Thursday, December 31, 2009
"I am sick and tired of the former vice president of the United States taking shots not only at this administration, for problems he was largely and personally responsible for, but by an extension at those of us who served in the military and bring that experience," Massa said on MSNBC's The Ed Show.
"This man suffers from a horrible case of political Tourette's [syndrome], and it's about time that we stand up and kick right back because I'm sick and tired of him kicking us in our shins," Massa said.Cheney's forceful critique of Obama quickly garnered significant media attention, and several journalists accused the story's author Mike Allen of failing to fact-check Cheney's seemingly curious claims.
"We need to grow a spine and stand up and show America exactly who did what," Massa said, pointing to Cheney's role in the events leading to the Christmas day attempt and the fact that the Bush administration took several days longer than Obama to address the 2001 shoe-bomber incident.
"It was Dick Cheney personally responsible for the release of the masterminds of the Christmas airline terror plot," he said, accusing the former vice president of shifting his culpability to Democrats.
"It makes no difference what we do, this man suffers from political diarrhea of the mouth, and unless we stand up and call it as it is he's going to keep on getting away with it," Massa said.
Host Ed Schultz called Cheney a "coward" and heatedly rebuffed the GOP meme that their party is more effective on national security, and said the Democratic Party cedes ground by failing to counter these claims.
"What do we have to do to get the Democrats to be aggressive on security?" Schultz said. "We got hit on [the GOP's] watch. They were told that bin Laden was going to do this and they sat on their fat ass on vacation and did nothing about it."
Massa agreed, saying that "this is not a political problem, it's a national security issue -- and for the Republicans to come out swinging and make this a political issue is the height of absolute arrogance and the depth of incompetence."
In a direct challenge to Cheney, Massa added: "I want Dick Cheney to come debate me, anywhere, anytime, anyhow -- and let's see how he stands up to the truth."
The New York Democrat also lashed out at Sen. Jim DeMint as "personally responsible for placing you, the traveling American public at risk" by "placing a hold on the nominee of the director of the Transportation Security Agency."
"People like Jim DeMint and people like Dick Cheney need to go away so we can solve the problems they've created," Massa said.
This video is from MSNBC's The Ed Show, broadcast Dec. 30, 2009.
The Democrats’ counterattack is aimed largely at two Republican congressmen who have been particularly critical of Obama, Reps. Pete Hoekstra (R-Mich.) and Peter King (R-N.Y.). But neither GOP lawmaker will concede applying a double standard to Obama. [...]
Asked Tuesday about how Obama’s response differed from Bush’s, King said it was his “recollection” that senior Bush Administration officials such as Attorney General John Ashcroft did speak out about Reid’s case soon after he was arrested. However, POLITICO could not locate any public comment from Ashcroft before he held a press conference when Reid was indicted nearly a month later.
“My point was there was no word coming from anyone except a press handout,” King told POLITICO Tuesday. “It didn’t have to be the president. I’d have been fine if it were Eric Holder or for that matter [Homeland Security Secretary Janet] Napolitano….There should be a face for the administration. For the first 48 hours, nobody said a word.”
Though he pointed out Hoekstra and King’s hypocrisy, Politico’s Josh Gerstein claimed that “former Bush aides and advisers have sidestepped the issue or endorsed Obama’s approach.” But in a statement given to a different Politico reporter, former Vice President Dick Cheney harshly criticized Obama’s “low key response“:
As I’ve watched the events of the last few days it is clear once again that President Obama is trying to pretend we are not at war. He seems to think if he has a low key response to an attempt to blow up an airliner and kill hundreds of people, we won’t be at war. He seems to think if he gives terrorists the rights of Americans, lets them lawyer up and reads them their Miranda rights, we won’t be at war. He seems to think if we bring the mastermind of 9/11 to New York, give him a lawyer and trial in civilian court, we won’t be at war.
Cheney’s claim that the Obama administration’s response to the attempted airline bombing is “trying to pretend we are not at war” is especially hypocritical because one of the Bush administration’s first public comments on the 2001 attempted shoe bombing specifically called it a “law enforcement” issue. At a press conference five days after the incident, then-Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld brushed off questions about Richard Reid’s failed bombing by saying, “That’s a matter that’s in the hands of the law enforcement people and not the Department of Defense.” “And I don’t have anything I would want to add,” said Rumsfeld.
Thursday, December 24, 2009
Leading the fight to defend Christianity in the so-called “War on Christmas,” Rep. Henry Brown (R-SC) introduced congressional resolution 951, which “urges protection of the symbols and traditions of Christmas.” Despite criticism from House Minority Leader John Boehner (R-OH) against frivolous legislation, Brown has pressed forward and collected 74 GOP cosponsors. The religious meaning of Christmas is serious to Brown. In an explanation of his resolution to the Christian Broadcast Network, Brown noted that, “we’re in a troubled world,” so “we can’t lose sight of our deep faith by some how or another diminishing the value of Christmas.”
The main threat to Christmas, Brown contents, is the use of the term “happy holidays” rather than an emphasis on “Christ and Christmas.” In an interview with Fox Business last week, Brown lashed out at the use of “happy holidays”:
BROWN: We forget the real meaning of Christmas by using “happy holidays” or “joy to the seasons” or some other word rather than “Merry Christmas.” [...]
Every year, more and more people are shying away from “Merry Christmas” and using “happy holidays” or some other means of expressing this special time for us.
Indeed, Brown has even attempted to use his resolution as a jab against President Obama. Declaring that the Obamas’ holiday card doesn’t mention Christmas, Brown said, “I believe that sending a Christmas card without referencing a holiday and its purpose limits the Christmas celebration in favor of a more ‘politically correct’ holiday.” Brown’s fight to preserve Christmas and shun “happy holidays” has earned him the title of “patriot” from noted culture warrior Bill O’Reilly.
However, Brown’s 2008 December newsletter wished a “happy holiday” to his constituents for the “holiday season.” Although the newsletter had a link to the White House Christmas tree website, it made no other mention of Christ or Christmas. (Click here for a screenshot) And as Slate’s Chris Beam has observed, Brown didn’t introduce his resolution last year, even though President Bush’s 2008 holiday card didn’t mention Christmas either.
Conservatives Attack Health Bill Passage As A ‘Gift That Keeps On Taking,’ Threaten To Take Down X-Mas Tree
Early this morning, the Senate passed comprehensive health care reform legislation by a vote of 60-39 — with Sen. Jim Bunning (R-KY) not voting — ending more than four weeks of acrimonious floor debate. “This morning is not the end of the process,” Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) reminded progressives dissatisfied with the Senate bill. “It’s only the beginning.” Sen. Robert Byrd (D-WV), the longest serving federal lawmaker in U.S. history, cast his vote saying, “Mr. President, this is for my friend Ted Kennedy. Aye.” Watch highlights compiled by Igor Volsky at the Wonk Room:
As CAP President and CEO John Podesta noted, health care reform “would extend health care coverage to a record 31 million Americans who are currently uninsured, bringing the total insured population to 94 percent.” However, every single Republican opposed the legislation. RNC Chairman Michael Steele immediately put out a statement blasting the legislation as a “gift that keeps on taking”:
This morning, as millions of Americans prepared to gather with their families in celebration of Christmas, President Obama and Harry Reid gathered with their liberal allies in celebration of government. Mr. Reid and company honored President Obama’s Christmas wish for increased federal control and passed their government-run health care experiment out of the Senate. [...]
As we move forward, America can look forward to watching Nancy Pelosi conduct the arm-twisting needed to convince her most liberal colleagues that the Senate version is the best Trojan horse possible to hide a true single payer system, which is what this debate has always been about. This Christmas, the Democrats and President Obama have given America the one gift that keeps on taking.
Conservatives have been aggressively trying to portray health care reform as an assault on Christmas and Christian values. Fox News even said that senators voting against reform are doing so because they understand “the true meaning of Christmas.” Today on the floor, Sen. Kit Bond (R-MO) said that Americans would be getting “a lump of coal” this Christmas. Apparently, this meme is catching on. TPM notes that today on C-SPAN, a caller — “Bunny” from Kansas — was so upset over the health care bill’s passage that she said she would be taking down all her Christmas decorations. “I have taken my Christmas wreath off my house. I have taken all the lights down,” she said. “This is supposed to be a nation under God, and it isn’t. They absolutely have ruined Christmas.” Watch it (at approximately 45:00):
After the passage of the historic bill, President Obama said, “As I’ve said before, these are not small reforms; these are big reforms. If passed, this will be the most important piece of social policy since the Social Security Act in the 1930s, and the most important reform of our health care system since Medicare passed in the 1960s. And what makes it so important is not just its cost savings or its deficit reductions. It’s the impact reform will have on Americans who no longer have to go without a checkup or prescriptions that they need because they can’t afford them; on families who no longer have to worry that a single illness will send them into financial ruin; and on businesses that will no longer face exorbitant insurance rates that hamper their competitiveness.”
Rep. Parker Griffith announced his switch to the Republican Party on Tuesday, telling the press he can "no longer align [him]self with a party that continues to pursue legislation that is bad for our country, hurts our economy, and drives us further and further into debt."
The Alabama Democratic Party issued a statement Wednesday accusing Griffith's political consultancy, Main Street Strategies, of downloading "sensitive voter identification data that was the property of the Alabama Democratic Party."
"This final act was obviously intended to aid Mr. Griffith in his new role as a Republican candidate. Upon hearing of Mr. Griffith’s switch, security measures were taken to prevent further transfers of data," the statement read.Even though the "sensitive" voter data helped elect Griffith in 2008, "in the wee hours before he became a Republican, Parker Griffith’s political operatives, with full knowledge of what was occurring, went online and downloaded our confidential records,” Alabama Democratic Party Chairman Joe Turnham said.
Despite his arrival in the Alabama GOP with political opponents' data, it appears Griffith is getting a less-than-welcoming reception from some state Republicans.
"I can't help but regard this 'Road to Damascus' conversion of Parker Griffith's as solely a ploy to cling to his seat in 2010," said Republican State Treasurer Kay Ivey, as quoted at the Huntsville Times. "We're all well-aware of the increasingly negative poll results for Democrats in Alabama and around the nation."
Griffith has denied the accusation that his defection amounts to political opportunism, instead pointing the finger at the health care reform legislation working its way through Congress.
"I want to make it perfectly clear that this bill is bad for our doctors," the Associated Press quoted Griffith as saying. "It's bad for our patients. It's bad for the young men and women who are considering going into the health care field."
"Democrats of every stripe and philosophy sweated and bled for this man," Turnham told the AP Tuesday. "He narrowly became a congressman through the hard work, votes and financial contributions of thousands of Democrats. Today, they feel betrayed."
David Weigel at the Washington Independent notes that Griffith's denouncement of the health care reform effort doesn't jibe with his pro-health reform track record.
Greg Sargent catches a May 2006 interview with then-State Senator Parker Griffith in which he refers to himself as a “life-long” Democrat and a supporter of “health care for all of the citizens.” Glenn Thrush finds that Griffith has voted with Nancy Pelosi — that is to say, with the Democrats — 85 percent of the time. And yesterday, Josh Kraushaar reported that Griffith, still in the thrall of the Democratic Party, donated $1,500 to Howard Dean’s 2004 presidential bid and $1,000 to Sen. Harry Reid (D-Nev.).
Significantly, neither DeMint nor Ensign cite a single judge, justice or reputable constitutional scholar who believes that health reform is unconstitutional. Instead, they rely entirely on a study by the right-wing Heritage Foundation, a radical “tenther” organization which has endorsed the view that Medicare, Medicaid, Social Security, the federal minimum wage, and the federal ban on workplace discrimination and whites-only lunch counters are all unconstitutional. Sen. Max Baucus (D-MT), rebuts DeMint and Ensign’s constitutional claim by citing numerous constitutional scholars — including right-wing law professor Jonathan Adler — who all agree that health reform is constitutional. Moreover, as ThinkProgress has previously explained, even ultra-conservative Justice Antonin Scalia disagrees with the tenther attack on health reform.
Sadly, DeMint and Ensign’s attempt to change the meaning of the Constitution by invoking a constitutional point of order is an all too familiar tactic. As CQ reports, Republicans often invoke this procedure to claim that bills they don’t like must therefore be unconstitutional. Sen. Tom Coburn (R-OK) recently invoked the procedure to claim that a $200,000 federal grant to an Omaha, Neb. museum somehow violated the constitution. Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) used it to protest a bill to enfranchise D.C. residents.
Raising a constitutional point of order is also the first step to invoking the so-called “nuclear option,” an elaborate set of procedural maneuvers Republicans dreamed up while they were still in the majority, that effectively declare the filibuster unconstitutional. Indeed, despite the fact that Ensign and DeMint now claim the right to filibuster anything the majority does, both senators believed the filibuster must be unconstitutional when it was being used against them. Ensign claimed that the Senate has a “constitutional obligation” to give President Bush’s most radical judicial nominees an “up-or-down” vote, and DeMint had even harsher words for Democratic senators who opposed majority rule:
The obstructionists should go to the Senate floor, make their arguments, allow senators to draw their conclusions on her nomination and then let us vote. If their arguments are so strong, they should be able to convince a majority to agree. Otherwise, they are simply smearing the integrity of a highly respected jurist to score political points against the president, at the expense of vandalizing the Constitution. . . .
There is a reason Americans elected George W. Bush and a large Republican majority in Congress. The majority of Americans trusted our judgment on judicial nominees. There is also a reason Democrats are in the minority. Most Americans did not trust them to make these decisions.
Now that DeMint and Ensign are in the minority, however, it simply must be the case that the Constitution protects minority obstructionism–and that bills opposed by the minority are unconstitutional.
Wednesday, December 23, 2009
For much of the year, Newt Gingrich has helped to lead the Republican opposition to President Obama. Gingrich talks regularly with House Minority Whip Eric Cantor (R-VA), sits in on GOP House caucus meetings, fundraises for Republican candidates, sponsors attack ads through his political 527 group, and even used his insurer-funded consulting firm to write a piece of alternative healthcare legislation. Last month, at a right-wing conference hosted by David Horowitz, Gingrich outlined his vision for how Republicans can win control of Congress in 2010. After the victory, Gingrich said Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-MN) should become a committee chair (her only current committee assignment is Financial Services):
GINGRICH: I think that both Ed Royce and Michele Bachmann, who are here today, are going to end up being chairs, probably in January of 2011.
When Gingrich steered Republicans to victory in the 1994 midterms, he similarly bypassed seniority and appointed his most trusted lieutenants to powerful committee chairs. Bachmann, who is popular among conservative partisans, has spent much of her tenure on the Financial Services Committee attacking financial reform, while concocting conspiracy theories about ACORN and a “one world” currency.
M.C.L. comment: If you want a reason to get fire up about the 2010 elections there you go? So all you people who's thinking about taking their ball and going home how would you feel about having that nut leading a majority of nuts like her in the house? Like the health care bill or not there is no logical reason to allow Bachmann and the tea party klans folks to get back into power.
Sen. Joe Lieberman’s (I-Conn.) favorable ratings have taken almost a 10-point drop in the past two weeks, a new poll found.
31 percent of people told a CNN poll conducted Dec. 16-20 that they had a favorable opinion of Lieberman, a key Senate centrist who’d opposed healthcare reform only until recently. Opinion toward Lieberman, though, was down from a 40 percent favorable rating in the same CNN poll conducted December 2-3 of this year.
Poll respondents’ unfavorable opinion of Lieberman ticked upward over the same period. 34 percent of those polled said they now have an unfavorable opinion of Lieberman, compared to 28 percent who have an unfavorable opinion.
Monday, December 21, 2009
Glenn Beck's well of ridiculous was deep and poisonous before he launched his Fox News show, but the inauguration of the 44th president of the United States -- and the permissive cheerleading of his Fox News honchos -- uncorked the former Morning Zoo shock jock's unique brand of vitriol, stage theatrics, and hyperbolic fright, making him an easy choice for Media Matters' 2009 Misinformer of the Year.
When he wasn't calling the president a racist, portraying progressive leaders as vampires who can only be stopped by "driv[ing] a stake through the heart of the bloodsuckers," or pushing the legitimacy of seceding from the country, Beck obsessively compared Democrats in Washington to Nazis and fascists and "the early days of Adolf Hitler." He wondered, "Is this where we're headed," while showing images of Hitler, Stalin, and Lenin; decoded the secret language of Marxists; and compared the government to "heroin pushers" who were "using smiley-faced fascism to grow the nanny state."
Like his predecessor, Beck spat on scruples, frequently announcing his goal to get administration officials fired. He increasingly acted not as a media figure, but as the head of a political movement, while helping to bring fringe conspiracies of a one-world government into the national discourse.
And he all too frequently helped to set the mainstream media's agenda.
Glenn Beck's disturbing use of race and race-baiting
Appearing on Fox & Friends in June to discuss a White House "beer summit" between President Obama, a white Massachusetts police officer, and a black Harvard professor who had been arrested entering his own home, Beck uttered perhaps his most infamous words to date, calling the president a "racist" with "a deep-seated hatred for white people or the white culture." The statement drew widespread derision and condemnation, and Fox News immediately sought to distance itself from the statement. But Beck's divisive commentary was likely no surprise to his followers, coming as it did at the end of a week-long deluge of race-baiting that included the claim that Obama "has real issues with race," and Beck's incessant talk of Obama's policies as a form of minority reparations. Just one month earlier, Beck had agreed that Obama was elected because of race and not policies, and in May he called then Supreme Court nominee Sonia Sotomayor a "racist."
In the controversy that followed Beck's inflammatory charge that the president is racist, his Fox News show began to hemorrhage advertisers, and Beck began to beg his viewers to "call a friend and tell them to watch the show this week." By September, Beck, who had become "tired of the race thing" and who claimed he doesn't "think the race thing works anymore," apparently decided it was time to move on. He later would blame politicians for charges of racism and call "false cries of racism" "dangerous." Beck then sat down for an interview with CBS' Katie Couric where he would express regret for the way he phrased the claim that Obama is a racist, but then emphasized that the issue of Obama's racism is a "serious question."
In the months since Beck called Obama a "racist" with a "deep-seated hatred of white people," at least 80 advertisers have reportedly dropped their ads from his Fox News show, yet he has faced no apparent repercussions from Fox News. Then again, Rupert Murdoch apparently agrees with Beck that Obama is a racist. (Or maybe not.)
Beck's red scare tactics
Beck introduced himself to Fox News viewers in 2009 by announcing that he was "tired of the politics of left and right," which leads its participants to do insane things, like accusing political opponents of "trying to turn us into communist Russia." Setting aside for the sake of brevity Beck's long history of calling progressive figures communists and Marxists, he almost immediately put lie to his professed aversion. Yes, taking to the airwaves the following week on his radio show, Beck concluded, "I do believe that Barack Obama is a socialist" who "has Marxist tendencies." Beck explained:
BECK: He may be a full-fledged Marxist. He has surrounded himself by Marxists his whole life."
Alas, the remainder of 2009 would see Beck unleash a tirade against Obama's "full-fledged" Marxism, blaming "fearless leader, Comrade Obama" for overseeing the "destruction of the West"; citing Obama administration policies and promising to show how "they line up with some of the goings-on in history's worst socialist, fascist countries"; calling Obama's economic recovery package "truly stepping beyond socialism" and "starting to look at fascism"; declaring that Obama is "so clearly" a socialist, citing his work as a community organizer as clear proof of such; claiming that Obama is "a Marxist who is "setting up a class system"; and comparing health care reform to socialism.
Beck's red scare was not limited to Obama himself. During a May 28 discussion with Bill O'Reilly, Beck proclaimed of Obama, "His friends and nominees and everything -- they're all Marxist." And over the course of 2009, Beck's McCarthy-esque list of known communists proved to be long and distinguished, including the Democratic and Republican parties, former White House communications director Anita Dunn, SEIU president Andy Stern, the Federal Trade Commission, the Federal Communications Commission, FCC official Mark Lloyd, proponents of maintaining free market principals in Internet competition, Sonia Sotomayor, and media reform activists at Free Press.
By way of example, Beck spent most of his hour-long Fox show one October evening discussing video of then-White House communications director Anita Dunn, who had cited Mao Zedong as one of two political philosophers -- the other being Mother Theresa -- she cites to illustrate the advice that "you don't have to follow other people's choices and paths" or "let external definition define how good you are internally." Ignoring the numerous political figures on the right -- including those who routinely appear on Fox News and Glenn Beck's very show -- who have cited Mao's teachings in the past, Beck distorted the video, claiming she "worships" "her hero" Mao.
By October 30, Beck -- who began the year decrying those who would denigrate the national debate by calling political opponents socialists -- had redrawn the battle lines:
BECK: I have said to you before, and we laid the case out last night. These are revolutionaries. You must decide, America, and your friends must decide. There's no sidelines here. You're either on the side of the revolutionaries for Marxism and a new Venezuela here in America, or the revolutionaries of 1776.
Beck's Law: If Obama did it, always say that Hitler did it, too
On June 30, Wal-Mart joined the Center for American Progress and SEIU in announcing support for health care reform efforts. The next day on his Fox News show, Beck made one of the countless Nazi and Hitler comparisons he made this year:
BECK: This is what happened in the 1940s. Look, this is what happened in Europe in the 1930s. It's what happened in Italy. It's what happened in the national socialist country of Germany in the 1930s under Hitler. These companies get into bed and think, "Well, we're going to be fine. We'll just take a little bit of this."
Then, they're trapped. These are bullies that are pushing these companies. And these companies are naive, at best, that they think they can get into bed with the devil, and then be able to control it.
In his uninterrupted efforts to attack and smear progressives, Beck would repeatedly prove the accuracy of Godwin's Law. Beck called Obama's proposal to expand the foreign service, AmeriCorps, and the Peace Corps "what Hitler did with the SS" and compared the closing of car dealerships to what happened under the Nazis, warning, "Gang, at some point, they're going to come for you." Incidentally, this would not be Beck's only reference to Martin Niemoller's lectures. Responding to Anita Dunn's criticism of Fox News' overt partisanship, Beck compared the channel to Jews during the Holocaust, with other media outlets representing the silent bystanders.
Beck's embrace of violent, anti-government rhetoric
Beck's adoration of theatrics reached a fevered pitch in April. After claiming, "I think it would be just faster if they just shot me in the head," Beck created a classic cable news moment when, in criticizing the president's policies, he pretended to pour gasoline on an average American, stating, "President Obama, why don't you just set us on fire? For the love of Pete, what are you doing?" Beck would go on to use violent imagery throughout the year, distorting the face and voice of a "concerned parent" who attacked Dunn for her Mao reference as if he were a mafia informant, purporting to boil a frog to illustrate that "we've been tossed quickly into boiling water," and invoking civil rights marchers having fire hoses turned on them to spur opposition to health care reform.
Rhetorically as well, Beck spent 2009 at the forefront of the emerging right-wing culture of paranoia, his persecution complex manifesting itself in claims that "they are going to silence voices like mine" and suggestions that "you" would "have to shoot me in the forehead before I will let you into my house to tell me how to raise my children; you will have to shoot me in the forehead before you take away my gun; you will have to shoot me in the forehead before I acquiesce and be silent." This especially unhinged rallying cry continued:
BECK: [T]hey cannot move on these things, because they are building a machine that will crush the entrepreneurial sprit and the freedom that our founding fathers designed. This machine, whatever it is they are building, will crush it. Do not let them build another piece. So while I turn away, I want to make sure that I have at least 10 million eyes watching -- watching every single move they're making.
We know why they're doing what they're doing. Now you need to do what you do, and as long as that is peaceful, we will save our country.
Beck alternately suggested that former White House adviser Van Jones or ACORN would kill him and that SEIU would break his legs. He stated that he "fear[s]" that he'll be silenced by a "thug-ocracy" that includes ACORN, SEIU, and Obama. Beck compared the Obama administration to the bat-wielding Al Capone from The Untouchables, claiming, "You take these guys on, and they will bash your brains out"; suggested that the administration was out to destroy him; argued that the Obama administration would use bombings of a Canadian pipeline to justify taking over oil companies; and suggested that government wants "more problems" so "they can use the iron fist and crush people."
Beck claimed the 2008 election was a coup conducted "through the guise of an election" and warned that "the country may not survive Barack Obama"; he hosted a guest who claimed the "only chance we have as a country right now is" for Osama bin Laden to "detonate a major weapon" in the United States. Beck charged the Obama administration with "putting a gun to America's head" through its approach to legislating, attacked White House advisers Cass Sunstein and John Holdren by stating that they "will be responsible for many, many deaths," and said the White House and progressives are "taking you to a place to be slaughtered."
Against the backdrop of this hyperbolic fright, Beck discussed poisoning Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi, encouraged his followers to "hold a meeting" with politicians "in front of their house," and encouraged people to attend a November rally in Washington to "see the whites of their eyes," warning, "There is coming a point to where the people will have exhausted all of their options; when that happens, look out."
Beck was simultaneously calling on his followers to eschew violence, since "one lunatic like Timothy McVeigh could ruin everything," and claiming, "It's not time to pick up guns" or "blow anything up," all while warning, "Somebody's going to do something stupid, and it will change the republic overnight."
Beck uses Fox News show as tool for organizing conservatives
On March 13, Beck used his Fox News show to tearfully announce his 9-12 Project, weeping as he declared, "I just love my country, and I fear for it," then stiffening his spine to add, "They don't surround us; we surround them." Within days, Beck was denying interest in running for office, telling Fox News' Patti Ann Browne that "we would run out of missiles. Seriously, that would be the most overused phrase in my administration, 'What do you mean, we're out of missiles?' "
As Media Matters demonstrated, the anti-government tea party protest movement operated as a de facto subsidiary of Fox News, and no one better illustrates the interconnected nature of Fox News and the tea parties than Glenn Beck. On April 6, with an image of his 9-12 Project flag waving behind him, Beck let his followers know where they could "celebrate with Fox News" at "FNC Tax Day Tea Parties." Three days later, Beck announced that he would be participating in a tea party fundraiser prior to speaking at a tea party event and used his Fox News show to tie the tea party protests to Thomas Paine. Then, his persecution complex in overdrive, Beck declared that "[t]here are forces at play that are doing everything they can to make this -- tax day at San Antonio, the Alamo -- about me," informing his followers that he would not be giving the keynote address at the San Antornio Fox News Tax Day Tea Party, as had been originally planned. Beck would eventually marry his anti-government paranoia to his tea party advocacy, claiming that a Department of Homeland Security report on right-wing extremism was somehow directed at tea partiers.
Beck's political activity continued in August as he began aggressively promoting "the biggest 9-12 tea party yet, on Capitol Hill." Beck's involvement with the 9-12 protest movement led CNN's Howard Kurtz to ask whether Beck is "a talk show host" or "a leader of a movement." Underscoring Beck's role leading the 9-12/tea party movement, Fox News footage of the rally included signs paying homage to one of Beck's numerous conspiracy theories, that of Obama's nefarious "civilian national security force." Beck would go on to dubiously claim that the protest was the "largest march on Washington ever," a claim he based on "overseas" reporting; he would subsequently cite a university he could not recall to claim that 1.7 million attended his protest. To cap it all off, Beck laughably argued that President Obama should have given his Nobel Peace Prize to "the Tea Party goers and the 9-12 project."
In the aftermath of his successful rally, Beck looked to more traditional ways to use his perch to engage in political activity. As the special election in New York's 23rd Congressional District drew to a close, Beck, along with several of his Fox News colleagues, aggressively campaigned for independent conservative candidate Doug Hoffman, on the grounds that GOP candidate Dede Scozzafava was too moderate, and thus did not pass their ideological purity test. He also offered to host a fundraiser for GOP Rep. Michele Bachmann, and encouraged his followers to "leave" the Republican Party as "the best way to get Republicans to change."
Having used his radio and Fox News shows to cultivate a legion of followers, Beck now seems poised to push the movement forward, promising a new "multi-level" plan for his 9-12 project that involves more conventions, meetings with conservative "minds," and a rally at the Lincoln Memorial. Becks' laudable goal: nothing less than to "save our country." And it seems the GOP and the tea partiers have finally answered Beck's call.
Beck's wild conspiracy charts
Regular viewers of the Glenn Beck show this year were treated to a litany of charts and graphs, purportedly laying out a myriad of suspicious connections among things with names like ACORN, SEIU, the Tides Foundation, and two brothers named Rathke. Oh, and occasionally fictional characters. These charts were frequently depicted as trees, and often represented by encircled words with lines showing how each circle is connected. Occasionally they involved defacing the U.S. flag.
Beck's conspiracy theories made room for Sotomayor and the Puerto Rican Legal Defense and Education Fund, the National Endowment for the Arts, White House adviser Valerie Jarrett, Che Guevara, Mumia Abu-Jamal, OnStar, Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, and "almost everything."
When Beck famously spelled "OLIGARH" to illustrate the type of political system the grandest of conspiracies was constructing, he simply claimed a day later that his misspelling proved "you can't spell 'oligarch' without the czars." When he used a game of Connect 4 to illustrate one of his many conspiracy theories, he accidentally won before he could use the game piece representing Obama, but pressed on anyway, only able to make his grand point after cheating at a child's game in which he was playing against himself.
In Beck's conspiratorial world, union officials make decisions on whether to send additional troops to Afghanistan, community organizers are deliberately undermining the financial system, ACORN is designing "government-run health care," and the whole cast of conspirators is establishing a "maximum wage" to redistribute wealth and fixing elections in New York and Minnesota. Oh, and New Orleans' response to Hurricane Katrina was an effort to hide ACORN corruption.
The irony, of course, is that for each of the illusory connections Beck draws between his political enemies, there exists an actual connection between Beck and some of the more controversial actors in the world of right-wing activism.
He's not saying there are FEMA concentration camps ...
One of the methods to Beck's madness is the attempted debunking -- a clever little trick whereby Beck professes his desire to prove false a wild conspiracy theory, but finds himself unable to, thereby lending it credibility without actually endorsing its veracity. A fine illustration of this technique can be found in Beck's efforts to "debunk" rumors of the Obama administration's FEMA concentration camps. On March 4, Beck appeared on Fox & Friends and declared, "We are a country that is headed towards socialism, totalitarianism beyond your wildest imagination." He subsequently stated that he "wanted to debunk" the theory that FEMA was building camps, but added: "I can't debunk them." His non-debunking continued:
BECK: It is -- it is our government. If you trust our government, it's fine. If you have any kind of fear that we might be headed towards a totalitarian state, look out, buckle up. There is something going on in our country that is -- ain't good.
On his Fox News program later that day, Beck claimed, "I don't believe in the FEMA prison," and later stated, "If these things exist, that's bad, and we will cover it. If they don't exist, it's irresponsible to not debunk this story." One month later, Beck hosted James Meigs, Popular Mechanics' editor-in-chief, to debunk the stories. To recap, Beck had first warned of "a country that is headed towards socialism, totalitarianism beyond your wildest imagination," then had brought up the rumors of FEMA concentration camps that he "wanted to debunk" but could not. Later that day he professed, "I don't believe in the FEMA prisons," but again suggested he could not debunk them. It was a month before he got around to definitively debunking them.
Beck rejoices after America loses bid to host 2016 Olympics
On September 28, White House officials announced that President Obama and first lady Michelle Obama would travel to Copenhagen in order to help the Chicago Olympic Committee present its bid to host the 2016 Olympics. One day later, Beck took to the airwaves, leading the charge in attacking Chicago as a city unfit to host the Olympics. In addition to asking "[w]hose agenda" Obama was "really pushing," Beck complained that the Second City was too violent for the Olympics and said that Chicago was less favorably suited to hold the Olympics than Rio de Janeiro, Madrid, and Tokyo because of the city's history of organized crime:
Well, in the America that I grew up in, we would use logic. The way the IOC normally does it is do select the city which presents the superior plan. OK, that makes sense. All right, does the best job in organizing. Oh, Chicago is good at community organizing, and organized labor, and organized mafia. Oops. Did I say that out loud?
When the IOC subsequently awarded the games to Rio de Janeiro, Beck giddily begged his followers, "Please let me break this news to you. Oh, it's so sweet." As his sidekick Stu began to make the news, Beck implored his followers to "savor" the moment, claiming, "We can always hope" that Obama is the first head of state to fail to secure an Olympics bid. Beck subsequently claimed to have "no problem" with Chicago hosting the Olympics.
Beck's slavery fetish
During a February appearance on Fox & Friends, Beck said of the economic stimulus plan, "It is slavery." Beck's enslavement to that metaphor nearly rivaled his obsession with Marxists, Leninists, and 1930s Germany for his most ridiculous rhetorical flourish.
According to Beck, slavery was coming at the hands of government, ACORN, SEIU, student loans, the census, Dale and Wade Rathke, politicians, progressives, federal assistance, and debt. And, as one would expect, only the 9-12 protesters could defend freedom from the onslaught of slavery.
Beck leads the charge in misinforming on the news of the day
The Sotomayor nomination
In a May 1 statement on the retirement of Supreme Court Justice David Souter, Obama stated that he considered the "quality of empathy" one of the qualifications he would seek in a nominee. The morning of May 26, Obama announced Sonia Sotomayor as his nominee, and Beck immediately combined the right's willful ignorance of the long list of conservatives citing empathy as a desired quality in a judge with his own brand of racial invective:
BECK: They're just like, "Hey, Hispanic chick lady! You're empathetic?" She says yep. They say, "You're in!" That's the way it really works.
Health care reform falsehoods
In a February 9 Bloomberg commentary, long-time health care misinformer and former New York Lt. Gov. Betsy McCaughey launched the falsehood that a provision in the economic recovery act would allow the federal government to take over health care and "dictate treatments." The following day, McCaughey appeared on Beck's Fox News show to repeat her false claim, and by Feburary 11, Beck had fully adopted the falsehood as his own:
BECK: So this is -- really, this is the beginning -- I mean, this is the way it happens in every society. I mean, you know, the extreme example is what happened in Germany, when -- they actually had a chart on how many potatoes you could, you know, make, how many hours you could work, how many fields you could till, et cetera, et cetera. And if you couldn't do very much, well, then, you didn't get, you know, the primo health care.
That's just the way it works when everybody has to share for the common good. Sometimes for the common good, you just have to say, "Hey, Grandpa, you've had a good life. Sucks to be you." That's not compassion.
Indeed, throughout the 2009 health care reform debate, Beck has repeatedly tied reform efforts to Nazi efforts to kill the elderly and newborns, taken ownership of Sarah Palin's egregiously false death panels smear, and adopted the distortion that the uninsured would face time in jail under reform proposals. When a nonbinding task force in November recommended that women aged 40 to 49 years not get routine mammogram screenings, Beck was driving the conservative demagoguery machine, adopting the tired death panels smear to claim that these guidelines -- that are binding on no single entity or human -- were yet further proof that death panels existed.
Suffice it to say that the moment Fox News issued Glenn Beck its imprimatur to spread conservative misinformation, the national public discourse was destined to be slightly off-kilter, and the national media's self-proclaimed rodeo clown took viewers and listeners on one wild ride through distortions and falsehoods.
One of the public option's strongest Congressional supporters insisted on Monday that while the Senate is poised to pass health care legislation that does not offer consumers a government-run insurance plan, he will bring the idea up again -- most likely after that bill is passed.
Sen. Tom Harkin (D-Iowa) told reporters that the public option is not dead. "It will be revisited," he said. "I'm just saying, I believe it is so vital and so important that it is going to be revisited. Believe me." The Iowa Democrat said that "even next year," senators "may be doing some things to modify, to fix, to compliment what we've passed here."
The idea of pushing for the public plan as a stand-alone piece of legislation sometime down the road has been championed by other supporters of the provision.
Harkin did not blame the White House for the absence of a public plan in the Senate's bill, as his colleague, Senator Russ Feingold (D-Wisc.) did in a statement on Sunday night.
Also unlike Feingold, he hinted that he was giving up for now. Asked whether he would consider reinserting the public option into the legislation during the conference committee set to commence between the House and the Senate, Harkin replied: "I didn't say that. I said it would be revisited."
Acknowledging that, philosophically, he favors components of the House's version over some in the Senate's, he nevertheless said that when he goes to conference committee it will be as an advocate for his chamber's product.
"I always say when we go to conference we are going to stick with the Senate side," Harkin said. "Look, I'm a conferee, I have to fight for the Senate and I will fight for the senate but we will have to make compromises with the House."
Sen. Kent Conrad (D-N.D.), likewise, insisted on Sunday that the conference committee would have to produce legislation that mirrored the Senate's or risk losing key conservative Democratic support. Asked about this process on Monday, Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) kept mum.
"We have to pass this bill in the Senate first and we will worry about the next steps at a later time," he said.
M.C.L. comment: Using the theme I talked about last week, I'm not a big fan of this bill and there's ton of blame to go around but I place the blame on the blue dogs and CONservative Democrats for the way things turn out.. Democrats, middle of the road folks and Liberals should focus their anger to replace those conservative Democrats with those who share our values because this idea of "F this we're staying home" or "F this we're voting Green" doesn't help anyone but the Republicans. And if the Republican get even a toe hold back into power we can forget about progress all together.
According to the poll, a combined 58% said the decade was either “awful” or “not so good,” 29% said it was fair, and just 12% said it was either “good” or “great.” [...]
Asked what they thought had the greatest negative impact on America this past decade, 38% cited the 9/11 terrorist attacks, 23% picked the mortgage and housing crisis, 20% said the Iraq war, 11% chose the stock market crash, and 6% said Hurricane Katrina.
But 37% said it lost ground on the environment, 46% said it lost ground on health and well being, 50% said it lost ground on peace and national security, 54% said lost ground on the nation’s sense of unity, 55% said it lost ground in treating others with respect, 66% said it lost ground on moral values, and a whopping 74% said it lost ground on economic prosperity.
Census Bureau figures released in September largely support the public’s pessimistic take on the last decade:
On every major measurement, the Census Bureau report shows that the country lost ground during Bush’s two terms. While Bush was in office, the median household income declined, poverty increased, childhood poverty increased even more, and the number of Americans without health insurance spiked. By contrast, the country’s condition improved on each of those measures during Bill Clinton’s two terms, often substantially. [...]
Bush built his economic strategy around tax cuts, passing large reductions both in 2001 and 2003. … But the bleak economic results from Bush’s two terms, tarnish, to put it mildly, the idea that tax cuts represent an economic silver bullet.
The poll comes as loyal Bushies are attempting to rewrite the former president’s legacy and delude the public into believing that the country’s current problems are all the fault of President Obama. Former White House adviser Karl Rove, for example, has been all over the media, issuing statements like the Bush administration has “no” responsibility for current budget deficits. Bush officials have even tried to claim that they made Afghanistan a top priority and that Obama is the one who has been screwing up their work. Fox News host Sean Hannity has gone so far as to say that Bush deserved the Nobel Peace Prize, and Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-UT) is claiming that the cure to the country’s problems is to just give political control back to Republicans (which was true for a large part of the last decade).
Historians have ranked Bush as one of the top 10 worst presidents in U.S. history and believe his legacy will most resemble that of former presidents Richard Nixon and Herbert Hoover. Time magazine recently did a feature calling the past 10 years the “decade from Hell.”
M.C.L. Comment: Saying the George W. Bush era was awful would be a understatement of the decade, turning things a record surplus into debt in a few years in office is a amazing the Republicans and the few people that still worship Bush should be proud of that. Getting us stuck in two wars is another truly awe aspiring event, leaking a CIA agent and nothing happen is another thing those on the right should be proud of.
But the amazing thing to me during the Bush era was how George W. Bush, the G.O.P and the right wing media took a epic security screw up on 9.11 and turned it into a political weapon against the Democrats. Think about it during the 2004 election the message that the Bush/Cheney were sending was this to prevent more terrorist attacks like 9.11 they needed to be re-elected, seriously 9.11 happen on their watch and they're running around the country telling people that attacks like 9.11 would happen daily if John Kerry and John Edwards got elected.Hopefully Americans learn they truly don't want a beer and but instead a smart capable guy.
World Net Daily poll on what to get Obama for Christmas: an ‘arrest warrant’ and a ‘ticket back to Kenya.’
The right-wing website World Net Daily (WND) has been the source of a variety of smears, particularly a campaign to question the legitimacy of President Obama’s citizenship. While WND exists at the fringes of the conservative movement, top Republican legislators frequent the WND radio program and the Republican National Committee, among other GOP organizations, fund WND through e-mail list rentals. The website, which files regular articles about the role of Christianity during the holiday season, has a new Christmas-themed poll which asks, “What would you like to give Obama for Christmas?” Readers have responded by voting for: “a court ruling booting his ineligible self from office, “a one-way ticket back to Kenya,” and “an arrest warrant”: