Saturday, August 07, 2010

Well, Maybe A Black 'Sovereign Citizen' Will Get People's Attention

[Cross-posted at Crooks and Liars.]

We've discussed so-called "sovereign citizens" -- those newly revivified remnants of the militia/Patriot movement of the 1990s who believe you can declare yourself free of the federal government by filing a bunch of pseudo-legal documents saying so -- quite a bit here, particularly the threat of extreme violence they represent, embodied most recently in the case of Jerry and Joe Kane, the traveling Patriot-scam salesmen who gunned down two police officers in Arkansas.

But it's kinda strange: Even though these cases would attract huge amounts of media attention had they been committed by, say, someone of the Muslim persuasion (you know there would be nonstop coverage on Fox), scarcely anyone has paid attention to these violent crimes, at least in the media.

And there's an important thread here: Not only were Jerry and Joe Kane "sovereign citizens," so were Scott Roeder, the assassin of George Tiller, and James Von Brunn, the Holocaust Museum shooter.

So I was keenly interested when WSB-TV in Atlanta reported on a "sovereign citizen" in Georgia who has been apparently playing with the same Patriot scam that Jerry and Joe Kane were selling: moving into foreclosed homes and claiming them as your own.
If you watch the video, and the others Kane left behind, you'll see that the scheme he was selling entailed creating "strawman" companies that would enable a "sovereign citizen" to then claim ownership, by virtue of their sovereignty (often defined in divine terms), of whatever properties they set their sights upon. As one account noted:
Seminars of this type usually teach that each person has a real self and a “corporate self” that is a fabrication of the government, and that banks cannot legitimately lend money that belongs to their depositors.

“It’s mumbo jumbo; it’s magic words; it’s abracadabra,” Ms. MacNab said.
We're seeing, as I mentioned, this scam showing up in places like Seattle and Montana and California, too.

But what's remarkable about this "sovereign citizen" is that he's African-American. This is at first remarkable because "sovereign citizenship" is typically a product of racist-right organizations that preach racial separation -- 99 percent of the sovereign citizens in America are white.

But there are in fact some black-supremacist organizations such as the Black Nuwaubians who similarly truck in these kinds of conspiracy theories (which, like the white supremacists', ultimately blame Jews for all their ills). And all you have to do is listen to this fellow ramble on for a little while to realize that he's very much of this vein.

Now, if anything will get the attention of mainstream media -- and particularly the folks at Fox (Megyn Kelly, I'm looking at you) -- it's a black man indulging in this kind of rhetoric and behavior.

One can only imagine the horrified faces of the Fox anchors as they describe how this fellow has been moving into foreclosed homes and claiming they're all his! Why, hasn't he heard about white people's work ethic?

And you know the names of any of the white extremists who created and sold this Bizarro World belief system will never cross their lips.

The Harder Tea Partiers Try To Prove They're Not Racist, The Less Interested Their Base Becomes. Hmmmmm.

[Cross-posted at Crooks and Liars.]

Geraldo Rivera sent one of his Fox crews out to cover last week's "Uni-Tea" event in Philly -- you know, the one that was pretty much a total disaster in terms of turnout and meeting the objective, which was to demonstrate how non-racist the Tea Party really is.

Pretty hard to make that case when nearly all of the 200 or so who showed up were lily-white, as even Geraldo's reporter suggests. What he neglected to mention, however, was how puny the turnout was.

Maybe the black turnout was so poor because Andrew Breitbart was a headliner. And maybe the general turnout was so light because most of the speakers were refugees from one of those excruciating Glenn Beck "let's talk about race with black conservatives" episodes.

Their schtick, which is getting a bit shopworn by now, was duly stenographed by the AP:
The black members said the racism that has been attributed to the tea party movement came from outsiders who infiltrated the groups to discredit their work and it should be rejected.

"These people do not oppose Barack Obama because of his skin color. They oppose him because of his policies," said Lloyd Marcus, a spokesman for the group.
Simon Maloy notes, of course, that the whole "infiltrator" paranoia among Tea Partiers is pretty hilarious. It's gotten to where all a real infiltrator has to do is show up and start accusing other Tea Partiers of being infiltrators.

Eric Boehlert observes
that events like this actually point to a movement in state of decay:
Optimistic organizers, who boasted that their website had attracted 2 million hits during the run-up to the big rally, predicted a crowd of 3,000-4,000 people for the Philadelphia event. And they had every reason to be confident. After all, right-wing celebrity Andrew Breitbart, fresh off his Shirley Sherrod star turn, was scheduled to speak at the event, which was held on a gorgeous summer day in downtown Philadelphia on Independence Mall, where throngs of tourists would already be milling around. So it made sense, as Talking Points Memo reported, that organizers had 1,500 bottles of water on ice to hand out for the throngs who descended on the rally to cheer the Tea Party message.

But how many people actually showed up last Saturday for the national Tea Party rally?

One local report put the number at 300. That’s right, 300, or less than one-tenth of the expected turnout. In fact, it’s possible more people showed up in Philadelphia last week to commemorate the opening of the new Apple computer store than showed up at the nationally promoted Tea Party rally featuring Andrew Breitbart.
Oh, and if those black folks want to find some racism? All they have to do is head over to the Tea Party Nation website and log onto the forums, where they can discuss the "Horrors of Illegal Immigration":


[H/t Jamie]

Stephen Piggott at Imagine 2050
In the beginning, the main issues for the Tea Partiers were big government and government spending, but as time goes on the issue of immigration has turned into a focal point for the movement.

One faction of the Tea Party that is not afraid to associate with nativism and xenophobia is the Tea Party Nation, led by Tennessee lawyer Judson Phillips. Earlier this week, the Tea Party Nation sent out an email to its 35,000 members asking them to post their “horror stories” about undocumented immigrants.

The group has set up a new message board forum specifically for its members to post these stories. The email told supporters to post any pictures/videos that show “illegals or their supporters doing outrageous things (like burning the American flag or putting the Mexican flag above ours, or showing racist posters.)”
The bulk of the forum is dedicated to establishing the criminality of Latino immigrants -- even though, in reality, immigration is associated with a decline in crime rates.

In other words, these Tea Partiers are all too happy to demonize a target minority group with demeaning stereotypes: the classic description of racism.

Funny that these black conservatives are willing to look the other way when it comes to racism directed at someone other than African Americans.

But then, their turnout last weekend should have been their biggest clue.

I'm not so sure I agree with Boehlert that events like the one in Philly mean the Tea Parties are now a spent movement. I suspect that the Tea Parties will start drawing big crowds again when they can get back to the red meat that their crowd craves: defending "white culture" and white privilege, reviving the Patriot movement and playing to the nativists. Look for the immigration debate especially to draw out the worst.

But when the purpose of the event is to prove they're not racist (by featuring a bevy of black speakers), well, that's kind of stepping on their underlying message, isn't it? No wonder it got that kind of turnout.

Friday, August 06, 2010

O'Reilly Blames Obama Failures On Racial Politics -- Then Blows Up When Right-wing Race-baiting Is Pointed Out

[Cross-posted at Crooks and Liars.]

Bill O'Reilly's opening "Talking Points Memo" last night was an almost crystalline exhibition of the reason the "post racial politics" now popular with American liberals -- including President Obama -- is an abject failure: because it utterly fails to take into account the intransigence and base irrationality of the American Right.

Naturally, when one of his guests -- Caroline Heldman of Occidental College -- had the audacity to point out the right's "racial fearmongering machine", he went ballistic on her in an overt attempt to deny the existence of the very tactics he was indulging.

See, according to BillO, President Obama is losing popularity with white Americans because they perceive his insistently non-racial economic-uplift program in insistently racial terms -- and he's popular with blacks because they do too.

He tried to describe this in terms that absolves whites of racializing the issues, and blames blacks and minorities for it instead:
Let's take the white situation first. According to the polls, most white Americans don't like the huge expansion of the federal government. They also oppose the big spending increases that the president has imposed. It's simple. White Americans fear government control. They don't want the feds telling them what to do, and they don't want a bankrupt nation.

... But black America has a totally different view. For decades, African-Americans have supported a bigger federal government so it can impose social justice. A vast majority of blacks want money spent to level the playing field, to redistribute income from the white establishment to their precincts, and to provide better education and health care at government expense. So the African-American voter generally loves what President Obama is doing.

As for Hispanic-Americans, 54 percent now support Mr. Obama, but that is down nine points since April. The social justice component is there as well.

There's no question that there are now two Americas. The minority community continues to believe that society is not completely fair to them, and they want a huge government apparatus to change that. And while the white community may sympathize with the minority situation, they apparently believe that more harm than good is being done to the country with the cost of social justice programs.

My own belief is that President Obama is well-intentioned, but if the wild spending continues, this country will be gravely damaged. As far as social justice is concerned, strict oversight on fair rules, but not the imposition of expensive entitlements, is the answer.

The USA is the strongest country on Earth because of self-reliance and the industry of honest, hardworking people who don't want to be told how to live. Independence and self-reliance is what has made this country great, powerful and generous.
O'Reilly tries to claim here that white Americans' rationale for turning against Obama is purely a policy-based one -- but it also hinges on a rationale that is almost purely racial, namely, that Obama's "social justice" programs such as health care reform, are perceived as handouts to minorities. Indeed, O'Reilly's rationale for the steady black support for Obama is that minorities must perceive them as that too.

Nevermind, of course, that health-care reform not only is utterly color-blind in nature, it also was designed not to cost taxpayers. Nevermind that the only "spending" programs Obama has embarked upon have been either bailouts for the financial and auto sectors or a stimulus package that likewise was specifically colorblind in nature.

Nonetheless, this is the self-serving racial narrative that the Right has constructed about Obama: He is secretly a black Marxist/Muslim radical whose every social initiative is dedicated to creating "social justice" handouts for minorities at the expense of white people -- but whites' resistance to his programs is purely a matter of their opposition to big government and taxes that pay for these handouts (to people who of course do not deserve it). If anybody's being racist, it's those parasitic black people who want the handouts to keep flowing out of white people's pockets.

What's clear is that even though Obama has explicitly eschewed pursuing race-conscious policies -- promoting, instead, the "universal uplift"/rising-tide-lifts-all-boats thinking popular with "post-racial" liberals -- those policies are regardless perceived in racial terms by white conservatives.

As Tim Wise puts it in has incredible new book, Colorblind: The Rise of Post-Racial Politics and the Retreat from Racial Equity:
With regard to President Obama's agenda on health care, for example, there is evidence that many whites may perceive his efforts in racialized terms, no matter how universal the rhetoric with which he has tried to sell them, and no matter that he has specifically eschewed any discussion of, or focus on, racial disparity in health care per se. ...

So, according to polling data from late 2008, whites with above-average levels of racial resentment toward blacks were less than half as likely as those with below-average resentment to support health care reform ...

In keeping with that notion, another study has found that a high level of racial bias against blacks is directly correlated with opposition to President Obama's health care proposals, boosting opposition among whites by about a third relative to those with low prejudice. ...

The question then, for proponents of colorblind universalism is this: if the white public, due to years of conditioning, perceives race-neutral public policy in race-specific terms -- as some form of racial handout, and thus as something to be opposed -- what is the political benefit to be derived from sticking with the rhetoric and policy agenda of post racial liberalism?
Moreover, in the face of this kind of disingenuousness -- a conservative white bloc that perceives every Obama move in racialized terms, while denying adamantly that it opposes Obama on racial grounds, instead insisting that minorities are the folks indulging in racism -- hiding behind the soothing rhetoric of post-racial liberalism is tantamount to abject surrender. As Wise explains:
That right-wing leaders are so willing to deploy -- and the public so willing to accept -- racist rhetoric and other invective aimed at stoking white resentment and fear, even against a president who almost never discusses race at all, suggests the likely inadequacy of post-racialism as a paradigm for fighting racial inequities. The rhetoric of racial transcendence so critical to advocates of post-racial liberalism -- which has already been shown to rest on a foundation of untruth, given the reality of persistent racism -- cannot possibly drown out the hateful and often unhinged rantings of those insistent on painting the president as an anti-white bigot. ...

To refuse to fight back, far from disarming these forces of bigotry or depriving them of a point of attack, has done nothing to blunt their efforts. Indeed, it may have emboldened them. It may, in the end, amount to little more than universal disarmament.
Certainly Caroline Heldman understands this. As she told O'Reilly:
Heldman: Well, I don't think the story is about black Americans. I actually think it's about the precipitous plunge of white Americans. And I think it's important to keep in mind that, had only white Americans been voting, had they voted in the last 2008 election, then we would have President McCain.

And what we've seen is an historic drop. And I think what we really see at work here is a Republican racial fearmongering machine, the most recent example of which is Shirley Sherrod. And also the Tea Party rhetoric of getting rid of "gangster government" ...
O'Reilly promptly denounces this as "the far left view" and thus "completely absurd, completely insane." His other guest, Chris Metzler of Georgetown -- who actually penned a book attacking Obama on the basis of post-racial politics -- likewise heatedly denied that race had anything, anything to do with this ... even though O'Reilly's "Memo" was built on the rationale that white Americans perceive Obama's "social justice" initiatives, such as health-care reforms, as just more handouts for minorities.

They keep tying themselves up in knots trying to come up with a rational explanation for their deeply irrational -- and ultimately, yes, racist -- hatred of this president. It's not working, as Caroline Heldman expertly demonstrated.

Thursday, August 05, 2010

Glenn Beck's Final Swan Dive Off The Deep End: President Obama Reminds Him Of Lucifer

[Cross-posted at Crooks and Liars.]

Just when you thought Glenn Beck couldn't make himself into more of a complete cartoon figure, he goes and tops himself.

This is one for the ages. Dana Carvey couldn't have done a better Church Lady impression.

No wonder so many conservatives are penning pieces about how embarrassing it is to be a conservative these days.

This guy is the Face of the Conservative Movement in 2010. Watch 'im and weep, kiddies.

Pam Geller Insists She 'Loves' Muslims. Too Bad They're Also The Enemies Of America

[Cross-posted at Crooks and Liars.]

Wingnut Extraordinaire Pam Geller of Atlas Wanks has been all over the TV networks the past couple of weeks, telling anyone who'll listen why New York City should deny a moderate Islamic group the right to build a mosque near the site of the 9/11 attacks.
Geller: This is patently untrue. I love Muslims. The Ground Zero mosque is an offensive insult, it's a stab in the eye. I have no problem with mosques across the city. But we're talking about history, and Islamic history, of building triumphal mosques on the cherished sites of conquered lands.
Sooooo ... does Geller actually think that New York City is a land conquered by Muslims?

She continues on with a rant describing the Muslims building the mosque as dangerous, conniving jihadis and "tied to terrorists" -- though of course her evidence for that is wafer-thin.

But really, does Pam Geller "love" Muslims? I suppose -- in the same way a dog loves a rag doll he's chewed to shreds, or a sadist adores the whipping boy chained up down in his dungeon.

After all, we're talking about someone who regularly describes Muslims as "the enemy" of America (particularly when President Obama refuses to go down that road). Someone who believes it's a simple truth that "moderate Islam does not exist".

The other day, another TV anchor -- this time from Russia TV -- asked Geller some far more difficult questions, directly challenging her disingenuous attempts to claim she "loves" Muslims:

Geller's squirming was well earned ...

Palin Agrees With Hannity That 'Wimpy' Obama Is 'Not Taking A Strong Stand'. But That's Because He's A Hard-core Ideologue. Eh?

[Cross-posted at Crooks and Liars.]

Sarah Palin's very proud of her idiotic "cojones" jibe at President Obama last Sunday, and went on Sean Hannity to crow about it some more last night:
HANNITY: Yes, it's amazing to me. I wonder -- and tell me this is separate and apart. I think on national security issues and some other issues like immigration a willingness to really take on a controversial issue, do you think over time the narrative that the president is wimpy is going to take place?

PALIN: I think he's quite complacent and I think he's over -- in over his head and I think he has poor advisors surround him and I think he's really influx kind of when it comes to what his governing philosophy actually is. Some of this though is a result of he not having much experience and then a complicit media, and maybe some voters who chose not to allow him to be vetted very closely.

It's a combination of things that's resulting in a president who's not taking a strong stand on those things that are the will of the people. Obviously the will of the people is to enforce the laws that we have on the books.

HANNITY: Yes, but you know, Governor, I've tried to make this observation as many times as I can. It seems that -- you know, I know we are supposed to have government of, by, and for the people. That's what I -- that's what I always understood.

But this administration -- Democrats in particular -- right now seeing it's government by and of and for Obama. And by that I mean, you know, look at where the American people are on immigration. Look at where they are on health care.

Look at where they are on deficit spending. And then look at the Obama administration's positions. They seem at odds and a willingness to be at odds with the American people so often.

Is it ideology? Is it a lack of sophisticated political knowledge? What do you think it is?

PALIN: It's ideology and it's a commitment to what he had set out to do as a candidate. Barack Obama. And that was to fundamentally transform country.
So wait, which is it? Is Barack Obama a lousy president because he's a wishy-washy leader who doesn't really know which way to go? Or is it because he's a hardcore radical ideologue who refuses to budge or compromise or try to work with Republicans?

These nabobs seize on any straw in a windstorm to bash Obama. It's pretty pathetic, really -- except, of course, that one of them is about 90 percent likely to be a major Republican candidate for the presidency in 2012.

Wednesday, August 04, 2010

Karl Rove Claims Bush Didn't Blame Clinton For The '01 Recession. Oh Really?

[Cross-posted at Crooks and Liars.]

It was pretty amusing watching Karl Rove and Neil Cavuto yesterday talking at length on Cavuto's Fox show about how Democratic senators played a key role in the passage of the Bush tax cuts back in 2001 without bothering to point out the obvious -- and stark -- contrast with their Republican counterparts in 2009.

They were trying to build a case for Democrats to support continuing the Bush tax cuts, but all they really did was remind everyone exactly why Democrats have no reason to play ball with these a-holes any longer: they will never compromise and work together with President Obama and Democrats to pass anything, and never will. Immigration reform is not going to be any different than health care was.

Along the way, Rove made this amusing claim:
Rove: Look, one of the reasons, one of the reasons President Bush never went out and blamed his predecessor -- first of all, it's not his style -- but also, he felt that that would simply poison the political atmosphere. And that's what the American people want. They want the president to muscle, to take responsibility for what's happening on their watch, and not spend all their time castigating their predecessor.
No one makes you want to emit low mordant chuckles quite like Lyin' Karl. Jon Perr has the actual record:
While the NEBR determined the George W. Bush's first recession actually began in March 2001, the history of U.S. GDP shows that the traditional definition of recession - two straight quarters of GDP decline - was never met during either the last year of the Clinton presidency or the first of Bush's tenure:

Undeterred, the Republican Party and its echo chamber have for years continued to perpetuate the myth that President Bush "inherited a recession" from Bill Clinton. As Media Matters detailed, the sound bite was introduced before George W, Bush even took the oath of office. On December 3, 2000, Dick Cheney told Tim Russert "I think so" when asked if "we're on the front edge of a recession." Within days, former House Speaker Newt Gingrich ("the Bush-Cheney administration should be planning on having inherited a recession as the farewell gift from Clinton") and House Majority Leader Dick Armey ("this new president may inherit a recession") followed suit. By August 2002, Mitch Daniels, Bush's head of the Office of Management and Budget, announced on Fox News:
"He [Bush] inherited that recession from the previous administration. Case is closed."
Predictably, the drumbeat from the Bush team was reproduced with zero distortion from the always reliable media. While Fox News' Sean Hannity made the argument during the November 2002 mid-term election "this president -- you know and I know and everybody knows -- inherited a recession," CNN made the case for him two months earlier. On September 18th, 2002, CNN's John King announced, "That's why the president, in almost every speech, tries to remind voters he inherited a recession." Five days later, his colleague Suzanne Malveaux regurgitated the same line, reporting, "[Bush] took up that very issue earlier today, saying -- reminding voters that the administration inherited the recession."
Bush was still blaming Clinton for his own economic malfeasance as late as 2004.

Indeed, as we pointed out previously, Bush loooved to blame Bill Clinton for just about everything:
In 2002, he blamed Clinton for the recession.

Also in 2002, for the mess in the Middle East.

In 2004, for manufacturing job losses.

Also in 2004, for a shortage of flu vaccine.

In 2005, for "running from terrorists" and generally causing 9/11.

In 2006, for Bush's own failures in containing North Korea.

In 2008, for the soaring deficit.
Oh well. Rove knows full well that he can go on Fox, blatantly lie, and no one will call him on it.

Harry Reid On The Dred Scott Republicans: 'They've Either Taken Leave Of Their Senses Or Their Principles'

[Cross-posted at Crooks and Liars.]

Those Dred Scott Republicans who want to do away with the 14th Amendment and birthright citizenship are sure being ever so helpful when it comes to reforming our immigration laws.

They won't approve any plan creating a path to citizenship for the 12 million or so immigrants who are here illegally because, according to Republicans, that's "amnesty." Of course, they also agree that we can't round up and deport 12 million people. But any plan with a citizenship path -- regardless of how many penalties you throw at the immigrants, including heavy fines -- means Republicans will denounce it as "amnesty."

And what do they propose to fix the problem? Why, amend the Constitution, of course. Why, what could be simpler?

And the best part is: Their proposal to amend the 14th Amendment to throw out birthright citizenship wouldn't even solve an identifiable problem -- except a fake "anchor baby" scare that exists only in the fevered imaginations of paranoid white nativists.

Sen. Harry Reid and the Democrats understand this. So do some conservatives. And so yesterday Reid replied to the senators like Lindsey Graham and Jon Kyl, who think "anchor babies" are a major threat facing the nation, by reading from an op-ed by onetime Reagan/Bush speechwriter Michael Gerson:
The authors of the Fourteenth Amendment guaranteed citizenship to all people "born or naturalized in the United States" for a reason. They wished to directly repudiate the Dred Scott decision, which said that citizenship could be granted or denied by political caprice.

They purposely chose an objective standard of citizenship -- birth -- that was not subject to politics. Reconstruction leaders established a firm, sound principle: To be an American citizen, you don't have to please a majority, you just have to be born here.
Reid then paraphrased Gerson by observing of his Republican colleagues, "They've either taken leave of their senses or their principles.

As you can see in the video above, even some Fox News anchors and reporters are not so certain it's such a sound idea.

But the best part of all this is, as we explained when Russell Pearce proposed such a law for Arizona, the entire enterprise is predicated on the notion that, as Pearce put it, we'll never solve the problem of illegal immigration if we don't cut off the great big incentive of having "anchor babies" here.
But this is a sick joke. Surveys of undocumented workers have made indelibly clear that they don't come here to have "anchor babies," or to get our free health care, or any of the other fantasies harbored by nativists: they come here for jobs.

Moreover, there's no serious benefit to be had from having your child be born a citizen -- because under American law, you can be deported anyway, and in fact thousands of parents of American birthright-citizen children are deported every year: 100,000 of them over 10 years, to be precise.

There is an exemption available: After the immigrant parent has been present for no less than ten years, he or she may apply for Cancellation of Removal if he/she can prove ten years of good moral character and establish that deportation would create an exceptional hardship to her citizen child. There is an annual cap of 4,000 on the number of illegal immigrants who can be granted such relief, and for the past several years the government has not even reached that cap.

Pearce is creating a boogeyman that doesn't exist -- just as he did in waving about drug-gang crimes as an "immigration" problem in pushing SB1070.

And this boogeyman is scary brown babies. That takes a special kind of chutzpah.

Tuesday, August 03, 2010

How Craven Is The Beltway Village? WH Press Corps Awards Front-row Seat To Fox

[Cross-posted at Crooks and Liars.]

Bill O'Reilly was all giddy last night about the news that in the wake of the seat-shuffling that followed Helen Thomas' departure from her front-row seat at White House press conferences, Fox News has managed to nab a front-row slot (the AP was awarded Thomas' coveted spot).

BillO even implied that he'd be coming down and making things rough on Press Secretary Robert Gibbs. Ho ho ho ho hah.

But as Lynn Sweet's report notes, Fox was awarded the spot over two other superb news organizations: NPR and Bloomberg. Indeed, both are at least legitimate news organizations and not the brazen propaganda outlet that Fox News has become.

If you want a clear example of just how openly Fox now propagandizes, check out the house ad it was running all day yesterday, touting speculation about what strategy is most likely to hurt Democrats and help the GOP:

Fox has been able to get away with being a propaganda organ while pretending to do real "news" because of the cowardice of real working journalists, who have simply failed in their supposed role as the profession's "internal policing" mechanism.

This was exemplified, really, by the White House press corps' craven surrender to Fox's campaign to get that front-row seat, even though every working journalist in that room knows that at the end of the day, even a semi-decent guy like Major Garrett has to answer to Roger Ailes. Every one of them knows, too, that Fox churns out right-wing propaganda as a 24/7 operation.

But they will never do anything about it.

I was reminded, incidentally, of the old seven techniques of the propagandist, identified back in the 1930s:
· Name Calling: hanging a bad label on an idea, symbolized by a hand turning thumbs down;
· Card Stacking: selective use of facts or outright falsehoods, symbolized by an ace of spades, a card signifying treachery;
· Band Wagon: a claim that everyone like us thinks this way, symbolized by a marching bandleader's hat and baton;
· Testimonial: the association of a respected or hated person with an idea, symbolized by a seal and ribbon stamp of approval;
· Plain Folks: a technique whereby the idea and its proponents are linked to "people just like you and me," symbolized by an old shoe;
· Transfer: an assertion of a connection between something valued or hated and the idea or commodity being discussed, symbolized by a smiling Greek theater mask; and
· Glittering Generality: an association of something with a "virtue word" to gain approval without examining the evidence; symbolized by a sparkling gem.
That describes Fox News' daily "news" operations to a T.

More here on these techniques. The details in particular describe Fox.

Glenn Beck Preaches Nonviolence. Oh Yeah, He's Just A Regular Friggin' Gandhi

[Cross-posted at Crooks and Liars.]

To hear Glenn Beck yesterday on his Fox News show, you'd think he was just a regular frickin' Gandhi:
Beck: Let me make this very clear. You and I have to have a special relationship, because -- we'll show you tomorrow what these people are doing to the media and how they're infiltrated into the media. It's amazing. So you're not going to get the truth about me except here. And that's just not a big enough number in America.

So you and I have to have a straight conversation from time to time. Here's one of them:
There are crazies on both sides of the aisle -- left, right, up, down, doesn't matter -- they're crazy! Crazy people are part of society. But there is one side that has a history of terror and violence -- orchestrated history of terror and violence! And it's about to [e]merge its ugly head again.

No one has preached on TV or radio more than me that violence is not the answer. The reason why I've been doing it so long is because I was telling you about the financial collapse two years before anybody else. When I preach about it, and I say, listen, you've gotta batten down the hatches, you have to be a good person, you have to get right with God, you've got to get back to church, because trouble is coming.

When I say that, the leftists and all their media organs -- they all speculate, 'Why would Glenn Beck have to say that, unless his crazy viewers weren't one push away from a shooting spree?' Well, I say that for the exact same reason that Martin Luther King said that.
Obviously, Glenn's a little sensitive about the violence thing these days because, after all, one of his nutty fans shot two Oakland cops this week en route to a planned terrorist attack on one of Beck's favorite scapegoats, the Tides Foundation. And he obviously thinks that piously declaring his opposition to violence will give him the fig leaf he needs to cover his fat ass.

At one point in the rant, you even think he's going to come clean:
But there is one side that has a history of terror and violence -- orchestrated history of terror and violence! And it's about to [e]merge its ugly head again.
But no. He's actually talking about the radical left -- the radical left of the 1960s, mind you -- and not the radical right of the 1990s and 2000s.

Because there is indeed one side with a very recent and indeed current and ongoing "history of terror and violence" -- and that would be the radical right. Yesterday we pointed out three other recent cases involving right-wing extremists, all inspired to some degree by Fox News: Jim David Adkisson in Knoxville, Scott Roeder in Topeka, and Richard Poplawski in Pittsburgh. But that's just touching the tip of the iceberg, one that goes back to The Order, Timothy McVeigh, and Eric Rudolph. And it includes, just in the past year alone, James Von Brunn, who walked into the Holocaust Museum and opened fire; Joseph Andrew Stack, who flew a plane into an IRS building; John Patrick Bedell, who walked into the Pentagon and opened fire; and Jerry and Joe Kane, two "sovereign citizens" who gunned down two police officers in West Memphis, Arkansas, and wounded two others before being mowed down themselves.

Funny that whenever those cases erupt, Glenn Beck simply writes them off as "crazies" instead of the right-wing political terrorists they clearly are. And then wrings his hands and warns that violence isn't the answer.

And what's really funny is that you'll notice Beck preceded this entire vow of anti-violence with a long rant demonizing and smearing progressives as being part of a faction that is out to destroy America. This is of course classic eliminationist rhetoric -- something that Glenn Beck has come to specialize in the past year, particularly in his attacks on progressives.

As I explain in The Eliminationists:
The history of eliminationism in America, and elsewhere, shows that rhetoric plays a significant role in the travesties that follow. It creates permission for people to act out in ways they might not otherwise. It allows them to abrogate their own humanity by denying the humanity of people deemed undesirable or a cultural contaminant.

At every turn in American history—from Juan Ginés de Sepúlveda’s characterization of the New World “barbarians” as “these pitiful men … in whom you will scarcely find any vestiges of humanness,” to Colonel Chivington’s admonition that “Nits make lice!,” to the declarations that “white womanhood” stood imperiled by oversexed black rapists, to James Phelan’s declaration that Japanese immigrants were like “rats in the granary”—rhetoric has conditioned Americans to think of those different from themselves as less than human. Indeed, their elimination is not just acceptable, but devoutly to be wished and actively sought.
Moreover, Beck's rhetoric has a long history of being violent in nature and encouraging violence, as Media Matters' researchers explain in some detail:
Violent rhetoric is a staple on Beck's shows

Beck pours gasoline on "average American," asks, "President Obama, why don't you just set us on fire?" On his television show, Beck claimed to be imitating Obama while pouring liquid from a gasoline can -- which he later stated was water -- on an actor portraying the "average American." Beck said during his demonstration: "President Obama, why don't you just set us on fire? ... We didn't vote to lose the republic."[Fox News' Glenn Beck, 4/9/09]

Beck portrays Obama, Democrats as vampires, suggests "driv[ing] a stake through the heart of the bloodsuckers." On his March 30, 2009, Fox News show, Beck aired a graphic portraying Obama and Democrats as vampires and said: "The government is full of vampires, and they are trying to suck the lifeblood out of the economy." Beck then suggested "driv[ing] a stake through the heart of the bloodsuckers." Beck returned to that imagery on his January 19 radio show, warning listeners that progressives are "vampires" who now have a "taste of blood" and are "gonna start getting more and more violent."

Beck talks about "put[ting] poison" in Pelosi's wine. In 2009, Beck's Fox News show featured a segment in which Beck said the following to a woman wearing a mask of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi:

BECK: So, Speaker Pelosi, I just wanted to -- you gonna drink your wine? Are you blind? Do those eyes not work? There you -- I want you to drink it now. Drink it. Drink it. Drink it.

I really just wanted to thank you for having me over here to wine country. You know, to be invited, I thought I had to be a major Democratic donor or a longtime friend of yours, which I'm not.

By the way, I put poison in your -- no, I -- I look forward to all the policy discussions that we're supposed to have -- you know, on health care, energy reform, and the economy. [Glenn Beck 8/6/09]

Beck: "To the day I die, I am going to be a progressive hunter." Telling his listeners that they "are going to learn so much on Friday," Beck compared himself to "Israeli Nazi hunters" and commented: "I'm going to find these big progressives and, to the day I die, I'm going to be a progressive hunter." He added:

BECK: I'm going to find these people that have done this to our -- you know, to our country, and expose them. I don't care where -- I don't care if they're in nursing homes. I'm going to expose what they have done and make sure that the people understand, because our Constitution, our republic -- if it survives -- it will only survive because the people are waking up and through the grace of God, because we are that close to losing our republic. [The Glenn Beck Program, 1/20/10]

Beck: "Grab a torch." Asserting that politicians are addicted to spending, Beck stated: "When do we ever run those who are bankrupting our country and literally stealing our children's future out of town? Grab a torch." [Glenn Beck, 1/6/10]

Beck suggests Obama is "trying to destroy the country" and is pushing America toward civil war. While discussing the ongoing controversy over Arizona's immigration law, Beck told his listeners that "we are being pushed" toward civil war and that Obama is "trying to destroy the country." [The Glenn Beck Program, 5/19/10]

Beck's advice to Liberty grads: "Shoot to kill." During his May 15 commencement speech at Liberty University, Beck told graduates that they "have a responsibility" to speak out, or "blood ... will be on our hands." His advice for graduates (as well as his daughter) included "shoot to kill."

Quoting Jefferson, Beck warns about "rivers of blood." On his Fox News show, Beck quoted a letter by Thomas Jefferson warning " 'if they lose freedom' -- he's speaking of us, future generations -- 'if they lose freedom, there will be rivers of blood.' " Beck continued in his own words, "Boy, I hope that's not true, but I can tell you there will be rivers of blood if we don't have values and principles." [Glenn Beck, 5/14/10]

Beck: "I fear a Reichstag moment, a -- God forbid -- another 9-11, something that will turn this machine on." During an interview with in which he discussed opposition to Obama's Federal Communications Commission policies, Beck said: "I fear an event. I fear a Reichstag moment, a -- God forbid -- another 9-11, something that will turn this machine on, and power will be seized and voices will be silenced. God help us all.'' [, 10/7/09]
That's really just a sampling. Go check the whole long, exhaustive list. Because that alone will tell you why Beck's lameass little fig-leaf covering -- "But I preach nonviolence!" -- deserves just to be laughed right out of the room.

Monday, August 02, 2010

Glenn Beck's Radio Rwanda Schtick Is Transforming Fox News Into An Organization That Promotes Domestic Terrorism

[Cross-posted at Crooks and Liars.]

It was a little amusing that Fox News contributor Wayne Simmons this weekend attacked WikiLeaks as "a terrorist organization that uses the First Amendment of the United States to hide behind."
Talk about projection -- for anyone associated with Fox News.

Because Glenn Beck has made it perfectly clear on his Fox News show this week that he has no intention whatsoever of backing down from his demonization and scapegoating of the Tides Foundation on Fox, even after one of his TV acolytes, ginned up by Beck's repeated smears and attacks on Tides, engaged Oakland police in a massive shootout that wounded two police officers, en route to a planned terrorist attack on Tides' Bay Area offices that no doubt would have left a number of innocent people dead had he not been apprehended beforehand.

Indeed, all this week he stepped it up: For much of the week, he pretended that the shootout hadn't even happened, refusing to even mention it in segments featuring Netroots Nation panel remarks in which the planned terrorist attack was the de facto context. On Wednesday, as you can see above, he continued to smear Tides' work by claiming it promotes an ideology identical to that held by the Weather Underground. Then on Friday, he made up his own "facts" in order to compare it to a sniper shooting in Oakland that had no known political component.

Make no mistake: Glenn Beck has been inciting acts of terrorist violence, and the Byron Williams case clearly establishes it -- even though it is far from the first such case. It in fact was preceded by several similar cases in which the dehumanizing rhetoric, scapegoating and conspiracist smears promoted by Fox clearly played a powerful role in the violence that ensued:
-- Jim David Adkisson's shooting attack on a Knoxville Unitarian church. Adkisson left behind a manifesto that repeated numerous right-wing talking points generated by Fox commentators and specifically cited a Bernard Goldberg book. His library at home was stocked with books by Bill O'Reilly, Sean Hannity and Michael Savage.

-- Richard Poplawski's shooting of three Pittsburgh police officers, because he believed a conspiracy theory that President Obama intended to take Americans' guns away from them, and he reportedly believed the cops had arrived to carry it out. Poplawski, a white supremacist, liked to post Beck videos about FEMA concentration camps to the Stormfront comments board.

-- Scott Roeder's assassination of Dr. George Tiller. Roeder was heavily involved in Operation Rescue and avidly read its newsletters -- which featured weekly pieces from Bill O'Reilly, including several attacking Tiller as a "baby killer" -- and its website, which liked to feature O'Reilly videos attacking Dr. Tiller. Indeed, O'Reilly had indulged a high-profile and unusually obsessive (not to mention vicious) jihad against Tiller, resulting in 42 such attacks on Tiller, 24 of which referred to him generically as a "baby killer."
The Byron Williams case was functionally a shot across Fox News' bow: a warning that it is playing with extreme fire by allowing Beck to recklessly demonize specific targets and to inflame his audience against them by imputing the most extreme and nefarious motives to them. In the case of Tides, Beck has been claiming all along that they are trying to "brainwash your children" -- a charge that always raises extremely visceral reactions.

If Fox allows this continue, then eventually someone -- someone who eats, breathes and lives Fox News, as so many right-wingers do these days -- is going to succeed. Eventually, someone is going to walk into (or drive up to) the offices of some group that Beck has singled out as being part of a nefarious progressive "cancer" that is "destroying America" -- whether it is the Tides Foundation, or the ACLU, or the SEIU, someone at MSNBC, or from ACORN -- and shoot the place up or set off a bomb.

And then not just Glenn Beck, but Fox News and all its affiliates, are going to have blood on their hands. And there will not be any hiding it or pretending otherwise.

Beck wants to pretend that all he's done is "discuss" the Tides Foundation -- but in fact he's consistently portrayed them as nefarious key players in the progressive "conspiracy" to "destroy America from within", and he's cast them in a particularly slimy role: propagandizing your unsuspecting children. Is it any wonder someone decided to "take them out"?

We can talk until we're blue in the face about how profoundly irresponsible Fox and Beck are being. But matters have reached the point now that it is necessary to call them all out as an organization that is aiding and abetting domestic terrorism.

It must stop.

It's important to understand that the conspiracism with which Beck smears groups like the Tides Foundation is, as Chip Berlet explains, a powerful form of scapegoating:
Societal outbreaks of conspiracism are a distinct form of scapegoating in the political arena rather than an outcome of a paranoid psychological pathology. In conspiracist discourse, the supposed conspirators serve as scapegoats for the actual conflict within the society.

... By blaming a small group of individuals for vast crimes or simple evil, conspiracism serves to divert attention from the institutional locus of power that drives systemic oppression, injustice and exploitation.

As explained by Frank P. Mintz:
"Conspiracism serves the needs of diverse political and social groups in America and elsewhere. It identifies elites, blames them for economic and social catastrophes, and assumes that things will be better once popular action can remove them from positions of power."
Right wing conspiracist scapegoating not only identifies and blames elites, but also identifies and blames alleged subversives and parasites from groups that have relatively lower social or economic status. This is the classic producerist stance. Conspiracist allegation can also be used to attack the status quo by outsider elite factions seeking power.
Remember the scapegoating role played by electronic media in the Rwandan Genocide:
Due to high rates of illiteracy at the time of the genocide, radio was an important way for the government to deliver messages to the public. Two radio stations key to inciting violence before and during the genocide were Radio Rwanda and Radio Télévision Libre des Mille Collines (RTLM). In March 1992, Radio Rwanda was first used in directly promoting the killing of Tutsi in Bugesera, south of the national capital Kigali. Radio Rwanda repeatedly broadcast a communiqué warning that Hutu in Bugesera would be attacked by Tutsi, a message used by local officials to convince Hutu that they needed to protect themselves by attacking first. Led by soldiers, Hutu civilians and members of the Interahamwe subsequently attacked and killed hundreds of Tutsi.

At the end of 1993, the RTLM's highly sensationalized reporting on the assassination of the Burundi president, a Hutu, was used to underline supposed Tutsi brutality. The RTLM falsely reported that the president had been tortured, including castration of the victim (in pre-colonial times, some Tutsi kings castrated defeated enemy rulers). From late October 1993, the RTLM repeatedly broadcast themes developed by the extremist written press, underlining the inherent differences between Hutu and Tutsi, the foreign origin of Tutsi, the disproportionate share of Tutsi wealth and power, and the horrors of past Tutsi rule. The RTLM also repeatedly stressed the need to be alert to Tutsi plots and possible attacks and called upon Hutu to prepare to 'defend' themselves against the Tutsi.

After April 6, 1994, authorities used the RTLM and Radio Rwanda to spur and direct killings, specifically in areas where the killings were initially resisted. Both radio stations were used to incite and mobilize then give specific directions for carrying out the killings.
Glenn Beck is taking Fox down that road. It's time for the network to pull the plug before a lot of people get hurt.