Saturday, January 15, 2011

OK, Glenn Beck: Are you man enough to take the CrooksandLiars Pledge?

-- by Dave

Sniff. Kinda makes you feel sad, doesn't it? Nobody wants to sign Glenn Beck's phony "non-violence" pledge. Hmmmmm. Wonder why that could be?

Here's Beck on Tuesday, whining:

BECK: The number of people so far who signed this pledge denouncing violence: 14 -- 14. Over 500 members in the House and Senate, and 14.

Now, I was going to show you the 14 names because I'm proud of those guys, but maybe some other time. I don't want this to turn into -- I mean, this is not the Committee on Un-American Activities. That's for Congress to do. Not a private citizen.

So, I don't want some list going around. I just want you to know it's 14. And I have heard all kind of reasons and excuses.

Some just say they just need more time. Some are afraid to be associated with it. Afraid? Some need more time to read it. It's not really that complex. I don't know if you know this. It's this long.

Others agree with it. Oh, Glenn, I'm telling you, we agree with it. We're in complete agreement here. I'm a little uncomfortable signing anything.


Yeah, really. And as if to underscore exactly why, he went on O'Reilly last night and whined about it some more ... and then launched into a vicious, demonizing smear of couple of leading progressive figures:

O'REILLY: So you would like to see the same kind of situation that happened after 9/11 attack now, where they would all come out and say, "Enough with this crap"?

BECK: Of course.

O'REILLY: Right.

BECK: Every American wants that. What I...

O'REILLY: Not every American. George Soros doesn't want that.

BECK: Frances Fox Piven doesn't want that.

O'REILLY: Who is Frances Fox Piven?

BECK: Clariton (ph) Piven, from the 1960's. That's a theory that was inspired by the Watts riots and is being used right now. And she is actively, actively -- Columbia University professor used to be. I think she's -- at SUNY (ph) now. But she is actively saying, "Rise up, embrace your anger. Turn on your bosses, turn on the politicians."

O'REILLY: All right. She's Black Panther. Overthrow, kill the pigs.

BECK: She is -- she stands with the Clintons. Signing. She's very...

O'REILLY: Still around?

BECK: Oh, yes.

In fact, Frances Fox Piven was on with Amy Goodman the other night, and had to express her own bewilderment at the bizarre way that Beck is depicting and smearing her, as well as her work:

As Media Matters points out, over at Beck's own website, The Blaze, commenters responding to the Piven story left these comments -- and they remained there even today [update: Some of these have now been taken down, though not all of them.]:

You see, Glenn, here's why no one is signing your Pledge: Because it contains this key point:

I hold those responsible for the violence, responsible for the violence. I denounce those who attempt to blame political opponents for the acts of madmen.

This is a copout, and everyone -- except right-wing hatemongers and their Village apologists -- knows it. Sure, everyone knows that crazy people do crazy things. But their heads get filled with crazy ideas by people who indulge in crazy talk for fun and profit. And the blood of the victims is on their hands too.

The proof is right there at your own site, and there in your own rants. You claim to want to bring everyone together -- and then viciously demonize people with whom you happen to disagree. Go look at those comments and try telling us again that your vicious demonization of people isn't whipping up violent hatred, the kind that eventually gets acted upon.

No one -- no one -- believes there is even an ounce of sincerity to your Pledge. We already know that you're the last person on the planet who should be preaching nonviolence. Especially because you go out and prove our suspicions: let's all come together except the progressives you intend to destroy.

You see, Glenn, as SEK at Lawyers, Guns and Money explained the other day, violent rhetoric is not always the outright advocacy of violence, as you seem to think: it is just as often rhetoric that invites a specific audience to reach the conclusion that violence is the only appropriate action to deal with a problem. And this kind of rhetoric, as we know all too well, is your specialty in trade.

So here's what we at CrooksandLiars propose: We'll sign your Pledge -- with one simple amendment.

Delete the copout "I hold those responsible" clause. And replace it with this clause:

"I will not unnecessarily hold up entire groups of people, or representative leaders of those groups, and demonize and dehumanize them as objects fit only for elimination, especially in a way that invites my audience to take violent action to prevent dire catastrophes of my imagining."

Make that change, and we'll happily sign your Pledge.

[Cross-posted at Crooks and Liars.]

Friday, January 14, 2011

'Moderate' Republicans try to do outreach with Latinos. Lots of

-- by Dave

[Video courtesy of America's Voice: H/t Maria and Jackie]

Establishment Republicans -- the business-friendly wing of the party -- have been trying to talk a good game when it comes to Latino voters -- their ruling Neanderthal Nativist wing notwithstanding. Now they're out hustling to convince Latinos that they really should vote Republican -- kinda like the way all good chickens should go vote for Colonel Sanders.

Jeb Bush and Newt Gingrich are out leading the charge, as it were:

But Republicans overall still lost the Hispanic vote nationwide by about 2-1 — not much different than in 2008.

Bush wants to change that. "The challenge, though, is that we have a situation right now where Republicans send out signals that Hispanics aren't wanted in our party, not by policy so much as by tone," he says.

But it's more than just the tone. It's one issue in particular, says Alfonso Aguilar, the executive director of the Latino Partnership for Conservative Principles and a participant in Thursday's conference in Miami.

"Latinos are inherently conservative: They're socially conservative; they are entrepreneurial; they're pro-business. Immigration ... is that one issue that prevents us from winning the support of Latino voters," he says.

Yeah, if only they didn't have the people running the party right now out there demanding we alter the Constitution in order to deny Latino children their birthright citizenship.

But in realituy, gingrich of course talks out of both sides of his mouth, defending Arizona's SB1070 while trying to do Latino outreach. Similarly, Jeb is in denial about just how deeply in their thrall Republicans really are:

Even though anti-immigrant voices seem to be getting louder inside the Republican Party, Jeb Bush is convinced that they do not speak for most on the right.

"That view is in the minority even in the Republican Party," he says. "But, I think if you got to the point where legitimate, emotional concerns about the lack of border security and the lack of rule of law, once those issues subsided, then you would find a great majority of people that would support some solution to the large number of people that are here illegally."

One of the Republicans speaking out and pushing them to abandon their delusions has been conservative Latino columnist Ruben Navarette:

Columnist Ruben Navarrette, who is also speaking at the conference in Miami, says there is a new conversation going on beneath the surface in the GOP — particularly when it comes to the push by some Republicans to repeal the 14th Amendment in order to deny birthright citizenship to children born to undocumented parents.

"They're not fools — they realize that there are those places where they can overplay their hand, and I think the 14th Amendment change is a perfect example of a bridge too far," Navarrette says. "It's poison. You play with that, and I am never, ever going be able to go before a group of Hispanic women ... and convince them that the Republican Party isn't anything but a bunch of ogres."

Indeed. This weekend at the big shindig for GOP Hispanics he had the same message, as Frank Sharry blogged yesterday:

Early in the day, Bush stated:

It would be incredibly stupid [for the Republican Party] to ignore the burgeoning Hispanic vote.

Given the anti-immigrant rhetoric that emanates from so many GOP leaders these days, however, it won’t be a simple matter to win these voters back.

As a new America’s Voice memo makes clear, Republican leadership is stuck in a deep rut of denial and inflexibility when it comes to Latino outreach and their party’s position on immigration. They seem to think that taking up kinder, gentler “rhetoric” and reaching out on “common values”—instead of revisiting their party’s extreme immigration policies—will do the trick.

One panelist at the conference, conservative syndicated columnist Ruben Navarrette, made this very point quite passionately at this afternoon’s panel on media and messaging. From a live blog of the conference:

Update - 2:55 PM: Navarrette: "If you come away thinking that this is all about language and tone, you will miss the point... You are always going to be number 2... The problem is not the tone. It is the message itself—it is offensive, racist. You’ve got to fix the product.” […]

Commentator Alex Castellanos, Sr. disagrees. He appears to believe that a majority of Latinos agree with the Republican Party on immigration policy.

Helen Aguirre disagrees with Castellanos: "Jeb Bush is the only one who challenged Tom Tancredo. If the [majority of the] Republican Party disagrees but keeps quiet…"

Ruben Navarrette argued that the GOP has a track record on immigration that:

1. Deals with immigration dishonestly
2. Caters to that ugly element of racism -- "nativism/racism is in the bloodstream"
3. Offers "solutions" that ignore the problem.

Navarrette cites the fight to repeal the 14th Amendment and Arizona's SB1070 as two examples of false solutions on immigration.

Lotsa luck to these folks. They're going to need it: The GOP in reality is in the deep thrall of the Tea Partiers, who are some of the most mouth-foaming and nasty nativists in the country.

[Cross-posted at Crooks and Liars.]

It was inevitable: New tea-partying Republican senator thinks child labor should be legal

-- by Dave

Yes, we used to joke (or half-joke, anyway) that hey, next thing you know, Republicans are going to start demanding a return legalized child labor.

It's not a joke anymore.

As Ian Millhiser reports at Think Progress, Utah's newly elected Republican Senator, Mike Lee -- the Tea Partier who unseated Robert Bennett -- posted a video of a lecture he gave last week on the Constitution. It was quite a lecture: Not only does Lee reveal himself to be a far-right "Tenther" -- a conspiracist approach to the Constitution borne out of the Patriot/militia movement of the 1990s -- but as someone who believes child-labor laws are unconstitutional, too:

Congress decided it wanted to prohibit [child labor], so it passed a law—no more child labor. The Supreme Court heard a challenge to that and the Supreme Court decided a case in 1918 called Hammer v. Dagenhardt. In that case, the Supreme Court acknowledged something very interesting — that, as reprehensible as child labor is, and as much as it ought to be abandoned — that’s something that has to be done by state legislators, not by Members of Congress. [...]

This may sound harsh, but it was designed to be that way. It was designed to be a little bit harsh. Not because we like harshness for the sake of harshness, but because we like a clean division of power, so that everybody understands whose job it is to regulate what.

Now, we got rid of child labor, notwithstanding this case. So the entire world did not implode as a result of that ruling.

Millhiser explains just how misbegotten this argument is -- particularly since the Supreme Court, in overturning the rulings that enabled child labor in the first place, was unanimous about the right of the federal government to be involved in these matters.

But as Steve Benen adroitly observes, this whole episode is deeply emblematic of the important point that Paul Krugman made today -- namely, that the Right's embrace of this kind of ideology really reflects a significant divide in American politics, between people who simply believe people should want to return to the "good old days" before FDR and the New Deal, and people who believe that the incredible economic and cultural powerhouse that era produced was the product of a desirable balancing act between governmental power and individual rights.

As Krugman puts it:

There’s no middle ground between these views. One side saw health reform, with its subsidized extension of coverage to the uninsured, as fulfilling a moral imperative: wealthy nations, it believed, have an obligation to provide all their citizens with essential care. The other side saw the same reform as a moral outrage, an assault on the right of Americans to spend their money as they choose.

This deep divide in American political morality — for that’s what it amounts to — is a relatively recent development. Commentators who pine for the days of civility and bipartisanship are, whether they realize it or not, pining for the days when the Republican Party accepted the legitimacy of the welfare state, and was even willing to contemplate expanding it. As many analysts have noted, the Obama health reform — whose passage was met with vandalism and death threats against members of Congress — was modeled on Republican plans from the 1990s.

But that was then. Today’s G.O.P. sees much of what the modern federal government does as illegitimate; today’s Democratic Party does not. When people talk about partisan differences, they often seem to be implying that these differences are petty, matters that could be resolved with a bit of good will. But what we’re talking about here is a fundamental disagreement about the proper role of government.

Indeed, as we've pointed out several times, this desire to turn back the clock is a fundamental aspect of the GlennBeckian worldview that's become the foundation for Tea Party movement conservatism. Digby pointed this out awhile back, citing an essay by Ryan Grim and Arthur Delaney about just what kind of society Beck and the Tea Partying Right want to "take us back" to -- one like this:


As I explained back then:

These are child laborers from the early part of the last century. They were common fixtures on the American landscape. Possibly some of Beck's ancestors were among them. (Here's a gallery of pictures of them.)

... The United States has always been an essentially capitalist economic system. However, we have experienced periods in our history where this system has seriously malfunctioned, and we've made adjustments accordingly that have largely worked well making things better.

One of those dysfunctional periods came at about the turn of the last century, when McKinley was president, corrupt robber barons ran Congress, and the latter-day version of "strict constructionists" ruled the courts. "Laissez faire" capitalism ruled, and America was functionally an oligarchy.

Squeezed out were the working people: the average workweek was 80 hours, there were no weekends, no vacation, only a few holidays, and the barest minimum of pay. Benefits and health care were unheard of. Child labor was the rule.

What happened between then and now? "Progressives" began agitating for better working conditions, and began organizing as labor unions. After a long period of violent repression, these reforms gradually became government policy -- especially in the 1930s under FDR. Americans began getting 40-hour work weeks with weekends off, paid vacations and benefits.

Probably the most significant and lasting legacy of this period of "progressive" innovation was the progressive tax code. It has been a feature of the income tax since its institution in 1913. Who was one of its original champions? Theodore Roosevelt.

The fact is that the United States -- like nearly every single Western capitalist democracy -- is a variable blend of socialism and capitalism, free-enterprise economies with regulatory restraints and modest income redistribution. The result of those "progressive" reforms from 1900-1940 was the birth of the great American middle class and the quality of life we have enjoyed so long we've forgotten what it was like not to have it. People like Glenn Beck seem never even to have learned.

Indeed, when right-wingers like Beck and Goldberg attack "evil progressivism," it sounds a lot like they want us to return to the bad old days under McKinley, when American workers were indentured servants to the wealthy.

Of course, maybe now that they're both wealthy men, there's a simple explanation for that.

Lee, of course, comes from a comfortable moneyed background too: His father was dean of the BYU law school, and Lee himself is a high-powered attorney. Funny how that works.

The reality is that these people don't want to "restore America" to its "constitutional" roots -- they want to remake it into an oligarchy.

[Cross-posted at Crooks and Liars.]

Tucson survivor: 'It looks like Palin, Beck, Sharron Angle and the rest got their first target'

-- by Dave

Amy Goodman at Democracy Now interviewed one of the survivors of Saturday's tragedy in Arizona, and we heard a familiar observation:

We speak with Tucson shooting survivor Eric Fuller. A 63-year-old disabled veteran, Fuller had campaigned for Arizona Democrat Rep. Gabrielle Giffords in her reelection campaign and was at the supermarket in Tucson on Saturday to meet with her. He was shot in the knee and also wounded in the back. "It looks like Palin, Beck, Sharron Angle and the rest got their first target," Fuller says. "Their wish for Second Amendment activism has been fulfilled."

Cue the right-wing waaaaaahmbulance. I wonder if Megyn Kelly or Bill O'Reilly will bring Fuller on Fox to browbeat him as they did Sheriff Dupnik for expressing the same view.

[Cross-posted at Crooks and Liars.]

Yes, Jennifer Rubin, the facts do matter -- and they're not on your side

-- by Dave

For some reason, conservatives seem to believe "they won" the recent national conversation about the nature and content of our national conversation, sparked by Saturday's tragedy in Arizona. That, at least, was their takeaway from President Obama's speech at the memorial on Tuesday.

Indeed, the usual disinformation specialists are spreading the claim that Obama "threw liberals under the bus" because he didn't come out and openly adopt the argument posed by many Democrats -- namely, that the vicious and violent rhetoric that has become part and parcel of the American Right's dealings with Democrats has created an environment where death threats and violence are now everyday acts, scarcely worth a shrug of the eyebrow.

See, for instance, Jennifer Rubin in the WaPo yesterday:

A chorus on the left claimed causation between Sarah Palin and the killings (and then the amorphous "climate" and the deaths) and didn't much care for a careful analysis until it became clear their preferred narrative was false. As for the president, he doesn't buy it at all. He said: "And if, as has been discussed in recent days, their deaths help usher in more civility in our public discourse, let's remember that it is not because a simple lack of civility caused this tragedy, but rather because only a more civil and honest public discourse can help us face up to our challenges as a nation, in a way that would make them proud." (Emphasis added.) Or, as I put it, rhetorical civility and mental illness are discrete problems. And it doesn't help the liberal line when it turns out this particular lunatic was a-political and didn't watch news.

So, for my friends on the left: facts count. You can't spin a narrative and not be expected to be called on the underlying, flawed premise.

Indeed, if the premise had been that there was "causation" between Palin's incendiarism and Jared Loughner's act, it would have been flawed -- but no one said that, particularly not Paul Krugman, whose Sunday column is the focus of much of the Right's animus.

What most of us said from the start is that it was undeniable that the killings took place in a charged atmosphere in which all kinds of violent rhetoric had created an environment in which nearly everyone present on the ground felt something like this was inevitable -- because it creates permission for violent acts, and fuels the irrationality that makes violence possible. Sarah Palin's "target map" was only the most obvious example. So, for that matter, was that "target shoot" fundraiser by her Tea Partying opponent.

And for what it's worth, it's certainly not a settled matter that Loughner was not acting out of unhinged beliefs that he obtained from radical-right sources -- as we said earlier, his online contributions heavily indicated such influences. Mark Potok of the SPLC has much more, and a thoroughly balanced take, on that.

But in the end, Loughner's motive matters less than the realities that people like Pima County Sheriff Clarence Dupnik are well acquainted with already:

Dupnik had all the evidence he needed to make the kinds of remarks he made about the political and social environment in Arizona -- one that has gotten so virulently ugly that Democrats and liberals in Arizona increasingly are fearful for their physical well-being and are reluctant to self-identify as liberals. (Will Bunch had a terrific piece at Media Matters recently on this very subject; as someone with family and friends in Arizona, I can personally attest to this reality.)

Unlike Bill O'Reilly or Megyn Kelly or Monica Crowley, Dupnik actually lives in Arizona, and does know whereof he speaks. Moreover, there is abundant evidence about the vicious eliminationist hatred, some of it officially sanctioned by the GOP and Tea Parties, that was directed at Giffords personally.

Rubin is right: The facts do matter. Especially if you refuse to sweep them under the carpet.

And here are the facts about the mounting list of tragedies that folks on the right keep insisting are just "isolated incidents":

-- July 2008: A gunman named Jim David Adkisson, agitated at how "liberals" are "destroying America," walks into a Unitarian Church and opens fire, killing two churchgoers and wounding four others.

-- October 2008: Two neo-Nazis are arrested in Tennessee in a plot to murder dozens of African-Americans, culminating in the assassination of President Obama.

-- December 2008: A pair of "Patriot" movement radicals -- the father-son team of Bruce and Joshua Turnidge, who wanted "to attack the political infrastructure" -- threaten a bank in Woodburn, Oregon, with a bomb in the hopes of extorting money that would end their financial difficulties, for which they blamed the government. Instead, the bomb goes off and kills two police officers. The men eventually are convicted and sentenced to death for the crime.

-- December 2008: In Belfast, Maine, police discover the makings of a nuclear "dirty bomb" in the basement of a white supremacist shot dead by his wife. The man, who was independently wealthy, reportedly was agitated about the election of President Obama and was crafting a plan to set off the bomb.

-- January 2009: A white supremacist named Keith Luke embarks on a killing rampage in Brockton, Mass., raping and wounding a black woman and killing her sister, then killing a homeless man before being captured by police as he is en route to a Jewish community center.

-- February 2009: A Marine named Kody Brittingham is arrested and charged with plotting to assassinate President Obama. Brittingham also collected white-supremacist material.

-- April 2009: A white supremacist named Richard Poplawski opens fire on three Pittsburgh police officers who come to his house on a domestic-violence call and kills all three, because he believed President Obama intended to take away the guns of white citizens like himself. Poplawski is currently awaiting trial.

-- April 2009: Another gunman in Okaloosa County, Florida, similarly fearful of Obama's purported gun-grabbing plans, kills two deputies when they come to arrest him in a domestic-violence matter, then is killed himself in a shootout with police.

-- May 2009: A "sovereign citizen" named Scott Roeder walks into a church in Wichita, Kansas, and assassinates abortion provider Dr. George Tiller.

-- June 2009: A Holocaust denier and right-wing tax protester named James Von Brunn opens fire at the Holocaust Museum, killing a security guard.

-- February 2010: An angry tax protester named Joseph Ray Stack flies an airplane into the building housing IRS offices in Austin, Texas. (Media are reluctant to label this one "domestic terrorism" too.)

-- March 2010: Seven militiamen from the Hutaree Militia in Michigan and Ohio are arrested and charged with plotting to assassinate local police officers with the intent of sparking a new civil war.

-- March 2010: An anti-government extremist named John Patrick Bedell walks into the Pentagon and opens fire, wounding two officers before he is himself shot dead.

-- May 2010: A "sovereign citizen" from Georgia is arrested in Tennessee and charged with plotting the violent takeover of a local county courthouse.

-- May 2010: A still-unidentified white man walks into a Jacksonville, Fla., mosque and sets it afire, simultaneously setting off a pipe bomb.

-- May 2010: Two "sovereign citizens" named Jerry and Joe Kane gun down two police officers who pull them over for a traffic violation, and then wound two more officers in a shootout in which both of them are eventually killed.

-- July 2010: An agitated right-winger and convict named Byron Williams loads up on weapons and drives to the Bay Area intent on attacking the offices of the Tides Foundation and the ACLU, but is intercepted by state patrolmen and engages them in a shootout and armed standoff in which two officers and Williams are wounded.

-- September 2010: A Concord, N.C., man is arrested and charged with plotting to blow up a North Carolina abortion clinic. The man, 26-year--old Justin Carl Moose, referred to himself as the "Christian counterpart to (Osama) bin Laden” in a taped undercover meeting with a federal informant.

Mind you, this list is strictly directed toward incidents involving serious acts of domestic terrorism. It doesn't even begin to include the litany of violent threats and violent acts that have been directed with increasing intensity toward liberals in the past year alone:

-- The head-stomping of a liberal protester by a Rand Paul campaign official in Kentucky.

-- Mentally unstable nutcases threatening liberal campaigners in Washington state, Illinois and Vermont.

-- A swastika-laden white-powder-terrorism attack on a Democratic congressman's offices.

-- Thugs hired by the Republican candidate in Alaska roughing up and handcuffing a reporter for asking questions at a public event.

If Jennifer Rubin (or any other right-winger, for that matter) really wants to seriously deal with the reasons Americans -- particularly liberal Americans -- responded to Saturday's tragedy as they did, they need to look at both of these lists and make an honest reckoning.

Now, it may be true that liberals occasionally say some mean, cruel and unpleasant things about conservatives.

But I challenge the would-be equivocators out there who wants to claim that "the left does it too" to come up with a comparable list of liberal nutcases committing acts of domestic terrorism, heinous violence, threats and intimidation, and mass murder in which Republicans are all the targeted victims.

So when another one comes down the pike -- and it will, especially now that everyone on the Right has closed ranks, covered their ears and screamed in unison that they're not inciting violence with their violent rhetoric -- we'll know what to expect then, too. No matter how irrevocable the evidence establishing that this is another act of right-wing terrorism, they'll claim that it has nothing to do with them. It's just another "isolated incident" by a "lone nutcase".

Now, did President Obama really throw his liberal base under the bus the other night? Here's what Rubin says:

The final lesson for the left is this: for the sake of a second term, the president is willing to throw liberals under the bus. He's going to undo their economic mantra (by supporting the Bush tax cuts). He is going to undermine their approach to their war on terror (with drones, a long-term commitment to Afghanistan). And he is even going to make the liberal icons -- Krugman, the New York Times editorial board, Keith Olbermann and the rest -- look like fools. The "paper of record" has revealed, for any doubters, that the truth is the first casualty of its op-ed page.

Here's the only thing the president really said, which seems to be the source of their claim that he's repudiating their base:

If, as has been discussed in recent days, their death helps usher in more civility in our public discourse, let us remember it is not because a simple lack of civility caused this tragedy--it did not--but rather because only a more civil and honest public discourse can help us face up to the challenges of our nation in a way that would make them proud.

The WSJ's James Taranto thinks this is highly relevant too. But all Obama really said here is that "a simple lack of civility" was not the cause of the tragedy, and frankly, I've looked around, and there really isn't anyone making that case, though many on the right are trying to characterize their critics that way.

Obama was on a mission to heal last night. He didn't need to engage this fight -- indeed, it would have been a big mistake for him to have done it. But I didn't get the sense that he's sold on the idea that there's no problem here and that we should just move along, either. Time will tell on that front.

Meanwhile, I'll let Steven Budiansky's insights stand as all the answer necessary to Rubin's premature assertion that the conversation is over and her whitewashing side has "won":

The unstable young man who opened fire yesterday, it is already clear, was more of a nut than a political agent. But to those who would suggest that political violence is just some random occurrence, a meteorite falling from the sky and claiming its victims by chance, I would suggest they look to the way that delegitimization of democratic institutions, inflammatory and demagogic appeals to what our founders called "passion" over reason, and glorification of brutality have ever been the handmaidens of the descent to hell of once-civilized societies.

What we have seen in the last few years is not the usual political theater of opposing candidates who put on histrionic performances at election time and then are great pals off-stage; what we have seen is an ugliness and a willingness to play with fire that is something different — a willingness on the part of too many on the Republican side to pull down the temple itself if they calculate they might be able to salvage more of the ensuing rubble than the other guys. The Arizona sheriff in whose jurisdiction the shootings took place noted the unprecedented rise in death threats against all public officials that has taken place lately. The Secret Service does not talk about threats against the President but credible reports make clear that President Obama faces threats on a scale unlike anything ever before encountered.

Never mind even the childish braggadocio about "second amendment solutions" and "lock and load"; the daily inflammatory rhetoric about "tyranny" and "the end of freedom as we know it" and even the name "tea party" itself, invoking revolutionary resistance to despotism, have accelerated an unprecedented delegitimization of the democratic process itself, a suggestion that those who advance opposing viewpoints are not just political opponents but usurpers.

[Read the whole post, as well as his follow-up.]

[Cross-posted at Crooks and Liars.]

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Limbaugh believes being called out for his violent rhetoric is part of a conspiracy to silence 'all of talk radio, Fox News'

-- by Dave

Well, they say that paranoia is an indicator of oncoming senility, but that would mean Rush Limbaugh has been getting senile for the past twenty years. In any event, he was in prime form yesterday:

This is not an isolated event. Every time something like this happens, some disaster, it doesn't take 30 minutes for the media to start speculating that it's talk radio, and now Fox News and the blogs on the right and everything else. I got a lot of people who sent me e-mails yesterday: "Rush, I thought you were a little bit over the top yesterday when you said the Democrat Party profits from murder, wants to profit." How else can I say this? Try to put yourself in my shoes and I want you to try to do this outside of the normal give-and-take and ebb-and-flow of the daily hardball that is politics. Here we have a deranged, obviously mentally insane young man who has fired on and killed a number of people, wounded others. On Saturday, I was in my home watching NFL football. I happened to be alone. I hadn't been to Tucson, Arizona, in 20 years and all of a sudden I read it's my fault, and I'm hearing people say it's my fault and that it's inspired by me and what I do. I want you to put yourself in my shoes. And then more and more powerful political people start standing up and making that claim, including the chief law enforcement official for that county, Clarence Dupnik, a law enforcement official who has the ability to influence jury pools.

... Now, I ask you, you all know that I am a political enemy of these people. These are the people that keep talking about limiting speech with the Fairness Doctrine. The other day Al Sharpton goes to the FCC to want hearings on me to get them to curb what I can say. He came out of there claiming the FCC's interested in holding these hearings. Look, I'm not telling you people anything you don't know. You know that there are constant assaults on the existence of this program. There are constant serious political efforts made to terminate this program and all of talk radio, Fox News and what have you. So we have this incident, and now I have to sit here and just let it roll off my back that I'm responsible for this. Anything I say is overreacting to it.

Next: The black helicopters are coming to take him away!

Isn't creeping paranoia also a sign of a guilty conscience? Who'da thunk?

[Cross-posted at Crooks and Liars.]

What violent rhetoric? Another right-wing nutcase arrested for threatening congressman. Was O'Reilly the inspiration?

-- by Dave

Gee, and here I thought that all this talk about violent rhetoric was just a figment of our liberal imaginations:

One arrested in threats against Seattle congressman

A California man accused of threatening to kill Seattle Congressman Jim McDermott has been arrested and charged in federal court.

Charles Turner Habermann -- a 32-year-old Palm Springs, Calif., resident with a $3 million trust fund -- was arrested Wednesday morning on allegations that he made threatening phone calls to the office of the Seattle Democrat late last year.

Federal authorities contend Habermann admitted to making the calls because he was angry about taxes, but said he wouldn't risk losing his trust fund by attacking McDermott.

Federal prosecutors in Seattle described statements left by Habermann in two Dec. 9 phone calls as an "expletive-laden" effort to influence McDermott's vote on tax policy. According to charging documents, Habermann to have threatened to kill McDermott's friends and family, then, in the second call, threatened to put McDermott "in the trash."

Contacted by the investigators the day after the messages were left, Habermann allegedly admitted to threatening McDermott and an congresswoman not identified in court documents.

This guy was also quite obviously a Tea Party loving patriot, because he referred to the Founding Fathers frequently in his expletive-laden rant:

A McDermott staffer contacted the FBI on Dec. 10, reporting that the congressman's Seattle office had received the offending phone calls.

In one, the caller was heard calling McDermott "a piece of human filth," "a communist," and a "piece of (expletive) garbage."

"Thomas Jefferson, James Madison, or George Washington, Alexander Hamilton, if any of them had ever met uh, uh Jim McDermott, they would all blow his brains out," Habermann said in the first rambling message, according to charging documents. "They'd shoot him, in the head. They'd kill him, because he's a piece of, of, of disgusting garbage. …

"Any you let that (expletive) scum bag know, that if he ever (expletive) with my money, ever the (expletive) again, I'll (expletive) kill him, okay," Habermann continued, according to charges. "I'll round them up, I'll kill them, I'll kill his friends, I'll kill his family, I will kill everybody he (expletive) knows."

Here's what's really pretty remarkable about this: Remember that bizarre Bill O'Reilly column attacking McDermott for daring to suggest (while discussing whether to extend the Bush tax cuts) that Jesus might have been more concerned about helping the poor get their unemployment checks than he would in ensuring rich guys get their tax cuts?

It was published at, by pure coincidence, on December 9:

Which just COINCIDENTALLY happens to be the day that Habermann called and unleashed this rant from California.

Far be it from me to suggest that there might be some connection there. Heavens no. That would be uncivil and unfair. O'Reilly might unleash the Flying Monkey Ambush Squad Featuring Jesse Watters on me. Lord only knows what kind of hate-filled death threats I'd get then.

N in Seattle at DKos has more.

[Cross-posted at Crooks and Liars.]

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Obama's Tucson Memorial speech: Simply human

-- by Dave

What Digby said:

For my money it was the best speech he's given as president ---simple, human and uplifting in a difficult moment. As the father of two little girls himself his evocation of Christina Green was particularly poignant. He's not known for sentimentality, but he showed heart and it was good.

I unfortunately have a sinking feeling about it, regardless: Republicans have proven themselves remorseless and relentless in their hatred of all things Obama. Personally, I'm waiting for them to "Wellstone" this memorial -- and even though it was billed as a "celebration of life," the cheers that were heard will probably be used to attack Obama.

I've included the first serious outbreak of cheers at the gathering -- when Obama announced that Gabrielle Giffords had "opened her eyes" that evening for the first time since Saturday, a huge milestone in her recovery. It was a moving and heartfelt moment, and who wouldn't have cheered?

I guess we'll find out tomorrow.

Meantime, the transcript is below. I thought the speech was particularly outstanding here:

If this tragedy prompts reflection and debate, as it should, let’s make sure it’s worthy of those we have lost. Let’s make sure it’s not on the usual plane of politics and point scoring and pettiness that drifts away with the next news cycle.

The loss of these wonderful people should make every one of us strive to be better in our private lives – to be better friends and neighbors, co-workers and parents. And if, as has been discussed in recent days, their deaths help usher in more civility in our public discourse, let’s remember that it is not because a simple lack of civility caused this tragedy, but rather because only a more civil and honest public discourse can help us face up to our challenges as a nation, in a way that would make them proud. It should be because we want to live up to the example of public servants like John Roll and Gabby Giffords, who knew first and foremost that we are all Americans, and that we can question each other’s ideas without questioning each other’s love of country, and that our task, working together, is to constantly widen the circle of our concern so that we bequeath the American dream to future generations.

Great words. I hope everyone listens.

UPDATE: Sure enough, like clockwork, Malkin chimes in and calls it a "bizarre pep rally".

UPDATE 2: Atrios and DougJarvus Green-Ellis at Balloon Juice have the same bad feeling.

Full transcript below:


To the families of those we’ve lost; to all who called them friends; to the students of this university, the public servants gathered tonight, and the people of Tucson and Arizona: I have come here tonight as an American who, like all Americans, kneels to pray with you today, and will stand by you tomorrow.

There is nothing I can say that will fill the sudden hole torn in your hearts. But know this: the hopes of a nation are here tonight. We mourn with you for the fallen. We join you in your grief. And we add our faith to yours that Representative Gabrielle Giffords and the other living victims of this tragedy pull through.

As Scripture tells us:

There is a river whose streams make glad the city of God,
the holy place where the Most High dwells.
God is within her, she will not fall;
God will help her at break of day.

On Saturday morning, Gabby, her staff, and many of her constituents gathered outside a supermarket to exercise their right to peaceful assembly and free speech. They were fulfilling a central tenet of the democracy envisioned by our founders – representatives of the people answering to their constituents, so as to carry their concerns to our nation’s capital. Gabby called it “Congress on Your Corner” – just an updated version of government of and by and for the people.

That is the quintessentially American scene that was shattered by a gunman’s bullets. And the six people who lost their lives on Saturday – they too represented what is best in America.

Judge John Roll served our legal system for nearly 40 years. A graduate of this university and its law school, Judge Roll was recommended for the federal bench by John McCain twenty years ago, appointed by President George H.W. Bush, and rose to become Arizona’s chief federal judge. His colleagues described him as the hardest-working judge within the Ninth Circuit. He was on his way back from attending Mass, as he did every day, when he decided to stop by and say hi to his Representative. John is survived by his loving wife, Maureen, his three sons, and his five grandchildren.

George and Dorothy Morris – “Dot” to her friends – were high school sweethearts who got married and had two daughters. They did everything together, traveling the open road in their RV, enjoying what their friends called a 50-year honeymoon. Saturday morning, they went by the Safeway to hear what their Congresswoman had to say. When gunfire rang out, George, a former Marine, instinctively tried to shield his wife. Both were shot. Dot passed away.

A New Jersey native, Phyllis Schneck retired to Tucson to beat the snow. But in the summer, she would return East, where her world revolved around her 3 children, 7 grandchildren, and 2 year-old great-granddaughter. A gifted quilter, she’d often work under her favorite tree, or sometimes sew aprons with the logos of the Jets and the Giants to give out at the church where she volunteered. A Republican, she took a liking to Gabby, and wanted to get to know her better.

Dorwan and Mavy Stoddard grew up in Tucson together – about seventy years ago. They moved apart and started their own respective families, but after both were widowed they found their way back here, to, as one of Mavy’s daughters put it, “be boyfriend and girlfriend again.” When they weren’t out on the road in their motor home, you could find them just up the road, helping folks in need at the Mountain Avenue Church of Christ. A retired construction worker, Dorwan spent his spare time fixing up the church along with their dog, Tux. His final act of selflessness was to dive on top of his wife, sacrificing his life for hers.

Everything Gabe Zimmerman did, he did with passion – but his true passion was people. As Gabby’s outreach director, he made the cares of thousands of her constituents his own, seeing to it that seniors got the Medicare benefits they had earned, that veterans got the medals and care they deserved, that government was working for ordinary folks. He died doing what he loved – talking with people and seeing how he could help. Gabe is survived by his parents, Ross and Emily, his brother, Ben, and his fiancĂ©e, Kelly, who he planned to marry next year.

And then there is nine year-old Christina Taylor Green. Christina was an A student, a dancer, a gymnast, and a swimmer. She often proclaimed that she wanted to be the first woman to play in the major leagues, and as the only girl on her Little League team, no one put it past her. She showed an appreciation for life uncommon for a girl her age, and would remind her mother, “We are so blessed. We have the best life.” And she’d pay those blessings back by participating in a charity that helped children who were less fortunate.

Our hearts are broken by their sudden passing. Our hearts are broken – and yet, our hearts also have reason for fullness.

Our hearts are full of hope and thanks for the 13 Americans who survived the shooting, including the congresswoman many of them went to see on Saturday. I have just come from the University Medical Center, just a mile from here, where our friend Gabby courageously fights to recover even as we speak. And I can tell you this – she knows we’re here and she knows we love her and she knows that we will be rooting for her throughout what will be a difficult journey.

And our hearts are full of gratitude for those who saved others. We are grateful for Daniel Hernandez, a volunteer in Gabby’s office who ran through the chaos to minister to his boss, tending to her wounds to keep her alive. We are grateful for the men who tackled the gunman as he stopped to reload. We are grateful for a petite 61 year-old, Patricia Maisch, who wrestled away the killer’s ammunition, undoubtedly saving some lives. And we are grateful for the doctors and nurses and emergency medics who worked wonders to heal those who’d been hurt.

These men and women remind us that heroism is found not only on the fields of battle. They remind us that heroism does not require special training or physical strength. Heroism is here, all around us, in the hearts of so many of our fellow citizens, just waiting to be summoned – as it was on Saturday morning.

Their actions, their selflessness, also pose a challenge to each of us. It raises the question of what, beyond the prayers and expressions of concern, is required of us going forward. How can we honor the fallen? How can we be true to their memory?

You see, when a tragedy like this strikes, it is part of our nature to demand explanations – to try to impose some order on the chaos, and make sense out of that which seems senseless. Already we’ve seen a national conversation commence, not only about the motivations behind these killings, but about everything from the merits of gun safety laws to the adequacy of our mental health systems. Much of this process, of debating what might be done to prevent such tragedies in the future, is an essential ingredient in our exercise of self-government.

But at a time when our discourse has become so sharply polarized – at a time when we are far too eager to lay the blame for all that ails the world at the feet of those who think differently than we do – it’s important for us to pause for a moment and make sure that we are talking with each other in a way that heals, not a way that wounds.

Scripture tells us that there is evil in the world, and that terrible things happen for reasons that defy human understanding. In the words of Job, “when I looked for light, then came darkness.” Bad things happen, and we must guard against simple explanations in the aftermath.

For the truth is that none of us can know exactly what triggered this vicious attack. None of us can know with any certainty what might have stopped those shots from being fired, or what thoughts lurked in the inner recesses of a violent man’s mind.

So yes, we must examine all the facts behind this tragedy. We cannot and will not be passive in the face of such violence. We should be willing to challenge old assumptions in order to lessen the prospects of violence in the future.

But what we can’t do is use this tragedy as one more occasion to turn on one another. As we discuss these issues, let each of us do so with a good dose of humility. Rather than pointing fingers or assigning blame, let us use this occasion to expand our moral imaginations, to listen to each other more carefully, to sharpen our instincts for empathy, and remind ourselves of all the ways our hopes and dreams are bound together.

After all, that’s what most of us do when we lose someone in our family – especially if the loss is unexpected. We’re shaken from our routines, and forced to look inward. We reflect on the past. Did we spend enough time with an aging parent, we wonder. Did we express our gratitude for all the sacrifices they made for us? Did we tell a spouse just how desperately we loved them, not just once in awhile but every single day?

So sudden loss causes us to look backward – but it also forces us to look forward, to reflect on the present and the future, on the manner in which we live our lives and nurture our relationships with those who are still with us. We may ask ourselves if we’ve shown enough kindness and generosity and compassion to the people in our lives. Perhaps we question whether we are doing right by our children, or our community, and whether our priorities are in order. We recognize our own mortality, and are reminded that in the fleeting time we have on this earth, what matters is not wealth, or status, or power, or fame – but rather, how well we have loved, and what small part we have played in bettering the lives of others.

That process of reflection, of making sure we align our values with our actions – that, I believe, is what a tragedy like this requires. For those who were harmed, those who were killed – they are part of our family, an American family 300 million strong. We may not have known them personally, but we surely see ourselves in them. In George and Dot, in Dorwan and Mavy, we sense the abiding love we have for our own husbands, our own wives, our own life partners. Phyllis – she’s our mom or grandma; Gabe our brother or son. In Judge Roll, we recognize not only a man who prized his family and doing his job well, but also a man who embodied America’s fidelity to the law. In Gabby, we see a reflection of our public spiritedness, that desire to participate in that sometimes frustrating, sometimes contentious, but always necessary and never-ending process to form a more perfect union.

And in Christina…in Christina we see all of our children. So curious, so trusting, so energetic and full of magic.

So deserving of our love.

And so deserving of our good example. If this tragedy prompts reflection and debate, as it should, let’s make sure it’s worthy of those we have lost. Let’s make sure it’s not on the usual plane of politics and point scoring and pettiness that drifts away with the next news cycle.

The loss of these wonderful people should make every one of us strive to be better in our private lives – to be better friends and neighbors, co-workers and parents. And if, as has been discussed in recent days, their deaths help usher in more civility in our public discourse, let’s remember that it is not because a simple lack of civility caused this tragedy, but rather because only a more civil and honest public discourse can help us face up to our challenges as a nation, in a way that would make them proud. It should be because we want to live up to the example of public servants like John Roll and Gabby Giffords, who knew first and foremost that we are all Americans, and that we can question each other’s ideas without questioning each other’s love of country, and that our task, working together, is to constantly widen the circle of our concern so that we bequeath the American dream to future generations.

I believe we can be better. Those who died here, those who saved lives here – they help me believe. We may not be able to stop all evil in the world, but I know that how we treat one another is entirely up to us. I believe that for all our imperfections, we are full of decency and goodness, and that the forces that divide us are not as strong as those that unite us.

That’s what I believe, in part because that’s what a child like Christina Taylor Green believed. Imagine: here was a young girl who was just becoming aware of our democracy; just beginning to understand the obligations of citizenship; just starting to glimpse the fact that someday she too might play a part in shaping her nation’s future. She had been elected to her student council; she saw public service as something exciting, something hopeful. She was off to meet her congresswoman, someone she was sure was good and important and might be a role model. She saw all this through the eyes of a child, undimmed by the cynicism or vitriol that we adults all too often just take for granted.

I want us to live up to her expectations. I want our democracy to be as good as she imagined it. All of us – we should do everything we can to make sure this country lives up to our children’s expectations.

Christina was given to us on September 11th, 2001, one of 50 babies born that day to be pictured in a book called “Faces of Hope.” On either side of her photo in that book were simple wishes for a child’s life. “I hope you help those in need,” read one. “I hope you know all of the words to the National Anthem and sing it with your hand over your heart. I hope you jump in rain puddles.”

If there are rain puddles in heaven, Christina is jumping in them today. And here on Earth, we place our hands over our hearts, and commit ourselves as Americans to forging a country that is forever worthy of her gentle, happy spirit.

May God bless and keep those we’ve lost in restful and eternal peace. May He love and watch over the survivors. And may He bless the United States of America.

[Cross-posted at Crooks and Liars.]

Fox talkers demand Sheriff Dupnik produce evidence. Since when has evidence ever mattered to Fox talkers?

-- by Dave

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Bill O'Reilly stepped up last night to make his contribution to the Right's jihad against Clarence Dupnik for speaking the truth about the environment in Arizona in which Jared Loughner's shooting rampage occurred, devoting three whole segments to running down Dupnik, including his opening "Talking Points Memo" segment in which he attacked Dupnik for mixing politics and law enforcement. This, from the guy who has a man-crush on Sheriff Joe Arpaio.

At least the first featured a defense of Dupnik from Alicia Menendez, the first yet allowed on Fox -- though it was, unsurprisingly, an incredibly weak-kneed one. This exchange was pretty revealing, though:
MENENDEZ: So you think that that rhetoric has nothing to do with this? Nothing at all? No connection?

O'REILLY: There's no connection at all. No I think that the man, -- and here's what I think, the man is a zealot. He's a zealot. He is using and abusing his position as a Sheriff, all right? To spout the political point of view. All right?

And two downsides. Number one, he ignites this whole thing because he did. And number two, he obscures the investigation. He obscures it. And I think it's wrong on both counts.

MENENDEZ: So why -- here -- so then, Bill, why are we sitting here talking about him instead of talking about what we do --

O'REILLY: Because we want to -- we want to neutralize people like him. That's why!

MENENDEZ: So he makes you nervous?

O'REILLY: He doesn't make me nervous. He makes me angry.

MENENDEZ: If -- if -- there's nothing legit about what he's saying, then why is he making you nervous?

O'REILLY: No, no, our -- our job here at the Factor, Alicia, as you know is to spotlight people who are harming the country and I think Dupnik is harming the country.

Then he brought on Elisabeth Hasselbeck and somehow managed to not ask her to clarify her previous thoughts on Sarah Palin's "crosshairs" in relation to this story. Instead, they bashed Dupnik some more:

HASSELBECK: The irony, Bill, is that we're looking at a law enforcement individual in a position of power, and in a profession where evidence is near-mandatory, right? To prosecute anybody. And yet there's no evidence to back up anything he's saying.

O'REILLY: Nothing.

This is what Fox talkers were saying all day long (Laura Ingraham made the same charge that morning on Fox & Friends, claiming that Dupnik had "no evidence."

First, let's stipulate: Dupnik had all the evidence he needed to make the kinds of remarks he made about the political and social environment in Arizona -- one that has gotten so virulently ugly that Democrats and liberals in Arizona increasingly are fearful for their physical well-being and are reluctant to self-identify as liberals. (Will Bunch had a terrific piece at Media Matters recently on this very subject; as someone with family and friends in Arizona, I can personally attest to this reality.)

Unlike Bill O'Reilly or Megyn Kelly or Monica Crowley, Dupnik actually lives in Arizona, and does know whereof he speaks. Moreover, there is abundant evidence about the vicious eliminationist hatred, some of it officially sanctioned by the GOP and Tea Parties, that was directed at Giffords personally.

But let's get serious: When has evidence ever mattered to the talkers at Fox News -- Bill O'Reilly especially?

When there have been ugly incidents of right-wing extremist violence directed at "liberal" or government targets in the past, everyone at Fox -- O'Reilly and his pal Glenn Beck in particular -- have just as adamantly denied that the kind of ugly right-wing rhetoric regularly broadcast on their programs had anything to do with it ... even when the evidence has been overwhelming that, in fact, it did.

For instance, when right-wing extremist -- and enthusiastic Fox News consumer -- Jim David Adkisson walked into a Knoxville church in 2008 and gunned down two people, he was explicit in his manifesto about his sources of inspiration:

"This was a symbolic killing. Who I wanted to kill was every Democrat in the Senate & House, the 100 people in Bernard Goldberg's book. I'd like to kill everyone in the mainstream media. But I know those people were inaccessible to me. I couldn't get to the generals & high ranking officers of the Marxist movement so I went after the foot soldiers, the chickenshit liberals that vote in these traitorous people. Someone had to get the ball rolling. I volunteered. I hope others do the same. It's the only way we can rid America of this cancerous pestilence."

Not only did much of the manifesto read like a juiced-up version of a typical O'Reilly "Talking Points Memo," but O'Reilly's books held a prominent spot on Adkisson's bookshelves. This is what you would call pretty substantial evidence of a connection. So when a Newsday op-ed writer had the audacity to point out the obvious ties between O'Reilly's (and the rest of the Right's) overheated rhetoric and this monstrous act, how did O'Reilly respond?

Why, he was outraged, outraged we tell you -- and sent his Flying Monkey Ambush Squad, led by Jesse Watters, to attack the woman with cameras outside her home as she was unloading groceries:

That was just the first time.

Then, when a right-wing extremist named Scott Roeder -- a regular reader of O'Reilly's columns in the "Operation Rescue" newsletter, a number of which targeted Dr. George Tiller for attack -- walked into a Wichita church and shot Tiller in the head, O'Reilly was just as adamant denying that his vicious rhetoric could have played any role whatsoever in the shooting. Our favorite instance was when he brought on his ever-reliable shill, Juan Williams, to stick up for his pal O'Reilly:

Similarly, when a young Pittsburgh white supremacist named Richard Poplawski -- heeding Glenn Beck's warnings that Obama was planning to take his guns away and might be planning to incarcerate people in concentration camps -- gunned down three police officers who came to his door, Beck was adamant in denouncing bloggers like us for pointing out that there was a pretty obvious connection here:

And when a longtime far-right fringe actor named James Von Brunn walked into the Holocaust Memorial Museum and gunned down a security guard, Beck scrambled to portray him as left-wing nutcase -- but hey, we shouldn't be blaming anyone but the killer himself for this blah blah blah ...

Later, O'Reilly and Beck got together to commiserate on just how nasty and awful those liberals were for daring to point to the, you know, actual evidence that the rhetoric they used may have helped fuel these acts of violence:

And then, when the evidence of a powerful connection between Glenn Beck's rhetoric and a planned act of extreme violence is demonstrated to be incontrovertible, as it was in the case of would-be tides Foundation terrorist Byron Williams, what do they do at Fox?

Nothing. They simply do not report on it. They pretend it simply didn't happen. And their cohorts in the rest of the mainstream media largely do the same -- which is how they're able to get away with it.

Evidence, schmevidence. Here's a fact: Jared Loughner could have the collected works of Glenn Beck by his bedside, and a poster-size reproduction of Sarah Palin's gunsight poster hanging over his desk, and these guys would insist they had nothing, NOTHING to do with this or any other act of violence.

After all, their continued livelihood depends on it. Too bad American TV news consumers can't figure that out, and respond accordingly.

[Cross-posted at Crooks and Liars.]

It's vital that Sheriff Dupnik stand his ground -- because he was telling the truth, and it is important

-- by Dave

Sheriff Clarence Dupnik, the chief law officer in Pima County, Arizona, is under attack from the flying monkeys of the Right -- particularly the winged armies assembled by Rush Limbaugh -- for getting up Saturday and telling the truth about the environment of fear and hatefulness that right-wing hate talkers have created in this country, because it was in that environment that Saturday's tragedy in Tucson occurred.

Here's what Limbaugh says:

LIMBAUGH: Sheriff Clarence Dupnik is on the path here of attempting now to expressly personally associate me with this event. We have a law enforcement officer, the sheriff of that county, admitting he's got no facts for what he's speculating about. I don't know. Maybe Pima County would have been better served by a real sheriff, one who spent his time trying to lock up nutbags and criminals, rather than finding ways to excuse them. He hasn't pointed out a single thing that I have said that would inspire such a heinous act.

This means, naturally, that Dupnik and his office are being inundated with vicious hate mail and death threats as we speak.

Dupnik was on Chris Matthews' show yesterday and admitted he "had no idea" the kind of forces he was calling down upon his head for having uttered this plain and simple truth.

But it's important that Dupnik stand his ground -- and that he knows he has the full backing of the rest of non-right-wing America for standing up the way he has.

Because not only was what Dupnik said the truth, it was an important truth that needs to be defended head-on from the all-out assault on it being waged by the right-wing noise machine -- the very faction, in fact, that it is intended to call to account.

The core kernel of hard truth he's been trying to convey is, in truth, a fairly simple one:

There's been a lot of crazy talk coming from the American Right the past couple of years. And crazy talk, especially when it is sanctioned at the highest levels of media and politics, has a powerful way of fueling crazy people who engage in crazy -- horrifically crazy -- acts.

Here's how he put it to Matthews:
DUPNIK: There's no doubt in my mind. Particularly troubled personalities, which is what we're dealing with here, are very vulnerable to the emotion that comes out, especially anger, hate, paranoia, and so forth. And when you were talking about Sarah Palin-- I happen to be a not -- only an admirer and somebody who respects Gabby Giffords, I was involved in her campaign. And you talk about the crosshairs on Gabby Giffords. Well, I want to tell you that her opponent, who was heartily endorsed very vocally by Sarah Palin, had an event, a fund-raising event, where the people were invited I think to a barbecue or something with the -- after the barbecue, if they wanted to, they could each come up and fire an automatic rifle, a semi- automatic rifle. And this same individual had hundreds of campaign ads starting out by saying, Are you as mad at Washington? Boy, I want to tell you, I sure am.

Seriously, do people on the Right expect the rest of us to sit and listen to them talk about how we progressives are a "cancer" out to destroy America, how the Tea Party "a second revolution" and how they need to reserve the right to armed insurrection, to watch them bring guns to public political gatherings because it's their "right", to see them run ads using targets over people, to hear the irrational screaming anger at their rallies ... and then NOT conclude they've played a role when someone shoots a Democratic Congressman in one of the main hotbeds of such angry talk?

Obviously, they do. They have a big awakening coming.

BTW, here's Megyn Kelly trying grill Dupnik on Sunday morning:

This one contained some classic lines, mostly from Kelly, who tried to call ouit Dupnik for his supposed bias --- and thereby revealing her own flaming bias:

MEGYN KELLY: I just want to ask you whether there’s anything you’ve uncovered in your investigation so far that suggests the suspected killer was listening to radio or watching television, and, and in any way inspired by what he saw?

CLARENCE DUPNIK, PIMA COUNTY ARIZONA SHERIFF: Well, I know that there had been some contact with Gabrielle Giffords in the past. We have a, as a matter of fact, a letter from her that was dated in 2007 where I don’t know what prompted that particular letter, but she had agreed and invited him to a similar event back in 2007. So there is some history. [2007 -- pre-Palin, pre-TeaParty - Bye, bye Palin and TeaParty cards -Ed.]

KELLY: Right, he according to the criminal complaint he had showed, he had shown up at one of her Congress on the Corners events, and then there was a letter following up I guess in response to that, or there was some correspondence about it. But, what I’m wondering is do you have reason to believe that this particular suspected killer was taking in information or was in any way influenced by the, the vitriol or the rhetoric that you’re referring to that has been, you know, out on the airwaves?

DUPNIK: If your question is specific, I have to be specific and say I don’t have that information yet. The investigation is very, in its very initial phases. But my belief, and I’ve been watching what’s been going on in this country for the last 75 years, and I’ve been a police officer for over 50 years. There’s no doubt in my mind that when a number of people night and day try to inflame the public that there’s going to be some consequences from doing that. And I think it’s irresponsible to do that.

KELLY: Is that, Sheriff, it sounds like you’re just being very honest, that that’s just your speculation, and that’s not anything that’s fact-based at this point.

DUPNIK: That, that, that’s my opinion, period.

KELLY: And, you know, we’ve had some, some people question whether that is something you should be sharing now because tempers are already inflamed, people are upset about what’s happened. The grieving families are still mourning, the bodies have yet to be buried, and is it the time really to be injecting speculative opinion like that into this case by somebody like yourself Sheriff?

DUPNIK: Well, I think difference of opinion is what makes the world go round and round. But I think it’s irresponsible for us not at some point to address this kind of behavior and try to put a stop to it. There’s no doubt in my mind that there are consequences to this kind of behavior. When, when people, allegedly credible people who get up in front of cameras and microphones and say things that are not true and try to inflame the public. When millions of dollars are filtered into this country to buy very vitriolic ads, and they don’t have to be identified, the countries that they’re coming from or the people who are donating them, I think it’s time we take a look at it. I think free speech is free speech, but it’s not without consequences.

KELLY: And, with respect, Sheriff, I know that you are a Democrat, and you ran for office as a Democrat, and I just want to press you on that a little because I’m sure some of our viewers are asking themselves why you are putting a political spin on this when, when they may be asking why you the Sheriff aren’t just focused on the facts, on uncovering the facts?

DUPNIK: Well, I think that it’s more than just a political spin. I’m not sure that it really has anything to do with politics. You know, I grew up in a country that was totally different from the country that we have today. We didn’t have this kind of nonsense going on, and it used to be that politicians from different parties could sit down, forget about their ideology, and work on the country’s problems. We don’t see that happening today. As a matter of fact, we see exactly the opposite. We see one Party trying to block the attempts of another Party to make this a better country. And I think that it’s time that we as a country need to look into our souls and into our hearts and say is what we’re doing really in the best interests of this country or is there something better that we can do.

KELLY: That’s a fair point, you know, separating it apart from what we saw in Arizona yesterday, I mean, you could make the argument that we just need to come together as a country. But I think, you know, people are looking at what happened in Tucson, and what you seem to be telling us, what the Feds seem to be telling us, that we’re dealing with – and I don’t use this term legally, I’m not trying to say anything about how this is going to plead out in a courtroom – some sort of madman, just like we’ve had in the past. The assassination of Robert Kennedy. The assassination of John F. Kennedy. You know, the assassination of Martin Luther King, and you refer to a time gone by. There were madmen then, there are madmen now. And, it just, you know, is it really a place of a Sheriff to stir the pot on either side of the political aisle?

DUPNIK: Well, I guess that’s for the listeners to decide.

Later in the day, Geraldo invited Dupnik onto his Fox News show, and asked him if he wanted to rescind any of his remarks. Dupnik, to his credit, refused to do so:

He may not have been ready for the onslaught. But he's showing more courage than your average Democrat in the face of it.

[Cross-posted at Crooks and Liars.]

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Beck claims 'I don't use [violent rhetoric] on or off the air': Oh really?

-- by Dave

It sure seemed that everyone -- and I mean EVERYONE -- at Fox News was focused yesterday on beating down the horrifying idea that somehow Fox News' incendiary rhetoric might have played a significant role in fomenting Saturday's horrifying tragedy in Arizona.

Of course, Glenn Beck -- being one of the chief purveyors of said incendiary rhetoric -- was out there leading the attack, devoting his entire hour to his newfound desire to prevent political violence. Indeed, he iussed a "letter to America" yesterday containing a pledge he wants everyone else to sign decrying any attempt to connect political violence to the rhetoric that precedes it:

I hold those responsible for the violence, responsible for the violence. I denounce those who attempt to blame political opponents for the acts of madmen.

In other words: I denounce people who would like to blame me for inspiring guys like Byron Williams, who openly credit me for inspiring them!

On his show, he responded to the critics -- especially those like David Brock at Media Matters, who demanded Rupert Murdoch take responsibility for this outcome: "You have the power to order them to stop using violent rhetoric, on and off of Fox's air. If they fail to do so, it is incumbent upon you to fire them or be responsible for the climate they create and any consequences thereof."

Beck's response:

Beck: Well, I don't use it on or off the air, so I guess I'm in compliance, Media Matters.

Well, as Eric Boehlert has amply documented, this is simply a brazen lie: Beck has used violent rhetoric since nearly the first day he joined Fox News, and it has built and amplified since then.

Indeed, he uses two particular kinds of violent rhetoric in abundance. The first is eliminationist rhetoric, particularly the kind aimed at progressives:

Here you can see Beck call progressives a "cancer" (multiple times), "the disease that's killing us," a "virus," a "parasite," "vampires" who will "suck the life out" of the Democratic Party, and claim that progressives intend the "destruction of the Constitution" and will strike it a "death blow".

Then there's the fearmongering rhetoric he uses to demonize his opponents:

This kind of talk even earned him the sobriquet "Fearmonger in Chief" from the ADL.

Hey Glenn! Here's something you could add to your "pledge":

"I choose not to hold my political opponents up for dehumanization and demonization in a way that makes them the object of fear and loathing and a target for violent elimination."

You take that pledge, and we might listen.

[Cross-posted at Crooks and Liars.