Saturday, April 10, 2010

Palin's Brainless Nonsequitur Of A Response To Obama: Well, You're No Expert Either

[Cross-posted at Crooks and Liars.]

Yesterday at the Southern Republican Leadership Conference, Sarah Palin shot back at President Obama for his naked diss of Sarah Palin and her highly sophisticated advice on nuclear policy:
Palin: Now, the president, with all the vast nucular experience that he acquired as a community organizer ... and as a part-time senator and as a full-time candidate, all that experience, still no accomplishment to date with North Korea and Iran.
OK, Sarah, we'll write this very slowly and hope that you can understand:

-- See, the president can't be an expert in all things. So he surrounds himself with the best minds he can, experts who advise him on various aspects of national policy.

-- Obama probably would admit he is not an expert in nuclear issues.

-- However, the people whose advice he's following -- namely, Defense Secretary Robert Gates and the Joint Chiefs of Staff at the Pentagon -- very much do have that expertise.

Or do you now want to stack your resume on nuclear issues up against theirs?

Of course, it always helps if you know how to actually pronounce the word.

Friday, April 09, 2010

Jon Stewart Rips Fox For Extolling Reagan On Nukes While Attacking Obama (and Nakedly Lying About It)

[Cross-posted at Crooks and Liars.]

Jon Stewart clocked another four-bagger last night, ripping Fox for its nutso attacks on President Obama's newly announced nuclear-weapons reduction policy:
Stewart: So here's where we're at: We're at the point now that the by far No. 1-ranked news network in this country no longer feels the need to accurately report what a policy document says in black and white. And once you free yourself from the fetters of fact shackles -- or fackles -- in the present day, you'd be amazed at what you can do to the facts from the past.
He then goes on an extended riff pointing out that what Obama's trying to achieve is precisely in line with what Ronald Reagan said he hoped to achieve as well -- while the Foxheads trot out Reagan as proof of Obama's weakness.

No wonder everyone gets their news from The Daily Show. It's the only place you can find out what's really going on.

And you can laugh at it too!

Thursday, April 08, 2010

Sean Hannity Predicts Obama Will Go Down As The Worst President In History. It'll Be Tough Meeting The Bush Standard, Won't It?

[Cross-posted at Crooks and Liars.]

Sean Hannity went out on a long, long limb yesterday on Neil Cavuto's Fox News show -- once again promoting his blueprint for Conservative Victory -- and made a bold prediction:
Hannity: You put all of this in toto, in its entirety, and we are looking at -- not only the socialization, the Europe-ization of -- the Western European socialist model coming to America, we're looking at a -- the end of capitalism in America as we know it.

I want to add a point. He is -- by far, I predict, Neil -- and I say this with all sincerity and passion that I can muster up -- he will go down in American history as the worst president we have ever had.

And I'm talking about national security, and I'm talking about economic issues.
Gee, he's been in office a little over year now and he's already making this prediction?

And won't Obama have a heck of a time doing a worse job than his predecessor, George W. Bush?

After all, as Sean Wilentz predicted in Rolling Stone in 2006:

George W. Bush's presidency appears headed for colossal historical disgrace. Barring a cataclysmic event on the order of the terrorist attacks of September 11th, after which the public might rally around the White House once again, there seems to be little the administration can do to avoid being ranked on the lowest tier of U.S. presidents. And that may be the best-case scenario. Many historians are now wondering whether Bush, in fact, will be remembered as the very worst president in all of American history.
The right-wingers dismissed that because it was Wilentz, a noted liberal. But sure enough, a survey of 80 historians for C-SPAN three years later found:
President George W. Bush is near the bottom of the heap in the latest survey of historians on presidential leadership. Bush received an overall ranking of 36 out of 42 former presidents—in the bottom 10.
Actually, we'd say that there's little doubt he was indeed the worst president in history just on the two counts that Hannity stipulates, namely, national security and the economy:

-- The worst attack ever recorded on American soil occurred on his watch, while he was in fact asleep at the wheel.

-- His subsequent policies, particularly the decision to invade Iraq, made the nation quantifiably less safe for the foreseeable future (see the 2006 National Intelligence Estimate for more on this).

-- Bush and his policies nearly destroyed not just the American economy but drove the entire global economy to the brink of complete meltdown.

Projection. It's not just for theaters anymore.

As we observed at the time of Bush's repudiation:
The swirling global economic crisis produced by Republican rule is only the most prominent debacle produced by eight years of conservative philosophy being put into action. Conservatives never met a deregulation scheme they didn't like -- and it was that very mania for breaking down well-established institutional barriers, particularly in the financial sector, that led to the housing bubble and the collapse on Wall Street. Certainly, Democrats played along, often eagerly -- but they were being conservative when they did.

No doubt the solutions to the economic crisis will entail re-regulating the financial sector and imposing strict government oversight. And when they do, no doubt conservatives will accuse Democrats of indulging "socialism". But it is to laugh: the right has earned all the credibility of Joe the Plumber on such matters.

Especially when you consider all the other fruits of conservative governance:

* Foreign-policy debacles in Iraq and Afghanistan.
* A government that invades nations under false pretenses.
* A nation less secure and at greater risk of terrorist attacks than ever.
* A sinking economy.
* An expanding gap between rich and poor.
* Utter inaction on global warming.
* $5-a-gallon gasoline.
* An unresolved immigration problem.
* An incapacity to deal with natural disasters like Hurricane Katrina.
* A debacle in public-school education testing and funding.
* Declining food and consumer-product safety standards.
* A government that spies on its own citizens.
* A government that tortures prisoners held in their detention facilities.

These messes weren't the result of George W. Bush being too liberal and straying too far from the movement's party line. To the contrary -- they're the direct result of him toeing that line to the millimeter. They are all the direct product of the conservative philosophy of governance.

Palin, Bachmann And Hannity Rip Black Hole In Fabric Of The Universe

[Cross-posted at Crooks and Liars.]

Things you might never have known if you did not watch last night's joint Sarah Palin-Michele Bachmann campaign appearance, hosted by Sean Hannity:

-- Forty percent of the Tea Party is "Democrats and independents." [Not!]

-- The Tea Partiers who favored Republicans' unremitting partisanship on health-care reform are actually "independents" who decry "excessive partisanship". ["Excessive partisanship" meaning "enacting any component of a liberal agenda."]

-- Tea Partiers are coming together and unifying behind the Republican Party. [Quelle surprise!]

-- International relations are just like school playgrounds.

-- And Obama's new policy of restricting the use of nuclear weapons is thus just like "getting out there on the playground, a bunch of kids getting ready to fight, and one of the kids saying, 'Go ahead, punch me in the face and I'm not gonna retaliate. Go ahead and do what you want to with me.'

-- Also, Michael Steele is an "independent outsider" who's done a fine job at the RNC.

Physicists observing the event reported that the sheer amount of stupidity involved here tore a hole in the time-space continuum and created a large black hole somewhere in suburban Minnesota, near the headquarters of PowerLine.

Mark Koernke Resurfaces: Those Familiar '90s Militia Faces Are Back Like Bad Pennies

[Cross-posted at Crooks and Liars.]

Probably the most chilling aspect of the recent bust of the Hutaree militia was the cold-blooded way they apparently contemplated attacking and killing law-enforcement officers.

A key to that plan was a fact that surfaced in the aftermath: Patriot movement folks are known to obsessively monitor law-enforcement broadcasts, and thus are tuned in to their movements and whereabouts.

And it's not just the Hutaree who do it. According to the Ann Arbor newspaper, a national militiamen's outfit was broadcasting local law enforcement radio communications during the FBI raids:
A militia radio station broadcast Washtenaw County Sheriff’s Department radio communications as the FBI was still looking for at least one wanted Hutaree member, according to an e-mail circulated March 28 among sheriff’s department employees.

That prompted concerns among law enforcement officials who were in the midst of arresting members of a militia group accused of plotting to kill cops.

The e-mail, sent at about 10 a.m. March 28, says the FBI “called today to advise that has started to broadcast our radio traffic.”

“Please take this into consideration as it is a serious officer safety concern,” the e-mail says.

The e-mail was circulated the morning after the FBI began raids on the Christian militia group in Washtenaw and Lenawee counties and in Ohio and Indiana. In Washtenaw County, five Hutaree members were arrested during a raid in the Ann Arbor area, and a Manchester Township home also was raided.

At the time the e-mail was circulated, FBI agents were still looking for 21-year-old Joshua Stone, who wasn't arrested until the following night in Hillsdale County. He was the last of nine people to be arrested during the raids.

Representatives at could not be reached for comment Monday. The Internet radio station is registered to a web hosting company based in Utah. Local militia leader Mark Koernke of Dexter, who has a show on the station, also could not be reached for comment Monday.
Indeed, Koernke was one of the people leading the violent, paranoid chatter that immediately followed the raids.

It shouldn't surprise anyone, though, that Koernke is in the middle of this.

Back in the '90s, they called him "Mark From Michigan." This was when he was supplementing his job as a college janitor by moonlighting as a fearless leader of militias around the nation.

More to the point, he was one of the leaders in making radio -- especially shortwave -- a significant component of how militias organized. Koernke's shortwave program in the '90s was considered essential listening for the Patriot movement.

I still have a video of a speech he gave to a Militia of Montana audience in Spokane, Washington, in December 1994; I've collected some choice excerpts above. Considering that all this came before Oklahoma City, his insistence that his fellow "patriots" would eventually be "forced to fight" the New World Order seems rather chilling now.

The ADL has a lengthy file on Koernke:
Since the early 1990s, Mark Koernke - often referred to by his nickname, "Mark from Michigan" - has been one of the most effective propagandists for the "patriot" movement. Through a combination of shortwave radio broadcasts, widely distributed videotapes and personal appearances, the university maintenance worker has used his speaking skills to spread his message of "New World Order" conspiracy theories and resistance to governmental authority. Koernke was one of the leaders in the birth and growth of the militia movement and achieved widespread notoriety after being mistakenly linked to the Oklahoma City bombing. Since then he has suffered numerous setbacks - including prison - but still maintains a loyal cadre of supporters who hang on his words.
Especially amusing, perhaps, was the way it all came crashing down, ending in a prison term:
More seriously, Koernke was beset by legal problems stemming from his paranoia and tendency to overreact. At the fall 1997 trial of John Stephenson for the murder of William Gleason, Stephenson's defense subpoenaed Koernke; a Stephenson friend with whom Koernke had an acrimonious history served the subpoena. He claimed that, when he and a partner tried serving Koernke, Koernke hit him with a rifle. As a result, Koernke was arrested in November 1997 on a felony assault charge. When the trial convened in May 1988, Koernke chose to flee rather than defend himself.

Although a fugitive, Koernke hardly remained silent: he continued to broadcast on shortwave radio from a hidden location "in the boondocks." He and Stadtmiller were particularly strident, urging followers to ambush lone policemen in order to strip, then tar and feather them. In another show, Stadtmiller stated that he and Koernke "are going to stand and fight with whatever tools we have. Mark and I don't think that we are going to get out of this without firing a shot." According to a federal affidavit, Koernke also urged supporters to shoot an assistant United States attorney involved in prosecuting other Michigan militiamen.

In July, Koernke was captured. A state police helicopter searching for marijuana fields spotted a man and a woman near an abandoned home. When the helicopter descended for a closer look, the man - Koernke - ran away and dove into a nearby lake. Police on the ground, alerted by the helicopter, flushed him out. Having shaved his mustache and bleached his hair, he told police - in an Irish accent - that his name was Michael Kern; his fingerprints proved otherwise. Absconding (fleeing the law) was added to the charges, which led to an unusual circumstance; that fall, it was revealed that the process server may have vowed to lie on the stand, if necessary, to get Koernke convicted. Because the process server was the chief witness against Koernke in the assault case, prosecutors had to drop the charge and Koernke was only tried for absconding. In August 1999, Koernke was tried and convicted, but was only sentenced to time already served.

Six months later, Koernke got himself into trouble again. He was sitting in his car outside a bank that was being robbed in Dexter, Michigan, his hometown; when he drove away shortly after the robbery, a sheriff 's deputy, who thought Koernke might have robbed the bank, tried to stop his car. Rather than pull over, Koernke led police on a 40-mile chase during which he tried to ram a police car before wrecking his own. He also fought with officers trying to arrest him. The following year, Koernke was convicted of fleeing and eluding police, resisting arrest and assault with a dangerous weapon. In April 2001, he went to jail on a sentence of three to seven and a half years.
Koernke got out of prison in 2007 and returned to broadcasting; you can now hear him on Liberty Tree Radio and the Micro Effect. Not to mention, of course, Militia Radio.

Fittingly, Militia Radio published a post [warning: link to extremist site] -- by former Constitution Party presidential candidate Chuck Baldwin -- defending the Hutaree Militia and speculating that it was all a psy-ops setup.

Some things never change, do they?

Wednesday, April 07, 2010

Gingrich And The Nonexistent 16,000 New IRS Agents: Republicans Planning Yet Another Attack Based On A Lie

[Cross-posted at Crooks and Liars.]

Oh great. I guess this means we can plan on yet another campaign season predicated on battling people who believe things that are provably untrue.

Newt Gingrich, on Sean Hannity's Fox News show last night:
Gingrich: One of the things in the health bill is 16,000 additional IRS agents. Now I think the average American doesn't think we need 16,000 health police -- they don't think we need a single health police. And it's interesting that that health bill has more IRS agents than it has doctors or nurses or people who actually do health in the bill.

I think, Republicans this fall, if they were to run as one of their planks, that they will never fund the 16,000 IRS agents, and they will block implementation of the $430 billion in new taxes.

And then put it straight to the country -- Do you want 16,000 new IRS agents? Vote Democrat. Do you not want 16,000? Vote Republican.

My guess is that, in fact, could be one of the five or six issues that could set the stage for a Republican majority.
Ahem. From
Q: Will the IRS hire 16,500 new agents to enforce the health care law?

A: No. The law requires the IRS mostly to hand out tax credits, not collect penalties. The claim of 16,500 new agents stems from a partisan analysis based on guesswork and false assumptions, and compounded by outright misrepresentation.

... This wildly inaccurate claim started as an inflated, partisan assertion that 16,500 new IRS employees might be required to administer the new law. That devolved quickly into a claim, made by some Republican lawmakers, that 16,500 IRS "agents" would be required. Republican Rep. Ron Paul of Texas even claimed in a televised interview that all 16,500 would be carrying guns. None of those claims is true.

The IRS’ main job under the new law isn’t to enforce penalties. Its first task is to inform many small-business owners of a new tax credit that the new law grants them — starting this year — which will pay up to 35 percent of the employer’s contribution toward their workers’ health insurance. And in 2014 the IRS will also be administering additional subsidies — in the form of refundable tax credits — to help millions of low- and middle-income individuals buy health insurance.

... This figure originated with a report put out by Republicans on the House Ways and Means Committee on March 18. It said:

GOP Analysis, March 18: IRS may need to hire as many as 16,500 additional auditors, agents and other employees.

Notice the words "may" and "as many as." This is the highest figure the GOP analysts thought they could support. Notice also the phrase "other employees," which covers everyone down to file clerks and support staff.

The analysts based their 16,500 figure on an assumption that the IRS budget "could" require an additional $10 billion over the next 10 years as a result of the law, a figure they attribute to the Congressional Budget Office. But what CBO Director Douglas W. Elmendorf actually said in a March 11 letter to congressional leaders is this (with emphasis added):

CBO Director Elmendorf, March 11: CBO has not completed an estimate of all of the discretionary costs that would be associated with H.R. 3590. … [S]uch costs would probably include an estimated $5 billion to $10 billion over 10 years for administrative costs of the Internal Revenue Service (IRS).
Well, don't worry. Most Republicans believe that there are death panels in the health-care bill too.

And evidently, most Republicans also believe it's perfectly OK to lie through your teeth about your opponents' policies. Because that's what they're planning to do this fall.

Maybe The Scummiest Glenn Beck Show Ever: Smears Obama's Parents, Says Mom 'Abandoned' Him For 'Marxist Political Theory'

[Cross-posted at Crooks and Liars.]

OK, I know it's hard to imagine Glenn Beck getting much worse than his history-abusing eliminationist attacks on the progressive movement, or his constant smearing of anyone who works for President Obama as a likely Marxist.

But yesterday, he managed -- by unleashing an all-out attack on President Obama's family, and particularly his mother. It doesn't get much lower than that.

Of course, he opened the attack on Obama's family by saying that he was not attacking them. Really.

And then he proceeded immediately to smear them:
I want you to know that I am by no means attacking his family. And in fact, I think after the first five minutes of the show tonight, you're actually going to feel sorry for the little boy, Barry Obama -- the boy, the little one. This little boy. He's so cute! I don't feel sorry for the man, but the tragedy of this kid's childhood is staggering!
Lessee ... you're not attacking his family, but then turn around and immediately claim that they abandoned the poor little kid. Come again?
His parents, seemingly, from what you can piece together, his parents seemingly placed radical politics over everything else, including their little boy!

I am not one to talk. I grew up with a Dad who worked all the time. He was a small business owner, he owned the city bakery in Mount Vernon, Washington. And, um the only time I saw him was at work. I work all the time. My kids come to work, and we spend time at my job, or we travel together. A lot of us do this. We have long hours and we support our families.

But how many of us have been abandoned for the bakery? Or my job? Or your job? Would you ever leave your kid for that?

How about -- how many of us have been abandoned for a Marxist political theory? Or politics? This didn't happen to little Barack Obama once but twice. Both parents!
Of course, Obama's father did indeed essentially abandon his family -- but it wasn't for politics, it was for personal ambition: he wanted to attend Harvard without the encumbrances of a wife and tiny son. The senior Obama was not a particularly admirable guy.

But then Beck turns to the subject of Obama's late mother, who Obama himself described as "the one who was the single constant in my life," and "that she was the kindest, most generous spirit I have ever known, and that what is best in me I owe to her."

How does Beck describe her? Why, as a commie sympathizer, of course:
She was described by a friend as, quote, "a fellow traveler." If anybody who reads about progressives and Marxism, you recognize that language.
Yes indeed we do. "Fellow traveler" is what the McCarthyite Red-baiters of the 1950s liked to call liberals. Of course, the proof for Beck is that Dunham actually supported Adlai Stevenson in the 1956 election. Impressive, no?
Dunham later left to Hawaii, to travel to Indonesia for a second time, and then she left her son to move to Pakistan. She left her son with her parents. This is the second time this poor little boy was left by a parent!
This is complete and utter rubbish. Stanley Ann Dunham did not at any time "abandon" her son, and Beck's claim that she did is a filthy smear of the lowest sort.

From Wikipedia
It was at the East-West Center that Dunham met Lolo Soetoro, a student from Indonesia. They married in 1966 or 1967 and moved with six-year-old Barack to Jakarta, Indonesia, just after the unrest surrounding the ascent of Suharto. ... In Indonesia, Dunham enriched her son's education with correspondence courses in English, recordings of Mahalia Jackson, and speeches by Martin Luther King Jr. She sent the young Obama back to Hawaii to attend Punahou School rather than having him stay in Asia with her.

Madelyn Dunham's job as a vice-president at the Bank of Hawaii helped pay the steep tuition, with some assistance from a scholarship. ... Ann Dunham left Soetoro in 1972, returning to Hawaii and reuniting with her son Barack for several years.

... Dunham returned to graduate school in Honolulu in 1974, while raising Barack and Maya. When Dunham returned to Indonesia for field work in 1975 with Maya, after three years in Honolulu, Barack chose not to go, preferring to finish high school in Hawaii while living with his grandparents.
So, to quickly recap: Ann Dunham never "abandoned" Barack Obama. She did send him to a private school for the sake of giving him an elite education -- which is hardly the same as abandonment. And when she returned to Indonesia to conduct field work as an anthropologist, the teenaged Obama chose to stay in Hawaii with his grandparents instead -- again, nothing particularly unusual about that.

And for what it's worth, Dunham didn't go to work in Pakistan until the late 1980s, by which time she was conducting work for the Asia Development Bank (which suggests, coincidentally, that Dunham was not exactly an opponent of capitalism). And "little Barry" by that time was a full-grown man in his 20s.

There's a lot more wrong with Beck's attack on Obama's family, particularly his smearing of Obama's grandparents as likely Marxists because they attended a Unitarian Church.

But if nothing else, it proves something we've already come to know: There is no depth to which Glenn Beck will not sink.

And at this point, he's just wallowing in scum.

Why Is Everyone Trying To Pretend That The Tea Party Is Separate From The Conservative Movement?

[Cross-posted at Crooks and Liars.]

Newt Gingrich let slip just what the relationship between that "totally natural grassroots" uprising of "ordinary Americans" -- aka the Tea Party movement -- and the Republican Party really is:
Gingrich: I meet with Tea Party folks everywhere I go. I'll be in New Orleans on Thursday and we'll meet with them, I'll be in Palm Springs on Wednesday, and we'll meet with them. And everywhere I go, what Tea Party leaders tell me is that they understand that in the end their job is to help defeat Harry Reid and Nancy Pelosi, and ultimately in '12, to help defeat President Obama.
Of course, this somehow rubs up against the Tea Partiers' current claims that they have a bunch of Democrats in their midst too. Yeah. Right. (Gingrich, later in the day, went on Fox and suggested seriously that Harry Reid should be more respectful of those serious-minded Tea Partiers. He neglected to explain why any politician would want to entreat with people whose job is his defeat.)

But Gingrich unintentionally illustrated a material fact: That the Tea Party is fundamentally a way for conservatives to reclaim the reins of power while the brand-damaged Republican Party undergoes a right-wing makeover.

Robert Parry at The Consortium
recently wrote an acutely insightful piece on this titled, "A Method to Republican 'Madness'":
Washington’s conventional wisdom for explaining the intensity of Republican obstructionism toward President Barack Obama breaks down one of two ways: either it’s a philosophical disagreement over the role of government or a desperate need to stay in line with a radicalized right-wing base.

But there is another way to view the GOP political strategy, as neither principled nor reactive to the rantings of Glenn Beck, Rush Limbaugh and the Tea Partiers. It is that the Republicans are following a playbook that has evolved over more than four decades, to regain power by sabotaging Democratic presidents.

In this analysis, the Republicans believe they can reclaim the lucrative levers of national authority by making the country as ungovernable as possible while a Democrat is in the White House, essentially holding governance hostage until they are restored to power. Then, the Democrats are expected to behave as a docile opposition “for the good of the country” (and usually do).

The “destroy Obama” game plan tracks most closely with Newt Gingrich’s strategy for undermining Bill Clinton 16 years ago. But today’s strategy also traces back to Richard Nixon’s sabotage of President Lyndon B. Johnson’s Vietnam peace talks in 1968 and Ronald Reagan’s October Surprise gambit against President Jimmy Carter’s Iran hostage negotiations in 1980.
Eric Boehlert raised this point last week, asking all too adroitly: "What if Fox News actually wants mob violence?"

This is why Fox -- and all the other conservative mouthpieces and organs -- have turned a blind eye to the fact that they are now openly promoting the extremist right-wing ideology of the Patriot movement, embodied, as Boehlert details in his latest column, in Glenn Beck's flagrant use of Patriot conspiracy theories and talking points:
Not only have the number of radical-right extremist groups exploded in the wake of President Obama's election (more than 500 today, as compared to just 200 during the 1990s), but these militia members now have a proud sponsor in the person of Fox News' Glenn Beck, who has done more than any other person to amplify and mainstream the movement's hateful and foreboding anti-government message. Beck continues to give a voice, and national platform, to the same deranged, hard-core militia haters and self-style "patriots" who hounded the new, young Democratic president in the early 1990s in the wake of Waco.

On TV and the radio, Beck rarely bothers to mention the militia movement by name. Instead, he's simply co-opted their rhetoric as his own. He's acted as a crucial transmitter, warning about Obama fronting his own private "army," and urging followers to "start food storage."

... The truth is that the daylight separating the radical, anti-government militia movement from self-styled mainstream conservatives is growing dimmer by the day. Like the fact-free Obama birthers, the militia remains a radical subset that today's right wing refuses to part ways with. That sad fact was highlighted when scores of far-right media voices initially downplayed the Hutaree arrests last week, or even defended the militia members and -- disturbingly reminiscent of Waco -- cast the FBI and the federal government as the over-reaching bad guys.

... Folks, we're witnessing a militia rerun. Except this time, thanks to the likes of Beck and Fox News, the unwanted repeat is being broadcast nationwide.

Actually, today's hysterical warnings are probably even more extreme than the last time a Democrat sat in the Oval Office. What's disturbing is that instead of having to trade copies of The Turner Diaries, relying on grassroots fax networks, or traveling to gun shows to hear that kind of incendiary insurrectionist rhetoric (i.e. the president must be stopped!), haters can just turn on the highest-rated cable news channel.
Not only that, they'll soon be able to get the updated version of The Turner Diaries from their local booksellers -- only this time, it will be called Glenn Beck's The Overton Window:
Bunch reported that Beck told the gathering the story depicts the rise of a citizen’s organization called the Founders Keepers, “a group of people that just won’t give up.” What follows, Beck said, is “a battle and a civil war, and life is upside-down planetwide."
Of course, this hardly news to C&L readers, though there's no doubt Beck has been picking up the pace.

What's noteworthy is that all this is being actively enabled by movement conservatives and their operatives within their Republican Party subsidiary. As Parry observes:
Despite the growing specter of political violence, the Republicans appear set in their determination to foment as much disruption as possible between now and the November elections, and thus reap expected gains, with hopes that they can win back the House and Senate and then further neutralize Obama.

While some Washington pundits see the Republicans as captives of the extremism on the Right – unable to dismount a dangerous tiger – the counter-analysis would be that the GOP and the Tea Party/militia crowd are just two parts of the same political movement, one inside the system and the other outside, but both working toward the same goal, a restoration of Republican/Right control of government.

In their view, only then would political comity and governmental normalcy be restored, because the Democrats always seem eager to get along and do what’s necessary to make government work.

Tuesday, April 06, 2010

On Hannity, WND Editor Says Obama's Leading A "Socialist Coup," Bob Beckel Calls Him "Worse Than Joe McCarthy"

[Cross-posted at Crooks and Liars.]

Has anyone else noticed that a lot of WorldNetDaily nutcases are showing up on Sean Hannity's show these days? First it was Jesse Lee Peterson, spouting crazy talk about Obama destroying America.

And then, last night, it was WND's managing editor, David Kupelian, hawking his new book, How Evil Works: Understanding and Overcoming the Destructive Forces That Are Transforming America.

And just who and what is evil? Why, President Obama and the Democrats, of course:
Kupelian: I think we have a terrible problem right now, Sean. Basically, what we're looking at is -- let's say it. Can we say it on national TV? -- We're looking at an attempted socialist coup d'etat in Washington, D.C. And people are really, freely unhappy about it.

And you know, the thing about Barack Obama -- you know, 53 percent of us voted for him. Sixty-nine million Americans. But this is a guy -- I know it sounds crazy, but here's a guy who has been steeped in Marxist ideology for the past thirty years.
Things proceed as they usually do on Hannity's show with these "All American Panel" -- with Bob Beckel trying to bring some touch of sanity to the conversation, while Hannity readily agrees to the nutty stuff coming from his far-right guests. (They all agree at the end that Obama is "the most radical" president in American history.)

Finally, Beckel -- who gets used mostly as a football on these shows, much as Alan Colmes once was -- reaches his limit:
Beckel: Let me jsut say this. I've tried to be a nice guy tonight and be all the rest of that -- let me tell you something. The idea that the President -- you call the President of the United States a Marxist -- is, as far as I'm concerned, it's worse than Joe McCarthy calling people in the State Department a Communist. And you ought to apologize for it.
Of course, because it's Fox, no apology is either forthcoming or even considered necessary.

Obviously, Hannity is doing his best to keep up with the competition from Glenn Beck. So it looks like he's meeting his wingnuttery quota by calling on his new friends at WND, and its resident nuts are going to become regular fixtures. How lovely.

Um, Has Anyone Noticed That Glenn Beck Is Getting Even More Paranoid Than Usual These Days?

[Cross-posted at Crooks and Liars.]

Look, it's not any big news that Glenn Beck is a paranoid nutcase. That's been his schtick, after all -- dredging up every far-right conspiracy theory on the books, warning that those evil progressives are the enemy within, that the liberal Democrats are out intentionally to destroy America. It wasn't just a coincidence that the ADL identified him as the nation's Fearmonger in Chief.

But I don't his recent week off did him a lot of good. Returning yesterday, he was more paranoid than usual. Of course, there was also the usual obfuscation and prevarication, such as when he claimed that he argued for giving antiwar protesters during the Bush administration full respect for their views (apparently this didn't extend to Nancy Pelosi).

But throughout there was a drumbeat of fear that the Obama administration is trying to destroy Fox News generally and Beck's show specifically -- culminating in a warning that the administration is trying to "silence" him, which is what those boycott efforts have been about.
Beck: I have to tell you, there is something -- there is something that is amazing that you need to understand, because it's a very specific plan of attack against this program since it came on the air. But it's really not about us. It's about you -- the viewer of this program. The goal is to get you to shut up, not me, but you.

Last year, there was a fake outrage -- twisted words, a political attack disguised as grassroots protest. Eventually, it led to the big reveal that in fact, the organization that started the protest, the boycott, was cofounded by Van Jones.
Yeah, the Color of Change boycott was all about twisted words, all right -- the unadulterated words that came out of Glenn Beck's mouth, all in their full context. Specifically, these words:

No extra twisting necessary there -- they just came out that way.

Anyway, Beck wants to pretend that the boycott effort -- which is doing rather well, actually -- wasn't about anything he said being outrageous and profoundly irresponsible. Nuh-uh. Anything but that.

Hmmmm. Isn't paranoia one of the traits of psycopathic narcissists? Just wondering.

None Dare Call It Sedition

-- by Sara

Sedition: Crime of creating a revolt, disturbance, or violence against lawful civil authority with the intent to cause its overthrow or destruction -- Brittanica Concise Dictionary

Well, finally. It's high time somebody had the guts to say the S-word -- sedition -- right out loud.

When the indictments against the Hutaree were unsealed last week, the S-word was right there, front and center, in Count One. The Justice Department accused them of "seditious conspiracy," charging that the defendants "did knowingly conspire, confederate, and agree with each other and other persons known and levy war against the United States, and to prevent, hinder, and delay by force the execution of any United States law."

This is very serious stuff. But the Hutaree are getting nailed for sedition only because they crossed the line with inches to spare. They're by no means the only ones. Advocating, encouraging, and sanctioning sedition is the new norm on the conservative side.

We saw it again last Thursday, when the Guardians of the Free Republics -- a Sovereign Citizen group that believes that the oath of office taken by state governors is invalid under their twisted Bizarroland interpretation of the Constitution -- sent letters to most or all sitting state governors telling them to either a) take what they consider to be a legitimate oath of office; b) stand down; or c) or be removed "non-violently" within three days. The FBI, rightly, regards this as a potentially seditious threat against the governors.

These two events are a wake-up call for progressives. They're telling us that it's time to openly confront the fact that conservatives have spent the past 40 years systematically delegitimizing the very idea of constitutional democracy in America. When they're in power, they mismanage it and defund it. When they're out of power, they refuse to participate in running the country at all -- indeed, they throw all their energy into thwarting the democratic process any way they can. When they need to win an election, they use violent, polarizing, eliminationist language against their opponents to motivate their base. This is sedition in slow motion, a gradual corrosive undermining of the government's authority and capacity to run the country. And it's been at the core of their politics going all the way back to Goldwater.

This long assault has gone into overdrive since Obama's inauguration, as the rhetoric has ratcheted up from overheated to perfervid. We've reached the point where you can't go a week without hearing some prominent right wing leader calling for outright sedition -- an immediate and defiant populist uprising against some legitimate form of government authority.

Moderates and liberals are responding to this rising threat with feckless calls for "a return to civility," as if all that's needed to put things right again is a stern talking-to from Miss Manners. Though that couldn't hurt, the sad fact is that we're well past the point where it's just a matter of conservatives behaving like tantrum-throwing spoiled brats (which they are). When a mob is surrounding your house with torches and telling you they intend to burn it down, "civility" really isn't the issue any more.

At that point -- and we're there -- criminal intent and action become the real issues. Progressives need to realize that the right began defiantly dancing back and forth over the legal line, daring us to do something about it, quite some time ago. And it's high time we called it out -- and, where appropriate, start prosecuting it -- for exactly what it is.

What is Sedition?
Before we start throwing around inflammatory terms like "sedition," it's essential that we understand the strict definition of the word -- and use it carefully and precisely, lest it lose all meaning.

(That's what happened with the word "fascism," which has been distorted into meaninglessness by hyperbolic overuse on the left and willful redefinition on the right. Once a word is abused and distorted this way, it's very hard to recapture it and restore its original meaning. And that's no small thing, because losing the word makes it functionally impossible to even discuss the political idea the word represents. Worse: as Orwell told us, when we no longer have the language to describe what we're dealing with, we also lose our ability to deal effectively with fascism at all. That's a real danger with loaded words -- so, please, let's be extremely careful about how we brandish this one.)

Here's the defining line we need to hold on to. People who promote subversive ideas, no matter how dangerous those ideas might seem, are completely protected under the First Amendment. Even calling for the overthrow of the government is protected (though not benign, as we'll see later, because it creates justification, permission, and incitement to seditious acts). That's why the conservatives have been safe -- so far.

It's only when those people start actively planning and implementing a government rebellion that it turns into criminal sedition. In this case: the weird rantings on the Hutaree website -- not seditious. The group's allegedly operational plans to assassinate a police officer, ambush the resulting funeral, and thus bring on a national militia uprising -- absolutely seditious, if the charges stick.

This bright-line distinction, which has been part of American sedition law for the past 50 years, parallels closely the line drawn by terrorism analysts in sussing out which groups are benign and which ones are headed for trouble. As I've noted before, one of the cardinal signs these experts watch and listen for is a fundamental shift in rhetoric. In the early stages of dissent, groups establish the lines of conflict by obsessively focusing on their enemies and loudly denouncing their essential evilness. You hear this kind of talk in politics all the time these days. It's always ugly, but not inherently dangerous.

But in the latter stage, the talk turns overtly eliminationist, and the group starts expressing its clear desire and intention to eradicate specific enemies. When they shift to that second stage, it's a sign that they've made the mental commitment to violent action -- and are more likely to be acquiring arms, selecting targets, and getting ready to act in the near future. When a group starts actively planning an attack on government offices or officials, it's officially crossed the line into sedition.

Sedition on The Right
Openly advocating acts of sedition has become the conservatives' main political stock in trade over the past year. (The SPLC offers a strong summary here.) You hear it everywhere from Rush to Glenn to Michelle Malkin to Michelle Bachman. Everybody on the right is now roundly convinced that the fairly-elected President of the United States isn't even a citizen. He's a Muslim, and thus in treasonous league with terrorists. The main goal of his administration is to turn the country over to the One World Government. He's a socialist. He's a fascist. All of these are direct attacks on Obama's fundamental legitimacy and authority to lead the country -- and thus a deliberate incitement to revolt against his administration.

These narratives are coupled with a rising us-versus-them blaming of progressives for all the problems of the country. These days, the screeds sound eerily like free-market fundamentalists freebasing Hitler: they're clouded over with the typical eliminationist vitriol that reduces liberals to subhuman vermin that must be violently exterminated from the body politic in order to restore the virtue of the country. (For those who groove on that sort of thing, there's even a slight dash of anti-Semitism in the mix.) This is dangerous stuff. And in the context of the conservatives' longstanding effort to delegitimize the government, it's also an open invitation to sedition.

This seditious intent is obvious in the increasingly overt firearms displays at right-wing events. The media took to their fainting couches, aghast, when a small handful of people showed up packing heat at last summer's Tea Party disruptions. Now, we've advanced the point where not one, but two, 100% gun-toting marches on Washington, DC are planned for this coming April 19. Their organizers are hoping the marches will draw tens of thousands of armed protestors. Get used to seeing guns in the streets wherever the law allows -- because the conservatives have told their base explicitly that they need to be "exercising their rights" on this front to the fullest extent. Carrying guns in public is now an essential symbol of how the the right defines freedom. It also expresses just how afraid they are, and what they're planning to do about that fear.

These escalating armed demonstrations, accompanied by belligerent sloganeering, are a clear signal that these folks are done talking -- and, worse, have already decided that democracy is futile, and taking up arms is the only appropriate response to the threats we now face. They're carrying weapons to scare us weak-kneed girly libs into submission, and to show us they mean business. Growing up in gun country, I was taught at my daddy's knee that when someone says they're going to shoot you, it's always smart to take them at their word and handle yourself accordingly. Right now, I think that's good advice for anybody in America who considers themselves a member of the reality-based community.

But it's not just armed individuals. They're also busily forming armed groups, which are gearing up for a fight. For the past five years, armed Minutemen have been usurping the job of the US Border Patrol. And within the past year, according to the SPLC, the number of right-wing militias has more than doubled to over 500, many of which present themselves as alternative law-enforcement posses that are adjunct to the ones staffed by the county sheriffs.

What these groups are telling us is that they no longer recognize the government's sole franchise on the use of force; and they're actively organizing to seize and exercise at least some of that power for themselves.

Most alarming of all: some of these right-wing warriors have advanced to the point of actual target acquisition. This should worry us, because law enforcement and terrorism experts know that when groups like this get to where they're settling on specific targets, they've reached the final stages of gearing up for violent confrontation.

When Bernard Goldberg wrote a book listing the "100 people who are destroying America" -- which included some government officials -- he was writing a target list with seditious intent. (And at least one guy took him up on it, in his own deranged way.)

When the "spiritual warriors" of the Transformations movement proudly announce that they've mapped every town in America -- literally creating target maps of "demonic activity" that pinpoint government offices, non-Evangelical houses of worship, clinics, theaters, Indian mounds and sites; or even just households with Muslims, neo-pagans, Goth-baby teenagers, or Obama stickers on their cars -- they're putting us on notice that they've identified the specific people and places that need to be "cleansed" in order to purify their communities. According to researchers Rachel Tabachnik and Bruce Wilson, these "transformation" attempts have already become government-level issues in New Jersey, Arizona, Texas, and Hawaii.

At present, they claim that they're only mapping their neighborhoods so they can pray over us all; and their attempts to take over local government are being done by purely democratic means. But, as has often happened before (yes, the Nazis started out just this way), the day may come when they'll decide that mere prayer and organizing is not enough. Like any street gang, they've taken proprietary responsibility for a piece of turf; and they believe God is holding them accountable for everything that happens there. The resulting performance pressure is a perfect setup to justify more aggressive cleansing tactics if they can't convert the town by peaceful means.

And some of these groups have already effectively crossed the line, in spirit if not in prosecutable fact. When the Christian dominionists train up "Joel's Army" by sending their sons to the US armed services so they can get the combat experience they'll need to set up a worldwide theocracy, that's evidence of an active plan to effect an armed government takeover. When senior US military officers put their commitment to Jesus ahead of their commitment to uphold the Constitution and regard the military as God's force in the world, we should be very afraid.

For years now, we've dismissed all of this as crazy talk, the rantings of a loony fringe that will never get enough traction to become a material threat to our democracy. But we're well past the point where it's no longer quaint and funny, or an embarrassing breach of democratic etiquette that polite people should just ignore.

It's time to confront the sobering fact that the entire right wing -- including the GOP establishment, which encourages, endorses, and echoes these sentiments almost every time its officials appear in public -- is now issuing nearly constant invitations to criminal sedition. They're creating a climate and using language that lowers their base's inhibitions around violence -- and irresponsibly eggs on the handful of sociopaths in their midst who are already primed to kill. They've given their newly-expanded corps of flying monkeys permission to brandish their guns in public, empowered their militias, promised them glory, and are now telling them explicitly which targets to hit.

We'd be idiots not to regard this as an overt threat. Especially when they keep telling us, very explicitly, that they mean it to be. When somebody says they're going to shoot you, believe them.

We need to start talking about this for what it is, and calling it out whenever it happens. Leonard Zeskind points out that the feds have never been able to make a sedition charge stick against a right-wing group (if the Hutaree are convicted, it'll be a first); but the first step in stopping sedition is making sure everybody knows exactly what it is when they see it. And that means calling out the S-word every time we see the conservatives defiantly flinging their hands and feet out over that line to score a few cheap political points.

The challenge I once threw down on the conservatives still stands. Do they want a civil war? Are they out to overthrow the US government?

If this is just political grandstanding to energize the base, they're playing with fire, and they need to bring this incendiary campaign to a screeching halt. Right now. This Mickey Mouse pussyfooting around, play-acting at sedition is criminally dangerous chickenshit politics that puts the short-term needs of the Republican party ahead of the long-term viability of the American democracy they've sworn to uphold. In case the party leaders haven't noticed, their base has taken them as seriously as a heart attack -- and they're genuinely making ready for armed revolt.

On the other hand, if they're actually serious about seditious rebellion against the US government, then let them stand up, follow through, and face the charges. They're either Americans, committed to working in good faith within the democratic process to create our common future; or else they're seditionists in intention or fact -- and thus enemies of the state, plain and simple.

For the good of the country, we cannot continue to let them have it both ways. They need to choose whose side they're on: America's, or their own.

Monday, April 05, 2010

Tea Party Movement Is Really Just The Very White Sore Losers' Movement

[Cross-posted at Crooks and Liars.]

The apologists for the Tea Party are out in force today, citing poll numbers in a lame attempt to make their case that, really, they're not an overwhelmingly white movement riddled with Obama-hating sore losers who refuse to accept the results of the 2008 election and are hoping to overturn them.
Gallup: Tea Partiers Are Fairly Mainstream in Their Demographics

The Hill: Survey: Four in 10 Tea Party members are Democrats or independents

Myth-busting polls: Tea Party members are average Americans, 41% are Democrats, independents
Gallup's numbers are its own and really don't tell us much, except that the Tea Party has been wildly successful at drawing the bulk of its participants from the American mainstream, even though its leadership is from the extremist populist right.

But the really ludicrous headline is Malcolm's (and similarly The Hill's) because it conflates Independents with Democrats.

Hello? Have any of these idiots been paying attention to the Tea Party rhetoric, especially from their Uber-Leader, Glenn Beck? They specifically proclaim their independence from the Republican Party because it isn't far right-wing enough.

Look at the actual results from the poll they're citing (full PDF of data here):
Republican: 57
Democrat: 13
Independent: 28
Meanwhile, the Gallup poll notes that 70 percent of Tea Party followers identify as conservative, compared to only 40 percent of Americans generally.

Even more remarkable, perhaps, is the racial composition, as the same poll noted:


Yeah, that looks just like America to me.

Naturally, the Tea Partiers trot out their tiny handful of minority participants -- like Kevin Jackson, in the video above, being trotted out by Bill O'Reilly to somehow disprove the notion that the Tea Parties might be racist. It's reminiscent of the 2008 campaign, when every right-wing black person in America found themselves employed as a Fox political analyst.

At least The Hill notes:
The group also vehemently dislikes President Barack Obama – even more so than those who called themselves Republicans in the survey. Over 80 percent of Tea Party members disapprove of the job he’s doing as president, whereas 77 percent of Republican respondents said they disapprove of Obama. The Tea Party members are also strongly opposed to the Democrats’ healthcare plan, with 82 percent saying they oppose it -- only 48 percent of respondents overall were opposed.
Which brings up the point: Have any of you noticed that there is a simple question that is going unasked in all these polls? To wit:

Did you vote for Barack Obama for president in the 2008 election?
Because you know that the answer "No" will be in excess of 90 percent.

There are, after all, plenty of Democrats and Independents who did not vote for Obama.

I've attended a number of Tea Party events, and it's a question I consistently ask: "Did you vote for Obama?"

Uniformly and without fail, the answer has been: "No." Though some are quick to add that they have friends in the movement who voted for Obama. Probably all of them have the same five friends.

Then I ask them: "Then aren't you just being a sore loser? The majority of voters in this country approved of him and his programs when they voted for him. Aren't you just refusing to accept that verdict?"

Because it's increasingly clear that this is exactly what the Tea Party movement is: A movement of sore losers.

Usually, I get dirty looks or mumbling in response.

Greg Sargent
and Steve Benen have more.

Countering Right-Wingers' Historical Revisionism: The Top 12 Things The Progressive Movement Has Given America

[Cross-posted at Crooks and Liars.]

Over the weekend, Steven Thomma at McClatchy News had a terrific piece that was a decent corrective to some of the bad history that's being bandied about by right-wingers like Glenn Beck these days:
In articles and speeches, on radio and TV, conservatives are working to redefine major turning points and influential figures in American history, often to slam liberals, promote Republicans and reinforce their positions in today's politics.

The Jamestown settlers? Socialists. Founding Father Alexander Hamilton? Ill-informed professors made up all that bunk about him advocating a strong central government.
Theodore Roosevelt? Another socialist. Franklin D. Roosevelt? Not only did he not end the Great Depression, he also created it.

Joe McCarthy? Liberals lied about him. He was a hero.

Some conservatives say it's a long-overdue swing of the pendulum after years of liberal efforts to define history on their terms in classrooms and in popular culture.

"We are adding balance," Texas school board member Don McLeroy said. "History has already been skewed. Academia is skewed too far to the left."
The upshot of this wave of historical revisionism -- which was kicked off, in many regards, with the publication of Jonah Goldberg's fraudulent rewrite of history, Liberal Fascism -- is to depict the progressive movement as the source of all evils that have befallen America since the dawn of time.

That's why Glenn Beck has embarked on a campaign of eliminationism against progressives.

Beck provided a splendid example of this miscarriage of history last month when he ran a segment claiming that FDR actually admired Mussolini by citing a selective quote. (In fact, many people were enamored of Mussolini's words, early on, and then were disabused by his actions.) Somehow left out of the discussion: The fact that FDR declared war on Mussolini and effectively drove him from power. Yeah, that's some admiration society.

But really, the entire enterprise is utter bosh. As we've pointed, at least in respect to middle- and working-class economics, and civil rights, there's a whole bunch of things Beck and his cohorts are omitting from the picture.

Let's just talk, for a moment, about the many things Americans enjoy -- and largely take for granted -- that were the product of the progressive movement. Here, just off the top of my head, are my Top 12:
  • The 40-hour work week.
  • Weekends.
  • Vacations.
  • The right of women to vote.
  • The right of people of all colors to vote.
  • The right of people of all colors to use public schools and facilities.
  • Public schools.
  • Child-labor laws.
  • The right to unionize.
  • Health-care benefits.
  • National Parks.
  • National Forests.
Those are just for starters. I bet you can come up with some of your own.

Saying you believe the progressive movement has brought evil on the nation should logically suggest that you want to reverse the reforms that it has produced. That is, you're saying you want to take these 12 things away, too.

That might not be such a popular thing to do, ya know?