Friday, July 31, 2009

Wingnuts: Southern Edition

In my humble opinion, the only writer who could credibly capture today's repuglican party would be Ionescu. It is really quite astonishing.
For most of my life the South has, rightly or wrongly, been perceived as dominating national politics. I'm really glad those days are over.
This trend shows up again and again and again. . .
A new Research 2000 poll conducted for Daily Kos asked respondents a rather straightforward question: "Do you believe that Barack Obama was born in the United States of America or not?" Since the president was born in the U.S., ideally, the results would be around 100%.

They weren't. There was, not surprisingly, a significant partisan gap. Only 4% of Democrats are confused about the president's place of birth. The number is slightly higher among independents, 8% of whom got it wrong. Among Republicans, though, 28% -- more than one in four -- believe President Obama was not born in the United States.

For a crazy, demonstrably false, racist idea, these are discouraging numbers.

But I was especially surprised by the regional breakdowns. In the Northeast, West, and Midwest, the overwhelming majorities realize the president is a native-born American. But notice the South -- only 47% got it right and 30% are unsure.

Outside the South, this madness is gaining very little traction, and remains a fringe conspiracy theory. Within the South, it's practically mainstream.


It's possible that CNN's executives see an upside to the uproar surrounding Lou Dobbs' Birther antics of late. The bad news, as far as the network is concerned, is that one of its leading on-air personalities has become an outrageous and insulting laughing stock, dragging down the CNN brand and name. The good news, perhaps for some of the network brass, is that everyone seems to be talking about one of their leading on-air personalities.

If Dobbs' madness helps bring more viewers to CNN to see what the provocative nut might say next, that might be a tradeoff the network is willing to make -- less integrity and credibility, but more eyeballs for advertisers.

As it turns out, CNN is failing on both counts. Dobbs is not only humiliating himself, according to a report in the New York Observer, he's also driving viewers away.

According to The Observer's analysis of Nielsen data, in recent weeks, as criticism of Mr. Dobbs has continued to go up, his ratings at CNN have continued to go down.

Mr. Dobbs' first began reporting on Obama birth certificate conspiracy theories on the night of Wednesday, July 15. In the roughly two weeks since then, from July 15 through July 28, Mr. Dobbs' 7 p.m. show on CNN has averaged 653,000 total viewers and 157,000 in the 25-54 demo.

By contrast, during the first two weeks of the month (July 1 to July 14) Mr. Dobbs averaged 771,000 total viewers and 218,000 in the 25-54 demo. In other words, Mr. Dobbs' audience has decreased 15 percent in total viewers and 27 percent in the demo since the start of the controversy.... [I]f Mr. Dobbs' affinity for "birthers" is a ratings ploy, it's a pretty ineffective one.

CNN President Jon Klein has been willing to let Dobbs say anything he wants on the air, no matter how wrong, racist, or ridiculous the comments may be. Perhaps the drop in ratings will prompt Klein to reconsider?

Think Progress: Lobbyist Dick Armey’s Pollution Gospel: ‘As An Article Of Faith,’ It Is ‘Pretentious’ To Believe In Global Warming
Former House Majority Leader Dick Armey (R-TX) appeared as a witness for the Republican bicameral hearing on climate change legislation yesterday on Capitol Hill. Along with a cadre of polluter CEOs and Chamber of Commerce officials, Armey played his part leveling an array of attacks on any effort to transition to a clean energy economy.

As the hearing progressed, most of the witnesses spent their time recycling months-old debunked studies. But Armey distinguished himself by invoking a religious argument to back up his smears against what he called “environmental hypochondriacs” filled with “eco-evangelical hysteria.” Armey claimed that in his world view, because God created the heavens and the Earth, it would be “quite pretentious” for people to believe God would permit global warming to even occur:

DICK ARMEY: What I’m suggesting is we have a sort of an eco-evangelical hysteria going on and it leads me to almost wonder if we are becoming a nation of environmental hypochondriacs that are willing to use the power of the state to impose enormous restrictions on the rights and the comforts of, and incomes of individuals who serve essentially a paranoia, a phobia, that has very little fact evidence in fact. Now these are observations that are popular to make because right now its almost taken as an article of faith that this crisis is real. Let me say I take it as an article of faith if the lord God almighty made the heavens and the Earth, and he made them to his satisfaction and it is quite pretentious of we little weaklings here on earth to think that, that we are going to destroy God’s creation. [...]

SEN. ORRIN HATCH: Mr. Armey it’s great to have you here. Great to see you again and we appreciate all you’ve done throughout the years and your work on Capitol Hill. Great job.

Watch it:

Despite Armey’s claims, global warming is very real and has already caused great damage to creation. Indeed, though Armey would like to create a false dichotomy between people who want to stop global warming and people who believe in God, no such gap exists. A Faith and Public Life poll found 63% of Catholics and 50% of white evangelicals want the federal government to do more to address climate change. Pope Benedict XVI has called for a greater focus on the environment, saying “if you want to promote peace, safeguard creation.”

Armey’s use of faith to demonize clean energy reform should come as no surprise. After promoting a polluter agenda for many years in Congress, Armey became a lobbyist for the firm DLA Piper, which represents many interests with a stake against curbing greenhouse gas emissions:

–- DLA Piper represents Sheikh Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Prime Minister of the UAE, on energy related issues such as maintaining the U.S.-UAE relationship where “U.S companies have played major roles in the development of UAE energy resources, which represent about 10 percent of global oil reserves.” [US Department of Justice, accessed 7/30/09]

– DLA Piper recently signed on Colonial Oil as a new client. [Senate Lobbying Disclosures, accessed 7/30/09]

– DLA Piper represents Irving Oil, lobbying directly on clean energy reform legislation. [Senate Lobbying Disclosures, accessed 7/30/09]

After leaving Congress, Armey became the head of Citizens for a Sound Economy, a right-wing front group funded largely by oil companies like ExxonMobil. CSE later morphed into the astroturf organization known as FreedomWorks, which Armey has used to orchestrate the vicious anti-Obama tea party rallies. And, as ThinkProgress has documented, though FreedomWorks purports to fight on behalf of a purely free market ideology, Armey has used FreedomWorks to whip up “grassroots” support for the clients he represents.

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