Saturday, December 12, 2009

Tea Partiers make their ambitions clear: They want to take over the GOP

-- by Dave

What hath Republicans wrought?

Sure, they believed, as John noted the other day, that when they were unleashing what Bill Kristol likes to call "guided populism", they were in fact opening the gates for right-wing populism. And now they're looking not only at a a phenomenon much more popular than the standard Republican brand, but a movement that is about to swallow them whole.

And the Tea Party organizers -- notably the Astroturf outfits that originated the Parties, such as FreedomWorks and Americans For Prosperity -- are making that perfectly clear. Two spokesmen for those groups -- Matt Kibbe of FreedomWorks and the AFP's Tim Phillips, went on Hardball yesterday and made this explicit:

MATTHEWS: Matt, how about third party? What about the Tea Party? Sarah Palin is kind of hard to read. She is fascinating. Let‘s face it, we‘re all fascinated with her, because she‘s exciting as a political figure right now. But she‘s talking third party. I mean, she answered the question of Lars Larson. Maybe it just came to mind, but she said, yeah, I might go third party, something like that. Would you guys knock off an incumbent Republican by going third party? You know how the vote splits. Split the right, the Dem wins.

KIBBE: The better way to do it is to take over the Republican party. Frankly, that‘s what our goal is. We need to replace the Republican establishment with fiscal conservatives that are actually willing to cut spending.

All this talk about a "third party" is just so much smokescreen. What's actually happening is that the GOP is fast becoming a full-fledged right-wing-populist entity. Which means that the latent extremism lurking out on the right's fringes for so many years is becoming its new lifeblood, such as it is.

Funny thing is, as Matthews managed to point out early in the segment, not even the Tea Partiers' supposed hero -- Ronald Reagan -- can live up to their standards:

MATTHEWS: Has there ever been a strong conservative president, for example, in your lifetime or anybody—your grandfather‘s lifetime? Who do you look to as a good role model for the tea party people?

KIBBE: Well, obviously, Ronald Reagan is the closest thing we have.

MATTHEWS: What did he do in terms of fiscal policy?

KIBBE: Oh, he—he said that we shouldn't spend money we don‘t have, and he said that the government shouldn't get involved in things that it‘s not very good at doing.


MATTHEWS: Yes. Have you ever checked the numbers with Reagan?

KIBBE: Well, I understand. I understand...


MATTHEWS: The national debt went from under $1 trillion to $3 trillion. He did more to increase exponentially the size of the debt of any president in history.

And he's your role model.

KIBBE: Well, President Obama is...


MATTHEWS: No, I'm asking you. I have asked you one president that you can look up to who was good at tea party politics and ideology.

KIBBE: Right. Right.

MATTHEWS: If it's not Reagan, because he clearly didn't do it, who do you look to? Coolidge? How far do you have to look back?

KIBBE: I think we need to find somebody that can meet that standard.

MATTHEWS: So, nobody has recently?

KIBBE: No, certainly not.

Ah well. Blowing off cognitive dissonance is a special teabagger trait. It just adds to their "insane" mystique.

Republicans may have thought these guys had their backs. But now they're looking with increasing worry back over their shoulders. Sow the wind, reap the whirlwind, dudes.

Cross-posted at Crooks and Liars.

Friday, December 11, 2009

The title of John Gibson's new book attacking liberals suggests the Swift Boaters are liars, too

-- by Dave

John Gibson has a new book out hilariously titled How the Left Swiftboated America: The Liberal Media Conspiracy To Make You Think George Bush Was The Worst President In History, and he was touring his old haunts at Fox News yesterday -- first at Fox and Friends and then with Bill O'Reilly -- pitching it and showing off his Kewl New Look (like the goatee?).

His chief line: "They lied through their teeth!"

He meant the evil liberals who are tearing down poor George W. Bush's legacy, of course.

It should be entertaining to see how Gibson manages to translate "openly discussing Bush's actual record" -- from his manifest failures with Katrina to the destroyed economy -- into "lying through their teeth," but Gibson no doubt hired the best propagandists money could buy to ghost-write his book.

But the title is especially interesting in this context, because it's obvious now that Gibson equates "Swiftboating" with "lying through your teeth".

What's interesting about this is that, back in 2004, when the Swift Boat folks were appearing on Fox News en masse in real time and in fact lying through their teeth, John Gibson actually told his viewers they were telling the truth.

Not only that, Gibson attacked other media outlets for failing to run with the Swift Boat stories. He also carried "news" reports treating the Swift Boaters as credible sources.

So who was lying through their teeth back then, and who's doing it now? We suspect that John Gibson hasn't any idea how to distinguish them -- but he does know how to write a book that will sell red meat on the right-wing talk circuit.

Blue Texan has more.

Cross-posted at Crooks and Liars.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

If 'Tea Party' candidates really are the preferred choice on the Right, then we're in serious trouble

-- by Dave

The latest Rasmussen Poll has disastrous news for Republicans -- and disquieting news for for the rest of us too:

In a three-way Generic Ballot test, the latest Rasmussen Reports national telephone survey finds Democrats attracting 36% of the vote. The Tea Party candidate picks up 23%, and Republicans finish third at 18%. Another 22% are undecided.

Among voters not affiliated with either major party, the Tea Party comes out on top. Thirty-three percent (33%) prefer the Tea Party candidate, and 30% are undecided. Twenty-five percent (25%) would vote for a Democrat, and just 12% prefer the GOP.

The look on Eric Bolling's face, filling in for Neil Cavuto yesterday on Fox News, contemplating this news said it all: He thought the Tea Party and Republicans were one and the same thing! In fact, he spills as much:

Bolling: Isn't the tea party just another wing of the Republican Party? ... Aren't we just splitting the party?

Well, not exactly. Like Republicans, the Tea Party folks are fervently anti-Obama. But as Republicans like Lindsey Graham are discovering, the Tea Partiers are so arch-conservative they hate BOTH parties, and consider Republicans to be sellouts of their true-blue conservative ideals.

Now, this may appear to be good news for Democrats, since it means the Right is splitting its vote. And over the short term, as we saw in the NY-23 race, it may well be. But there is an ominous quality to this that should be disturbing to everyone.

The GOP thought it could unleash this tide of right-wing populism and prosper -- but are discovering that it's not such an easy thing to control.

And what they're unleashing is a flood of right-wing extremism in the process. Because as the "Tea Party" gathering we saw this past weekend in Spokane made crystal-clear, the "Tea Parties" are one of the most massive conduits for mainstreaming extremist beliefs in our history:

More than 1,000 people, including local sheriffs, state representatives, lawyers, families and blue-collar workers, gathered in Post Falls last month to hear a former Arizona sheriff blast the federal government. About 500 met last week in another event organized by the Campaign for Liberty – a coalition of about 10 Inland Northwest groups hoping to create a forum to share ideas and create a louder voice in politics.

Some aren’t afraid to use the word militia.

“We need to rob that word back from the people who villainize it,” said Schaeffer Cox, a 25-year-old from Fairbanks, Alaska, eliciting a roar of approval from the crowd in Post Falls Wednesday night.

It was the second Freedom Festival held at the Post Falls Greyhound Park – evidence, some say, of a new rise of the militia movement in America, but one that blurs the line between extremism and mainstream.

... Wednesday’s meeting was the first event locally since the large gathering on Veterans Day for a speech by Richard Mack, a man described by Potok’s organization as “an iconic hero of the militia movement.”

Mack wrote a book with Randy Weaver in the 1990s about the federal siege at Ruby Ridge and was part of a successful lawsuit against the Clinton administration challenging sweeping gun control legislation.

Mack was joined at the Post Falls event by Washington state Rep. Matt Shea and Idaho state Rep. Phil Hart. County sheriffs were invited to dine with Mack before his speech. Spokane County Sheriff Ozzie Knezovich missed most of the dinner but said he enjoyed Mack’s speech.

“I didn’t hear hate. I heard the exact opposite,” Knezovich said. “I heard respect. Respect for states, respect for individual rights, for the job of the sheriff.”

Knezovich said he received more invitations to Mack’s speech than any other event since he was elected sheriff in fall 2006. Everywhere he went, it seemed, people asked if he planned to go.

“I thought to myself, ‘If that many people would like me to attend this event, I’ll do that,’ ” Knezovich said.

Mack has long been a speaker on the constitutionalist circuit, gaining fame in the militia movement in the 1990s. “There’s really a remarkable amount of anger out there that this movement reflects,” Potok said.

Still, Potok added, “it’s a little shocking that Richard Mack, given his ideas, could draw such a large crowd, including so many public officials.”

When you have law-enforcement officials and state legislators showing up to support citizen militias and "oath keepers" who believe the federal government is about to swoop down in black helicopters and round up citizens to imprison them in concentration camps ... Well, that's a problem for everyone.

It's like the 1990s on steroids. Back then, it produced a notable spate of domestic terrorism. This time around, with so many more people being successfully recruited, one can only imagine the violence that awaits us all.

Cross-posted at Crooks and Liars.

Wednesday, December 09, 2009

Wingnuts' latest fake outrage: Reid points out conservatives' long history of foot-dragging

-- by Dave

The right's latest fake controversy is what happens whenever any Democrat happens to bring up historical truths about conservatism -- like the fact that it has been on the wrong side of right and wrong for much of the nation's history. They scream and shout about how mean liberals are and then cover over these truths with a pile of afactual excrement.

Here's what upset them so. Harry Reid accurately laid out the sorry history of conservatives in America whenever important and momentous advances in civil rights and the betterment of life for all Americans happen to arise: They stick up for the forces of oppression, hatred, and economic deprivation.

"Instead of joining us on the right side of history, all Republicans have come up with is this slow down, stop everything, let's start over."

"You think you've heard these same excuses before, you're right. When this country belatedly recognized the wrongs of slavery, there were those who dug in their heels and said, slow down, it's too early. Let's wait. Things aren't bad enough. When women spoke up for the right to speak up, they wanted to vote, some insisted slow down, there will be a better day to do that. The day isn't quite right.

When this body was on the verge of guaranteeing equal civil rights to everyone, regardless of the color of their skin, some senators resorted to the same filibuster threats that we hear today."

The only thing right-wingers heard was that "Reid compared opponents of health-care reform to opponents of slavery."

Well, not exactly: He was pointing out that there was continuum to all of these, a common thread. That is, the opponents of health care, just like opponents of civil rights for minorities, and opponents of the vote for women, and opponents of ending slavery all had one big thing in common: They were all conservative.

Rather laughably, Sean Hannity and Karl Rove try to cover this over -- as does Michelle Malkin -- by pointing out the wonderful things Republicans have done over the decades, such as Lincoln freeing the slaves. Of course, what they don't mention is that these things were achieved by people who would today be considered liberal Republicans. Malkin also wants you to remember those Democrats who fought against civil rights: Of course, she conveniently omits the history of the Southern Strategy and the way old-line bigots like Strom Thurmond joined the GOP en masse in the 1960s and '70s, thereby transforming the Party of Lincoln into the Party of Neo-Confederates.

(Oh, and a reminder to Karl Rove, who claims that "Joe Wilson got in trouble for speaking the truth": He should ask Wilson sometime his views on Lincoln.)

And what they especially avoid confronting is that Reid is right in that opponents of ending slavery were CONSERVATIVE, and opponents of health-care reform are CONSERVATIVE. The contexts change with the shifting challenges of our respective eons, but we can always count on one thing:

When conservatives stand up to fight against common-sense advances that improve the lives of Americans, we can feel a sense of surety that history will prove them wrong. It always has in the past.

By the way, Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison was whining on Fox's Your World (with Eric Bolling filling in for Neil Cavuto) that Reid's remarks were "over the top" and asking him to apologize:

Our hearts just bleed for those poor victimized Republicans who want us all to erase history from our memories and just remember them as the victims of mean-talking Democrats. Especially the saintly Karl Rove.

Cross-posted at Crooks and Liars.

Sunday, December 06, 2009

ear Michelle Malkin: Here are some other law-enforcement officers you forgot to mourn

-- by Dave

Michelle Malkin's latest column wants to turn the deaths of police officers around the country -- spurred by the recent horror in Lakewood, WA -- into a chance to blame liberals for the deaths.

The Left has a popular mantra: “Stop the hate.” Why don’t they start applying it to the men and women who protect and serve?

She listed some officers killed in a couple of different incidents involving career criminals and a bizarre recent case here in Seattle.

Well, I've got a few other officers here she seemed to have forgotten about:

Pittsburgh officers Eric Kelly, Paul Sciullo III and Stephen Mayhle, gunned down by budding neo-Nazi Richard Poplawski, because he believed the officers were part of a nefarious plan to take citizens' guns away.

Security guard Stephen Tyrone Johns, shot down by extremist nutcase James von Brunn at the Holocaust Museum.

Okaloosa County sheriff's deputies Burt Lopez and Warren "Skip" York,
gunned down by right-wing nutcase Joshua Cartwright, who believed right-wing propaganda that President Obama was going to take his guns away.

Later in her column, Malkin asks:

From where does the deadened and deadly callousness toward the thin blue line come?

Oh, I dunno. Maybe it comes from conservatives like Michelle Malkin, who shriek and holler when mean "liberals" at the Department of Homeland Security issue an important bulletin to law-enforcement officers warning them of the threat posed by right-wing extremists to their health and well-being, crying that in doing so they're just "smearing conservatives."

Even though, as we pointed out, the report was an important heads up about the Richard Poplawskis out there:

The Department of Homeland Security more than likely couldn't give a rat's patoot about today's right-wing Tea Tantrums, because they're mostly exercises in futility and stupidity anyway.

But I'll tell you who they do care about: the people in uniform who go out every day and put their lives on the line to keep you and I and our families and neighborhoods safe -- that is, the men and women in law enforcement. People like those three officers in Pittsburgh, who had no reason to suspect a killer was about to ambush them.

A recent study by the National Consortium for the Study of Terrorism and Responses to Terrorism lays out in painful detail the very real threat that right-wing extremists pose to people in law enforcement:

Research led by Dr. Joshua D. Freilich (John Jay College, CUNY) and Dr. Steven Chermak (Michigan State University) and funded by the National Consortium for the Study of Terrorism and Responses to Terrorism (START) has revealed a violent history of fatal attacks against law enforcement officers in the United States by individuals who adhere to far-right ideology.

* In the United States, 42 law enforcement officers have been killed in 32 incidents in which at least one of the suspects was a far-rightist since 1990.

* 94% of these incidents involved local or state law enforcement. Only two events—high-profile attacks at Ruby Ridge and at the Murrah Building in Oklahoma City—involved federal agents. Much more common are events like the tragic Pittsburgh triple slayings.

* Attacks on police by far-rightists tend to occur during routine law enforcement activities. 34% of the officers killed by far-rightists were slain during a traffic stop, and a number of law enforcement officers have been killed while responding to calls for service similar to the domestic violence call that precipitated the Pittsburgh murders.

* Firearms were the most common type of weapon used during these fatal anti-police attacks. 88% of the incidents involved guns, while only 6% involved explosives and 6% involved knives. 81% of the victims were killed by guns.

* Only 12% of the suspects in these attacks were members of formal groups with far-right ideologies. The vast majority—like Poplawski—acted alone. This greatly complicates law-enforcement efforts to anticipate which individuals might pose a threat to police officers.

* Beyond these law enforcement murders, far-right violence presents a broader threat to national security and American citizens. Since 1990, far-rightists have been linked to more than 275 homicide incidents in 36 states. These crimes have resulted in the more than 530 fatalities, including the 168 victims murdered by Timothy McVeigh when he bombed the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building in Oklahoma City. The vast majority of these suspects are white and male, with almost 70% being 30 years old or younger.

Back then, Michelle couldn't be bothered to express even a scintilla of concern about the safety of law-enforcement officers:

This is where I wonder about the grotesquely skewed priorities of the conservative movement and its leading pundits. Because all the yammering has been fearmongering about the DHS potentially targeting ordinary conservatives -- especially VETERANS!!!! -- when in fact there is not a scintilla of evidence they have done so or are considering it.

Yet in the meantime, as we just pointed out, these right-wing extremists who are the subject and the raison d'etre of this bulletin are also known lethal threats for the men and women who work in law enforcement ...

So while the folks at Faux News fearmonger for the sake of yet-unharmed veterans and conservatives, they're completely turning their backs on the interests of the men and women who risk their lives each day serving as law-enforcement officers.

Yeah, well, that was then. This opportunity is now. Even if it means connecting Obama to the Oakland cop killings through Van Jones, just because he was a black nationalist from Oakland ... it's all about Michelle's agenda. Dead cops just make handy props for it.

We know this because on her next post, she argues that funding for public safety and health functions -- like, you know, police -- is the same thing as funding toxic assets:

Well, now the Democrats want to use it to bail out state governments and convert unused TARP bucks into…a government union slush fund.

Oh, Christmas tree, Oh, Christmas tree

U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D., Calif.) said Thursday that unused money in the Treasury Department’s financial rescue plan would be used to pay for a new job-creation package.

Pelosi said she favored using funds in the Troubled Asset Relief Program to finance initiatives aimed at kick-starting growth in the moribund jobs market.

In doing so, she effectively ruled out implementing a tax on financial transactions by banks and other financial institutions.

Pelosi said she still favored a tax in principle but the U.S. would have to work with other countries to implement such a levy.

So far, financial institutions have repaid around $71 billion of taxpayer money to the Treasury. That figure doesn’t include the $45 billion that Bank of America Corp. (BAC) said Wednesday it intends to repay.

Additionally, there is approximately $226.5 billion of the original $700 billion fund that either was never used by the Treasury or was earmarked for initiatives but not yet spent.

A senior aide to Pelosi said no decisions had been made as to which pot of money to use, or how big the final job-creation package would be.

He said House Democrats are talking to their counterparts in the Senate as well as in the Obama administration.

White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs said Thursday the administration is “actively looking at” ways to use the TARP program to help aid the labor market.

… Pelosi said serious thought is being given to investments in transportation infrastructure, seen by economists as one of the most efficient ways of creating jobs quickly.

She also said money could be used to preserve public-sector jobs such as firefighters, police and health-care providers.

The senior Pelosi aide said this would be distributed by bypassing state governments and providing funds directly to local or regional governments.

It’s the “inevitable lard-up” phenomenon I’ve been writing about since bailout-a-palooza began under the Bush administration.

Yeah, Michelle Malkin, champion of our police officers. Right.

Cross-posted at Crooks and Liars.