"Do or Do not. There is no try."

“Moses, Jesus And Louie”: The Confessing Church Of The Christian Right

Another day, another Louie Gohmert outrage, and another use of Nazi analogies by a Christian Right pol. Nothing to see here, right?

Well, there is one thing I’d like to point out in the context of Gohmert taking to the House floor to complain that gay rights advocates are behaving like Nazis in calling him and people like him “haters” (as reported by TPM’s Tom Kludt). Yes, part of the reason Christian Right types like to use Nazi analogies is that they seem so very apt to those who believe or claim to believe zygotes are exactly like you and me, and thus that legalized abortion (or even post-fertilization forms of birth control) represents a “Holocaust” unlike anything the world has seen since Hitler. But Gohmert’s Nazification of the argument over same-sex marriage puts the spotlight less on his tormenters than on himself and other brave defenders of traditional marriage.

It is amazing that in the name of liberality, in the name of being tolerant, this fascist intolerance has arisen. People that stand up and say, you know, I agree with the majority of Americans, I agree with Moses and Jesus that marriage was a man and a woman, now all of a sudden, people like me are considered haters, hate mongers, evil, which really is exactly what we’ve seen throughout our history as going back to the days of the Nazi takeover in Europe. What did they do? First, they would call people “haters” and “evil” and build up disdain for those people who held those opinions or religious views or religious heritage. And then the next came, well, those people are so evil and hateful, let’s bring every book that they’ve written or has to do with them and let’s start burning the books, because we can’t tolerate their intolerance.

Not even Gohmert is dumb enough to call marriage equality advocates “Nazis,” given, among other things, the murderous behavior of the actual Nazis towards gay people (they also violently opposed abortion, at least among Aryans, but that’s another matter). But what he really wants to do is to claim the mantle of the Confessing Church Christians who opposed the Nazis (hardly anything like a majority of Christians in Germany, BTW, particularly in the case of conservative Christians) out of fidelity to their faith.

This is an old habit in the Christian Right, and an ideal way to turn the tables and pose as conscience-wracked Here-I-Stand dissenters against power instead of defenders of patriarchy and privilege, and with them the enormous power of the status quo ante (or what Chesterton once called “the democracy of the dead”), a power that’s ruled daily life for millennia. Standing up for “your principles” is a lot more attractive than standing up for the day-before-yesterday and oppressing anyone who gets uppity. So of course you want to go there again and again, and if you are Louie Gohmert, why not? Nobody but those guilty of “fascist intolerance” will object.


By: Ed Kilgore, Contributing Writer, Washington Monthly Political Animal, May 9, 2014

May 11, 2014 Posted by | Christian Right, Louie Gohmert | , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

“Can The Kochs Hold Back History?”: You Can Buy A Lie, But You Can’t Make That Lie The Truth

For a time, the press lord William Randolph Hearst did everything in his vast powers to keep the film “Citizen Kane” from finding an audience. He intimidated theater owners, refused to let ads run in his newspapers, and even pressured studio sycophants to destroy the negative.

At first, the titan of San Simeon had his way: the film faded from view after a splashy initial release. But over the years, “Citizen Kane” came to be recognized for the masterpiece it is, and now regularly tops lists as the greatest film ever made.

The modern equivalent of Hearst is the Koch Brothers, David and Charles — known without affection as the Kochtopus. On certain days, depending on the stock market, their combined worth is more than any single American’s, somewhere around $80 billion.

They have used a big part of this fortune to attack the indisputable science on climate change, to buy junk scholars, to promote harmful legislation at the state level, to go after clean, renewable energy like solar, and to try to kill the greatest expansion of health care in decades. Money can’t buy love, but it certainly can cause a lot of havoc.

Yet, while these billionaire industrialists may win in the short term — the Republican Party, their toady, is likely to pick up seats in the House and may take control of the Senate as well — in the larger fight against progress and modernity the Kochs have already lost. Clean energy is here to stay, and no sane political party would try to take away the health care of eight million fellow Americans.

Check that — they’ll try in both instances. According to one study, the Kochs have already spent $61 million on various front groups dedicated to the flat-earth proposition that the globe is not warming. But so far, the only return on that investment is a cohort of people flopping around in the waters of stupidity. About 44 percent of Republicans and 70 percent of Tea Party-leaning voters believe there is no solid evidence that the earth is getting warmer, according to the Pew Research Center.

Now, this is not 70 percent who think Donald Duck is really a platypus, though in a way it is. This is 70 percent who have been convinced that the actual hard numbers, that 9 of the 10 warmest years on record have occurred in this century, are a hoax. It’s like saying, No, it was not 75 degrees in Atlanta yesterday — that’s just your view.

What this shows is that you can buy a lie, but you can’t make that lie the truth. Over the last nine months, three exhaustive studies have shown that climate change is happening now, and will continue to unfold in real time, with record droughts in the American West, rising seas along the Atlantic coast, and global megastorms so catastrophic they will divert CNN from the missing plane. The climate experts in these studies are the gold standard — from places like the National Academy of Sciences and the Royal Society. They are not political hacks looking to spin something.

So, the real Sisyphean struggle for the Kochs is against science itself. With the fight against solar — and other alternatives to the carbon-based source of the brothers’ wealth — the Kochs are up against market forces and the inevitability of an idea whose time has come. Across the nation, homeowners with solar have taken advantage of incentives that allow them to sell power they don’t need back to the grid. They get the citizen satisfaction of doing their own small part to reduce emissions, but they also get to tell a big corporate or government entity to stuff it. Once you’ve shown people they can be their own electrical utility, you’ve unleashed something that will be very hard to take away.

The Kochs, whose industries are among the nation’s biggest corporate polluters, are currently funding stealth campaigns to roll back incentives for clean energy. What they’re running up against are American do-it-yourselfers. The future of solar is now, with every homeowner tinkering on a roof, every company looking for tomorrow technology, every market improvement that brings the cost down and effectiveness up.

With their fight against health care, the Kochs are bumping into another wall of inconvenient truths. Not only has Obamacare exceeded expectations for sign-ups in the first year, but it’s projected now to cover more people over 10 years — 25 million — and cost $104 billion less than previously forecast, according to the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office.

A study by the Annals of Internal Medicine found, in looking at the Massachusetts model for Obamacare, that expanding health insurance appeared to save many lives. Duh. But extrapolated from this report for the nation as a whole, you can make a case that the Affordable Care Act will prevent 24,000 deaths a year. Put another way, about 6,000 people a year will die in red states that refuse to expand Medicaid under Obamacare. There are your death panels.

The Kochs also had funding ties to a campaign to persuade young people not to sign up for health care, hoping to sabotage it with beer parties and scare ads of a creepy Uncle Sam looking at a woman in an examining room. No surprise, the kids saw through it. More than enough millennials got coverage — so many, that premiums may fall in the coming sign-up period.

Next year, the Kochs will have a Congress loaded with crackpots ready to serve their agenda. There will be show hearings, bills will be introduced, meaningless votes will be taken. In the end, health care and clean energy will march on. The Kochs, to close with another film reference, will be like Harold Lloyd in one of the great scenes from the silent movie era — hanging from the hands of a giant clock. It may cost them half a billion dollars to learn that they can’t stop time.


By: Timothy Egan, Contributing O-Ed Writer, The New York Times, May 8, 2014

May 11, 2014 Posted by | Clean Energy, Climate Change, Koch Brothers | , , , , , , | 2 Comments

“Uniformly Angry And Outraged”: Meet Trey Gowdy, GOP Benghazi Attack Dog

Since House Speaker John Boehner announced the creation of a select committee to investigate the Benghazi affair, Republicans have been saying it will be a serious investigation, while Democrats have been saying it will be a partisan circus. To get a sense of who might be right, I spent some time watching YouTube videos of Rep. Trey Gowdy, the heretofore obscure second-term Tea Party congressman from South Carolina whom Boehner named to lead the committee.

There are a lot of these videos of Gowdy in congressional hearings, posted by conservatives, with titles like “Gowdy DESTROYS Obama Admin Stooge!” He’s obviously very popular among the base. To call Gowdy prosecutorial would be an understatement. Uniformly angry and outraged, these videos show Gowdy always seemingly on the verge of shouting, he’s so damn mad. Like any good lawyer, he never asks a question to which he doesn’t already know the answer. But when a witness gives him an answer other than the one he expects, he repeats his question at a slightly louder volume and angrier pitch, as though the question hadn’t actually been answered.

This is a good example, in which Gowdy blasts the director of the National Park Service for closing national memorials during the government shutdown, thereby allowing Republicans to stage a photo op in which they proclaimed their solidarity with veterans wanting to go to the memorials. You’ll recall that it was Tea Partiers like Gowdy who pushed for the government shutdown in the first place; this was a lame attempt to somehow shift blame onto the Obama administration for the shutdown, one that didn’t work. Instead of thanking the director for making their photo op possible, Gowdy angrily demands that the director tell him the statute that allows him to put barricades around the memorials and prevent our fine veterans from entering them. The director cites the statute that covers the procedures the Park Service is supposed to follow during a shutdown. Gowdy was apparently expecting the director to say, “I have no idea” or evade the question, so he asks the question a couple more times as though it were being evaded. If you didn’t speak English, you’d probably think this tough prosecutor has really got this witness on the ropes:

Which tells you why Gowdy got picked for this job. John Boehner is doing this for the base, and the base wants someone who will channel the anger and contempt they feel for Barack Obama, Hillary Clinton, and the rest of the administration. Gowdy, a former prosecutor, is already referring to this enterprise not as an investigation but as a “trial,” making clear that he sees his job not as finding the truth but as convicting the accused. And for someone who has supposedly been obsessed with Benghazi, he doesn’t seem to have much of a grasp on what the multiple investigations of the issue have already revealed. So what we’re likely to see is a lot of desk-pounding, a lot of “Answer the damn question!”, and not much (or any) wrongdoing actually uncovered.

Of course, I’m assuming that there isn’t actually some bombshell revelation just waiting to be discovered. I’m pretty sure I’m on firm ground on that one, though. And it’s possible that Gowdy will lead a professional, sober, thorough investigation that will win him kudos from all observers, regardless of their ideology. But a professional, sober, thorough investigation isn’t what his party’s base really wants. They want to see members of the Obama administration squirm in the witness chair. They want some fireworks. And Trey Gowdy is just the man to give it to them.


By: Paul Waldman, Contributing Editor, The American Prospect, May 9, 2014

May 11, 2014 Posted by | Benghazi, John Boehner | , , , , , , | 1 Comment

“The Voter Fraud Mouse That Roared”: Republicans Laying Land Mines Around The Ballot Box To Discourage Voting

As we all know, the tide of voter ID and other measures to restrict the franchise is typically justified by its conservative proponents as necessary to combat a vast threat of voter fraud. In most court cases involving individual state laws,voter fraud enthusiasts have been found to come to the table of justice empty-handed. Even more famously, a five-year nationwide effort by the Bush administration’s Justice Department to discover and prosecute voter fraud produced 120 indictments and 86 convictions. Wow.

But now, Iowa’s secretary of state–who is running for Congress–put the pedal to the metal in a voter fraud investigation in that hyper-political state, and is boasting of dramatic findings, as reported by the Des Moines Register‘s John Noble:

Iowa Secretary of State Matt Schultz’s two-year investigation into voter fraud found evidence of 117 illegally cast votes, led to charges against 27 suspected fraudulent voters and has resulted in six criminal convictions, according to a report released Thursday.

Those results justified the unprecedented partnership between the state’s top election official and the state’s Division of Criminal Investigation, as well as the nearly $250,000 cost of the effort, Schultz, a Republican, said.

“The takeaway is that there are people who voted who weren’t supposed to,” he said. “This is a situation where we tried to do something about it. I think it was the right thing to do and I stand by that.”

Critics have called the investigation a misuse of federal funds intended to expand access to voting and charged that the six convictions prove that voter fraud is a miniscule problem in a state where statewide voter turnout frequently exceeds 1 million.

In some cases, the investigations found more evidence of unjustified denial of voting rights than of voter fraud:

Investigators scrutinized 68 felons who were suspected of registering and voting when their rights hadn’t been restored. Those investigations yielded 16 charges brought by local prosecutors. The effort also identified 20 former felons whose rights should have been restored but had been denied at the ballot box. All 20 have since had their rights restored.

This is almost certainly the best conservatives can do in documenting voter fraud, with a public official making this his signature issue and bending every resource available to the Cause. Schultz is a very persistent mouse, and he’ll continue to roar about his success in exposing the terrible plague of voter fraud. But in the large context of efforts to lay land mines around the ballot box and discourage voting, his squeaks are not persuasive.


By: Ed Kilgore, Contributing Writer, Washington Monthly Political Animal, May 9, 2014

May 11, 2014 Posted by | Voter Fraud, Voter ID, Voting Rights | , , , , , | Leave a comment

“There’s No There There”: How Fox News Dresses Up Extreme Right-Wing Conspiracy Theories as News

The Benghazi blueprint matches up right down to the fact that there’s no there there, in terms of a criminal White House cover up. It “doesn’t add up to much of a scandal,” wrote Michael Hirsh at Politico this week, reviewing the facts of Benghazi to date. “But it’s already too late for the truth. Benghazi has taken on a cultural life of its own on the right.” He added, “Benghazi has become to the 2010s what Vince Foster” was in the 1990s.

Foster was the then-deputy White House counsel who committed suicide in Northern Virginia’s Fort Marcy Park on July 20, 1993, not far from Washington, D.C. His suicide, which sparked controversy when the so-called Clinton Crazies accused the president and his wife of being part of a plot to murder their friend (he knew too much!), quickly become shorthand for the type of despicable claims that were so casually lobbed in the 1990s.

Looking ahead to Hillary Clinton’s possible 2016 presidential run, Hirsh wrote that the “Benghazi-Industrial Complex is going to be as toxic as anything Hillary has faced since … Vince Foster.”

The analogy is a strong and a factual one. But in trying to understand what’s happening today with the ceaseless, two-year Benghazi propaganda campaign, a blitz that’s utterly lacking in factual support, it’s important to understand how the media game has changed between the Vince Foster era and today. Specifically, it’s important to understand what’s different and more dangerous about the elaborate and irresponsible gotcha games that Republicans now play in concert with the right-wing media. (Hint: The games today get way more coverage.)

Here’s what’s key: Twenty years ago the far-right Foster tale was told mostly from the fringes. Word was spread via emerging online bulletin boards, snail mail pamphlets, faxed newslettersself-published exposes, and VCR tapes, like “The Clinton Chronicles,” which portrayed the president as a one-man crime syndicate involved in drug-running, prostitution, murder, adultery, money laundering, and obstruction of justice, just to name a few.

At the top of the Foster-feeding pyramid stood the New York Post, Rush Limbaugh’s radio show (“Vince Foster was murdered in an apartment owned by Hillary Clinton”), and Robert Bartley’s team of writers at the Wall Street Journal editorial page, who spent eight years lost in a dense, Clinton-thick fog.

Notice the hole in that ‘90s media menu? Television. Specifically, 24-hour television.

Now, fast-forward to the never-ending Benghazi feast of outrage. Today, that far-right tale is amplified via every single conservative media outlet in existence, and is powered by the most-watched 24-hour cable news channel in America. A news channel that long ago threw away any semblance of accountability.

So yes, Fox News is what’s changed between 1994 and 2014, and Fox News is what has elevated Benghazi from a fringe-type “scandal” into the pressing issue adopted by the Republican Party today. (“Benghazi” has been mentioned approximately 1,000 times on Fox since May 1, according to

Remember, Rupert Murdoch’s all-news channel didn’t debut in America until October 1996 when it launched with just 17 million subscribers. (Today it boasts 90 millions subs.) And for the first few years it generally delivered a conservative slant on the news. It didn’t function as a hothouse of fabrications the way it does today.

Now, Fox acts as a crucial bridge between the radical and the everyday. Fox gives a voice and a national platform to the same type of deranged, hard-core haters who hounded the new, young Democratic president in the early 1990s. Fox embraces and helps legitimize the kind of conspiratorial talk that flourished back then but mostly on the sidelines. The Murdoch channel has moved derangement into the mainstream of Republican politics.

By making the Foster comparison, I’m not downplaying how Republicans and the president’s dedicated detractors irresponsibly flogged the Foster story for years. It stood as one of the most rancid examples of the politics of personal destruction that defined the Clinton era. (The Foster family begged, to no avail, for an end to the use of “outrageous innuendo and speculation for political ends.”)

But given how vast the right-wing noise machine apparatus has expanded since the 1990s, I’m suggesting that if that same type of event unfolded under the current Democratic president and if Fox News decided to hype the story, regardless of facts, for ten, twenty, or thirty months, the scandal wouldn’t be treated as a fleeting affair. In other words, if Vince Foster truly were the ’90s equivalent of Benghazi, it would have received mountains of more media attention, from all corners.

Fact: During Clinton’s eight years in office, the New York Times published less than 30 news articles and columns that mentioned Foster at least three times, according to Nexis. By comparison, since the terror attack in Libya 20 months ago, the Times has published more than 250 hundred articles and columns that mentioned “Benghazi” three or more times.

That’s what happens when you add the mighty medium of television into the all-scandal mix. That kind of drumbeat of televised phony outrage forces and/or encourages Republican politicians to respond, as well as the mainstream media.

Meanwhile, how do we know Fox would’ve gone all in on the dark Foster story? Because in the mid-’90s Fox chief Roger Ailes, then programming CNBC, told Don Imus that Foster’s death could have been a murder. At the time, Ailes didn’t have the influence or the independence to unleash NBC-owned financial news channel on a reckless Vince Foster witch-hunt. But he certainly would have if he’d been running today’s hyper-partisan, hyper-irresponsible version of Fox News.

Also, even years after the ugly Foster smear campaign faded, Fox talkers like Sean Hannity push the lies:

In 2007, Fox News host Sean Hannity hosted a special episode on the “mysterious death” of Foster, hinting that the Clintons might have pulled off “a massive cover-up.”

So yes, I’m pretty sure today’s Fox News would have eagerly endorsed the sordid Foster affair, relentlessly demanding that “unanswered questions” be addressed and that sweeping investigations be launched. That in turn, would have forced Republicans into action, which would have sparked endless mainstream news coverage.

That’s what happens when televised propaganda is added to the media scandal mix; the megaphone’s much bigger, much louder, and in many ways much more dangerous.


By: Eric Boehlert, Senior Fellow, Media Matters, May 8, 2014

May 11, 2014 Posted by | Benghazi, Conservative Media, Fox News | , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

%d bloggers like this: