As soon as it became clear that the two suspects in the Boston bombing were legal immigrants from Dagestan, a mostly Muslim republic in Russia’s North Caucasus, opponents of comprehensive immigration reform went on the attack.
Purposely outrageous Republican columnist Ann Coulter tweeted, “It’s too bad Suspect # 1 won’t be able to be legalized by Marco Rubio, now.”
Christian conservative radio host Bryan Fischer didn’t bother with nuance: “I think we can safely say that Rubio’s amnesty plan is DOA. And should be. Time to tighten, not loosen, immigration policy.”
And Republican senator Chuck Grassley (R-IA), whose vote will help make or break any bill, made it clear that he feels the identity of the suspects should pause the momentum for reform.
“Given the events of this week, it’s important for us to understand the gaps and loopholes in our immigration system,” Grassley said. “While we don’t yet know the immigration status of the people who have terrorized the communities in Massachusetts, when we find out, it will help shed light on the weaknesses of our system.”
“How can individuals evade authorities and plan such attacks on our soil?” he continued. “How can we beef up security checks on people who wish to enter the U.S.? How do we ensure that people who wish to do us harm are not eligible for benefits under the immigration laws, including this new bill before us?”
Critics of the bill have been trying to figure out a way to slow or stop reform for months. And the suspects in Boston may have finally given them the opportunity they’ve been hoping for.
The Republican establishment is so sure that immigration reform is necessary for the future of the GOP that they recommended it specifically as part of its “Growth and Opportunity Project” autopsy rebranding. Rubio took the lead and negotiated a compromise with a bipartisan “Gang of Eight” that fit the president’s guidelines for reform while emphasizing the border security important to the Republican base.
Monday’s bombings slowed the rollout of the bill but an actual draft of the legislation was released late Tuesday.
Immediately far-right site Breitbart invented “MarcoPhones,” smearing Florida senator Marco Rubio (R-FL) with one of the right’s favorite attacks on President Obama during the 2012 election. It’s a claim as ridiculous and purposely mendacious as the Obamaphone slur — still, misinformation has a way of lingering on the right. Some Republicans criticized the site for cannibalizing one of their most popular politicians for pursuing an essential bill.
Despite the support from the party’s mainstream, Rubio’s attempts to sell the bill to Rush Limbaugh and other AM radio talkers didn’t go — to put it mildly — well.
Still most believed that this time was different — until the photos of the Boston bombing suspects led to a robbery and then a continuing manhunt that has the nation on edge.
As Americans winced at the violence, immigration reform’s opponents went on the attack.
One of the bill’s leading Democratic supporters, Senator Chuck Schumer (D-NY), pushed back Friday morning.
“I’d like to ask that all of us not jump to conclusions regarding events in Boston or conflate those events with this legislation,” he said. “In general, we’re a safer country when law enforcement knows who is here, has their fingerprints, photos, etcetera, conducted background checks … Two days ago, as you may recall, there was [sic] widespread erroneous reports of arrests being made. This just emphasizes how important it is to allow the actual facts to come out before jumping to any conclusions.”
The notoriously anti-immigrant Steve King (R-IA) made the case just hours after the blasts that the bombing on Patriots’ Day should halt reforms, surprising no one.
Rubio immediately responded, “We should really be very cautious about using language that links these two things in any way. We know very little about Boston other than that it was obviously an act of terror. We don’t know who carried it out or why they carried it out, and I would caution everyone to be very careful about linking the two.”
Now that the link is more easily made, Rubio doesn’t appear ready to retreat. The junior senator from Florida has launched a site to defend the reforms and his spokesman says that reform should continue despite the events in Boston.
Both he and his opponents recognize that the key moment for immigration reform has arrived. Whoever takes control of the argument now will likely decide the fate of those 11 million people waiting for an answer from Washington.
By: Jason Sattler, The National Memo, April 19, 2013
Earlier this month, Ann Coulter took to the airwaves of the Fox News network to denounce the dastardly machinations, large mendacity and mad villainy currently employed by the American president. Barack Obama was “a liar,” Coulter said, a “despicable campaigner” who once claimed the banner of “hope and change” but was now giving the American people “the ugliest campaign we’ve ever had.”
The wordsmith who gave us such nuanced disquisitions as “Demonic: How the Liberal Mob Is Endangering America” holding forth on civility must always be greeted with raucous laughter. But Coulter was actually variegating on a theme. On the same network, Senator John McCain accused the president of promising “hope and change” but actually running “the most negative, most unpleasant, most disgraceful campaign that I have ever observed.”
Obama is “the most divisive, nasty, negative campaigner that this country’s ever seen,” the head of the Republican National Committee claimed, and the party’s presumptive nominee, Mitt Romney, assured his followers that Obama was “going to do everything in his power to make this the lowest, meanest negative campaign in history.”
For those of us who remember the attacks on Obama in 2008, this is a notable shift. Four years ago the book on Obama was not that he would fight dirty but that he would not fight at all. Before Obama became the Great Deceiver of Men, he was a pinot-noir-sipping weakling who was a horrible bowler, marveled at arugula and otherwise failed at manhood. The gospel among Republicans, and even many Democrats, held that Obama was yet another espouser of effete liberalism, a tradition allegedly pioneered by Adlai Stevenson, elevated by Jimmy Carter, apotheosized by Michael Dukakis, and admirably upheld by a windsurfing John Kerry.
“There is in Obama something of the Democratic candidate for president in the 1950s, Adlai Stevenson,” wrote Dick Morris in 2008. Lest you miss what that “something” was, Morris’s column was titled “Obama’s Weakness Is Weakness.” National Review asserted that “Real Men Vote for McCain” and claimed that Obama “projects weakness” of the sort that was “an enticement to bad guys around the world.” In 2008 McCain asserted: “Senator Obama says that I’m running for Bush’s third term. It seems to me he’s running for Jimmy Carter’s second.” Early in Obama’s presidency, Coulter described Obama’s approach to Iran as “weak-kneed” and denounced him as a “scaredy-cat.” Surely such a man would see your all-American daughter sold to Ayman al-Zawahri and the Constitution replaced by Shariah law.
But a funny thing happened on the way to 2012. As it turns out, the ingesting of arugula in no way interferes with one’s ability to have Osama bin Laden shot. Mitt Romney may attack Obama for “apologizing for America” overseas. But the audience for that charge is thin. In polls, Obama consistently beats Romney on national security. A recent Ipsos/Reuters poll found Obama leading Romney on the issue 47 to 38 percent and the campaign against terrorism 50 to 35 percent.
Among the ranks of bullies, the only fair fight is the one that ends with them laughing and kicking sand. And so, no longer able to portray Obama as weak, the authors of Willie Horton, swift-boating and modern day poll-taxing have been reduced to other tactics — among them wildly yelping, “Please, Mr. President, nothing to the face.”
Arugula partisan that I am, I must admit to some glee here. Watching Obama campaign is like watching an irradiated Peter Parker spar with Flash Thompson. It is deceptively easy, for instance, to see Harry Reid’s smearing of Romney not as the unsubstantiated, unevidenced ambush that it is, but as revenge.
That way lies the abyss. I am not simply thinking of Senator Reid’s shadow war, but of the president’s. Obama’s tough guy bona fides were largely built on the expansive bombing campaign he launched against Al Qaeda, a campaign that regards due process and the avoidance of civilian casualties as indulgences.
Let us grant that the execution of Anwar al-Awlaki, said to be the mastermind behind the foiled underwear bomb plot, should not much trouble us. But surely the killing of his 16-year-old American-born son, Abdulrahman al-Awlaki, and the secrecy around both acts, should.
I like to think that the junior Awlaki’s (reportedly accidental) death weighs heavy on the president’s conscience. In fact that weight does nothing to change the net result — from this point forward the presidency means the right to unilaterally declare American citizens to be American enemies, and then kill them.
During the 2008 campaign, Barack Obama earned the G.O.P.’s mockery. Now he has earned their fear. It is an ambiguous feat, accomplished by going to the dark side, by walking the G.O.P.’s talk, by becoming the man Dick Cheney fashioned himself to be.
By: Ta-Nehisi Coates, Op Ed Guest Columnist, The New York Times, August 18, 2012
It did not generate the outrage that his offensive statements often do, probably just because it happened the day before July 4, but last Tuesday Rush Limbaugh made an inadvertently revealing statement. “When women got the right to vote is when it all went downhill because that’s when votes started being cast with emotion and maternal instincts that government ought to reflect,” said Limbaugh.
Limbaugh was not summarizing some serious new political science research. He was merely making assertions based on his own sexist stereotypes and the fact that women vote more Democratic than men.
The notion that women are less capable of controlling their biological weaknesses for the good of their country is often heard from right wing men. Newt Gingrich, who never served in the military, once said that women could not serve in combat because they would “get infections,” from living in ditches.
Limbaugh’s comment is also a reflection of Republican attitudes toward voting, and why they are so eager to trample voting rights. For another example, recall that Ann Coulter told the New York Observer in 2007, “If we took away women’s right to vote, we’d never have to worry about another Democrat president. It’s kind of a pipe dream, it’s a personal fantasy of mine.”
Limbaugh’s defense is that he was joking. But you never hear liberals joke that the world would be better if men or white people were not allowed to vote.
Republicans like Coulter and Limbaugh believe that groups who vote Democratic shouldn’t have the right to vote. The available mechanisms they are using, such as voter ID laws, target Democratic-leaning groups such as African-Americans, young people, city dwellers, and poor people. According to the Philadelphia Inquirer, “More than 758,000 registered voters in Pennsylvania do not have photo identification cards from the state Transportation Department, putting their voting rights at risk in the November election.” That’s 9.2 percent of Pennsylvania’s 8.2 million voters.
If there were a mechanism for disenfranchising women, the GOP would be pushing it.
By Ben Adler, The Nation, July 8, 2012
Whenever a conservative is the subject of national scorn — as Rush Limbaugh is today with his leering Dirty Old Man attacks on a lone college student or former Senate Majority Leader Trent Lott was a few years ago with his cheerleading for Dixiecrat racism — the Right Wing Noise Machine seamlessly swings into damage control mode.
One of the Right’s favorite tactics is to find some example, however tenuous, of liberals committing a similar offense that not only exonerates the earlier conservative outrage but also allows conservatives to call liberals hypocrites for their criticisms of them.
And thus, as New Republic’s Timothy Noah notes, with sponsors abandoning Rush Limbaugh’s golden microphone over his scandalous attacks on Sandra Fluke, all we are hearing from conservatives is that the liberal’s own record on civility is not squeaky clean.
Yet, as Noah says, “liberals get defined pretty broadly by the Right to include rappers, blogger Matt Taibbi calling Andrew Breitbart a “douche” in his obit, Keith Olbermann calling Michele Malkin a “mashed-up bag of meat with lipstick on it,” Bill Maher calling Sarah Palin a “cunt” and a “dumb twat,” and Ed Schultz calling Laura Ingraham a “slut.”
Pretty vile stuff. So, how is what Rush did to Fluke any different, conservatives want to know.
It’s different in two ways says Noah. First, he says, “all of the people who were subjected to verbal abuse by the liberal- or left-leaning blowhards and smart-asses mentioned above are public figures.”
And because they are public figures they are presumably accustomed to attacks like these and have the means to defend themselves.
Second, says Noah, none of the liberal media personalities cited by conservatives “is so feared by President Obama or any other Democrat that said Democrat would hesitate to criticize him if the occasion warranted it.
“That isn’t necessarily because Democrats “are braver people,” says Noah. “It’s because there is no rapper or liberal or leftist commentator or talk-radio host or comedian who commands anything equivalent to the knuckle-dragging army of haters that Limbaugh leads on the right.”
And this leads me to the more important point that Noah might have missed: The real difference is that right wing conservatives benefit from Limbaugh’s tirades in ways that liberals do not from the misbehavior of their favorite media personalities.
This is why Ed Schulz was able to take himself off the air without pay for a week for his momentary lapse of judgment and ill-considered remark about Ingraham while Limbaugh is constitutionally incapable of apologizing for three days of continuous attacks against a lone, brave college student. His business model won’t allow it.
All of those sad and lonely guys, pissed off at their wives and girlfriends, driving around in their pick-up trucks or SUV and shouting “hell yeah” whenever Limbaugh takes off after women, would lose all respect for Rush if he ever backed down. So he can’t. And that is why his “apology” to Ms. Fluke was no apology at all but was instead a rather badly disguised attack on the left, which he said would never bully one of its own the way they bullied him.
Apologies are usually delibered with humility not hubris. But this is just one manifestation of the difference between liberal and conservative media in which liberals are merely audiences for their media while conservatives are citizens of theirs — whether it’s Fox “Nation,” Hannity’s “America,” Rush Limbaugh’s “Dittohead Nation.”
Conservative media are about creating a new political party and a new nation not merely a ratings demographic. That is why conservative media figures always respond to criticisms from the left by citing the size of their audience — my tribe is bigger than your tribe so I must be right.
Thus, conservative media is culture-changing in ways that liberal media isn’t. So don’t expect Republicans to sign petitions to boycott Limbaugh’s program anytime soon because there is method to Limbaugh’s madness.
The reason Republicans don’t attack Limbaugh for his outrageous remarks is not so much that they fear his retribution (which they do) but that he makes it easier for the Koch Brothers and other Republican Oligarchs to plant the seeds of their “survival of the fittest” conservative dogmas in the scorched earth of anger and hatred and bigotry that Limbaugh — and Coulter and Hannity and O’Reilly — have plowed for them with outrageous smears just like this that serve to coarsen our political culture.
A liberal society — and by extension a liberal social program with the taxes on the rich that go with it — cannot survive in a harsh climate where empathy and compassion are dirty words that stand for values which have been obliterated altogether. And that is why Limbaugh and the others make the big bucks.
By: Ted Frier, Open Salon Blog, Salon, March 8, 2012
For a number of years, Patrick J. Buchanan was considered “The Man” in the conservative movement; he took a back seat to no one. He ran for the GOP’s presidential nomination and attracted a large following; he hosted and appeared on several cable news shows, including being one of the original co-hosts of CNN’s “Crossfire”; his books have been bestsellers; and, perhaps most famously of all, Buchanan’s “Culture War Speech” at the 1992 Republican Party convention both enthralled his followers and chilled a good part of the rest of the nation.
In a recent column about the events in Norway, after a perfunctory condemnation of the bombing and murder spree unleashed by Anders Behring Breivik, Buchanan was classic Buchanan suggesting that, “Breivik may be right.”
Over the years, as Jamison Foser recently pointed out at Media Matters for America, Buchanan has expressed an, “almost unbelievable dislike of Nelson Mandela and Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr.”; took up the cause of John Demjanuk, who was”convicted earlier this year of complicity in the murder of tens of thousands of Jews while serving at a Nazi death camp”; defended the white supremacists beliefs of Nixon’s Supreme Court nominee, Harold Carswell; and,”praised Klansman David Duke for his staunch opposition to ‘discrimination against white folks.’”
In a June column posted at CNSNews.com, titled “Say Goodbye to Los Angeles”, Buchanan commented on the June soccer match at Pasadena’s storied Rose Bowl that saw the Mexican team beat the U.S. He wrote that fans rooting for Mexico should consider returning there and they should”let someone take his place who wants to become an American.”
Buchanan pointed out that “By 2050, according to Census figures, thanks to illegals crossing over and legalized mass immigration, the number of Hispanics in the U.S.A. will rise from today’s 50 million to 135 million.” Never one to miss an opportunity to be excessively dramatic/hyperbolic, Buchanan concluded: “Say goodbye to Los Angeles. Say goodbye to California.”
When Pat Buchanan spoke, many may have turned their heads, but his core audience, anti-immigrant, white nationalists perked up and listened, and later echoed his remarks.
Despite the reams of “culture war” commentary, including anti-immigrant, anti-Semitic and anti-gay rage, for some inexplicable reason, the Washington Beltway crowd has always considered him”a good old boy.”
“A cutting edge figure among a significant sector of extreme paleoconservatives”
“Although Buchanan doesn’t have the influence he did in the 1990s when he commanded a following inside the Republican Party, he remains an influential, even cutting edge figure among a significant sector of extreme paleoconservatives,” Leonard Zeskind, president of the Institute for Research & Education on Human Rights told me in a telephone interview.
“His ideas may not be adopted outright, but they find their way into the mouths of others, that do have a following,” Zeskind, author of the invaluable Blood and Politics: The History of the White Nationalist Movement from the Margins to the Mainstream, added. “Think of him as a cutting edge figure, with a following on television news and an influence on others who have larger followings,” said Zeskind.
Buchanan Hearts Breivik
Buchanan’s column about Breivik may in part be an attempt to grasp renewed relevance. The piece, “A fire bell in the night for Norway,”which was posted at WorldNetDaily, maintained that Breivik is an, ” evil … though deluded man of some intelligence, who in his 1,500-page manifesto reveals a knowledge reveals a knowledge of the history, culture and politics of Europe.” Breivik, perhaps unknown to Buchanan, also revealed an ability to purloin a chunk of the manifesto from other published sources and claim them as his own.
“He admits to his ‘atrocious’ but ‘necessary’ crimes, done, he says, to bring attention to his ideas and advance his cause: a Crusader’s war between the real Europe and the ‘cultural Marxists’ and Muslims they invited in to alter the ethnic character and swamp the culture of the Old Continent,” Buchanan maintained.
Now that the “atrocious” deed has been done, Buchanan is, as many other conservatives have been doing, attempting to disassociate Breivik from the conservative movement in the United States and Europe: “His writings are now being mined for references to U.S. conservative critics of multiculturalism and open borders. Purpose: Demonize the American right, just as the berserker’s attack on Rep. Gabrielle Giffords in Tucson was used to smear Sarah Palin and Timothy McVeigh’s Oklahoma City bombing was used to savage Rush Limbaugh and conservative critics of Big Government.”
But, Buchanan wrote, the left will not get away with “guilt by association,” a methodology Buchanan charged, “has been used by the left since it sought to tie the assassination of JFK by a Marxist from the Fair Play for Cuba Committee to the political conservatism of the city of Dallas.”
While Buchanan admitted that there are, “violent actors or neo-Nazis on the European right who bear watching,” he declared that “native-born and homegrown terrorism is not the macro-threat to the continent.”
According to Buchanan,”Europe’s left will encounter difficulty in equating criticism of multiculturalism with neo-Nazism. For Angela Merkel of Germany, Nicolas Sarkozy of France and David Cameron of Britain have all declared multiculturalism a failure. From votes in Switzerland to polls across the continent, Europeans want an end to the wearing of burqas and the building of prayer towers in mosques.”
Buchanan concluded by pointing out that “Breivik may be right,” in asserting that “a climactic conflict between a once-Christian West and an Islamic world that is growing in numbers and advancing inexorably into Europe for the third time in 14 centuries,” is coming down the pike.
Buchananism “will live long after [he] has departed this mortal coil’.
“Buchanan’s brand of Christian nationalist xenophobia has been picked up by others, guaranteeing it will live on long after Buchanan has departed this mortal coil,” Rob Boston, Senior Policy Analyst at Americans United, told me in an email. “That’s his true legacy. … The trail he blazed is now well traveled by Ann Coulter, Sean Hannity, Glenn Beck, Rush Limbaugh, Dinesh D’Souza and a host of others.”
Boston noted that: “The Breivik shooting is a textbook example of what’s wrong with today’s cultural warriors of the far right. An angry and hate-filled man killed more than 70 people — many of them young — in cold blood. Yet so many on the right seem unable to condemn this without adding a ‘but.’ That we have come to this pass — and that so few public commentators have the guts to stand up and call the right out for the cranks that they are — is a telling indicator of the great moral confusion these so-called guardians of public virtue have spawned.”
Leonard Zeskind pointed out that while Buchanan is not the Buchanan of the past, he still has a following: “Even if he does not have three million votes behind him, he still has [many] people who listen to [him] everyday. At the same time, he has been eclipsed by the Tea Partiers, who embody, in part, his constituency of yesteryear.
The Tea Partiers are the Buchananites of the past, moving into the future.”
By: Bill Berkowitz, Talk To Action, AlterNet, August 5, 2011