Who Makes The Game? For Too Many Of Us, They Do

Donald Sterling, the owner of the Los Angeles Clippers, has been hammered by NBA Commissioner Adam Silver and will soon be tossed out of the NBA’s mostly white ownership club for his racially-charged remarks to his girlfriend. That’s all good for the NBA and all good for society (and good for Donald Sterling, since he will get hundreds of millions of dollars when he is forced to sell his team, a team he paid about a buck and some change for in 1981.)

I was amazed at the swift action taken against him and the almost universal repulsion against his comments, which were widely reported as unforgivably racist. It’s says a lot for American society that we have come to the point where such remarks have no place in a polite, if still majority white, society.

But read again the following excerpt from the audio recordings that were made:

GIRLFRIEND: I don’t understand, I don’t see your views. I wasn’t raised the way you were raised.

STERLING: Well then, if you don’t feel — don’t come to my games. Don’t bring black people, and don’t come.

GIRLFRIEND:  Do you know that you have a whole team that’s black, that plays for you?

STERLING:  You just, do I know? I support them and give them food, and clothes, and cars, and houses. Who gives it to them? Does someone else give it to them? Do I know that I have—Who makes the game? Do I make the game, or do they make the game? Is there 30 owners that created the league?

Let’s move away from the “Don’t bring black people” remarks that have rightly outraged everyone and focus on something else: the utter arrogance of a man in business who thinks he is the center of the moral and economic universe.

Lots of people have interpreted Sterling’s remarks in the context of an old plantation owner in the South who thinks he is doing his slaves a favor by feeding and clothing them and providing them with other necessities. I get that. It sure looks like that is his attitude. But let’s go a little further and remove his words from the racial context and just look at what his comments mean as applied to all workers in the workplace (Sterling did, after all, have two white players). He asked,

Who makes the game? Do I make the game, or do they make the game? Is there 30 owners that created the league?

The answer clearly, in his mind at least, is, “I make the game” and “The owners make the game.” And because the owners make the game, because they created the league, they therefore “give” the players—the workers—food, clothes, cars, and houses. In other words, if it weren’t for the owners—the moneyed elite—no one would have a damn thing. It’s all dependent on them. The workers are just lucky that the owners provide for them. As the 2012 Republican convention theme put it,“We Built It,” in opposition to President Obama saying, “if you’ve been successful, you didn’t get there on your own…If you’ve got a business—you didn’t build that.”

income inequality: raise the minimum wageAs I said, Donald Sterling’s comments about race rightly generated a lot of outrage. And wouldn’t it be nice if there were also a lot of outrage generated in response to his self-righteous stance as a business owner? Wouldn’t it be nice if we could get to the point in this country where all workers were so highly valued that no “owner” dare talk down to them no matter their occupation or the color of their skin? That no businessman dare put himself above the workers that actually keep him in business?

Alas, that’s a long way off, as one recent commenter on this blog, Herb Van Fleet, pointed out. American business interests not only believe they are the center of the moral and economic universe, they also control our politics. Herb (as part of an upcoming column in the local paper) quoted from a new joint university study by Martin Gilens and Benjamin Page:

Gilens and Page comment that, “The central point that emerges from our research is that economic elites and organized groups representing business interests have substantial independent impacts on U.S. government policy, while mass-based interest groups and average citizens have little or no independent influence.”

In other words, it’s tyranny by the minority.

If you think Herb is exaggerating with that “tyranny by the minority” comment, consider the following from the authors of the study:

Our findings indicate, the majority does not rule – at least not in the causal sense of actually determining policy outcomes. When a majority of citizens disagrees with economic elites and/or with organized interests, they generally lose. Moreover, because of the strong status quo bias built into the U.S. political system, even when fairly large majorities of Americans favor policy change, they generally do not get it.

Tyranny by the minority, indeed.

The recent takedown of Donald Sterling by the NBA commissioner, and the upcoming vote by league ownership to force him to sell his team, was brought about by two things that give us some tiny twinkle of hope for wrestling control of our society from the economic elites, many of whom believe they not only own their businesses, but own our democracy and, ultimately, own us. Those two things were the unified stance the NBA players took against Sterling—they were prepared to boycott playoff games—and the widespread public reaction, including advertisers, against his expressed racism.

Now, if only we could generate such a unified workplace stance and such widespread public reaction against the economic elitism Sterling represents, maybe we could make more of those “I make the game” bastards squirm.

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How To Think About Obama, Putin, And Toughness

On Monday President Obama expanded the sanctions against Russia, which, of course, still won’t quiet his critics, many of whom think he should, even without help from reluctant Europeans, do much, much more to try to keep Vladimir Putin from destabilizing and perhaps eventually annexing parts or all of Eastern Ukraine.

What that “much, much more” entails is never made clear, since it is obvious the Europeans—whose interests clearly run much deeper than ours—want to go slow in terms of putting pressure on the Russians. For some of the President’s most virulent critics, there is nothing our wussy President could do, short of starting a war, that would shut them up.

In that context, White House correspondent Ed Henry, pretending to be an objective journalist on a cable network pretending to do the news, did us all a favor yesterday by asking President Obama, who was in the Philippines, a question that only a Fox addict could appropriately love:

ED HENRY, FOX “NEWS”: …as you end this trip, I don’t think I have to remind you there have been a lot of unflattering portraits of your foreign policy right now.  And rather than get into all the details or red lines, et cetera, I’d like to give you a chance to lay out what your vision is more than five years into office, what you think the Obama doctrine is in terms of what your guiding principle is on all of these crises and how you answer those critics who say they think the doctrine is weakness. 

Asking his question, the fair and balanced Fox correspondent managed to get in:

1. The whole “red lines” controversy that right-wingers have used to bash the President.
2. The idea that Obama does not have a “guiding principle” for his foreign policy, another criticism that right-wingers hurl at him constantly.
3. And most important, the notion that President Obama lacks toughness and is a weakling on the world stage.

All of that must have pleased Henry’s bosses and earned him a bonus. But, as I said, we should also thank him because his loaded question allowed President Obama to demonstrate to sane Americans how lucky we are to have him in charge rather than some tough guy blabbing on cable TV or pecking on a keyboard at The Weekly Standard. First he began with a shot at Fox:

PRESIDENT OBAMA:  Well, Ed, I doubt that I’m going to have time to lay out my entire foreign policy doctrine.  And there are actually some complimentary pieces as well about my foreign policy, but I’m not sure you ran them.

No, Ed didn’t run them. Fox didn’t run them. And for one good reason: There isn’t anyone at Fox who would dare say anything complimentary about President Obama. That would be a good way to get yourself on the wrong side of the Republican’s War on the Unemployed. But the real attack on his critics on Fox and elsewhere—finally and decisively from the lips of the President—was directed at those who constantly say his balls are too small for the job. I will quote Obama extensively and all Americans should read all of the following with thankfulness in their hearts:

Typically, criticism of our foreign policy has been directed at the failure to use military force.  And the question I think I would have is, why is it that everybody is so eager to use military force after we’ve just gone through a decade of war at enormous costs to our troops and to our budget?  And what is it exactly that these critics think would have been accomplished?

My job as Commander-in-Chief is to deploy military force as a last resort, and to deploy it wisely.  And, frankly, most of the foreign policy commentators that have questioned our policies would go headlong into a bunch of military adventures that the American people had no interest in participating in and would not advance our core security interests. 

So if you look at Syria, for example, our interest is in helping the Syrian people, but nobody suggests that us being involved in a land war in Syria would necessarily accomplish this goal.  And I would note that those who criticize our foreign policy with respect to Syria, they themselves say, no, no, no, we don’t mean sending in troops.  Well, what do you mean?  Well, you should be assisting the opposition — well, we’re assisting the opposition.  What else do you mean?  Well, perhaps you should have taken a strike in Syria to get chemical weapons out of Syria.  Well, it turns out we’re getting chemical weapons out of Syria without having initiated a strike.  So what else are you talking about?  And at that point it kind of trails off.

In Ukraine, what we’ve done is mobilize the international community.  Russia has never been more isolated.  A country that used to be clearly in its orbit now is looking much more towards Europe and the West, because they’ve seen that the arrangements that have existed for the last 20 years weren’t working for them.  And Russia is having to engage in activities that have been rejected uniformly around the world.  And we’ve been able to mobilize the international community to not only put diplomatic pressure on Russia, but also we’ve been able to organize European countries who many were skeptical would do anything to work with us in applying sanctions to Russia.  Well, what else should we be doing?  Well, we shouldn’t be putting troops in, the critics will say.  That’s not what we mean.  Well, okay, what are you saying?  Well, we should be arming the Ukrainians more.  Do people actually think that somehow us sending some additional arms into Ukraine could potentially deter the Russian army?  Or are we more likely to deter them by applying the sort of international pressure, diplomatic pressure and economcost of iraq waric pressure that we’re applying?

The point is that for some reason many who were proponents of what I consider to be a disastrous decision to go into Iraq haven’t really learned the lesson of the last decade, and they keep on just playing the same note over and over again.  Why?  I don’t know.  But my job as Commander-in-Chief is to look at what is it that is going to advance our security interests over the long term, to keep our military in reserve for where we absolutely need it.  There are going to be times where there are disasters and difficulties and challenges all around the world, and not all of those are going to be immediately solvable by us. 

But we can continue to speak out clearly about what we believe.  Where we can make a difference using all the tools we’ve got in the toolkit, well, we should do so.  And if there are occasions where targeted, clear actions can be taken that would make a difference, then we should take them.  We don’t do them because somebody sitting in an office in Washington or New York think it would look strong.  That’s not how we make foreign policy.  And if you look at the results of what we’ve done over the last five years, it is fair to say that our alliances are stronger, our partnerships are stronger, and in the Asia Pacific region, just to take one example, we are much better positioned to work with the peoples here on a whole range of issues of mutual interest.

And that may not always be sexy.  That may not always attract a lot of attention, and it doesn’t make for good argument on Sunday morning shows.  But it avoids errors.  You hit singles, you hit doubles; every once in a while we may be able to hit a home run.  But we steadily advance the interests of the American people and our partnership with folks around the world.

As far as I’m concerned, with that answer President Obama executed a perfect spinning headlock elbow drop on his war-hungry critics. Which ain’t too bad for a supposedly weak leader. We picked the right man for the job after all.ambassador mcfaul

Related to that, Michael McFaul, former United States Ambassador to Russia (who is now a Professor of Political Science at Stanford), said something important this morning on MSNBC regarding Obama’s alleged lack of toughness toward Vladimir Putin:

This talk of toughness, if I could just add a little historical perspective, do you know how many government officials the Bush administration sanctioned? Zero. Do you know many Ronald Reagan sanctioned after the crackdown in Poland? Zero. General Eisenhower, President Eisenhower, who ran on “roll back Communism”? Zero. So, you know, let’s have a little perspective here…

Okay. Will do. Since I’ve previously discussed George W. Bush’s failure to do anything about Putin’s invasion of Georgia in 2008,  let’s get some perspective on Eisenhower and Reagan in relation to the Russians during the Cold War.

Eisenhower agreed to hold, in 1955, the first meeting between Soviet and Western leaders since Potsdam in 1945, where, as the Miller Center put it,  he proposed “an ‘Open Skies’ program that would have allowed both sides to use aerial air surveillance to gather information about each other’s military capabilities.” Khrushchev rejected the idea, but can you imagine if President Obama had been the first to propose such a thing? What would his critics have said? (The idea was later taken up by President George H. W. Bush in 1989 and an “Open Skies Treaty” was signed in 1992, with Russia as one of the signatories.)

A little more than a year after that Eisenhower-blessed 1955 meeting, the Soviets invaded Hungary, bombing Budapest and moving in armored units to put down a revolt against the country’s oppressive Communist government. Over 2500 Hungarians were killed. And what did Eisenhower, our national war hero, do? Nothing. Thankfully, he sort of had an idea that wars were easy to start and hard to end.

Turning to Ronald Reagan, let’s remember that, like Eisenhower, the conservative president vigorously pursued arms control treaties designed to limit nuclear weapons. Reagan fiercely hated nukes and actually wanted to make a deal with the Soviets to get rid of them altogether. (According to the Heritage Foundation, “Reagan came to believe that the biblical story of Armageddon foretold a nuclear war.” Yikes.) To that end, he proposed the Strategic Defense Initiative (dubbed by its critics as “Star Wars”), which included a space-based laser that was supposed to shoot down incoming missiles. (Some say he got the idea from a movie he made in 1940 called “Murder in the Air,” which introduced an “inertia projector” attached to a dirigible. The inertia projector eventually shot down the bad guy’s plane. Yikes, again.) Famously, and quite surprisingly, Reagan repeatedly offered to share the new missile defense technology with the Russians. If Obama had done that, he would have been excoriated and likely impeached. (Sarah Palin attacked him anyway out of ignorance or stupidity, your choice.)

During Reagan’s first year as president, in December of 1981, the Soviets finally forced the Polish government to squash Solidarity, the anti-Soviet trade union movement led by Lech Walesa. The government imposed martial law, arrested the movement’s leaders, and fired on Polish strikers and demonstrators, killing and injuring many. And what was tough-guy Reagan’s response? Some rather mild sanctions against Poland and the Soviet Union. The Europeans weren’t eager to do too much (sound familiar?) and the Reagan administration, as noted by Arthur Rachwald, “favored a flexible approach to Poland—a policy of carrots and sticks…” Rachwald writes:

..the Reagan administration’s considerable restraint made Warsaw hopeful that an improvement in relations was possible. The real test of Reagan’s long-term intentions toward Poland came at the beginning of February 1982, when the United States had to decided whether to pay $71.3 million in interest to U.S. banks that had made government-guaranteed loans to Poland. Several senators, including Patrick Moynihan, argued in favor of declaring Poland bankrupt. Such a decision would eliminate Polish exports to the West and make the Jaruzelski regime a financial ward of Moscow. This step would be the ultimate form of economic pressure on Warsaw and Moscow.

The Reagan administration, however, believed that declaring Poland insolvent would have irreversible consequences on Polish-U.S. relations.

Thus, Ronaldus Magnus paid the interest due and limited the damage inflicted on the two countries in hopes that future progress could be achieved. (Does that sound familiar, too?) Rachwald says:

The decision not to declare Poland bankrupt was a clear message to Warsaw that mutual relations were not beyond repair, and that the key to Poland’s access to Western markets and credits was in General Jaruzelski’s hands.

Well, as we know, it took eight years after that Polish crack-down on Solidarity before the Soviet Union began to disintegrate. Eight bleeping years. Sometimes it is hard to judge what toughness is. Sometimes being tough involves resisting the desire to be seen as tough. Sometimes it is, as President Obama suggested, settling for singles and doubles and only the occasional home run, as we try to “steadily advance the interests of the American people and our partnership with folks around the world.” Regarding the present crisis in Ukraine, former ambassador Mike McFaul said quite wisely this morning,

I think we should judge this by what happens eight years from now, not by what happens eight days from now.

Amen.

 

“You Are Not Required To Donate In Order To Participate But Your Contributions Give Us The Resources We Need To Accomplish Incredible Things On Behalf Of The Tea Party Movement”

At least once a day, and sometimes three and four times a day, I get an email from a right-wing group called TheTeaParty.net. The emails are nothing more than soliciting tools, designed to get me to part with my money and give it to people who say they are fighting, well, I’ll just give you the latest example:

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Dear Patriot,

We are facing great danger, my friends; an enemy from within. When Barack Obama was sworn in as President, he swore to uphold and defend the Constitution. Instead, he is abusing the office of the Presidency punish those who they perceive as their enemies. Sign and share our petition to tell Congress to stop him!

We cannot do this without you. Fundraising in the beginning of the year started off great and we thought we could do this. This year we can take back our country with your help. For those of you who have stepped up and donated, we are so very grateful for all of those donations. However donations have fallen off and we cannot keep up the fight without them.  Please donate at least $5 if not $10, $20, $50 or $100 right now, then go onto signing this petition and sharing with at least 3 additional people!

Standing for the Constitution makes you an enemy in Obama’s eyes. Stop him!

Believing in personal responsibility makes you an enemy to Obama. Stop him!

Barack Obama has shown us what lengths he will go to in order to punish those he sees as his political enemies.

He has used the IRS to target, intimidate, and harass every day, patriotic, freedom loving Americans in an attempt to silence them into submission.

We must stand together against his flagrant abuse of presidential power. Stand with us today! Sign and share our petition to tell Congress to stop Obama’s abuse of power in targeting political enemies!

*You are not required to donate in order to participate but your contributions give us the resources we need to accomplish incredible things on behalf of the TeaParty movement.

Thank you,

Todd Cefaratti

Freedom Organizer

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Yes, this freedom organizer needs resources in order to accomplish incredible things. Incredible, as in “impossible to believe,” is exactly right. It turns out that Todd Cefaratti is quite a marketing genius and has made a lot of dough by appealing to the worst fears of right-wingers who have more disposable dollars than sense. Here’s what the Institute for Research & Education on Human Rights had to say about Cefaratti and his organization:

TheTeaParty.net, founded by Arizonan Todd Cefaratti, is largely a list-building money-generating machine. Cefaratti has a background in data harvesting, mining contact information and then reselling the leads to clients in the reverse mortgage industry.

The organization’s parent group, Stop This Insanity, Inc., was founded as a political action committee in Arizona in early 2010 by Cefaratti and Ron Dove, who became TheTeaParty.net’s treasurer and human resources manager. The PAC was terminated in November 2010, while it was in the process of losing a lawsuit with the Federal Election Commission. It also developed a bad reputation with other Tea Party groups after raising money ($469,000 between January and October 2010), and then not funding rallies or candidates.

Instead, a significant amount of the funds, $189,759, went to online marketing.

As you can see, most of the money that culturally frightened white people are giving to TheTeaParty.net is going into Cefaratti’s pockets or somewhere else other than to the causes dear to those who fear. But he’s not alone in using fear and white anxiety to make himself a pretty good living. There are plenty of grifters out there just like him:

A Washington Post analysis found that some of the top national tea party groups engaged in this year’s midterm elections have put just a tiny fraction of their money directly into boosting the candidates they’ve endorsed.

The practice is not unusual in the freewheeling world of big-money political groups, but it runs counter to the ethos of the tea party movement, which sprouted five years ago amid anger on the right over wasteful government spending. And it contrasts with the urgent appeals tea party groups have made to their base of small donors, many of whom repeatedly contribute after being promised that their money will help elect conservative politicians.

Out of the $37.5 million spent so far by the PACs of six major tea party organizations, less than $7 million has been devoted to directly helping candidates, according to the analysis, which was based on campaign finance data provided by theSunlight Foundation.

The Post tells us where the dough is going:

Roughly half of the money — nearly $18 million — has gone to pay for fundraising and direct mail, largely provided by Washington-area firms. Meanwhile, tea party leaders and their family members have been paid hundreds of thousands of dollars in consulting fees, while their groups have doled out large sums for airfare, a retirement plan and even interior decorating.

The lavish spending underscores how the protest movement has gone professional, with national groups transforming themselves into multimillion-dollar organizations run by activists collecting six-figure salaries.

Three well-known groups — the Tea Party Patriots, the Tea Party Express and the Madison Project — have spent 5 percent or less of their money directly on election-related activity during this election cycle. Two other prominent tea party groups, the Senate Conservatives Fund and FreedomWorks, have devoted about 40 percent of their money to direct candidate support such as ads and yard signs.

Perhaps my favorite detail is the fact that the chairwoman of the well-known Tea Party Patriots, Jenny Beth Martin, whose mug ought to be familiar to anyone who watches cable news or C-SPAN, “sets her own $15,000 monthly fee for strategic consulting — payments that have totaled $120,000 since July.” Not bad, no? Except that’s not all:

She also draws a salary as president of the Tea Party Patriots’ nonprofit arm — gettingmore than $272,000 in the 2012 fiscal year, according to the group’s most recent tax filing.

Her twin salaries put her on track to make more than $450,000 this year, a dramatic change in lifestyle for the tea party activist, who had filed for bankruptcy in 2008 and then cleaned homes for a period of time to bring in extra money.

Now, you have to hand it to these people. To go from cleaning crappers for change to peddling bullshit for nearly half a mill a year is pretty impressive, sort of a fulfillment of the mostly mythical American Dream, except that most people don’t dream of bilking the gullible as a way out of bankruptcy.

Even though this is all very unseemly, I suppose those of us on the left should be happy that a lot of right-wing dough is being wasted this way. And I suppose that one shouldn’t feel too sorry for white folks who think Barack Obama is “an enemy from within” and are willing to throw money at anyone who will say it loudly and often.

But this isn’t one of America’s finest moments, no matter how you look at it.

Cliven Bundy Just Put Away The Dog Whistle, That’s All

I don’t know, I really don’t know, what everybody is so upset about.

So Cliven Bundy said the following, via The New York Times:

I want to tell you one more thing I know about the Negro,” he said. Mr. Bundy recalled driving past a public-housing project in North Las Vegas, “and in front of that government house the door was usually open and the older people and the kids — and there is always at least a half a dozen people sitting on the porch — they didn’t have nothing to do. They didn’t have nothing for their kids to do. They didn’t have nothing for their young girls to do.

“And because they were basically on government subsidy, so now what do they do?” he asked. “They abort their young children, they put their young men in jail, because they never learned how to pick cotton. And I’ve often wondered, are they better off as slaves, picking cotton and having a family life and doing things, or are they better off under government subsidy? They didn’t get no more freedom. They got less freedom.”

So what? Why are so many people, who jumped in bed with Cliven Bundy and began a rather lurid affair (Have a nice day, Senator Dean Heller!), now scurrying around looking for their clothes and the door? What is in Bundy’s racist remarks that hasn’t been endorsed, in one form or another, by any number of Republicans, especially during the 2012 presidential election? There are many examples to choose from, but I will give you only two.

Remember back in 2012 when two GOP presidential candidates—I said, presidential candidates, people!—Michele Bachmann and Rick Santorum, signed a “Marriage Vow” pledge that included the following as a preamble:

Slavery had a disastrous impact on African-American families, yet sadly a child born into slavery in 1860 was more likely to be raised by his mother and father in a two-parent household than was an African American baby born after the election of the USA’s first African-American President, according to the document.

Translation from Cliven Bundy: “Are they better off as slaves, picking cotton and having a family life and doing things…?”

But we don’t have to go back to 2012, which featured Mitt Romney’s class warfare on the mooching 47%. His partner in that presidential run, Paul Ryan, recently made remarks that mirror Bundy’s comments about how blacks “never learned to pick cotton” because of all the government subsidies they enjoy. On right-wing Bill Bennet’s radio show Ryan said:

Bennett: You gave a talk about poverty, lifting people out of poverty. A great party has a plan to help people get out of poverty. What’s the plan? What are the broad outlines? What’s the roadmap, as someone might say?

Ryan: In a nutshell, work works. It’s all about getting people to work. And when you were one of the leaders of welfare reform in the late ‘90s, we got excoriated for saying you know what, as a condition of welfare, people should go to work and it should be a bridge, not a permanent system. And it worked very well, but there were dozens of other welfare programs that did not get reformed that have sort of overtaken events and have now made it harder for people to get into work. We call it a poverty trap. There are incentives not to work and to stay where you are; that’s not what we want in society. 

And later he told Bennett:

Ryan: And so, that’s this tailspin or spiral that we’re looking at in our communities. You know your buddy (conservative scholar) Charles Murray or (public policy professor) Bob Putnam over at Harvard, those guys have written books on this, which is we have got this tailspin of culture in our inner cities, in particular, of men not working and just generations of men not even thinking about working or learning the value and the culture of work; and so there’s a real culture problem here that has to be dealt with. 

The only difference, to my ears, from what Ryan said and what Bundy said is that Ryan was careful to substitute “inner cities” for “Negroes.” The rest of it is essentially the same idea: if you don’t make black people work by threatening to starve them to death, then what will happen is that all the older blacks will sit on the porch and count their food stamps, while their young girls get pregnant and then get abortions and their young boys commit crimes and end up in jail.

So, let’s get off Cliven Bundy’s racist ass and congratulate him for saying plainly what many, many Republicans have been saying in code for so long.

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Remarks And Asides

A South Carolina Republican candidate for lieutenant governor, a former chaplain in the Army Reserve named Ray Moore, recently called American public education “a godless, pagan school system” that “cannot be fixed.” He also said about the Culture War, which his side has been waging for decades, the following:

We cannot win this war we’re in asray moore long as we keep handing our children over to the enemy to educate…As conservatives and Christians, if you think you’re going to win this war you’re in, and leave your children in those schools, it will not happen…We are losing because we are handing our own children over to the enemy.

I think these folks are catching on.

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Speaking of religious zealots, the KKK has started a ‘hood watch in a town in Pennsylvania:

kkk neighborhood watch

The Imperial Lizard of the Traditionalist American Knights of the KKK said:

It’s just like any neighborhood watch program. It’s not targeting any specific ethnicity. We would report anything we see to law enforcement. We don’t hate people. We are an organization who looks out for our race. We believe in racial separation. God created each species after its kind and saw that it was good.

See? We are making progress with these folks. At least they now think black people are “good,” even though they’d be a whole lot better if they were white. From the group’s headquarter’s on the web (the physical headquarters, wouldn’t you know it, are right here in Missouri), we find:

WE STAND FOR WHITE SUPREMACY. Distinction among the races is not accidental but designed. This is clearly brought out in the one book that tells authoritatively of the origin of the races. This distinction is not incidental, but is of the vastest import and indicates the wisdom of the divine mind. It is not temporary but is as abiding as the ages that have not yet ceased to roll. The supremacy of the White Race must be maintained, or be overwhelmed by the rising tide of color…Purity of the white blood must be maintained. One of the crying evils of the times is the mixture of white blood with that of Negro and other mongrel races. 

How’d all that dark blood get mixed up with that white blood? Oh, they’ve got an answer:

The guilt for this state of affairs rests upon those members of the White Race who for a moment of sexual pleasure have betrayed their own kind and betrayed their own blood.

I confess I don’t get how God could be wise enough to create a holy and pure race like the white race and then be dumb enough to create in the white race a lust for the “Negro and other mongrel races.” I suppose even God can have days when he’s just not on his game, but that seems to me like a pretty big boo-boo.

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Speaking of boo-boos, why couldn’t God have created a group of white people who don’t have any desire to be around black people? Oh, I guess he did. Some call them Republicans.

Don’t believe me? Let’s again go back to the Traditionalist American Knights of the KKK, which has a political philosophy that sounds very familiar:

WE MUST KEEP THIS A WHITE MAN’S COUNTRY. Only by doing this can we be faithful to the foundations laid by our forefathers:
a. This Republic was established by White Men.
b. It was established for White Men.

How about a little guessing game? What political party comes to mind when you read that? Yep! You got it:

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Speaking of white Republicans, we come to Spencer Bachus, a congressman from Alabama.

Bachus, who, thank GOP Jesus, is retiring, deserves special recognition for being the kind of phony politician that everyone should despise.  Dave Weigel writes about an episode in bankster-chasing Elizabeth Warren’s recently released book:

In A Fighting Chance, her new memoir, the senator from Massachusetts recalls when she was the hamstrung, unconfirmed adviser who was supposed to run the new Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. Lacking access to the CFPB’s full powers, she darted through Congress, taking meetings with skeptics. A 2010 encounter with Bachus—months before he became House Financial Services chairman—stood out to her.

“He spoke movingly about people who had been swindled,” writes Warren. “He really seemed to feel their pain. He concluded by saying that if he had more courage, he’d go after the people who did that to families. I was stunned by his use of the word courage and his small, tight, smile.”

Was he climbing on board with Warren? Had the wizard given him courage? No and no. Warren remembers his “accent twanging” as he explained his next move: “I’ll go after the consumer agency, but I hope you understand, it isn’t personal.”

No, it’s not personal. It’s just disgusting. I think I prefer the honesty of Chaplain Ray Moore and the Traditionalist American Knights of the KKK to the kind of cynical politics represented by Spencer Bachus, who not only plays deceptive games like Elizabeth Warren described, but once said to the Birmingham News that,

in Washington, the view is that the banks are to be regulated, and my view is that Washington and the regulators are there to serve the banks.

Bachus may not be quite as honest as the KKK, but he too has a favorite color: green.

______________________________

Finally, and again speaking of white Republicans, we have Senator Dean Heller of Nevada. Last week, after Harry Reid called Cliven Bundy supporters “domestic terrorists,” Heller said that he had “a very different view”:

What Senator Reid may call domestic terrorists, I call patriots.

Yes, he called a group of would-be thugs, who came armed and ready to fight the federal gubmint, “patriots.” Again, I think I prefer the standard of the Traditionalist American Knights of the KKK over Senator Heller’s standard of patriotism. At least the racists pledge to obey the law:

We stand for the enforcement of law by the regularly constituted authorities. This order does not take the law into its own hands and will not tolerate acts of lawlessness on the part of its members.

It’s pretty bad when a group of white supremacists, claiming God as their KKKreator and KKKristianity as their religion, hold a higher view of the law than a Republican senator from Nevada.

Easter On The Sunday Talk Shows (Don’t Read This If You Are Allergic To Profanity)

I am pissed. Still. Thanks to ABC’s “This Week” and NBC’s “Meet The Press.”

this weekOn Easter Sunday, the producers of “This Week” decided to take  a “closer look at the political power of evangelicals,” who represent only “15 percent of the adult population, yet in 2012 accounted for nearly a quarter of all voters.” Okay, fine. I get it. People need to know that a lot of what is going on in the reactionary Republican Party is due to the ridiculously outsized influence of conservative Christians. You tell ’em, ABC!

But the segment (“Are Evangelicals Out of Touch With Mainstream Views?”) began with a setup piece by ABC News correspondent Dan Harris, who essentially told us that evangelicals were sort of mellowing out, not being so quick to offer their political opinions on divisive social issues like, say, gay marriage. Young folks in the evangelical churches are beginning to see the light. Okay, fine again. The right-wing Christians may be starting to adjust to the reality that they are losing the Culture War. I get that, too. That could be good news for the country. Go ahead and preach it, ABC!

Then a strange thing happened. After the setup piece, host Martha Raddatz introduced the evangelical guests. And guess who they were? The same old white- and right-wing reactionaries-evangelicals: Franklin Graham, Billy’s son; Russell Moore, president of the Southern Baptist Convention’s Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission, whatever the hell that is; and the sleazy Ralph Reed, the corrupt former leader of the old Christian Coalition, who was involved in one of Jack Abramoff’s scandals but now leads another Christian group that is damaging the country.ralph reed book

Conveniently for Ralph Reed, ABC News showed a picture of his new book for sale, after having previously promoted it on George Stephanopoulos’ blog. The book, “Awakening,” is subtitled, “How America Can Turn From Economic And Moral Destruction Back To Greatness,” and Chapter 1 begins ominously: “Are we watching our nation commit suicide?” If that isn’t puke-worthy enough, Reed writes:

…there is no denying that the United States, like Rome, is experiencing the downward spiral of the spiritual cycle today. As Americans have sought pleasure and comfort, they have rejected God and His law and substituted the twin idols of self-gratification and government.

Yep. Gubmint is the problem. So much for youthful moderation and the mellowing out of evangelicals.

But forgetting the unseemly Ralph Reed and his government-hating book, what really galled me about “This Week” was the following conversation between the host and the Reverend Franklin Graham:

RADDATZ: You heard Dan’s piece there and certainly the issue of gay marriage has been a big one. Reverend Graham, I want to ask you about this: just a few months after taking office, Pope Francis spoke out on the issue of homosexuality, saying if they accept the Lord and have goodwill, who am I to judge them? They shouldn’t be marginalized, the tendency to homosexuality is not the problem. They’re our brothers. You recently said that Congress could learn something from President Vladimir Putin on the issue of homosexuals and adoption. Let’s take a look at what you said:

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

GRAHAM: Gays and lesbians cannot have children. Biologically it’s impossible.

CHARLOTTE OBSERVER: OK. It’s not but —

GRAHAM: Yes, they can recruit. I think — I agreed with Putin; I think protecting his nation’s children, I think, was probably a pretty smart thing to do.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

RADDATZ: I suspect you still support that, what you said. You still support Putin?

GRAHAM: No, I think — I think Putin is going to do what’s right for Russia. And not what’s right for America, but for Russia. We used to have a president in this country that did what’s right for this country. But we don’t seem to have that right now.

Dammit! I just can’t take that crap anymore. Why does any respectable news outlet put such trash on television, especially without challenging it? What bleeping president was Graham referring to when he ungrammatically said, “We used to have a president in this country that did what’s right for this country”? Nixon? Was it the disgraced Richard Nixon, the man with whom Franklin Graham’s father essentially had phone sex and with whom he agreed that “Jews” had a “stranglehold” on the American news media? Why didn’t Martha Raddatz mention that to Franklin Graham, after he said such a stupid thing about President Obama?

Or why didn’t she mention that Billy Graham privately heaped praise on the racist, homophobic, anti-Semitic Nixon, by saying, “Congratulations on everything,” and “I believe the Lord is with you, I really do”? 

Why didn’t Raddatz say to the Obama-loathing Franklin Graham, “You say Obama isn’t doing what’s right for the country. By that do you mean that he should sit in the Oval Office and spout racist and homophobic and anti-Semitic nonsense because the ‘Lord’ is with him? What Lord might that be? The Lord of the Flies? GOP Jesus?”

Or why didn’t Raddatz mention that a young Franklin Graham, by his father’s own account, said that Nixon was “the greatest president that we’ve ever had in the history of America”? Huh? That’s the same racist president who called blacks “little Negro bastards” and said they “live like a bunch of dogs” and needed to be “inbred” in order to “strengthen our country” in “500 years.” 

Of course Raddatz didn’t ask him a bleeping thing about any of that stuff. I guess evangelical preachers get a stupidity pass on Easter. Or maybe Martha was feeling all Jesussy in the company of such godly men.

Dammit, I’m still seething.

Now on to NBC’s “Meet the Press” and a comment that touches on Graham’s claim as to whether President Obama is in the business of “doing what’s right for this country” or whether he is sitting in the White’s House worrying about whether everyone thinks he is George S. Patton with balls the size of Dick Cheney’s Wyoming.meet the press

Host David Gregory was leading a discussion on the Russian thug Vladimir Putin and his takeover of Crimea and his threatening to take over eastern Ukraine, when all of a sudden out comes the following from one of the program’s conservative commentators:

DAVID BROOKS: And, let’s face it, Obama, whether deservedly or not, does have a—I’ll say it crudely—but a manhood problem in the Middle East: Is he tough enough to stand up to somebody like Assad, somebody like Putin? I think a lot of the rap is unfair. But certainly in the Middle East, there’s an assumption he’s not tough enough.

Are you bleeping kidding me? Was I hallucinating this stuff? A “manhood problem”? A bleeping manhood problem, Mr. Brooks? And you think “a lot of the rap is unfair”? How much is a lot? A fifth? A third? A half? Were you suggesting that there was some way the President should demonstrate to people in the Middle East how tough he is by talking like a badass to the thugs causing all the trouble?

You mean maybe he should talk like a Chicago street thug, huh? Maybe he should say to Putin, “Hey, you mofo, if you don’t quit fucking around in Ukraine then, then, then, then, I’m going to send a lot of American boys and girls over there to die!”

Or he could say to Assad, “You bastard son of a bitch, if you don’t get the hell out of Damascus I’m going to, to, to, to, send a lot of American kids over there to get their arms and legs blown off!”

Or, “If any of you Russian or Middle East shitheads mess with me, I’ll drop World War III on your sorry asses.”

Yeah, that’ll show everyone how tough Obama is. That’s the way the President of the United States can properly project American strength in this world. And if the thugs don’t believe him, if he fails to convince them that he is a truly a tough guy, then, by God, Obama can send someone’s kids to die for his Cheney-approved machismo. Then maybe John McCain and Lindsey Graham and all those in the Middle East who think Obama is a pussy will be happy. Americans will die, but, dammit, presidential and American face will be saved!

Apparently that’s what we need right now. Someone who will do what is right for the country by talking us into another war.

Assholes.

Welcome To The Ozarks, Where Even The Tree Rats Are White

Less than an hour’s drive from Joplin is a town called Marionville, located about 14 miles south of Interstate 44. The town’s website describes it as,

a charming community located in the heart of the Ozarks in Lawrence County, Southwest Missouri. Marionville has a population of white squirrels, which is one of a handful of such populations in the United States.

Visitors come to Marionville in hopes of catching a glimpse of our white squirrels.

I kid you not. White squirrels.

The entire country had a chance to meet one of those white squirrels recently. His name is Dan Clevenger and you’ll soon find out where he hides his nuts. In the mean time, in case you’ve never seen a white squirrel, here’s a picture of one:

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Dan Clevenger owns an engine repair shop in Marionville. And, uh, he’s also the mayor.

In Marionville, not only are the squirrels white, but most of the population of 2200 is too. In other words, the town is like a lot of towns here in the Ozarks, without the white tree rats.

Mayor Clevenger is now famous for talking nice about the Jew-hating white supremacist who killed three Christians at two Jewish community sites in Overland Park, Kansas, this past weekend. One of the victims was a 14-year-old boy, who was killed along with his grandfather, who had brought the young boy to audition for a singing contest. The other victim was a 53-year old woman who was visiting her mother at a nearby senior living facility. The killer, Frazier Glenn Cross (aka Frazier Glenn Miller and Glenn Miller), lived near Marionville and was a “friend” of Mayor Clevenger’s, who told KSPR of Springfield that although the murderous white supremacist’s biased beliefs remained strong over the years, the mayor “kind of agreed with him on some things, but I don’t like to express that too much.”

As KSPR noted, though, the squirrely white mayor wasn’t always so reluctant to express his views:

Nearly a decade ago, Clevenger wrote a letter to the editor of the Aurora Advertiser.

“I am a friend of Frazier Miller helping to spread his warnings,” wrote Clevenger. “The Jew-run medical industry has succeeded in destroying the United State’s workforce.”

The letter continued.

“Made a few Jews rich by killin’ us off.”

He also spoke of the “Jew-run government backed banking industry turned the U.S into the world’s largest debtor nation.”

Years later, Clevenger’s views haven’t seemed to change.

“There some things that are going on in this country that are destroying us.  We’ve got a false economy and it’s, some of those corporations are run by Jews because the names are there,” he said.  “The fact that the Federal Reserve prints up phony money and freely hands it out, I think that’s completely wrong.  The people that run the Federal Reserve, they’re Jewish.”

Now, it’s not that Mayor White Squirrel supports what Frazier Miller did. He made sure to tell us that he is against violence and that he doesn’t hate anyone and that the killer “didn’t have any right to that and I think he should pay with his life.” Good for the squirrel. But he made no effort to repudiate Miller’s basic views or the views he himself expressed a decade ago. When Talking Points Memo tried to talk to him yesterday, he said he’s “done doing interviews.”

The problem is that when Mayor Clevenger wrote in defense of the white supremacist ten years ago, he knew what kind of man he was. Frazier Miller had founded the White Patriot Party in 1980, “a paramilitary, Christian Identity faction of the Ku Klux Klan.” In the late 1980s Miller was accused of plotting to kill civil rights activist Morris Dees of the Southern Poverty Law Center. He was eventually convicted of threatening Dees and of weapons violations, then ratted out 13 of his fellow haters as part of a plea bargain. Miller served three years in federal prison.

I wrote about Frazier Glenn Miller four years ago in a post titled, “Whites Unite! And Take Our Country Back!”  At the time he was running for Missouri’s U.S. Senate seat (eventually won by Roy Blunt) and I dared to compare part of Miller’s white supremacist message with what I saw going on in the then-flourishing Tea Party. When a commenter challenged me on that comparison, I wrote:

Who was I supposed to compare this stuff to? Teapartiers are running all over the country yelling, “We want our country back!” Well, it turns out, so are the white-wing nuts. In fact, if you view the video from the 1980s of Glenn Miller’s White Patriot Party, you will hear the following points advanced:

1. Liberals are ruining the country.

2. Abortion is murder.

3. The government is the enemy.

Granted, all of the above is set in a context of white supremacy, but so is much of the rhetoric of the extremists in the Tea Party movement. See Tom Tancredo’s speech at the Tea Party Convention, for example. When teapartiers say, “we want our country back!” who is the “we“? You know who they mean, as well as I do. The frequent references to the Founders just reinforces the point.

As I pointed out in the Globe last June, people like the late Samuel Francis and MSNBC’s Pat Buchanan and other sulkers over the god-awful drift away from our “European” (read: white) roots, lament the state of our culture because white folks are losing control of it. While this isn’t the kind of in-your-face racism that Glenn Miller represents, it is related to it.

I stand by what I said in 2010. What the mayor of Marionville represents, besides white squirrels, is the kind of angst among white people that I have been writing about since I started this blog more than five years ago. Sure, almost all white people worrying about the state of the culture and their place in it as white people obviously condemn what Frazier Glenn Miller did in Overland Park. I want to make it clear that I am not accusing tea partiers or other Republicans of supporting hateful and murderous violence against non-whites or non-Christians or anyone. What I am saying is that to the extent that ideas motivated Frazier Miller to murder, those ideas are related to the angst that so many white people, especially in the South, feel these days, especially these days when an African-American is sitting in the White’s House.

The lastest example of what I am talking about happened in just the past few days. Hank Aaron, one of the greatest baseball players of all time, wrote a piece for USA Today in which he said,

Sure, this country has a black president, but when you look at a black president, President Obama is left with his foot stuck in the mud from all of the Republicans with the way he’s treated. We have moved in the right direction, and there have been improvements, but we still have a long ways to go in the country. The bigger difference is that back then they had hoods. Now they have neckties and starched shirts.

A lot of white people don’t want to hear that these days, particularly coming from a black man. When Aaron was about to break Babe Ruth’s homerun record in 1974, he famously received all kinds of hate mail and death threats. After his USA Today newspaper article was published, the Atlanta Braves, for whom Aaron works, was the conduit for more up-to-date hate, according to the paper’s sports columnist Bob Nightengale:

Sheer racism, exposed in vile letters directed to Hall of Famer Hank Aaron, have poured into the Atlanta Braves offices over the past week.

Yes, it was like 1974 all over again, the year Aaron broke Babe Ruth’s all-time home run record, with letters laced with the most hateful epithet known to African Americans.

“Hank Aaron is a scumbag piece of (expletive) (racial slur)” a man named Edward says in an e-mail to the Braves front office obtained by USA TODAY Sports.

Edward invokes the epithet five times in four sentences, closing with, “My old man instilled in my mind from a young age, the only good (racial slur) is a dead (racial slur).”

With that, happy Jackie Robinson Day!

On a day when Major League Baseball celebrates Robinson, who broke the color barrier April 15, 1947, in one of the most momentous achievements of the civil rights movement, we have these letters to remind us of the racial hatred that still exists in this society.

Yes, of course. Racial hatred still exists. Against blacks, against Jews, against whomever it is that threatens the longstanding dominance of white culture in America. And although a small-town mayor here in southwest Missouri is quick to denounce the violence that, fortunately, only occasionally accompanies such racial hatred, he and too many others are not so quick to denounce the ideas that precede the violence.

__________________________________

Finally, from the AP:

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Kansas Gov. Sam Brownback has ordered flags to be flown at half-staff on Thursday and Friday to honor three people shot to death at two Jewish sites in Overland Park.

Dr. William Corporon and his grandson, Reat Griffin Underwood, were shot and killed Sunday outside of the Jewish Community Center of Greater Kansas City. A third victim, Terri Lamanno, was shot moments later at the Village Shalom, a Jewish retirement complex.

Memorial services for the three victims are scheduled on Thursday and Friday.

lamanno and corporon and underwood

Big Brother Is A Big Sister In Oklahoma

At first I thought it was one of those things you hear about that only Snopes can properly dispose of.

I received a text from someone who wrote:

How about that Oklahoma governor. Signed that wacko bill. No minimum wage laws allowed in her state. No paid sick leave or vacation days.

That Okie governor, of course, is Mary Fallin, a Republican in the mold of, say, well, I can’t say. GOP Jesus broke the mold when he made Governor Fallin. In any case, I discovered that what she actually signed two days ago was a bill that bans cities in Oklahoma from passing a higher minimum wage requirement than the state’s current minimum (which is set at the federal level of $7.25), and that bans those cities from enacting sick and vacation leave requirements on behalf of workers. I also found out that other states have passed such laws (mostly states that have been dominated by domineering Republicans, like in Texas, for instance) and that other states are considering such laws.

Now, because we’ve been over it before, I won’t harp on the false ideas that are behind keeping the minimum wage as low as possible, from the notion that minimum wage jobs are mostly held by kids in high school or college who are working part-time jobs (the average age is actually 35; one-third are at least 40 years old; more than one-fourth have kids to support; more than half work full-time), to the notion that a relatively higher minimum wage hurts job growth (the most one can say is that it is a mixed bag). And I won’t even harp on the outrageous idea that a family-values FALLINparty like the Republican Party pretends—pretends—to be would ban cities from passing sick and vacation leave requirements that would benefit workers in their cities (thank about that the next time you eat a fast-food burger that may have been cooked by a sick worker who couldn’t afford to stay home that day). No, I won’t harp on that stuff. We’re all used to the idea by now that Republicans aren’t exactly the friends of the working class, even if they’ve cleverly managed to talk a lot of working class folks into putting them in power.

What I will harp on is the hypocrisy of what Republicans have done relative to the cities in their respective states. This latest power grab in Oklahoma came about because there is an effort underway in Oklahoma City to establish a higher minimum wage than that anachronistic $7.25 federal wage. And Governor Fallin and the corporatists in her state can’t have the locals doing their own thing, if doing their own thing conflicts with larger business interests. So much for that “local control” that Republicans are always throwing at us when they talk about how much they hate big gubmint. It’s funny that when things start happening among the natives that right-wingers don’t like, they are the first ones to move in with the foot of the state and crush any grass roots movement, or in the case of women trying to exercise their right to control their reproductive health, Republicans move in with a government-mandated vaginal probe, which is a manifestation of Big Brother that even George Orwell never imagined.

Hanoi Huckabee And Hanoi Hannity

In 1972, actress Jane Fonda, at the height of her youthful popularity, went to North Vietnam, against whom we were still warring, and toured the country for two weeks. While there, she denounced U.S. military policy and did something she later said “was the most horrible thing I could possibly have done.” That something was posing for pictures on an anti-aircraft gun outside of Hanoi. “I will go to my grave regretting that,” she said in 2005, adding,

The image of Jane Fonda, Barbarella, Henry Fonda’s daughter—just a woman—sitting on a enemy aircraft gun, was a betrayal. It was like I was thumbing my nose at the military. And at the country that gave me privilege. It was the largest lapse of judgment that I can even imagine. I don’t thumb my nose at this country. I care deeply about American soldiers.

Fonda did not apologize, though, for being photographed with seven American POWs and for making broadcasts for Radio Hanoi:

Our government was lying to us, and men were dying because of it. And I felt that I had to do anything that I could to expose the lies, and help end the war. That was my goal.

Obviously her trip to Hanoi earned her the lasting ire of many veterans, who would refer to her as “Hanoi Jane” forevermore. Many still consider her a traitor and many lies have grown up and multiplied around that trip in 1972, including a vicious lie, still circulating on the dark side of the Internet, that some POWs passed to her notes to take back home that she allegedly turned over to the North Vietnamese, who then supposedly beat to death some of those POWs.

Fonda’s trip to North Vietnam also made her a legend in the conservative movement, if only as a poster child for all that was wrong with liberals and leftists, all that was wrong with radicals who did not necessarily embrace the idea that if America was doing it, it must be right. Many conservatives over the years have used Fonda as an example of someone who portrays their own country as the “enemy,” and who is either unpatriotic or treasonous for doing so.

Now we come to Mike Huckabee. By now you have heard him say the following, uttered this past weekend at a gathering of Obama-hating right-wing extremists called the New Hampshire Freedom Summit:

Freedom of speech in this country, that for which the men grabbed their muskets off the mantel, did never mean that we’re to have fewer voices, but more voices…My gosh, I’m beginning to think that there’s more freedom in North Korea sometimes than there is in the United States…

Especially in context, those remarks should offend and outrage any American, whether you like Barack Obama or not. I don’t think that Jane Fonda ever said anything as offensive or outrageous as comparing the United States unfavorably with a despotic shit hole like North Korea.

But before he said those offensive and outrageous things, Huckabee said something that I find even more outrageous. Read the following demagogic commentary the law-and-order-loving Huckabee gave on the dangerous drama going on in Nevada—where a delusional rancher has been illegally grazing his cattle on federal government land for twenty years and who says he doesn’t “recognize [the] United States Government as even existing” and who is essentially leading a group of crazed people with guns who are willing to kill federal authorities trying to enforce the law:

There is something incredibly wrong when a government believes that some blades of grass that a cow is eating is so an egregious affront to the government to the United States that we would literally put a gun in a citizen’s face and threaten to shoot him over it. [Interrupted by applause.] Here’s what I’d have to ask: Is this government more interested in some cows eating grass in Nevada than they are as to why Brian Terry was murdered with guns that our government provided drug dealers in Mexico? [More applause.] Somebody help me understand that? Is this government more concerned about a few hundred head of cattle grazing on some land than they are as to why four Americans were murdered in Benghazi? And nobody answered the phone at three o’clock in the morning! [More thunderous applause.] The threats and affronts to our liberty today are so incredibly frightening…

Let’s take a moment to reflect on what Mike Huckabee is saying here. Besides his attempt to appeal to the worst elements of the Republican base—those who think Barack Obama and Eric Holder and Hillary Clinton are essentially murderers or complicit in murder—he is essentially saying that the government should ignore a freeloading lawbreaker in Nevada, a freeloading lawbreaker who has become a folk hero on the right, because that lawbreaking rancher’s crimes aren’t worth enforcing the law. When Huckabee made those remarks he knew that right-wing groups, including Americans for Prosperity, had been championing rancher Cliven Bundy’s cause to the point that reactionary militia members from all over the country were on the scene in Nevada with their guns in order to provide an “armed response” to what the Bureau of Land Management was trying to do. Huckabee knew that. And yet he ignored all that and focused on Fast and Furious and Benghazi. I remind you that besides being a former governor, the man is a bleeping Baptist minister, for God’s sake.

Now enter Sean Hannity. After the Bureau of Land Management decided to wisely back down and not get into a shootout with hysterical reactionaries at this time, Hannity offered the Bundy family yet another opportunity to make their case against the federal government’s authority over the land in Nevada, the land that the Bundys had been profiting from by grazing their cattle on it for free (some dare call that welfare). I will provide you with part of the transcript of that disgusting Fox “News” segment, a transcript that appeared on Fox Nation under the headline:

Cliven Bundy on Harry Reid: ‘I Don’t Think There’s Any Hope for Him, He Needs to Be Kicked Out of Office’

HANNITY: This is a “FOX News Alert.” The federal government has caved to public pressure in the battle against Nevada rancher Cliven Bundy over cattle grazing rights. Now, in just a moment, Cliven, his two sons will join us for their first exclusive interview since the siege ended.

But first, the government surrendered this weekend after tensions escalated in the week-long standoff between Bundy family, supporters, and of course, federal agents. Now, the Bureau of Land Management released the 400 cattle that it seized from Bundy and removed its heavily-armed agents from the ranch.

Get that? The federal government “caved” and “surrendered.” Hannity was siding with the armed resistance. He was siding with the lawbreakers who believe the federal government is their enemy. And it was as if Hannity and Friends were cheering for a different outcome, one with, say, blood and death. Hannity even went so far as to claim that Democrats were involved:

HANNITY: …From my perspective, as somebody that follows politics very, very closely, I think that they — I think the politicians were watching this, Democrats in particular, and that they knew if something bad happened here, and they were the ones ratcheting this up – – I mean, we have rapist and murderers and bank robbers and pedophiles out there, and they’ve 200 agents, you know, surrounding your ranch because your cows are eating grass on land that they don’t even want or need and that you’re arguing isn’t even theirs.

So they realized, I think, at some point, politically, that this was going to backfire on them. So I think this was done for political reasons.

As outrageous as Hannity’s promotion of these right-wing extremists was, as outrageous as his claim that Democrats, presumably in Washington, surrendered to gun-toting lawbreakers in Nevada to avoid bad publicity, there was another outrageous thing that happened on his show. Cliven Bundy, the man at the center of this right-wing sanctioned freeloading and lawbreaking, had the following exchange with the Fox host:

HANNITY: Well, let me ask you, because Harry Reid just spoke earlier tonight and he said that, well, it’s not over. He said, quote, “We can’t have American people that violate the law and then just walk away from it. So it’s not over.”

What is your response to Harry Reid?

CLIVEN BUNDY: I don’t have a response for Harry Reid, but I have a response for every sheriff across the United States, every county sheriff across the United States. Disarm the federal bureaucrats. Take the federal United States bureaucrats’ guns away. That’s my message today.

What? “Disarm the federal bureaucrats?” Take their guns away? Sheriffs are suppose to walk up to federal agents and take away their weapons? Huh?bundy ranch sniper

Now, one would expect that Sean Hannity, who thinks people here without citizenship are lawbreakers who should pay fines and not get federal subsidies and should be forced to learn English and suffer other penalties for not being legal Americans like him, one would expect him to tell Cliven Bundy that he was out of his mind for thinking that sheriffs could and should disarm federal officials. One would expect Hannity, who refers to President Obama as lawless, to tell the disturbed rancher that this is a nation of laws and that no law gives a sheriff the right to take a gun away from a federal official who is authorized to possess it, and certainly no law gives people the right to get into a gun battle with government agents carrying out their official duties. But no. Our law-loving conservative host responded with this:

HANNITY: You said that to the sheriff, Cliven. You said to disarm the Park Service, meaning the Bureau of Land Management. I mean, there were, what, 200 people surrounding your ranch and there were snipers and — I mean, it was really a precarious situation there all weekend up until this got resolved, right?

CLIVEN BUNDY: Yes. And if the county sheriff had have taken away the weapons from the BLM, those pickets (ph) would not have to march before these guns. And that was — that’s a terrible thing to put American people in that situation, and — but they did.

And we didn’t have a county sheriff. We didn’t have a state government. And we the people marched, and the BLM backed down. Now, they backed down — let me tell you how they backed down. They backed down. They run. They got on the freeway and went to Mesquite and grabbed their stuff and moved out of the state. Now, the state — towards the state of Utah. Utah County sheriff’s finished this job that Gillespie didn’t do, take the guns away from these federal bureaucrats.

HANNITY: Is your contention that this is state land and that they have no authority or business being there?

CLIVEN BUNDY: They have no authority.

HANNITY: All right, let me ask you about…

“All right.” That’s it. No lecture to Mr. Bundy about the need to obey the laws. No admonition that he and his family were putting government officials in danger. No scolding him for picking and choosing which laws he would like to obey. No moral sermon about how awful it is for the Bundy family to be part of Mitt Romney’s 47% who are mooching off the federal government. No, none of that. In fact, Bundy later spoke again of disarming the enemy, the federal officials trying to enforce the law:

CLIVEN BUNDY: …They might have took over our Clark County sheriff, but they never took over we the people, the sovereign people of this nation. We’re standing and we’re going to stand until we take the guns away from those bureaucracies, and then we’ll start making America great one more time.

To that, I swear to God, our Constitution-loving, Obama-is-a-lawbreaking-radical-who-pals-around-with-terrorists Fox celebrity said:

HANNITY: Did you lose many cows? I understand that some of your cows died.

It’s all about the cows.

Conservatives, those who tacitly defend or openly promote what the Bundy family and their gun-packing fellow travelers are doing in Nevada, at the very least owe Jane Fonda an apology.

In the mean time, if you want a look at real stupidity and lawlessness and mob mentality, I suggest you watch the following video in its entirety (beware: the reactionaries call federal officials some vile and profane names), a video recorded by someone who is proud of what happened in Nevada:

bundy headlines

The Right Ronald Reagan

I am proud to be a Democrat, as I have said many times. Since the days of Franklin Roosevelt and Harry Truman, the Democratic Party, at least in principle, has stood for the little guy against the big guy, even if the big guys have at times been able to get a lot of little guys to vote for the big guys’ interests.

In case you didn’t know, long before Ronald Reagan became the champion of the big guy, he was an outspoken critic of the big guy’s political protector, the Republican Party. And if you have never heard Ronald Reagan’s 1948 campaign statements supporting Democrats and criticizing, rather severely, Republicans, Lawrence O’Donnell did a great job presenting those statements on his “Rewrite” segment last night. It’s something everyone should hear:

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