Saturday, September 11, 2010

Tea Partiers Just Can't Keep That Racist Impulse Under Wraps Forever

[Cross-posted at Crooks and Liars.]

So much for Tea Partiers hiding their racism. Even when they're trying to be on their best behavior because they know everyone's watching them, eventually it comes out.

Our own Jamie at Intoxination apparently gets the Tea Party Nation newsletter. The above graphic was featured on yesterday's newsletter.

It was part of a piece titled "Where to put Obama's picture", featuring a number of different dollar bills: George Washington on the One, Lincoln on the Five, etc. Then it concluded with Obama on the food stamp, with the following script:


Now, someone like Bill O'Reilly might have trouble seeing this for what it is, but we all know: This is classic racist stereotyping, race-baiting with a wink and a nudge, delivered in that well-honed dog whistle.

You know, we all get it: Food stamps equals poor people. Poor people equals black people. Obama gives out welfare to black people. Because they're lazy and love their welfare. Here, boy!

No doubt the Tea Partiers will insult our intelligence and try to claim that heavens, no, they didn't mean anything racist by putting Obama's picture on a food stamp.

I remember just a couple of years ago we weren't fooled:


Of course, that one was much cruder and more obvious, which was why everyone called it out at the time. But they're both about the same thing.

Assessing Terrorism: Despite The Rise Of A Right-Wing Domestic Threat, It Goes Largely Ignored

[Cross-posted at Crooks and Liars.]

If you happened to be looking for a demonstration of the utter uselessness of "bipartisanship" as an approach to the world's problems, you'd be hard-pressed to come up with a better example than the Bipartisan Policy Center's latest terrorism-threat assessment, a report titled "Assessing the Terrorist Threat" [PDF of full report here].

It does offer a lot of useful information on what is indeed an important developing phenomenon -- namely, the growth of homegrown terrorism with an international orientation, that is, radical Muslims of American background. But -- even as it urges the government to prepare for and deal with "the radicalization and recruitment of Americans to terrorist ranks" -- it proceeds as though radical Islam is the only component of that problem.

This, of course, is exactly the kind of narrative that the Muslim-bashers at Fox love to run with, as you can see from the above video. Likewise, "mainstream" media like the Wall Street Journal did likewise, while NPR's execrable Dina Temple-Raston -- who not so long ago was writing warm and fuzzy profiles of the "new, kinder, gentler militias" -- chimed in with a piece headlined "Homegrown Terrorists Pose Biggest Threat, Report Says".

No doubt these homegrown Islamic radicals do pose a real threat. But whether they are in fact the "biggest" terrorism threat Americans face or not is very much open to question -- because the longest-running, most consistent and in fact currently fastest-growing domestic-terror threat comes from a component completely ignored in the BPC report: radical right-wing American extremists.

Just this week we had a clear-cut case of this:
Federal authorities charged a Concord man this week with providing information to create explosives he believed would be used to blow up a North Carolina abortion clinic.
Justin Carl Moose, 26, who the FBI alleges referred to himself as the “Christian counterpart to (Osama) bin Laden” in a taped undercover meeting with a federal informant, was arrested on Tuesday, according to U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Middle District of N.C.

Moose is charged with providing information related to the manufacture of an explosive, destruction device or weapon of mass destruction to the informant, who he believed was plotting to bomb an abortion clinic.

In an undercover operation, federal officials state they had the informant provide Moose with a name and address of a clinic he was supposedly targeting.

... Agents verified Moose’s ownership of the web page and noted it contained numerous anti-abortion postings, videos and images that support others convicted of murder or attempted murder at abortion clinics, along with links about building explosives.

On the Facebook page cited in the complaint, which was still online Thursday, Moose describes himself as:

“Whatever you may think about me, you’re probably right. Extremist, Radical, Fundamentalist...? Terrorist...? Well... I prefer the term “freedom Fighter.”

“End abortion by any means necessary and at any cost”. “Save a life, Shoot an abortionist.”

The FBI analyzed the links regarding explosives and found they provided credible information for building functioning devices.

In one post, Moose allegedly taunted federal authorities by acknowledging he was likely being monitored, writing:

“To all the feds watching me: You can’t stop what is in motion. Even if you bring me in, my men will continue their mission. Furthermore, I will not go peacefully. Do you really want another Waco?”
Of course, this is only the latest and most recent example of right-wing American domestic terrorism manifesting itself. Indeed, when you consider the litany of the past couple of years alone, we're compiling quite a record:
-- July 2008: A gunman named Jim David Adkisson, agitated at how "liberals" are "destroying America," walks into a Unitarian Church and opens fire, killing two churchgoers and wounding four others.

-- October 2008: Two neo-Nazis are arrested in Tennessee in a plot to murder dozens of African-Americans, culminating in the assassination of President Obama.

-- December 2008: In Belfast, Maine, police discover the makings of a nuclear "dirty bomb" in the basement of a white supremacist shot dead by his wife. The man, who was independently wealthy, reportedly was agitated about the election of President Obama and was crafting a plan to set off the bomb.

-- January 2009: A white supremacist named Keith Luke embarks on a killing rampage in Brockton, Mass., raping and wounding a black woman and killing her sister, then killing a homeless man before being captured by police as he is en route to a Jewish community center.

-- February 2009: A Marine named Kody Brittingham is arrested and charged with plotting to assassinate President Obama. Brittingham also collected white-supremacist material.

-- April 2009: A white supremacist named Richard Poplawski opens fire on three Pittsburgh police officers who come to his house on a domestic-violence call and kills all three, because he believed President Obama intended to take away the guns of white citizens like himself. Poplawski is currently awaiting trial.

-- April 2009: Another gunman in Okaloosa County, Florida, similarly fearful of Obama's purported gun-grabbing plans, kills two deputies when they come to arrest him in a domestic-violence matter, then is killed himself in a shootout with police.

-- May 2009: A "sovereign citizen" named Scott Roeder walks into a church in Topeka, Kansas, and assassinates abortion provider Dr. George Tiller.

-- June 2009: James Von Brunn opens fire at the Holocaust Museum, killing a security guard.

-- February 2010: An angry tax protester named Joseph Ray Stack flies an airplane into the building housing IRS offices in Austin, Texas. (Media are reluctant to label this one "domestic terrorism" too.)

-- March 2010: Seven militiamen from the Hutaree Militia in Michigan and Ohio are arrested and charged with plotting to assassinate local police officers with the intent of sparking a new civil war.

-- March 2010: An anti-government extremist named John Patrick Bedell walks into the Pentagon and opens fire, wounding two officers before he is himself shot dead.

-- May 2010: A "sovereign citizen" from Georgia is arrested in Tennessee and charged with plotting the violent takeover of a local county courthouse.

-- May 2010: A still-unidentified white man walks into a Jacksonville, Fla., mosque and sets it afire, simultaneously setting off a pipe bomb.

-- May 2010: Two "sovereign citizens" named Jerry and Joe Kane gun down two police officers who pull them over for a traffic violation, and then wound two more officers in a shootout in which both of them are eventually killed.

-- July 2010: An agitated right-winger and convict named Byron Williams loads up on weapons and drives to the Bay Area intent on attacking the offices of the Tides Foundation and the ACLU, but is intercepted by state patrolmen and engages them in a shootout and armed standoff in which two officers and Williams are wounded.
That's sixteen major incidents in a two-year period -- significantly more than we've seen over the same timespan from domestic radical Muslims. The BPC's report enumerates a total of seven incidents in 2009 -- two attacks and five serious plots (not to mention four attempts to join terrorist organizations). We've had the same number of right-wing extremist-related incidents of domestic terrorism in 2010 so far -- and the year isn't even over yet.

This has in fact been quite predictable, especially considering that both the Southern Poverty Law Center and the ADL have reported a significant increase in recruitment by right-wing extremists, particularly white-supremacist and radical "Patriot" groups, in the wake of President Obama's election. These two factions, after all, have been responsible for the overwhelming majority of domestic-terrorism cases of the past thirty years and more. Indeed, the problem is serious enough that the Pentagon has finally begun to clamp down on the far-right extremists who have been infiltrating the ranks of U.S. troops in recent years.

But right-wingers are always eager to dismiss the reality of right-wing extremists -- even in the face of overwhelming data. So this means, evidently, that when we now assess terrorism on a "bipartisan" basis, we must omit them altogether.

I'm sure it makes for wonderful comity inside the Beltway. But it creates a dangerous level of ignorance -- and concomitant vulnerability -- when that becomes the standard media narrative.
Digby has more. Be sure to read D-Day too.

[H/t Sonya Somander at ThinkProgress.]

Friday, September 10, 2010

Um, BillO? That Word 'Racist'? I Do Not Think It Means What You Think It Means

[Cross-posted at Crooks and Liars.]

Bill O'Reilly wanted to badger someone from the NAACP over their plan to monitor the Tea Party movement's racism with a website devoted to tracking Tea Party events. (He had already denounced the website last week.)

So he brought on the NAACP's Hilary Shelton, who did a reasonable job of holding up -- aside from a horrendous stumble when it appeared the only example of Tea Party racism he can name is a single T-shirt (Lord knows there's a wealth of examples to choose from, ranging from "witch doctor" signs to spitting episodes to Mark Williams columns). Eventually, Shelton got it right, explaining he was providing only one example out of a large body of them, but by then it was too late.

So then O'Reilly decided to play "gotcha!" by bringing in Fox's favorite whipping boy, the Rev. Jeremiah Wright, and pointing out that Wright had spoken at NAACP functions. O'Reilly then pounced and claimed that Wright was a racist -- based on his belief that the federal government had created the HIV virus as a way to harm black men. This, BillO claimed, was "hate speech."

Eh? Yes, it's a cockamamie conspiracy theory that makes pretty clear that Wright's judgment is questionable at best. But racist?

We already know that O'Reilly doesn't know the difference between hate speech and hateful speech. And we know he's not exactly the most sensitive guy in the world on racial matters.

As Shelton tells O'Reilly:
Bill, I think you should look up the definition of the word "racist." It might help you understand what is racism and what is not.
Now, we know that there are many ways of defining racism. Most right-wingers who like to claim that they're not racist generally define racism as "the outright hatred of people of other races" -- which excuses a lot of the stereotyping and institutional racism to which they are prone. On the other end of the spectrum, sociologists use complex criteria to define it.

A fairly simple definition, like the one you can find at the Wikipedia entry, will however suffice:
Racism is the belief that the genetic factors which constitute race are a primary determinant of human traits and capacities and that racial differences produce an inherent superiority of a particular race.
This is indeed the essence of racism. And of course, the "inherent superiority" of one race also requires the inherent inferiority of others -- and emphasizing that inferiority is more the defining feature of racism.

O'Reilly, it seems, wants to define racism as "inflammatory remarks based on cockamamie conspiracy theories."

Using that criteria, though, would necessarily define a lot of Fox talking heads -- including BillO himself, as well as his pal Glenn Beck -- as "racists" who engage in "hate speech" too.

But then, that definition also properly fits under the traditional definition, doesn't it?

Thursday, September 09, 2010

Megyn Kelly Wanted To Make Fun Of Obama's Speech On The Economy -- But Then He Punked Her

[Cross-posted at Crooks and Liars.]

Megyn Kelly somehow heard ahead of time from anonymous "senior White House advisers" that President Obama's speech in Ohio yesterday was going to be about "his personal experiences," featuring his "grandma and grandpa". She and Rich Lowry were quick to make fun of the speech beforehand, because no one cares about his grandma.

Then, when Obama actually started speaking, she continued to push this narrative, talking over him at the start by making sure the audience knew he was going to be speaking with "a greater emphasis on his own personal history".

Well, it didn't quite turn out that way. There was only a brief mention of his personal history in the speech itself -- most of which in fact was devoted to ripping Republicans and reminding voters who got them into this mess, particularly House-Speaker-in-Waiting Boehner. I don't think Kelly was too pleased to have 40-plus minutes of her hourlong show dedicated to Obama's Republican-bashing, which may have been why she finally cut in near the end of his speech and resumed her "regular broadcast" with a dismissive sneer.

Here's the part of the speech reflecting on his personal history:
Job growth between 2000 and 2008 was slower than it had been in any economic expansion since World War II -– slower than it’s been over the last year. The wages and incomes of middle-class families kept falling while the cost of everything from tuition to health care kept on going up. Folks were forced to put more debt on their credit cards and borrow against homes that many couldn’t afford to buy in the first place. And meanwhile, a failure to pay for two wars and two tax cuts for the wealthy helped turn a record surplus into a record deficit.

I ran for President because I believed that this kind of economy was unsustainable –- for the middle class and for the future of our nation. I ran because I had a different idea about how America was built. (Applause.) It was an idea rooted in my own family’s story.

You see, Michelle and I are where we are today because even though our families didn’t have much, they worked tirelessly -– without complaint -– so that we might have a better life. My grandfather marched off to Europe in World War II, while my grandmother worked in factories on the home front. I had a single mom who put herself through school, and would wake before dawn to make sure I got a decent education. Michelle can still remember her father heading out to his job as a city worker long after multiple sclerosis had made it impossible for him to walk without crutches. He always got to work; he just had to get up a little earlier.

Yes, our families believed in the American values of self-reliance and individual responsibility, and they instilled those values in their children. But they also believed in a country that rewards responsibility; a country that rewards hard work; a country built on the promise of opportunity and upward mobility.

They believed in an America that gave my grandfather the chance to go to college because of the GI Bill; an America that gave my grandparents the chance to buy a home because of the Federal Housing Authority; an America that gave their children and grandchildren the chance to fulfill our dreams thanks to college loans and college scholarships.

It was an America where you didn’t buy things you couldn’t afford; where we didn’t just think about today -– we thought about tomorrow. An America that took pride in the goods that we made, not just the things we consumed. An America where a rising tide really did lift all boats, from the company CEO to the guy on the assembly line.

That’s the America I believe in. (Applause.) That’s the America I believe in. That's what led me to work in the shadow of a shuttered steel plant on the South Side of Chicago when I was a community organizer. It’s what led me to fight for factory workers at manufacturing plants that were closing across Illinois when I was a senator. It’s what led me to run for President -– because I don’t believe we can have a strong and growing economy without a strong and growing middle class. (Applause.)

Now, much has happened since that election. The flawed policies and economic weaknesses of the previous decade culminated in a financial crisis and the worst recession of our lifetimes. And my hope was that the crisis would cause everybody, Democrats and Republicans, to pull together and tackle our problems in a practical way. But as we all know, things didn’t work out that way.

Some Republican leaders figured it was smart politics to sit on the sidelines and let Democrats solve the mess. Others believed on principle that government shouldn’t meddle in the markets, even when the markets are broken. But with the nation losing nearly 800,000 jobs the month that I was sworn into office, my most urgent task was to stop a financial meltdown and prevent this recession from becoming a second depression. (Applause.)
Even that was about ripping movement conservatives and reminding voters that it was "limited government" (i.e., deregulation and laissez-faire economics) and a diet of tax cuts for the wealthy that got us into this mess in the first place. And then he got even more specific and explained who was responsible for the current situation and why.

No wonder Kelly had such a sour look on her face 40 minutes later. Her carefully planned attack narrative had just been demolished.

And remember, Kelly's show is part of Fox's supposed "news" lineup.

Wednesday, September 08, 2010

Monica Crowley Epitomizes Fox's Intentional Cluelessness About Racial Issues

[Cross-posted at Crooks and Liars.]

Monica Crowley, filling in for Bill O'Reilly last night, wanted to know why Cynthia Tucker -- who over the weekend called out the racial "elephant in the room" in this year's elections, i.e., white conservatives' fear of being overwhelmed demographically -- was "playing the race card":
Crowley: This is completely outrageous. Americans voted in a black man as president with 53 percent of the vote. And now, all of a sudden we're hearing from the far left that now we're a nation of bigots and racists? What's really going on here?
Don't you just love how people who did not vote for Barack Obama (and never would) now proclaim his victory as proof that America is now no longer racist?

Fortunately, Mark Sawyer -- who called out Fox News and Republicans on this very point not so long ago -- was there to knock down Crowley's self-serving nonsense:
Crowley: So are we somehow to believe that between 60 and 70 percent of the American people are racist?

Sawyer: No. No one would ever suggest that.

Crowley: Cynthia Tucker seemed to.

Sawyer: No she wasn't. What she was saying was that we've had exactly what we did have. We had a summer where the Republicans, and to a certain degree you guys at Fox News, realize that racial resentment works in bad economic times. And if you play the racial resentment card, where whites are feeling uncomfortable --

Crowley: Hey Mark, it wasn't us playing the race card. It was the far left playing the race card against the Tea Party, and against Republicans in a grossly unfair way and with no evidence whatsoever.

Sawyer: You guys had the New Black Panther Party, you guys had the New Black Panther Party --

Crowley: Which was a legitimate story that the Holder Justice Department threw out.

Sawyer -- You tried to run with the Shirley Sherrod story. You tried to run with the Shirley Sherrod story. That one blew up in your face.

Crowley: This was not us, Mark. Nice try, but this was all the far left fanning the flames of these stories, trying to accuse racism where it didn't exist.

Sawyer: The far left looks at the same polls that Republicans do -- that whenever the president's talking about race, it fans the flames of white racial resentment and his numbers go down. You learned that last summer when you saw him step out about the Henry Louis Gates issue. And that's how they learned how to play the racial resentment card. And that's what's been going on. That's why the numbers of people who think the president is a Muslim have been going up.

So it's simplistic to say that white people are turning against him because of race -- but a substantial part are, and data shows that.
You've gotta love those rare moments when truth is permitted to be spoken on Fox News. Especially about Fox itself.

[Note: Here's Media Matters' timeline of the Shirley Sherrod matter. You'll see that Fox -- including The O'Reilly Factor -- played a critical role in disseminating Breitbart's hoax.]

Tea Partier Of The Week: Montana GOP Legislative Candidate Kristi Allen-Gailushas

Vote for me!

[Cross-posted at Crooks and Liars.]

In their efforts to prove to the world that no, they really aren't riddled throughout with extremist nutcases, leaders of the Tea Party movement in Montana this week actually managed to demonstrate that, well, yes they are.

First came the comments of state Tea Party chairman Tim Ravndal on Facebook, via Montana Cowgirl:

Tim Ravndal: “Marriage is between a man and a woman period! By giving rights to those otherwise would be a violation of the constitution and my own rights”

Kieth Scranton: “How dare you exercise your First Amendment Rights?”

Dennis Scranton: “I think fruits are decorative. Hang up where they can be seen and appreciated. Call Wyoming for display instructions.”

Tim Ravndal: “@Kieth, OOPS I forgot this aint[sic] America no more! @ Dennis, Where can I get that Wyomingprinted instruction manual?”
Oops! That was too much for the now PR-conscious movement:
The president of a Montana tea party group has been kicked out of the organization for an exchange on his Facebook page that appeared to condone violence against homosexuals.

The Big Sky Tea Party Association's board of directors voted Sunday to remove Tim Ravndal from the group after members learned of the online conversation in July that began with a comment about an American Civil Liberties Union lawsuit over rights for same-sex couples.

Ravndal, who was elected to the position in August, apologized over the weekend after being contacted by The Great Falls Tribune, which first reported the story. That didn't halt the board's decision.

"We continually make it known that we will not tolerate bigoted dialogue, behavior or messages at our functions, our meetings or within our ranks," chairman Jim Walker said in a statement. "If a person demonstrates bigotry relative to sex, ethnicity, etc., they are not welcome in our organization. The Tea Party movement is about standing up for individual freedom for everyone."
Well, this just infuriated Ravndal's friends and supporters -- notably Kristi Allen-Gailushas, who happens also to be the Republican nominee for a state legislative seat:
Kristi Allen-Gailushas, secretary of the Big Sky Tea Party Association and Republican nominee for a Helena-area legislative seat, is quitting the group following its removal of president Tim Ravndal for anti-gay comments made on his Facebook page.

"They didn't even listen to Tim and what he had to say," she said. "They were just worried about the [Montana] Human Rights Network and the ACLU and what they were going to say."

The Montana Human Rights Network advocates for gay rights and had called for Ravndal's removal.

Ravndal was ejected from the group Sunday after a post on his Facebook page appeared to make light of the 1998 murder of gay University of Wyoming student Matthew Shepard -- a killing that has remained a symbol of anti-gay violence.

Allen-Gailushas said Ravndal wasn't even referring to the Shepard case, and that his comments were taken out of context.

She said she would submit her resignation from the association at Tuesday night's meeting.

She may have also been heading for trouble with the group’s board, following the revelation of one of her own Facebook postings that takes aim at gay people.

The Independent Record obtained an image of her Facebook page with her posting, "The Gay community wants a war…they've got one!!"
The image atop the post, incidentally, is Allen-Gailushaus's profile shot at Facebook.

She first made news a couple of weeks ago by filing a lawsuit against the Helena School District for its health and anti-bullying curriculum -- appearing with Ravndal when she made the announcement:
A Helena mother says the final adoption of a highly controversial proposed health curriculum will cause her and her children “irreparable harm” and is asking a District Court judge to intervene.

Kristi Allen-Gailushas filed a complaint Friday afternoon against the Helena School District and the state Office of Public Instruction.

“The tyranny cannot continue,” Allen-Gailushas said.
Just imagine: If you're a Republican from Helena, that's who you get vote for in the 82nd District. You should be so proud.

As should all the Tea Party folks. If you keep removing all your bigots, you won't have a movement left.

Minuteman Leader Chris Simcox Deemed A Threat To His Family; 15 Seconds Of Fame Have Expired

[Cross-posted at Crooks and Liars.]

We've been following the bizarre career of Minuteman co-founder Chris Simcox for quite awhile now, and it finally looks like his 15 seconds of fame have reached their expiration:
An Arizona court has ruled that an order of protection against Minuteman co-founder Chris Simcox sought by his estranged wife as part of a messy divorce case be continued "in full force," saying evidence shows that he committed an act of violence.

The petition, sought by Alena Simcox, alleges that Mr. Simcox threatened her and their children with a loaded handgun, saying he would kill them and any police officers who came to their aid. The order initially was signed April 16 and continued after a hearing Thursday in Superior Court in Phoenix.

... The order demands that Mr. Simcox, 49, not contact his wife or children, that he stay away from their home and that he surrender his firearms to the Scottsdale Police Department.

... In court documents, Mrs. Simcox, 30, said her husband of four years threatened her in November with a gun he "repeatedly pointed at me, saying he was going to kill me and my kids and the police." She said the ordeal lasted six hours, during which she locked herself and her children in a bedroom until Mr. Simcox passed out.

Afraid for her safety, the documents say, she did not call police. She said Mr. Simcox "was waiting by the door for the police to come, with a gun pointed at me." In a separate filing, she said Mr. Simcox got drunk on their wedding anniversary in August, loaded a revolver and, with his children present, asked her to shoot him.

The documents say that when Mrs. Simcox said no, Mr. Simcox said "he would shoot the entire family and cops." She petitioned for divorce on April 19.
Mind you, this is simply a third manifestation of a fact that the SPLC reported about Simcox five years ago: that he's a paranoid and angry man highly prone to domestic violence. (You can read the court documents yourself.)

It doesn't help, of course, that Simcox is also a scam artist, and the Minutemen were ultimately his grandest scam.

I'm not a psychiatrist, but the man exhibits all the classic symptoms of a sociopath, including the self-pity and the ease at constructing rationales to excuse himself. From the Moonie Times piece:
On a recent posting on his Web page, Mr. Simcox said in a rambling report that while he was "compelled … by a divine power" to create the Minuteman movement and that he spent nine years of his life trying to fulfill the mission, his effort had led to his "falling short in all my relationships, most notably my duty to my wife and family."

"At this stage of my life and after applying my obligation to love my country I now must love with my whole person; I must commit to love my God first, my family second and my duty to country, as important as it is, now comes behind my primary duties to get my whole person behind my nexus of love, my feelings, my thoughts, my actions — my God and my family come first," he said.
Somehow, I expect, Simcox will turn up on the Glenn Beck show eventually.

Monday, September 06, 2010

A Second Stimulus: It's Time For Congress' Progressives To Lead, Since The President Is Too Timid To Try

[Cross-posted at Crooks and Liars.]

Last week, Laura Tyson laid out what everyone knows is needed to get the economy properly on track: a second stimulus package:
The conventional wisdom about the stimulus package is wrong: it has not failed. It is working as intended. Its spending increases and tax cuts have boosted demand and added about three million more jobs than the economy otherwise would have. Without it, the unemployment rate would be about 11.5 percent. Because about 36 percent of the money remains to be spent, more jobs will be created — about 500,000 by the end of the year.

But by next year, the stimulus will end, and the flip from fiscal support to fiscal contraction could shave one to two percentage points off the growth rate at a time when the unemployment rate is still well above 9 percent. Under these circumstances, the economic case for additional government spending and tax relief is compelling. Sadly, polls indicate that the political case is not.
Richard Trumka of the AFL-CIO says the same thing. And he's far from alone. Everyone with a bare understanding of Keynesian economics knows we need a second stimulus -- and real leadership would make it happen.

Unfortunately, that's one thing we won't find with the Obama White House:
"There have been a lot of reports and rumors on different options being considered -- many of which are incorrect," said White House spokeswoman Amy Brundage.

"The options under consideration build on measures the president has previously proposed, and we are not considering a second stimulus package. The president and his team are discussing several options, as they have been for months, and no final decisions have been made," she said.
Great, that's just swell. As Susie observes, these kinds of half-assed measures are only going to ensure continued unemployment and economic malaise -- which also means there's going to be a lot of Democratic seats lost this November unless someone begins taking bold action now to reassure voters that jobs really are their highest priority.

Already, the DCCC seems to be treating this as a kind of eventuality. But it doesn't have to be that way.

This is about defending progressive policies because we know they work. Just because President Obama isn't willing to expend any political capital to make a difference in the coming elections doesn't mean the rest of us have to sit still.

Indeed, there is hope -- in boldness. Every progressive Democrat needs to read Drew Westen's analysis of the situation and take heart -- and heed:
The question today is whether Democrats can channel the populist anger we are seeing around the country this late in the game. The answer is that we'd better try. Having recently tested messages on economics and jobs, including how to talk about deficits and taxes -- widely assumed to be Democrats' Achilles Heel, particularly now -- there is little question that if Democrats and progressives from center to left simply say what they believe in ways that are evocative, values-driven, and speak to people's worries and anger, many stand a good chance of surviving November, particularly when their opponents have nothing to say other than warmed-over rhetoric about cutting taxes to millionaires and multinationals and fiscal restraint except where it cuts into profits of their campaign contributors. Even the most evocative boilerplate conservative messages fall flat against honest messages that speak to the need to get Americans working again. And on issue after issue, no message is more resonant right now than one that sides with working and middle class Americans and small business owners against special interests, big business, and their lobbyists.


On every one of these issues, a strong populist message trounces anything the other side can say. But Democrats need to play offense. They need to take up-or-down votes on bill after bill, including those they expect the other side to block, knowing that every one of those votes has the leverage of a campaign ad behind it. They need to change the narrative from what sounds to the average American like a whiny and impotent one -- "the Republicans won't let us do it" -- to a narrative of strength in numbers shared with their constituents. And they need to make every election a choice between two well-articulated approaches to governance -- and to offer their articulation of both sides' positions and values.

That leads to a final point. What Democrats have needed to offer the American people is a clear narrative about what and who led our country to the mess in which we find ourselves today and a clear vision of what and who will lead us out. That narrative would have laid a roadmap for our elected officials and voters alike, rather than making each legislative issue a seemingly discrete turn onto a dirt road. That narrative might have included -- and should include today -- some key elements: that if the economy is tumbling, it's the role of leadership and government to stop the free-fall; that if Wall Street is gambling with our financial security, our homes, and our jobs, true leaders do not sit back helplessly and wax eloquent about the free market, they take away the dice; that if the private sector can't create jobs for people who want to work, then we'll put Americans back to work rebuilding our roads, bridges, and schools; that if Big Oil is preventing us from competing with China's wind and solar energy programs, then we'll eliminate the tax breaks that lead to dysfunctional investments in 19th century fuels and have a public-private partnership with companies that will create the clean, safe fuels of the 21st century and the millions of good American jobs that will follow.
There are smart and powerful progressives in Congress who can champion this kind of stimulus package. Yes, they face an uphill battle, thanks to the Fox News/right-wing propaganda machine. But they face that anyway. Better to turn and face the fight than just timidly give in and surrender. Too much is at stake.

At Least Right-Wingers Are Now Admitting There's A Connection Between Rhetoric And Violence ...

[Cross-posted at Crooks and Liars.]

Well, at least we're getting somewhere: Up until that nutcase domestic terrorist, James Lee, walked in and threatened to blow up the Discovery Channel, the standard response from folks on the right to acts of domestic terrorism -- which predominantly involve right-wing politics -- was to claim that these were simply the acts of nuts, and that the incendiary political rhetoric that inspired them had no role in their violent behavior whatsoever.

But once Lee went on his rampage, supposedly fueled by environmentalist rhetoric, that all went away: Why of course it was all Al Gore's fault.

Perhaps the amusing permutation of this came from the execrable Glenn Reynolds:
Filthy. Parasites. Disgusting, overbreeding candidates for sterilization and extermination. Possessed of false morals and a “breeding culture.”

Hitler talking about the Jews? Nope. This is Discovery Channel hostage-taker James Lee talking about ... human beings. Compared to Lee, Hitler was a piker, philosophically: Der Fuehrer only wanted to kill those he considered “subhuman.” Lee considered all humans to be subhuman.

Lee was a nut, an eco-freak who said he was inspired by Al Gore’s environmental scare-documentary, “An Inconvenient Truth.” His badly written “manifesto” underscores his craziness. He hated “filthy human babies.”

But, of course, Lee’s not alone. Looking at the environmental literature, we find terms like those used above -- the currently stylish description is “eliminationist rhetoric” -- used widely, and plans for mass sterilization are fairly common.
Oh really? This is an extraordinary claim. Can Reynolds provide his readers with any examples of this kind of rhetoric from "the environmental literature," let alone any evidence that it's "used widely"?

Well, no. The best he can come up with is the completely discredited claims about John Holdren -- indeed, repeating the 'Lie of the Year' nominee as though it were fact, and then saying merely that Holdren "distanced" himself from the supposed beliefs -- plus some nutty chatter at Internet forums and the results of Google searches. He cites Al Gore specifically, but cannot present any examples wherein Gore might even half-suggest such anti-humanist sentiments as those used by Lee in his manifesto.

In fact, Reynolds' description of all this is breathtakingly dishonest, since the language of Lee's that he cites largely comes from this passage in Lee's manifesto:
Immigration: Programs must be developed to find solutions to stopping ALL immigration pollution and the anchor baby filth that follows that. Find solutions to stopping it. Call for people in the world to develop solutions to stop it completely and permanently. Find solutions FOR these countries so they stop sending their breeding populations to the US and the world to seek jobs and therefore breed more unwanted pollution babies. FIND SOLUTIONS FOR THEM TO STOP THEIR HUMAN GROWTH AND THE EXPORTATION OF THAT DISGUSTING FILTH! (The first world is feeding the population growth of the Third World and those human families are going to where the food is! They must stop procreating new humans looking for nonexistant jobs!)
That rhetoric, particularly the "anchor baby" stuff, is not at all common among environmentalists, except perhaps for the tiny contingent of John Tanton fans out there. But it is extremely common on the right -- particularly among the nativists who have been populating the broadcasts at Fox News for the past several years, notably in recent months as they advocate for repealing the 14th Amendment.

It's clear that Lee's radicalism is an amalgam of right- and left-wing ideologies. But the violent behavior he exhibited has been far more common the right -- particularly on immigration issues -- than it has been on the left, for many years now.

Now, it's tempting to revert to Glenn Beck mode in dealing with this: to claim that they're all just nutcases, and that nothing anyone says should be held responsible for the violent acts of the mentally ill.

That's a cop-out.

Because it's one thing if a mentally unstable person acts out violently because of some perception or belief they obtained on their own -- when, for instance, someone shoots up a classroom or school because they heard voices telling them to do it, or from reading hidden messages into Metallica lyrics.

It's quite another if a person acts violently out of rhetoric specifically intended to inspire action, particularly radicalizing rhetoric. There are two specific kinds of rhetoric in this category that become profoundly irresponsible in this context: eliminationist rhetoric -- that is, words that demonize and dehumanize their subjects by characterizing them as toxic objects fit only for elimination -- and conspiracist rhetoric, which creates a state of paranoia and a feeling of helplessness among those who believe it. A final factor -- provable falsity -- often exponentially raises the effects of these kinds of rhetoric, because it has the real-world effect of driving a wedge between the believer and objective reality: people are far more likely to act out violently if they are disconnected from the real world.

There is, moreover, an important distinction between this kind of rhetoric on the left and the same kind on the right -- because it can indeed be found on both sides of the political aisle. But as we can see from Glenn Reynolds' weak examples, its appearance on the left is relegated largely to a tiny fringe of radical extremists who have no discernible influence on the national discourse outside of a handful of little-read Internet forums.

Its appearance on the right, however, is not merely pervasive, it is wielded by prominent national opinion leaders and public figures. Reynolds may want to blame Al Gore for James Lee's eliminationist rhetoric, but he is unable to point to a single instance of anything Gore has written or said that would lead to or even remotely suggest that eliminationism. On the other hand, we can point to any number of major right-wing pundits, politicians, and cultural leaders who not only have used the kind of hateful rhetoric that inspired Lee, but a number of other violent acts -- ranging in the recent past from Jim David Adkisson's hateful assault on a liberal church in Knoxville, to Scott Roeder's assassination of Dr. George Tiller, to the recent shootout in Oakland with a gunman inspired by Glenn Beck to go attack the Tides Foundation -- can all be directly and concretely tied to major-media right-wing pundits.

I explained this in The Eliminationists:
The increasingly nasty tone of liberal rhetoric in recent years, especially on an interpersonal level, is also important to note. Some of the examples Malkin cites are ugly, indeed, as are some of the examples of bile directed toward George W. Bush in recent years.

However, most of the examples Malkin and her fellow conservatives point to involve anger directed at a specific person—most typically, George Bush or Dick Cheney—and often for reasons related to the loss of American and civilian lives in Iraq. Few of them are eliminationist—that is, most do not call for the suppression and eradication of an entire class or bloc of people. Rather, the hatred is focused on a handful of individuals.
In contrast, right-wing rhetoric has been explicitly eliminationist, calling for the infliction of harm on entire blocs of American citizens: liberals, gays and lesbians, Latinos, blacks, Jews, feminists, or whatever target group is the victim du jour of right-wing ire. This vile form of “anti-discourse” has been coming from the most prominent figures of movement conservatism: its most popular pundits and its leading politicians. And the sheer volume and intensity of the rhetoric dwarf whatever ugliness is coming from the liberal side of the debate.
The Adkisson case is particularly instructive, because when police went through his belongings, they discovered that his library was filled with books from the likes of Sean Hannity and Bill O'Reilly and Michael Savage.

Moreover, he too left a manifesto -- and unlike Lee's manifesto, which mentions Gore only as an inspiration for environmental action, but then goes on to criticize it as well for not going far enough, Adkisson's document specifically describes how he was inspired by mainstream right-wing pundits:
This was a symbolic killing. Who I wanted to kill was every Democrat in the Senate & House, the 100 people in Bernard Goldberg's book. I'd like to kill everyone in the mainstream media. But I know those people were inaccessible to me. I couldn't get to the generals & high ranking officers of the Marxist movement so I went after the foot soldiers, the chickenshit liberals that vote in these traitorous people. Someone had to get the ball rolling. I volunteered. I hope others do the same. It's the only way we can rid America of this cancerous pestilence.
Moreover, the train of logic that he followed in reaching his decision to take violent eliminationist action was directly driven by ideas that could be found broadcast on any Fox News or Rush Limbaugh show:
In a parallel train of thought; It saddens me to think back on all the bad things that Liberalism has done to this country. The worst problem America faces today is Liberalism. They have dumbed down education, they have defined deviancy down. Liberals have attack'd every major institution that made America great. From the Boy Scouts to the military; from education to Religion. The Major News outlets have become the propaganda arm of the Democrat Party. Liberals are evil, they embrace the tenets of Karl Marx, they're Marxist, socialist, communists.
There's no logical connection between Gore's warnings about global climate change and James Lee's belief that anchor babies and illegal immigrants are destroying the environment -- that is, the belief that inspired his violent act.

However, the same cannot be said regarding the things that major-media right-wing pundits say on a daily basis and their relationship to, say, Jim David Adkisson's belief that liberals are evil and need to be eliminated, or Scott Roeder's belief that George Tiller was committing infanticide, or Richard Poplawski's belief that Obama was going to take his guns away, or Byron Williams' decision to go shoot up the Tides Foundation.

At least Glenn Reynolds and his fellow right-wingers are now conceding that ugly and irresponsible rhetoric can have violent consequences -- and that the people who indulge in it bear some culpability for those consequences.

That's a start. Now they need to think it through.