Friday, September 07, 2012

Obama's Speech: Not Transformational, But Still Powerful

[Cross-posted at Crooks and Liars.]

President Obama's acceptance speech to the DNC last night was bound to be a disappointment in a lot of ways, because the buildup (especially Michelle Obama's speech, followed by Bill Clinton's) was so sensational that he had almost no chance of pulling off anything that could be spectacular. After all, we've gotten accustomed to his presence these past four years; there's little he can do now to surprise us.

Naturally, this left the Jennifer Rubins of the world gloating, as though the GOP's tawdry affair in Tampa stood up to any kind of comparison to the past week in Charlotte, enough to give Republicans like Rubin comfort. As though.

There were a lot of different reactions, making the speech something of a Rohrschach test: Kevin Drum thought the president phoned it in. Ed Kilgore thought it set just the right tone, especially for its intended audience:
The only thing I’m really confident about is that the “enthusiasm gap” we’ve been told about the entire cycle may have largely dissipated. The Democratic Convention did about as good a job as anyone could reasonably expect in highlighting both positive and negative reasons for Democrats turning out to vote. And the Democrats in the hall responded powerfully. The hatefulness they (or at least those living in battleground states) are about to see pouring from every television screen once the 504(c)(4) and Super-PAC ads let the pursestrings rip will likely reinforce that enthusiasm, regardless of their effect on the tiny band of swing voters they are aimed at.
Thereisnospoon at Hullabaloo thought likewise:
The President had a singular task tonight: take a message of hope and change, and adapt it to the reality of the struggling economy. Attack Romney while looking presidential, not punching down, and remaining statesmanlike. Show empathy without showing weakness.

And I think he accomplished those goals very well, in one of the most progressive speeches I've heard him give. It wasn't the greatest speech he's ever delivered, but that's because the message is hard and doesn't lend itself to the most soaring rhetoric.

He made it clear that the American people (and, I would argue, the citizens of the world) are in a project together, and that we can only succeed in that project if we have faith in it and in one another, without "othering" groups or allowing selfish cynicism to take hold. That's a daring message for a U.S. president.
Still, there were warning signs for Digby:
There's a lot of wriggle room in there, and quite a few straw men, but if you read it literally, he specifically promised not to slash those programs in exchange for tax cuts. What he didn't do was promise not to cut those programs in exchange for tax hikes --- which is what the Democrats are seeking.

He won't agree to tax cuts for millionaires. That's a good thing. But will he agree to cuts if the Republicans agree to raise some taxes? We don't know. But we do know that David Koch's on board with that.
I think Tom Junod at Esquire had it about right:
His speech was disappointing until, with about ten minutes to go, it acknowledged disappointment, and so began its rise. "The times have changed — and so have I," he said. "I'm no longer just a candidate. I'm the president." Of course, he was reminding us of his power; the fact of his presidency has become an argument for his presidency. But he was also reminding us that as a candidate who rose to power on the politics of pure potential, he is, as president, a fallen man. "And while I'm proud of what we've achieved together, I'm far more mindful of my own failiings, knowing exactly what Lincoln meant when he said, 'I have been driven to my knees many times by the overwhelming conviction that I had no place else to go.'"

This was where the speech turned, and became, in its statement of humility, a statement of rousing power. "I ask you for your vote," he said, and his commonplace words had a beseeching quality that put them outside the realm of political performance. He had failed to transform his office, and failed to transform our politics, but he sounded fully aware that he had been himself transformed.

He had started out as the Cassius Clay of our politics, brash and blinding, with an abilty to do things in the ring that no one else had ever thought of — with an ability to be untouchable. Now he stood inside the ring of stars on the blue carpeted stage of the Democratic National Convention as the Muhammad Ali whose greatness was proven after he returned to boxing bigger, slower, harder-hitting but also easier to hit. Oh, Ali got touched, all right, and since he lost his skill at avoiding punches he had to find the skill of taking them. He became a prodigy not of otherworldly gifts but rather of sheer will, and so it was with Obama in his speech on Thursday night. At an event that paid endless tributes to our wounded warriors, he rebranded himself as something of a wounded warrior himself; and at the very moment when those who remembered 2008 hoped he might say something that no one had ever heard before and maybe even reinvent, one more time, the possibilities of a word as hackneyed as hope itself, he instead completed his hard-won journey to convention.
The entire transcript is here, and you can watch the entire thing on YouTube here:

Thursday, September 06, 2012

Elizabeth Warren's Speech: The Vital Voice Of Progressivism

[Cross-posted at Crooks and Liars.]

I  know everyone was entranced by Bill Clinton's speech last night, as well they should have been. The man has more charisma in his pinkie than the biggest rock star has in their entire body. And there's no question he laid out the most compelling case possible for re-electing President Obama. But the really important speech last night in terms of raw substance, by far, was Elizabeth Warren's 15 minutes.

Because Warren made clear, even more than Clinton, what really is at stake in this election. It's down to a simple choice for Americans: Do they want democracy, or do they want oligarchy, rule by the rich? It's really that simple, that stark, and that significant.

Here's Warren last night:

I’m here tonight to talk about hard-working people: people who get up early, stay up late, cook dinner and help out with homework; people who can be counted on to help their kids, their parents, their neighbors, and the lady down the street whose car broke down; people who work their hearts out but are up against a hard truth--the game is rigged against them.

... People feel like the system is rigged against them. And here’s the painful part: they’re right. The system is rigged. Look around. Oil companies guzzle down billions in subsidies. Billionaires pay lower tax rates than their secretaries. Wall Street CEOs--the same ones who wrecked our economy and destroyed millions of jobs--still strut around Congress, no shame, demanding favors, and acting like we should thank them.
Anyone here have a problem with that? Well I do.

... The Republican vision is clear: “I’ve got mine, the rest of you are on your own.” Republicans say they don’t believe in government. Sure they do. They believe in government to help themselves and their powerful friends. After all, Mitt Romney’s the guy who said corporations are people.

No, Governor Romney, corporations are not people. People have hearts, they have kids, they get jobs, they get sick, they cry, they dance. They live, they love, and they die. And that matters. That matters because we don’t run this country for corporations, we run it for people. And that’s why we need Barack Obama.
As D-Day puts it:
That’s simply a far more honest portrayal of the America we actually live in than anyone usually articulates on stage at a national political convention. She told the story in broad strokes, the story people feel in their core, the story that anyone paying attention since the Great Recession knows. We’re not a fairy-tale land where everyone can grow up and be whatever they want. We’re not a land of social mobility and equality of opportunity.

We’re in an economy that’s unraveled pretty badly, and over a 30-year period, that has cut off those avenues for mobility, and now has become a favor factory for the rich and powerful. People may not want to hear this; but they know it.

When Did The Associated Press Become Fox News For Print?

[Cross-posted at Crooks and Liars.]

Once upon a time -- back when I worked in newsrooms and edited wire copy for a living -- the Associated Press was more or less the standard for button-down, straight-down-the-middle news reportage and analysis. If anything, it erred on the bland and centrist "he-said/she said," side. But it never displayed anything remotely like a bias.

That's all changed in recent years, of course -- as we recently saw in AP's egregiously unethical reportage on Dr. Tiller, which is really only an extension of a trend toward replicating the propagandaesque nature of Fox News we've seen increasingly at AP in recent years.

But I think they were all topped, as Aviva Shen at ThinkProgress reports, by their analysis of Bill Clinton's speech that dismisses Clinton's point about the truthfulness of the Romney campaign (or lack thereof) by bringing up Monica Lewinsky -- just like any good talking head at Fox might.

As Shen observes, most media critics who delved Clinton's facts found that he was entirely accurate:
Though he frequently departed from the script, the former president correctly cited the statistics on Obama’s job growth, decreasing health costs since 2010, and the stimulus tax cuts for 95 percent of Americans.
But the anonymous analyst for the AP found a hatful of dubious "facts" to contest anyway -- and then proceeded to pull out a regurgitated series of grotesquely distorted right-wing talking points that could have been penned by Karl Rove himself.

For instance, the AP analyst disputed Clinton's contention that President Obama has tried to work across political aisles to get legislation passed:
THE FACTS: From Clinton's speech, voters would have no idea that the inflexibility of both parties is to blame for much of the gridlock. Right from the beginning Obama brought in as his first chief of staff Rahm Emanuel, a man known for his getting his way, not for getting along.

One of the more high-profile examples of a deal that fell apart was the outline of a proposed "grand bargain" budget agreement between Obama and House Speaker John Boehner in 2011.

The deal would have required compromise from both sides. It slashed domestic spending more than most Democrats wanted and would have raised some taxes, which most Republicans oppose.

Boehner couldn't sell the plan to tea party factions in the House or to other conservative activists. And Obama found himself accused of going too far by some Democratic leaders. The deal died before it ever even came up for a vote.
Here's the fact that perhaps the AP reporter conveniently forgot: It was Boehner who killed that deal, and Boehner alone. (This is has been backed up recently by the leaks from Bob Woodward's new book.) And that has been the story, time after time after time, of Obama's dealings with Republicans, both in the House and in the Senate: He reaches out his hand to them, and it comes back a bloody stump. They have been so bent on his destruction that normal legislating has been impossible. Or is the reporter utterly unaware of the obscene rate at which the GOP deployed the filibuster in the Senate during Obama's tenure?

It only goes downhill from there. The analyst similarly dismisses Clinton's perfectly accurate statistics about the growth in health-care costs with a wave of the airy brush:
That's wishful thinking at best. The nation's total health care tab has been growing at historically low rates, but most experts attribute that to continued uncertainty over the economy, not to Obama's health care law.
But neither can the analyst prove that it's an inaccurate prediction of future behavior, either -- unless, of course, he's a Foxian propagandist instead of a factual analyst.

Why else would you dismiss Clinton by then blaming him for the economic downturn of 2008 -- without any mention of the far more dominant role played by the Republican policies of George W. Bush in creating that disaster?
Clinton is counting on voters to recall the 1990s wistfully and to cast a vote for Obama in hopes of replicating those days in a second term. But Clinton leaves out the abrupt downward turn the economy took near the end of his own second term and the role his policies played in the setting the stage for the historic financial meltdown of 2008.
Then the analyst makes his descent into Foxhood complete by again dismissing Clinton's point about the Romney campaign's flagrant use of falsehoods by pointing to his own scandal -- a classic ad hominem, complete with a side of nasty:
THE FACTS: Clinton, who famously finger-wagged a denial on national television about his sexual relationship with intern Monica Lewinsky and was subsequently impeached in the House on a perjury charge, has had his own uncomfortable moments over telling the truth. "I did not have sexual relations with that woman, Miss Lewinsky," Clinton told television viewers. Later, after he was forced to testify to a grand jury, Clinton said his statements were "legally accurate" but also allowed that he "misled people, including even my wife."
As Aviva Shen observes:
During its fact-check of this claim, the AP article had to ignore the Romney campaign’s dishonest attack on Obama’s welfare work requirements, which even Republican governors have questioned. It also fails to consider the campaign’s habit of deliberately editing Obama out of context, as they did in Romney’s first ad, which attributed the line, “If we talk about the economy, we’re going to lose,” to Obama when he was actually mimicking the McCain campaign in 2008. Also missing is the fact that the Republican National Convention last week was based on a distortion of Obama’s “you didn’t build that” quote. ThinkProgress has compiled a comprehensive catalog of Romney’s lies on virtually every issue he’s had to discuss.

Rather than attempt to debunk Clinton’s attack on the campaign’s dishonesty, the AP could only imply that Clinton cannot criticize any false claims because of his past scandal.
And then media folks wonder why no one take print media seriously anymore. Time to call for another blogger ethics panel!

Lyin' Dick Morris Slimes Clinton, Obama In One Swell Foop

[Cross-posted at Crooks and Liars.]

[H/t Media Matters]
I love it when Dick Morris gets on TV and begins making dire pronouncements about Democrats. Because it always means things are actually going well.

Morris, after all, is famous for making hilariously bad predictions (got to wonder how that right-wing remake of the education system is going, not to mention those Obama impeachment proceedings) and offering even worse political advice -- when he isn't also just blathering right-wing zombie lies. Most of all, he loves casting his former bosses, the Clintons, in as depraved and bleak a light as possible.

He's just always wrong -- something Jon Stewart points out with some zest. He's a perfect reverse barometer for what's happening in reality.

Last night, during Fox's coverage of the Democratic National Convention, Morris held forth on the actual corruption and depravity of the Clintons, "guaranteeing" that Bill Clinton wants to see Barack Obama defeated, but he was being held back "because his wife is a hostage," Morris told a credulous Bill O'Reilly. "They'll kill her if he loses."

He went on to predict that Clinton would heap praise on Democrats generally and then get around to saying, "And oh, by the way, we support Obama" near the end. Which worked out to be as accurate as all of his previous predictions.

I can hardly wait for Morris's black-helicopter conspiracy theory book to hit the stands.

Wednesday, September 05, 2012

The Two-Sided 'Race Card': Why We Need A Frank Discussion -- And Why We Won't Get One

[Cross-posted at Crooks and Liars.]

As a lot of people have been noticing recently, it's past time we had an honest conversation about race in this country. The problem is what happens to the conversation as soon as conservatives get involved.

Of course, the real problem with race in America originates with conservatives, so perhaps that's not surprising. This is a historic problem. After all, it is conservatives who resisted the end of slavery. It is conservatives who instituted, and then protected with a fifty-year campaign of terrorism known as lynching, Jim Crow laws and segregation in the South. It is conservatives who resisted the Civil Rights Movement with every ounce of their energy. And it is conservatives today who resist any kind of advancement in civil rights for minorities.

As we've explained previously, their favorite rhetorical technique in pursuing this anti-rational course is what we call "the bloody shirt gambit": Converting perpetrators into victims and victims into perpetrators by claiming that the very discussion of the atrocities committed by violent right-wingers is an act of demagoguery and thus more vile than the original act in question itself. They scream, "You're waving the bloody shirt!" any time someone talks about the realities of their racial bigotry -- or, in more recent vintage, "You're playing the race card!" -- and suddenly the very discussion of the matter is placed off-limits.

A good example of this happened recently, when Time's Joe Klein appeared on Chris Matthews' Sunday news show on NBC, and the discussion of how President Obama was discussed by the panel, including Klein and Helene Cooper. At one point, the discussion ran like this:
Cooper: Four years of covering Barack Obama, he does not play the race card. Not in a negative way. He does not do that.

Klein: He hates it. He hates it. He probably should, though -- he probably should address it because the bitterness out there is really becoming marked.
Immediately, the headlines on Drudge followed those that appeared at Dan Riehl's wingnutofastic joint, to wit, that Klein was urging Obama to "play the race card" -- even though what Klein clearly said was that what Obama needs to do is address the rising tide of racial animus that's being whipped up out there by the right-wingers playing the race card.

Such nuance, of course, was well over the heads of the folks at Fox News, who followed the Drudge lead and featured a segment on The Five discussing Klein's alleged faux pas as having urged Obama "play the race card". They all agreed that it would be a bad idea for Obama to "play the race card" by discussing racial tensions.

So Klein posted this response:
According to Mr. Drudge and Real Clear Politics, I’ve advised the President to play the race card on the Chris Matthews Sunday show. I didn’t, of course. The question to the panel was whether the President was going to have to address what appears to be a growing racial bitterness in the country. My response was that he should. That’s different from “playing the race card,” which is a term I’ve never used–it’s a cliche and a bad one, implying a political gambit or stunt. Political stunts that involve race are obnoxious. But race and ethnicity are issues that the President has addressed with intelligence in the past and, if the current Republican dog-whistling continues, may be something he might want to address in the future.
I don't normally defend Joe Klein -- the classic Beltway Villager -- but this was a sterling response that addressed the core issue: namely, the Republican campaign to clearly stir up racial resentment against Obama among working-class white voters, which even the most "centrist" observers can see is occurring.

Nonetheless, it naturally drew the ire of the natterers at The Five the next day:

You see, according to Dana Perino, Klein erred in having the audacity to bring up the cold reality that the Romney campaign is using dog-whistle politics in order to appeal to working-class white voters.

You know that this is reality when even a well-noted Beltway "centrist" like Ron Fournier -- remembered here for his GOP-friendly hit pieces and rambling false-equivalency analyses -- writes an exhaustive piece for National Journal explaining just how the Romney dog-whistle campaign actually works:
At Linda’s Place at 9 Mile Road and Harper, where $2.99 gets you two eggs, hash browns, bacon, and an honest conversation about racial politics, I chatted with Detroit firefighter Dave Miller and his pal, contractor Benson Brundage. As it turned out, that breakfast-table conversation helps explain why (and how) Mitt Romney is playing the race card with his patently false welfare ad.

“Let’s talk about your polling,” Benson said. He grabbed from my hand an Allstate/National Journal Heartland Monitor survey showing that middle-class blacks and Hispanics are far more optimistic about their children’s future than are whites of the same economic status. “What do you think the unemployment rate is among blacks? In Detroit, it’s probably 40 percent. If the unemployment rate is that high, why is it that they are so optimistic about their future and the future of their children?”

Benson paused, heard no reply, and answered his own question.


There it is. The Macomb County buzz word for welfare, a synonym that rests on the tongues of the white middle class like sour milk. Men like Miller and Benson don’t use the N-word and they don’t hate (disclosure: I grew up with Miller, who now lives in Macomb County): For a five-figure salary and overtime, Miller risks his life fighting fires in a black neighborhood just south of 8 Mile Road. But Benson casually overestimated the black unemployment rate in Detroit by more than 10 percentage points, and both he and Miller will talk your ear off about welfare cheats.

“It’s a generational apathy,” Miller said, “and they keep getting more and more (apathetic) because they don’t have to work. If they sleep all day and free money …”

“ … Comes in the mail,” Benson said.

“… not in the mail anymore,” Miller said, “It’s in a magic card they can swipe.”

They poked at their egg yolks until Miller broke the silence. “I feel like a fool for not jumping on that shit and getting some (welfare) myself,” Miller said. “But I couldn’t sleep at night.”

I share this story to crack the code – the subtle language of distrust and prejudice that whites use to communicate deep-set fears, and that cynical politicians translate into votes. Translating Miller and Benson:

“Subsidization” = Welfare

“Generational Apathy” = Lazy

“They Slept All Day” = Blacks Sleep All Day

“I Feel Like a Fool” = I’m Mad As Hell

Please understand that Miller and working-class whites like him have reason to be angry and cynical. First, life is tough and getting tougher for the shrinking middle class, regardless of race. Second, as the National Journal reported in the story involving Miller a year ago, minorities are steadily pushing their way into the middle class, which was once the province of whites.
The most illustrative part of the piece, however, came when Fournier tried to have an honest conversation about the strategy with the Republican operatives behind it. What he got, of course, was the usual blunt denial -- then twisted, a la the "bloody shirt gambit," into an accusation that transforms the person seeking to have that honest conversation into the evil demagogue:
A remarkable piece by Ta-Nehisi Coates in my sister publication, The Atlantic, cites several studies linking negative racial attitudes to voting behavior. Coates writes: “The irony of Barack Obama is this: he has become the most successful black politician in American history by avoiding the radioactive racial issues of yesteryear, by being “clean” (as Joe Biden once labeled him) – and yet indelible blackness irradiates everything he touches.”

Knowing all this, and with deep personal roots in Detroit’s racial maw, I felt on firm ground Tuesday asking Ron Kaufman, a Romney adviser, why the campaign was playing the race card in places like Macomb County.

“I couldn’t disagree more,” Kaufman replied.

“You know an ad like that touches a racial button,” I said.

“No it doesn’t,” Kaufman replied. “I don’t agree with you at all.”

Kaufman who I’ve known and respected for years, accused me of playing the race card – a fair point, strictly speaking, because I raised the question in a public setting: a joint interview with CBS’ John Dickerson before a large audience and live-streamed.

Still, Romney and his advisors stand by an ad they know is wrong – or, at the very least, they are carelessly ignoring the facts. That ad is exploiting the worst instincts of white voters – as predicted and substantiated by the Republican Party’s own polling.
Not only do they stand by such ads, but any effort to point out that Romney and Co. are in fact playing the race card with their invidious racial appeal to the lowest common denominator in politics is itself proclaimed "playing the race card".

This is why we can't have an honest discussion about race in America: Conservatives will not let us -- because in the end, they are the problem.

There really is a growing race problem in this country, and it has everything to do with the American Right -- the way they are encouraging white Americans to blame minorities for their economic displacement, a problem in fact disproportionately caused by conservative misgovernance, followed by conservative intransigence. Blaming brown people is a convenient way of scapegoating others for your own malfeasance.

This behavior announces itself in ways large and small -- from the continued prejudice that young black men face in getting jobs, to the rise in right-wing domestic terrorism we've seen in recent months.

Mostly, we know about it because it's everywhere among working-class Americans -- the wingnutty belief that Obama is a Muslim bent on imposing socialism and destroying our freedom. You can't turn a corner in the South, or the rural Midwest, or the interior West, without encountering people who believe this stuff as fact. And the GOP infrastructure, most notably Fox News, actively encourages these beliefs without actually endorsing them.

So it's time to begin having that conversation without conservatives, even if it is about them. One other thing has also become clear: The extensive appearance of the "bloody shirt gambit" has also made it nearly impossible for anyone of color -- most particularly the president -- to initiate and (at least initially) lead this discussion, because it has become pro forma to dismiss their contributions as merely arising from self-interest.

Frankly, I believe the initial push is going to have to come from honest white Americans willing to examine the problems unflinchingly -- people of good will who cannot be tainted by the "race card" accusation. Unfortunately, thanks to right-wing intransigence and centrist "but they all do it" false equivalence, they are becoming fewer and farther between.

Tuesday, September 04, 2012

Chuck Norris Warns Of Doom To Follow Obama's Re-election

[Cross-posted at Crooks and Liars.]

I know everyone got a kick out of seeing Clint Eastwood up there onstage last week, aptly representing the doddering, wheezing get-off-my-lawn mentality of today's Republican Party.

But in a lot of ways, I think the not-aging-so-gracefully movie star they should have picked to introduce Mitt Romney was Chuck Norris, since he so perfectly represents the nutty Tea Party element that remains the GOP's base -- beyond, that is, the 1 percent that is their deep base.

But Chuck wasn't invited. So here he is on YouTube, via Stephen C. Webster at Raw Story:
A video released this weekend by action movie hero Chuck Norris claims that America faces “1,000 years of darkness” if President Barack Obama is reelected.

“If we look to history, our great country and freedom are under attack,” Norris warns, standing next to his wife. “We’re at a tipping point and, quite possibly, our country as we know it may be lost forever if we don’t change the course in which our country is headed.”

The pair go on to explain that Obama won in 2008 because more than 30 million evangelical Christians stayed home on Election Day. “We know you love your family and your freedom as much as Gena and I do, and it is because of that we can no longer sit quietly or stand on the sidelines and watch our country go the way of socialism or something much worse,” Norris explains.

Norris’s wife Gina adds that defeating Obama “will preserve for our children this last best hope of man on earth, or we will sentence them to take the first step into 1,000 years of darkness. If we fail, at least let our children and our children’s children say of us we justified our brief moment here. We did all that could be done.”
This is how right-wingers are working themselves up into a frenzied froth for this fall election. It's part of the same hyper-hysterical fearmongering garbage the NRA is whipping up as well.

I think we have some legitimate cause for concern about what these people will do if/when they lose.

Monday, September 03, 2012

Georgia Militia Terrorists Fit DHS Bulletin Profile Perfectly

[Cross-posted at Crooks and Liars.]

It's emblematic of just how cowed our federal authorities have been by the right-wing blowback against calling right-wing domestic terrorists what they actually are that the prosecutors in Georgia who recently charged a group of far-right militiamen with plotting carry out a series of attacks in Washington state and to assassinate President Obama took to calling them, in their press announcements, "anarchists" -- which meant, of course, that the media promptly followed suit.

Let's be perfectly clear: The only thing in the profiles of these men that suggests anything remotely "anarchist" in their politics is the fact that, according to the AP, they "aggressively recruited" other members of the military with a symbol that resembled the classic anarchist symbol, an "A" inside a circle (even though there are a number of far-right symbols that could fit this description as well).

In every other regard, however, these men were indisputably classic right-wing extremists:

-- One of the leaders of the plot, Joseph Aguigui, was a page at the Republican National Convention in 2008.

-- All of the plotters were members of the military and espoused a far-right philosophy, including targeting President Obama for assassination. "I did think that the government needed to change, and I thought that we were the people to be able to change it," one of the plotters told the judge in pleading guilty.

-- The targets of their terrorist acts were generally "liberal" government entities -- poisoning the Washington apple crop, for instance, likely targeted the liberal Seattle consumer market, the main consumers of those crops -- although no one can quite figure out why they targeted Savannah's Forsyth Park.

What's most disturbing about this case is that these men were obtaining their arms and combat training from the U.S. military and were aggressively recruiting other members from within their ranks.

As it happens, this sort of thing -- as well as last month's murderous rampage by an ex-soldier/white supremacist at a Sikh temple in Wisconsin -- is exactly what that Department of Homeland Security bulletin on right-wing domestic terrorism of 2009 warned about:
U//FOUO) Returning veterans possess combat skills and experience that are attractive to rightwing extremists. DHS/I&A is concerned that rightwing extremists will attempt to recruit and radicalize returning veterans in order to boost their violent capabilities.
Of course, the DHS wasn't alone in sounding this warning. The year before, in 2008, the FBI issued a similar warning:
Military experience—ranging from failure at basic training to success in special operations forces—is found throughout the white supremacist extremist movement. FBI reporting indicates extremist leaders have historically favored recruiting active and former military personnel for their knowledge of firearms, explosives, and tactical skills and their access to weapons and intelligence in preparation for an anticipated war against the federal government, Jews, and people of color.

... The prestige which the extremist movement bestows upon members with military experience grants them the potential for influence beyond their numbers. Most extremist groups have some members with military experience, and those with military experience often hold positions of authority within the groups to which they belong.

... Military experience—often regardless of its length or type—distinguishes one within the extremist movement. While those with military backgrounds constitute a small percentage of white supremacist extremists, FBI investigations indicate they frequently have higher profiles within the movement, including recruitment and leadership roles.

... New groups led or significantly populated by military veterans could very likely pursue more operationally minded agendas with greater tactical confidence. In addition, the military training veterans bring to the movement and their potential to pass this training on to others can increase the ability of lone offenders to carry out violence from the movement’s fringes.
But then, we remember what happened next: right-wing hysterics took to the airwaves and the blogosphere to denounce the report as somehow a kind of "smear" of mainstream conservatives, which really was only a kind of unconscious self-indictment. Nonetheless, the Beltway media played along willingly, the result being that the DHS ultimately apologized for the report, and then proceeded to completely gut its unit devoted to monitoring right-wing extremist terrorism.

We've been paying for it ever since, most notably with the lives of law-enforcement officers killed by these nutcases. We've also been paying for it in the form of a sharp increase in right-wing domestic terrorism across the country (I'll have a lot more on that soon, I hope).

Meanwhile, even though the report's prescience and accuracy was almost immediately manifested, and has been substantiated multiple times since -- most notably by the two cases of military-trained terrorist plots in August -- the deniers on the right keep denying that they were wrong.

As James Raimey in the LA Times observed:
There has been no mass outcry for more preventive measures in the face of a gruesome display of domestic terrorism. But the 3-year-old backlash that prevented tracking of home-grown crackpots has gradually quieted and there is room for reasonable vigilance again.
Yet there was Michelle Malkin penning an entire column in response, insisting (in the face of overwhelming evidence to the contrary) that she was still right.

The shouting and hysterics worked then, and they're still affecting how we talk about this. Time for that to come to an end.

UPDATE: I meant to include this article about the problem the military is facing with racists lurking within their own ranks. There's a lot of denial still going on, and not just in the wingnutosphere.