Monday, December 21. 2009
…the line was crossed long ago, during the summer of death panels and socialists. But Democrats weren't in the best position to take the high road Sunday evening. One of their own members, Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse (R.I.) had just delivered an overwrought jeremiad comparing the Republicans to Nazis on Kristallnacht, lynch mobs of the South, and bloodthirsty crowds of the French Revolution. Dana Milbank, Washington Post 12/21/09
The subject of Dana Milbank’s piece is the Republicans' unforgivable pre-holiday end-play to their already unforgivable attempts to block healthcare reform, specifically Senator Tom Coburn saying the other day on the senate floor that the American people should pray “that somebody can't make the vote tonight” – an apparent reference to 92 year old Senator Senator Robert Byrd, who’s been in profoundly fragile health.
But being a middlebrow Beltway writer, Milbank just has to add the standard middlebrow Beltway false equivalency, in which calling out grossly irresponsible rhetoric is equated with the grossly irresponsible rhetoric being called out.
The justification I used to hear for Godwin’s Law was that the Nazis were extra extra special and that it was therefore somehow “disrespectful” to their victims to bring the Nazis up when discussing the possible consequences of dehumanizing language, overt and covert calls for violence against entire groups.
Now Godwin’s law has apparently been expanded to cover just about any lesson that can be gleaned from history -- The French Revolution, the American lynching epidemic, etc. -- about the danger of powerful interests using shouting mobs, rumor mongering, name-calling, and violent rhetoric as a political tool.
Wednesday, November 4. 2009
If we begin questioning Liz Cheney that way, then we would have to do the same with conservative (and liberal) commentators who make all kinds of charges every day. It is their way of making a (great) living. Some comments, I like to think, sink under their own weight. Journalist Michael Fletcher in response to a reader’s question about why reporters haven’t questioned Liz Cheney about her blatantly false claim that President Bush “routinely” visited Dover to pay his respects to America's fallen. Washington Post 11/4/09.
I see what Fletcher means. After all, since when does the truth need defending? Remember when those crazies a few years back made patently ridiculous claims about John Kerry not being a war hero? Or those equally silly rumors about Al Gore claiming he’d “invented” the Internet?
We didn’t need some hyper-vigilant reporter calling the liars out! Why, those comments about Kerry not deserving his medals and Al Gore being a liar just sank under their own weight!
Sunday, October 25. 2009
It’s all so polarizing here. You either have to take the position that Fox is a courageous news organization or a threat to western civilization… Howard Kurtz, Reliable Sources 10/25/09
Typical dozey-moderate crap. Exactly who is demanding that Kurtz or anybody else take only one of these two positions? He’s simply trying to pass himself off as some sort of independent thinker for not taking either position.
I have criticized things that O’Reilly has said, that Hannity has said. Certainly on this program I told Glenn Beck that he was being offensive when he ..with some words that he had for a Muslim member of Congress…
Know what else you did, Howard? Back in 2002, you accused Tom Daschle of “having a screw loose” for complaining that Rush’s inflammatory language was causing an uptick in death threats against Daschle and his family. Which I guess is why you didn’t follow up on the following comments by Jane Hall, explaining why she left Fox.
...and I’m also, frankly, uncomfortable with Beck, who I think should be called out as somebody whose language is way over-the-top and scary.
“Scary?” Wouldn’t it be worthwhile to ask her to expand on why she finds Beck’s language so “scary” that it was part of what prompted her to leave Fox?
But, as is usual for Kurtz, he tries to avoid calling out Fox by pretending MSNBC is just as bad.
…And you can do it to MSNBC by pointing at all the liberal hosts they have Of course they do have Joe Scarborough…
It’s nice that The Huffington Posts’s Nico Pitney is there to bring Kurtz back to reality:
Yeah, call me when Fox has three hours of programming given over to a Democratic congressman or former Democratic congressman. This is just not comparable.
Friday, October 23. 2009
I presented both sides of the story. I'll leave it to columnists and readers to draw their own conclusions on who had the best case. Jay Newton-Small, responding to criticism of her Time Magazine article on White House Czars.
Jay Newton-Small, responding to criticism of her Time Magazine article on White House Czars.
Apparently, modern journalism is all a matter of honing one’s cutting and pasting skills. It’s also important to have an up to date phone number list and an ability to operate a mic and a recorder.
Actual research, however, going through the trouble of determining the facts related to the subject being discussed, and offering them to the reader in clear, concise prose, is not a reporter’s job. Hey, if spokesman A says the world is flat while spokesman B says it’s round, why should a reporter throw in some irrelevancy about what science has determined about the shape of the Earth?
After all, that might come across as biased in favor of spokesman B.
Which explains why Jay Newton-Small begins her Time Magazine piece with the observation “There has been a lot of talk — and some hyperbole — in recent weeks surrounding the Obama Administration's growing stable of imperial ‘czars’," and, after over a thousand words, leaves her readers still firmly in the dark about what hyperbole she is referring to, who is responsible for it, and whether or not there is “anything to all this chatter.”
Tuesday, September 22. 2009
The last thing you’d expect Michelle Malkin to be is charming, funny, or vulnerable. Lloyd Grove, The Daily Beast
Can we please, please please declare a moratorium on “Famous Haters are Human Too!” stories? The most recent example is Lloyd Groves’s article about Michelle Malkin in today’s Daily Beast. It’s yet another entry in a relatively new genre of feature story that’s evolved over the past two decades with the rise of the vitriolic right.
The subject is invariably a public figure who has distinguished him or herself through sheer hatefulness. The piece almost always includes a moment in which the author elaborately mimes astonishment at the discovery, on encountering their subject, that the famous hater is physically attractive and/or polite and/or bathes regularly. The author then adopts a bemused “I’m-Above-All-That” approach to the natural rage and revulsion the subject’s hateful public persona has stirred up. If the writer decides the famous hater is sincere in his or her beliefs, that’s cited as a mitigating factor, evidence of an underlying seriousness that’s worthy of respectful disagreement. If the famous hater is not deemed sincere, he or she is presented as an irrepressible trickster whose puckish wit is lost on those literal-minded types who get so impossibly neurotic about people insulting 9/11 widows or telling gay men they should “get AIDS and die.”
So far, I’ve read that Rush Limbaugh is nice to kiddies, that Ann Coulter hasn’t yet found that special someone, that Glenn Beck is self-deprecating and had a tragic childhood, that Michael Savage is “a firm believer in the idea of friendship,” and most recently, that Michelle Malkin is petite and cute and comes across as “vulnerable” to her (male) interviewer. To paraphrase Dorothy Parker, the Mississippi remains as wet as ever in the face of these revelations. Their purpose eludes me, unless they are intended as the rather sophisticated straw-man arguments one sometimes encounters in punditry.
Instead of explicitly ascribing an opinion to the rest of us by saying “You believe that Ann/Michelle/Rush/Michael etc. is a hideously disfigured monster who routinely bites off the fingers of casual visitors and strangles small children for recreation,” the writer simply frames the piece as a response to this ascribed -- and wholly imaginary -- opinion.
Thursday, September 10. 2009
Quite Politically Savvy Man: Well, I think they’ll find some common ground. I don’t know what that is, if that’s tort reform, if that’s dealing with the public option. I don’t know what it is, there has to be a compromise.
Griff Jenkins stubbed his toe on some sanity at the 28th stop of the tea-party express in Pennsylvania while interviewing folks who’d watched the president’s speech at a local saloon. Either the rational bald fellow in the business suit (whom Jenkins introduced as "quite politically savvy) was a garden variety local rather than a tea-partyer, or he was a sensible Republican doing a little intellectual slumming. Whatever the explanation, Griff’s expression when the word “public option” is mentioned is worth seeing, along with the sly smile of the interviewee, who plainly knows that Jenkins isn’t going to like what he has to say.
Friday, September 4. 2009
Bill Rice: I went out to a local event in, uh, my community, where I was confronted by somewhat of a deranged individual and uh, a scuffle ensured and he ate my finger in the process.
First of all, I want to go on record with my opposition to biting off the fingers of demonstrators with whom you disagree. Unless you feel your life is actually in danger, I don’t consider maiming an appropriate response, even to being punched in the face.
That said, punching someone in the face, not because he hits you, but because he calls you an idiot, qualifies as an unprovoked attack. And if you then throw a second punch and get the tip of your pinky finger caught in the teeth of the man you attacked – well, I’m sure it hurts and I’m glad you got prompt medical attention, but my sympathy does have its limits.
“What’s weird about this, Bill” says Neil Cavuto, “is that a guy who was advocating for the president’s healthcare reform bit your freakin’ finger off.”
Well, it would certainly be “weird” if the finger-biter had initiated the encounter by hurling himself at Bill Rice, seizing Rice’s hand, and viciously chomping off Rice’s pinky finger before spitting the severed appendage into his victim’s face.
What Mr. Rice has just described, however, is losing the tip of his pinky finger while he, Bill Rice, was assaulting someone.
Which is not really that “weird “at all.
And that, I strongly suspect, is why Rice has said, “no, sir, I don’t wish to sue anybody, I’m not a litigious person.” In a courtroom, a judge is unlikely to sum up what happened by saying, “So you’re with a relatively small group there, protesting healthcare reform, this guy was saying ‘Healthcare reform is the way to go,’ didn’t at all agree with you, and um, and then he, after biting your finger off, up and ran away.” The part about Rice punching the guy twice would at least get a mention. Nor would a judge pat Rice on the head with the observation that “You gave an appendage in the cause of healthcare reform.” Rice “gave an appendage” in the cause of punching a man in the face – something that probably happens fairly frequently in bar-fights.
News of this hit one day after the report of another pro-healthcare reform advocate in Florida being struck in the face by one of the antis. In this case, the punchee apparently did not or could not fight back.
Which, I gather, is exactly as Neil Cavuto and others of his ilk think it should be.
Thursday, August 20. 2009
It Isn’t So Much that They Were Wrong… It’s That They Were So Smugly, Patronizingly and Insufferably Wrong.
”And you're not among those Democrats who at this point are ready to say this is all politics, Bush may be in trouble of getting re-elected, this kind of concern may rally public support around the commander in chief. You're not one of those Democrats skeptical about the motive behind this?" 8/1/04 Wolf Blitzer to Eleanor Norton on CNN in the wake of Tom Ridge's post-Democratic convention announcement of terror warnings against specific New York Targets
Good thing we had our national press corps to vet anyone who might be “one of those Democrats' – i.e., one of those wacky liberal crackpots attributing such sordid motives to the Bush administration.
I mean,come on, stuff like that just doesn't happen!
Ridge was never invited to sit in on National Security Council meetings; was "blindsided" by the FBI in morning Oval Office meetings because the agency withheld critical information from him; found his urgings to block Michael Brown from being named head of the emergency agency blamed for the Hurricane Katrina disaster ignored; and was pushed to raise the security alert on the eve of President Bush's re-election, something he saw as politically motivated and worth resigning over. USNews Washington Whispers 8/19/09
Monday, August 17. 2009
Well, I’m, I’m troubled anytime when we, we stop having confidence in, in our government. But we’ve earned it. Senator Tom Coburn, on the violent rhetoric being used by some anti-Administration protestors
When the word “troubled” is used these days on a talk show, it’s almost always in the course of the speaker attempting to soft-pedal something horrible – in this case the increasingly violent rhetoric of the Republican “base.” “Troubled” is shorthand for, “I don’t want to denounce torture/indefinite detention/wild-eyed loons threatening the president and his followers with violence, but please observe that I’m making my frowny-face as I defend these indefensible things so that when the sh*t hits the fan, I can throw up my hands and say, “Hey, I expressed strong reservations at the time…”
When David Gregory called him on this on Meet the Press yesterday, Coburn simply spat out another hundred words attempting to justify this crap as “fear of loss of control of their own government” and David Gregory, being David Gregory, just let it pass. Not so Rachel Maddow, who a few minutes later, said:
MADDOW: I take issue with the idea that the government has done anything to earn the kind of threats of violence that we have seen.
The above exchange between Gregory and Coburn is classic. Coburn denies saying that the government “earned” threats of violence (which is, of course, precisely what he said) and then simply rewords what he said as if he really were explaining why he didn’t say it.
It’s not as complicated as it sounds. The equivalent would be someone saying, “I never said he murdered his wife. I said he deliberately tied her up, put a gun to her head, and pulled the trigger for the insurance money.”
And David Gregory – being David Gregory – says “all right.”
Thank God for Rachel Maddow, who will have none of it.
Whether or not, whether or not the government has acted in a way that you feel is defensible, I don’t think the government has done anything to earn, in your words, the, the, the threat of—that the blood of tyrants must run in the streets, which is what the literal threat was from that man with the gun strapped to, strapped to his leg in New Hampshire.
It really is worthwhile to consider why it is that members of the GOP are so willing to countenance borderline and not-so-borderline threats of violence against a Democratic administration.
Tuesday, August 11. 2009
“….And Then There’s That Questionable but Possibly Damaging Claim About the Reds Attacking our Precious Bodily Fluids with Fluoridation…”
Questionable but potentially damaging charges that President Obama’s proposed overhaul of the nation’s health care system would inevitably lead to “socialized medicine,” “rationed care” and even forced euthanasia for the elderly. New York Times 8/11/09
How did we get here?
How did we reach the point where mobs are using intimidation and threats to shut down debate at Town Hall Meetings? How did we reach the point where people are boasting publicly about plans to attack, abuse, and kill not just public officials, but fellow citizens who disagree with them? How did we reach the point where insane right wing conspiracy theories are described as merely “questionable” in the New York Times?
We are here because the people entrusted with our mass media mistook their own political naivete for sophistication. They reacted with exaggerated horror to, say, Move-On invoking the Nazis in an anti-Bush ad, (“beyond the pale,” “absurd and dangerous”) while soft-pedaling their language when it came to little ol’ things like the elimination of attorney-client privilege, indefinite detention, and the legalization of torture. (“troubling,...disturbing..controversial…”)
And to add insult to injury, their most frequent reaction to objections to, say, Limbaugh comparing Tom Daschle to Satan, was merry laughter and a patronizing pat on the shoulder. Back in 2002 alleged media critic Howard Kurtz denounced Tom Daschle as having a “screw loose” for complaining about it, assuring us all that good ol’ Rush is “so mainstream that those right-wingers Tom Brokaw and Tim Russert had him on their Election Night coverage."
And so naturally, extremist right-wing language has become more and more a part of our mainstream, while even slightly left-of-center politics are depicted as horrifying dives into Communism. Any rational observer could have predicted this. Many of us did.
But the “You’d-LOVE-those-racists-if-you-just-met-them” crowd just can’t seem to learn from its mistakes. They’re still at it. The New Yorker just published a piece about how badly “misunderstood” is that demented hate-monger (“You should only get AIDS and die, you pig “) Michael Savage, and the New York Times last month ran a long puff-piece about that big ol’ cutie-pie, Rush Limbaugh.
And every now and then they take time off from this to scratch their heads, furrow their brows, and look puzzled at the increasingly violent noises coming from the right.
Saturday, August 8. 2009
Is anyone still wondering how violent rhetoric became so accepted that twits like Scott Oskay are openly tweeting about carrying guns and “hurting” people at public meetings? To those of us familiar with KSFO, a right-wing talk radio station based in San Francisco, part of the answer lies in the news via Spockos Brain. KGO talk radio DJ Lee Rodgers is about to be inducted into the Bay Area Radio Hall of Fame.
Here are few quotes that Spocko has retrieved from the distinguished Mr. Rodgers:
On Iraqi citizens:
….just don’t give us another reason to come back, we’ll massacre every damned one of you.
We do detest you, we despise you and we hold you in complete and utter contempt…The day will come, the day will come when unpleasant things are going to happen to a bunch of stupid liberals, it’s going to be amusing to watch, very amusing to watch.
Indonesia is really just another enemy Muslim nation…You keep screwing around with stuff like this, we're going to kill a bunch of you. Millions of you.
On Eleanor Clift:
Somebody should have belted that chinless bitch a long time ago, anyway.
When violent, irresponsible bigots like Rodgers are feted in this manner, is it any wonder that violent, irresponsible bigotry is increasingly a part of our political mainstream?
Wednesday, June 24. 2009
The difference between the almost right word & the right word is really a large matter--it's the difference between the lightning bug and the lightning.
Another example this week of current war against language is NPR Ombudsman Alicia C. Shepard’s whiney attempt at justifying NPR’s morally bankrupt avoidance of the word “torture” when the victims are Middle Easterners and the perps Americans:
It's a no-win case for journalists. If journalists use the words "harsh interrogation techniques," they can be seen as siding with the White House and the language that some U.S. officials, particularly in the Bush administration, prefer. If journalists use the word "torture," then they can be accused of siding with those who are particularly and visibly still angry at the previous administration.
And that’s just one of the half baked justifications she offered. (Hey, here’s an idea! If it’s a “no-win” situation why not just fall back on the truth and use the word “torture” to describe torture?) This article should be followed by a brisk chaser of the comments that resulted, a unanimous chorus of justified contempt, and Glenn Greenwald’s excellent evisceration.
Ms. Shepard left town immediately after posting this. An intern has assured everyone in the comments that she’ll respond to the overwhelmingly negative reaction when she gets back. We’ll see.
Saturday, June 20. 2009
"I was told that it had been determined that my White House Watch blog wasn’t 'working' anymore," said Froomkin. "Personally, I thought it was still working very well, and based on reader feedback, a lot of readers thought so, too. I also felt White House Watch was a great fit with The Washington Post brand, and what its readers reasonably expect from the Post online. As I’ve written elsewhere, I think that the future success of our business depends on journalists enthusiastically pursuing accountability and calling it like they see it. That’s what I tried to do every day. Now I guess I'll have to try to do it someplace else." Dan Froomkin, Quoted in Politico, 6/18/09
And they wonder why print media is dying.
Saturday, June 6. 2009
I believe that was a brilliant and historic speech reaching out to the 1.5 billion Muslims around the world whom Al Qaida has thought was their own captive audience. He was attempting, in the name of America, to marginalize the fanatics and to reclaim the middle ground for America and I think he was doing a service, not just to America, but to Israel and the world by doing so. Winston Churchill III, responding to Neil Cavuto’s comparison of President Obama’s recent speech in Cairo with Neville Chamberlain’s capitulation to Hitler
It’s a pleasure, via Media Matters, to watch Neil Cavuto get put in his place by Winston Churchill III. The grandson of the great British conservative politely drew the line the other day at Cavuto invoking Neville Chamberlain as a way of smearing President Obama. He didn’t go so far as to explain to Cavuto and Fox viewers exactly why Chamberlain was and is still reviled, but perhaps he didn’t want to embarrass everyone. It’s possible he remembers the carnage that ensued in May of last year, when that rude Yank, Chris Matthews, got tired of right wing radio host Kevin James’ histrionic endorsement of President Bush’s comparison of Obama with Neville Chamberlain, and asked him the simple question, “What did Neville Chamberlain do?
The result was five minutes of stream of consciousness babble reminiscent of the dying words of Dutch Schultz
Oh, c’mon, it all…it all goes back to appeasement. It’s the key…it’s the key term, it’s the key term, Chris. He goes, no, it’s the same thing, it puts it all…it’s, it’s talking about appeasement! And…and his actions, his actions enabled, energized, legitimized, it’s the exact same, it’s the exact same thing that we’re… it’s the…Chris, it’s the exact same thing, all right, no… Wha? Thirty-eight, thirty-nine Chris! What year do you want? It doesn’t…It’s the exact same thing that happened, Chris. He’s talking, he’s talking, he’s talking about appeasement. Look…What Chamberlain did…what Chamberlain did that I, what, what, that the President was talkin’ about? You just said the President was talkin’ about Bara…Look, the ans…and I’ll remember about this… I…No, I, I wasn’t, I wasn’t! President Bush…Look, you’re not going to box me in here, Chris, President Bush was making that, I was..I’m glad the President…I’m glad the President…Of course! Neville Chamberlain, yeah, he..he was an appeaser, Chris. He was an appeaser and it energized, and it legitimized, and it...it…legitimized…Chris, Chris, I wasn’t the one that raised the Hitler comment. My point is, what President Bush has done, is that he has taken this shot across the bow, and it’s a shot…No…What do you mean I don’t know what I’m talking about? Neville Chamberlain was an appeaser, Chris. Neverlin Chamberlain was a…was an appeaser, all right? I Neville, Neville Chamberlain, but his…his policies, the things that Neville Chamberlain supported…all right, energized, legitimized, eh-energized, legitimized and…and made it easier for Hitler to advance in the ways that he advanced….
Finally, Matthews decided to put James out of his misery and explain, simply and succinctly why Chamberlain is still considered a weenie.
What Neville Chamberlain did wrong, most people would say, is not talking to Hitler, but giving him half of Czechslovakia in ’38. That’s what he did wrong.
Wednesday, April 15. 2009
From the dope addict:
You know what we have learned about the Somali pirates, the merchant marine organizers that were wiped out at the order of Barack Obama, you know what we learned about them? They were teenagers. The Somali pirates, the merchant marine organizers who took a US merchant captain hostage for five days were inexperienced youths, the defense secretary, Roberts Gates, said yesterday, adding that the hijackers were between 17 and 19 years old. Now, just imagine the hue and cry had a Republican president ordered the shooting of black teenagers on the high seas.Some will argue that Limbaugh is simply mocking the Left, but it seems to me he just can't stomach the fact that America won, despite all his predictions that it would lose because Obama was president. Thus he tries to compare this situation to the illegal invasion of Iraq. The major differences between this incident and Iraq are:
1) This was legal.
2) It was successful.
3) It was damned cheap.
4) No Americans were killed or wounded.
5) Everyone in the world (except Somalia) is glad we did it.
6) No one was tortured, kidnapped, murdered or held without trial. Three men certainly died, but they died in the commission of piracy on the high seas while threatening harm to an innocent civilian.
7) No violations of the Constitution occurred.
The job wasn't outsourced to Blackwater.
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