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Saturday, July 31, 2010

Saturday Night At The Movies

Incident on Christopher Street: Stonewall Uprising

By Dennis Hartley

Si se puede: Stonewall rioters, 1969

It isn’t nice to block the doorway
It isn’t nice to go to jail
There are nicer ways to do it
But the nice ways always fail

-Malvina Reynolds

In the wee hours of June 28, 1969 the NYPD raided a Mafia-owned Greenwich Village dive called the Stonewall Inn, a popular gay bar on Christopher Street. As one of those policemen recalls in the new documentary, Stonewall Uprising, the officers were given “…no instructions except-put them out of business.” Hard as it might be for younger readers to fathom, despite the relative headway that had occurred in the civil rights movement for other American minorities by that time, the systemic persecution of sexual minorities was still par for the course as the 60s drew to a close. There were more laws against homosexuality than you could count. The LGBT community was well-accustomed to this type of roust; the police had no reason to believe that this wouldn’t be another ho-hum roundup of law-breaking deviants. This night, however, was to be different. As the policeman continues, “This time they said: ‘We’re not going, and that’s that.’ It was a war.” More than a war; it in fact proved to be the catalyst for a movement.

Exactly how this spontaneous act of civil disobedience transmogrified into a game-changer in the struggle for gay rights makes for a fascinating history lesson and an absorbing film. Filmmakers Kate Davis and David Heilbroner take an Errol Morris approach to their subject. Participants give an intimate recount of the event and how it changed their lives, while the several nights of rioting (from initial spark to escalation and immediate aftermath) are effectively recreated using a mixture of extant film footage and photographs (of which, unfortunately, very little exists) with dramatic reenactments.

Davis and Heilbroner also take a look back at how life was for the “homophile” community (as they were referred to in the media at the time). It was, shall we say, less than idyllic. In the pre-Stonewall days, gays and lesbians were, as one interviewee says, the “twilight” people; forced into the shadows by societal disdain and authoritarian persecution. As you watch the film, it becomes hard to believe that these folks were living in America (you, know, that whole land of the “free” thingie). The excerpts from a “CBS Reports” news special from 1967 (“The Homosexuals”) are particularly telling of the era. “2 out of 3 Americans look upon homosexuals with disgust, discomfort, or fear,” a grim-faced Mike Wallace intones. From the same program, an “expert” posits that “Homosexuality is, in fact a mental illness, which has reached epidemiological proportions.” (Hide the kids!) Prior to seeing this film, I had never heard of the goings-on in California’s Atascadero State Hospital in the 50s and 60s, where gay inmates were given “cures” straight out of A Clockwork Orange (or the Guantanamo handbook, for that matter). Lobotomies, sterilizations, and even castrations were involved (one interviewee refers to the facility as “The Dachau for Queers”). Gee, what do you suppose those Stonewall patrons were all so pissy about? Why didn’t they just go live in Russia?

Perhaps not so surprising are the recollections that the media wrote off the incident as an aberration; little more than a spirited melee between “Greenwich Village youths” and the cops (“Homo Nest Raided, Queen Bees Are Stinging Mad”, the N.Y. Sunday News headline chuckled the following day). The film culminates in the story of the first commemorative marches the following year, which were more furtive and politically charged affairs than the relatively festive and celebratory street parties that the pride parades have become (not that there’s anything wrong with that, to paraphrase Seinfeld).

I think this film is an important reminder that when it comes to civil rights, America is not out of the woods yet. Not just for the LGBT community (Prop 8 being an all-too-recent memory) but with Arizona’s SB 1070 darkening Ms Liberty’s doorstep as well. And do I need to remind you about teabagger-fueled vitriol? Stonewall might seem like ancient history, but its lessons are on today’s fresh sheet. The struggle goes on…and the moving closing comments by some of the documentary’s interviewees would seem to bear this out “It was the only time I was in a gladiatorial sport…where I stood up in,” says one participant, tears welling in his eyes, “…I was a man.” And there is no sugarcoating the means to the ends, either. A female interviewee confides, “As much as I don’t like to say it, there’s a place for violence. Because if you don’t have extremes, you don’t get any moderation.” Gladitorial sport? A place for violence? Standing up for what’s right? That is "so gay." And as another interviewee points out, that’s so…American.

Note: The film is currently in limited release around the country, but I noticed that it is a PBS American Experience production, so you’ll want to keep an eye on your TV listings!

Previous posts with related themes:

William Kuntsler: Disturbing the Universe

by digby

I didn't cover the Al Gore "inappropriate sexual touching" allegations because between the National Enquirer and Talking Points Memo, I figured all of my readers had access to every juicy, lurid details they could possibly want. I tend to withhold judgment of these things until there's more evidence. There's reason to be skeptical of women who come forward late asking for money from publications but refuse to press charges and powerful men who can manipulate the legal system when they need to. I rarely feel confident making proclamations about guilt in these cases --- they're fraught with peril. Just as you can't just take men's word for it and you mu to take women seriously in these matters, it's also a mistake to assume that men are always lying or that women who make inconsistent charges are simply traumatized. (I find that a little bit demeaning, actually. Some women may be traumatized, but to behave as if women don't have agency and can't be held to a legal standard for truthfulness is to treat them as children in my book.)

In any case, this one appears to be over. The prosecutor has closed the inquiry issuing the following reasons:

1. Ms. Hagerty, who has red hair, states she called Mr. Gore immediately following the alleged incident and told him to "dream of redheaded women" seemingly in contradiction to her assertions that she was terrified of Mr. Gore. Two days after the alleged incident Ms. Hagerty also sent an email to the Hotel Lucia stating that she appreciated the business referrals she received from the hotel. She did not mention any problem with Mr. Gore;

2. Witnesses at the hotel where the alleged incident occurred state they do not remember seeing or hearing anything unusual---directly contradicting Ms. Hagerty's published claim in the July 12, 2010 of the National Enquirer that she was "shaking and in shock" and "rushed down the hall and to the lobby where the front desk clerk noticed she was upset was asked if she was OK";

3. Forensic testing of pants retained by Ms. Hagerty as possible evidence are negative for the presence of seminal fluid;

4. Ms. Hagerty has not provided as repeatedly requested medical records she claims are
related to the case;

5. Ms. Hagerty has also failed to provide other records related to the case;

6. Ms. Hagerty failed a polygraph examination;

7. It appears Ms. Hagerty was paid by the National Enquirer for her story; and

8. Mr. Gore voluntarily met with detectives and denied all of the allegations.

I'm sure there will always be some people who believe he did it, unfortunately. But the mainstream press managed to more or less restrain themselves from forming a full fledged witch hunt so it never reached the sort of critical mass it might have. I'm curious as to why they managed to hold back this time. It's not like they ever gave Gore a break in the past.

Manning The Ramparts

by digby

Krugman asks:

What I’ve never quite understood is why so many investors still loooove the likes of the WSJ editorial page, while they hate, hate, hate people like, well, me — when believing anything the former says has historically been a very good way to lose a lot of money.

Perhaps that explains why our economy is so fucked up. It's not about capitalism and certainly not about rationality.

I think this may be better understood as a failing, reckless aristocracy protecting its prerogatives. These days, making and losing money is beside the point. They believe they have been ordained by God and the serfs are challenging their authority.

It's As If She Had No History At All

by digby

This is a good piece by Derrick Jackson in the Boston Globe about the Sherrod mess and it brings up something that has been bothering me for some time. Here's the relevant passage:

Sherrod’s rich and tragic 62 years makes it all the more embarrassing for Obama. Her father was murdered in 1965 by white men who were never indicted. Her younger sisters endured cross burnings for integrating schools. Her husband was a courageous civil rights worker who was beaten by an ax-handle-wielding white mob. The family home was shot into and the Sherrods lost their own farm to discriminatory loan practices. All that also makes it, in her words, “unbelievable’’ that the national NAACP at first joined the chorus condemning her.

She said if someone with her history can be treated as if she had no history at all, the Obama administration risks being oblivious to real racial rot.
Forgetting about the implications for the administration, I've been struck for some time about the apparent need among a fairly large number of Americans to pretend that racism is ancient history with which we no longer need to be concerned (at least as it pertains to racial minorities.) The fact is that Shirley Sherrod lived during the great cataclysm of the civil rights movement and paid a huge personal price for standing up against the forces that killed her father. But that wasn't the end of it. She has spent the rest of her life trying to fight other insidious forms of racism like these discriminatory loan practices that continue to this day. I suspect that somebody forgot to send her the memo that the whole thing is over and that she just needs to move on. Indeed, it's been made crystal clear that the fight isn't over. (The fact that she was targeted for statements about racial reconciliation is even more galling.)

Far too many people are acting as if this woman wasn't a living witness to the horrors of Jim Crow and the fallout of 200 years of racist history and instead believe that she's nursing ancient grievances. Her life is treated as the forgotten detritus on the trash heap of history, as if it's all over, a museum exhibit.

Indeed, it's even worse than that --- her history wasn't just demeaned, she was victimized all over again, this time as a "reverse racist" fired on bogus charges of discriminating against the same white farmer she actually helped. Sure, she was hired back after a stink was raised, but what can you say about the reflex that would allow people to assume so easily that this person deserved to be fired without so much as a cursory investigation? Or the instantaneous furor over ACORN for that matter. (Here's a little thought experiment: just imagine how this would have gone down if the white farmer and his wife hadn't emerged to give testimony.)

People act as if the incredible life experience of people who have lived through this tumultuous history is less than nothing. Today, it's becoming an article of faith among far too many Americans that these same people, rather than spending their lives heroically trying to right the injustices done to their people for centuries, are actually perpetrators of the crimes that were inflicted on them. Shirley Sherrod, the woman who lived through the violence of the civil rights movement, is accused of racism and many people automatically believe it ---- and think that black racism is a huge problem that needs to be solved because whites are an aggrieved minority suffering at their hands. (And just in case a white person is revealed to have used an impolite word, it's only because they were provoked into it by people who complain about racism.)

Here's a terrific example of how inverted the whole debate has become:

What do you say to people who call you a racist?
Breitbart: Yes. It may be a task that’s so Herculean, but I think it’s a worthy goal to try to open up America to individuals who just so happen to have a different skin color, that they have every right and every freedom to think what they want to think. That’s my battle, it’s my goal.

Can you understand how this has been difficult for her to get caught up in that?
Breitbart: As difficult as it probably was for her, it’s been difficult for me as well, especially to hear her hurl an accusation of racism at me, when my motivation is absolutely pure and is driven by a desire for this country to move beyond its horrid racist past.

Perhaps that's even true. His mind works in very convoluted ways. But his method of doing it is just a tiny bit questionable. After all, it consists so far of posting doctored videos of black ACORN workers apparently condoning child prostitution (replete with extra footage of a "pimp and ho") and then another edited video of a woman allegedly making a racist speech that was actually a speech about racial reconciliation. (I shouldn't forget the bogus time stamped video purporting to prove that nobody hurled racial epithets at civil rights heroes at the capitol.) He seems to be going to great deal of trouble to "prove" that blacks are criminals, liars and racists if he wants to attract them to his cause.

Now, Breitbart is a very disturbed circus clown who is merely playing to his crowd, so it's unfair to tag the entire right with his peculiar illness. But his whining complaint that "it's been hard for him too" is what he shares in common with them --- the feeling of victimization at the hands of people who are taking things they don't deserve. That's the common thread. It's not new, but the combination of the election of the first black president and the full realization of the end of the American Dream seems to have brought it splashing to the surface.

It's not that white right wingers don't have a reason to be angry and bitter, but blaming African Americans is cheap and stupid, particularly since those same white people have been blithely pushing the policies of the very people who've been exploiting them. On the other hand, Shirley Sherrod and her husband Charles have every right to be bitter and angry at whites --- and they're not. For that alone they deserve our amazed appreciation. I can't say I would be so forgiving.

But they also deserve to have their lifetime of fighting for racial justice honored and respected, not dismissed as so much old news. Even if this recent experience didn't prove in living color how easily their lives can be twisted into something ugly by people with an agenda (and that the mere threat of such a thing can send timorous Democrats into fits of overreaction) they would still deserve respect for living the lives they've lived. After what we've just witnessed, I'd say they deserve it more than ever.

LEMON: The local civil rights organizer was a transplant from Virginia. Where he helped found the student non-violent coordinating committee. A young firebrand name Charles Sherrod.

CHARLES SHERROD, SHIRLEY SHERROD'S HUSBAND: We had no idea of the monster that we were undertaking to fight.

LEMON (on camera): Across the south. White officials were using every trick in the book to keep civil rights activists in check, to keep black voters from turning out. That helped set the stage for a violent confrontation as demonstrators began to gather here at the courthouse in downtown Newton on the day that became known as Bloody Saturday.

CHARLES SHERROD: I saw some whites coming out of the hardware store with axe handles, and they approached us and started beating us with the axe handles. They beat us down to the ground.

SHIRLEY SHERROD: And my aunt Josie, she's a little petite woman. She fell on. You know, she put her body over his and was hollering at them to stop beating Charles Sherrod because they were going to kill him.

LEMON (voice-over): But that didn't stop Sherrod from driving back roads to meet every black family in the area.

CHARLES SHERROD: I was canvassing in Baker County, knocking on the door and three or four pretty girls came to the door. They started talking about this girl, their sister, that was prettier than either one of them. I want to see this girl. So they said they got a picture. I said I want to see this picture of your sister. And I pointed at it, and I said, I'm going to marry that girl.

LEMON: He did marry Shirley. It was a love story in a land of hate. Phone threats became part of the household routine.

CHARLES SHERROD: We're going to blow up your head up, you better be at your house. We're going to burn you down. We're going to do this. We're going to do the other. It was just the regular nigga, nigga, nigga.

GRACE MILLER: I would just tell them to be careful because I knew they were determined. And I just tell them to be careful. My heart would just bleed while them going home because I didn't know whether they would make it there or not.

MILLER JONES: She kept telling Shirley, you got to stop. But she kept pushing. She said, mother, it's going to be all right.

Could this man ever be that brave?

Finally, nirvana

by digby

David Broder is positively giddy at the prospect of Obama finally working in a bipartisan fashion after the fall election and he thinks Obama is too. Sure, he won't be able to solve most of the pressing problems confronting the country but the biggest problem -- Democratic partisanship --- will be taken care of, so that's something to look forward to.

Here's an example of how great it's going to be:
As the problem of long-term joblessness has drawn increasing White House attention, thoughts have turned again to the need for large-scale investment in all kinds of infrastructure projects, electronic as well as physical. Obama has set staffers to searching for innovative ways to finance such projects, with some form of public-private partnership, and has asked them to invite Republicans to come forward with ideas that could significantly reduce the ranks of seemingly permanent unemployed construction workers.

What a great idea. I have no doubt that the Republicans are going to step up with all kinds of great ideas for this. I know, how about some tax cuts for rich people?

But this is especially hopeful:

It is more difficult to imagine how Obama will enlist Republican help on some of his other priorities. Many in the White House are doubtful that when the bipartisan commission on debt and deficits reports in December, enough Republicans among the panel's 18 members will sign on to provide the 14 votes required for a consensus. But at minimum, its majority report is expected to point to a plausible formula for budgetary discipline and, with pressure from the president, force congressional Republicans to come up with their own plan -- not just say no.

On the NN panel on the deficit in which I participated, the consensus was that this was exactly how it was likely to go down. The commission will agree on certain "principles" and disagree on others and will be unable to form a consensus But the principles on which both the Democrats and Republicans will agree have to do with benefit cuts. Those on which they will disagree are tax hikes for the wealthy. This will form the basis for the debate going forward --- benefit cuts will be said to have already achieved bipartisan agreement.

Nobody expects the catfood commission to actually pass although a turnover in both Houses in November could shake that assumption. What's expected is that they will set new parameters for the debate perfectly situated for Broder's bipartisan utopia. And the expectation is that the deficit hysteria may propel the president to declare this "consensus" a Grand Bargain achievement.

These are very weird times. Anything could happen. And nothing in the world would make Broder and the villagers happier than to see Social Security "saved" by weakening it. They've told us incessantly that (unwealthy) Americans are going to have to sacrifice and they meant it. If the Democrats manage to fulfill this Village dream they can count on really good press coverage and lots of back patting at social events for at least a week so it's totally worth it.

Update: It's actually worse than I thought:
I don't want to overreact. I'd hate to prematurely diss President Obama's National Commission on Fiscal Responsibility and Reform, which held its fourth public meeting Wednesday. But the commission's Democratic co-chair, Erskine Bowles, may have already blown it.

In little-noticed remarks a few weeks ago, Bowles suggested that the long-term goal the commission should adopt for federal spending should be 21 percent of gross domestic product. This sounds like a bookkeeping matter. But Bowles' goal would end progressive ambition, ratify America's declining competitiveness and bury the American dream.

Why? For starters, federal spending under Ronald Reagan averaged 22 percent of GDP. Under Bowles's view, therefore, the outer limits of the Democratic Party's 21st-century aspirations would be to run government at a size smaller than did a 20th-century conservative icon.

That's the Democratic position, he's talking about.
Blue America Endorses David Segal for Congress

by digby

Howie makes the case:

Rhode Island's first congressional district, the eastern and northern parts of the state, including most of Providence, is an open seat this year because of the retirement of Patrick Kennedy. It's one of the safest Democratic districts in the country and McCain barely managed to scrape together a third of the vote. In 2008 Kennedy was re-elected with almost 70%. It's safe to say that whichever Democrat wins the September 14 primary will be the next Rhode Island congressman. There are 4 Democrats running: today's guest and the newest Blue America endorsee, state Rep. David Segal, Providence mayor David Cicilline, conservative businessman Anthony Gemma, and Bill Lynch, the Establishment candidate, a former Democratic Party state chairman and the brother of the state's Attorney General.

There are no actual John Barrows or Bobby Brights or Parker Griffiths among the Democrats. And although David Segal stands head and shoulders above the rest on every single policy issue without exception, the reason Blue America has decided to endorse in this race has more to do with his leadership potential. Everyone is always telling John and Digby and I that we need more Members like Alan Grayson in Congress. They don't grow on trees-- but we found one.
David Segal is one of us. He was elected to the Providence City Council in 2002 as a Green, and is now a lefty Democratic state Rep for Providence and East Providence. He has a very clear path to victory and he can win-- and if he does, he'll be among the strongest voices for progressives in the halls of the Capitol.

David's worked on the meat-and-potato issues: Jobs, the environment, housing, progressive taxes, all with success. He's successfully pushed for expanded renewable energy, more affordable housing, against predatory lending, and for foreclosure prevention measures.

But he's never shied away from the really controversial issues: He's been a vocal leader on criminal justice reform, standing up for the rights of immigrants and for gay rights, and has pushed as hard as one can from the state level against war spending. He's an ardent supporter of gay marriage, and was the sponsor of the last year's bill, which was passed over the Governor's veto, to allow gay partners to plan each other's funerals.

He's a co-sponsor of marijuana decriminalization, and just convinced the Governor-- after two years of vetoes-- to allow a bill to become law that ensures due process for people on probation.

He's sponsored the "Bring the Guard Home" legislation, and his first act on the City Council was to pass a resolution against the war in Iraq.

But, most importantly, he's an organizer at heart, who is committed to joining the Progressive Caucus-- and making it function better. Here's an excerpt from an interview with David Swanson:
"[I]n Rhode Island I've tried to develop alternative structures for legislators to lean on when the leadership makes such threats. I am the lead organizer for our progressive caucus. I founded a political action committee to support members of our progressive caucus so that if funding from sources dries up at leadership's request because something was done to offend them, that we would have at least some, some degree of money to fall back on to help fund our campaigns nonetheless. We funded ten, twelve races relatively modestly in the last cycle and hopefully we'll be able to do something in the forthcoming cycle."

Last week, many of us were disappointed as 148 Democrats, including Patrick Kennedy, joined Boehner, Cantor and 158 other Republicans to vote for more unjustifiable billions of dollars to throw down the Afghan sewer. The disgraceful supplemental demanded by the Military Industrial Complex passed 308-114, more Republicans voting for Obama's proposal than Democrats! Among the candidates running in RI-1, only David Segal came out publicly to say he would have voted NO.
I've been against the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan since the beginning. My first act on the Providence City Council in Providence was to sponsor an antiwar resolution in 2003, which of course was not going to end the war in its own right, but it was an opportunity for Providence to assert the negative impact of the war on the city’s ability to function-- to fund municipal services and education.

I don’t think there’s any indication that we’re preventing future terrorism by keeping our presence in Afghanistan right now. The CIA’s made it clear that the drone attacks there present a real risk of destabilizing the Pakistani government, which possesses nuclear armament and should be a grave concern to all of us.

I think that it’s unfortunate but it’s the case that our involvement in Afghanistan is effectively a quagmire right now; there is no neat and tidy way to get out and tie it all up in a bow wrap everything up and leave it neat and pristine and I think it’s time to recognize that and bring the troops home.

I am the only candidate in the Democratic primary for CD 1 in Rhode Island who has pledged that the only Afghanistan war funding I will approve is the funding necessary to safely and expeditiously bring our troops home.

That's the kind of straight forward answer we always look for from our candidates and it's part of the reason we endorsed Segal today, why we've asked him to join us over at C&L today at 2pm (ET) for a chat and why we're asking you to dig deep and help him run his grassroots campaign, a campaign that accepts no corporate contributions. And it's also why Segal has also been endorsed by the PCCC, PDA, DFA, the
Rhode Island American Federation of Teachers & Healthcare Professionals and why we'll be hearing some interesting endorsements this week from other organizations that will comes as a bit of a shock to the Democratic Establishment.

I had the pleasure of meeting Segal last week in Las Vegas and he was all that and more. He's not just right on the issues, he's a fighter and an organizer for progressive causes.

Jump over to Crooks and Liars right now to meet him.

Friday, July 30, 2010

Confederate Rump Strategy

by digby

I think Joan is right here:

Fox News has, sadly, become the purveyor of a 50-state "Southern strategy," the plan perfected by Richard Nixon to use race to scare Southern Democrats into becoming Republicans by insisting the other party wasn't merely trying to fight racism, but give blacks advantages over whites (Fox News boss Roger Ailes, of course, famously worked for Nixon). Now Fox is using the election of our first black president to scare (mainly older) white people in all 50 states that, again, the Democratic Party is run by corrupt black people trying to give blacks advantages over whites (MSNBC's Rachel Maddow laid out this history last week).

Consider four of the biggest stories the network has peddled since Obama entered the White House:

  • Glenn Beck and others went after "green jobs czar" Van Jones, an African-American, false claiming Jones signed a 9/11 "Truther" petition, correctly noting he'd said some not-nice things about Republicans. Jones resigned.
  • Then the big story was ACORN, the community-organizing group run by a black woman, Bertha Lewis, and known for working in low-income black communities. First, remember, ACORN allegedly committed voter fraud in the 2008 election (in fact, the voter registration problems at ACORN were self-reported, and the fraud was on ACORN, because they paid some scam-artist workers to register voters that ultimately didn't exist – and thus wouldn't vote). Then Fox hyped the big Breitbart video lie: that James O'Keefe and Hannah Giles went into various ACORN offices dressed outlandishly as pimp and prostitute, and got advice on how to beat taxes and set up a child prostitution ring. In fact, once law enforcement officials began examining those charges, they found they were false. Fox owner Rupert Murdoch's New York Post even had to headline its story: "ACORN set up by vidiots: DA."
  • More recently, Fox has been pushing the story of how the Obama administration protected the New Black Panther Party from charges of voter intimidation, stemming from complaints by three Republican poll workers that the "Panthers" were intimidating mainly black voters in Philadelphia in 2008. No intimidated voters were ever found, and conservative Abigail Thernstrom blasted other GOP members of the U.S Civil Rights Commission for trying to use the non-story to "topple" Obama.
  • Then came Shirley Sherrod. I have no doubt that, if CNN hadn't found Roger and Eloise Spooner, the white farmers helped by Sherrod, Fox would have peddled Breitbart's lies all week, to further its paranoid and politically driven narrative that Obama is a "racist" who's out to oppress white folks as "reparations" for the centuries of discrimination blacks have endured. It's crazy, sure, but Ailes worked for Richard Nixon, who pioneered the "Southern strategy."
Remember that Pat Buchanan has compared the Tea Partiers to "George Wallace voters," and bragged that he won them over to Nixon.
The Republicans aren't making a purely racist play, of course. There simply aren't enough racists in America anymore to get a majority that way. but it's part of the package, to be sure, and Fox is the vehicle for promoting it. (Buchanan is a sort of fish out of water over on MSNBC, although he gets his message across to the odd wingnut who might tune in.)

The point is that this is obviously part of the strategy, particularly among older voters who tend to be a rather large part of the mid-term electorate. Ailes is a very shrewd political propagandist and he knows he has a major part to play with his older, white, conservative male demographic. Breitbart's just feeding the bea.

I do have to wonder how many new, young bigots are being made with the normalizing of Fox/Breitbart racist victimhood rhetoric, though. It's not like cultures can't ever go backwards.

Over The Cliff

by digby

Dana Milbank notices that Glenn Beck is promoting violence almost every day and tells him that he should stop it. He focuses in on the latest atrocity, in which some nutcase was caught before he could shoot up the ACLU and Beck's odd obsession The Tides Foundation:

[W]hat television news show could have directed the troubled man's ire toward the obscure Tides Foundation, which sounds as if it's dedicated to oceanography, or perhaps laundry detergent, but which is in fact a non-profit that claims to support "sustainability, better education, solutions to the AIDS epidemic and human rights?"

A week after the incident, the mystery was solved. "Tides was one of the hardest things that we ever tried to explain, and everyone told us that we couldn't," Fox News host Glenn Beck told his radio listeners on Monday. "The reason why the blackboard" -- the prop Beck uses on his TV show to trace conspiracies -- "really became what the blackboard is, is because I was trying to explain Tides and how all of this worked." Beck accuses Tides of seeking to seize power and destroy capitalism, and he suggests that a full range of his enemies on the left all have "ties to the Tides Center." On Monday, he savored the fact that "no one knew what Tides was until the blackboard."

For good measure, Beck went after Tides again on Fox that night. And Tuesday night, Wednesday night and Thursday night. That's on top of 29 other mentions of Tides on Beck's Fox show over the past 18 months (two in the week before the shootout) according to a tally by the liberal press watchdog Media Matters. Other than two mentions of Tides by Beck's Fox colleague Sean Hannity, Media Matters said it was unable to find any other mention of Tides on any news broadcast by any network over that same period. Beck declined comment.

It's not fair to blame Beck for violence committed by people who watch his show. Yet Williams isn't the only such character with a seeming affinity for the Fox News host. In April 2009, a man allegedly armed with an AK-47, a .22-caliber rifle and a handgun was charged with killing three cops in Pittsburgh. The Anti-Defamation League reported that the accused killer had, as part of a pattern of activities involving far-right conspiracy theories, posted a link on a neo-Nazi Web site to a video of Beck talking about the possibility that FEMA was operating concentration camps in Wyoming. The killings came after Beck told Fox viewers that he "can't debunk" the notion that FEMA was operating such camps -- but before he finally acknowledged that the conspiracy wasn't real

And Beck isn't the only inspiration for the huge spike in right wing violence since Obama's election. Every reporter in DC ought to read this book. Clearly they are unaware of what's happening:

Update: If you haven't heard about Beck's latest, it's a doozy. Something about a Weather Underground conspiracy in the 1960s to make Homer Simpson an American hero. Seriously.

Dismissing The Gusher

by digby

I posted yesterday about the emerging meme that the BP disaster was not big deal and today Brad Johnson at Grist puts that meme in perspective:

In a contrarian take, Time Magazine's Michael Grunwald wrote a preemptive post-mortem impact of BP's Deepwater Horizon disaster, saying that it "does not seem to be inflicting severe environmental damage." Grunwald believes that Rush Limbaugh "has a point" because the right-wing radio host spent weeks dismissing the disaster. New York Times reporters Justin Gillis and Campbell Robertson wrote that the "oil slick in the Gulf of Mexico appears to be dissolving far more rapidly than anyone expected." The Associated Press's John Carey believes "the oil slicks that once spread across thousands of miles of the Gulf of Mexico have largely disappeared." The narrative of the disappearing disaster has been promoted by Politico's Mike Allen and the Drudge Report.

That figures. I saw Grunwald on TV yesterday and it was clear that he had a specific agenda. He is someone who has spent his life working on the issue of the disappearing wetlands and he's upset that the oil spill has drained all the energy out of that effort. Apparently, like so many other liberal activists, he has no imagination and is unable to see how one can raise the general environmental consciousness through the attention being paid to the BP catastrophe. It was clear to me that his ego was at work. (As for the rest --- well, they are myopic or anxious to have this boring story over so they can start covering Democratic sex scandals again. Maybe both.)

Anyway, Johnson puts this ridiculous idea to rest:

[T]he only honest take on the BP disaster right now is that this is a calamity, the true scope of which will take years to discover, with many impacts impossible to ever know. No one knows how badly this disaster will affect the dying marshlands of Louisiana. No one knows how badly the toxic oil plumes will affect the spawning grounds of the bluefin tuna, the feeding grounds of the threatened Gulf sturgeon, or the future of the endangered Kemp's ridley sea turtles, whose corpses have been found at 15 times the historical rate this summer. No one knows what the long-term physical and mental health impacts will be on the tens of thousands of cleanup workers. Moreover, it is undoubtedly premature to announce that the vast oil slick has largely disappeared from the ocean's surface. Thick oil, vast slicks, and tar balls continue to wash ashore along Louisiana's coastline. Satellite imagery from July 27 and 28 -- as the stories of disappearing oil were being filed -- show a vast region still discolored by slicks and sheen, little diminished from previous weeks.

The Donkey Edge is constantly updating their coverage of health implications of the Gulf calamity here. The latest is an outbreak of unexplained hideous skin lesions among cleanup workers. But all those toxic chemicals are no big deal. Let's move along.

What Atrios Said

by digby

I have often wondered about this myself:

I ... don't think the fortunes of Obama and Democrats depend much on how loudly I clap. More than that, if the volume of my clapping is that important then people should be spending a bit more time and money ensuring that I've got an adequate supply of hand lotion to keep my hands in peak clapping form.

I would certainly think that if liberal cheerleading is valuable they would at least refrain from using liberals as a doormat every time they want to appease some conservadem princeling. Depending on supporters' masochism probably isn't a great strategy.

And any adult should know that angrily exhorting someone to love you doesn't actually work.

Galtian Nincompoop

by digby

I wish I could figure out why everyone in DC thinks Paul Ryan is so smart, but apparently it's just an article of faith that this guy is some sort of intellectual powerhouse. I guess it's because he isn't completely illiterate and can speak in words with more than one syllable. I guess I just have a slightly more holistic definition of intelligence than the ability to speak wonk.

For me, it doesn't take anything other than this, to tell me everything I need to know about the breadth of Ryan's intellectual capacities:

"The reason I got involved in public service, by and large, if I had to credit one thinker, one person, it would be Ayn Rand," Ryan said at a D.C. gathering four years ago honoring the author of "Atlas Shrugged" and "The Fountainhead."


"Almost every fight we are involved in here on Capitol Hill  . . .  is a fight that usually comes down to one conflict - individualism versus collectivism. If we actually accomplish this goal of personalizing Social Security, think of what we will accomplish. Every worker, every laborer in America will not only be a laborer but a capitalist. They will be an owner of society.  . . .  That's that many more people in America who are not going to listen to the likes of Dick Gephardt and Nancy Pelosi, Ted Kennedy, the collectivist, class-warfare-breathing demagogues," said Ryan

That sounds pretty damned dumb to me.

But some people think he's brilliant, no doubt about it:

GLENN BECK: Nice to meet you, sir. Tell me, tell me your thoughts on progressivism.

PAUL RYAN: Right. What I have been trying to do, and if you read the entire Oklahoma speech or read my speech to Hillsdale College that they put in there on Primus Magazine, you can get them on my Facebook page, what I've been trying to do is indict the entire vision of progressivism because I see progressivism as the source, the intellectual source for the big government problems that are plaguing us today and so to me it's really important to flush progressives out into the field of open debate.

GLENN: I love you.

PAUL RYAN: So people can actually see what this ideology means and where it's going to lead us and how it attacks the American idea.

GLENN: Okay. Hang on just a second. I ‑‑ did you see my speech at CPAC?

PAUL RYAN: I've read it. I didn't see it. I've read it, a transcript of it.

GLENN: And I think we're saying the same thing. I call it ‑‑

PAUL RYAN: We are saying the same thing.

GLENN: It's a cancer.

PAUL RYAN: Exactly. Look, I come from ‑‑ I'm calling you from Janesville, Wisconsin where I'm born and raised.

GLENN: Holy cow.

PAUL RYAN: Where we raise our family, 35 miles from Madison. I grew up hearing about this stuff. This stuff came from these German intellectuals to Madison‑University of Wisconsin and sort of out there from the beginning of the last century. So this is something we are familiar with where I come from. It never sat right with me. And as I grew up, I learned more about the founders and reading the Austrians and others that this is really a cancer because it basically takes the notion that our rights come from God and nature and turns it on its head and says, no, no, no, no, no, they come from government, and we here in government are here to give you your rights and therefore ration, redistribute and regulate your rights. It's a complete affront of the whole idea of this country and that is to me what we as conservatives, or classical liberals if you want to get technical.

GLENN: Thank you.

If infantile Randism is smart, then Paul Ryan is a genius. Strangely, a lot of people, even the president, seem to think so. He named this very smart fellow to the deficit commission.

Krugman takes on the latest Ryan ramblings about interest rates:

I’m sure someone will try to come up with a reason why Ryan is being smart here, but the truth is that he’s stone-cold ignorant.

Now, he wouldn’t be the only ignorant member of Congress. But wait — my colleague David Brooks tells me, this very morning, that

Paul Ryan, the most intellectually ambitious Republican in Congress, lavishly cites Brooks’s book. Over the past few years, Ryan has been promoting a roadmap to comprehensively reform the nation’s tax and welfare system.

So this is the smartest Republican Congress has to offer?

Of course, Ryan’s idea of fiscal reform is to run huge deficits for decades, but claim that it’s all OK because we’ll cut spending 40 years from now; and he throws a hissy fit when people challenge his numbers, or call privatization by its real name.

But hey, he’s intellectually ambitious

So's his BFF, Glenn Beck.

Democratic Chumps

by digby

We won't be able to blame the Republicans for this after January:

Why won't that be their fault if it happens again next year? Well:

Five Senate Democrats have said they will not support a lowering of the 60-vote bar necessary to pass legislation. Another four lawmakers say they are wary about such a change and would be hesitant to support it. A 10th Democrat, Sen. Carl Levin (D-Mich.), said he would support changing the rule on filibusters of motions to begin debate on legislation, but not necessarily the 60-vote threshold needed to bring up a final vote on bills...

Senior Democrats say Reid will not have the votes to change the rule at the beginning of next year.

“It won’t happen,” said Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.), who said she would “probably not” support an effort to lower the number of votes needed to cut off filibusters from 60 to 55 or lower.

Sen. Daniel Akaka (D-Hawaii) echoed Feinstein: “I think we should retain the same policies that we have instead of lowering it.
“I think it has been working,” he said.

Sen. Mark Pryor (D-Ark.) said he recognizes his colleagues are frustrated over the failure to pass measures such as the Disclose Act, campaign legislation that fell three votes short of overcoming a Republican filibuster Tuesday.

“I think as torturous as this place can be, the cloture rule and the filibuster is important to protect the rights of the minority,” he said. “My inclination is no.”

Sen. Jon Tester, a freshman Democrat from Montana, disagrees with some of his classmates from more liberal states.

“I think the bigger problem is getting people to work together,” he said. “It’s been 60 for a long, long time. I think we need to look to ourselves more than changing the rules.”

Sen. Ben Nelson (D-Neb.), who is up for reelection in 2012, also said he would like the votes needed for cloture to remain the same.“I’m not one who think it needs to be changed,” he said.

I think I see the contours of how this is going to go. The Democrats will do all the work to get this done by shaping public opinion and preparing the ground. Then the Republicans will take the majority and do it.

At that point the Democrats will start fighting to restore it and as soon as they get the majority back will put it back in place.

This would be what we call the "Independent Counsel Blowback Gambit."


Thursday, July 29, 2010

Premature Anti-Deficitist

by digby

Rand Paul quote of the day:

“People say, ‘Oh those Tea Party people, they’re angry.’ I say: ‘No, they’re concerned and they’re worried.’ They’re worried that we could destroy the currency by adding such a massive debt. In Germany it led to Hitler.”

"Most Americans Are Like Me"

by digby

All Villagers believe they represent the average American, but none more than the Village media:

I guess they were so upset about the "leftists" vilifying Bush that they showed their displeasure by electing Barack Obama? Ok.

I hate to tell Joe The Slummer, but millionaire celebrities who have their own national TV shows don't have a lot in common with "most Americans."

h/t to ch
Chris Matthews Is An idiot Part XXVII

by digby

This is simply unbelievable. On Hardball today, Matthews asked Howard Dean and Joan Walsh about Shirley Sherrod's lawsuit:

Dean: I'm not a lawyer Chris, but there are two things about this first of all he cut off the tape he didn't show the whole story....

Matthew: He didn't? What did he cut out?

Dean: No, he cut off the stuff about the redemption part

Matthews: I thought that was in there

Dean: No it was not on the tape that was aired on Fox News

Mattews: yes it was

Dean: It was not on what Fox news reported on their blog

Joan Walsh: It was not on the Brietbart ...

Matthews: Of course it was on Breitbart. He didn't edit it. Not that I know about.

Joan Walsh: Chris, Chris. He did. He says he didn't edit it ...

Matthews: Well he didn't edit it. What did he edit?

Walsh: it's a 43 minute tape I'm sorry Governor Dean, you can do this ...

Dean: No go ahead Joan

Walsh: It's a 43 minute tape Chris. It walks through her whole racial history. He clipped about three minutes where she seems to be saying I didn't do my best for this white farmer because he was white. And that's where it ends. And then later Chris she goes on to tell this amazing ...

Matthews: oh I thought that in the tape that he did put out that it did include that part in it. What he did that mischaracterized it was to suggest that it was in current time in her role as a federal official, not back when she was in the cooperative.

Dean: No, he did that too

Walsh: He did that too. There were two lies but he absolutely clipped, or someone clipped the tape before she could say that powerful message of redemption that Democrats believe in.

Matthews: I am right and you're wrong. Do we have the tape that we can show this because I'm believe is this guys narration is the problem where he said that this is something that goes on in this administration and it suggested heavily that this was her point of view as an appointee of this administration...

Dean: he did that but he also clipped the tape...

Matthews: No it includes in the tape that she changed

Walsh: No it doesn't Chris you have to trust me and the Governor on this.... it's not in the tape that Breitbart put out.

Matthews: Yes it is! Yes it is!

Then he criticized the blogosphere and said that he has made no mistakes on this story.

When they tagged up the tape for him, which had the one sentence about it not being about white and black just before she said she "took him to one of his own" he triumphantly proclaimed: "That redemptive revelation was in the tape Joan" and completely dismissed the criticism of Breitbart. In other words, the clip that posted was only incorrect because Breitbart implied that she'd done all that stuff recently. he should make a great witness for Breitbart in the trial.

This man makes five million dollars a year.

Update: In fairness, Howard Dean sputtered foolishly and said that wasn't the clip he'd seen. Ayeyayay. This really is the stupid season.

Update: Matthews called Walsh back to the studio to re-do this story on his second broadcast with Mark Vogel of Politico instead of Dean. He slightly back tracked and seemed to understand the real narrative a little bit better. Walsh and Vogel were both able to explain it more fully, with Vogel filling in the fact that the little snippet of "white and black" in the Breitbart tape was probably left in there out of amateurishness. The person apparently didn't have the skills to send the clip via email.)( I'm still not sure Matthews really understands this but it's obvious that somebody talked to him.

The good news is that Joan argued with Vogel about Breitbart being called a journalist rather than a propagandist and brought up the ACORN videos. Vogel admitted that that story needed to be corrected as well. Huzzah!

The ACORN Doesn't Fall Far From The Nutball

by digby

Eric Alterman goes where the mainstream press still refuses to go, despite the egg dripping from every square inch of their credibility:

Remember, the very same techniques deployed to defame Shirley Sherrod and discredit the NAACP were employed to destroy ACORN, albeit aided by the idiocy of a couple of low-level ACORN employees. Breitbart's underlings, the admitted criminal James O'Keefe and his associate Hannah Giles, lied to ACORN about their respective identities for the purpose of surreptitiously taping their words and actions and then releasing a doctored version of the tape to the credulous media. They misrepresented their own dress and demeanor in this visit—they were not dressed up as a comic-book pimp and ho—and O'Keefe also claimed that an undercover video campaign was a "nationwide ACORN child prostitution investigation" implicating numerous ACORN employees. In the heavily edited videos Breitbart released of their encounters at eight ACORN offices, he (and they) failed to note that in at least six of these, they did not get their desired result. (Some ACORN employees contacted the authorities.) Of course, we did not learn any of this until after the MSM conspired with Breitbart and company to help destroy ACORN based on this false and defamatory narrative.

Recall, again, that vis-à-vis ACORN, media machers could not flagellate themselves fast enough for their previous failure to follow Breitbart into the gutter. Tom Rosenstiel of the Project for Excellence in Journalism explained, "Complaints by conservatives are slower to be picked up by non-ideological media because there are not enough conservatives and too many liberals in most newsrooms." Washington Post executive editor Marcus Brauchli worried, "We are not well-enough informed about conservative issues. It's particularly a problem in a town so dominated by Democrats and the Democratic point of view." Post ombudsman Andrew Alexander added that "traditional news outlets like The Post simply don't pay sufficient attention to conservative media or viewpoints." New York Times managing editor Jill Abramson admitted "insufficient tuned-in-ness to the issues that are dominating Fox News and talk radio." Meanwhile, on ABC News, George Stephanopoulos thought the ACORN fable worthy of being raised in a rare one-on-one interview opportunity with President Obama, who replied that he wasn't following the story very closely and, by the way, had more important problems to address. (US grants to ACORN, already suspended at the time, accounted for less than one-thousandth of 1 percent of annual US government spending.)

In the now infamous case of Shirley Sherrod, Breitbart deployed doctored video again to falsely accuse Sherrod of discriminating against whites as a federal employee, pretending that a story about overcoming racism was really one endorsing it. When that lie was exposed, he insisted that his real target had been the NAACP, for allegedly cheering on Sherrod's alleged racism. This too was a lie. There was no applause in the undoctored video for any racist statements. Nothing Breitbart said about the story checked out once the full video became available.

And the MSM machers? Well, they can't help but notice that they got taken this time, but they prefer to chalk it up to "ideology." "There's been this proliferation of partisan media—whether it's MSNBC and Fox at night, or it's Breitbart on the right or Huffington Post on the left," complains Politico executive editor James VandeHei, and it makes honest folk like MSM reporters "overreact."

See, just as the teabaggers were "provoked" into spitting on black congressmen, the mainstream media is provoked into overreaction by the "partisan" media. They just can't help it. (I'd be very interested to see a case where the MSM has overreacted to a ratfuck or a bogus hit by a left leaning member of the new media. I can't think of one but I suppose it's possible.) But shouldn't these so-called professionals be held to account for overreacting to something that any sentient being should be able to see is complete bullshit? Isn't that their job?

Be sure to read Alterman's whole piece. He illustrates the Brietbart/Tucker/MSM symbioses very effectively...

Update: Joe Conason reveals evidence that Fred Barnes, one of the more sanctimonious of the Tuckerite Fussbudgets, actually takes money from the Republican Party. perhaps he doesn't see that as being on the "GOP team" --- maybe he's just a plain old whore who just happens to take GOP cash and the GOP line coincidentally --- but it is perfectly indicative of the absurdity of right wing media criticism of liberal journalists.

Move-On Is Myth Busting

by digby

Move-On just sent this out to its members. Please email it far and wide to people you know. The amount of propaganda coming out of the deficit scolds is piling high and it's important that everyone understand the basic facts:

Top 5 Social Security Myths

Rumors of Social Security's demise are greatly exaggerated. But some powerful people keep spreading lies about the program to scare people into accepting benefit cuts. Can you check out this list of Social Security myths and share it with your friends, family and coworkers?

Myth: Social Security is going broke.

Reality: There is no Social Security crisis. By 2023, Social Security will have a $4.6 trillion surplus (yes, trillion with a 'T'). It can pay out all scheduled benefits for the next quarter-century with no changes whatsoever.1 After 2037, it'll still be able to pay out 75% of scheduled benefits--and again, that's without any changes. The program started preparing for the Baby Boomers retirement decades ago. Anyone who insists Social Security is broke probably wants to break it themselves.

Myth: We have to raise the retirement age because people are living longer.

Reality: This is red-herring to trick you into agreeing to benefit cuts. Retirees are living about the same amount of time as they were in the 1930s. The reason average life expectancy is higher is mostly because many fewer people die as children than did 70 years ago.3 What's more, what gains there have been are distributed very unevenly--since 1972, life expectancy increased by 6.5 years for workers in the top half of the income brackets, but by less than 2 years for those in the bottom half.4 But those intent on cutting Social Security love this argument because raising the retirement age is the same as an across-the-board benefit cut.

Myth: Benefit cuts are the only way to fix Social Security.

Reality: Social Security doesn't need to be fixed. But if we want to strengthen it, here's a better way: Make the rich pay their fair share. If the very rich paid taxes on all of their income, Social Security would be sustainable for decades to come. Right now, high earners only pay Social Security taxes on the first $106,000 of their income. But conservatives insist benefit cuts are the only way because they want to protect the super-rich from paying their fair share.

Myth: The Social Security Trust Fund has been raided and is full of IOUs

Reality: Not even close to true. The Social Security Trust Fund isn't full of IOUs, it's full of U.S. Treasury Bonds. And those bonds are backed by the full faith and credit of the United States. The reason Social Security holds only treasury bonds is the same reason many Americans do: The federal government has never missed a single interest payment on its debts. President Bush wanted to put Social Security funds in the stock market--which would have been disastrous--but luckily, he failed. So the trillions of dollars in the Social Security Trust Fund, which are separate from the regular budget, are as safe as can be.

Myth: Social Security adds to the deficit

Reality: It's not just wrong -- it's impossible! By law, Social Security funds are separate from the budget, and it must pay its own way. That means that Social Security can't add one penny to the deficit.

There are two things going on here. First, the Big Money Boyz have always been hostile to Social Security, going all the way back to the beginning and they have used a variety of arguments to rationalize their position, changing them as circumstances require. It's a matter of ideology and philosophy.

The other thing is that at present, the same Big Money Boyz are afraid they are going to be asked to pay the gambling losses incurred by their pals on Wall Street. So they are trying to get the poor and middle class elderly to foot the bill. (See: raising taxes on the wealthy vs cuts in social security.)

The Good News Is The Poison

by digby

Rush Limbaugh has been saying the oil spill is nothing more than a little leak that has caused almost no damage. Time Magazine is backing him up saying since the news that the slick "disappearing" evidence points to the fact that the whole thing was over-hyped for ratings and fundraising by environmental groups. (Seriously.)

But perhaps "disappearing" the wrong word. The right word is "dispersing." And there are just a few niggling issues to discuss about that. Sean at Donkey on the Edge has more:

While the release of over a hundred million gallons of crude into the gulf is an unmitigated ecological and economic disaster, the use of almost 2 million gallons of the dispersant Corexit makes it quite possibly the largest human and environmental experiment on record. EPA whistle-blower, Hugh Kaufman, explains:

Corexit is one of a number of dispersants, that are toxic, that are used to atomize the oil and force it down the water column so that it’s invisible to the eye. In this case, these dispersants were used in massive quantities, almost two million gallons so far, to hide the magnitude of the spill and save BP money. And the government—both EPA, NOAA, etc.—have been sock puppets for BP in this cover-up. Now, by hiding the amount of spill, BP is saving hundreds of millions, if not billions, of dollars in fines, and so, from day one, there was tremendous economic incentive to use these dispersants to hide the magnitude of the gusher that’s been going on for almost three months.

He continues:

Consequently, we have people, wildlife—we have dolphins that are hemorrhaging. People who work near it are hemorrhaging internally. And that’s what dispersants are supposed to do. EPA now is taking the position that they really don’t know how dangerous it is, even though if you read the label, it tells you how dangerous it is. And, for example, in the Exxon Valdez case, people who worked with dispersants, most of them are dead now. The average death age is around fifty. It’s very dangerous, and it’s an economic—it’s an economic protector of BP, not an environmental protector of the public.

And it’s not only used on the surface:

Well, not only do you have airplanes flying and dropping them on the Gulf region, like Agent Orange in Vietnam, but a large amount of it is being shot into the water column at 5,000 feet to disperse the oil as it gushers out. And so, you have spread, according to the Associated Press, over perhaps over 44,000 square miles, an oil and dispersant mix. And what’s happened is, that makes it impossible to skim the oil out of the water. One of the things that happened is they brought this big boat, Whale, in from Japan to get rid of the oil, and it didn’t work because the majority of the oil is spread throughout the water column over thousands of square miles in the Gulf.

Read on for more at th. BP seems to have ably headed off the worst of the PR disaster by keeping the worst of the oil more or less off the shoreline. The actual disaster may have been made worse by the use of toxic chemicals. So it's all good.

Warrants Are So Annoying

by digby

Kevin Drum sez, "You know, if I'd wanted Dick Cheney as president I would have just voted for him. Me too.

Read about the latest abuse of civil liberties. The way the government is going, within a decade or so the Bill of Rights will be a distant memory. I guess they figure as long as the second amendment and corporations' right of free speech are protected, it's all good.


Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Willing or Unwilling Dupes?

by digby

This is just sad:
A group of oil companies including BP, Shell, ExxonMobil, Citgo, Chevron and other polluters are using a front group called "America's WETLAND Foundation" and a Louisiana women's group called Women of the Storm to spread the message that U.S. taxpayers should pay for the damage caused by BP to Gulf Coast wetlands, and that the reckless offshore oil industry should continue drilling for the "wholesale sustainability" of the region.

Using the age-old PR trick of featuring celebrity messengers to attract public attention, America's Wetland Foundation is spreading a petition accompanied by a video starring Sandra Bullock, Dave Matthews, Lenny Kravitz, Emeril Lagassi, John Goodman, Harry Shearer, Peyton and Eli Manning, Drew Brees and others.

I really doubt that Harry Shearer and Dave Matthews are knowing oil company shills. Still, I would have thought that anyone would question whether or not they should back a group that supports offshore drilling, though.

I wouldn't be surprised if they were approached by Democrats in the area which is even more depressing. Whatever the case, someone needs to alert them to who they're shilling for and give them a chance to back off if they want to.

Own It

by digby

Yes, another teachable moment. And it's a particularly stupid one, but teachable nonetheless. First, watch this Jon Stewart segment:

The Daily Show With Jon StewartMon - Thurs 11p / 10c
Lost in Race
Daily Show Full EpisodesPolitical HumorTea Party

Ok, I'm sure you get the joke, right? Well, according to Media Matters, the right, including Breitbart, take that segment as a validation of Breitbart's integrity. Media Matters says this is pathetic and sad because they don't seem to understand that Breitbart stated publicly that he is trying to destroy the "institutional left." But they do. They just don't think there's anything wrong with openly trying to destroy the institutional left. They consider it their job and when someone says they are honest about that, they take it as validation.

In their view, Stewart was giving them props and criticizing the Democrats for failing to play the same game --- which he sort of was. Now, know that Stewart thinks Breitbart is a malignant tumor on the body politic, honesty about it notwithstanding, but they don't care about that. They care about getting the job done by any means necessary and they are proud to be acknowledged for doing that.

The teachable moment here is for liberals. There's a lot of sturm and drang about the selective Journolist leaks featuring liberal writers saying mean things about conservatives and openly rooting for Obama. It's as if they were caught in some sort of secret conspiracy when their public writings perfectly reflect their political views.

But why shouldn't they own their liberalism? You've got people out there like Fred Barnes rending his garments over liberals being liberal, and saying that conservatives are all "lone wolves" when he appears every day on a thoroughly partisan television network devoted to conservatism. Nobody on the left finds him to be unbiased. Why should he find them unbiased?

Newsflash: Liberal and center-left writers are liberal and center-left. Conservative writers are conservative. Right wing hitmen like Breitbart are right wing hitmen. And Villagers who claim to be "objective" are purveyors of useless establishment conventional wisdom --- much of which is "objectively" conservative, at least partially because they are so subject to right wing ref working, as perfectly illustrated by Chuck Todd's panicked whine today about being tainted by association with liberals. I see no reason why any liberal writer should care about that. They should care about journalistic ethics that require adherence to the facts in pursuit of the truth, which the journalists on that list do, even if you disagree with their conclusions.

In other words, they shouldn't worry about being called liberal by Tucker Carlson. By letting alleged bias be construed as unethical, they are playing the wrong game by the wrong rules.

*Full disclosure: I was a member Journolist along with about a dozen or so other listservs although I rarely have time to participate in any of them. The only thing I will say about it is that if it's an example of the vast left wing conspiracy, the blogosphere must be revolutionary anarchist invasion. Let's just say that the idea that it was a hotbed of radical liberal agitation and organizing is hilarious to me.


Joe Conason's piece on this is useful. This for instance is worth remembering:

Perhaps it is appropriate to give the last word to the American Spectator's John Tabin, who has written a striking dissent from the right-wing hysterics over Journolist:

Since 1993, Grover Norquist has held an off-the-record meeting every Wednesday where conservative activists, policy wonks, and government officials exchange ideas about policy and politics. Sometimes journalists attend. Depending on a particular journalist's ideological and partisan disposition -- which can vary quite a lot given the state of our media landscape, which includes both 'straight news' reporters (i.e. people who attempt to hide the almost-always-left-of-center opinions that shape their journalistic choices) and opinion journalists with various worldviews and temperaments -- journalists may be there to get ideas that will influence how they think about issues, or they may just be there to get perspective on how conservatives are thinking about the issues of the day.

The Wednesday Meeting has periodically been the source of breathless fear-mongering on the left about the all-powerful conservative conspiracy to control media narratives. This is, of course, absurd. Much of the hyperventilating over Journolist is equally absurd ...

Everyone who has been shown to have their work influenced by conversations on Journolist is, likewise, a commentator. That Chris Hayes tries to get perspective from other liberals before he goes on TV to opine on a topic, or that Joe Klein incorporates ideas from off-the-record exchanges into his blog posts, is not exactly earthshaking news. Commentators on the right do exactly the same thing -- it's just our emails don't get leaked because we're smart enough not to conduct these exchanges on listservs where we let the audience expand to include 400 people.

Update II: And then there's this, if you want an example of journalists in bed with the White House (from Bush At War)

"Rove also kept in touch with the party apparatus and leading conservatives. One important-looking confidential communication came in to Rove from one of Bush's senior friends, so Bush took it to the Oval Office.

"Roger Ailes, former media guru for Bush's father, had a message, Rove told the president. It had to be confidential because Ailes, a flamboyant and irreverent media executive, was currently the head of FOX News, the conservative-leaning television cable network that was enjoying high ratings. In that position, Ailes was not supposed to be giving political advice. His back-channel message: The American public would tolerate waiting and would be patient, but only as long as they were convinced that Bush was using the harshest measures possible. Support would dissipate if the public did not see Bush acting harshly."

Just saying. They own it.

Democrats Are, By Definition, Racists

by digby

I think that despite the fact that Jeffrey Lord was roundly criticized, even by conservatives, for saying that Shirley Sherrod was lying when she described a beating of a black man in custody as a lynching, his comments today to TPM reveal a larger critique that may well have some resonance on the right:

"I have felt for a long time that my friends on the American left, in the Democratic party have just had this atrocious history with racial issue," Lord said. "I mean it just can't possibly be any worse. I've gone back and read all the platforms for the Democratic party starting in 1840 which was the first one."

What's changed in the last generation, according to Lord, is simply the nature of the Democratic party's racism.

"What struck me about [the Sherrod speech] was that sort of little, casual aside, where she says something about health care, and 'I've never seen people so mean' ... The implication is -- and she uses the phrase at one point 'the black president' and 'we endured the Bush years'. And the implication to me was that she was saying 'if you didn't agree with Obamacare then you're a bigot,'" Lord said. "The essence of the formula is 'scare race X to death that race Y or Z is coming after them in some fashion, and then, you know, you get all the votes and the money, etc, etc, etc. And that all that's gone on over a couple years of history of the Democratic party is that the races have changed."

"What is the difference, really, between Jimmy Byrnes trying to pursue a "white" agenda, and Sonia Sotomayor's wise Latina comment?" Lord asked rhetorically.

For Lord, the key inconsistency is that Democratic southerners were to blame both for Hall's murder, and for ultimately overturning the conviction of his killers, and yet, decades later, Sherrod sympathizes with the Democratic party.

"I understand that people on the other side are going to go poopoopoo and the Nixon Southern Strategy and all that kind of thing," Lord said. "To think that this was just, all these people just switched their party and made the Republican party segregationist is just nuts. I was there."

What about the black people who all switched their party?

That's pretty slick, actually. The Democrats have always been the racist party and still are today now that whites are suffering discrimination everywhere at the hands of the people of color --- who switched to the racist party the minute they achieved civil rights. (It's always something with "those people" ...)

It's not that the right hasn't been saying this in other terms, but this draws it all together in one nice little package. It is completely divorced from reality of course, completely leaving out the civil war, Jim Crow etc, but I can see a whole lot of really dumb Fox viewers taking to this view. Republicans have always been on the right side, not just during Lincoln's day, (which never had much salience since it was so long ago) but in modern times as well, when the racists are all black and brown.

Read the whole interview. He explains why the beating of a black man while in custody can't be called a lynching (there has to be a mob and a rope involved) and that Sherrod really is a racist because she was riling up the blacks. But then so are all Democrats, always have been always will be. It's definitional. Thomas Jefferson had slaves. Obama hates white people. Need I say more?

CNN blows up the Melting Pot

by digby

This is helpful:

According to a CNN/Opinion Research Corporation national survey, the vast majority believe that most immigrants are basically good, honest people who are hard-working. However, nearly seven in ten say that immigrants are a burden on the taxpayer, 62 percent think they add to the crime problem, and 59 percent believe they take jobs away from Americans.

The poll, released Wednesday, asks about all people who have immigrated from other countries in the past ten years, and not just about illegal immigrants in the U.S.

"The results may explain why most Americans think that the policies that made the U.S. a 'melting pot' strengthened the country a century ago but do not make the country stronger today," says CNN Polling Director Keating Holland.

Well there you have it. "Most Americans" think immigrants are "basically" good, honest people but they are also criminals and indolent leeches who are stealing our jobs. That makes sense.

I don't know exactly why CNN thought this was worth doing, but if their polling is correct, it's apparent that "most Americans" are a bunch of nativist jerks. Perhaps that's true. It's certainly always been the case that Americans have always tried to pull the ladder up behind them, whether it was the English settlers to the Germans, then the Germans to the Italians and the Slavs or everybody to the Chinese and other Asians. As for Latinos, well, they have always been here and we just use them as scapegoats whenever we feel like kicking somebody. Apparently, that would be now.

CNN's definitely stirring the shit with this, though, at a time when it's terribly irresponsible to do so. When they say "immigrants" in the current climate, most people think they are talking about Hispanics. If they are going to do this, they really need to get specific and ask people if they are talking about Indian doctors or Polish construction workers or Jamaican business owners when they talk about this. My neighbors are French and Irish immigrants. Are they included in this indictment? Or is this just the usual plain old bigotry against Mexicans. I think it would be very helpful to be precise in this debate. You can't talk about this unless you understand the real issue.

What Did You Do In The Teabag Revolution Daddy?

by digby

I guess I'd find this video more chilling if the people in it didn't all look like sales associates at Sears. But still, these aren't kids. They're all gun toting adults indulging in a Red Dawn fantasy and you just never know where that might go. Evidently, some of the people in the video are politicians.

These people are all waiting for is the man on the white horse, even if they don't know it. Any ideas who he (I think he has to be a he) might be?

Update: Joe Sudbay reports that the revolution in Missouri is having some growing pains:

Sean at FiredUp Missouri has the details:
KMBC's Micheal Mahoney: "More that two dozen Missouri TEA parties say a bid by US Senate candidate to capitalize on their movement has 'shocked' them...'Roy Blunt voted for TARP and Cash for Clunkers. For Michele Bachmann to come to Missouri and give the impression that all the Missouri Tea Parties support Roy Blunt is an abomination of everything we have been standing up for,' said Jedidiah Smith, a Tea Party leader in Franklin County, Missouri."


by digby

I'm afraid that Garry Wills is right:

Most presidents start wondering—or, more often, worrying—about their “legacy” well into their first term. Or, if they have a second term, they worry even more feverishly about what posterity will think of them. Obama need not wonder about his legacy, even this early. It is already fixed, and in one word: Afghanistan. He took on what he made America’s longest war and what may turn out to be its most disastrous one.

"The Good War" meme was a self-laid trap for all Democrats, who consistently fight the last war for fear of being called wimps. This dynamic has caused more grief at the hands of the US than any other.

By the way, in case you haven't heard, the congress passed yet another "emergency" war supplemental last night. After listening to a bunch of tripe for weeks about having to offset costs to extend unemployment benefits, and watching teachers all over the country be fired for lack of funds, that vote may be the single most illustrative move we've seen yet to illustrate that the fall of Rome comparisons are not as far fetched as we like to think.

I had an interesting conversation on the plan last week with someone who said that he thought all politics was a waste of time because both sides were just playing games and had no principles. He used as an example the fact that Democrats are for the war now that Obama's running it. And I had no argument.

Read the whole item by Wills. It's short and very interesting. He even takes a shot at Jonathan Alter.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Colbert Does A Breitbart

by digby

In case you missed Colbert's return and his take on the Sherrod matter ... well, just watch:

The Colbert ReportMon - Thurs 11:30pm / 10:30c
Racial Pro Firing
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