Wednesday, March 24. 2010
Danville and Lynchburg Tea Party activists mistakenly posted the address of Rep. Tom Perriello’s brother online Monday to invite others to “drop by” Perriello’s home in Charlottesville and “express their thanks” for his health care vote…
Days after his address was posted online by a Virginia Tea Party activist, the FBI and local law enforcement officials are investigating a "suspicious incident" at the home of Rep. Tom Perriello's brother.
Tuesday, March 23. 2010
Mike Vanderboegh, of Pinson, Ala., former head of the Alabama Constitutional Militia, put out a call on Friday for modern "Sons of Liberty" to break the windows of Democratic Party offices nationwide in opposition to health care reform. Since then, vandals have struck several offices, including the Sedgwick County Democratic Party headquarters in Wichita. 13 Wham.com
The call from the right for liberals to “do what we say and you won’t get hurt” has been turned up just a notch. In reaction to the passage of health reform, a right wing blogger named Mike Vanderboegh called on his readers to break the windows of Democrats. Shortly afterwards, several Democratic Party offices in different cities were targeted with bricks flung through their windows. Mr. Vanderboegh seems positively exhilarated by the response to his message:
"Wake up and understand what is happening in this country. You need to start listening to people who you think you didn't have to pay any attention to, because sooner or later they will get your attention.”
Indeed. In fact, someone out there is so hungry for attention that someone phoned in to the office of Louise Slaughter threatening violence against the children of lawmakers who support healthcare reform.
Imagine that. A blogger posts a call to vandalism on his blog – and vandalism takes place! It’s as if words typed into the ether actually have some sort of meaning and lead to action in the offline world!
Vanderboegh, of course, insists that he’s not promoting “actual violence.” “How ambiguous is it if I say break windows? Am I saying kill people, absolutely not,” he insists.
But you see, here’s the thing about blogging -- readers are able to see, not just the message of the blogger but, through the comments section, how that message is processed and interpreted.
And looking through the comments posted on Mr. Vanderboegh’s blog does not indicate much reluctance about upping the ante if smashing windows doesn’t work. Here are a few of the comments posted by his fans in reaction to what he calls “the window war.” I should point out that the number of comments on his blog are not high, and these were not at all difficult to find:
“Hmmm, no demopub office here, far as I know. I'll think of something...”
But hey, this is all just a bunch of blog commenters right? It couldn’t possibly have an impact in the real world. It's all just posted to upset liberals.
Well, it has had an impact in the real world. Strange as it may seem to many people, those supposedly “meaningless” comments sections on a blog (and a small comments section at that) actually reflect the views of human beings who exist outside of the Internet and are capable of acting in the offline world.
Literal people, not virtual people, who are capable of reading Mr. Vanderboegh's blog, literally hefting a literal brick, and literally hurling it through a literal window.
Monday, March 22. 2010
BECK (Pointing at picture of John Lewis, Nancy Pelosi, and John Larson walking arm in arm across the street into the U.S. Capitol): You know what this is? They locked arms, because they wanted to compare themselves to the civil rights activists! How dare you!
Oh that John Lewis! He should be ashamed for getting called "nigger" and afterwards doing something kind of like what 1960s civil rights activists did, thus inviting comparisons to 1960s activists!
Who does he think he is?
If anyone is wondering when the Republicans are going to say, “that’s enough” to their base, so far, it looks like the answer is, “never.”
"I think that when you use totalitarian tactics, people begin to act crazy…" Representative Devin Nunes on a recent incident where anti-Healthcare reform demonstrators yelled "Nigger" at Rep. John Lewis
But yelling “nigger” at a civil rights activist who faced down racists in Alabama during the ‘60s is not the worst of it. As I expected, in the wake of the passage of healthcare reform, admiring references to the Chilean military’s “solution” to Salvador Allende (a military coup, followed by the mass torture and slaughter of liberals and leftists) has begun popping up on various right-wing blogs. (And no, I’m not going up these sites’ hit counts with links):
The closest analogy that comes to mind is Salvador Allende the socialist senator turned president of Chile who defying Chile's constitution and will of its people rammed his leftist agenda down their throats believing it was good for them. Apollospeaks
Is Obama the new Salvador Allende? Salvador Allende was a Communist piece of human trash who secured power in Chile and proceeded to destroy a functioning democracy… Finally in 1973, the Chilean military overthrew him in a coup. Since then, Chile has returned to functioning as a democratic republic that has become the most prosperous state in Latin America and a model for the world in general. Theforgottenstreet
America must learn from history and realize that Barack Hussein Obama has placed us on the same unsustainable path that Allende did in Chile. ronbosoldier
In other words, “Do what we say and you won’t get hurt.”
It will be interesting to see when and if this emerges into the offline media. If so, my money is on Glenn Beck.
Saturday, March 20. 2010
First, Georgia Republican Representative Paul Broun is still mad about the devaluation of Confederate currency:
If Obamacare passes, that free insurance card that’s in people’s pockets is going to be as worthless as a Confederate dollar after the war between the states…the great war of Yankee aggression.
Quite apart from his obvious nostalgia for the “lost cause” of the Confederacy (i.e, white supremacy) Broun’s statement fails even when it comes to current events. “Free insurance cards?” Who has those? I have an insurance card, but it definitely isn’t free.
Second, Dick Armey has apparently been reading Conservapedia. Yet another bubble from the depths of the right-wing blogosphere has risen up to the offline world and popped greasily on the surface.
"Jamestown colony, when it was first founded as a socialist venture, dang near failed with everybody dead and dying in the snow," Armey reported in his luncheon address. Washington Post 3/16/10
For the record, The Jamestown Colony was explicitly a capitalist venture. It existed to make a profit for the Virginia Company of London, and it almost failed, not because the colonists were a bunch of wild-eyed hippie socialists, but because they were contending with hostile Indians and disease.
Friday, March 19. 2010
Thursday, March 18. 2010
Every now and then, someone tells me, through email, or comments, or in person, that bottomfeeding is an unworthy pursuit. Why, I’m asked, do I write about people who post to places like Free Republic, or Redstate, or Andrew Breitbart’s Big Government? They’re all crazy! Irrelevant! Who cares what they say?
And then I learn that CNN has hired Erik Erickson as a “political contributor.”
Because, you see, he’s an “agenda-setter whose words are closely watched in Washington.” He’s an “opinion leader” and an “important voice.”
This is the man who tweeted that Supreme Count Justice David Souter was a “a goat f*cking child molester.” The guy who called Michelle Obama a “Marxist harpy.” The blogger who suggested that people should beat politicians “to a bloody pulp.”
His is such “an important voice” that he now has a gig on CNN.
How did this happen? The answer lies in the power of what many call “Teh Stupid.” How “Teh Stupid” works is often a mystery to liberal and conservative non-Stupids, who imagine that rules of logic within reasoned argument are as iron-clad and impossible to circumvent as physical laws like gravity and matter. To them, Erickson’s elevation to a national outlet is as baffling as watching an anvil fall up.
And this is the advantage of my hobby of bottomfeeding. It offers an overhead view of Teh Stupid, how it works, and from whence it derives its diabolical power. Those readers who get dizzy and a bit nauseated when they attempt this kind of scuba diving might as well give up reading this right now, because we’re going to go on a quick tour of the depths. Unpleasant, yes, but Erickson’s recent promotion indicates it’s not a total waste of time. We’re going to investigate how Teh Stupid emerges and survives to the point where, like "Hitler was a liberal," “Obama is a Kenyan,” and “John Kerry is no war hero,” it starts to bob to the surface of mainstream politics:
1. The Unveiling of Teh Stupid: “Robert Gibbs is sending secret signals of solidarity to the SEIU by wearing a purple rubber bracelet.”
We begin with the unveiling of Teh Stupid, in this case, a post by one Kyle Olson (“vice president of Education Action Group Foundation, a non-partisan non-profit organization with the goal of promoting sensible education reform and exposing those with a vested interest in maintaining the status quo”) entitled “Robert Gibbs’ and Andy Stern’s Purple Bracelets a Mark of Clintonesque Solidarity?” Olson had spotted a sinister similarity in accessorizing between White House spokesman Robert Gibbs and SEIU president Andy Stern. To be specific, both were shown wearing little purple bracelets. Olson did what he could to get the word out:
The bracelet is kind of a signal to tell Stern that the administration has it under control and ObamaCare will be delivered. Just a few more Democrats need to be shown the Chicago way.
Of course, he’s a responsible writer, so he adds just the faintest soupcon of skepticism to his premise that White House officials are sending secret messages to union officials by wearing colored rubber jewelry. “Am I making too much out of nothing?” Olson muses.
“Maybe,” he says, narrowing his eyes thoughtfully and pursing his lips. “Who knows.”
2. The Frenzy: OMG...!
His readers, of course, know exactly what to make of this. “Those cutsey little Purple Bracelets?” asks the first commenter “That is how they recognize each other in lieu of the secret handshake, or the more familiar Zeig Heil!? Remember, everything is relevant”
Another commenter wails in anguish at the blindness of Americans who fail to see this obvious sign of collusion.“What other evidence to people need to see that this President is corrupt? Really? Is it that hard to see?”
I mean, my God, if the White House Press Spokesman wearing a purple bracelet doesn’t wake people up, what will it take?
A commenter who lost his wife to ovarian cancer does pipe up with the observation that purple bracelets are a gesture of solidarity not to union bosses, but to cancer victims. He’s quickly assured by a commenter called “motley” that even this would indicate something nefarious. See, it’s a mistake to assume that anyone who works for the Obama administration could possibly be motivated by empathy. “…these guys are users,” says motley “and would where one of your bracelets to get a rise out their enemies, which are Americans.”
Then “motley” adds, with positively supernatural prescience, that Gibbs probably put on the purple rubber bracelet on purpose to upset people like motley…:
…Then laugh and show how wrong and trivial we are by showing it is an ovarian cancer band. It is all a set up. It is all orchestrated mind games and we are walking right into the trap. They are going to have the biggest laugh and constitutionally illiterate Americans are not going to want to associate with us buffoons. They will have been programmed that the purple and gold guys are the smart, sane, non-judgmental, wise Americans. But make no mistake, Purple and Gold are their country's colors.
As you can see, there’s already a teensy bit of awareness that this could turn out to be an embarrassing online pratfall and motley is provide early cover for that by reminding everyone that the notion of an Obama official caring about someone with cancer is just plain ridiculous. For heaven’s sake, it’s not like Obama administration officials are human beings with human feelings like Big Government readers.
And the purple bracelet is not just a secret signal. It is an obvious, deliberate, intolerable affront to patriotic Americans that Gibbs commits at his own peril. As a commenter who seems to be trembling with rage puts it:
I am getting sick and tired of all their smug faces even though I know the smugness is orchestrated to get an emotional, irrational response from us so we are at a deficit arguing logically. It is classic head games and I know it and it bugs me. You know the look.....the kind our mothers would have slapped us for and when we asked why the slap when we did not even say anything, the answer was, :Well, you were thinking it!".
After which, one presumes, she’d backhand Robert Gibbs hard across the kitchen before returning to the pot she was stirring over the stove, muttering curses around the ever-present, lipstick-stained cigarette still tightly clenched in her thin, embittered mouth.
So, here we have it. Teh Stupid has been set out, Teh Stupid is being gobbled up and digested by the faithful. To those unfamiliar with how Teh Stupid works, this looks like a house of cards about to be blown down by..
3. The First Whiff of Reality
Robert Gibbs took a second or two to twitter an explanation:
Some chatter on my bracelet http://bit.ly/9Yu7eX it's for 9yr old daughter of friends she is bravely fighting cancer - say a prayer for her
So the supposed secret signal being sent by Gibbs is simply a gesture of solidarity to the sick child of some friends. No doubt Mr. Olson will admit his mistake, and there’ll be some embarrassment and apologies on the blog as Olson and his fans acknowledge the lesson they’ve learned about jumping to nasty conclusions.
Anyone who imagines this just doesn’t know how Teh Stupid works.
4. When Faced with an Undeniable Screwup – Brazen It Out!
Olson’s reaction is to say, in the words of Pee Wee Herman:
“I meant to do that!”
He publishes an update with a headline denouncing Gibbs for taking two seconds to respond to the rumor Olson was floating:
Braceletgate Update: Left, White House Actually React to Silly ‘Doubtful’ Theory
And congratulates himself on the amount of justified derision he generated.
I scored the lefty trifecta: MediaMatters, DailyKos and a blogger for Salon.com all responded.
The “hysteria” of course, being largely comprised of hysterical laughter.
Now, people unfamiliar with Teh Stupid might point out that Olson’s original posting of the “silly theory” generated 301 (at this count) comments, a large portion of which were from loyal readers who not only embraced this “silly theory,” but dramatically expanded on it.
Aren’t those folks a little insulted? Aren’t a few of his commenters, reading a theory described as “silly” that had earlier inspired them to write agonized posts about the bracelet as proof of the insidious depravity of the Obama administration, going to scratch their heads and say “heyyyy….?”
This presumes that “Teh Stupid” has some sort of linkage to either logic or reality. What it’s all about is the Stupids looking around at all the other Stupids, ie, the mass, the powerful gestalt that is “Teh Stupid,” and making sure everyone’s got their story straight. If other Stupids aren’t embarrassed or ashamed, why should they be?
Some of the commenters just echo Olson’s premise that Gibbs responding to a 334 word post (not to mention the thousands of words in comments expended by Olson’s excitable right wing readers) with a polite, 24-word explanation on Twitter is evidence of suspiciously thin-skinned defensiveness that borders on incompetence. The same commenter who invoked secret handshakes and insisted “everything is relevant!” bobs his or her head vigorously and declares, apparently with a straight face:
…with all the attention the White House, Bob Gibbs, Andy Stern are paying to your thread, tweeting and blogging, they sure do not exude a lot of confidence. Are you sure these are the type people WE should entrust Health Care, and 17% of the economy to?
For some, the very denial arouses suspicion that Olson’s theory about secret signals is in fact true. “Textbook example of ‘doth protest too much,’ one of them sagely observes. “Remember the old Elementary school saying, ’Whoever denied it, supplied it?’'” asks another.
Others ridicule the gesture itself as unmanly:
I'm still snickering at rich, powerful, presumably adult men going on TV wearing pastel plastic bracelets, and not as some sort of comedy sketch or MTV gender-bender schlock. Sure, I loved my jelly bracelets, spent a lot of "riding my bike around picking up pop cans" money on them....when I was an 8 year-old girl.
Gibbs, thin lips, weak chin and a 'purple bracelet', not a good look for 'man'. Does Andy Stern own a coat and tie? We all 'get it'. The comrade look, communists shiek, 'man of the people', street mob[ster], more like a 'gamin'.. a street urchin... a person that will say or do anything for a buck... it's right here in this alley, don't be afraid...
Others decide to denounce the cancer bracelet campaign as a Democratic pro-union conspiracy. One commenter posts:
Weren't the cancer bracelets made popular by Lance Armstrong yellow? Why the change in color to purple, the color of SEIU evil? And most important...how does wearing a purple bracelet help a little girl with cancer? This is just like the democrats saying they support the troops yet hardly any of their actions prove this.
While another says:
Wow. That bracelet actually represents everything that the Obamacare campaign is about: SEIU (color); Baby Human Shields; and Medical Sob Stories. We are talking synthesis on an epic scale.
And some even denounce Gibbs for making the gesture for a sick little girl instead of a soldier. “Why doesn't he wear a bracelet with the name of a soldier killed in action?,” asks one. And another asks; “How about Gibbs wearing a bracelet for 1LT Michael Behenna, who is now serving a sentence at Fort Leavenworth, Kansas, for SERVING his country honorably????”
In short, Teh Stupid – as demonstrated by this little online kerfuffle -- is completely undeterred by facts, decency, or shame. No matter what is revealed, no matter how damning their own behavior, Teh Stupid marches serenely on. That makes it a powerful tool for the GOP.
Which is why Erickson is now working for CNN. Sure, the commenters on Olson’s blog will probably never get a gig on any nationally broadcast cable network other than Fox.
But the man who inspires them and eggs them on just might.
If Eric Erickson can make it…
Wednesday, March 17. 2010
Tuesday, March 16. 2010
Larry King: Michelle, you get good healthcare don’t you? As a member of Congress.
Via The Daily Beast
Of course! The way to solve the healthcare crisis is for all those lazy uninsured people to get jobs with good health benefits!
Why haven’t the uninsured thought of that instead of sitting around whining about massive layoffs, the difficulty with getting coverage for sick family members, and/or how their chronic untreated illnesses make them too sick to work?
Monday, March 15. 2010
Here's a theory about why President Obama is having a tough political time right now: He doesn't seem all that happy being president.
Can’t you just hear that resigned sigh as Hiatt types the word “still?” He’s enacting the role of the reasonable man, oh-so-reluctantly driven to a conclusion he doesn’t want, (Honest he doesn’t!) about an inescapable, inherent defect he notices in the president’s demeanor.
The little second paragraph is an example of what I call “magic words.” “Magic words” are words presumed by the speaker or writer to have the supernatural power of undumbing dumb statements, unracisting racist statements, and unnastying nasty statements. “I know it sounds irrational/bigoted/callous” someone will declare, adopting the posture of an intelligent soul truly anguished by what the facts are driving him to say. “But…” (or “still,” or “however”)… And the speaker then dives head first into several hundred words of irrationality and/or bigotry and/or callousness.
In Fred Hiatt’s case, it’s a Washington Post piece about how the president’s problem is that he’s just too damn sullen.
Sunday, March 14. 2010
If Democrats want so badly to abort babies because of (healthcare costs), why are we bothering with someone who has a broken neck and back at 69? It sounds to me like she’s pretty well used up and has probably been living off the taxpayers for plenty of years to begin with. Aren’t we at least going to get a vote on it?
The headline Technorati has given coverage of this controversy is, “Harry Reid's Wife Becomes Nexus Of Conservative Satire,” and while Matt Sussman objects to Riehl's poor taste, he tells the rest of us to "lighten up," because after all, it's just a blogpost and it's the weekend. Many conservatives have chimed in claiming that liberals are just deficient in humor because they object to Riehl’s stunningly mean-spirited comments. The posture adopted by many of these right wingers is that liberals who object just don’t understand that Riehl was joking.
Oh, I see! That witty Dan Reihl was making a funny joke about the seriously injured wife of a politician he dislikes! I mean, i completely missed that part where he ascribed a hyperbolized position to Reid and used it as an excuse to dehumanize him and his family.
Let me explain a little something about “satire.”
It involves wit. it involves an ability to cast light on an issue using humor.
It involves a level of effort and talent that goes far beyond merely using your disagreement with someone as an excuse for mocking his agony as he copes with a seriously injured family member.
Saturday, March 13. 2010
But I do think that those who had a hand in perpetrating, not only going into the war, but the misrepresentations of the American people. Nancy Pelosi to Rachel Maddow, trying to explain why crimes committed uner the Bush administration are not being prosecuted.
It doesn’t make any sense in context, either.
Nancy Pelosi, faced with the issue of holding the Bush administration legally accountable for crimes like torture, wiretapping, etc., grabs herself up a handful of platitudes, sentence fragments, and subordinate clauses, and tosses them at the camera while making her frowny, I’ve-got-a-conscience-honest-I do! face.
In short, she makes lots of crooning, sympathetic noises, but zero sense.
Watch for yourself.
Friday, March 12. 2010
Senator Harry Reid finally uses the “L” word.
Obviously, the opposite has happened, as many Republicans have spent the past year mischaracterizing the health reform bill and misleading the public. Though we have tried to engage in a serious discussion, our efforts have been met by repeatedly debunked myths and outright lies. Harry Reid, in a letter to Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (emphasis added), Talking Points Memo
Thursday, March 11. 2010
Remember that? “This land is your land, This Land is my land, This Land is made for you and me?” This land is your land, this land is my land, and it all just clicked in my head. Look up the dates that this stupid song was written! We did… (with the air of someone who has uncovered a government secret) we did. You know, I’ve heard people say this before, and I’ve never really paid attention to it. You know, “this land is your land, this land is my land,” remember how happy that is? Let me show you the last couple of verses:>
… See, here’s the thing that I don’t think people understand, yet you do. That it is time for us to wake up out of our…um…dream state. Wake up out of the propaganda, the…you know, this is the thing that people who’ve come out of the Soviet Bloc or Cuba, they’re all saying, “how do you guys not hear this? How are you not seeing this?” Well, because we don’t ever expect it. (Glenn's Sidekick After Discussing Springsteens "Born in The USA")
“They’re addressing things like the uninsured for compassion…It’s bogus anyway because everybody gets treated at the emergency room. There’s nobody dying because they don’t have insurance, not in this country! The whole thing is bogus.” Rush Limbaugh
“This boy is Ignorance. This Girl is Want. Beware them both, and all of their degree but most of all, beware this boy…” Charles Dickens, A Christmas Carol
So Glenn Beck has, apparently for the first time, actually listened to lyrics by Woody Guthrie (“This Land is Your Land") and Bruce Springsteen (“Born in the USA”) and is shocked, I tell you, shocked by the realization that these songs are not flag-waving, Love-it-or-Leave-It expressions of unquestioning America-worship. He and his crew call on us all to “wake up” and imply that people who’ve come out of the Soviet Bloc and Cuba are disturbed by the messages in these songs. (Is it surprising that people born and raised in societies where dissent is forbidden would be confused by a celebration of one’s country like “This Land is Your Land” including expressions of dissent?)
And Rush Limbaugh says that nobody in this country is dying for lack of insurance.
Well, I guess nobody he knows has died for lack of access to healthcare. And if a millionaire like Rush personally doesn’t know of cases where it’s happened, it must not be happening, right?
No wonder the right wing is now conducting a concerted attack on education. Only someone ignorant of the history of the Great Depression and the Reagan era’s effect on middle America would be outraged by the lyrics of either song. Only someone deliberately closing his eyes to the current healthcare situation in this country would claim that nobody is dying for lack of access to healthcare.
This is what’s surreal about watching politics today. Right-wing ranters of a type once consigned to either the midnight slot on small town talk-radio stations or soapboxes in the local park are appearing on national television, speaking before cheering crowds, and apparently calling the shots for a major political party.
Yes, widespread poverty and want are dangerous to a society.
Widespread and willful ignorance is an even greater threat.