Jimmy Carter Takes A Stand Against Glenn Beck and Fox News

Nov 21 2010 Published by under Featured News

Former President Jimmy Carter was on CNN’s Reliable Sources today where he took aim at both Fox News and Glenn Beck for what he described as deliberately distorting the news. Carter said,”The talk shows with Glenn Beck and others on Fox News, I think, have deliberately distorted the news.”

Here is the video courtesy of Media Matters:

When asked by Reliable Sources host Howard Kurtz about his comments in his recent book critical of the 24 hour news networks’ reliance on dramatization and exaggeration, Carter let loose on both Glenn Beck and Fox News, “The talk shows with Glenn Beck and others on Fox News, I think, have deliberately distorted the news. And it’s become highly competitive. And my Republican friends say that MSNBC might be just as biased on the other side in supporting the Democratic Party, the liberal element. But that’s part of give and take. And I think CNN, more than others, has kind of tried to play the middle to their detriment as far as viewership is concerned and profits are concerned. So, I think that describes maybe more than I — more than my credentials warrant about what I think about — quickly the balance.”

It is interesting that Carter would go on to include MSNBC in the discussion. Many on the left including MSNBC hosts like Rachel Maddow and Keith Olbermann have decried the false equivalency that was first brought up by Jon Stewart at his Rally to Restore Sanity between MSNBC and Fox News, but President Carter didn’t actually say that he believed that MSNBC distorted the news like Fox does, but that Republicans believe that MSNBC does the same thing that FNC does, which is a very accurate statement.

Republicans do love to lump MSNBC and Fox News together, but beyond the basic format of presenting programming from a partisan perspective, the two networks could not be more different. Fox News operates as not just a Republican information source, but the network institutionally engages in fund raising and political activity for the Republican Party. MSNBC may put liberal hosts on the air, but they have never fund raised for candidates, nor has MSNBC promoted something like the Tea Party Express.

President Carter’s bigger point is dead on. As more Americans limit themselves to news sources that reinforce their partisan biases, whether they be on the left or right, facts become distorted and warped as they are presented through the prism of partisan narrative. The news has gone from being about what is happening in the world to information that is used on both sides to attribute credit or blame for what is happening in the world to an ideology.

When people stop agreeing on facts, it tears away at the fabric of our society. If we can’t be united in agreement and acceptance of fact then the fragmentation that not only plagues our politics will spill out into the nation itself. Glenn Beck and Fox News have found that distorting the news is a very profitable enterprise. They don’t care about the toxic waste their enterprise is leaving behind. They are the foremost intellectual polluters of the American mind, and it is encouraging to see Jimmy Carter call them out.

71 responses so far

A Fox News Fairy Tale: Sarah Palin Will Clean Obama’s Clock in 2012

Nov 20 2010 Published by under Featured News

Yet another example of how Fox News is revving up their Republican campaign machine for Sarah Palin occurred on Hannity last night when Sean Hannity claimed that, “I think Gov. Palin, if they keep up with this radical agenda will clean Obama’s clock.” That’s a nice fairy tale for Sean Hannity to spin, but let’s take a look at what will really happen if Barack Obama meets up with Sarah Palin in 2012.

Here is the video of Hannity courtesy of Media Matters:

Hannity said, “I think Gov. Palin, if they keep up with this radical agenda, will clean Obama’s clock.” When pressed, Hannity couldn’t name a single state that Palin would carry that McCain didn’t in 2008. He chose to back up his argument with that old Republican standard, “It’s a whole different environment. Here is the problem. Barack Obama lost. There was a 20 point swing among Independent voters in this country…At the end of the day, you’re forgetting something. We had the biggest midterm repudiation in 70 years two weeks ago.

Hannity later undercut his support of Palin by claiming that anybody could beat Obama, “It’s going to be very interesting. Here you have a guy that was reading a teleprompter. We find out he’s distant, a little unhinged. He’s ineffective. He doesn’t have the ability to pivot and compromise. He’s tone deaf to the American people. He keeps this up for two more years, any, I could beat him, which says a lot.”

In Fox News fantasy land it is so easy to beat an incumbent president that anyone should be able to do it, even Sarah Palin. I hate to go and spoil a perfectly fine right wing dream sequence with facts, but there is a reason why only four incumbent presidents have lost their reelection bids since 1900. Incumbent presidents are nearly impossible to defeat even when they face a credible challenger, much less the least popular politician in America. Sean Hannity relies on the false assumption that Independents will vote for Sarah Palin in 2012, because Independents swung Republican in 2010. The problem is that fewer Independents voted in 2010 than in 2008.

The bigger problem for Republicans is that Independents hate Sarah Palin. Palin is currently carrying a 53% disapproval rating with Independents. Palin’s terrible poll numbers simply don’t match up with what Hannity is trying to sell. The myth truly crumbles when you realize that Obama’s approval ratings have gone up since he was “repudiated” two weeks ago. Palin has consistently been the poorest performing Republican when polls run their hypothetical 2012 match ups, and she consistently trails Obama by double digits. There is zero evidence that Sarah Palin would do anything other than be convincing trounced by Obama.

Despite employing almost the entire roster of potential 2012 candidates for the Republican presidential nomination, minus Mitt Romney, Fox News is increasingly putting their weight behind Sarah Palin. It doesn’t seem to matter that Palin’s track record in national politics is that of a born loser. Palin, Fox News, Hannity, and others have convinced themselves that the 2010 election was about Obama, not jobs and the economy, and that Sarah Palin will lead them to the promise land in 2012.

Sean Hannity was selling a story to the true believers, and snake oil to the gullible. Obama will win reelection and the wide eyed child like viewers of Fox News will tune in every weeknight at 9 PM to hear Sean Hannity spin the tale of how Sarah Palin should have been president.

31 responses so far

Willow’s Facebook Outburst Blows the Lid off Sarah Palin’s TLC Propaganda

Nov 17 2010 Published by under Featured News, Issues, Republican Party

Sarah Palin in political garb selling wholesome family values

It didn’t escape your erstwhile politico that Sarah Palin is all over the news this morning, topping the Alexa hotlinks with stories about how liberals hate it that she’s happy while other sites are reporting on her two daughters’ rather revealing attacks on another young person’s Facebook page. “Faggot” “fat” “low-life loser” are lobbed at the boy who wrote on his own Facebook page that he thought “Sarah Palin’s Alaska” was failing. Clearly, such a dark sin can not be ignored, but were he a Palin, certainly his first amendment rights would have already been violated when at first he was criticized for speaking his mind.

As for the family’s claim that neither daughter normally talks like this, I read Bristol’s 2008 MySpace page before it was scrubbed and um, yes she did and much worse. However, the most salient note regarding Willow and Bristol Palin’s Facebook slurs being outted is the awkward timing of reality, rearing his mean little head and directly conflicting with the carefully crafted image of angelic wholesome Northern Barbie Family who like to shoot and pray together so cheerfully sold to us on Palin’s reality TV show.

And even more revealing and more important than slurring teenage language, was the Palin girls’ constant refrain that everyone is jealous of their success and that is why they dare to have negative opinions regarding the family’s TV show.

Willow Palin wrote: “Sorry that all you guys are jealous of my families (sic) success and you guys aren’t goin to go anywhere with your lives.”

Indeed. Jealousy is the problem here. Next time Palin calls out Rahm Emanuel for using the word “retarded”, please shout her down with claims that she is jealous that he is still employed as a politician and never quit his job. Not only is this intended insult a strawman, but reveals Palin’s perpetual parental failure to take responsibility for consistent messages and values.

These are the sad, inevitable beliefs of children of narcissists, where every perceived criticism is attacked with a vengeance, and yet the narcissist (and children of said narcissist) fail to take responsibility for their own wicked, cruel attacks and hence feel even more victimized when others take offense at being called fat losers for daring to state that they dislike a TV show. I am forced to ask if “retarded” is bad, why is “faggot” ok? Mom? Anyone?

Deep within this distasteful debacle is the root of Palin’s success.

Palin pre-emptively strikes at all criticism from her safe havens of Facebook, Twitter and Fox PAC. She slyly suggests males who dare not to worship her are impotent and or pedophiles, thereby rendering them speechless; So unrelated and bizarre a charge is used with malice aforethought as shock and awe against the enemy. The media duly reports such accusations and before you know it, we have America’s foremost martyr on our hands.

Which is just like Christ, don’t you know, except Christ didn’t antagonize others until they had to fight back to preserve any scraps of their own reputation and dignity. But still. This part escapes the media and the public. That unknowing public who still find Palin “stupid” but fail to see the cunning little rabid creature willfully destroying everyone in her path.

And so we are left today with the notion that it is liberals’ fault that Bristol and Willow took to Facebook (following Mommy’s footsteps) to denounce the slightest of criticism with a wrathful vengeance best left for World Wars. Do you know why this is liberals’ fault? Because apparently we are jealous that Bristol is winning “Dancing With the Stars”.

Yes. That’s right. TMZ and Huffington Post are simmering in jealousy over the Palins’ train wreck fame. Or, in reality, happily using the family who has offered themselves up as reality TV stars as ….reality TV stars. But the Palins will hide beneath cover of being politicians when it suits them, demanding the same privacy afforded to other politicians’ families, never acknowledging that other politicians do not offer their families up for unfettered American consumption in order to sell a phony narrative.

The Palin childrens’ Facebook slumming reveals a side of the Palins obviously not covered in their reality TV show; Most celebrities learn how to behave within months of becoming famous, and the children are taught how to protect themselves from this level of engagement. Why don’t the celebrity chasing Palin parents take care of their celebrity children? Because they are using them as political props in several reality TV shows. The fact that the children will be exposed to scrutiny and cruelty is obviously written off as the cost of the selling the Palin myth propaganda and then blamed on the liberal media. It’s a win win for the ultimate martyr, who never takes responsibility for her own children let alone her choices regarding them.

What’s the problem here? Why bother reporting on this at all?

Because what you’re witnessing here is the final merger between entertainment and politics. The deathblow to reason. The ultimate rock and a hard place, if one is to believe Palin when she cries on her reality TV show about invasion of privacy and then preens on Fox Business’ “Freedom Watch” that she is using her show to “get a message to the people” about politics.

Danger lurks, people. This is propaganda at its most pervasive and insidious self and it will kill anything that gets in its way.

137 responses so far

Bill Kristol Begs Obama to Become a Republican

Nov 14 2010 Published by under Featured News, Issues, Republican Party, White House

Bill Kristol's Willie Wonka Dreams

Bill Kristol Urges Obama to Become a Republican

For a faction that spends so much of its time dissing Obama, the Right never stops trying to co-opt his inherent popularity and the general trust the American people have in his character. To that end, this morning Bill Kristol is begging Obama to become a Republican. Wouldn’t that give their faux populist bent some super cred that Michael Steele somehow never managed to pull off?

Oh, you think it’s unfair of me to assume that they’re just looking for some color cred and you’re right. Why, the diversity in the oxymoronic modern day Republican Party takes my breath away. Especially I love how they kept their promises to the Mama Grizzles, who are now running the world from what only appear to be powerless positions, but we all know that the kitchen rules the roost.

Here’s Bill on the November 14 edition of Fox Broadcasting Co.’s Fox News Sunday, finally figuring out how to solve the national crisis his party created. His solution? The President should bang his head against the same brick wall of failed ideas that the Republicans refuse to give up, regardless of reality! Who can say Bill doesn’t love America?

Video courtesy of Media Matters. http://mediamatters.org/mmtv/201011140002

As a way to deflect from the glaringly obvious upcoming civil war among Teapublicans (starring Mitch McConnell against tea paper dragon Jim DeMint) over earmarks and other awkward promises of fiscal conservatism they are already walking back (in their own districts, much as anti-choices are against abortion unless they need one), Kristol tossed out that Obama will join the Republican agenda, and things will be blissful:

“Republicans will be against earmarks, President Obama will be against earmarks and we’re going to have a wonderful moment of blessed bipartisan bliss. We’re gonna have agreement on extending current tax rates for three or four years, an agreement we shouldn’t have earmarks, agreement on spending cuts, agreement on prosecuting war in Afghanistan. We’re gonna have the Obama, Boehner, DeMint agenda for the next three or four months and it’s gonna be good for the country.”

You can hear Bill’s shaky breath on the exhale after he utters this most absurd Willie Wonka version of how government works when his Party only has one branch of government locked up. But don’t get mad, you know Republicans don’t do reality. Props to Bill, though, for daring to explain on Fox News that Obama doesn’t have totalitarian control of discretionary funding as some in his party are suggesting. Even these small drops of knowledge regarding how government actually works can be viewed as betrayal by the base, so good on ya’, Bill!

Thinkin’ on Bill’s plan, if you leave reality at the door, I have to agree. I mean what says I love my country more than signing on to continue policies that have brought your country to her knees, conceived of by men who brought down every sector of the economy during an 8 year dry drunk binge, who are still refusing recovery?

The only problem I see with this plan, Bill, is that the Republicans have no agenda. Remember? Ya’ll have a Contract on America that was slick and cute and oh so energizing, but it had no…. plan. Where’s the beef, Bill? Oh…that’s right. Bill probably wants Obama to just become a Republican so as to minimize this entire losing the 2008 election thing by a landslide because so far, what he’s proposing is extending unpaid for tax cuts for the wealthy and cutting spending…now, that would be fine and dandy if Republicans ever cut spending, but we all know they have a problem with their own sense of entitlement to our tax dollars. So, it’s kinda more of the same, Bill. More of the same ideas that drove us into this dark, dank ditch of despair.

Someone should tell Bill that winning the House of Representatives in the midterms against the incumbent presidential party during a recession isn’t exactly a mandate from the people, so the “Obama, Boehner DeMint agenda” is quite simply a pipe dream. Bill seems to forget that they didn’t win the Senate. Will someone please tap him gently when he wakes from his delusional stupor of entitlement and denial and remind him of the election results and maybe a quick Civics 101 refresher?

No, I think the President might do best to steer clear of Bill’s GOPPER Titanic jihad against America Contract. These “ideas” didn’t work for the last 40 years and I dunno, call me a cynic, but something tells me they’re not gonna work now. We were hoping for a real recovery, Bill. Not more failure. And since we only have another 6 years to balance the budget and get the economy moving before you clowns take over again, we’d really appreciate it if you would just sorta stay on the fringe where ya’ll live. You know, with your party leader, Ms Palin.

Smirking must be contagious in the GOP, because even after epic failure, they all still walk around with those impervious to reality, plastic Bachmann smiles. Only the crazy eyes give it all away. Thank goodness our President isn’t foolish enough to cater to Bill Krazy Kristol. Hey Bill, you do know that the President is just being courteous and hopeful when he asks what your ideas are? Because, you know, we all know that when he tries to implement your ideas, y’all vote against your own ideas just to prove that you’re still the man. And with leadership like that, it’s a wonder the American public refused you the Senate.

Have fun with your House o’ Crazy for the next two years, Bill. I’m afraid that’s all you’re likely to get. America is still waiting for the GOP to actually own up to even one of its failures. Until then, it’s sorta hard to trust you.

8 responses so far

When Did the Mainstream Media Start Working for the Conservatives?

Nov 02 2010 Published by under Featured News

Americans go to the polls today in spite of main stream media reports that Republicans and Tea Party candidates swept every race.  Usually it is only Fox News that tells their audience what the results of elections will be in advance of an election, but in this election cycle, real journalists are jumping on the Republican bandwagon in a big way.

There is also a disturbing trend of pundits parroting Republican talking points critical of the Obama Administration as if the RNC is reporting the news. The problem is that the pundits are not Fox News employees or commentators, and it is not just television and radio that are reporting winners in advance of the election. Print media are reporting that Tea Party candidates are in the main-stream and that they express the mood of most Americans.

In Time magazine’s 8 November issue, the cover story’s headline reads, “Party Crashers – How a new breed of Republicans tapped into voter rage and upset the Establishment – but can they govern?” The “Special Election Preview” hit newsstands on Thursday, and the cover implied that Meg Whitman, Marco Rubio, Rand Paul, and Christine O’Donnell had already won their respective races. The only question, according to Time was, “can they govern.”

A McClatchy newspaper in California endorsed Carly Fiorina and Meg Whitman by listing the candidates’ campaign talking points as if they were facts. They also echoed teabagger sentiments about Democrats, and Obama in particular; without any references or factual information. The newspaper in question serves a very conservative area, but their objectivity has disappeared in a climate where advertisers and corporate interests have taken charge of the narrative as far as politics is concerned.

The latest outrage involves ABC’s hiring of Andrew Breitbart as an analyst on election night, and it typifies the favorable media bias that George W. Bush enjoyed for most of his presidency. It is a dangerous path when the media refuses to report the news. Pundits and commentators editorialize and it is accepted that opinion is part of commentary, but it is unacceptable when the news reports are campaign slogans and policy positions of one political party.

The media is supposed to be the one part of society that tells unbiased truth so voters can make informed decisions, but during this cycle, the media has aligned with conservatives. Is MSM reflecting the mood of the country, or following directives from the Republican Party like Fox News? There has been very little reporting on campaign financing by foreign entities, or correction and clarification when a candidate deceives the public.

Most Americans are not political junkies, and the only news they see is on television, newspapers, or magazine covers. American people are not that sharp at discerning a candidate’s qualification for themselves, so when the media reports the winners, repeats campaign slogans as endorsements, and unfairly criticizes any candidate during a campaign, something is wrong.

There are reports that many Democrats will not vote in this election for personal reasons, and one hopes that liberals are smart enough to sift through the media bias and realize that the election was not last month. In states like California, there are 2.5 million more Democrats than Republicans, but the news has already given victory to Republicans.

Americans who do vote today have been told who won the elections, so it’s no wonder there will be a small turnout. It makes sense that internet news is displacing print journalism, and it is too bad, because without real investigative reporting, bloggers and internet news outlets would not have stories.

It is a bad time in America, and the media that are so crucial to a free society are not doing their jobs. When you vote today, ignore media reports that so-and-so has already won, because the elections are today; in spite of media reports to the contrary.

50 responses so far

A Lesson for Americans: Reaping the Consequences of Hate

We have all heard the old saying, “You reap what you sow.” This lesson was recently learned by an Arkansas school board district member, Clint McCance, vice-president of the Midland School District in Pleasant Plains. Posting on Facebook, McCance said, in response to a campaign sponsored by GLAAD (Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation) that people should wear purple to honor suicide victims of anti-gay bullying,

“Seriously they want me to wear purple because five queers committed suicide. The only way im wearin it for them is if they all commit suicide. I cant believe the people of this world have gotten this stupid. We are honoring the fact that they sinned and killed therselves because of their sin.” (sic)

McCance now realizes he went too far.

“I’m reaping what I’ve sown,” he told CNN. “I’ve had a lot of hate speech thrown at me and my family on every level.”

But it’s not just what McCance said, it’s the underlying beliefs that led to those words he used, and more than that, it’s the underlying beliefs of the people to whom he directed those words: religious bigots.

Now it’s bad enough when somebody wishes ill on somebody else. None of us should do that no matter how much we disapprove of the person or their actions. A favored religion-inspired response is to say “we don’t hate the sinner; we hate the sin” as if that makes everything okay. It doesn’t. And McCance, to his credit, did not fall back on that to explain his own words.

The lesson that must be learned here, by everyone, but especially by Republicans from whom this hate is flowing, is that you do reap what you sow. Actions have consequences. The 2006 election should have taught them that; the 2008 elections should have driven that lesson home: most Americans do not agree with them.

Words spoken have consequences, but all too often people escape those consequences due to political cronyism.

For example, Juan Williams lost his job at NRP but he has a lucrative job with FOX News, which applauds his hate-mongering xenophobia and is now leading a conservative witch-hunt against NPR. And conservative Paul Wolfowitz, one of the architects of George W. Bush’s disastrous and bloody Iraq strategy, after his misdeeds at the World Bank had, in Paul Krugman’s words, “a chair waiting for him at the American Enterprise Institute,” a conservative think tank.

Sometimes, what is reaped is a reward by those for who hate mongering is a lucrative business. Sadly, that includes at this point in our nation’s history one of our two main political parties, the corporate-funded GOP, and the conservative billionaire-funded Astroturf movement known as the Tea Party. American politics have become all about hatred and xenophobia. With the aftermath of Katrina we learned that what was most important to Republicans was apportioning blame. What we have learned since is that what is most important is identifying the constructed Other and then blaming them.

For purposes of conservative rhetoric, the constructed Other is anything other than a white conservative Christian. This makes target acquisition easy: anyone can be a target, from liberals (Ann Coulter) to progressives (Glenn Beck) to feminists and pagans (Pat Robertson, Jerry Falwell) to gays and lesbians (too many to count) to atheists (George H.W. Bush and many others), to immigrants (too many to count), to Muslims (Sharron Angle, Judson Phillips and others), to people who ask questions (Sarah Palin, Joe Miller). All these groups are somehow responsible for destroying the America these conservatives claim once existed and that they want back.

Never mind for a moment that this America never existed. Give it time. They will soon have school books reflecting an ideologically approved revision of history. What is important is that everyone is the enemy, everyone is a potential witch. And it is not only individuals, not even ordinary people like you and me (Lauren Valle, Tony Hopfinger). It is politicians (Vice President Al Gore, Senator John Kerry, Keith Ellison, Barack Obama); it is non-profit organizations (ACORN); it is NPR, which had the courage to take a stand against the hate-mongering and xenophobia; It is the government of the United States; it is the Constitution itself.

We have all been identified as the enemy. We have all of us, because we fail to support the conservative vision of an America that never existed, who have been accused of treason and labeled traitors. But you can’t be guilty of treason against something which does not exist.

Sometimes, as in the case of McCance, the guilty party recognizes he went too far. More often than not, when they are called out, they act like they never said it (Bachman, Angle); they are being persecuted unfairly (Palin, Angle, Bachman, O’Donnell, et al) and that they are the victims, just as it is the bullies in school who are the real victims, not the kids they force to commit suicide. You won’t see any of these people apologizing or recognizing consequences.

Others, like McCance, do, however sincere the apology may or may not be. For example there is Wisconsin GOP candidate for lieutenant governor Rebecca Kleefisch, who in a recent radio interview said that gay marriage is to be compared to marrying clocks and dogs.

She has since apologized, saying,

“My comments were meant to relay my concern with redefining marriage. I never intended to sound insensitive, and have the utmost respect for all people. I apologize for my poor choice of words.”

On the other hand, there is Tony Perkins, who says that gay teens commit suicide because they know they are abnormal (and your bigoted words would have nothing to do with them coming to believe that, would it, Tony?).

And there is Rep. Louie Gohmert of Texas who has somehow come to the belief (remember, he’s from Texas) that that Republicans “can’t compromise on principle.” What principles are Gohmert speaking of, you ask?

Right Wing Watch reports that,

Gohmert, who recently said that God has ordained Christians to run the country, sounded a similar theme on today’s call. He said God gives the sword to government to punish evil, and urged “true Romans 13-believing Christians” to understand that America’s founders set things up so that the people are the government. “We are given the sword in this country.” He told them that God had blessed American Christians and that they’re expected to use the sword of government and hire (elect) servants (public officials) “to do what we tell them.”

The politics of hate are all around us, fueled by right-wing religious fanatics, our own Taliban, and sad to say, it is us, far less often them, who will reap the consequences of what they have sown. But we too bare responsibility when we go to the polls on November 2. If you don’t want to be a victim, don’t be. Don’t put these people in power. Don’t worry about God doing the right thing for America. YOU do the right thing for America.

15 responses so far

The GOP’s Unconstitutional Remedies

The GOP Wants You!

I think Most Americans have a basic understanding of how our political system is structured and how it works. People run for office for one political party or another, one is elected and the other(s) lose. This is a simple, easy to understand system; it has been in place in this country for better than two centuries and it has worked more or less, for that entire time. I say “more or less” because we cannot forget the Civil War, when one segment of the country – the slave-owning South – did not like how things were going (i.e. the demise of slavery) and decided they didn’t want to play anymore with the other states. They picked up their toys and went home. They called their new country the “Confederate States of America.”

Our president at the time, Abraham Lincoln (a Republican) said, “I don’t think so” and the two sides fought. Six hundred thousand dead Americans later, the South lost. The slaves were freed. The Constitution was updated to reflect this fact. That seemed to have settled the issue. Let the record reflect, Lincoln essentially said, that we are one country and that those men did not die in vain:

It is time to reflect on the meaning of the Constitution, and upon Lincoln’s words. Every state has ratified the Constitution. The Constitution says, and we have agreed, that we are one nation, not a confederation of independent nations as under the Articles of Confederation.  The Civil War bloodily drove this point home: that we are all in this together, one nation undivided, and that we don’t simply up and quit when things don’t go our way. We don’t get to take our toys home. No, we work to change them democratically, through the Constitution. When necessary, we even make amendments to the Constitution, as the Founding Fathers did when they incorporated the Bill of Rights (actually ten amendments) into that document (1791); as the Lincoln-sponsored Thirteenth Amendment (1865) freed the slaves and the Nineteenth (1920) gave women the right to vote.

Amendments are Constitutional remedies; Secession and armed rebellion are not. They are treason.

Increasingly, right wing politicians and pundits have advocated violent opposition to things they don’t like (i.e. liberal governance). New York Times columnist Frank Rich drew a clear and undeniable connection between FOX News’ Glenn Beck and right-wing extremist Byron Williams. These right-wing demagogues have increasingly and chillingly advocated un-Constitutional remedies if things don’t go their way in the upcoming midterm elections.

The lesson of the Civil War seems to be lost on these men and women. Let’s look at a few examples:

We have all the Tenther talk about “states rights,” a conversation that leads quickly to talk about secession, including Texas governor Rick Perry, who said,

“There’s a lot of different scenarios,” Perry said. “We’ve got a great union. There’s absolutely no reason to dissolve it. But if Washington continues to thumb their nose at the American people, you know, who knows what might come out of that. But Texas is a very unique place, and we’re a pretty independent lot to boot.”

Another governor, Sarah Palin of Alaska, had ties (through her husband) to Alaska-first secessionists. There is Palin’s infamous March 2010 Tweet,

Commonsense Conservatives & lovers of America: “Don’t Retreat, Instead – RELOAD!” Pls see my Facebook page.

There is a congressional candidate in Nevada, Sharron Angle, who blithely spoke of “Second Amendment remedies” in case of defeat. In an interview with conservative talk-show host Bill Manders, she said,

Angle: I feel that the Second Amendment is the right to keep and bear arms for our citizenry. This not for someone who’s in the military. This not for law enforcement. This is for us. And in fact when you read that Constitution and the founding fathers, they intended this to stop tyranny. This is for us when our government becomes tyrannical…

Manders: If we needed it at any time in history, it might be right now.

Angle: Well it’s to defend ourselves. And you know, I’m hoping that we’re not getting to Second Amendment remedies. I hope the vote will be the cure for the Harry Reid problems.

We can now add to the list Stephen Broden, a Texas pastor running for Congress, who says that,

“We have a constitutional remedy. And the Framers say if that don’t work, revolution.”

The problem is that the Framers didn’t say that. Revolution is not in any amendment; it is not in the Constitution. Yet Broden insists that if a violent uprising “is not the first option,” it is still “on the table.”

No, it’s not. It cannot be.

This treason narrative is all a part – and a result – of the larger Republican “myth of usurpation,” that since their ’08 defeat in the national elections the GOP is a “government in exile” and that President Obama is a “Kenyan Muslim” usurper.

Republicans have somehow been able to convince themselves that their country has been taken away from them and that they want it back. Never mind that it is our country – ours collectively – and that the country they seem to want to “take back” never existed outside of their imaginations. Two centuries of sometimes diametrically opposed forces working together, through contention and compromise and quid pro quo, have brought about this nation. The American Revolution ended British rule; the Constitution created the United States of America, and that creation did not all happen at once. It was a process; the United States is the result of political compromise and evolution, not violent overthrow.

Compromise, the very thing right-wing politics, married to Old Testament standards of religious purity, refuse to do.

Broden, like the other wannabe Che Guevara’s on the right, seems convinced that he has every legal right to overthrow a legally and constitutionally elected government if he doesn’t like it:

“If the government is not producing the results or has become destructive to the ends of our liberties, we have a right to get rid of that government and to get rid of it by any means necessary.”

I would invite Pastor Broden to point to the relevant article in the Constitution to justify that claim.

Broden seems – belatedly – to have realized he went too far, and has backed off a bit in his statements since the incident, but these incidents mark a disturbing trend in right-wing politics.

We can add military personnel to this list of politicians. There is Army Lt. Col. Terry Lakin who refuses to deploy overseas because he won’t accept President Obama as his legitimate commander in chief. And Lakin was not the first. Last year, an Army Reserve major first volunteered to serve in Afghanistan, then, according to MSNBC, “filed suit to keep from being deployed, arguing that Obama was not a natural-born citizen.”

Now we have Stealth bomber pilot Major Brian “Jethro” Neal, who, Bruce Wilson of Talk to Action reports, says

“I’m going to have to separate myself from the service of this nation if it’s required in order to propagate the Gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ. I’m not going to disregard my responsibilities. But if there ever comes a time when there is a priority to be made, a decision to be made, it must always rest in the work of the Lord and the Lord’s army. Because that commission is greater than the one I received from the United States Air Force Academy.”

Bruce Wilson reminds us that the oath sworn by Neal as a member of the U.S. armed forces, promises that he would,

“support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic; that I will bear true faith and allegiance to the same; and that I will obey the orders of the President of the United States and the orders of the officers appointed over me, according to regulations and the Uniform Code of Military Justice. So help me God.”

As Wilson points out,

“Neal’s statement seemed imply that his “commission” in the “Lord’s army” superseded his commission, as an Air Force officer, to defend the Constitution and obey the President and the chain of command. As an elected official, Nevada Republican Senate hopeful Sharron Angle has sworn similar oaths, to defend the American Constitution and, by extension, American Democracy. Like Neal, Angle has made statements that suggest she is less than fully committed to Constitutional democracy.”

It seems that not only do Republican candidates show little awareness of the Constitution and what is in it, but they do not think it applies if it does not give them the results they want. President Bush treated our founding document like a list of suggestions he could ignore at will, and that seems to be the continuing trend on the right. But there are constitutional remedies to the Constitution. It is called democracy. Republicans ought to consider trying it. It has worked for this country for a couple of centuries. And those that don’t wish to play along? We have a remedy for them as well: it’s called federal prison.

10 responses so far

Fox Claims Union Members Are Being Bused in At Gunpoint for Stewart/Colbert Rally

Oct 27 2010 Published by under Featured News

The Fox News paranoia over Jon Stewart’s Rally to Restore Sanity reached Tom Ridge terror alert level red today, as Monica Crowley claimed on Fox Business that, “There are a lot of union members who are actually being bused in at gunpoint by their union leadership.”

Here is the video courtesy of Media Matters:

On Fox Business’ Varney and Company, Monica Crowley did her best to discredit the Stewart/Colbert rally by claiming that union members were being bused in at gunpoint to the rally. She said, “Well, but there are a lot of union members who are actually being bused in at gunpoint by their union leadership.” When Varney countered not at gunpoint, Crowley said, “In some cases yes, at gunpoint.”

Later she tied the Stewart/Colbert rally to Obama’s plot to get young people to vote on Election Day, “Obama has been targeting one group over and over again over the last two months, and that’s the kids. That’s the college students. He’s been all over campuses. He’s had these speeches broadcast nationwide to college campuses. He is targeting the kids, because the kids along with minority groups, African-Americans, Latinos last time were the core constituencies that came out for him last time.”

Host Stuart Varney later tried to correct Crowley that nobody was being bused in at gunpoint, and she took the opportunity to drive the point home one more time by saying, “But we are talking about some unions here, Stuart.” After Varney said again that it was symbolic, Crowley said, “Ok, I’ll concede the point.” This is the typical Fox News model. Crowley spent almost two minutes discrediting the rally and spreading fear about unions, and five seconds at the very end of the segment admitting that it is not true. What messages do think stuck with viewers? People are being forced to attend the Stewart/Colbert rally, and that the rally is designed to help Obama.

After former Fox News employee Major Garrett admitted that the business model of Fox News is based on keeping America divided, it is no surprise that the Fox operation is pushing back so hard at an event that is designed to reject the polarizing extremism that Fox News preaches. In the long term, if Stewart and Colbert have a half a million people attend the rally, and the seed of moderation gets planted, Fox News might find their style of “reporting” rejected.

The media keeps missing the point of this rally. The point is not political. Contrary to what Fox says, this is not an event to help Democrats. The message behind the Rally to Restore Sanity is social. Stewart’s is advocating for the return of civil moderate behavior to our national discourse. Mainstream media is missing the point that much of message of this rally is directed at them. By trying to fit the event into a constructed political narrative, they are reinforcing Jon Stewart’s point about their inability to cover any issue without polarizing it.

No one is getting bused in on Saturday at gunpoint. No one on stage is going to be telling the audience that God is speaking to them, or urging them to take their country back. This event is News Corp’s worst nightmare come to life. Hundreds of thousands of people are gathering in at the historic National Mall to reject the very environment that has allowed Fox News and other media outlets to prosper. Often comedy delivers the most penetrating social commentary. Fox News my demonize Jon Stewart, and distort the purpose of the rally, but they can’t dilute the message that America is suffering from a severe case of extremist fatigue.

55 responses so far

Major Garrett Admits that Fox News Wants to Keep America Divided

Oct 25 2010 Published by under Featured News

Former Fox Newser Major Garrett was on MSNBC’s Morning Joe talking about NPR’s firing of Juan Williams when he said something interesting, “For a certain amount of marketing points of view, Fox actually wants to keep that polarization and say, look, we’re different.” Keeping America polarized and divided is good for Fox News’ business.

Here is the video courtesy of Media Matters

While talking about the firing of Juan Williams by NPR, Garrett said, “Because of that longstanding relationship with Fox, it was becoming increasingly, I think — and Juan and I had had some conversations about this — that NPR was increasingly unhappy with him, because it was getting blowback from some of its listeners about seeing Juan so often on Fox. That speaks to a problem that neither Fox nor NPR can solve, because neither want to solve it, which is the polarization of American media. For a certain amount of marketing points of view, Fox actually wants to keep that polarization and say, look, we’re different. We’re dramatically different; you can see how we’re different. And if you like that difference, you better come over here and you better stay here. That is an embedded part of the marketing that surrounded what happens at the news division at Fox that’s been incredibly successful.”

Later he discussed why Fox News gave Juan Williams a big new contract, “I don’t think it’s any coincidence that the day it happened he got a huge contract at Fox, and Fox planted a flag in the ground saying he’s ours, he’s going to stay ours, and if you are outraged, this is where you need to be. That is an embedded part of Roger Ailes’ DNA.” Keeping America divided through media polarization is FNC’s brand strategy.

According to analysis of BrandIndex data done by Ad Age, Fox News Channel is the top brand among Republicans. Not surprisingly, FNC does not make the Democratic top ten list. Google is tops for Democrats. Some of you may be saying to yourselves wait a minute. Major Garrett was talking about media polarization, not political division. It is a chicken and egg argument whether media polarization fuels political polarization, or political polarization is responsible for media polarization. What is clear is that Fox News is the delivery mechanism for polarization.

In 1996 Fox News was launched during the early stages of America’s great political polarization, which has since deepened into a political ice age. Fox News is the love child of cable news and political polarization. This child has demonstrated an amazing ability to make money for its parents, which is why media polarization is all the rage now. The deadly side effect from all the media polarization in our environment is reinforcing and deepening of political polarization. This is a good thing for Fox News as they need to keep the country divided in order to keep those profits rolling in.

When Barack Obama talks about unifying America, he is threatening the very business model that Fox News is based on. Polarization and division are the heartbeat and lifeblood of Fox News. If America ever became more politically unified, FNC would go out of business. A suspicious and divided nation is good for FNC’s bottom line. Fox News does push the Republican agenda, and they do try to divide the nation, because that is how they make money. It’s not just about ideology and politics at Fox News. It’s also about profits, and when polarization stops being profitable, Fox News will cease to exist.

63 responses so far

Cowboying Up on Freedom of Speech GOP Style

Oct 23 2010 Published by under Featured News, Republican Party

NPR finds itself under siege. These are the words of an NPR employee in my area to me. Under Siege. It is not NPR’s members or donors who are upset with that entity, but Republican politicians and pundits. This is an attack directed at NPR by Republicans in order to silence, if not destroy somebody for firing somebody for saying something offensive.

I’m reminded of the film Tombstone, in which a Cowboy (a local criminal gang in that town, the Cowboys) tell Wyatt Earp that if you mess with one Cowboy, they will destroy you. That’s the situation here: Don’t touch any of us, the Republicans are saying, or we will destroy you.

The Cowboys of our time are a big gang, with lots of money, and they want to control things in town too, and they don’t brook any interference. I’m going to talk about one specific Cowboy here. Sarah Palin has been addressed; I am going to look at another.

Cowboy Eric Cantor, whose idiocy I have excoriated here before, is one of them, and he seems determined to prove to America that he is a first-class idiot. He’s upset right now because NPR fired Juan Williams for his anti-Muslim remarks. Cantor calls this a threat to free speech (does this mean we can all say anything we want and keep our jobs, Mr. Cantor?).

The Republicans want to “ACORN” NPR. Anything they don’t like, anything, any group, that says something they don’t like, they want to destroy. Because free speech apparently only applies to Republicans and people the Republican party approves of (rather like Sarah Palin deciding who and who cannot use the “R” word – oh what the hell, I’m going to say it just because I am not on her approved list: retard).

In May, Cantor introduced a little thing called “You Cut” in which he lets from among five items in a list to tell the Republicans to offer on the floor for an up-or-down vote. On Friday, he put NPR on his nifty little list.

“Whether it’s people walking off ‘The View’ when Bill O’Reilly makes a statement about radical Islam or Juan Williams being fired for expressing his opinion, over-reaching political correctness is chipping away at the fundamental American freedoms of speech and expression.”

Let’s look at your examples, Mr. Cantor:

1)      “people walking off ‘The View’ when Bill O’Reilly makes a statement about radical Islam”

2)      “Juan Williams being fired for expressing his opinion”

He concludes from this that “, over-reaching political correctness is chipping away at the fundamental American freedoms of speech and expression.”

Do I have it right? I think so. Let me ask you this: Is not people walking off the set in reaction to what somebody says a form of “expression” as you put it? Yes, I think it is. And you object.

But you just said that you are against freedom of speech and expression being “chipped away.”

You say that Juan Williams being fired is an attack on freedom of speech. But isn’t NPR exercising its own freedom of speech, their own freedom of expression, by saying, that sort of talk does not belong here?

What you seem to be saying, M. Cantor, is that ONLY Republicans have freedom of speech and that as part of this freedom you can,

a)      Say whatever you want, and

b)      Nobody has a right to have a reaction to it

But that’s not what freedom of speech is about, Mr. Cantor. It is a reciprocal process. You have heard perhaps of Newton’s Third Law, that says, “for every action there is an equal and opposite reaction”? You may have the right to free speech, but listeners have a right to respond, whether it be in approval or disapproval. They have a right to disagree and they have a right to take offense. These are all forms of free speech and expression.

Bill O’Reilly said something offensive. Two of The View’s co-hosts took exception to his remarks and showed their displeasure by walking off the set. Juan Williams said something offensive, and NPR showed their displeasure by firing him.

You are aware, perhaps, of sportcasters being fired for making offensive remarks. You have heard, perhaps, of athletes being fined or otherwised punished for their off-the-field antics. Ben Roethlisberger is not alleged to have raped a young woman in the stadium while wearing his Steeler’s Uniform, yet he was suspended for four games.

Do you see what I am getting at? Employers have a right to have certain standards of expected behavior – well, most employers – FOX News apparently has NONE -  and if an employee violates these standards they can expect to be punished.

Fortunately, Mr. Cantor and his wish-list are effectively stymied by a Democratic majority. He is no doubt hoping he can unleash his panacea of exclusions after the Midterms.

But Eric Cantor is not alone in his crusade to ACORN NPR. Sarah Palin is leading the charge as well as other party notables, Rep. Doug Lamborn, R-Colo and Rep. Darrell Issa, R-Calif, who feels George Soros should pick up the tab.

There is a trend here, and it is unmistakable: free speech is a tool, or more accurately, a weapon, to the Republicans. It is not a freedom at all, because they don’t think anyone else should share in it. They have always destroyed ACORN (and without any justification whatsoever based on what has been exposed as a scam); they have promised to bring the Obama administration to a halt with investigations and committee hearings if they achieve a majority in the Midterms, and now they are engaging in a witch-hunt, an “ACORNing” of NPR.

Anyone or anything that does not tow the Party line must be silenced, and by silenced, I mean ruthlessly destroyed.

Of course, if a Democrat, say President Obama, utilizes his own right of free speech and expression, he is attacked immediately, say by Karl Rove with his “How dare you?” implying of course that Obama has no actual right at all to say what he thinks. And of course, if President Obama decides he should say nothing at all, one way or another, because as President he should not express an opinion, the Republicans decide what it is he said, and then attack him for it.

This is how free speech works for the Republicans.  The Founding Fathers did not intend free speech to be a weapon, but a freedom, an essential liberty, and not one held only by a few. Our system of government was not meant to be that of a criminal gang running the country like it’s own private business, but that is increasingly what the Republicans are selling, and they are making it quite clear that they are willing to 1) identify the “Other” and 2) silence them in any way necessary.

Nothing could sum it up better than Tombstone itself:

Curly Bill: [takes a bill with Wyatt’s signature from a customer and throws it on the faro table] Wyatt Earp, huh? I heard of you.

Ike Clanton: Listen, Mr. Kansas Law Dog. Law don’t go around here. Savvy?

Wyatt Earp: I’m retired.

Curly Bill: Good. That’s real good.

Ike Clanton: Yeah, that’s good, Mr. Law Dog, ’cause law don’t go around here.

No, the Cowboys in 1880’s Tombstone weren’t about Democracy, or freedom of speech, and neither, ultimately, are the Republicans of the 2010’s.

13 responses so far

« Newer posts Older posts »