“Your Microwave Can See You Naked,” And Other Tales From “How To Create And Exploit Fear And Grow Rich And Powerful”

“There was an article this week that talked about how you can surveil someone through their phones, certainly through their television sets, any number of different ways. And microwaves that turn into cameras, et cetera. So we know that that is just a fact of modern life.”

—Kellyanne Conway, counselor to Tr-mp

Every day we see and hear almost nothing but propaganda, some of it strange and dark, from Tr-mp and his regime and his enablers in Congress. Trashing the Congressional Budget Office’s estimates of killing Obamacare is just one example (the CBO, by the way, is headed by a conservative Republican economist and critic of Obamacare). Another example is the attempt by Sean Spicer to reinterpret what Tr-mp meant when he accused President Obama of a crime. There are countless cases of such surreal attempts to ignore or, more often, invent an alternative reality.

Some people call this stuff gaslighting. Some call it deflection. Others call it simple obfuscation, designed to draw attention away from the Russian scandal or the Tr-mp family grifting and Emoluments Clause violations or the administrative incompetence—or Tr-mp’s personality disorders. But because I spent more than 20 years listening to talk radio—as a conservative—I know exactly what it is we see and hear. It’s an attempt to radicalize Americans, at least enough of them to make a good living, or in terms of Image result for microwave and conwaypolitics, to retain political power and achieve reactionary policy goals. These people sell conspiracies, they peddle half- and quarter-truths as gospel. They tell lies. They radicalize Americans so they can use them, either to get their money or their votes.

And I have bad news. It works.

We can trace nearly all of what we see today back to Rush Limbaugh. He went national with his divisive, propagandistic, profitable radio show in 1988. I was there with him from the beginning. Every day. First it was two hours, then it went to three. I was a believer. I was a dittohead. I had been educated in conservatism by intellectuals like William F. Buckley and George Will and Joseph Sobran. But I was, to tell the truth, radicalized in my formerly rabid conservatism by Limbaugh.

It was the Limbaugh model—distort and skew the news to promote far-right politics and demonize Democrats—upon which Roger Ailes, who once tried to make Rush a television star in the 1990s, based the idea of Fox “News.” Debuting in 1996, Ailes’ Fox enterprise became the number one cable “news” channel in 2002 and has remained there ever since. It turns out, as Ailes learned from Limbaugh’s financial success, that disseminating disinformation and propaganda, turning the Democratic Party into an America-hating institution, and radicalizing conservatives, is a lucrative business. According to the Pew Research Center, Fox “News” enjoyed a profit in 2015 of some $1.5 billion, well ahead of CNN’s $381 million and MSNBC’s $227 million.

About the same time Fox “News” was beginning its televised assault on the truth, hijacking journalism for the radicalization of the right, a former 7-Eleven night clerk and telemarketer named Matt Drudge began to make his mark on the Internet. The Drudge Report began as a small email newsletter dabbling mostly in showbiz, “part gossip and part opinion,” as Wikipedia describes it, that Drudge ran out of his tiny two-room apartment in a run-down part of Hollywood. It morphed into a news aggregation site, began focusing on politics, and gained prominence by first revealing, early in 1998, that Newsweek was sitting on a story about someone named Monica Lewinsky. We all know what happened to Bill Clinton after that. What happened to Drudge is that outing Newsweek, assisting in the right-wing assault on the Clinton’s, made him a superhero on the right. His intentional and ongoing disdain for journalistic standards, of standards of any kind, is demonstrated by a story published by Media Matters in 2013 involving Drudge and a crazy conspiracist now linked to Donald Tr-mp:

Matt Drudge has long been conspiracy theorist Alex Jones’ biggest ally. According to a Media Matters review, the heavily-trafficked Drudge Report has promoted at least 50 separate articles at Jones’ Infowars website in 2013, and has linked to at least 244 different articles on the site in the past two years.

Drudge announced this week that he had privately told friends that 2013 would be the “year of Alex Jones.” Considering Drudge’s penchant for promoting Jones and his Infowars website, those comments are more of a promise than a prediction.

Drudge missed the exact year that the kooky Jones—on whose program Tr-mp has appeared, whom Tr-mp has called “amazing,” and to whom Tr-mp said “I will not let you down”—would rise to prominence. But that wasn’t the point. The point was and is to make money off misinformation and propaganda and lies, which is a reason to promote people like Jones. Mediaite reported that in July of last year, DrudgeReport.com “netted a combined page view count of 1,189,670,000 for the month and held its position as the #3 media publisher in the country.” This stuff works, people.

Now we come to Breitbart.com, “the platform for the alt-right,” as Tr-mp’s chief strategist Steve Bannon, who recently resigned as the chairman of the extremist site, once called it. The founder of Breitbart.com was no stranger to Matt Drudge, as Reason magazine pointed out:

Andrew Breitbart describes his job function as “Matt Drudge’s bitch,” but he’s being modest: He’s the man behind the curtain at The Drudge Report, stirring up the site’s signature mix of scandal, box office returns, wire stories, and political tidbits.

Even though Andrew Breitbart is dead, his site lives on and is still spreading Drudge’s sludge, as this story from October of 2016 demostrates:

Drudge Warns: Impending Hillary Sex Scandal

That story was ostensibly about a tweet Drudge sent out:

drudge and hillary and ellen

The real point of the Breitbart story and the Drudge tweet with a photo of Ellen DeGeneres, a well-known lesbian, was to get the following “scandal” and “political tidbit” into the minds of conservative readers who may not have known about it or had forgotten it:

A rumor circulated in the 1990s saying that Clinton was secretly okay with her husband’s extramarital affairs because she was secretly a lesbian, but there has been no truth to the rumor.

This isn’t the first time Clinton has been accused of cheating on her husband.

Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump accused Clinton of cheating on her husband, but he didn’t say with whom or provided any specifics.

“Hillary Clinton’s only loyalty is to her financial contributors, I don’t even think she’s loyal to Bill if you want to know the truth,” he said during a rally in Pennsylvania on Oct. 1. “Really folks, why should she be?” he asked, a reference to Bill Clinton’s womanizing and accusations of sexual abuse.

Propagating such tripe radicalizes conservatives, make them regular customers, and gets them to pass stories like these among their friends and family and coworkers, which generates income. So does labeling the mainstream press as “fake news,” something Tr-mp and his followers do now without even blinking.

Conservative media, of which Tr-mp is now a part, use these methods to divide the country and exploit and monetize the differences between us. For an increasing number of cynical politicians on the right, the methods are meant to divide the country and benefit from a fevered following of fanatics, those who will express their radicalization by voting against their own economic interests and, in more extreme cases, taking to violence or, as we have seen lately with the attacks on Jewish centers, expressing ancient hatreds.

Just stop and think of where we are right now:

♦ The special counsel to Tr-mp has essentially warned Americans that their government may be using microwave ovens to spy on them.

♦ A United States congressman from Iowa, praising a right-wing Dutch xenophobe who thinks European civilization is being transformed by Muslim immigrants, said, “We can’t restore our civilization with somebody else’s babies.” He then went on CNN and made matters worse by doubling down on his message. And we barely heard a negative peep from his fellow Republicans.

♦ According to the Anti-Defamation League, “Since January, 161 bomb threats have targeted Jewish institutions across the country.” Another ADL article notes: “White supremacists, emboldened by the 2016 elections and the current political climate, are currently engaged in an unprecedented outreach effort to attract and recruit students on American college campuses.”

♦ One of Tr-mp’s top strategists, Steve Bannon, a self-avowed Leninist who wants “to destroy the state,” thinks Western Civilization is in a Holy War not just against violent Islamist extremists, but with Islam itself, a religion that has 1.6 billion followers around the world, including 3.3 million here in America, some 4000 of whom are currently serving in the U.S. military.

♦ Sean Hannity, a radical radio guy spawned by the success of Rush Limbaugh and who crossed over to TV as a popular host on what masquerades as a conservative “news” network, on Thursday claimed there were “Obama holdovers” in the government “hell-bent on destroying” Tr-mp. He told the Tr-mp regime to “purge these saboteurs before it’s too late.” The next day the purging began with the firing of U.S. Attorneys. None other than Geraldo Rivera called Hannity “the second-most powerful, influential person in the country” because  he talks to Tr-mp every day and, more frightening, Tr-mp listens.

♦ Worse, Bloomberg news posted a video story today with this headline and description:

Alex Jones Preaches Conspiracy Theori♦es, Trump Listens

Alex Jones is one of the most famous conspiracy theorists in America, calling events like the Sandy Hook shooting, the Apollo moon landing, and 9/11 “false flags.” One of his biggest fans? Donald Trump. This Bloomberg Profile looks at how Alex Jones went from extremist fringe to a major source of information for the president of the United States.

♦ Our Secretary of State is sometimes unaware when foreign diplomats are visiting Washington, takes foreign trips without the press, and generally has no staff to help him understand the complexities and nuances of diplomacy.

♦ Wikileaks has released potentially devastating intelligence-gathering secrets, and Agent Orange is more worried about The Apprentice’s ratings. In fact, Kellyanne Conway’s allusion to spying microwaves was in the context of Wikileaks—think: Russia—trying to undermine our national security and our democracy.

♦ Tr-mp delusionally claimed Obama committed a serious felony, referred to the former president as either a “bad” man or a “sick” man, and close to half of the country is willing to believe him.

♦ Tr-mp claims, almost every time he talks about the economy, that it was a “mess” when he took over. Journalists, weary of correcting every lie, every day, don’t even bother to address this one anymore.

♦ Before Tr-mp was in power, the employment numbers were phony. After he’s in power, they are indisputable evidence of his governing genius.

♦ The Office of Management and Budget director, former congressman Mick Mulvaney, has not only told lies about Obamacare, but he accused the Obama administration of “manipulating the numbers” in order “to make the unemployment rate…look smaller than it actually was.” He offered no evidence for this claim, of course, but it is part of radicalizing a segment of the population to doubt the facts and believe the unbelievable.

♦ And speaking of radicalism, that same Mick Mulvaney championed the 2011 government shutdown, believed such shutdowns were “good policy,” and, as a congressman, would have cut government spending to the point that it could be drowned not in Grover Norquist’s infamous bathtub, but in Tr-mp’s gold-plated shitter. During hard economic times, he proposed dramatic cuts in government spending, including defense spending, so much so that John McCain voted against his confirmation as OMB director.

♦ The Speaker of the House has called the GOP bill to repeal and replace Obamacare an “act of mercy.” Here are examples of Republican mercy: some 24 million folks, many of them elderly and living in nursing homes, will lose their health coverage; older Americans will pay a lot more for their insurance; CBO estimates monthly health insurance premium for a single 64-year-old who makes $26,500 would jump more than 700% (from $1,700 to $14,600)”; defunding Planned Parenthood “would leave many women without services to help them avoid pregnancy, resulting in thousands of additional births”; oh, and rich people will get $600 billion in tax cuts over ten years.

All this and more that is happening around us is radical stuff. There is no doubt about it. And none of it could happen without intentionally radicalizing enough people in the country—not a majority but enough— to make it all possible.

Many of us outside the various fundamentalist tribes have wondered how a culture can exist in faraway places that promotes the idea that people should strap explosives to their torsos to kill and terrorize those who don’t share their theological beliefs. Now we can see how that can happen. It starts with radicalization. It starts with convincing ignorant or unsophisticated or vulnerable people that what they see and hear is false, unless it comes from the radicalizers. Microwave ovens can see what we are doing. Our televisions are spying on us. Only the regime’s numbers are real numbers. “Mercy” means taking away healthcare from millions and giving away millions to billionaires. And on and on.

We have not seen and will not see American radicals on the right strap on explosive vests and blow up people in the town square. Theirs is a different brand of radicalism. What we have seen are these radicals collectively strapping Tr-mpism to the chest of America and threatening to politically blow up the place if they don’t get what they want.

Our job, as resisters, is not to let them terrorize us into submission or to numb us into pessimism and paralysis. Tr-mpism is explosive. It is dangerous. But we can fight it and win. We can protect the truth, respect the facts, and insist that our friends and family and others around us do the same. Then when election time comes, we can vote and strip the radicalizers of their power, if not their ability to make money by radicalizing the gullible.

 

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The Las Vegas Cop Murders: Rhetorical And Philosophical Chickens Coming Home To Roost

miller the cop killer

Just about a month ago, speaking in support of a proposed radical amendment to the Missouri constitution that would attempt to nullify all federal gun laws, a state legislator from the Joplin area named Charlie Davis tried to explain to a local right-wing radio host what was the purpose of the radical amendment:

Well, for us common-sense folks here in Southwest Missouri, “keep and bear arms” means arms, ammunition, the things that you need to protect yourself from an individual or from an overextension of government.

That last part, that part about an individual having the right to protect himself from an overextension of government, is what ran through my head when I heard the news about the cold-blooded execution of two policemen and a civilian in Las Vegas on Sunday. What Rep. Charlie Davis was advocating, when he implied that people should have the right to use weapons against over-the-limit government officials, sounds a lot like what people in the “sovereign citizen” movement are advocating: individuals are the final authority regarding any law created or any action taken by government, especially the federal government.

Let’s face it. Charlie Davis’ comments about using weapons “to protect yourself from an individual or from an overextension of government”—comments he made not long after the freeloading rancher Cliven Bundy inspired militia freaks to come to his aid armed against the federal government—do not conflict with the philosophical views of Bundy or those two anti-government cop killers in Las Vegas. Here’s how the Las Vegas Review-Journal described the radicalized murderers:

Before going on a shooting rampage that left five people dead, including two Las Vegas police officers and themselves, Jerad and Amanda Miller displayed the classic ideological leanings of the anti-government patriot movement, according to nationally known experts who track extremist groups.

Their ambush of officers Alyn Beck and Igor Soldo was the latest in a growing number of shootouts, some deadly, between right-wing extremists and law enforcement authorities, the experts say.

“It’s showing no sign of slowing down,” said Mark Pitcavage, the widely known top researcher for the Anti-Defamation League. “It’s almost inevitable there will be more confrontations between right-wing extremists, and law enforcement needs to be prepared for that.”

I would like someone to explain to me how what Tea Party-loving Charlie Davis said is different from “the classic ideological leanings of the anti-government patriot movement” that inspired the two creeps who decided to go on a government-hating killing spree in Las Vegas, draping one of the police victims in the Tea Party-adopted Gadsden flag and pinning a note to the other police victim claiming that the killings were “the beginning of a revolution”?

Please someone explain to me how it is possible to neatly separate what Jerad and Amanda Miller believed about government from what so many Tea Party extremists say they believe?

Reportedly, a witness at Walmart, where Amanda Miller killed a civilian trying to stop her husband, said he heard Jerad Miller reiterate that, “This is a revolution!” If you go to YouTube and watch a two-minute tribute to the first Joplin Tea Party rally in 2009, you will see at the end of that tribute the following:

joplin tea party 2009

This isn’t unique to Joplin. We all know what language teapartiers have used throughout the presidency of Barack Obama. We’ve heard what the Glenn Becks and Rush Limbaughs and Sean Hannitys and countless others, including countless politicians, have said about what Charlie Davis called the “overextension” of government. I don’t have to dig up and publish all the ridiculous things that have been said. But what we all should understand is that a form of radicalism very close to the radicalism that infected the minds of murderous extremists like Jerad and Amanda Miller has become an important part of mainstream conservatism these days.

Facebook can reveal a lot about people and what is in their heads and where they are getting what is in their heads. Just look at some of the “likes” on Jerad Miller’s Facebook page:

National Rifle Association
American Patriot Media Network
Rand Paul 2016
Ron Paul
Allen West
Washington Examiner
Heritage Foundation
FreedomWorks
American Crossroads

Now, none of these people or groups—who are well within the mainstream of today’s Republican Party—obviously are directly responsible for what Jerad and Amanda Miller did on Sunday. What I am interested in pointing out is how the language and basic philosophy of the Tea Party movement, at least the most influential parts of it, is similar to the language and philosophy embraced by violence-prone haters of government, including the Millers, who were armed participants in the Bundy standoff against the feds and, like other right-wing extremists including Sean Hannity, considered the outcome a victory. In fact, Hannity, using his Fox program to promote Bundy’s efforts until Bundy revealed himself as a racist, defended his actions on behalf of Bundy by first condemning the rancher’s racism and then saying,

The ranch standoff that took place out in Nevada was not about a man named Cliven Bundy. At the heart of this issue was my belief that our government is simply out of control. 

You see? It is an out-of-control government that justifies the armed citizen response to what the Bureau of Land Management was trying to legally do to bring justice to Bundy—a response that caused a U.S. Republican senator to label those armed citizens “patriots.” If, as Hannity insists, the “heart” of the issue at Bundy’s ranch, where radicals were armed and ready to gun down federal agents, was a government out of control, then the heart of the issue in Las Vegas, at least for the two radicals who were armed and actually gunned down agents of the local government, was also a government out of control. There’s simply no way to separate the two, except that one was a potential tragedy and the other a real one. The underlying philosophical ideas are essentially the same: the Second Amendment gives citizens the right to protect themselves against overreaching government.

As for Charlie Davis, in a report he published about that radical and obviously unconstitutional nullification amendment to Missouri’s constitution (the “Second Amendment Preservation Act,” which barely failed in the last few minutes of this year’s session, but will certainly come back again), Davis called the legislation, “a crucial bill that prevents federal overreach.” He based his argument on some of the Founders who “were understandably wary of a centralized government with no checks on its authority.” Most notably, Davis quoted Patrick Henry:

Guard with jealous attention the public liberty. Suspect everyone who approaches that jewel. Unfortunately, nothing will preserve it but downright force. Whenever you give up that force, you are inevitably ruined.

What can citing that quote in the context of the proposed “Second Amendment Preservation Act” mean, if it doesn’t mean that people have the right to use violence against the government, which ultimately means government officials? Again, I want you to carefully read what Rep. Charlie Davis said to a local radio station in defense of amending the Missouri constitution so as to nullify federal gun laws:

It gives the constitutional right to keep and bear arms and also to have your ammunition and any other object that is a normal function of such arms. Because we see what the federal government is trying to do. They say, yeah, you have the constitutional right to keep and bear arms, but it doesn’t say anything about ammunition. Well, for us common-sense folks here in Southwest Missouri, “keep and bear arms” means arms, ammunition, the things that you need to protect yourself from an individual or from an overextension of government.

You tell me why Jerad and Amanda Miller couldn’t use that notion to support what they did a few days ago, so long as they believed in their own minds that government was overextending itself?

I’m not saying that those who believe in small government or fiscal restraint or an 18th-century concept of governance are to blame for what those two cop-killers did in Las Vegas. I’m not saying that conservatives or conservatism or any philosophical stance that advocates for shrinking the size of government, or for limiting the reach of government in our lives, are responsible for those violent extremists who take what they say seriously enough to arm themselves and begin shooting at the first agent of government they see. I’m not saying Charlie Davis endorses the killing of cops.

What I am saying, and I want to be clear about this, is that when contemporary conservatives and libertarians make an unmistakable connection between their small- and limited-government views and what some call “Second Amendment remedies”—using your constitutional right to possess firearms as a means of acting on your philosophical beliefs—then they are contributing to the environment in which people like Jerad and Amanda Miller think they are on the verge of a revolution to take their country back from people who believe in government and its role in our modern society.

In effect, marrying Second Amendment radicalism to the anti-government radicalism of the Tea Party, as, for example, local state representative Charlie Davis did, is part of a very serious problem we have in this country. Mixing gun supremacy with a philosophy that questions the legitimacy of government, again, as Charlie Davis did, should not be a philosophical concoction that Americans embrace in the 21st century.

But as the stunning and historic defeat last night of Tea Party-friendly House Majority Leader Eric Cantor demonstrated, there is an active, animated group of uber-Tea Party extremists who have taken over the Republican Party and who will, eventually, either ruin the party or ruin the country.

The man who defeated Eric Cantor is named Dave Brat, an economics professor at a private, Methodist-operated liberal arts college in Virginia. Let me give you a line from Brat’s issue statement on the Second Amendment:

The right to keep and bear arms is a fundamental right enshrined in the constitution for a reason – it provides the people with the ultimate guarantee of sovereignty.

What can sovereignty mean in this context but “freedom from external control”? And what can it mean in this context but the right to use weapons against government officials who, in the opinion of the so-called sovereign individual, are exercising unlawful actions on behalf of the state?

Dave Brat also has an opinion on President Obama’s health insurance reforms:

Obamacare has proven to be an economically disastrous law and an unconstitutional power grab by our Federal Government.

Get that? The Affordable Care Act is an unlawful “power grab” by government. That opinion standing by itself isn’t all that remarkable or disturbing for a conservative-libertarian to hold. But mix that opinion with language that insists that unrestricted access to guns give individuals the “the ultimate guarantee of sovereignty” when they believe government is grabbing unlawful power, and you have, in short order, provided nourishment for cultural cancers, like the movement that infected the minds of Jerad and Amanda Miller.

The great Charles Pierce wrote a few days ago about the Millers:

…these two jamokes allegedly marinated themselves in the stew of guns and paranoia that bubbles daily in the conservative media from fringe radio hosts and chain e-mails all the way up to the polite precincts of the National Review Online and the Fox News Channel. That shouldn’t surprise us any more. The enabling of dangerous loons and the empowerment by firearms thereof is simply a staple of conservative politics in this country, yet another fetish object, yet another set of conjuring words for the conservative priesthood…

That is absolutely the truth of it, no matter how painful it is to admit it.

Along those lines, I want to note that I am the only one (as far as I can tell) who has publicly challenged Charlie Davis for what he said. I posted two pieces on this blog (including his lame response) and sent a letter to the Joplin Globe, which was published, along with another letter written by Anson Burlingame, who gave me credit “for posing a good question.” I essentially asked Davis, “what kind of overextension of government would justify a Missourian picking up a weapon and shooting and perhaps killing a government official doing his or her duty”?

Yet, I have not otherwise seen one word written in the local paper about the radical statement Davis made, nor have I seen an example of one local television or radio reporter asking him about it. And that tells you a lot about the quality of journalism where I live, and perhaps it says a lot about how so many people, including many journalists, have sort of become used to such radical statements since the birth of the Tea Party. As Charles Pierce says, this stuff does not surprise because it has become “a staple of conservative politics in this country.”

Remarkably, and sadly, it appears it is not newsworthy these days when a politician strongly implies that citizens unhappy with the reach of government can take the law into their gun-toting hands and execute their own brand of justice. But, at least for now, it is still newsworthy when some unhappy, and sociopathic, citizens actually do it.

Sean Hannity: A Piece Of Shit Who Believes Putin And Assad Over Obama And Kerry

I write this just after I visited the Sean Hannity show on Monday night and watched the last of a segment featuring Pat Buchanan, an old champion of isolationist Republicans, and Democratic strategist Mark Hannah, who worked on the Kerry and Obama presidential campaigns.

I want to say now, while my emotions are hot and before discretion knocks the edges off my commentary, that if you didn’t think so before, Sean Hannity is a slimy slice of extraordinarily foul excrement. Or, to put it in more gritty language: Sean Hannity is a greasy and stenchy piece of shit.

Got that? Sean Hannity, who has a ton of ignorant and bigoted and fact-ignoring viewers, who faithfully watch him do his Obama-hate dance each night (not to mention the gullible who listen to his radio show each day), is a worthless chunk of stool waste. An unpatriotic, un-American hunk of turd who, if there were a God of Justice overseeing the world, would be right now hopelessly swimming his way through the darkest, dankest stretch of sewer pipe in wealthy Centre Island, New York, having been flushed away by his outraged, God-fearing neighbors.

Why?

Because Hannity, sporting an American flag lapel pin, got in a love-bed with Vladimir Putin and Bashar al-Assad, one a former Lieutenant Colonel in the KGB and the other a brutal dictator whose regime gassed women and children in their sleep, that’s why. Because Hannity hates President Obama and John Kerry so much that he would rather get down on his knees and pleasure god-awful authoritarians than acknowledge that Democrats have legitimacy as representatives of the American people and as human beings with a conscience.

Hannity was criticizing John Kerry’s statement that the attack on Syria would be “unbelievably small,” with “no boots on the ground,” and asked Mark Hannah this question:

HANNITY: What do you expect to accomplish? What’s the point?

HANNAH: Can you imagine the devastation that could be wrought against the Assad regime— 

HANNITY: No.

HANNAH : —in a couple of days—

HANNITY: No.

HANNAH: —of American fighters—

HANNITY: No.

HANNAH: —flying into Syria—

HANNITY: No.

HANNAH: —and dropping bombs, and, listen, this would  absolutely accomplish the mission that the President was very specific about, degrading the chemical weapons capacity, deterring…[crosstalk from Hannity and Buchanan]

Then after that revelation of Hannity’s skepticism of American military power, we had this revealing question from the Democrat:

HANNAH: You’re gonna believe Assad, Sean? You’re gonna believe Putin over the word of John Kerry?

HANNITY: Yes. 

Yes, he said that. A man who brags about his love for America, a man who pretends he is God’s gift to American patriotic punditry, said that he would take the word of a horrific dictator and a certified authoritarian over an American diplomat who, no matter what you think of the proposed policy, is trying to defend the integrity of American values.

Then soon followed this:

HANNITY: Mark just asked me who I believed more, Putin or Kerry. Vladimir Putin called Kerry a liar because Kerry was advancing the notion that there are far more moderates than people are seeing here. Now, I think he’s talking about the Free Syrian Army, and that’s the very same military leader that is saying that Israel is an “enemy country.” That doesn’t seem moderate to me. Who do you believe? I believe Putin.

BUCHANAN: First, first, I would not call the Secretary of State a liar, and I would defend the Secretary of State against that…

Thank God that even Pat Buchanan’s dislike for Democrats has limits, even if Sean Hannity’s hatred doesn’t. Let the everlasting record show that Sean Hannity said, “I believe Putin.” All of you Hannity fans out there, all of you who hang on his every word, all of you who nightly suck sweat from his butt crack with a short straw, let those words sink in.

Just a bit later, Sean was suggesting that if we want to be “serious,” we should attack Iran and their “nukes” because they are “the real threat to the world,” by which he means one country, the state of Israel. Buchanan, who famously is not a fan of Israel, would have none of that, saying that Congress should authorize any attack on Iran. Then Sean said Putin filled the “leadership gap” because Obama and Kerry could not make up their minds. Admirably, Mark Hannah followed with this:

HANNAH: You’re listening to Assad and you’re taking their word for it. You’re listening to Putin instead of your own president….you can broadcast this show from Moscow, Sean, how about that?

Yes, how about that? Sean Hannity one night reporting live from the Kremlin and another night reporting from the presidential palace of the trustworthy Bashar al-Assad, both of them now his newest Obama-hating heroes.

Piece of shit.

hannity buchanan and hannah

Woodward On Hannity–UPDATED

It was bad enough that Bob Woodward, once an esteemed reporter, told a falsehood about President Obama (which everyone but the right-wing now clearly sees was a falsehood). It was even worse that he then strongly implied that someone in the White House threatened him (which, now that we can see the email in question, we know was not true).

But Thursday night Woodward made it all completely intolerable by going on Sean Hannity’s show, once again. Hannity, a man who never misses an opportunity to slander President Obama, or pour gasoline on the fire of Obama-hate that rages throughout the wing-nut right, or feed the white-man angst so prevalent in our politics, was up to the task of sullying, just by being himself, the reputation of a once-proud reporter.

On Hannity’s show, Woodward continued his claim that he was a victim of an intimidation play, by a man, Gene Sperling, who by all accounts couldn’t intimidate Pee Wee Herman. But never mind. Woodward, now a fool, was very comfortable—smiling and laughing—in the presence of one of the most despicable personalities in the history of Milky Way broadcasting.

To give you an example of the kind of shtick Hannity gets paid to do every night, and to show why any journalist with Woodward’s reputation should avoid him at all costs, I give you this: Just before the first commercial break, Woodward sat and listened to Hannity tell viewers that Ann Coulter—humanity screeching across a chalkboard—was coming on the program to help him “expose the countless other examples of how the Obama White House has obstructed the freedom of the press for more than four long years.”

Then, Hannity told viewers that his feud with congressman Keith Ellison—the first Muslim elected to Congress—was still ongoing and that he was “going to investigate his radical background,” blah, blah, blah.

I waited with some anticipation, maybe hope, that when Hannity came back from the commercial break Woodward would tell him that his appearance on Hannity’s show was all a big mistake and that he did not know what he was thinking and that, yes, Sean Hannity was certifiably nuts.

Ah, but that didn’t happen. Woodward was all smiles when Hannity came back, especially after Hannity flattered him, telling the journalist, who had earlier noted his advancing age, that he didn’t look “a day over fifty.” How sweet. How perverse.

Woodward went on to equate Fox “News” and MSNBC (“a lot of people who support Obama who just believe he can do no wrong”), a notion that is as false as his claim that Gene Sperling threatened him. There is nothing, I repeat, nothing, comparable to what Fox does every hour, every day, every week. Nothing. Nothing. Nothing.

I get calls and emails from people telling me I’m insane to come on your show,” he told Hannity. Those weren’t just people, Bob. Those were your friends, who were trying to save you from yourself, from perhaps your advancing age. At one point, Woodward seemed to praise Hannity’s, uh, journalistic reflexes (“you dig into things”). Oh, my.

It’s one of those times where you had to see it to believe it: a man who has had a mostly sterling career in journalism laying his credibility, his integrity, on the altar of a man who makes a titmouse look like an intellectual giant.

It was sad is what it was.

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UPDATE: On Friday’s Morning Joe, Woodward once again claimed that he did not say Sperling’s email contained a threat, that others interpreted it that way. He refused to admit that he in any way suggested or implied that he was threatened. He had nothing but good things to say about Gene Sperling.

Yet both CNN and Politico, after interviewing Woodward—before the actual email in question was released—reported Woodward’s comments as suggesting he was threatened. If you watch his appearance on CNN, you can see for yourself that he wanted everyone to draw the conclusion that an attempt was made by the White House to intimidate him, something he reiterated on Sean Hannity’s show.

Woodward also continued to defend the falsehood he has been promoting, that the deal in 2011, which produced the sequester, essentially took revenue increases off the table and that President Obama was “moving the goal posts” by insisting on those increases now. Yet on Morning Joe this morning, the only one who attempted to hold Woodward accountable for his false reporting was David Axelrod. Joe Scarborough and company were in defensive mode on behalf of Woodward. That is how tribal Washington works.

Now we know that Gene Sperling’s suggestion to Woodward, that he would regret his false reporting, was prophetic.

Mitt Is No Massachusetts Moderate

Everyone by now has heard that when he was asked if he followed NASCAR, Mitt Romney said:

Not as closely as some of the most ardent fans, but I have some great friends who are NASCAR team owners.

Now that, along with his comment that his wife drives “a couple of Cadillacs,” is how Romney appeals to everyday Joes (without the six-pack, since Mittens doesn’t drink). He may not take a lunch bucket to work, but he has some great friends who own lunch bucket factories.

While I know that no one is going to actually believe Mitt Romney is Joe the Plumber, what I fear may end up happening, particularly since Rick Santorum is hell-bent to run as an unelectable theocrat, is that Romney comes off looking like a political moderate. I heard him so referenced twice in one hour on Monday morning—on MSNBC!

Sure, compared to Santorum, he appears slightly more reasonable. And by slightly I mean, well, slightly. The difference between them is like the difference between a humid 100-degree day here in the Midwest and a humid 99-degree day. Both days make you miserable, and it would take a person with preternatural discernment to meaningfully distinguish the two.

The biggest difference is Romney’s unwillingness to openly discuss his fondness for policies inspired directly by his so-called Christian faith. And the reason for that is clear: he understands that a goodly number of GOP voters think he is only a “so-called” Christian, so why bring it up at all?

Other than the religious angle, there just isn’t that much to convincingly argue that Romney’s political philosophy is significantly less wacky than Santorum’s, especially since Mittens hasn’t gone out of his way to distance himself from Santorum’s journey into social-issue theocracy.

The truth is that Mitt Romney has somewhat clumsily adapted his politics to appeal to a very narrow range of voters in that orgy of absurdity known as the GOP primaries.  And I am convinced that he means it this time, even though he is having a hard time convincing a majority of right-wingers.

But I’m not the only one who believes that Romney’s heavy petting of the far right-wing of his party would result, should he be elected president, in policy children that only a teapartier could love.

None other than Ann Coulter, who is one of the most vile conservatives in the history of the breed, is a Romney enthusiast. She famously told Sean Hannity, a fellow vile conservative who refers to Mr. Obama as “the Anointed One“—without a peep of criticism from falsely pious Christians like Coulter—that she recently spoke to Romney at a fundraiser and said,

You owe me! And you’d better be as right-wing a President as I’m telling everybody you’re gonna be!

She told Hannity that Romney laughed and said, “Don’t worry.”

And if Ann Coulter isn’t worried, that means the rest of us should be.

Barack the “Scary Negro” Should Listen To Bluegrass Instead Of Rap

They’re at it again.

As the fish gobble up the last of Osama bin Laden, and as President Obama enjoys a polling holiday with the public, the Right has returned to an old theme: Barack Obama is a Scary Negro.

Let me start with the family values/serial adulterer Newt Gingrich’s appearance on Fox’s Reich Ministry of Propaganda Hour Sean Hannity Show.  (By the way, if you are one of those who mistakenly think Newt Gingrich is an “ideas man,” then you should read the transcript from Hannity’s show and get yourself right.)

During the “interview,” Hannity ask Gingrich about Obama being “difficult to beat” in the upcoming election:

GINGRICH: He will be. Because first of all, he is going to say whatever he needs to win…they are going to try to raise a billion dollars for a very practical reason. He can’t afford to run in a fair election… If he was on an equal playing field, he would lose.

HANNITY: Just — you are saying on his record?

GINGRICH: Yes. On his record, on his values, on his beliefs…

You see, President Obama has different values, different beliefs. He’s the Scary Negro. That was the theme conservatives tried to push in the 2008 election.  In fact, Hannity mentioned “President Obama’s background and associations” during his talk with Gingrich and to this day Sean Hannity’s radio show still features audio of Reverend Jeremiah Wright. 

Which leads us to the so-called controversy over an appearance at a White House poetry celebration by Grammy-winning rapper, Lonnie Rashid Lynn, Jr., who calls himself Common.  

Conservatives in the media—particularly Hannity and Glenn Beck—have accused the hip-hop artist—who apparently attended Reverend Wright’s church—of essentially endorsing cop-killing and the assassination of President Bush, using as evidence some controversial words he has written for his music and performances.

You know the gittin’ is good when Sarah Palin chimes in. She told the refurbished host, Greta Van Susteren:

The judgment is just so lacking of class and decency and all that’s good about America with an invite like this. They’re just inviting someone like me or someone else to ask, ‘C’mon Barack Obama who are you palling around with now?’

But the news that Common is some kind of angry gangsta rapper is news to most people.  Here’s the way a commenter on RapRadar, a hip-hop site, put it:

RN (Real Nigga) says:

Common may be the squeakiest cleanest rapper in the game ever. This is some bullshit. 

 Here’s  how NPR described the largely unknown artist in 2007:

He shuns popular trends in hip hop and focuses on some of the art form’s core principles: storytelling and presenting music with a message. is part of a tradition of so-called “conscious artists” like Dead Prez, The Coup and Mos Def who try to bring social and cultural messages back to the airwaves.

An interviewer said this to Common last October:

…your music is very positive. And you’re known as the conscious rapper. How important is that to you, and how important do you think that is to our kids?

The interviewer who asked the telling question above was not some crazed lefty working for a radical news outlet.  It was Jason Robinson, a reporter for none other than FoxNews.com.  Of course, that was then, but now is the time to ramp up the Obama-Is-A-Dangerous-Negro meme:

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JUST FOR FUN: As for me, I’m not one who appreciates the aesthetics of hip-hop music, although I can appreciate the fact that other folks do. I do know that a lot of conservatives love country music, with its cheatin’ and drinkin’ and fightin’ songs. Go figure.

And I know a lot of people, including myself, who appreciate a sub-genre of country music, bluegrass.  Some bluegrass songs feature the strangest—and most murder-drenched—lyrics imaginable.

One of my all-time favorites is the Ralph Stanley version of “Pretty Polly,” based on the old folk song about a young lady who is enticed into romance with a man who impregnates her and eventually murders her. Yep. He knocks her up and knocks her off all in one good ol’ timey, four-and-a-half-minute American tune.

That makes Ralph Stanley, and those who like this kind of bluegrass music, murderous thugs, I suppose.  Oh, wait. Can’t be. They tend to be white. Nevermind.

Here is the best version, featuring the greatest living voice in country music, Kentucky’s Patty Loveless:

Cal Thomas The Straw Man Slayer

Cal Thomas, a frequent guest on Sean Hannity’s television show, cleverly called “Hannity,” also appears regularly—much too regularly for my tastes—in the Joplin Globe.  And like most conservative columnists appearing in the Globe, Thomas is a master conservative demagogue-by-proxy and a serial slayer of straw men.

After reading his column today in the paper, Thomas can hang several more grass scalps on his belt.  He murdered straw men that even I didn’t know existed.

Just a few examples:

Protest can be patriotic, and no one should be thought less of an American because that person opposes the policies of a particular administration.

But now that the (left) shoe is on the other foot, we hear nothing about protest being patriotic. Instead, we hear from the left that it is dangerous and might lead to another Timothy McVeigh blowing up a federal building or trying to assassinate a president.

Wow! Protest can be patriotic? (Why hedge there, Cal?) I didn’t know that. I just assumed that protesting was bad because every liberal I know (I don’t know any “leftists”) hates protesters.  I mean, I don’t know one single liberal who thinks protesting is a good thing. Not a single one. 

After all, The Annointed One is president now.  And liberals all think anyone who opposes Obama’s policies are essentially terrorists who should be jailed to prevent another Oklahoma City bombing. I know I do.  And I’m mad at Bill Clinton for letting conservatives know we all feel that way.  He should have kept our secret.

People like William Ayers, Tom Hayden, Eldridge Cleaver, Sam Brown and Jane Fonda, and groups like SNCC, were seen by the mainstream media and liberal cultural commentators as exercising free speech and assembly, even when that assembly sometimes turned violent.

Really?  You mean CBS, NBC, and ABC reported that when Bill Ayers was bombing public buildings in the 1960s he was just exercising his Constitutional rights?  How shameful of them.  No wonder conservatives hate the mainstream media.  Knowing that, I now hate them, too.

If you don’t like President Obama’s policies, you are a racist who is setting him up for assassination by a neo-Nazi who is waiting in the (right) wings for sufficient inspiration. You should be lying down and taking it, because Obama wants only the best for all Americans.

Oh, I get it.  If you point out racist signs at Tea Parties, or quote racist remarks by Tea Party speakers, then you are ipso facto accusing all opponents of Obama of being racists. Now I understand.  I won’t do that anymore, Cal.  So, I won’t say that your “lying down and taking it” remark may be a racially-tinged reference.  I promise I won’t.

In this way of thinking, everything done by government when it is headed by leftists (though not by conservatives) is noble, righteous and good. If you disagree with any of it, you are opposing God, though of course to the left there is no real God. Government is God.

Again, I am overwhelmed by this revelation.  Since our own government has never been headed by a “leftist,” I’m not sure how you reached this conclusion, Cal, but I believe you because as all liberals know, Government is God, and Obama is its prophet.

If you don’t like what courts are doing — legitimizing behavior that used to be called sinful before that word fell into disrepute — you are a fundamentalist wacko who wants to impose your religion on the country.

Finally, Cal, that is something I did know.  You are a fundamentalist wacko who wants to impose your religion on the country by stacking the Supreme Court with conservative Christians who will claim that homosexuals are “sinners.” 

And you’re almost there.  A Sarah Palin presidency ought to finish the job.

Conservative Pundit Loses Job For Telling Truth

In a sign that right-wing fanatics will continue to dominate the brain trust of American conservatism, David Frum has lost his job—and his health insurance to boot.

The American Enterprise Institute, a conservative groupthink tank, has apparently given Mr. Frum, George Bush’s former speechwriter, the left foot of fellowship, and he “resigned” from his job as a “resident fellow.”  Whether the resignation was related to donor complaints, as Frum alleges, or whether it was his lack of interest in taking the “resident” part of his job seriously, as Charles Murray claims, is in dispute.

But judging from the reaction on the right, Frum’s initial sin was in correctly labeling as a failure (“our Waterloo”) the Republican strategy to disengage from the legislative process on the health care reform issue:

…we went for all the marbles, we ended with none.

Apparently, though, the kicker happened a couple of days ago when Terry Moran of ABC interviewed Frum, which included this:

Moran: “It sounds like you’re saying that the Glenn Becks, the Rush Limbaughs, hijacked the Republican party and drove it to a defeat?”

Frum: “Republicans originally thought that Fox worked for us and now we’re discovering we work for Fox. And the balance here has been completely reversed. The thing that sustains a strong Fox network is the thing that undermines a strong Republican party.”

That “thing” is the anger of the mob of malcontents who watch Fox “News” and make people like Beck, Hannity, and Limbaugh rich men for keeping their listeners—including Republican politicians—pissed off and hysterical.  Frum told Moran:

The anger trapped the leadership. The leadership stoked the anger and then discovered they had no maneuvering room as a result of the anger.

As he had said earlier,

How do you negotiate with somebody…whom your voters have been persuaded to believe wants to murder their grandmother?

Whatever the reason for Frum’s departure from the American Enterprise Institute, one thing is certain.  The Institute, which provided the foundation for much of W. Bush’s public policy, will continue to regale us with future intellectual contributions from such luminaries as John Bolton, Lynne Cheney, Paul Wolfowitz, Richard Perle and the brilliant Newt Gingrich.

Maybe that’s why Frum resigned.

Faux Patriotism

The earthquake in Haiti happened on January 12.

The next day, CNN reported that the State Department estimated there were about 45,000 Americans in Haiti, many of them still not accounted for the day after.  The Associated Press pegged the number at about 40,000 on January 13.  The truth was, no one knew how many Americans had died in the quake, and the number of Haitians killed was being estimated in the hundreds of thousands.

An unmitigated tragedy, right?  Something that dominated the airwaves, right?

Here is a chart, provided by Media Matters, showing the coverage of the Haitian earthquake on the top-rated shows on both MSNBC and Fox “News” Channel on January 13, just one day after the devastation:

As usual, on Fox “News” Channel, politics triumphed over everything else.  One day after the earthquake Glenn Beck devoted most of his show to Sarah Palin, Bill O’ picked on Jon Stewart, and Sean Hannity continued his campaign for Scott Brown in the Massachusetts senate race.

Nothing—absolutely nothing—is more important than destroying Barack Obama, when it comes to Fox “News.”

Does anyone suppose for a second that if George W. Bush were president and in charge of our nation’s response to the earthquake, mobilizing the military, coordinating relief efforts, and bringing people together to get things done, that the top shows on Fox would essentially ignore the issue?

My guess is that if there is a hint that the Obama adminstration has screwed up the relief effort, Fox “News” stars Beck, Hannity, and Bill O’ will be all over it.

Again, on Fox, politics trumps patriotism.

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