beckwith was finally convicted of first degree murder in that crime, Barbour would have been head of the Republican National Committee. Certainly he read the newspapers then. He has no excuse for even a momentary lapse with a Weekly Standard reporter.

Further, when Barbour claims that the Citizens Councils kept the Klan out of Yazoo City through the threat of economic boycott, that was actually the tool the Councils tried to use to keep the NAACP out. Across the South, Citizens Councils would gather the names of NAACP supporters and threaten them with economic sanctions if they continued to support desegregation.

Compare that historical reality to Haley Barbour's original description of this history:

“Because the business community wouldn’t stand for it,” he said. “You heard of the Citizens Councils? Up north they think it was like the KKK. Where I come from it was an organization of town leaders. In Yazoo City they passed a resolution that said anybody who started a chapter of the Klan would get their ass run out of town. If you had a job, you’d lose it. If you had a store, they’d see nobody shopped there. We didn’t have a problem with the Klan in Yazoo City.”

This is such a gross distortion that it really amounts to a baldfaced lie. Especially when you consider, as Ta-Nehisi Coates observes, the kind of history he is attempting to blot out here.

On Fox, the criticism is described as raising questions of racism on Barbour's part. But that's really not the immediate issue -- though it may be lurking at a deeper level down the road. The real issue here is that Haley Barbour is covering up for and whitewashing one of the most vicious white-supremacist organizations ever to have formed on American soil -- winking and nudging at them, and thereby enabling both them and their legatees. And he wants to run for president?

[Cross-posted at Crooks and Liars.]

Barney Frank completely pwns hapless CNS reporter attempting 'gotcha' DADT question

-- by Dave

You can tell that all these reporters for right-wing propaganda organs like the Media Research Center spend waaaay too much time watching Fox News and their army of would-be ambush journalists. Because they often try to imitate their betters only to discover that it can seriously backfire on them.

Especially when the intended victim is a seriously smart person like Barney Frank.

This happened yesterday to a young reporter for CNS (an MRC outlet), as Terry Krepel at Media Matters reports:

Apparently feeling confident (and sufficiently homophobic), CNS decided to target Rep. Barney Frank with a question about the repeal of Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell – specifically, whether he thought gay and straight soldiers should shower together. This was based on a statement calling for a ban on separate showers from the Pentagon’s report on the impact of repealing DADT that CNS had previously singled out.

Frank saw this coming from a mile away. As CNS reporter Nicholas Ballasy slowly got out the words “shower with homosexuals,” Frank let out an exaggerated gasp and responded, “What do you think happens in gyms all over America?” After calling it a “silly issue,” Frank added, “What do you think goes wrong with people showering with homosexuals? Do you think it’s the spray makes it catching? ... We don’t get ourselves dry-cleaned.”

Frank then turned the tables on his interviewer by quizzing Ballasy: “I know you’re looking for some way to kind of discredit the policy. Do you think that gyms should have separate showers for gay and straight people? I’m asking you the question because that’s the logic of what you’re telling me. You seem to think that there’s something extraordinary about gay men showering together. Do you think gyms should have separate showers for gay people and straight people?” Ballasy wouldn’t answer, insisting that he was “just quoting the recommendation.” Frank responded: “Don’t be disingenuous. You’re quoting those you think may cause us some problems. You’re entitled to do that, but you shouldn’t hide behind your views.” Frank again asked the question of Ballasy, who again wouldn’t answer, trying to change the subject: “So that’s the question you would pose to people who have an issue with that part of the report, the recommendation?” Frank made his point one more time, and that’s where the CNS ends the video.

As is often the case with Barney Frank, it is a delightfully thorough humiliation.

[Cross-posted at Crooks and Liars.]

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Nuclear-arms expert Jon Voight warns Mark Steyn about Obama: 'This man is capable of destroying our country'

-- by Dave

Mark Steyn is filling in for Sean Hannity this week on Fox, and he wanted to have an in-depth, thoughtful discussion of the START nuclear-missile treaty. Naturally, this meant he brought on wingnut actor Jon Voight, who springs to mind immediately as an careful and knowledgeable analyst of nuclear issues, thanks to his incisive portrayals of FDR in Pearl Harbor and Jonas Hodges in 24.

And it was deeply insightful indeed. It opened up a tremendous window on the full-blown idiocy and paranoia of the wingnut Right. F'r instance:

VOIGHT: And now I hear Obama trying to convince the American people that if we give up our nuclear weapons, this will set a fine example and all other countries will follow suit. What a dangerous and naive notion that is. If President Reagan wasn't such a powerful force of strength, we never would have seen Premier Gorbachev take down the Berlin Wall.

In reality, of course, it was Reagan who opened the negotiations with the Soviets in 1982 that eventually led to the first START treaty, ratified in 1992 under George H.W. Bush. Reagan often remarked in his speeches that his "ultimate goal" was the "total elimination of nuclear weapons."

Maybe Jon was too busy on the set of Lookin' To Get Out back then or something. Because he nattered on in this vein for awhile -- including this utterly incoherent bit:

VOIGHT: Well, our President Kennedy in September of 1961 and by the way, of course he served in the World War II nearly losing his life and he stated that American military might is the only way to keep our freedom. Of course, President Reagan was of the same point of view. And thank God he had the foresight not to sign away our national missile defense when he saw the world full of presidents and future threats from multiple nuclear powers.

Steyn obviously found this deeply insightful:

STEYN: Do you think the Republicans are going to stand firm on this? The president tonight seems to be pretty confident he can get enough Republicans to get on board with this thing to pass it with 67 votes. Are you confident the Republican Party will stand firm?

VOIGHT: Well, I certainly hope, so. And I think, again, a lot of it has to do with the American people. Get on the phones, folks, and make sure that we encourage our senators to reject this thing. You know, I don't -- we have seen this before. We have seen it coming towards Christmas as well. This idea that we push something through and people are thinking about, you know, presents for their grandchildren and wanting to get out of town, they come in and no one is thorough in their questioning or their reading of the materials. And they push something through. I don't know how many more wrong Obama policies we need to see before we wake up to the possibility that this man is capable of destroying our country.

The whole segment reminded me of an earlier Jon Voight performance:

1st Lt. Milo Minderbinder: I want to serve this to the men. Taste it and let me know what you think.

[Yossarian takes a bite]

Yossarian: What is it?

1st Lt. Milo Minderbinder: Chocolate covered cotton.

Yossarian: What are you, crazy?

1st Lt. Milo Minderbinder: No good, huh?

Yossarian: For Christ's sake, you didn't even take the seeds out.

1st Lt. Milo Minderbinder: Is it really that bad?

Yossarian: It's cotton!

[Cross-posted at Crooks and Liars.]

Barbour's spokesman wants specifics on racist leanings in his past. Well, OK.

-- by Dave

After Haley Barbour's wink-and-nudge act about the White Citizens Councils caught a lot of people's attention, Eric Kleefeld at TPM called up Barbour's spokesman, Dan Turner, who gave Kleefeld a decidedly prickly and paranoid interview -- including this nugget:

"Tell me what in Gov. Barbour's past gives any indication of any racist leanings, and I'll be glad to address the question," said Turner. "Otherwise, it's not a legitimate question. There's nothing in his past that shows that. If you pick out a sentence or a paragraph out of a fairly long article and harp on it, you can manipulate it. And that sounds to me like what you're trying to do."

Hmmm, that's tough. Oh yeah. There is this:

This is Barbour on July 19, 2003, at the Black Hawk Barbecue and Political Rally, held to raise money for [wink wink, nudge nudge] "private academy" school buses. The barbecue is the big fund-raising shindig thrown every year by the Council of Conservative Citizens -- the successor organization to the White Citizens Councils and one of the nation's most prominent white-supremacist outfits. On the far right (appropriately) is the CofCC's national field director, Bill Lord.

Barbour later tried to claim, incidentally, that he didn't know anything about the CofCC. Considering how knowledgeable he appears to be regarding the White Citizens Councils, this doesn't seem particularly credible anymore. Still, he declined to ask them to remove his photo from their website:

"Once you start down the slippery slope of saying 'That person can't be for me,' then where do you stop?" Barbour said. "Old segregationists? Former Ku Klux Klan like (Sen.) Robert Byrd, D-W.Va.? You know?

"Once you get into that, you spend your time doing nothing else," Barbour said. "I don't care who has my picture. My picture's in the public domain. It gets published in newspapers every day."


Wanna bet if an outfit called the "Council of Conservative Pedophiles" ran Barbour's picture, he'd be so sanguine?

Kos had details at the time about Barbour's participation in the picnic.

Be sure to read all of Kleefeld's interview, which is pretty remarkable -- especially these exchanges:

After being pressed further on whether Barbour's comments about the Citizens Councils were accurate, Turner said: "I'm aware of what the governor said in this interview. I'm not gonna get into the business of trying to twist what the governor said, or to manipulate it."

What does he mean by manipulate it, I asked?

"Your questions are very angular, let's say that," said Turner. "You have a very specific point that you're trying to drive at, and you're trying to paint the governor as a racist. And nothing could be further from the truth."

I then responded that I was not asking about whether Barbour is a racist, but was asking about whether it is true or not that the group he praised was a racist organization?

"It was an organization in Yazoo City that was, you know, a group of the town leaders and business people," Turner responded, then referring back to Barbour's comment. "And they passed a resolution that said anybody who started a chapter of the Klan would get their ass run out of town. And that doesn't sound like a racist to me. Does it to you?"

Turner then repeatedly asked me that question, whether the group in Yazoo City sounds racist from its anti-Klan policies. I responded again by asking about the same Yazoo City group that launched boycotts of African-Americans who sought civil rights.

In other words, because the WCC actively badmouthed the Klan -- for giving the South a violent black eye -- it couldn't possibly have been racist. Right. Those archives are just an illusion.

More generically, Barbour also loved to trumpet the Confederate flag when he was campaigning. No doubt his spokesman can gussy up a whole deluge of words to explain that away too. But the stain is pretty indelible. And becoming more obvious all the time.

[Cross-posted at Crooks and Liars.]

Monday, December 20, 2010

Colbert follows O'Reilly's logic: 'We've got to pretend Jesus was just as selfish as we are'

-- by Dave

Stephen Colbert had some fun at Bill O'Reilly's expense over his bizarre column claiming Jesus wasn't all that concerned about the poor. The capper:

Colbert: Because if this is gonna be a Christian nation that doesn't help the poor, either we've got to pretend that Jesus was just as selfish as we are, or we've got to acknowledge that he commanded us to love the poor and serve the needy without condition -- and then admit that we just don't want to do it.


Apparently O'Reilly is all bent out of shape, and is planning a segment tonight attacking Colbert for his supposed lack of scriptural accuracy. Should be amusing.

[Cross-posted at Crooks and Liars.]

Haley Barbour winks and nudges at the ol' White Citizens Council folks again

-- by Dave

Our favorite would-be Republican presidential nominee, Haley Barbour, got a wide-eyed adulatory write-up in the Weekly Standard yesterday that included this nugget:

Both Mr. Mott and Mr. Kelly had told me that Yazoo City was perhaps the only municipality in Mississippi that managed to integrate the schools without violence. I asked Haley Barbour why he thought that was so.

“Because the business community wouldn’t stand for it,” he said. “You heard of the Citizens Councils? Up north they think it was like the KKK. Where I come from it was an organization of town leaders. In Yazoo City they passed a resolution that said anybody who started a chapter of the Klan would get their ass run out of town. If you had a job, you’d lose it. If you had a store, they’d see nobody shopped there. We didn’t have a problem with the Klan in Yazoo City.”

In interviews Barbour doesn’t have much to say about growing up in the midst of the civil rights revolution. “I just don’t remember it as being that bad,” he said. “I remember Martin Luther King came to town, in ’62. He spoke out at the old fairground and it was full of people, black and white.”

Just to stipulate: In reality, the Ku Klux Klan in the South, both immediately after the Civil War and in its post-1915 reincarnation, in fact always was an organization of town leaders -- but secretly. The White Citizens Councils were merely their public face. As the Wikipedia entry puts it:

Members of the Citizens' Council were sometimes Klansmen, and the more influential the Citizens' Council member, the more influence he had with the Klan. In fact, the WCC was even referred to during the civil rights era as "an uptown Klan," "a white collar Klan," "a button-down Klan," and "a country club Klan." The rationale for these nicknames was that it appeared that sheets and hoods had been discarded and replaced by suits and ties. Much like the Klan, WCC members held documented white supremacist views and involved themselves in racist activities. They more often held leadership in civic and political organizations, however, which enabled them to legitimize discriminatory practices aimed at non-whites.

If you want to see for yourself, check out the archives of the old WCC newsletters. You get the flavor pretty quickly.

Matt Yglesias runs a sample from the archives and observes:

The Citizens’ Councils were, right in the state of Mississippi where Barbour is from, the respectable face of white supremacist political activism. Here’s an example from the Association of Citizens’ Councils pamphlet: “Why Does Your Community Need a Citizens’ Council?”

Maybe your community has had no racial problems! This may be true; however, you may not have a fire, yet you maintain a fire department. You can depend on one thing: The NAACP (National Association for the Agitation of Colored People), aided by alien influences, bloc vote seeking politicians and left-wing do-gooders, will see that you have a problem in the near future.

The Citizens’ Council is the South’s answer to the mongrelizers. We will not be integrated. We are proud of our white blood and our white heritage of sixty centuries.

Haley Barbour gives these people credit for keeping things calm!

Of course he does. That's because, as we pointed out, Barbour won election in 2003 by openly consorting with the Council of Conservative Citizens -- which is in fact the direct descendant of the White Citizens Councils, having been organized on its bleaching bones. Barbour also campaigned by promoting the Confederate flag.

When he was finally called on it, Barbour just winked and nudged and pretended that it was all just harmless gee-whiz folks stuff. Just as he is now.

[Cross-posted at Crooks and Liars.]

John McCain's viciousness on DADT, phoniness on DREAM Act secure an unpleasant legacy

-- by Dave

I dunno about you, but my initial instinctive sense of John McCain, even when he was giving George W. Bush heartburn on the campaign trail back in 2000, was that he really was a world-class phony. That whole "maverick" schtick was so transparently a cover for opportunism that he always had me counting my spoons, if you know what I mean.

This past week, he put his utter phoniness -- and the really vicious streak that it has always hid -- out there for the whole world to see, leading the Republican charge against Don't Ask Don't Tell in a truly ugly fashion. But every bit as phony, and significant, was his vocal opposition to the DREAM Act -- a bill he had once vocally championed in the Senate and on the campaign trail. Because of McCain, only a tiny handful of Republicans were willing to vote for what had once been a consummately Republican immigration bill.

He caught everyone's attention with his utter nuttiness on DADT repeal:

If John McCain gets any more hostile toward his Senate colleagues, they might consider having him go through the metal detector before he enters the Capitol.

Saturday's debate on the repeal of the "don't ask, don't tell" policy was only half an hour old when the Arizona Republican burst onto the floor from the cloakroom, hiked up his pants and stalked over to his friend Joe Lieberman (I-Conn.) and Senate Majority Whip Dick Durbin (D-Ill.). Ignoring Sen. Jim Inhofe (R-Okla.), who had the floor, McCain hectored the men noisily for a few moments, waving his arms for emphasis.

When McCain finally stormed off, Durbin shook his head in exasperation and Lieberman smiled. A minute later, McCain returned -- he had apparently remembered another element of his grievance -- and resumed his harangue.

As Steve Benen observes:

When we look back at the apartheid-loving segregationists of the 1950s and 1960s, most decent people see racists and misguided monsters. Yesterday, it seemed as if McCain decided, perhaps deliberately, that he wanted to be that guy for the 21st century. Why? I obviously can't read the conservative senator's mind, but it seemed to have something to with (a) his intense disgust for President Obama and anything he wants; and (b) his revulsion towards gay people.

... This isn't another "Whatever happened to the old McCain?" piece, which we've all seen too many times in recent years. Rather, this is to suggest McCain has done more than make the transition from "maverick" to petulant right-winger. Yesterday, the man waving his arms on the Senate floor was a misanthropic hack who's abandoned basic decency, and trashed any hopes he might have had about a respectable legacy.

Indeed, McCain has now secured a kind of legacy for himself.

Today, we look back on figures like "Pitchfork" Ben Tillman and Theodore Bilbo and John Rankin and Strom Thurmond and James Eastland -- all ardent defenders of segregation and the sanctity of white womanhood -- as tragic monsters, bigoted misanthropes who fell on the wrong side of history defending a system of xenophobic hatred and human evil.

Fifty years from now, Americans will look back on McCain as that kind of politician too -- not just for his vile efforts to defend DADT, but for his utter betrayal of his onetime supporters among the Latino community by coming out against the DREAM Act.

As you can see from the video atop this post, even on the campaign trail, McCain flip-flopped all over the place, telling some right-wing bloggers in 2007 that he now opposed the DREAM -- even though he had cosponsored versions of it in 2003, 2005, and 2007. In 2008, before a crowd of Latinos, he said he supported the act. Later, on the campaign trail, he had an Arizona backyard barbecue with some DREAM Act proponents, and as you can see he was very warm about helping them. He expressed similar sentiments on the campaign trail in Florida in 2008, when he met with several DREAM Act students, including Gaby Pacheco.

Yet when he encountered Pacheco a few months ago, threatened to have her arrested:

A few days before the Senate left for the Thanksgiving break, Pacheco met the new McCain when she tried to lobby him on the DREAM Act, the bill he'd once championed.

When Pacheco approached McCain, she said, he dismissed her and threatened to call the Capitol Police on her if she continued to follow him.

As he entered an elevator, the DREAM Act supporters told the senator that all they want is to serve their country.

"Go serve them then," McCain told them, according to Pacheco.

Brooke Buchanan, spokeswoman for McCain, said the protesters approached the senator, but said McCain did not say he would call the Capitol Police. She said she was not aware of him telling the protesters to "go serve them then."

Like I said: A world-class phony.

[Cross-posted at Crooks and Liars].