Saturday, January 22, 2011

Michele Bachmann gets out and tests the waters for her 'presidential' run

-- by Dave

So Michele Bachmann was out in Iowa sniffing around this week, and she says she was "encouraged" by the results.

And yes, she really is running:

"The Iowa trip is part of a bigger picture. There's a national story line here," said Bachmann communications director Doug Sachtleben, virtually begging for national media coverage.

That kind of talk is usually a bank shot.

... However, even in an increasingly crowded GOP field, mumbling about running for president in this age of 24-hour news cycles can attract much publicity for potential candidates, unless you're Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty. And much publicity can attract crowds and, oh, by the way, much money. Especially if you appear to ride a rising tide of popularity and empowerment for successful conservative females.

Over at Megyn Kelly's Fox News show yesterday, the "Power Panel" chewed it over -- and largely reached the same conclusion. Indeed, what seems likely is that Bachmann actually is running for vice-president -- she wants to position herself as part of a Palin-Bachmann 2012 ticket -- or potentially as Romney-Bachmann ticket.

One can always dream, can't they?

[Cross-posted at Crooks and Liars.]

O'Reilly promotes effort to recall Sheriff Dupnik for 'divisive' talk -- with Nazi-coddler Russell Pearce cheerleading

-- by Dave

The right-wing flying monkeys have been out in force in pursuit of Pima County Sheriff Clarence Dupnik ever since he spoke an important truth last week, in the wake of the tragic shooting of Rep. Gabrielle Giffords and 20 others, in calling out irresponsible, vitriolic right-wing talkers for creating the kind of political and cultural environment in Arizona where hateful violent acts are encouraged. One of the leaders in the "Get Dupnik" crowd, in fact, has been Fox News' Bill O'Reilly.

So now, encouraged by all the attention they're getting from Fox, the local Tea Partiers in Tucson are trying to get Dupnik recalled:

A group opposed to illegal immigration has begun an effort to recall the sheriff in a special election. Meanwhile, a Pima County tea party group is planning on holding a "Dump Dupnik" rally next week outside his office.

"I haven't been a fan of Dupnik's for a long time, but this really was the straw that broke the camel's back," said Tom Rompel, co-owner of Black Weapons Armory in Tucson. "He's law enforcement. We expect 'the facts, ma'am,' not his opinion. He leans far left, always has, and frankly, people have had enough."

You've gotta love how people who are big fans of Sheriff Joe Arpaio -- the state's most outspoken bigot -- hate when Clarence Dupnik expresses an opinion or two, eh?

Conservatives have bristled at Sheriff Dupnik's insinuation that Republicans and the tea party movement were somehow responsible for the rampage. The Pima County Tea Party Patriots plan to "indict" the sheriff at their rally for "politicizing the shootings, blaming free speech for the crime without evidence, failing to protect Giffords, failing to recuse himself from the investigation, and embarrassing the community in front of the nation," according to the Arizona Daily Star.

Sheriff Dupnik's office issued a statement Wednesday saying he would have no further comment on the shooting.

Dan Baltes, executive director of Americans Against Immigration Amnesty, said he began looking into the recall effort after being deluged by phone calls and e-mails from the group's members, including many in Arizona. The eight-month-old organization is based in Salt Lake City in neighboring Utah.

"I've gotten e-mails from people who support the sheriff, who support what he did, and who want me to keep my nose out of it," Mr. Baltes said. "But for every one of those, I'm getting 50 saying 'Thank you,' and that's from Republicans and Democrats alike."

The group needs to gather 90,809 valid signatures within 120 days to qualify the recall for the ballot. The recall would require a special election, which could be held at the earliest in March 2012, said Pima County Elections Director Brad Nelson.

You can imagine our surprise (or rather the complete lack thereof), then, when O'Reilly devoted a segment to promoting this effort. And guess who he brings on to attack Dupnik for his "divisive" rhetoric? Why, none other than that Nazi-coddling nativist state Senate president and noted Friend of Joe Arpaio, Russell Pearce:

PEARCE: He has inserted himself -- not only did he inflame the issue with calling his constituents and the citizens of the state of Arizona racists and bigots because they want the laws enforced and border secured. He ignores the fact that Rob Chris was murdered on the border during a debate of 1070. He ignores the fact that Brian Terry was just murdered on the border as a border patrol agent and 12 Phoenix police officers killed and I can go on and on and on.

It's outrageous that he would accuse us of being racist and bigots because we want our laws enforced.

But in addition to that -- in addition to that he has refused to enforce Senate Bill 1070. That's a violation of his oath of office.

See, it's actually Dupnik's open dismissal of SB1070 that really sticks in Pearce's craw -- especially since Pearce was its chief architect. Now that he's out promoting the effort to strip Latino immigrants' children of their birthright citizenship, guys like Dupnik continue to make him look bad.

But then, Pearce and O'Reilly don't need Clarence Dupnik around to look bad. They do that all by themselves.

[Cross-posted at Crooks and Liars.]

Why does Glenn Beck insist on getting Niemoller's famous poem wrong?

-- by Dave

Glenn Beck has a history of appropriating Martin Niemoller's famous poem, "First They Came..." -- one of the most memorable descriptions of the creep of Nazi totalitarianism -- for his own purposes, often by way of describing his own self-martyrdom, because of course it's really about people like him:

"You ever heard of the old poem 'first they came for the Jews'? Well, first they came for the banks, then it was the insurance companies, then it was the car companies."

"First they came for the Jews and I stayed silent-- next I'll show you the very latest attacks on me ..."

He was at it again on Thursday, declaring that attempts to confront his penchant for violent rhetoric and its effects on the public were an evil attempt to silence and persecute poor Glenn:

BECK: But the pink symbol should be a lesson to everyone. I don't care what you are, who you are -- everyone!

"At first they came for the Jews, and I didn't say anything. And then they came --"

Silence equals death. Never -- never allow someone to take away your First Amendment right of free speech. It's number one for a reason! Because that's the most important -- your right to assemble, your right to speak out! It's Number One. Guard it. Protect it. Revel in it. Responsibly share it.

Of course, that's the issue, isn't it? Not that anyone wants to take away Beck's rights to free speech -- but they are concerned because he is so profoundly irresponsible with his abuse of his media megaphone to demonize and smear other people and indulge eliminationist rhetoric against his "progressive" nemeses.

But it's really quite revealing that Beck NEVER gets Niemoller's poem right. There are a number of different versions with slight variations, but the most common is this one:

First they came for the communists,
and I didn't speak out because I wasn't a communist.

Then they came for the trade unionists ,
and I didn't speak out because I wasn't a trade unionist.

Then they came for the Jews,
and I didn't speak out because I wasn't a Jew.

Then they came for me
and there was no one left to speak out for me.

The first two victim groups cited were Communists and trade unionists. Both of whom happen to be groups high on Glenn Beck's list of groups he likes to demonize.

Indeed, for most his tenure at Fox we've been hearing about how President Obama is eeeevil because he's "surrounding himself" with "dedicated Communists" like Van Jones:

And of course, someday, he warns, we ordinary liberals are going to have to take those Communists out by "shooting them in the head".

Maybe that's why Glenn Beck never can get Niemoller's poem right: It really is about people like him.

[Cross-posted at Crooks and Liars.]

Friday, January 21, 2011

Ah, smell the civility: Heavily armed blogger applauded Tucson shootings: '1 Down, 534 To Go'

-- by Dave

[media id="19438" embed="true" image="true" download="true"]

Call Bill O'Reilly -- he seems to want to be Top Civility Cop these days. There's a case -- wait wait wait, I mean an "isolated incident" -- for him up in Massachusetts he needs to get right on top of:

Arlington Man Loses Gun License Due To Blog About Tucson Shooting

A blog threatening members of Congress in the wake of the Tucson, Arizona shooting has prompted Arlington police to temporarily suspend the firearms license of an Arlington man.

It was the headline “1 down and 534 to go” that caught the attention. “One” refers to Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords, who was shot in the head in the rampage, while 534 refers to the other members of the U.S. House and Senate.

Police are investigating the “suitability” of 39-year-old Travis Corcoran to have a firearms license

Whaddya think, audience? Is this guy a Pinhead or a Patriot?

Well, given a chance to apologize or elaborate or just somehow indicate a tiny molecule of decency, our teabagging "libertarian" hero answered thus:

“I dislike Representatives and Senators, and I think that each and every one of them is doing grave harm to the United States, and to the freedoms of the citizens of the US.”

I'm sure Bill will be all over this. Or will Fox just pretend this story out of existence, as it always does when right-wingers inflict threats and violence against liberals and the government? Hmmmmmm. Tough one.

Now watch while the Tea Partiers and gun rights nutcases turn Corcoran into a free-speech martyr. Because urging your audience to kill members of Congress and other threats and incitements to violence constitutes protected speech to these loons.

[Cross-posted at Crooks and Liars.]

The Shawna Forde trial: Will the mainstream media bother to notice?

-- by Dave

There's another infamous shooting of a nine-year-old girl that is making headlines this week in Tucson. This time, we wonder if the rest of the media will bother to cover it.

The little girl's name was Brisenia Flores. She lived near the border with her parents and sister outside the town of Arivaca, Arizona. On May 30 of 2009, a woman named Shawna Forde, who led an offshoot unit of Minutemen who ran armed border patrols for patriotic "fun". Forde's gang had decided to go "operational," which meant they concocted a scheme to raid drug smugglers and take their money and drugs and use it to finance a border race war and "start a revolution against the government". They targeted the Flores home, which had neither money nor drugs, based on dubious information. They convinced Flores to let them in by claiming to be law-enforcement officers seeking fugitives, then shot him point-blank in the head when he questioned them and wounded his wife, Gina Gonzalez. And then, while she pleaded for her life, they shot Brisenia in cold blood in the head. (Her sister, fortunately, was sleeping over at a friend's.)

You can listen to the wounded mother's 911 call here:

As Terry Greene Sterling at the Daily Beast reports, Shawna Forde's trial finally opens this week, having been briefly delayed by the Giffords shooting.

Already, we're getting some fascinating details about that riveting 911 call:

Gonzalez testified Tuesday she recognized Forde for several reasons. It was the first time she'd seen her in person since the incident, she wasn't wearing makeup (the women in the photo lineup were wearing makeup), she had the same smile and her hair was styled the same way.

As for the smile, Gonzalez said that after the shootings, the home invaders ransacked her house and then left. However, when she was on the phone with 911, she looked up and saw the woman standing on the threshold, smiling.

"She saw me standing there and her face dropped and she said 'Oh, (expletive)," Gonzalez said.

The woman went back outside and a few seconds later Gonzalez said she and the tall man exchanged shots. (Prosecutors think the tall guy was Jason Bush.)

We've been following the Forde case closely from the day it was first reported, in large part because it tells us so much about the mindset and behind-the-scenes operations of would-be border vigilantes.

Indeed, one of the things we look forward most to learning from this trial is the extent to which Minutemen cofounder Jim Gilchrist was involved: there is a considerable likelihood it will turn out he tipped off Forde that federal authorities were looking for her in connection with the murders.

We're also looking forward to perhaps finally seeing some coverage of the case in the mainstream media -- perhaps even Fox News, which has been assiduous in refusing to do so. I have to admit I'm baffled that, in a cable-TV business that prizes riveting audio snippets, it's gotten so little attention elsewhere.

But then, this case always cut against everyone's favorite "neighborhood watch" narrative. It's about time we laid that one to rest for good.

[Cross-posted at Crooks and Liars.]

Glenn Beck: 'You're going to have to shoot them in the head,' and assorted other instances of violent rhetoric

-- by Dave

You know how Glenn Beck is now innocently proclaiming that he doesn't use violent rhetoric? On his radio show, he claimed you had to go all the way back to 2005 and his rant about killing Michael Moore to find any.

Er, not exactly.

For example, there was this from June 9, 2010:

The media and the politician have all of this wrong. In every single walk of life — you want to know why TV doesn't reflect you? You want to know why Washington doesn't reflect you? Because they don't understand, from the radical revolutionaries to the Islamic extremists — and yes, DOJ, they do exist — to the Tea Party movements.

Just because you in Washington and you who are so out of touch with life in the media, just because you don't believe in anything doesn't mean nobody else does. We do. You know why you're confused by this show? It's because I believe in something. You don't.

Tea parties believe in small government. We believe in returning to the principles of our Founding Fathers. We respect them. We revere them. Shoot me in the head before I stop talking about the Founders. Shoot me in the head if you try to change our government.

I will stand against you and so will millions of others. We believe in something. You in the media and most in Washington don't. The radicals that you and Washington have co-opted and brought in wearing sheep's clothing — change the pose. You will get the ends.

You've been using them? They believe in communism. They believe and have called for a revolution. You're going to have to shoot them in the head. But warning, they may shoot you.

Now, a few critics have misread this particular screed a bit; he's not advising his audience to shoot these liberals in the head, rather, he's actually advising mainstream Democrats that someday they're going to have to "shoot" the "far left revolutionaries" they've invited into their tents. But there's no question, regardless, that this is in fact classic violent rhetoric.

And as Jeffrey Feldman warned back in March when discussing the violent rhetoric of the 2010 campaign season:

When Americans threaten to use firearms to enforce their political views, the violent threats carried by that language undermines the system of public debate on which our system depends. Healthy political debate can sustain a great deal of anger and passion, but it cannot sustain repeated threats of violence and calls for violent assault as a form of political engagement.

Moreover, this particular ramble is so incoherent and confusing that he might as well be urging his audience to shoot liberals -- because frankly, that's what it comes out sounding like.

Perhaps just as importantly, rhetoric like this also sends a message: it gives permission to violent (and perhaps mentally unstable) actors to do their thing. Guys like Jared Loughner.

I've added some further examples of Beck's violent rhetoric -- all from his tenure at Fox, in the past two years -- to the video above in case anyone needed further evidence that, once again, Glenn Beck is lying.

[Cross-posted at Crooks and Liars.]

Thursday, January 20, 2011

A former neo-Nazi fesses up: White-supremacist rhetoric was a foundation of sand

-- by Dave

If you want some insight into the culture behind the Spokane MLK Day parade bomb attack, read this fascinating bit of self-confession

I want to formally apologize for the image of hate that I helped bring upon this decent community. I could tell you I was ordered to do what I did and that I was young and dumb, manipulated and lied to, but it doesn't change the fact that it was still me. I wish I could take it back.

You don't have to forgive me and I don't blame you if you don't, but I need you, Coeur d'Alene, to know that I and so many before and after me are wrong. Hate is pointless, destructive to everyone involved, selfish, childish, and cowardly.

I'm sorry.

My name is Zach Beck and this is my story.

I was led to believe that without the white race, civilization as we know it would cease to exist. That the white race is the race of God and therefore it is the duty of the white race to bring forth His will, law, and word on Earth as it is in Heaven. That all non-whites are inferior to the white race and are subjected to our will, God's will. The proof of this? The Holy Bible. This is just a small piece of the foundation of the "white power" movement. I've spent the last 10 years eating, sleeping, talking, walking, thinking and believing this lie.

I was wrong.

I thought this was particularly noteworthy:

I grew up in California and Arizona playing an array of sports. While most kids tried to decide which party they wanted to go to that weekend, I was trying to decide between USC and UCLA. The first concert I attended was the Grateful Dead. My hair was long, my shirts were tie-dyed, and my friends were of every color and background. I dated girls of every race and lost my virginity to a black girl.

Two years later, he was a hardcore neo-Nazi and Aryan Brother. I remember seeing Beck in 2001 accompanying Richard Butler at the court hearings in Coeur d'Alene ordering the Aryan Nations compound be turned over, after the AN lost the property in a lawsuit over an assault by AN thugs. He was awfully baby-faced then, and I remember wondering how young guys like that got recruited into hate groups like the AN.

I also remember, incidentally, that Richard Butler periodically issued stern denunciations of violence as a tactic too.

The Zach Beck story is a reminder, perhaps, that young men can be extremely volatile at that age, especially when it comes to political ideology. People who know, say, a pot-smoking leftie in 2007 might be shocked at the wingnutty, paranoid young man they would encounter in 2011.

Just sayin'.

[Cross-posted at Crooks and Liars.]

Hmmm. Elisabeth Hasselbeck seems to have forgotten that she called Palin's crosshairs ad 'despicable'

-- by Dave

Here's Elisabeth Hasselbeck last night on Sean Hannity's Fox News show, making excuses for Sarah Palin and her inexcusable "crosshairs" ads after the shooting of Gabrielle Giffords, one of the ad's targets:

HANNITY: You know, I fear we are getting to the point, you can't say anything -- you can't say war room, you can't say targeting. You can't, you know, say, we are going to put a bull's-eye on a map.

HASSELBECK: Yes we can say that. And I will use yes we can. And this is why I believe and I think the more that we link and say, we cannot say anything -- I mean, look, I grew up in a family that was based on speak kind words as much as possible and if you don't, apologize. Work hard and operate with integrity. That goes without saying. I think most civil people in the United States of America agree that you shouldn't go outside of those boundaries. Right now to even say that we have to curb what we're saying only links any rhetoric to what happened in Tucson. There's no link. We haven't found a link. There's no evidence that man even watched cable news. That he heard Sarah Palin say anything or saw the map with crosshairs. None. So the more that this conversation continues, in my opinion, it is a weak link that is trying to be strengthened by the left to Sarah and this man again.

And here's Hasselbeck last March, when she agreed with her colleagues at The View that the ads were outrageous and dangerous:

"This hasn't been a great week in terms of, I think, the Constitution and where it says that you're supposed to, you know, everybody is, has a mandate to have insurance. But I think the way some Republicans are handling this is nothing more than purely despicable," Hasselbeck said. "The names that are next to and being highlighted by those crosshairs -- I think it's an abuse of the Second Amendment. I also feel as though every single person on here is a mother, a father, a friend, a brother, a sister, and to take it to this level is -- it's disappointing to see this come from the Party, and I would hope that leaders like Sarah Palin would end this."

Joy Behar thanked her for it, shaking her hand. "Republicans are not speaking out against this and you may be the first one to do it, and I salute you, my girl." Whoopi Goldberg would say "Republicans, whatever comes from this it's on your heads."

Something else Hasselbeck said was just flat-out bats--t crazy:

HANNITY: It is very sinister to me because I think there's an effort here to silence opposition voices. And, you know, to exploit a tragedy within two hours the way Paul Krugman did. Now, you really point out, this guy worshipped skulls, he is an atheist, he read Mein Kampf, The Communist Manifesto and smoked dope, and never listen to talk radio according to friends and never watch political debate and hated George Bush. But the narrative has been blame conservatives.

HASSELBECK: But we never heard any of that for the first four days. You know, the left wing media, unfortunately Sean, and I've been trying not to have to blame anybody in this situation for, you know, wrecking the American people heard by unfortunately, they were so drunk on this cocktail of trying to convict Sarah Palin, that they neglected -- when I say neglect, that is with a huge bet that I will say that, neglected to give the American people information because they weren't searching for it. They had already found their killer.

They had already given a man total justification for taking a gun and taking the lives of several human beings and then trying to take the lives of more. Awful, I mean, today we are blessed with the news, right? We have great news about Giffords. And I think that that should have been their first priority, giving us the news, making sure that we understood that the rest were safe. They had the killer. But if you are a crazy person out there, and you know that you have an automatic out to blame it on a politician, what do you think you are going to do? They are lucky that not one more person went out on a spree that day.

What? Excuse me? Did I hear this right? Is Hasselbeck actually claiming that the people who warned against the potential for violence being inspired by Palin's ads were actually giving an excuse to the killer? Not only is that more outrageously speculative than anything written yet about Loughner, it points the finger right back at herself -- since at the time, she was one of the people criticizing Palin for the ads.

I guess Hasselbeck is blaming herself for Jared Loughner. Who'da thunk?

[Cross-posted at Crooks and Liars.]

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

In Spokane, they know that MLK Day bomb wasn't an 'isolated event'

-- by Dave

[H/t Heather]

Well, as Nancy Goldstein points out at The Nation, the national media were pretty reluctant at first to identify Monday's thwarted bombing of the MLK Day parade in Spokane as domestic terrorism -- but not only was I not fooled, neither were the folks in Spokane, particularly not the FBI agents who know the territory.

As the Spokesman Review story points out, Spokane has a long and unfortunate history -- being the largest city close to what used to be the Aryan Nations compound in northern Idaho, 40 miles east -- of having to deal with domestic terrorism -- the kind committed by right-wing extremists who hate the government and hate nonwhites:

City Council President Joe Shogan praised the people who found the backpack and the officials who defused it. He noted the 1996 bombing of City Hall and said citizens must still be vigilant to prevent attacks.

“It would be nice to think that all this kind of activity was in the past, but obviously, it’s not,” Shogan said. “Too often, there’s that attitude that it can’t happen here. Well, it is happening.”

A pipe bomb packed with nails and screws exploded outside Spokane City Hall on April 29, 1996. There were no injuries, but the blast blew out a window in one of the doors and sent shrapnel flying into Riverfront Park.

Federal prosecutors later indicted white supremacists Chevie Kehoe, of Colville, and Danny Lee, of Yukon, Okla., for the bombing. Both also were later convicted for a 1996 triple murder in Arkansas. The two were accused of working to overthrow the government to set up a whites-only nation.

That was hardly the only time domestic terrorists have struck Spokane. Some of the earliest crimes committed by The Order in their 1984 crime spree occurred in Spokane -- mostly robberies. As it later turned out, the perpetrators were based in Metaline Falls, about an hour's drive north of the city.

Then there was the 1996 crime spree of the self-proclaimed "Phineas Priesthood" gang, which included a couple of bank robberies, the bombing of a Spokesman Review newspaper plant, and the bombing of a Planned Parenthood clinic.

This might be another "isolated incident" unconnected to any political agenda to the folks at Fox. But people in the Northwest know better.

Will Bunch raises the right question:

Has right-wing carping killed media coverage of major "domestic terrorism" case in Spokane?

An explosion and the potential for multiple murders that a shrapnel bomb could have caused to those celebrating Dr. King's legacy would have been a staggering blow to a nation that is still reeling and feeling the aftershocks of the first assassination attempt against a member of Congress in nearly 33 years. Even though the bomb didn't explode, the episode raises deeply troubling new questions about the extent of violent politically fueled anger in America in 2011, and why it seems that liberal targets like Democratic Rep. Gabrielle Giffords and now King Day marchers like the children pictured at top are the ones in the crosshairs, to use the controversial word of the day.

In other words, it's what Joe Biden might call a BFD. But you wouldn't know that if, for example, you visited the two websites that -- in my own 30 years of experience as a journalist, for better or worse -- do more than any other to set the agenda on national coverage in newsrooms across the country.

One of those (note I said "for better or worse") is The Drudge Report, which ultimate Beltway insider Mark Halperin has said "rules our world." In the 16 or so hours since the FBI went public with the "domestic terrorism" angle, Matt Drudge has spotlighted articles about things like a man arrested for taking photos at Miami airport, a blogger who may lose his firearms permit for a post related to the Tucson massacre, and laser incidents against airplanes -- but nothing about the thwarted Spokane bombing.

OK, so that's Matt Drudge -- but the silence of the leading mainstream news website -- that of the New York Times -- is a little harder to explain. I've checked their home page at least a half-dozen times since last night, and I have yet to see a featured story on the FBI investigating "domestic terrorism" in Washington State. The lack of Times coverage may explain while for the most part, the coverage of this story on cable TV -- the people who routinely hyped run of the mill car chases and blown-tire airplane landings -- has been very minimal. I say for the most part because there have been a couple of exceptions. "The Rachel Maddow Show" on MSNBC featured the Spokane story as major breaking news at the top of its broadcast last night, and for a time it was the lead story on the Huffington Post. Major news outlets -- but with a liberal orientation.

[Cross-posted at Crooks and Liars.]

Bill O'Reilly dismisses evidence linking Beck to Byron Williams -- but Arizona 'threat' incident is a bigger deal

-- by Dave

Bill O'Reilly thinks the Eric Fuller story is a Big Fracking Deal, revealign the depths of depravity of the "far left" and their use of violence -- so much so that he devoted his opening "Talking Points Memo" segment to this thesis. A little later in the show, he brought on Alan Colmes and Monica Crowley to talk it over.

Crowley, predictably, complained that the "story was buried" by the rest of the media. That's because, in fact, it was rather more similar to the right-wing O'Reilly fan's arrest last week for threatening Rep. Jim McDermott -- which is to say, the story dealt with a threat and not actual violence. Did anyone happen to notice Fox News covering that story? I sure didn't.

But then Colmes started in with some serious points:

COLMES: Look, I object to something you said in the opening talking points. You said that the logical argument could be made that the far left encouraged an unbalanced guy. There's no more evidence of that than that the far right encouraged this guy Loughner to do what he did.

O'REILLY: Wait. There is evidence in the specificity of what the man said. The names that he used in the context of the threat.

Hmmmmm. Well, using that same criteria, we can definitively connect the man who threatened Jim McDermott to Bill O'Reilly now. Because not only did he call and threaten McDermott on the very same day that O'Reilly's column attacking him was published, but the caller specifically threatened McDermott over the very same issue for which O'Reilly attacked him.

But then it got really serious:

O'REILLY: Loughner had no -- and testimony now has revealed -- that he didn't watch cable TV. He didn't listen to talk radio.

COLMES: There is no evidence -- look, you could make the case that Byron Williams went to attack the Tides Foundation and shot up the California Highway Patrol because of stuff that Glenn Beck said about the Tides Foundation.

O'REILLY: You can't make that case.

COLMES: Sure you can. That's just as much equivalency there as what you're talking about!

O'REILLY: No, there isn't, because the overwhelming debate last week was about this story. It wasn't one guy. It was everywhere.

COLMES: But when a guy goes and wants to go attack the Tides Foundation and shoots up the California Highway Patrol because Beck is vilifying them and the ACLU -- there's equivalence!

O'REILLY: All I'll give you is it's circumstantial. But the evidence is far more compelling --

COLMES: You are doing, Bill, the same thing you are accusing the left of doing, by accusing the left of violent rhetoric.

O'REILLY: No I'm not. No I'm not. I'm only dealing in the facts. And the facts as we know it were presented.

O'Reilly is just flat-out lying. Because it was three months ago that a devastating story from Media Matters provided all the evidence you need to make that connection -- since Byron Williams himself went on the record and explained quite ineluctably that he was directly inspired by Glenn Beck.

Here are some of the things Williams said:

"I'm not gonna say anyone is worthwhile," he replies. "I would have never started watching Fox News if it wasn't for the fact that Beck was on there. And it was the things that he did, it was the things he exposed that blew my mind. I said, well, nobody does this."

... Byron says he thinks Beck has improved in recent months. "I don't think he's a natural newscaster, you know what I mean?" he says. "I look at it more like a schoolteacher on TV, you know? He's got that big chalkboard and those little stickers, the decals. I like the way he does it."

... "You know, I'll tell you," he says, "Beck is gonna deny everything about violent approach and deny everything about conspiracies, but he'll give you every reason to believe it. He's protecting himself, and you can't blame him for that. So, I understand what he's doing."

... "And I'd say, well, you know, that's the thing. It's that anything you do is going to be considered promoting terror attacks or promoting violence. So now they've got Beck labeled as this guy that is trying to incite violence. And what I say is that if the truth incites violence, it means that we've been living too long in the lies."

I don't believe O'Reilly is actually ignorant of these facts -- in fact, they read Media Matters almost obsessively over at Fox. O'Reilly is simply lying baldfacedly and pretending not to know these facts exist.

And Monica? Perhaps when your channel actually reports anything on the Byron Williams matter or Charles Habermann's threats, or for that matter any of the litany of threats and violence against liberals and the "government" perpetrated by right-wing extremists over the past two and a half years -- threats Fox either ignores completely or dismisses as "isolated incidents" -- then we may begin to take your complaint that no one reported much on the Fuller case seriously.

[Cross-posted at Crooks and Liars.]

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Right-wingers want to make Obama's message in Tucson into vindication for their hatemongering

-- by Dave

You just knew that when President Obama issued his call for a return to civility last week in Tucson, folks on the right would happily embrace the simple standard he elucidated -- "It's important for us to pause for a moment and make sure that we're talking with each other in a way that heals, not in a way that wounds" -- to everyone but themselves.

Sure enough, there was Bloviating BillO last night on Fox, complaining because that evil liberal Richard Cohen had called Sarah Palin stupid, and Bill Maher said that the Founders would despise the Tea Partiers:

Delightful. Now, I don't hold Mr. Maher to the same standard as The Washington Post because he's a comedian, a man who makes a living expressing a point of view. But apparently the president's point of view, more civility, is not being embraced by Mr. Maher.

Also, I've gotten a lot of mail asking me why I don't come down on right-wing talk radio, and it's the same thing: Talk radio is entertainment. People on there make a living expressing opinions. It's not a news forum; therefore the standards are not the same.

Of course not -- they exist in the zone known as the Fox Double Standard: If it attack liberals and Democrats, it's OK. Otherwise not.

And then he gets into outright projection:

Immediately after President Obama's speech last Wednesday, "Talking Points" said that the call for civility would most likely not be answered, and we pointed to the money train as the primary reason.

Once again, there is big money in the hate industry, and it's easy to attack people.

Indeed there is -- after all, look at all the dough Fox is rolling in.

And he's right: Obama's call to civility most likely will not be answered ... by ANYONE on the Right. They're too busy pretending their vicious, violent and eliminationist rhetoric has no effect on people.

Especially rhetoric that singles out people for demonization and elimination. Rhetoric like this:

O'REILLY: So you would like to see the same kind of situation that happened after 9/11 attack now, where they would all come out and say, "Enough with this crap"?

BECK: Of course.

O'REILLY: Right.

BECK: Every American wants that. What I...

O'REILLY: Not every American. George Soros doesn't want that.

BECK: Frances Fox Piven doesn't want that.

O'REILLY: Who is Frances Fox Piven?

BECK: Cloward-Piven, from the 1960s. That's a theory that was inspired by the Watts riots and is being used right now. And she is actively, actively -- Columbia University professor used to be. I think she's -- at CUNY now. But she is actively saying, "Rise up, embrace your anger. Turn on your bosses, turn on the politicians."

O'REILLY: All right. She's Black Panther. Overthrow, kill the pigs.

BECK: She is -- she stands with the Clintons. Signing. She's very...

O'REILLY: Still around?

BECK: Oh, yes.

Yeah, that's some civility standard. Oh, but I forget -- O'Reilly obviously operates inside the Fox double Standard Zone too.

[Cross-posted at Crooks and Liars.]

Just another 'isolated incident': Lethal bomb at MLK Day parade in Spokane spotted and disarmed before it can go off

-- by Dave

So much for civility ...

Bill Morlin reports for the SPLC:

A backpack bomb with the potential of killing or injuring dozens of people was found Monday along the route of a Martin Luther King Day “unity march” in downtown Spokane, Wash., authorities said today.

“It was a device that clearly was intended to harm or kill people,’’said Frank Harrill, a senior FBI agent and spokesman for the bureau’s Inland Northwest Joint Terrorism Task Force.

The FBI posted a $20,000 reward Tuesday and released three photographs, including one of the black Swiss-Army backpack that contained the destructive device.

Harrill would not discuss the type of explosive or its construction, including whether the backpack contained an explosive shield intended to spray shrapnel toward potential victims. He also declined to say if the device was intended to be detonated remotely or by a timer.

“It was set to detonate during a unity march on the King Holiday, so, obviously it had political or social overtones,’’ Harrill said.

There was no threat made before the device was discovered by three construction workers about a block from the city’s Opera House and Convention Center where various speakers, including Spokane Mayor Mary Verner, spoke after the march.

Here's the pictures of the backpack:

As KREM-TV reports, the bomb also disrupted the march temporarily, forcing it to take another route:

A witness found the backpack around 9:30 A.M. and called police. The witness told KREM 2 News the backpack appeared to have wires sticking out of it.

Police secured a safety zone around the device when they arrived on scene. Spokane City-County Explosives Disposal Unit used a robot to set off a charge on the bag to disrupt the device.

Roads remained closed in the area most of the day while authorities continued their investigation.

But I'm sure this just another isolated incident. Right? We're up to 20 and counting over the past two and a half years, for what it's worth.

The Spokesman-Review has more.

[Cross-posted at Crooks and Liars.

Beck compares himself to Martin Luther King again. Again, he acts more like MLK's persecutors

-- by Dave

Glenn Beck -- who's been doing his best to rip off Martin Luther King's legacy for some time now -- of course continued to do so in MLK's birthday yesterday, claiming he has a special affinity with King. How, you may ask? Why, because King too was accused by leading papers of the day of fomenting violence associated with the Civil Rights movement:

BECK: So here they are -- blaming Martin Luther King -- they're blaming him for the violence! That's the opposite of what he was. But this is the Establishment. This is the elitist view. It's what they wanted to print at the time -- that was the script. It didn't matter what people were seeing on TV -- it clearly was not Martin Luther King's fault. It might have been Malcolm X -- not related to the Martin Luther King movement. It was not William Ayers -- I mean, William Ayers was doing it, but William Ayers was not connected to Martin Luther King. Black Panthers -- not King. But that didn't matter to the media. The media just stuck to what was previously written because the elites had their story.

Of course, there's an important component that Beck is omitting here: The violence that often accompanied civil-rights marches were called "race riots," and they largely entailed assaults by angry conservative whites on the black marchers. This was the violence for which the editorialists in Chicago were absurdly blaming King.

Which underscores the real context that Beck loves to omit from his Martin Luther King encomiums: The people who were attacking King, viciously and violently, were conservatives. The people who supported him and marched with him were progressives.

Indeed, it wasn't just elite white newspapers who were accusing King of fomenting violence -- most notably, it was the deeply right-wing segregationists and race-baiters who were themselves the cause of so much of the violence around the marches who were then (in classic Southern "bloody shirt" style) claiming to be victims of black violence at hands of King and his marchers. These were the accusations the editorialists blithely picked up and ran with.

As Rick Perlstein explains in his great history of that era, Nixonland: "The notion that Martin Luther King was seeding violent confrontation became a conservative article of faith."

Nixonland also makes clear just who in Chicago was responsible for the violence that the editorial writers were blaming on King (p. 119):

August 5. Six hundred open-housing activists, ten thousand counter-demonstrators. Some wore Nazi helmets. Others waved Confederate battle flags, carried George Wallace banners, swastika placards that helpfully explained "The Symbol of White Power."

Martin Luther King, Mahalia Jackson by his side, led his legions forth: "We are bound for the promised land!"

"Kill those niggers!"

"We want Martin Luther Coon!"

Police trying to keep the two sides apart were screamed at: "Nigger-loving cops!" "God, I hate niggers and nigger-lovers," a reporter overheard an old lady say.

Martin Luther King walked past.

"Kill him! Kill him!"

"Roses are red, violets are black, King would look good with a knife in his back."

Instead he got a baseball-sized rock above his ear. He slumped to the ground -- the Gandhian moment of truth. "I think everybody in that line wanted to kill everybody that was on the other side of the line," a marcher later recalled. King got up and kept on marching. We shall overcome.

On the approach to Halvorsen Realty, someone did throw a knife at King's back. It caught some white kid in the neck instead. King had marched six weeks earlier through the Mississippi town where the civil rights workers Goodman, Chaney, and Schwermer were murdered. He had called it the most savage place he had ever seen. Now revised his opinion: "I think the people of Mississippi ought to come to Chicago to learn how to hate."

Here's a representative sample of the kind of things "elite" conservatives said about King at the time:

As I explained previously:

This, you see, was a flier that was distributed widely as part of a campaign to discredit King as a Communist. Among the foremost leaders in that campaign, especially among Mormons, was none other than the Church's future president, Ezra Taft Benson.

Here are some prime quotes from Benson:

“LOGAN, UTAH-Former Agriculture Secretary Ezra Taft Benson charged Friday night that the civil-rights movement in the South had been ‘formatted almost entirely by the Communists.’ Elder Benson, a member of the Council of the Twelve of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, said in a public meeting here that the whole civil-rights movement was ‘phony.’” (Deseret News, Dec. 14, 1963)

“The Communist program for revolution in America has been in progress for many years and is far advanced. While it can be thwarted in a fairly short period of time merely by sufficient exposure, the evil effects of what has already been accomplished cannot be removed overnight. The animosities, the hatred, the extension of government control into our daily lives–all this will take time to repair. The already-inflicted wounds will be slow to heal. First of all, we must not place blame on the Negroes. They are merely the unfortunate group that has been selected by professional Communist agitators to be used as the primary source of cannon fodder. Not one in a thousand Americans–black or white–really understands the full implications of today’s civil-rights agitation. The planning, direction, and leadership come from the Communists, and most of those are white men who fully intend to destroy America by spilling Negro blood, rather
than their own.

Next, we must not participate in any so-called ‘blacklash’ activity which might tend to further intensify inter-racial friction. Anti-Negro vigilante action, or mob action, of any kind fits perfectly into the Communist plan. This is one of the best ways to force the decent Negro into cooperating with militant Negro groups. The Communists are just as anxious to spearhead such anti-Negro actions as they are to organize demonstrations that are calculated to irritate white people.

We must insist that duly authorized legislative investigating committess launch an even more exhaustive study and expose the degree to which secret Communists have penetrated into the civil rights movement. The same needs to be done with militant anti-Negro groups. This is an effective way for the American people of both races to find out who are the false leaders among them” (Ezra Taft Benson, General Conference Report, Oct. 1967).

See, in order for Glenn Beck to convince his fellow conservatives to claim the mantle of the Civil Rights movement, he essentially has to persuade millions of people who have opposed it with every fiber of their beings for most of their lives to completely reverse course and claim the opposite of their former beliefs.

This is the juncture where Beck's "Civil Rights" campaign runs smack into one of his own long-running threads -- namely, he has doggedly accused the Obama administration of harboring "Marxists" and "Communists": that was, after all, the predicate of his attacks on Van Jones. That happens to be consonant with Beck's running espousal of the works of Mormon leader W. Cleon Skousen -- a man who was in fact a close friend and ally of Ezra Taft Benson's, and shared Benson's belief that Martin Luther King was a secret Communist.

Does all this talk of secret Communist affiliations sound familiar? It should -- because one talk-show host in particular has been using it to smear, of all people, African American leaders, as a way to smear the nation's first African American president:

[embed src="" flashvars="config=" width="425" height="300" resize="1" fid="10"]

We saw how that turned out, didn't we?

Beck doesn't remind us of Martin Luther King. He reminds us of the people who fomented lethal hatred against him. And then tried to claim that their violent and vicious rhetoric had nothing, nothing at all to do with his assassination.

Seems like a good lesson to remember on his birthday.

[Cross-posted at Crooks and Liars.]

Sarah Palin tops the Lame List with her most pathetic, excuse-making, accusatory interview yet

-- by Dave

Boy, it really doesn't get much more lame than Sarah Palin's latest Hannity Job last night on Fox. Via Lynn Sweet:

HANNITY: A lot of these initial stories, Governor, had to do with this map that your PAC had put up during the last campaign, and the fact that Congresswoman Giffords was one of the people on, quote, "the target list," in the crosshairs that were there. What could you tell us about this map? And I'll get into more Questions after that.

PALIN: Well, that map wasn't an original graphic. In fact, for many, many years, maps in political races have been used to target certain districts that people would feel that they can get into those districts and find someone whom they believe would represent the constituents' will better than incumbent. And that is what this map represented that we used on my PAC. And the graphic that we used was crosshairs targeting the different districts. And, again, that's not original. In fact, Democrats have been using it for years. In fact, Bob Beckel, I believe that he had bragged on your show, Sean, that he is the one who invented these crosshairs or these targets. So, you know, that came up right away, that, oh, it must be a cause of this horrendous evil act of this shooter, that perhaps he saw that map and that incited him towards violence, which, of course, is ridiculous. Again, it's not an original use of an icon or a graphic.

Of course, what had gotten a lot of people's attention well before the Tucson tragedy was that Palin's 2010 campaign was soaked in violent, gun-related rhetoric like this, including exhortations to "Take Them Out" accompanying the gunsight graphic, as well as her oft-repeated exhortation to followers to "Lock and Load" and "Don't Retreat, Reload!" It just happened that Gabrielle Giffords was thus not just targeted by the graphic, but by Palin's rhetoric.

But doesn't she just sound like she's squirming like a seven-year-old, trying to explain to her teacher that honest, her dog really did eat her homework last night?

It continued on in this vein, only getting much worse when they tackled the subject of her wildly inappropriate appropriation of the term "blood libel" to describe her own supposed martyrdom:

HANNITY: And we are back with more of our exclusive sit-down interview with former Alaska Governor Sarah Palin. Governor, when you finally released your video, not surprising, more controversy involving you. I want to give you a chance to respond to this. One was the timing of the release of the video, which was I believe the day before the memorial. And the second one was the term -- "but especially within hours of the tragedy unfolding, journalists and pundits should not manufacture a blood libel that serves only to incite the very hatred and violence they purport to condemn. That is reprehensible." And, you know, some of your critics saying, you didn't know the historical significance. Other people criticized you for that phrase. But I want you to address the timing and that phrase.

PALIN: I don't know how the heck they would know if whether I did or didn't know the term "blood libel," nobody has ever asked me. And "blood libel" obviously means being falsely accused of having blood on your hands. And in this case that's exactly what was going on. And yes, the historical knowledge that people have of the term blood libel, it goes back to the Jews who were falsely accused back in medieval European times of using the blood of children. And you know, the criticism of even the timing of this statement is being used as another diversion, because I believe that there are many on the left, many critics, who don't want, for instance, Congress, to buckle down, get back to work.

There's this trifecta thing going on in our country right now that's going to bring America to her knees if Congress doesn't start addressing the issues at hand. That being our growing debt, a looming energy crisis if we don't start domestically developing our resources, and some of the national security policies that have been adopted and enacted, like the signing and the ratification of the START treaty that Russia's Duma won't even ratify because there are misinterpretations of what the preamble means.

So, we have these things going on right now that have got to be addressed, and Congress has got to get back to work. And it's just much easier, I believe, for critics of common-sense conservative agenda to try to divert and distract from the issues at hand, those tasks that must be addressed today.

HANNITY: What did you think of the criticism of those, though, in the Jewish community about the use of that term? I know others came to your defense, but what did you think about the critics?

PALIN: I think the critics, again, were using anything that they could gather out of that statement. And I'm, you know, you can -- you can spin up anything out of anybody's statements that are released and use them against the person who is making the statement. But, no, I appreciated those who understood what it is that I meant, that a group of people being falsely accused of having blood on their hands, that is what blood libel means. And just two days before I released my statement, an op-ed in the "Wall Street Journal" had that term in its title and that term has been used for eons, Sean.

Seriously? Her best excuse was that noted right-wing moron Glenn Reynolds used the term a few days before? Why doesn't she just admit that's where she got it from in the first place?

Guess it was more important to suggest that the attention paid to her idiocy was actually part of an insidious media plot to divert attention from the really pressing issues in Congress. Yyyyyyeah. OK.

As they useta say at Almost Live: "Lame! Lame! Lame! Lame!" "Indescribably lame." "L-L-A-A-M-M-E-E!"

[Cross-posted at Crooks and Liars.

Monday, January 17, 2011

The Battle Hymn of Sarah Palin

-- by Dave

Divine inspiration from somewhere in the heartland. I'll just let it speak for itself. And Sarah.

Here are the lyrics:

She's a cold blast from Alaska
Ingrained with common sense
She's not a Harvard lawyer
But she knew what the Founders meant
A cold blast from the north
That freezes Congress in their tracks
With God and the Tea Party
She's gonna take it back

Sarah Palin, she won't listen to their bunk
Sarah Palin's comin' south to hunt some skunk
Sarah Palin, she'll throw them all in jail
And when she gets to Washington
It'll be cold as hell

Sarah has the wisdom
To walk through an open door
She is stomping out the wretches
Where the evil lines are stored
She will scrub the floors and sweep the riff raff into cracks
With God and the Tea Party
She's gonna take it back


Congress patted themselves on the back
For some new bill they just passed
I watch as my freedom slowly runs through an hourglass
They think they spend our money better than we do
But they can talk until they're blue and old
'Cause if they ever gave us anything
They always wanted something in return
Sarah knows.

Sarah's marching home

YouTube version is here.

[Cross-posted at Crooks and Liars.]

Sorry, right-wing talkers. Loughner's rampage was a clear act of political terrorism directed at a liberal 'government' target

-- by Dave

Folks on the right are feeling quite confident that their tracks leading up to last weekend's tragedy in Arizona have all been covered, now that the Village has reached a consensus that, because Jared Loughner was probably mentally ill (and at a bare minimum profoundly unstable), his killing rampage couldn't possibly have been politically motivated.

The running line is that liberals who dared point out that vicious right-wing rhetoric directed at people like Giffords played a role in this "jumped to conclusions" before "the evidence was in". We think they may want to look in the mirror -- because as the evidence comes in, it's looking more and more like those liberals were right all along.

Like the crew of right-wing wankers who populate Fox's Journal Editorial Report, led by Paul Gigot and Dan Henninger, as well as the execrable James Taranto and Dorothy Rabinowitz:

GIGOT: Let's give an example of this. I want to read an excerpt from Monday's editorial of "The New York Times." "It is facile and mistaken to attribute this particular madman's act to Republicans or Tea Party members. But it is legitimate to hold Republicans and particularly their most virulent supporters in the media responsible for the gale of anger that has produced the vast majority of these threats, setting the nation on edge." Dan, your response.

HENNINGER: My response is that it has not only produced the vast majority of the anger that did that, it has produced the vast majority of anger that defeated them in the November elections, OK.

GIGOT: But it's not violent, Dan.

HENNINGER: Look, what Jared Loughner did has nothing to do with what we're talking about. Everybody agrees. But we're talking about it.

GIGOT: Right.

Actually, as we explained to Jennifer Rubin, not only is it violent, the violence is well documented, as has been the role of right-wing extremist rhetoric in inspiring the violence. We document 19 cases of extremist domestic-terror violence just in the past two and a half years; this does not even begin to take into account the litany of criminal violent threats against liberals in the past year.

Gigot also elucidated their core insight with which the entire panel was in agreement, since it seems to be received wisdom among the Beltway Villagers now:
GIGOT: Is this going to hurt the people on the left who walked out on this limb? Because there's really no evidence that Loughner was motivated by anything political.

Then there was the crew at Fox News Watch, particularly host Jon Scott, who was similarly certain that Loughner's rampage was "not political":

I hate to break it to these folks, but there is indeed an abundance of evidence that not only was Loughner's rampage a political act, it was an act of domestic terrorism committed by someone who had been unhinged by far-right conspiracy theories.

Let's review just the facts we already had in hand, even before this weekend:

-- Loughner self-identifies as a terrorist. (See the videos he left behind; in our version, the page in which he identifies himself as a "terrorist" is at the 1:00 mark).

-- He also clearly has adopted two strands of right-wing conspiracism: He believes that American currency is "phony" because it no longer is on the gold standard, and he believes Alex Jones-esque conspiracy theories about "mind control." The SPLC's Mark Potok has more on this.

-- He had developed an unhealthy fixation on Giffords, but his hatred of her was largely political in nature and not personal.

-- There was a powerful campaign of demonization directed at Giffords throughout the 2010 campaign, including but hardly limited to Sarah Palin's attack ads -- much of it featuring rhetoric condoning the idea of targeting Giffords with guns.

-- Giffords was a mainstream moderate Democrat -- a classic target of hatred from the conspiracist right, which despises real liberals but reserves its special venom for centrist Democrats like Bill Clinton and Barack Obama.

If you have any doubt that this was an act of terrorism -- and is thus inherently political -- just consider one of the basic criteria of the definition of the word: Were people -- not just the public generally, but the target group as well -- terrorized by the act? Clearly the answer is yes: Democrats in Arizona, who already feel on edge, are clearly feeling terrorized now.

It cannot be emphasized enough that the target of a political act is a powerful indicator of the perpetrator's intent. Terrorists always intend to send a message with their acts, and the message is conveyed in the persons who are are targeted and become victims of their violence. There's no doubt that Jared Loughner sent a message with these killings: The lives of government-coddling Democrats and their enablers are forfeit.

And if there was any doubt that Loughner was unhinged by right-wing conspiracism, there was the report on Wednesday's Good Morning America:

One of Loughner's friends, a fellow named Zach Osler, says that the internet movie Zeitgeist “poured gasoline on his fire” and had “a profound impact on Jared Loughner's mindset and how he views the world that he lives in.”

We've written a lot about how Alex Jones' crackpot views, his connection to Ron Paul and his John Bircherite conspiracy theory websites and radio program are mainstreaming many of the most extreme beliefs in Conservativeland. (The ADL has a complete dossier in Jones.)

Michelle Goldberg explains in her piece, "Zeitgeist, the documentary that may have shaped Jared Loughners worldview""
We now know a little bit more about the matrix of ideas that helped inspire Jared Loughner’s murderous rampage on Saturday. According to a friend of his interviewed on Good Morning America on Wednesday, the conspiracy documentary Zeitgeist “poured gasoline on his fire” and had “a profound impact on Jared Loughner's mindset and how he views the world that he lives in.” He was also, according to his friend’s father, influenced by the documentary Loose Change, a classic of the 9/11 Truth movement. This does not mean that either of these movies is responsible for making Loughner do what he did, but it does show how his madness was shaped by a broader climate of paranoia, and offers a clue as to why he targeted Gabrielle Giffords.

Indeed, as we said a couple of days ago:

What most of us said from the start is that it was undeniable that the killings took place in a charged atmosphere in which all kinds of violent rhetoric had created an environment in which nearly everyone present on the ground felt something like this was inevitable -- because it creates permission for violent acts, and fuels the irrationality that makes violence possible. Sarah Palin's "target map" was only the most obvious example. So, for that matter, was that "target shoot" fundraiser by her Tea Partying opponent.

... But in the end, Loughner's motive matters less than the realities that people like Pima County Sheriff Clarence Dupnik are well acquainted with already.

Dupnik had all the evidence he needed to make the kinds of remarks he made about the political and social environment in Arizona -- one that has gotten so virulently ugly that Democrats and liberals in Arizona increasingly are fearful for their physical well-being and are reluctant to self-identify as liberals. (Will Bunch had a terrific piece at Media Matters recently on this very subject; as someone with family and friends in Arizona, I can personally attest to this reality.)

Unlike Bill O'Reilly or Megyn Kelly or Monica Crowley, Dupnik actually lives in Arizona, and does know whereof he speaks. Moreover, there is abundant evidence about the vicious eliminationist hatred, some of it officially sanctioned by the GOP and Tea Parties, that was directed at Giffords personally.

I think this Danziger cartoon neatly sums the situation up:

(Digby has more.)

[Cross-posted at Crooks and Liars.]

Violent rhetoric and the mentally ill: The intersection of lethal irresponsibility

-- by Dave

I've got a post up at The Investigative Fund of the Nation Institute's blog, an effort to explain what it really means when a mentally ill person is inflamed by extremist right-wing rhetoric. Hint: The people who fill them with rage are not as blameless they want to claim:

For some time now, it's been something of a reflexive response by media pundits, particularly conservatives and "moderate" liberals, to point to mental illness when some violent and unstable person commits a horrifying act in the name of extremist right-wing beliefs. If they're just mentally ill, you can't blame the people whose ideas they happened to pick up, can you?

Thus we have witnessed a steady stream of "isolated incidents" in which angry, mentally unstable men walk into churches and shoot their liberal targets in the head, or walk into public spaces and open fire, or crash their planes into government offices and gun down police officers. Yet when all these, and a long list of similar incidents, occur, they are dismissed as "isolated incidents." Because, you see the perpetrators are just "nutcases."

Likewise, when an oddball college dropout named Jared Loughner walks up to Representative Gabrielle Giffords in a Safeway parking lot and shoots her point-blank, then empties another 30 rounds into the crowd around her, killing six and wounding 14 more — well, that can't be laid at the feet of his incoherent (but largely right-wing) belief system, can it? After all, he's obviously got mental problems, right? Therefore, it's just another isolated incident.

That's a cop-out, and a dangerous one. One of its chief consequences, in fact, is that the list of "isolated incidents" — and the body count that accompanies it — will just keep mounting. At some point, people will realize that the incidents are perhaps not so isolated after all.

Go read it all.

[Cross-posted at Crooks and Liars.]

Sunday, January 16, 2011

Apocalypse Next Year: Cavuto wonders if we're going to be like Tunisia in the near future

-- by Dave

Back when he first arrived at Fox, Glenn Beck got ribbed by Neil Cavuto for his apocalyptic fearmongering: "I just think that you're scaring people." They never repeated the performance.

But now Neil has to keep up with Glenn in the ratings. So yesterday he indulged in some distinctly GlennBeckian apocalyptic fearmongering -- wondering if America was about to be engulfed by rampant inflation that would inspire food riots like we're seeing in Tunisia.

Next up: Neil Cavuto's Doom Bunker!

[Cross-posted at Crooks and Liars.]