Thursday, August 5, 2010

Be afraid.

Steven D.: It's What They Do That Worries Me
Another Conservative apologizes for an anti-Obama stunt, but do you really believe the apology? Read and decide for yourself:

Shooting gallery apologises for using Obama as a target A carnival game that offered fair-goers the chance to win prizes by shooting a black man has been axed after complaints that the target resembled President Obama. "I voted for the man. It wasn't meant to be him," Irvin Good Jr, the president of Goodtime Amusements, which ran the attraction, told the Morning Call newspaper. "If they took it that way, we apologise."

Here's the local newspaper's story:

Roseto carnival game message: 'Step right up and shoot' Barack Obama Kathryn Chapman took a trip to the annual Our Lady of Mount Carmel Big Time celebration last weekend, and she was shocked to see a shooting game with President Barack Obama as the target.

"I just can’t believe how far things have come that now on church property you can shoot the president and get a prize if you hit him in the head or heart," said Chapman, a Medford, Mass., resident who last lived in Roseto the year President John F. Kennedy was assassinated. She was in town for a family reunion.

Even though the game shows a black man dressed in a suit, holding a scroll labeled "health bill" and wearing a belt buckle that features the presidential seal, Goodtime Amusements President Irvin L. Good Jr. said the image does not portray President Obama. [...]

Chapman confronted the game owner, who claimed "freedom of speech," she said. Her husband, Richard Shultz, said he would have complained no matter the political party of the president depicted.

So first the Carnival Owner says it's not Obama (right, I believe that one) and then the game owner says its a freedom of speech issue. Well at least he was honest. But here's why you shouldn't believe either man is really sorry or that their "apology" is sincere:

The fairground shooting gallery, named "Alien Invasion", appeared at the Our Lady of Mount Carmel Big Time Fair in Roseto, Pennsylvania, last month, and attracted complaints for using using a lifesize figure of a black man in a suit, wearing a belt buckle labelled "The Prez" and clutching a rolled-up sheaf of papers marked "Health Bill".

Once, you get the benefit of the doubt, but twice? And after this "attraction" had elicited prior complaints at the first venue? Sorry, but that apology for a "mistake in judgment" is just impossible to swallow. They knew what they were doing was promoting hatred for profit.

The real question is why would anyone think that a picture of the President as a target to be shot at in the head and heart would be profitable unless they knew that some people are bigoted and hateful enough to want to kill the President, even if its only a fantasy?

Obviously they knew it would make money in rural and small town Pennsylvania. Which means the right wing media machine of Fox, Beck, Hannity, Limbaugh ad nauseam, has accomplished its goal: ratcheting up the latent racism in certain individuals and promoting hatred against an African American President such that assassination is just another "joke" to increase their audience. In fact to them, its a chance to make money off all that stirred up hatred. So why shouldn't a small time carnival owner get in on the action by offering people the illusion that they can assassinate Obama.

Well decent people like Kathryn Chapman don't find this kind of thing funny. I bet Obama's daughters and his wife don't either. Or the Secret Service for that matter. But for the Becks and Limbaughs of the world, its just another day at the office.

And that is the true horror of this. That we as a country have devolved so low so quickly that incidents like this are becoming commonplace everyday events. And that there are people out there who think shooting President Obama in reality would be perfectly okay with them.

Rush Limbaugh and other right wing demagogues have taken to calling the federal government "our enemy." They know what they are doing when they say that. They never said those things when Bush was in office despite the many broken laws, lies, violations of civil liberties, outing of a covert CIA operative, torture, corruption, etc. that occurred on his watch. But now that a Democrat and a Black man sits in the Oval Office the gloves have come off.

This shooting gallery is just one more sign of the times, one more bit of proof that the radical conservatives who own the Republican Party lock, stock and barrel don't give a damn about democracy or our country or for the rule of law. All they care about is money and power. And if it puts the lives of innocent people at risk, what's that to them?

Think Progress: Flashback: George Washington in 1790 — The U.S. government ‘gives to bigotry no sanction.’
In 1790, President George Washington wrote a letter to the Jewish community of Newport, Rhode Island, affirming the values of tolerance and religious freedom that he saw as the bedrock of the country that he had had helped found, and done so much to secure. “The Citizens of the United States of America have a right to applaud themselves for giving to Mankind examples of an enlarged and liberal policy,” Washington wrote, “a policy worthy of imitation.” He continued:

All possess alike liberty of conscience and immunities of citizenship. It is now no more that toleration is spoken of, as if it was by the indulgence of one class of people that another enjoyed the exercise of their inherent natural rights. For happily the Government of the United States, which gives to bigotry no sanction, to persecution no assistance, requires only that they who live under its protection, should demean themselves as good citizens. [...]

May the Children of the Stock of Abraham, who dwell in this land, continue to merit and enjoy the good will of the other Inhabitants; while every one shall sit under his own vine and fig tree, and there shall be none to make him afraid.

The debate over the Ground Zero Mosque is, in fact, a debate over American values. Newt Gingrich has been trying to claim that the construction of the mosque is “explicitly at odds with core American and Western values,” while Mayor Bloomberg correctly noted yesterday that “we would betray our values if we were to treat Muslims differently than anyone else.” If the conservatives who have been attacking the mosque think that George Washington was wrong about American tolerance and religious freedom, let them say so explicitly.

The Antidote.

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Think Progress: Coburn And McCain Troubled By Stimulus Debt, Which Is 488 Times Smaller Than Debt Impact Of Bush Tax Cuts

Yesterday, Sens. John McCain (R-AZ) and Tom Coburn (R-OK) released a report that highlights 100 supposedly “questionable stimulus projects that are wasteful, mismanaged, and overall unsuccessful in creating jobs.” “The only thing getting a boost is our national debt,” the report complains. The “American people have awakened to the incompetency of Washington,” said Coburn. “The rest of the federal government is filled with stuff just like this.”

Coburn went on Fox News today to promote the report and criticized White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs’ claim yesterday that the report is not credible:

COBURN: Mr. Gibbs knows I don’t mess around when it comes to stealing money from our kids and grandkids. And if he wants to defend this kind of stuff — this isn’t political. It’s too serious to be political no guys. We’re $13.4 trillion in debt and growing and this is the kind of waste that people are sick and tired of.

Watch it:

If Coburn doesn’t “mess around” with “stealing money” from the American youth, then why are he and McCain fierce advocates for extending President Bush’s tax cuts for the wealthy? The ten-year cost of extending those tax cuts amounts to $830 billion. But how much of this alleged “wasteful” stimulus spending are the senators now concerned about? A mere $1.7 billion:


Moreover, CNN noted that “the report’s use of selected information from hundreds of footnoted sources left it unclear if the brief summaries of each project told the whole story.” For example, the report attacked a grant to replace windows at a vacant Forest Service visitors’ center in Washington, claiming there are “no current plans to use the empty space.” However, as CNN noted, the Forest Service said it “is now reviewing several proposals for how the facility could be used in the future through a variety of public-private partnerships, including a science facility, education camp, or an overnight lodge.”

But maybe Coburn is more concerned about the $1.7 billion in alleged “wasteful” stimulus spending as opposed to $830 billion in tax cuts for the wealthy because the believes the tax cuts are free.



It's surely not what the leader of the free world wants for his birthday. But, for a stubborn group of Americans, conspiracy theories about President Obama's birthplace are the gifts that keep on giving. [...]

According to a CNN/Opinion Research Corporation survey, more than a quarter of the public have doubts about Obama's citizenship, with 11 percent saying Obama was definitely not born in the United States and another 16 percent saying the president was probably not born in the country.

Broken down by party, 85% of Democrats believe the president was definitely or probably born in the U.S. Among independents, the number is 68%. For Republicans, only 57% believe reality, while 27% of rank-and-file GOP voters believe Obama was "probably" born elsewhere, and 14% of Republicans are convinced he was "definitely" not born here. In other words, a combined 41% of GOP voters are reasonably sure of something with no foundation in reality.

That's an awful lot of ignorance, generated entirely by a right-wing noise machine pushing a baseless, ridiculous conspiracy theory. As Rush Limbaugh told his minions yesterday, "They tell us August 4th is the birthday. We haven't seen any proof of that!"


For what it's worth, the reason poll results like these don't force me into unreachable despair is that I'm not convinced those who are wrong necessarily understand the constitutional implications. For some of those who question the president's birthplace, it may not matter whether Obama is a natural-born citizen (reality) or a naturalized citizen (fiction). For all I know, some folks find the whole bogus idea charming: "Isn't America great? Someone can be born in another country, work hard, and eventually become president of the United States."

Still, the pervasive quality of the ignorance here is remarkable. Given how obvious reality is, and how many times this nonsense has been debunked, the "birthers" in Congress and the media have to be pretty pleased with themselves.

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