Wednesday, April 7, 2010

I See Crazy People

DougJ: A new narrative

That’s one way of describing it (Dave Weigel at his new Kaplan gig):

What followed was a discussion about spittle between me and President George H.W. Bush’s first chief of staff. Sununu argued that Cleaver had walked back his statement, and I pointed out that this wasn’t true—there’s a much-forwarded blog post that frames a punchy no-comment from Cleaver as proof that he was lying. I brought up this video of Cleaver walking up Capitol steps, reacting to something hitting him, and walking back down to confront someone in the crowd. That, said Sununu, wasn’t definitive—perhaps Cleaver was hit by something accidentally.

The segment ended there, but it’s the clearest example I’ve seen of Republicans doing something that Andrew Breitbart has been doing for weeks, attempting to disprove the “slurs” story and create a new narrative of Democrats smearing and slurring tea partiers. Has it worked? Getting the entire movement onboard with the push-back is a pretty good start.

It’s easy to fall back into the old habit of thinking that reality matters. But we’re living through the Pale Fire era of American politics and we all need to get used to that.

Marshall: Progressive Education (or, the Anti-Shaggy DA)
Last month Juneau County (WI) District Attorney Scott Southworth sent out 24 letters to top officials in the county 5 school districts telling them to suspend sex education classes in their schools or face possible charges of contributing to the delinquency of a minor. "Forcing our schools to instruct children on how to utilize contraceptives encourages our children to engage in sexual behavior, whether as a victim or an offender," Southworth wrote. (Someone apparently has a pretty healthy attitude toward sex.)
Right wing threats of violence intensify
Maddow: April 6: Zachary Roth of Talking Points Memo remarks on the threats of death and violence against U.S. lawmakers and other Americans by anti-abortion fanatics and other elements of the right wing fringe.

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John Cole: Who’ll Draw The Short Straw

I see that another wingnut associated with the tea party lunatics has been arrested for making death threats- this time Patty Murray is the target. You all know what that means, don’t you?

We can expect another 4,000 word piece at Reason magazine telling us that not all tea partiers are dangerous and the informing us about the myth of right wing violence. The only questions that remain are who will draw the short straw (Moynihan and Walker had to do the last ones) and whether or not the Animal Liberation Front will make a guest appearance.

Marshall (TPM): Reclaiming the Militia Brand

Ever since that unfortunate turn of events with the Hutaree Christian militia up in Michigan, the folks the feds had to round up for plotting to kill a police officer and then ambush his funeral procession with Iraq-style IEDs, the good militia brand has taken a bit of a beating.

So this Saturday the folks who I guess we're supposed to think of as coming from the 'mainstream' militia movement, the so-called 'Michigan militia', are hosting a family-oriented "Open Carry Family Picnic & Tea Party" to show the true face of the lifestyle and help "take the stigma out of the word 'militia.'"

Slajda (TPM): Census Paranoia: What Are Right-Wingers Afraid Of?

When Rush Limbaugh suggested last week that the census was deliberately skipping Republican neighborhoods in order to under-represent the right, he added yet another theory to the growing library of census paranoia stories emanating from right-wing blogs, and Republican congressmen.

Conservatives have kicked up such a fuss about the census -- suggesting, for example, that it will help legalize gay marriage or lead to WWII-style internment camps -- that Republicans have become worried that their supporters will be under-represented. The Census Bureau even pushed back, getting Karl Rove to cut an ad lauding the constitutionality of the head count.

TPM brings you some of the best tales of horror and intrigue surrounding the census:

Last week, Limbaugh wondered aloud about whether the bureau was deliberately skipping Republican neighborhoods.

"I told you I've never received a census form. I remember as a little kid the census people coming into the house. I haven't seen a census form since I left home in 1970," Limbaugh said. "I wonder how widespread this is, that areas thought to be Republican are either not getting forms or not being visited by the census workers. Nothing would surprise me."

Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-MN) last year reminded us via Fox News that the Census Bureau once handed over data to the government in order to round up Japanese-Americans during World War II. She also announced that her family wouldn't fill out the Census entirely but would only put down the number of people in their home. Bachmann has since retreated from such statements.

Rep. Ron Paul (R-TX), perhaps the House's most staunch Libertarian, warned in a column last month that census data has been abused in the past. He used both the internment example and said the IRS has used census data in order to catch alleged tax evaders.

"From a constitutional perspective, of course, the answer to each of these questions is: 'None of your business,'" Paul wrote. "But why is the government so intent on compiling this information in the first place?" Paul was the only congressman to vote against a resolution encouraging people to participate in the census.

The far-far-right web site World Net Daily suggests the government could use data to round up and deport illegal immigrants. has a few theories of its own: The census is pushing the country toward "redefining marriage" by allowing gay couples to fill out their forms as a married couple, regardless of whether their state recognizes gay marriage. It's working with community organizers to count illegal immigrants. It's sending some people two forms, risking double-counting.

WND has also taken part in the more widespread fear of the American Community Survey, a yearly sample of the population that asks 48 questions, compared to the Census' 10. A sample headline: "Big Brother asks: 'Do you have a flush toilet?'"

The ACS overall has been the subject of much more fervent paranoia. editor and new CNN contributor Erick Erickson said on his radio show recently that, while he believed in the Census, he'd take out his wife's shotgun if anyone working for ACS showed up at his house.

"I'm not filling out this form. I dare them to try and come throw me in jail. I dare them to. Pull out my wife's shotgun and see how that little ACS twerp likes being scared at the door. They're not going on my property," he said.

Erickson said in a later blog post that he was referring to a Weekly Standard story that ACS workers had harassed Daniel Freedman, a foreign policy analyst who worked on Rudy Giuliani's presidential campaign. Erickson said he would only take out a gun if someone working for the ACS tried to arrest him.

White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs responded to Erickson's comments today, called the comments "the remarkably crazy remarks of somebody that would threaten somebody simply trying to ensure that they're adequately represented in this country."

Aravosis: GOP Sen. Coburn defends Pelosi as 'nice woman,' says FOX News is 'biased'

From Capitol News Connection:

When discussing the short-term unemployment benefit extension that he is stalling, to the chagrin of Democrats, Coburn said he is "180 degrees in opposition" to Pelosi but that "she is a nice lady."

That comment drew boos and jeers from the crowd, but Coburn asked the crowd for calm and spoke about civility.

“Come on now. She is nice – how many of you all have met her? She’s a nice person,” Coburn said. "Let me give you a little lesson here. I hope you will listen to me. Just because somebody disagrees with you don’t [sic] mean they’re not a good person. And i want to tell you, I've been in the senate for five years and I’ve taken a lot of that, because I’ve been on the small side –- both in the Republican Party and the Democrat Party."

The Oklahoma senator is seen by many as a divisive figure.
“What we have to have is make sure we have a debate in this country so that you can see what’s going on and make a determination yourself,” Coburn added and then again warned the crowd against the myths perpetrated on FOX News.

“So don’t catch yourself being biased by FOX News that somebody is no good. The people in Washington are good. They just don’t know what they don’t know,” Coburn said.
Coburn is not a nice guy. For him to be talking like this means that he's concerned - the GOP is concerned - that their crazies have gone too far, too crazy. And that's great. And it's all the more reason for Democrats to push the issue even further, that the GOP has been taking over by Teabagging extremists.
BarbinMD (Dkos): Tom Coburn to play politics with the lives of a "relatively small amount of people"

The entire concept of the Party of No has been a dream come true for Tom "Dr. No" Coburn (R-OK). Long known for holding up spending bills in the senate, Coburn is now vowing to:

... block all future spending bills in the Senate that aren’t fully “paid for” with cuts to other spending programs.

That spending includes the extension of jobless benefits ... a political decision that means 200,000 people are losing their benefits this week. Coburn's response?

Coburn cast doubt on any political backlash against the GOP over the issue, noting that when an unemployment extension is passed, it will include retroactive benefits for those who apply.

He argued voters will support the GOP given concerns about the deficit.

“The easiest thing in the world is to pass this bill unpaid for, but consider the millions of Americans whose financial futures would be damaged, versus the relatively small amount of people who will be affected by this delay. Now you tell me which vote takes the most courage.”

After all, it's only 200,000 people and their families who will be unable to pay the rent or put food on on the table. What a courageous, self-described Christian.


Heritage Foundation: U.S. Economy No Longer 'Free'

The Heritage Foundation's latest world ranking of economic freedoms shows the U.S. falling farther than any other large economy in the world. The foundation says the TARP Program, the auto industry bailout and the stimulus package, among other factors, have caused the country's economy to go from 'free' to 'mostly free.'


The Heritage Foundation, one of the right's leading think tanks, has downgraded the United States on its "Index of Economic Freedom," which ranks the planet's 179 countries. Americans were "free," Heritage found, but now we're only "mostly free."

The Heritage Foundation's latest world ranking of economic freedoms shows the U.S. falling farther than any other large economy in the world. The foundation says the TARP Program, the auto industry bailout and the stimulus package, among other factors, have caused in the country's economy to go from "free" to "mostly free." [...]

Factors like business regulation, the labor market, monetary stability, property rights and corruption are used to determine the rankings.

Terry Miller, director of the Center of International Trade And Economics at the Heritage Foundation, says the U.S. ranking may continue to fall.

"Certainly looking at the government policies that have been followed over the last year, since our last data cut off, I'm very concerned," Miller told TPM, adding that health care reform was likely to further hurt our economic freedom.

So, who are the shining beacons of liberty -- i.e., countries that meet the Heritage threshold for being actually economically free? The United States is eighth, behind Hong Kong, Singapore, Australia, New Zealand, Ireland, Switzerland, and Canada, in that order.

Yes, the Heritage Foundation would be more satisfied if our economic freedoms were more in line with countries that have socialized medicine, impose higher tax rates, and in Ireland's case, is in need of a massive bailout to prevent a catastrophe.


If recent history is any indication, there will be a fair amount of conservative complaining today about this development.

President Barack Obama's advisers plan to remove terms such as "Islamic radicalism" from a document outlining national security strategy and will use the new version to emphasize that the U.S. does not view Muslim nations through the lens of terrorism, counterterrorism officials say. [...]

[National Security Council staffer Pradeep Ramamurthy] runs the administration's Global Engagement Directorate, a four-person National Security Council team that Obama launched last May with little fanfare and a vague mission to use diplomacy and outreach "in pursuit of a host of national security objectives." Since then, the division has not only helped change the vocabulary of fighting terrorism, but also has shaped the way the country invests in Muslim businesses, studies global warming, supports scientific research and combats polio.

We can probably guess what'll happen next -- the Cheneys, Giuliani, and assorted media personalities will no doubt tell us the administration can't be taken seriously on counter-terrorism unless it uses the word "Islamic" all the time.

There's probably no point in taking this on as part of a substantive debate, but it's nevertheless worth noting that just two years ago this month, the Bush/Cheney administration launched a new effort to change the way U.S. officials communicated on this issue. In fact, Bush/Cheney issued guidelines, entitled "Words that Work and Words that Don't: A Guide for Counterterrorism Communication," urging officials to stop describing extremists as "jihadists" or "mujahedeen," and to drop "Islamo-fascism" altogether. "It's not what you say but what they hear," the memo said in bold italic lettering.

The memo was distributed widely by federal agencies, including the State Department, the Department of Homeland Security and the National Counter Terrorism Center, explaining to U.S. officials at every level that the rhetoric preferred by far-right activists actually undermines our foreign policy and national security interests.

Even Karen Hughes recently conceded, "We ought to avoid the language of religion. Whenever they hear 'Islamic extremism, Islamic jihad, Islamic fundamentalism,' they perceive it as a sort of an attack on their faith. That's the world view Osama bin Laden wants them to have."

So, when Republicans and their allies throw a fit today, be sure to check to see if they had a similar reaction when Bush/Cheney took similar steps two years ago.

Sully: Reagan vs Today's GOP II

“A nuclear-free world has been a 60-year dream of the Left, just like socialized health-care,” - Rudy Giuliani, NRO, 2010.

“A nuclear war cannot be won and must never be fought. And no matter how great the obstacles may seem, we must never stop our efforts to reduce the weapons of war. We must never stop at all until we see the day when nuclear arms have been banished from the face of this Earth.” - Ronald Reagan, 1984, in China.

Raw ACORN tapes tell very different story

April 6: Rachel Maddow shows how the unedited tapes of James O'Keefe's visits to ACORN offices tell a very different story from what was portrayed on Fox News and ultimately became conventional understanding of the story.

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Shortly after the 2008 presidential election, Sophia Nelson, a former congressional staffer and a black Republican, had an op-ed piece lamenting the fact that her party seems wholly disinterested in minority outreach.

I thought about Nelson's piece after seeing the latest moves from Virginia's new Republican leadership. (via TS)

Gov. Robert F. McDonnell, reviving a controversy that had been dormant for eight years, has declared that April will be Confederate History Month in Virginia, a move that angered civil rights leaders Tuesday but that political observers said would strengthen his position with his conservative base. [...]

The seven-paragraph declaration calls for Virginians to "understand the sacrifices of the Confederate leaders, soldiers and citizens during the period of the Civil War."

McDonnell had quietly made the proclamation Friday by placing it on his Web site, but it did not attract attention in the state capital until Tuesday.

McDonnell apparently went out of his way to make his declaration as insulting as possible. Virginia's last two governors -- Democrats Mark Warner and Tim Kaine -- scrapped the practice of annual Confederate resolutions altogether, while Virginia's last Republican governor, Jim Gilmore, included anti-slavery language in his resolution. McDonnell turned back the clock, honoring those who fought against the United States, and neglecting entirely to mention slavery.

Adam Serwer noted, "[N]ot only does McDonnell venerate those who took up arms against their own country, he does so without acknowledging that the institution for which they fought was the right to preserve the right to own human beings as slaves. He then papers over the horrors of reconstruction, lynching, and Jim Crow that followed."

Del. Kenneth Cooper Alexander (D), chairman of Virginia's Legislative Black Caucus, added, "Governor McDonnell's proclamation was offensive and offered a disturbing revision of the Civil War and the brutal era that followed. Virginia has worked hard to move beyond the very things for which Governor McDonnell seems nostalgic."

James McPherson, dean of Civil War scholars, described McDonnell's proclamation as "obnoxious."

I'd just add McDonnell, a graduate of radical TV preacher Pat Robertson's college, was only too pleased to present himself to voters last year as a relative moderate. Indeed, the governor capitalized on friendly support (though not an official endorsement) from former Virginia Gov. Doug Wilder (D), the first African-American governor in the nation since Reconstruction.

But the facade didn't last after McDonnell's inauguration. It's the funny thing about conservative Republicans who downplay their ideology to get elected -- they invariably stop pretending just as soon as they're in positions of authority.

Think Progress: McDonnell: Slavery Wasn’t ‘Significant’ Enough To Be Included In My Proclamation Honoring The Confederacy
Last week, Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell (R) issued a proclamation quietly declaring April 2010 Confederate History Month, saying it was important for Virginians to “understand the sacrifices of the Confederate leaders, soldiers and citizens during the period of the Civil War, and to recognize how our history has led to our present.”

Notably absent from McDonnell’s proclamation was any mention of slavery. Yesterday, McDonnell explained that it wasn’t “significant” enough to merit a mention:

McDonnell said Tuesday that the move was designed to promote tourism in the state, which next year will mark the 150th anniversary of the start of the war. McDonnell said he did not include a reference to slavery because “there were any number of aspects to that conflict between the states. Obviously, it involved slavery. It involved other issues. But I focused on the ones I thought were most significant for Virginia.


  1. I love that they asked for “Public Defenders” (and they thought they could bring down our government), undercover FBI agent, sweet. Since their inception the Teaparty crowd (not a movement since they do have the numbers or clout) because they are haters not debaters or as others have dubbed them screamers not dreamers. The simpleton Tea baggers are the same whiners that were crying when the McCain/Bailin ticket lost. Now that their yelling and screaming failed to stop the health care debate and the bill from passing they are crying again. Lets face it the Republicans had eight years to deal with health care, immigration, climate change and financial oversight and governance and they failed. The Republicans are good at starting wars (two in eight years, with fat contracts to friends of Cheney/Bush) but not at winning wars as seen by the continuing line of body bags that keep coming home. Instead of participating in the health care debate of ideas the Republicans party turned inward to your old fashion obstructionist party. In my opinion the Republican Waterloo loss was caused by the party allowing a small portions (but very loud) of the republican party of “birthers, baggers and blowhards” to take over their party. I will admit that this fringe is very good at playing “Follow the Leader” by listening to their dullard leaders, Beck, Hedgecock, Hannity, O’Reilly, Rush, Savage, Sarah Bailin, Orly Taitz, Victoria Jackson, Michele Bachmann and the rest of the Blowhards and acting as ill programmed robots. The Teaparty crowd think they can scare, intimidate and force others to go along with them by comments like “This time we came unarmed”, let me tell you something not all ex-military join the fringe militia crazies who don’t pay taxes and run around with face paint in the parks playing commando, the majority are mature and understand that the world is more complicated and grey than the black and white that these simpleton make it out to be and that my friend is the point. The world is complicated and presidents like Hamiliton, Lincoln, and Roosevelt believe that we should use government a little to increase social mobility, now its about dancing around the claim of government is the problem. The sainted Reagan passed the biggest tax increase in American history and as a result federal employment increased, but facts are lost when mired in mysticism and superstition. Although some Republicans are trying to distant themselves from this fringe most of them, having no game plan/ vision for our country, are just going along and fanning the flames. For a party that gave us Abraham Lincoln, it is tragic that the ranks are filled with too many empty suits. But they now claim they have changed, come on, what sucker is going to believe that? All I can say to you is remember Waterloo.

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