Tag Archives: constitition

The Economy, Nativism and Islamophobia

by john

In previous times it was other religious and immigrant groups that became the American national scapegoats. Today it is all muslims, from would be directors of community outreach centers to random cab drivers. Real Americans sure do love to hate those lesser people among us. And, for the record, those ‘lesser people’ include everyone who doesn’t think Sarah Palin and Rand Paul are the best things out there.

The Real Americans define who is a fellow Real American and who is lesser. In their considered opinion, the lesser are almost all non white people, although some will be let inside the gates as junior conditional members after a suitable show of obsequiousness. They are all muslims. They are many jews. They are all christians who dare to believe in social justice. They are all, airport bathrooms and meth fueled gay hooker massage sessions aside, all non straight people. They are not only liberals but rightwingers who served in the Reagan and Bush administrations but who don’t completely toe the far rightwing fringe line.

The self proclaimed Real Americans are puffed up but scared and wounded, mostly white people who are afraid of losing their white privilege. They are not unique to America, at base. Every society has a certain proportion of scared reactionary troglodytes who will always hate and suspect the other, however that other is defined at any particular moment.

But, in times of economic hardship, their vile can spread beyond their nominal ranks. In recent years, the trogs seem to make up between 20 and 30 per cent of the population. But, Ed Brayton at his blog Dispatches from the Culture War at Science Blogs, brings us this depressing news:

click on link to The Economist

Brayton seems to have misread a particular result and claims that fewer than half of the Democrats approve it, which is noted in the first comment, but still. Fewer than 60 per cent of these Dems approve it and a quarter oppose it. Another commenter, ‘Abby Normal,’ makes this good point:

This poll was from an opt-in internet survey of 1000 people. Perhaps it’s just wishful thinking on my part. But it seems likely that those who opt in would be those with the strongest (i.e. emotionally driven) opinion. If so, bias toward anti-Islamic opinions skewing the results seems entirely likely.

That’s somewhat hopeful, but only slightly so. It seems that all human societies are prone to this sort of xenophobia. Despite all the rightwing hoopla about ‘American Exceptionalism,’ America is not, never has been, and likely never will be immune from this.

But one thing is different now. People are on record with their opinions and positions on this and the record is archived. The xenophobes will never be able to run from the bigotry and prejudice they are spewing these days. There are tens if not hundred of millions of people on the web who will make sure that the vileness they are indulging in now will be hung around their necks for the rest of their lives and forever after that.

They don’t get to walk away from this ugliness when they decide it is no longer politically beneficial.

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Memorial Day: who do you rememeber?

Memorial Day: some of us aren’t around for the festivities anymore:

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The Party of Hypocrisy: the label Republicans (and some Democrats) deserve and that progressives must make stick

I wrote yesterday that progressives should turn the recent flurry of rightwing Republican hypocrisy into a long term narrative of double standards that comes to the forefront of everyone’s mind every single time they see, hear or think or Republicans and rightwingers of any affiliation.

This is certainly happening in response to the continuing over the top examples of hypocrisy and has been an ongoing project of some outlets.* However, as far as the larger message from progressives goes, the notion of Republicans and rightwingers as consummate general practitioners of hypocrisy has not been a recurring theme.

In fact, what is unusual about this particular moment when we are experiencing a surge in stories about Republican and rightwing hypocrisy is not that the level of such hypocrisy has increased, but only that the coverage of that hypocrisy has increased.

And if the past is any guide, this recent uptick will be temporary unless progressives make a concerted effort to keep it at the forefront of the national narrative.

If we know a well is poisoned, we know that any water from that well is not fit to drink. This was true yesterday. It is true today and it will be true tomorrow. Any water from that well, no matter how shiny and clean the bucket seems to be, cannot be trusted to be safe.

Progressives need to establish the fundamental belief that Republicans and rightwingers — of any or no affiliations — are water from the poisoned well of hypocrisy. In time, some Republicans who are not hypocrites might gain positions of influence in their party and will not deserve that label. But, as seems obvious, this is not the way things are today.

In the mean time, if we want to avoid another 8 or 16 years of Republican rule under the leadership of Palin, Beck, O’Reilly and Limbaugh, it is the job of progressives to ensure that there is a virtually hardwired link in the mind of every voter between Republicans and rightwingers and the general — and predictable — practice of unrestrained hypocrisy.

You can check out the full Gingrich from the Daily Show last night here.

* Note, of course, that this is by no means an exhaustive, let alone any where near complete, list of recent and ongoing efforts to document and archive Republican and rightwing hypocrisy. Please feel free to provide other examples in the comments if interested.

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The Uninformed Agrieved: at least they know they’re mad

I have to say I was pleasantly surprised by Mathews conduct of this interview and it brings up an important trend: the proud and willful rejection of any reference to facts and rationality in preference for stridently reactionary emotionalism.

Chris Mathews actually came down pretty hard on Bishop Thomas Tobin of Providence Rhode Island over his refusal to allow Rep Kennedy to take communion. Mathews asked him if abortion is murder, what should the penalties be and Tobin dodged the question.

Mathews said Tobin must either make specific recommendations or stay out of “law making,” which the Bishop has “transgressed” into. Pretty strong stuff about separation of church and state, saying the church needs to stick to moral suasion.

Mathews notes that, although he shares the Bishop’s views on abortion, Tobin is reluctant to advise “even a minute in jail” for women and girls who have abortions because Americans, Catholics and others, don’t view abortion as a crime.

The piece began with a clip of JFK, still a presidential candidate in Houston, seeking to allay fears that he would be beholden to the Pope as President:

I believe in an America that is officially neither Catholic, Protestant nor Jewish. Where no public official, either requests or accepts instructions on public policy from the Pope, the National Council of churches or any other ecclesiastical source. Where no religious body seeks to impose its will, directly or indirectly, upon the general populace or the public acts of its officials.

Mathews repeated the quote, asking Tobin what he thinks of it. Tobin replies that JFK was talking about “establishing a national religion.” Incredulous, Mathews asked how he can assert such a transparently untrue assertion.

You think he meant something different from what he said?

The short answer is yes, he probably does. Although he could be cynically manipulating the faithful, it’s also entirely likely that the good bishop has deluded himself enough that he can purposely accept a ridiculous interpretation of Kennedy’s meaning.

It happens so often that it can become hard to notice. Here is just a short selection from today’s toobnetz:

  • New Left Media (via HuffPo) has a great video showing the vacuousness of Palin autograph seekers:
  • Via TPM, the RNC thinks they lost the last two elections because they were just too leftist, so they think it’s a good idea to implement a purity test.
  • Via Think Progress, teabaggers think it’s just a hoot to jeer a woman whose uninsured pregnant daughter in law died.
  • Via Crooks and Liars, Tucker Carlson, in all seriousness, asserts that Palin is “as smart as” Al Gore and “more experienced than” Obama.
  • Via Plumline, Cheney slams Obama for bowing the the Japanese Emperor despite serving two presidents who did exactly the same thing.
  • Via TPM, Crist spells it out:

    “It’s hard to be more conservative than I am on issues — though there are different ways stylistically to communicate that — I’m pro-life, I’m pro-gun, I’m pro-family, and I”m anti tax.” … “I don’t know what else you’re supposed to be, except maybe angry too.” [Emphasis added]

  • And last, via Political Animal at The Washington Monthly, Steve Benin, addressing the issue, quotes Isaac Chotiner at TNR

    The first problem with this argument is that … Palin is unlikely to become a policy wonk because she is not very smart. What’s more, Douthat’s argument is tautological. Sure, it would be nice for the GOP if Palin and Huckabee were interested in policy. But if they were interested in policy, then they would not be so appealing to the GOP base.

    In other words, the problem is that a large part of the right has no interest in a policy wonk, and sneers at intellectuals and elites and the types of people Douthat would like to see running the party. A candidate who was interested in learning the ins and outs of the welfare state and health care policy is unlikely to ever achieve Palin/Huckabee levels of popularity with the grassroots.

These examples illustrate the views and psyches of a fairly large segment of our society. Recent polls estimate this group to comprise around 20 to 25 percent of the general populace.

That means, assuming you live in an average place, demographically speaking, and you’re in a room or on a bus with 19 other people, four or five of them believe things that are demonstrably untrue and act on those beliefs politically and socially.

In some areas the percentage of your 20 busmates or roomates will be lower; but in other areas, it will be higher — and in some of those areas, very, very much higher.

The web, along with older media like talk radio and Fox News, help fan the flames of such irrationality. But, like printing presses and cans of spray paint, this specific technology is still neutral. Barring further corporate intrusion, it is not in and of itself responsible for the ignorance spread through its reaches.

It just as readily carries counter arguments and refutations. But to do so, it must be peopled with those who are ready and willing to counter the ignorance. Thankfully, it is.

And after coming of age doing so much to fight the spread of misinformation during eight years of rightwing Republican misrule under Bush and Cheney et al, progressives and liberals on the web are well positioned to keep banging on the outside walls of the rightwing echo chamber.

[This post has been changed since original publication to correct the wording of the final paragraph and to acknowledge that emphasis was added to the Crist quote from TPM.]

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The Party of No: I object! I object! I object! I object! I object!

Not having a plan of their own, the rightwingers and Republicans can only try to keep actual plans from being heard.

The teabaggers have taken over the party and the party has adopted the teabaggers methods of red faced screaming and tantrum throwing. It is willful and pridefully deliberate ignorance on parade and it is ugly and pathetic.

All they can do is try as hard as they can to stop debate. It is the old rightwing and Republican fear — fear that a public program designed to help people and stop outrageous corporate abuses and legal crimes will actually work and do what it is meant to do.

The version of health care reform under debate is woefully imperfect and must be improved on in the short and long terms. But it is something. Something that will have positive effect on many, many people’s lives.

And the rightwingers and Republicans are afraid of just such a good example. It proves their theories about public programs and private business interests are backwards and, literally, dangerous to our health.

Here, via Think Progress and Media Matters, is what they have reduced themselves to:

Update: Sam Stein at Huffington Post has news of Rep King losing his mind:

3:02 PM ET — Rep. King contemplates wrapping Capitol building with health care bill. Ten minutes after Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-M.D.) took to the House floor to relay the tale of a young boy who died because a tooth infection went untreated and spread to his brain, Rep. Steve King (R-Iowa) was trying to literally wrap the Capitol building with the legislation.

The House, on Saturday, began what should be a lengthy process of debating and voting on the final language of reform. But not everyone was willing to simply sit through the event. Outside, King and others were leading a mob of angry tea-party protesters in a round of bizarre and disruptive shenanigans.

About 20 feet off the House floor, at the entrance to the lawn in front of the Capitol building, King and two colleagues were wielding a massive copy of the 1,900-page bill, rolled up around a wooden poll. A man accompanying a clearly excited King, suggested that they wrap the legislation around the building.

“Let’s do it,” he proclaimed. “Let’s wrap the building.”

A security guard, looking on disapprovingly, patiently urged them not to try. “You can’t do that sir,” he said. “You can’t do that.”

In the background, the tea party protesters who had gathered for a second day of railing against health care’s passage were dispersing. Sensing a lost opportunity, King turned to go back outside, asking his co-conspirator to grab the rolled up bill.

A Hill aide tells the Huffington Post that he and others have been plotting to tape pieces of the bill to the Capitol building for several days.

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Senator Inouye: don’t be a rapist hater

Absolutely disgusting. I don’t care how venerated he is, this is wrong.

From Sam Stein at Huffington Post:

An amendment that would prevent the government from working with contractors who denied victims of assault the right to bring their case to court is in danger of being watered down or stripped entirely from a larger defense appropriations bill.

Multiple sources have told the Huffington Post that Sen. Dan Inouye, a longtime Democrat from Hawaii, is considering removing or altering the provision, which was offered by Sen. Al Franken (D-Minn.) and passed by the Senate several weeks ago.

Firedoglake puts it more succinctly:

click image for link

click image for link

Inouye has a long record of service, but this will forever mar that record if it turns out to be true. I hope he reconsiders.

Crooks and Liars is also weighing in.

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Newsmax tries to disappear column advocating a military coup against Obama

Here’s yet another example, as if one were needed, of the rightwingers not getting the archive.

(via TPM)

(via TPM)

These people are not thinking rationally. TPM and Media Matters, among many, many others, have the story, including this link to a PDF of the article and this to a web version of it.

By trying to act as if the column never existed, they are ensuring it will be linked to and reposted innumerable times.

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Census worker found dead, rightwingers worry this could make them look bad

Here’s the story from the AP:

The FBI is investigating the hanging death of a U.S. Census worker near a Kentucky cemetery, and a law enforcement official told The Associated Press the word ‘fed” was scrawled on the dead man’s chest.

And here’s how a regular commenter at redstate.com referred to the death:

Uh Oh: This Could Be Bad
Swamp_Yankee Wednesday, September 23rd at 5:49PM EDT (link)
The whole story could be a load of crap, but the media will harp on this nonetheless as evidence of right wing agitation and violence.

And here’s how one the site’s bigwigs responds:

So we need to push back
Neil Stevens Wednesday, September 23rd at 6:00PM EDT (link)
Make them prove this isn’t the Reichstag ploy.

After all, the Nazis did find an actual Communist to do that… they just gave him encouragement.

Yes. Seriously. This Stevens hack is demanding that the AP prove to his satisfaction that Obama himself didn’t actually kill this worker, who Stevens probably thinks willingly sacrificed himself, in order to make rightwingers look bad.

This is the kind of astounding paranoia that controls every thought and action of so many on the right. To call them nuts is understating the matter.

They are past the point of no return. They don’t express sorrow over the death or sympathy for the man’s family, friends and coworkers.

They immediately assume it a a false flag operation designed to smear them and then they demand proof that this is not the case. The rightwingers might be enjoying some success right now in monkeywrenching the Obama administration.

But this kind of wingnuttery will cancel any chance of translating that success to electoral gain.

Here’s another lunatic’s comment:

This reeks of Alinsky,
blooch Wednesday, September 23rd at 6:53PM EDT (link)
and if they’re going to this extreme, then Glenn Beck is just a Pollyanna.

Update II: You just know this is going to get nuttier and nuttier…

I have no idea
Neil Stevens Wednesday, September 23rd at 7:06PM EDT (link)
But neither do the people Swamp_Yankee is talking about.

And you know what? If they’re going to make up stuff about this case in order to score political points, I’m going to reach into the mud, scoop up the biggest handful I can get, and throw it right back at them.

Update III: TPM is reporting that the original story was wrong about the worker being hanged, in that, while there was apparently a noose around his neck, his feet were on the ground. There was also a sense that the FBI wanted to tamp down speculation that he was killed because of his occupation.

While it would still be a tragedy for this man, his family, friends and co workers, it would be a good thing if that was not the motivation.

We still don’t know the motive and the facts remain that the FBI is still on the case two weeks after he was found and that census workers are still being kept from going door to door in that area.

What remains appalling is the total lack of human empathy or compassion, coupled with the outright insanity exhibited by the reactions of so many on the right, as illustrated in the quotes above.


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“…an Indonesian Muslim turned welfare thug and a racist in chief.”

Here’s one of the chief teabaggers talking about Obama, real Americans and DIrty Fucking Hippies (via Huffington Post):

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eleventy million angry white people

Nate Silver has a nice take down both of the ridiculous lies, including falsely labeled photos, about how many people attended the tea bag protest in Washington and also the tendency to dismiss the protest’s importance.

If you follow the second link above to redstate.com and are willing to sift through some pretty astounding comments on the thread, you’ll be treated to an illuminating exchange.

A commenter, who apparently has had an account there for a few years but is new to commenting, suggests that they should not leave themselves open being discredited by so blatantly and egregiously overstating the size of their protest. In response, he is jumped on in short and predictably Pavlovian order.

He is called a troll and a poseur. His motivations and mental acuity are questioned in very uncivil tones. Still, he persists and even makes a reply to another poster further down the stream.

But the important and instructive aspect of this exchange is that not a single poster backs him up, restates his point or even begrudgingly if only slightly agrees with his premise.

Other commenters continue to take shots at him and use him as an example to avoid in instructing another new poster on how to avoid the misdirected — in fact, inward turning — fire of another respected and long time member of the redstate echo chamber.

We do learn in the exchange that the author of the original post, the blog’s big cheese Erick Erickson, added the question mark and the footnote calling the bogus 2 million figure into question. And some commenters disingenuously use that fact to claim that they were not actually arguing for the grossly inflated number, when, incredibly, just a few comments they were doing just that.

It’s amazing to watch the duplicity and self delusion unfold on the record.

In microcosm, this is another example of what I frequently comment on: the seeming inability, or unwillingness, of so many on the right to understand and respect the power of the web as an archive in addition to a fleeting bullhorn.

Their words and action really are being recorded and are available for future easy and widespread access and retrieval. Going on four years after macaca, they can no longer credibly claim ignorance of this web facet.

They are stubbornly and childishly refusing to acknowledge this part of reality. This may sometimes be effective in arguing — or shouting at — people, who frequently don’t want to or don’t quite know how to respond to such a tactic.

However, it is not a useful strategy in dealing with an obvious and undeniable fact about the nature of the web and how it has affected our political discourse.

Just as an aside, I would also note that the behavior of the crowd behind the CNN reporter in this clip as well as pictures like these — including confederate flags — also unhelpful to their cause.

The effect this guy has is quite obvious (via ThinkProgress):


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