Saturday, April 24, 2010

Scummy Moment Of The Week: Dick Morris' Untold Tale Of How Clinton Was Blackmailed By Janet Reno Over Waco

[Cross-posted at Crooks and Liars.]

In a week filled with supremely wingnutty moments, this little exchange between Sean Hannity and Dick Morris -- the toesucking little troll for whom no unconfirmable anecdote smearing the Clintons is too low relate -- was perhaps the sleaziest.

That's right, here's Morris telling Hannity that Oklahoma City was actually Bill Clinton's fault, because he had botched things so badly at Waco that Janet Reno was able to blackmail him four years later after Clinton won a new term.

Of course, somewhat undermining this anecdote is that fact that Reno did not need to be reappointed attorney general after Clinton's re-election.

But hey, no lie is too sleazy for Dick Morris to tell. Schmuck.

Judge Napolitano On Arizona's New Immigration Law: 'She's Gonna Bankrupt The Republican Party And The State Of Arizona'

[Cross-posted at Crooks and Liars.]

I don't think Judge Andrew Napolitano yesterday gave Neil Cavuto quite the response he was looking for when he asked him about Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer's predictably bad decision to make hers the first official police state in the country for immigrants.

See, every other paid Fox News Analyst that day had been sturdily defending the bill. Not the Judge:
Napolitano: She's gonna bankrupt the Republican Party and the state of Arizona. Look at what happened to the Republicans in California with the proposition --

Cavuto: What happens?

Napolitano: Ah, Hispanics -- who have a natural home in the Republican Party because they are socially conservative -- will flee in droves. She's also gonna bankrupt her state, because no insurance company will provide coverage for this. And for all the lawsuits that will happen -- for all the people that are wrongfully stopped -- her budget will be paying for it. Her budget will be paying the legal bills of the lawyers who sue on behalf of those that were stopped.

This will be a disaster for Arizona -- to say nothing of the fact that it's so unconstitutional that I predict a federal judge will prevent Arizona from enforcing it as soon as they attempt to do so. That will probably be tomorrow.
Judge Napolitano is an interesting mixed bag of an analyst. Sometimes he's just a flat-out nutcase. At other times, he's a sharp and insightful guy. This was definitely one of the latter occasions.

I think what Arturo Venegas, Jr., former chief of the Sacramento Police Department and project director of the Law Enforcement Engagement Initiative, had to say bears repeating:
“The passage of SB 1070 in Arizona is a catastrophe for community policing, with repercussions that will be felt by law enforcement officials across the country. The actions of the state legislature and Gov. Brewer are an unfunded mandate to Arizona police and are clearly rooted in concerns over politics, not public safety. No police officer should have to put arresting an undocumented immigrant over catching a violent criminal to avoid a lawsuit, and no victim or witness of a crime should be afraid to report it because he or she will be deported if he or she speaks to police.

“This law will drive a wedge between police and the immigrant and Latino communities not only in Arizona, but around the country. Trust between law enforcement professionals and the communities they serve is the cornerstone of community policing, and departments across the country have been working for decades to develop strong relationships with the community. Latinos and immigrants across America have been watching Arizona with fear, and will retreat deeper into the shadows now that this bill has become law.

“Today is a very sad day for the majority of us in law enforcement who believe that effective policing is based on community trust. I hope the federal government will heed this wake-up call and take long-overdue action for comprehensive immigration reform to protect our communities, and I am deeply disappointed in Governor Brewer and the Arizona legislature for passing this dangerous, costly, and ineffective law.”
It's important to understand that this kind of approach means that real violent crime is going to increase in Arizona. That's certainly what has happened in Maricopa County, under the regime of Crazy Sheriff Joe Arpaio, whose approach to emphasizing immigration enforcement has served as the inspiration for this bill. As the conservative Goldwater Institute found [PDF], such an approach meant skyrocketing rates in real crime:
The Maricopa County Sheriff’s Office is responsible for vitally important law-enforcement functions in one of the largest counties in the nation. It defines its core missions as law-enforcement services, support services, and detention.

MCSO falls seriously short of fulfilling its mission in all three areas. Although MCSO is adept at self-promotion and is an unquestionably “tough” law-enforcement agency, under its watch violent crime rates recently have soared, both in absolute terms and relative to other jurisdictions. It has diverted resources away from basic law-enforcement functions to highly publicized immigration sweeps, which are ineffective in policing illegal immigration and in reducing crime generally, and to extensive trips by MCSO officials to Honduras for purposes that are nebulous at best. Profligate spending on those diversions helped produce a financial crisis in late 2007 that forced MCSO to curtail or reduce important law-enforcement functions.

In terms of support services, MCSO has allowed a huge backlog of outstanding warrants to accumulate, and has seriously disadvantaged local police departments by closing satellite booking facilities. MCSO’s detention facilities are subject to costly lawsuits for excessive use of force and inadequate medical services. Compounding the substantive problems are chronically poor record-keeping and reporting of statistics, coupled with resistance to public disclosure.
Meanwhile, the tiny handful of remaining Arizona Hispanic Republicans issued a statement on the new law that blamed President Obama. Because, you see, he hasn't managed to pass comprehensive immigration reform.

Never mind that this bill was entirely a creature of the Republican Party. For some people, Denial is a state as big as Arizona.

The Birthers' Latest Publicity Stunt: Soldier Now Faces Court-martial For Refusing Deployment

[Cross-posted at Crooks and Liars.]

You've no doubt heard about the latest Birther cause celebre: the soldier who's refusing deployment orders until he can see President Obama's "real" birth certificate.

Well, now he's being court-martialed:
The Army filed formal changes against Lt. Col. Terry Lakin, a military physician who refused to deploy to Afghanistan because he believes President Barack Obama hasn't proven that he was born in the U.S.

The decision to initiate potential court-martial proceedings against Col. Lakin represents a line in the sand for the Army, which declined to discipline a pair of officers who raised similar questions last year about Mr. Obama's constitutional eligibility to serve as commander in chief.

Chuck Dasey, a spokesman for Walter Reed Army Medical Center in Washington, said Col. Lakin was being charged with three counts of disobeying a lawful order and one count of dereliction of duty. If found guilty, Col. Lakin could be kicked out of the Army, forced to give up his retirement benefits and jailed for up to four years.

Col. Lakin and his attorney didn't respond to phone messages or emails seeking comment. In a statement released through the foundation raising money for his legal-defense fund, the officer said he was prepared to press his case in court.

"I invited my court martial, and today I stand ready to answer these charges," Col. Lakin said. "I was prepared to deploy if only the president would authorize the release of the proof of his eligibility. He refused, and now the court will determine the issue, and my fate."
As the WSJ story explains, this is all about using the discovery process to force Obama to release his "real" birth certficate:
The officer and his attorney, Paul Jensen, have hinted that they will use the discovery process to seek to compel Mr. Obama to release a more detailed birth certificate. That could turn his eventual military trial into a pivotal moment for the "birther" movement, which believes Mr. Obama was born in Kenya rather than Hawaii despite voluminous evidence to the contrary.

Col. Lakin went public with his doubts about Mr. Obama last month in a YouTube video that detailed the officer's decision to disobey what he described as "illegal orders" that he deploy for a second tour in Afghanistan.

"Any reasonable person looking critically at the evidence currently in the public domain would have questions about President Obama's claim to be a natural-born citizen," Col. Lakin said in the short video, which has been viewed more than 181,000 times.
And as Dave Weigel explains, this is really all about gaining publicity for the lawyers who want to make a career out of selling the birther snake oil:
The thing of it is -- it's not worth covering this like a real case with an uncertain outcome. Lakin, who launched his crusade with a YouTube video, is becoming a fringe celebrity. WorldNetDaily, the ground zero for coverage of this stuff, recounts a chat between Lakin, his attorney Paul Jensen, and G. Gordon Liddy, where the game was given away.
"I'm not going to say what we are going to do other than we are going to do what you would want us to do," Jensen said... "Every criminal defendant has to be allowed the benefit of doubt to discover information relevant or which may even lead to the discovery of relevant information that could support his case," he said.

"It would shocking to me that a defendant ... would not be permitted to discover information that would lend itself to proving his [case]," he said.

The discovery issue previously was raised in court by attorney John Hemenway, who was threatened by a federal judge with sanctions for bringing a court challenge to Obama's presidency.

Hemenway is serving in emeritus status with the Safeguard Our Constitution website, which is working to raise support for Lakin.
Safeguard Our Constitution is the site collecting the newest info on the case -- that's where I grabbed this charging document. But we've now seen a number of soldiers do this, and last year we saw Capt. Connie Rhodes try a similar thing, get punished, and make a celebrity out of her lawyer -- none other than Orly Taitz. Larkin's case isn't going to change anything more important than the pecking order of birther attorneys and the destination for birthers' donation checks.
You've gotta wonder how these soldiers will feel when they wake up and realize they're destroying their lives for the sake of helping enrich the charlatans who talked them into it.

Mind you, they won't get much of my sympathy.

Friday, April 23, 2010

Gov. Jan Brewer Makes It Official: Arizona Is Now Nation's First Police State For Immigrants

[Cross-posted at Crooks and Liars.]

Well, no one can say they were surprised by this:
Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer on Friday signed into law a new state immigration bill that President Barack Obama called "misguided" hours earlier.

Brewer, saying that the state had been "more than patient waiting for Washington to act" on the issue of illegal immigration, said that the bill would protect Arizona citizens without violating individuals' constitutional rights.

The sweeping legislation makes it a crime under state law to be in the country illegally. It also requires local police officers to question people about their immigration status if there is reason to suspect they are illegally.
You can read the bill here [PDF file].

As Media Matters Action Network explains:

If Arizona Governor Brewer signs the Support Our Law Enforcement and Safe Neighborhood Act, police will be authorized to demand residency paperwork from anyone they suspect to be in the state illegally, even if that suspicion is based on the color of their skin and nothing else.

The Bill Makes It A Crime To Be In Arizona Without Proper Paperwork

AZ Bill "Requires Police" To Determine A "Person's Immigration Status." The Los Angeles Times reported that the newly passed Arizona immigration "bill, known as SB 1070, makes it a misdemeanor to lack proper immigration paperwork in Arizona. It also requires police officers, if they form a 'reasonable suspicion' that someone is an illegal immigrant, to determine the person's immigration status." The legislation passed 35 to 21. [Los Angeles Times, 4/14/10, emphasis added]

Those "Unable To Produce Documents Showing They Are Allowed To Be In The United States Could Be Arrested, Jailed For Up To Six Months And Fined $2,500." According to the Seattle Times, under the Arizona immigration bill "the police would be authorized to arrest immigrants unable to show documents allowing them to be in the country and the legislation would leave drivers open to sanctions, in some cases for knowingly transporting an illegal immigrant, even a relative. Immigrants unable to produce documents showing they are allowed to be in the United States could be arrested, jailed for up to six months and fined $2,500. Currently, officers can inquire about someone's immigration status only if the person is a suspect in another crime. The bill would allow officers to avoid the immigration issue if it would be impractical or hinder another investigation." [Seattle Times, 4/14/10, emphasis added]
Yup, sounds like a police state to me. Just the kinda place where I wanna go spend my vacation, eh?

Obama Slams Arizona Immigration Bill As 'Misguided' Attempt To 'Undermine Basic Notions Of Fairness'

[Cross-posted at Crooks and Liars.]

President Obama this morning took a clear stance against that crackpot immigration bill passed by Republicans in Arizona, and now awaiting the governor's signature:
Our failure to act responsibly at the federal level will only open the door to irresponsibility by others. That includes, for example, the recent efforts in Arizona, which threaten to undermine basic notions of fairness that we cherish as Americans, as well as the trust between police and their communities that is so crucial to keeping us safe.

In fact, I've instructed members of my administration to closely monitor the situation and examine the civil rights and other implications of this legislation. But if we continue to fail to act at the federal level, we will continue to see misguided efforts opening up around the country.
Indeed. It doesn't take a genius to see that the new Arizona law will essentially impose a police state in Arizona, especially for nonwhite people. And as we noted then:
Isn't it odd, really, how these right-wingers complain about government tyranny and how liberals are imposing a police state, yaddah yaddah yaddah, yet in the states where they have full control, they eagerly institute a police state themselves?
You can read the text of the bill here [PDF file].

But the president is making an important point: The Arizona craziness is a good example of why we can't let comprehensive immigration reform wait.

We know that lots of Democrats, especially the Blue Dogs, want to put immigration reform on the back burner till after the 2010 election. After all, it's the kind of issue that defines them: Blue Dogs always pander to conservatives on key issues, because they think that wins them more votes in the end than standing up for core principles.

In this case, as we saw from the 2008 election results, it's also nonsensical:
It's also apparent, from these results and from polling, that the nativists' "deport them all" immigration policy is wildly unpopular -- and that, moreover, Americans in fact take a pragmatic view of immigration: They're not interested in shipping out illegal immigrants, they're interested in seeing them become legal citizens.
The evidence is that voters get behind progressives who talk straight common sense on immigration -- as opposed to the fearmongering and scapegoating inherent in the Arizona Republican approach, which inevitably leads to the institution of a police state and the destruction of families.

It's also looking like Harry Reid will be pushing immigration reform as well. And there are many more reasons than fearful Blue Dogs why it's a politically smart move, too. Just ask those 200,000 people who gathered in D.C. last month.

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Glenn Beck Is All Confused By Markos Calling Out Tea Partiers For Eliminationist Rhetoric. Imagine That.

[Cross-posted at Crooks and Liars.]

The other day, our friend Markos went on Countdown and called out Glenn Beck and his fellow teabaggers for their incessant use of eliminationist rhetoric.

Of course, this deeply upset Glenn Beck, who responded on his show yesterday (transcript via Jed):
I want to start in an unusual place. I want to show you what the founder of the Daily Kos, which is this far-left wing blog, said. Here's what he said just the other day about tea parties:
This is what the people voted for, and it's one thing to oppose it on policy, it's another thing to use the kind of exterminationist, eliminationist rhetoric that they're using in appealing to violence and that sort of thing.
OK. Extermination talk? I haven't heard any of the extermination talk. It sounds like, again, he's calling us Nazis. How can you paint the right like Nazis?
Maybe Glenn Beck hasn't heard any eliminationist rhetoric because he's one of the loudest voices using it, and doing so on a regular basis:

As I noted awhile back:
Beck actually has been engaging in eliminationist rhetoric in attacking progressives since June of last year, though he's been recently ratcheting it down to new depths.

I compiled the video above with a sampling from the past nine months. In it, you can see Beck call progressives a "cancer" (multiple times), "the disease that's killing us," a "virus," a "parasite," "vampires" who will "suck the life out" of the Democratic Party, and claim that progressives intend the "destruction of the Constitution" and will strike it a "death blow".
Since then, we've been treated to such disquisitions as this:
Beck: What they're about to pass is not a tumor. Because the doctor can come over here and say, 'Yeah, there's a tumor here, and we've got to go in and cut this out.' I don't know if you can cut this tumor out. Maybe not. But you can try. But what they're about to pass is a bloodstream disease. It will be injected into our system and it will be incurable.

Beck: I think they're gonna pass this thing. They are gonna do whatever it takes to pass this, and they're not going to go the traditional way, they are gonna go the way of snakes and cockroaches. They're gonna crawl out in the cover of darkness, and they're going to pass this, make it happen one way or another.
Apparently, though, Beck is confused about just what Markos meant, because of course he couldn't be talking about people like Beck. Somehow, it has to do with Beck's Planet Bizarro-style confusion about political categories -- as in Beck's reconfiguration of things to equate neo-Nazis with the "Progressive Right":
Actually, when I heard this, I thought "wow, this guy, I mean he proves my point." He's right -- if, if you say, those people with George Bush, they thought he was okay and they didn't do anything about it. He's right if that's really what you thought about George W. Bush and you were wide awake, because then you'd be part of the progressive movement, and that makes my point on the railroad tracks.


We've disregarded the railroad, the rails of the rule of law of the Constitution, and equal justice, and then taken our foundation -- faith, hope, charity, self-reliance, accountability -- and replaced it with structure, socialism.

It's what ties the communists and the national socialists -- the Nazis -- together. They disagree with each other, but that's only because they want control, and these guys want control.

It's exactly what the Daily Kos guy said. "They didn't have a problem with it before because George Bush was doing it."

But wait, wait, wait. You don't have a problem with it now? Why?
Actually, what Markos said was that the Tea Partiers didn't have a problem with Big Government when George W. Bush was doing it -- they just object when it's a Democrat in power.

And that's as true of Glenn Beck as anyone. He claims now that he criticized Bush for his budgets, but the reality is that he did so rarely and it was always muted criticism. He certainly didn't organize mass rallies to oppose his every move, did he?

But of course, now, NOW Beck has seen the light: Bush was actually a "Progressive Republican."
And didn't he just equate neo-Nazis with the "Progressive Right"?

So in other words, Bush was actually the same thing as a neo-Nazi?

But wait -- don't Beck and his Fox cohorts (see Brit Hume and Bill O'Reilly most recently) regularly complain that "the Left" (whoever that was) constantly smeared Bush by calling him a Nazi?

It's all very confused, isn't it? Or is "insane" perhaps a better word?

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Glenn Beck Calls Progressives A 'Cancer,' But Compares Tea Partiers To Progressive Civil-Rights Marchers Like M.L. King

[Cross-posted at Crooks and Liars.]

Among the many illogical disconnects that have accompanied Glenn Beck's eliminationist jihad against progressives, none has been more glaring than Beck's seeming embrace of progressive civil-rights leaders like Martin Luther King.

That contradiction was simply glaring on Beck's show yesterday, when he started out by reminding everyone of the ground rules of his program's running thesis:
Beck: The enemy is not the Republicans. It's not the Democrats. It's not the President. It's not! It's the distortion of the truth, that's the enemy. That somehow or another, Big Government is good. That's not true! The Founders have been proven right, over and over and over again. When the government gets too big or out of control, it always ends the same way. And it's not a happy ending.

We're putting a documentary out called, "Progressivism: America's Cancer." It is an in-depth look at how progressives threw America way off track around the turn of the century.
For a sample of just how accurate this documentary will be, Beck then explained how exemplary those pro-gun protesters were outside the Capitol, and wasn't it remarkable how there wasn't even a pistol-whipping? But he couldn't even get this right: Beck proclaimed they had "loaded guns!" outside the Capitol, but that's not accurate: The people carrying guns had to protest outside D.C., in Virginia:
In the nation's capital, where possession of guns is strictly regulated, they came carrying only signs and handbills, which one man had thrust into an empty holster.
Beck then went on a rant contending that Bill Clinton was to blame for Oklahoma City because he had so angered right-wing nutcases like tim McVeigh that of course he was bound to go off sooner or later. (Sorta aligns with Beck's theory that if Tea Party violence erupts, it will have been deliberately provoked by Obama and Co.)

Ah, but because they have weathered this awful media storm of being accused of being unhinged xenophobes, the Tea Party folks therefore deserve to be compared to the gallant Civil Rights marchers of the 1960s, at least on Planet GlennBeckia -- because they used to say things just like that about Martin Luther King!
Beck: America Tea Party goers, you are in good company. Standing up against the government -- a government that you feel is grabbing too much power or is out of control. If you do it peacefully, you are in good company. And so far, that's the only evidence they have. Peace.
In a finishing touch, the "Speak Boldly" promotional segment then featured footage from the 1960s Civil Rights marches.

Ironically, it was just a couple of weeks ago that Glenn Beck was chiding John Lewis -- one of the most important figures of the Civil Rights era -- for having dared to walk through the crowd of anti-health-care Tea Partiers "because they wanted to compare themselves to the civil rights activists. How dare you!" he cried.

Even more ironic is a simple fact that seems to have eluded Beck's attention: Civil Rights always have been a progressive cause. And Martin Luther King was a major progressive figure. As we explained:
[O]ne of the most interesting omissions from Beck's parade of progressive evils is one of the real achievements of progressive politics in the past half-century -- namely, the advancement of civil rights for minorities, beginning with the civil-rights movements of the 1950s and 1960s. These movements ended Jim Crow and made life better for millions of nonwhites, and created a more just and civil society along the way.

And you know, civil rights was a progressive cause. It still is. The opposition? It has always -- ALWAYS -- been conservatives.

Yet all the time Beck has been bashing progressives, he has simultaneously been hosting shows with audiences of black conservatives wherein they sit around and complain about how mean liberals are to them for being conservative and Beck gets to ask dumb white-guy questions like: "Why not identify yourself as Americans?"

Even more to the point, in both of these shows, Beck has glowingly quoted Martin Luther King -- who was, you know, a leader in the progressive movement.
It's just all too bizarre. And when Beck asks:
You know what they said about Martin Luther King then?
You have to laugh. Yeah, we know what THEY said about King then. Especially when THEY were "right-wing conservatives." Like the fellow who told the press when he heard of King's assassination, as Rick Perlstein recalls for us:
"[It was just the sort of] great tragedy that began when we began compromising with law and order, and people started choosing which laws they'd break."

That was Ronald Reagan,
the governor of California, arguing that King had it coming.
They also attacked him for winning the Nobel Prize. Sound familiar?

You know what else they said about King back then?

That he was a closet Communist, a secretly conniving Marxist:
The attempt to prove that King was a Communist was related to the feeling of many segregationists that blacks in the South were happy with their lot but had been stirred up by "communists" and "outside agitators". The civil rights movement arose from activism within the black community dating back to before World War I. Levison did have ties with the Communist Party in various business dealings, but the FBI refused to believe its own intelligence bureau reports that Levison was no longer associated in that capacity. In response to the FBI's comments regarding communists directing the civil rights movement, King said that "the Negro revolution is a genuine revolution, born from the same womb that produces all massive social upheavals—the womb of intolerable conditions and unendurable situations."
Gee, do those tactics sound familiar, especially in the context of leading black politicians? Van Jones, anyone?

Orrin Hatch Hates Being Reminded That Conservatives Drove The Economy Over A Cliff -- So He Questions The Goldman Sachs Probe

[Cross-posted at Crooks and Liars.]

There's nothing right-wingers hate more than being reminded that it was the conservative mania for "small government" -- embodied in the massive deregulation and tax cuts for the wealthy that have dominated American domestic policy for most of the past decade, following conservative dogma -- that drove not just the American economy over a cliff, but it dragged the global economy with it.

So when Sen. Orrin Hatch was asked by Jon Scott yesterday on Fox News' Happening Now about President Obama's recent stinging remarks in this regard:
Obama: And yet, after driving our economy into the ditch, they decided to stand on the side of the road and watch us as we pulled it out of the ditch. They asked, 'Why haven't you pulled it out fast enough?' 'I notice there's a little scratch there in the fender, why don't you do something about that?'
Hatch at first demurred, laughing it off as being part of politics. He knew this was not a conversation he wanted to explore much, and so instead he diverted it into a sustained wine that Democrats "won't work with us," and then nudged it into the subject of the Goldman Sachs fraud case:
Hatch: And by the way -- this whole Goldman Sachs thing. Isn't that a little odd, that all of a sudden, right at the height of this legislative period, we suddenly have the SEC filing suit against Goldman Sachs?

Scott: You think the timing -- you think the timing of those charges --

Hatch: Yeah, I think it's very suspect. It's very suspect.
Hmmmm. Yeah, there is something fishy there. It's sure peculiar, dontcha think, that it took a one-sided Democratic vote on the SEC to advance the probe. After all, the only politician whose ties to Goldman Sachs have been raised in the press so far is President Obama.

But in the end, Obama's remarks got Hatch's special underwear in a wad, and he couldn't resist returning to try to rebut Obama:
Hatch: And look -- when he blames us for the economy, that he, quote, inherited? Give me a break. Over the last 34 years I've been in the Senate, there have been very few times when you could say the fiscal conservatives were in the majority. And they certainly were not in the majority in the Bush years!
Hahahahahaha. Hoo boy. Now that's a good standup routine.

Is Hatch really trying to assert that his fellow Republican Senators, Trent Lott and Bill Frist -- who were the Republican Senate Majority Leaders during the Bush years -- were not "fiscal conservatives"? That his buddy, Sen. Charles Grassley of Iowa, the chairman of the Senate Finance Committee during the Bush years, was not a fiscal conservative?


Should we call Sens. Lott, Frist, and Grassley to get their input on whether they were "fiscal conservatives"? Because as I recall -- as they pushed out tax cuts for the wealthy and demolished regulatory oversight of the financial sector in those years -- those programs were all being pushed by the "fiscal conservatives" among both the Republican and Democratic parties.

You know, if I were in Hatch's shoes, and had to survey the economic wreckage that my policies had produced, I'd probably be in a state of denial too. But I'd also be in a straitjacket.

WSJ's James Taranto Thinks Liberals Need To Concoct Racism 'Smear' Against Tea Partiers

[Cross-posted at Crooks and Liars.]

Bill O'Reilly hosted the Wall Street Journal's resident Chief Wanker, James Taranto, last night on his Fox show to discuss -- or more correctly, promote -- Taranto's latest fetid dropping, "Why the Left Needs Racism: It serves a political purpose."
To keep blacks voting Democratic, it is necessary for the party and its supporters to keep alive the idea that racism is prevalent in America and to portray the Republican Party (as well as independent challengers to the Democrats, such as the tea-party movement) as racist. The election of Barack Obama made nonsense of the idea that America remains a racist country and thereby necessitated an intensifying of attacks on the opposition as racist.

These charges of racism are partly based on circular reasoning. Among Blow's evidence that the tea-party movement is racist is "a New York Times/CBS News poll released on Wednesday [that] found that only 1 percent of Tea Party supporters are black and only 1 percent are Hispanic." Other polls have put the black proportion as high as 5% (and, as Tom Maguire notes, Blow misreports his own paper's Hispanic figure, which is actually 3%). But with blacks constituting some 12% of the population, there's no question that the tea-party movement is whiter than the nation as a whole.

Yet to posit racism as an explanation is to ignore far more obvious and less invidious causes for the disparity. The tea-party movement's racial composition reflects a pre-existing partisan alignment: The movement arose in opposition to the policies of a Democratic government, and the vast majority of blacks are Democrats, or at least vote for Democrats. Pride in the first black president, a normal and wholesome attitude, reinforces this partisan allegiance.

There's another factor that might keep blacks away from tea parties: the perception, whether true or not, that the movement is racist--a perception that liberal politicians and commentators have worked tirelessly (and tiresomely) to propagate. Add to this the risk of race-based opprobrium from fellow blacks and even from white liberals for deviating from the way blacks are "supposed" to think.
Oh, yeah. Because, of course, the Left actually has to concoct out of thin air the entire unrelenting flood of racist signs, rhetoric, and behavior that has been part and parcel of the Tea Parties since their inception -- and before, in their nascent phase, during the 2008 presidential campaign. Not to mention the relentless wingnuttery -- such as Birtherism -- that creates a clear racist undertone and has severed its followers from reality.

And the fact that they're overwhelmingly white? Why, that's just a coincidence, an illusion created by all the people pointing out the racism.

But it's touching, really it is, that Taranto is so concerned about protesters being unfairly smeared with self-serving propaganda.

Because we can remember, back in the day, when Taranto developed quite a reputation for smearing anyone who dared question the invasion of Iraq as "pro-Saddam" -- particularly antiwar movement protesters:
In particular, one of the favorite attacks of those who impugn the motives of war opponents has been to label war opponents "pro-Saddam." This phrase has shown up more than any other used in this ugly campaign. Among those who have employed it are Christopher Hitchens in an appearance on CNN's "Connie Chung Tonight"; David Frum on CNN's "Reliable Sources" and in his column for National Review Online; and the editorial board of the New York Post.

The worst offender on this count, however, has been James Taranto, writer of the "Best of the Web Today" (BOTW) column on the Wall Street Journal's, who has repeatedly accused liberals who oppose a potential war with Iraq of supporting Saddam Hussein. On numerous occasions, he has called them "pro-Saddam" or offered several other aggressive rhetorical attacks. On February 25, for instance, Taranto labeled "McLaughlin Group" panelist and Newsweek writer Eleanor Clift "one of Saddam's shrillest defenders." Writing on March 6 about a walkout by some students who oppose the war, Taranto claimed they were "ditching for Saddam." And in yesterday's BOTW, Taranto used the example of antiwar protestors who defaced a September 11 memorial in California to smear everyone who opposes the war, concluding that it was "all you need to know about the 'antiwar' movement" in a section entitled "'Antiwar' Is Anti-American."
I guess, in Tarantoville, it's not a dirty political trick to smear someone with vicious falsehoods. It must be when you tell the truth about them that it's unfair.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Video: Sarah Palin's Speech To Women Of Joy Reveals Church-state Separation Denier, Adherent Of Radical 'Prayer Warriors'

[Cross-posted at Crooks and Liars.]

Steve Benen draws our attention to a speech given by Sarah Palin last Friday in Kentucky to an evangelical women's group called Women of Joy, one in which she appears to deny the existence of church-state separation:
I beg you, Women of Joy, to bring light and be involved, loving America and praying for her. Really, it is our solemn duty. Praying for true spiritual awakening to overcome deterioration. That is where God wants us to be. Lest anyone try to convince you that God should be separated from the state, our Founding Fathers, they were believers. And George Washington, he saw faith in God as basic to life.
As Greg Sargent observes, this is historical nonsense; many of the Founders were practicing Deists who ardently believed in separating religion from the conduct of secular politics:
There was a time when this sort of thing would provoke widespread media mockery and perhaps even be seen as a potential disqualifier for the presidency.
Ah, but we live in an age where a cable-TV network is doing the presidential qualifying for us.

What was perhaps most noteworthy -- and disturbing -- about Palin's speech, though, was how she publicly called out and thanked the "Prayer Warriors" who were out there on her side:
Palin: Given the chaos these days, just kind of standing up and speaking out for common sense has kind of become a full-time job. And it's keeping me pretty busy. And some days are kind of crazy. And my faith, my family -- they are what keep me grounded, keep me going.

Prayer Warriors all across the country -- and I know some of you are here tonight -- your prayer shield allows me and others to go forth. You give out strength, providing a prayer shield. That is the only way to put one foot in front of the other, and get through some of these days with joy.

I don't know how any politician could, or would want to do this, without knowing that there were prayer warriors out there, holding you up and seeking strength and wisdom for you. ... I am so appreciative of their efforts.
Thanks largely to the reportage of Max Blumenthal, we've known for some time that Palin was religiously affiliated with the "Prayer Warriors," but this is perhaps her first open public acknowledgment of it.

Who are the "Prayer Warriors"? Funny you should ask that: Bill Berkowitz explored that question for AlterNet:
Imagine a religious movement that makes geographic maps of where demons reside and claims among its adherents the Republican Party's most recent vice presidential nominee and whose leaders have presided over prayer sessions (one aimed at putting the kibosh on health-care reform) with a host of leading GOP figures.

It's a movement whose followers played a significant role in the battle over Proposition 8, California's anti-same-sex marriage initiative, and Uganda's infamous proposed Anti-Homosexuality Law, more commonly associated with the Family, a religious network of elites drawn from the ranks of business and government throughout the world. But the movement we're imagining encompasses the humble and the elite alike, supporting a network of "prayer warriors” in all 50 states, within the ranks of the U.S. military, and at the far reaches of the globe -- all guided by an entire genre of books, texts, videos and other media.

Imagine that, and you've just dreamed up the New Apostolic Reformation, the largest religious movement you've never heard of.

NAR's videos, according to researcher Rachel Tabachnick, "demonstrate the taking control of communities and nations through large networks of 'prayer warriors' whose spiritual warfare is used to expel and destroy the demons that cause societal ills. Once the territorial demons, witches, and generational curses are removed, the 'born-again' Christians in the videos take control of society."

The movement's notion of "spiritual warfare" has spread from the California suburbs to an East-Coast inner city, and has impacted policy decisions in the developing world. Movement operatives are well-connected enough to have testified before Congress and to have received millions of dollars in government abstinence-only sex-education grants, and bizarre enough to maintain that in its prototype communities, the movement has healed AIDS, purified polluted streams and even grown huge vegetables. Leaders in the NAR movement refer to themselves as "apostles."
Berkowitz also reported on Palin's ties to them:
Presidential campaign watchers got their first taste of the New Apostolic Reformation when it was revealed that Sarah Palin, while mayor of Wasilla, had been prayed over in a laying-on-of-hands by Rev. Thomas Muthee of Kenya, director of the NAR East Africa Spiritual Warfare Network, in a ceremony designed to protect Palin from witches and demons. Muthee, it turns out, is famous in his native land for driving out of town a woman he deemed a witch, a charge that had her neighbors calling for her stoning.

Palin, according to Alaskan Apostle Mary Glazier, became part of her prayer network at the age of 24.
You can't blame Benen for being perplexed and outraged:
[F]ar less amusing is the fact that Palin and others of her radical ilk reject any notion that "God should be separated from the state." It's the 21st century, for crying out loud. There are some countries that endorse Palin's worldview and intermix God and government -- Iran, Saudi Arabia, and Afghanistan under Taliban rule come to mind -- but they're generally not countries the United States tries to emulate.

... Palin not only thinks the Founding Fathers opposed church-state separation -- in other words, she thinks those who came up with the idea opposed the idea -- she also suggests religious people necessarily reject the constitutional principle. This is just astounding.
But then, he's probably never encountered a True Believer like Sarah Palin before. If you polled most of the "Christian nation" evangelicals, you would find a large majority of them refuse to accept church-state separation -- and truly believe that God guides their every step. Just ask Sarah.

Call The Waaaahmbulance! Fox Talkers Say Critics Of Tea Partiers' Unhinged Attacks Just Want To 'Silence' Them

[Cross-posted at Crooks and Liars.]

Do not adjust your TV sets or whack them: That whining sound you hear is the petulant uproar by right-wing pundits upset about Bill Clinton's comparison of the Tea Party's rhetoric to that of the militia/Patriot movement that inspired the bombing of Oklahoma City.

The whine coming from Fox News Channel alone was enough to permeate entire cable systems. Leading the way was Fox's anchor sage, Brit Hume, who just couldn't believe Clinton was concerned about the problem when he never denounced similarly ugly rhetoric from the left during the Bush years. Bill O'Reilly picked up that ball and ran with it too, inviting Mary Katherine Ham to conclude, once again -- after eluding a bizarre O'Reilly nonsequitur -- that it was part of a plot by the "left" to "demonize" the poor ordinary Tea Partiers.

Of course, the Tea Partiers themselves would never demonize anyone, would they? Other than that evil Kenyan Muslim radical Barack Obama. And his Marxist fascist progressive enablers. Just a wee bit.

And where, as we noted, do you suppose anyone could have gotten the idea that Tea Partiers have anything to do with the militia/Patriot movement of the 1990s?
You don't suppose it could have had anything to do with the saturation of Tea Party events with Patriot movement ideas and agendas, as well as its many conspiracy theories, embodied in all those Patriot movement and militia leaders appearing at Tea Party events, do you?
Or maybe he got it from those news reports out of Oklahoma in which a state Tea Party leader advocated forming militias.

Funny thing about those stories: None of them were ever reported on Fox News.

Because from the very first Tax Day Tea Party protests of last year, Fox has been intimately involved in promoting the Tea Parties. It's their beast, and now they get to live with it.

Which is why they've been running from its inevitably violent outcomes as fast and furiously as they possibly can.

O'Reilly in particular has been adamant in selling the notion that the Tea Partiers are just ordinary folks, and if there's been ugly rhetoric, well hey, the left does it too!

Except, as we've explained, that's a bogus claim. There are important and substantive differences between hate talk from the left and the right:
Come and talk to us again about how nasty and wrong hateful talk from the left is when:
-- A liberal walks into a church and opens fire on the congregation because they're all a bunch of conservatives and he wants to kill as many right-wingers as he can.

-- A liberal walks into another church and shoots a doctor in the head.

-- A liberal shoots three police officers who come to his door because he fears the president is going to take his guns away.

-- A liberal walks into the Holocaust Museum and shoots a guard because he hates Jews and believes it's time to start a race war.

-- A liberal walks into the Pentagon and opens fire because he believes the government is plotting against its citizens.

-- A pack of gun-loving liberals forms a plot to kill law-enforcement officers and start a revolution.
See, that isn't happening. But it is happening with characters from the right, opening fire on various perceived "liberal" targets, law enforcement officers, and government employees. (In order, they've happened in Knoxville, in Wichita, in Pittsburgh, in Washington, twice, and this past weekend in the Midwest.)

No doubt there are some liberals who use ugly and sometimes even violent rhetoric. But there's a big difference between what's actually happening on the ground in terms of the behavior of right-wingers and left-wingers when it comes to acting on the rhetoric: The fanatics on the right are decidedly more violent, and act out violently with much greater frequency.

Why is that? Well, there are two big differences between left-wing and right-wing hate talk, one qualitative, the other quantitative:

-- Right-wing talk is decidedly more violent and openly eliminationist -- which is to say, it speaks more openly about eliminating entire blocs of their fellow Americans, and it does so by harkening to violent themes with much greater frequency.

-- The sheer volume of right-wing hate talk is so much greater. Not only are there more examples, by an exponential factor, of right-wing hatefulness, but the talk is emanating from the upper reaches of the right-wing hierarchy: on TV and radio talk shows with hosts who spew eliminationist hatred daily to audiences of millions daily, and among politicians who represent the supposed mainstream of officialdom, and thus lend their imprimatur to such behavior.
Finally, the Tea Party apologists want to pretend that the only thing the protesters are out there saying is that they want smaller government, lower taxes, and reduced spending.

Well gee, if that's all they were on about, I don't think anyone would be concerned about their rhetoric.

Instead, we get get Tea Party leaders -- including Sarah Palin, Glenn Beck, Joseph Farah and various other figures -- promoting death panels, FEMA concentration camps, birth-certificate theories, Tenther "constitutionalist" theories, and an entire range of similarly false nutcase ideas that reflect people unhinged from any sense of reality.

That's how tragedies like the Oklahoma City bombing happen. And the fine folks at Fox are so busy denying it, they're helping make it happen.

Michele Bachmann's Latest Paranoid Fantasy: Net Neutrality Is 'Essentially Censorship Of The Internet'

[Cross-posted at Crooks and Liars.]

Michele Bachmann's paranoia knows no bounds. Now she's claiming that Bill Clinton wants to "take her out" (and not in the dating kinda way, either). Why? Because Clinton criticized her choice of language in calling the government "gangsters," as part of his weeklong observations that the rhetoric from people like Bachmann is what produced unhinged and violent acts like Oklahoma City.

Talk like this upsets the right-wing talkers very much, and of course it then all becomes about how the mean left-wingers are saying nasty things about poor meek conservatives, who have never said a mean things about anyone in their lives. That was Bachmann's schtick last night on Sean Hannity's Fox show.

And as proof that liberals are evilly trying to silence right-wingers, Bachmann trotted out ... net neutrality.
Bachmann: Oh sure, that's all they have left now, is they use pejorative terms, hateful terms, against those who are carrying the message. So whether they're attacking conservative talk radio, or conservative TV, or whether it's Internet sites -- I mean, let's face it, what's the Obama administration doing? They're advocating net neutrality, which is essentially censorship of the Internet!

This is the Obama administration advocating censorship of the Internet. Why? They want to silence the voices that are opposing them.
Net neutrality? Censorship? Really? Well, not really. How about more like the precise opposite?

Somebody's been watching too much Glenn Beck. Bachmann is a prime example of what happens when you let Beck do your thinking for you.

Beck's Chalkboard Universe: Neo-Nazis Are 'Progressive Right,' NCLR Lumped In With Drug Gangs

[Cross-posted at Crooks and Liars.]

Glenn Beck sure inhabits a weird quadrant of the universe. It's one in which you can switch, as he did on his show yesterday, from pleading with his viewers to stop lumping each other into political frames that are unfair -- especially lumping Tea Partiers in with neo-Nazis -- and then leaping to lump one of the most mainstream Latino advocacy organizations, the National Council of La Raza, in the same "box" with violent Mexican drug gangs.

We've seen nasty smears directed at NCLR previously, but this hits a new low. Which no doubt was Beck's fondest hope.

How he gets there is actually an amazing convolution of logic that not only defies gravity but reality -- particularly when he explains that the neo-Nazis marching in Los Angeles last weekend, under the aegis of the National Socialist Movement, are Socialists, you see, and therefore "Progressive Right".

He later adds: "The neo-Nazis -- National Socialists -- you'd put that on the Left in America."

Excuse me, but as someone who actually covered neo-Nazis as a journalist here in the Pacific Northwest at a time when Glenn Beck was perfecting a shock-jock schtick, I have to call bullshit on this.

Having been to neo-Nazi rallies, having covered the demise of the Aryan Nations, and having interviewed both leaders and followers of the neo-Nazis, I can assert without any hesitation that there's nothing remotely "progressive" about neo-Nazis of any stripe, whether they're NSM or AN or White Aryan Resistance or Hammerskins. They're all extremely hardcore far-right-wingers who are in many ways primarily driven by a deep animus for "progressive" values, particularly multiculturalism, civil rights, internationalism, and union organizing.

Beck, as we well know, is a fan of Jonah Goldberg's Liberal Fascism fraud, and this deliberate confusion about where neo-Nazis sit on the political spectrum is a clear product of Goldberg's mishmash of history. Indeed, Goldberg himself is fond of rationalizing, whenever real American fascists show up on the scene, that they're not right-wingers at all -- they're just kooks. To which we responded:
[T]his is palpable nonsense. What makes these people right-wing extremists is that they not only adopt right-wing political positions, they take them to their most extreme logical (if that's the word for it) outcome:
  • They not only oppose abortion, they believe abortion providers should be killed.
  • They not only believe that liberal elites control the media and financial institutions, but that a conniving cabal of Jews is at the heart of this conspiracy to destroy America.
  • They not only despise Big Government, they believe it is part of a New World Order plot to enslave us all.
  • They not only defend gun rights avidly, they stockpile them out of fear that President Obama plans to send in U.N. troops to take them away from citizens.
  • They not only oppose homosexuality as immoral, they believe gays and lesbians deserve the death penalty.
  • They not only oppose civil-rights advances for minorities, they also believe a "race war" is imminent, necessary and desirable.
And on and on. Every part of the agenda of the agenda of right-wing extremists is essentially an extreme expression of conservative positions. And that, fundamentally, is why American fascism always has been and always will be, properly understood, an unmistakable phenomenon of the Right.
Having thus broken down any kind of meaningful category into which neo-Nazis might belong, he then calls the "progressive Right" fascists "the same people" as the "progressive Left" group -- which includes NCLR and various "Marxist" groups and Mexican drug gangs. And, ah, last I checked, Mexican drug cartels have no political philosophy -- though at least one of them La Familia, draws its inspiration from the American religious-right group Focus on the Family.

Nonetheless, according to Beck, "if you're in this picture, you're a danger to society." Including NCLR.

But then he suddenly and bizarrely switched to a plea for people not to put each other into unfair "boxes":
Beck: This is why, see, you can't stand there. You can't stand where they're putting you. Because they're putting you in a box with Nazis.

And Democrats? You're being put into boxes with Communists! That's not who you are.

We have to stop with the R and D stuff. We have to stop with the Republicans and Democrats stuff. And I know, I mean, I've done my fair share of this. We've gotta stop! We've gotta stop.
Then, of course, he promptly turned around in hsi very next segment and did exactly that -- placed a mainstream Latino organization like La Raza in "a box" with drug gangs and neo-Nazis!
Beck: La Raza -- I mean, you want to talk about a racist statement -- if I called an organization "The Race" -- Wow! That's -- whew!

Anyway, La Raza supports drivers licenses for illegal aliens. I'm not for that. Um -- they oppose any cooperation between local law enforcement and federal authorities such as immigration and customs enforcement enforcing U.S. immigration laws. Why wouldn't you want them working together?

Then you have MS-13. This is a bloodthirsty -- this is a notoriously violent drug gang, who has often left behind dismembered corpses, decapitated heads -- I mean, it's -- bad.
It makes my head hurt just trying to figure out where to start with this, beyond the obvious hypocrisy and the strangeness of Beck thinking that opposing certain immigration policies is comparable to beheading drug-gang members.

Let's start with the bad facts: Beck tries to argue that the translation of "La Raza" is "The Race" and therefore NCLR is innately racist. But that's only if you're utterly ignorant of Spanish or deliberately want to mistranslate.

"La Raza," as the Wikipedia entry accurately explains, is correctly translated not as "the race" but "the people," since it refers generically to "the people of Latin America" (or more narrowly, "of Mexico"). It's generically a multiracial term, not a racist one.

Moreover, as Wikipedia also correctly describes, the National Council of La Raza is one of the most middle-of-the-road Latino-advocacy organizations in the country:
Its stated focus is on reducing poverty and discrimination, and improving opportunities for Hispanics. According to the organization's website, it is "the largest national Hispanic civil rights and advocacy organization in the United States" and "serves all Hispanic subgroups in all regions of the country". NCLR receives funding from philanthropic organizations, such as the Ford Foundation, and corporations such as Citigroup and Wal-Mart. NCLR serves its constituency by means of its Affiliates, nearly 300 community-based organizations.
People like Beck like to claim that NCLR supports illegal immigration, but it in fact is outspoken on this matter. As NCLR president Janet Murguia put it: "First, as a sovereign nation, the United States has the right to determine who comes and who stays. . . [It also] has a right to consider enforcement at a variety of levels, including border enforcement, interior enforcement, and workplace enforcement. . . We support enforcement...[because] as Americans, we recognize it's the right thing to do."

Funny how Beck only gets upset when his beloved Tea Partiers get put into the kind of box he regularly puts his targets into, isn't it?