Saturday, November 10, 2012

Clueless Racist Tweeters Reveal the Degraded State of Right-Wing Discourse

As Karoli and Blue Texan have been observing today, the fever swamps of the American Right are, predictably, coming completely unhinged over the re-election of President Obama. This is especially true the farther you move from right-wing pundits out to the conservative base -- where the hatred of Obama is bubbling up a fresh heaping helping of steaming racism.

See, for instance, the gallery of racist tweets put together by Jezebel this week. Go ahead, spend a little time there. Then come on back, get a shower, and let's talk about it.

Megan Garber at the Atlantic
reports on the provenance of these tweets:
Floating Sheep, a group of geography academics, took advantage of that fact to turn hatred -- and, just as often, stupidity -- into information. The team searched Twitter for racism-revealing terms that appeared in the context of tweets that mentioned "Obama," "re-elected," or "won." That search resulted in (a shockingly high and surprisingly low) 395 tweets.
The leading states from which these tweets emanate are Alabama, Mississippi, Georgia, North Dakota, and Utah. Now there's a big surprise.

What's shocking and disturbing about these tweets is just how many people out there reflexively and thoughtlessly indulge in outright and outrageous racism -- and then express surprise that they're accused of being racists!

Indeed, the pervasiveness of this response indicates just how degraded Americans' understanding of racism has become -- mainly because, whenever it raises its head now, the right-wing media shouts down and belittles anyone who calls it out. So now there are millions of people out there who think that there's nothing particularly racist about using racist slurs.

For example, there's this young woman from Turlock, CA, who tweeted the following:

As the Modesto Bee story explains, Helms was shocked when the Secret Service came knocking on her door:
She told the Fox 40 reporter: "I didn't think it would be that big of a deal. … The assassination part is kind of harsh. I'm not saying like I would go do that or anything like that, by any means, but if it was to happen, I don't think I'd care one bit."

Helms has since deleted the post and posted again about the incident. It reads: "So apparently my post last night about Obama got onto Twitter and Fox 40 came and interviewed me cause apparently a lot of people in Sacramento think I'm crazy and racist. WOW is all I got to say!! I'm not racist and I'm not crazy. just simply stating my opinion.!!!"
Also unsurprisingly, the ice-cream parlor where the woman worked decided it could not afford to employ her any longer:
But the incident and surrounding outrage caused her to lose her job at Cold Stone Creamery, where she had worked for less than a year. Turlock Cold Stone Creamery store director Chris Kegle said he was shocked to read her racist slur and see her accompanying interview.

"We found her comments to be very disgusting, and they do not reflect our opinions here," Kegle said. "We never saw anything from her at work like those comments."

When he arrived Thursday at the store on Monte Vista Avenue, he said, there were more than 20 angry voice mails about Helms.

"We made the decision because of her comments, but also the community feedback," he said. "We are very into working with the community and doing community service. So when your community does not like you because of an employee, that's bad. We have a business to run."
But the bottom line in this incident was the woman's complete cluelessness:
"OK, but what did I do wrong? That's fine if they want to," she told the reporter. "But I don't understand what I did wrong."
What kind of world do we live in when you have to actually explain to people that (A) wishing aloud for the president's assassination is the same thing as publicly advocating it, and (B) the use of the 'N word' or any other racial slur-- especially by a white person flinging it in a manner intended to degrade not just any singular target but any member of that race -- is an act of racism in itself?

Answer: The world made for us by right-wing media and assorted right-wing pundits, who adamantly insist that racism is a dead letter, that it really doesn't exist, and that their political campaigns don't exploit and foment racist attitudes -- when all the evidence to the contrary stares us daily in the face.

Cross-posted at Crooks and Liars.

Thursday, November 08, 2012

For Whom the Bell Polls: Karl Rove's Jig is Up

Karl Rove has always been a con artist. This year, it seems to have finally caught up to him.

We all saw it on election night, when Rove tried to pull a Florida in Ohio on the air on Fox News. As we also noted, you could see the sweat on Rove's brow and upper lip -- in part, doubtlessly, because his predictions of an easy win for Romney were beginning to reveal his actual incompetence.

Now the performance is raising all kinds of ethical and other questions about Rove's role and his behavior. Imagine our surprise.

But even more noteworthy is that the billions of dollars spent by his plutocratic "job creator" donors on the election was washed down the drain in the night's results:
A study Wednesday by the Sunlight Foundation, which tracks political spending, concluded that Rove's super PAC, American Crossroads, had a success rate of just 1 percent on $103 million in attack ads -- one of the lowest "returns on investment" (ROIs) of any outside spending group in this year's elections.

American Crossroads spent heavily, not just on Romney, but on attack ads on behalf of GOP Senate candidates in eight states -- thanks to mega contributions from conservative donors like metals magnate Harold Simmons ($19.5 million), Texas homebuilder Bob Perry ($7.5 million) and Omni hotel chief Robert Rowling ($5 million.)

The super donors didn't get much for their money. Six of the eight GOP Senate candidates that American Crossroads spent money to try to elect – Tommy Thompson in Wisconsin, George Allen in Virginia, Josh Mandel in Ohio, Richard Mourdock in Indiana, Denny Rehberg in Montana and Todd Akin in Missouri – lost their races, along with Romney. The group did, on the other hand, help to elect Deb Fischer in Nebraska and Dean Heller in Nevada.

(The Sunlight Foundation calculation of "return on investment" was based on the percentage of money it spent on individual races-- and since Crossroads spent the most on the races it lost on, the group earned its low 1 percent "return on investment" or ROI. A sister group, Crossroads GPS, which operates out of the same offices as American Crossroads but does not disclose its donors, fared little better, netting a return on investment of only 13 percent, according to the Sunlight Foundation report.)
In some ways, it makes you wish this level of incompetence would stick around for a few more years and waste billions more dollars on going-nowhere-fast right-wing campaigns. Which, no doubt, it will.

Cross-posted at Crooks and Liars.

Wednesday, November 07, 2012

Your Morning Schadenfreude: About Those Pundits Who Predicted a Big Romney Win ...

I love the smell of schadenfreude in the morning. It smells like ... victory.

Especially when it's victory over some of the most loathsome reptilian figures lurking on the modern American political scene, notably, the maroons who tried selling the world on the notion of "Romentum" going into yesterday's election.

Guys like Michael Barone, who predicted 315 Electoral College votes for Romney. Or Karl Rove, who predicted 285 victorious votes for the Mittster.

For some reason last night, they remained in deep denial while poring over the results on Fox. And of course, no mention of their own towering incompetence was made. Instead, they spent the segment calling each other "brilliant".

Though you couldn't help notice the sweat on the brow and upper lip of Rove. Bet he's thinking about all those rich clients who paid gazillions of dollars for his American Crossroads Super PAC to take down not just Obama but a bunch of Democrats ... all for naught.

We also look forward to hearing from George Will, who predicted 321 votes for Romney, and from Dick Morris, who predicted a massive Willard landslide (and a Republican Senate to boot).

Roy Edroso
has a rundown of all the right-wing pundits predicting a Romney runaway.

My favorite of the pre-election pundits had to be Michael Walsh at NRO, with his charmingly titled thinkpiece, "Crush Them":
Mitt Romney is an imperfect standard bearer, but tomorrow he is the army we have. Elsewhere, I’ve predicted a Romney victory and even a retake of the Senate, despite the breathtaking tactical stupidity of Todd Akin and Richard Mourdock, both of whom needlessly wandered into the mine field of social issues (where the media is guaranteed 100 percent arrayed against them) and blew their own feet off. But, should Romney win, he can’t simply assume the vote was a mandate for putting America back to work, and then do his corporate-turnaround thing. If he wins, if his victory is beyond the margin of David Axelrod’s ability to cheat, Mitt needs to understand that a considerable portion of his vote was not only anti-Obama but anti-Obamaism, that it was a repudiation of everything the Marxist Left and its bien-pensant fellow travelers in the media stand for. And, most important, that going forward, it’s a call to substantially reduce their influence on the body politic.
Sorry about that, comrade. We look forward to shuffling your paranoid ass off to a Commie re-education camp soon.

This stuff has been floating about for awhile now, actually. A couple of weeks ago, the Instawanker penned a piece for USA Today musing -- with nary a shred of self-awareness -- about the "bubble" within which liberals had supposedly cocooned themselves:
Now, despite being told by the press -- and quite a few Republican pundits -- that Mitt Romney didn't have a chance, since his performance in the presidential debates things seem to be turning around. Reports of early voting and absentee ballots suggest that Republican voters are a lot more energized than we'd been led to believe. The polls are looking good for Romney, and he's picking up all sorts of endorsements all of a sudden.

This has caused some Republican enthusiasts to suggest that what we're seeing is a "preference cascade," and they may be right.

What's a "preference cascade?" In his book, Private Truths, Public Lies, economist Timur Kuran looked at the way "preference falsification" can distort societies, and then collapse suddenly.

The classic example is in a totalitarian society, where everyone has to pretend to love the Great Leader on pain of death. If the authorities manage it right, 99% of the populace can be ready to revolt -- but won't, because each individual thinks he or she is the only one who feels that way.

This works until some event suddenly shocks the system, and people realize that they're not alone. When that happens, things can go south in a hurry. That's a "preference cascade."

The United States isn't a totalitarian society, but media bias has the same sort of effect: By privileging some views and suppressing others, the media give Americans, and itself, a distorted idea of reality. Then, when things crack, it's a big surprise.

That may be what's happening here. Obama was presented as unbeatable, and a lot of people believed it -- until, suddenly, he looked kind of beatable after all. Once that happened, everything was different.
That bit about "a distorted idea of reality", Perfesser? You might want to look into that.

And unquestionably my favorite reaction this morning from this faction is that from noted white nationalist Robert Stacy McCain over at American Spectator:
At the moment, I am convinced America is doomed beyond all hope of redemption, and any talk of the future fills me with dread and horror.

Cross-posted at Crooks and Liars.