mykeystrokes.com

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

“Failing To Deliver The Goods”: With Clinton Exonerated, Conspiracy Theorists Turn On Trey Gowdy

With the Republicans’ Benghazi Committee uncovering no meaningful new information, and with the panel’s investigation effectively exonerating Hillary Clinton, right-wing conspiracy theorists this week had no choice but to give up and find a new hobby.

No, I’m just kidding. They’re actually redirecting their ire towards Benghazi Committee Chairman Trey Gowdy (R-S.C.).

Just yesterday, I predicted that some conservatives would turn on Gowdy, in whom they’d invested so much hope. The far-right South Carolinian was supposed to bury, not exonerate, Hillary Clinton, I wrote, and his inability to deliver a useful campaign weapon will likely be seen as both a failure and a betrayal.

A few hours later, far-right radio personality Michael Savage told his audience, “Trey Gowdy should be impeached for wasting my time! He promised us a lot! Remember?” (Members of Congress can be expelled, but not impeached, under the U.S. Constitution.)

Of course, Savage isn’t alone. The Washington Post’s Dana Milbank explained today that “conspiracy-minded” conservatives are blaming Gowdy “for failing to deliver the goods.” There was a meeting yesterday of the “Citizens’ Commission on Benghazi,” where members agreed the far-right South Carolinian let them down by failing to confirm their beliefs.

A woman in the crowd floated a new Benghazi conspiracy. “Has someone in the GOP leadership gotten their fingers involved in watering down some of this to benefit Secretary Clinton?” she asked. Nobody rebutted this idea.

Herein lies a lesson for Republicans who are perpetually trying to appease the far right: It’s a fool’s errand. They went to the tea party – and now they’re taking Donald Trump to the prom. Likewise, then-House Speaker John Boehner named the Benghazi committee because activists were dissatisfied that seven previous congressional investigations had failed to uncover major scandal material. Now an eighth has produced more of the same – and the agitators are as agitated as ever.

There’s a certain twisted logic to this. The unhinged right starts with the ideologically satisfying answer – President Obama and Hillary Clinton are guilty of horrible Benghazi-related wrongdoing – and then works backwards, looking for “proof” that matches the conclusion. When their ostensible allies fail to tell these activists what they want to hear, they could reevaluate their bogus assumptions, but it’s vastly easier to believe Republicans have let them down.

Wait, it gets worse.

As Milbank reported, a former Ted Cruz adviser complained yesterday that Gowdy “did not draw a connection between the dots.” And why not? According to retired Gen. Thomas McInerney, the Benghazi Committee chairman “had his reasons – political” for holding back.

McInerney “speculated that congressional leadership had approved ‘black operations’ to run weapons from Benghazi to Islamic State forces in Syria.”

This is what it’s come to: Benghazi conspiracy theorists are so creative, and so unmoved by evidence or reason, that they can convince themselves that congressional Republicans are in on the conspiracy.

As Donald Trump and his allies try to incorporate ridiculous Benghazi rhetoric into their 2016 platform, keep in mind who his unhinged allies are.

 

By: Steve Benen, The Maddow Blog, July 1, 2016

July 1, 2016 Posted by | Hillary Clinton, House Select Committee on Benghazi, Trey Gowdy | , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

“A Hatred That Will Not Fade”: Why Republicans Are Still Losing Their Minds Over Bill Clinton’s Sex Life

Donald Trump is very, very excited to talk about Bill Clinton’s sexual history, and he’s not alone. Stroll around the conservative media universe, from Breitbart to Drudge to Limbaugh, and you’d almost think Clinton was still president and the most urgent task faced by the right was discrediting him. And judging from the people sending angry missives my way via email and social media (not a representative sample of anything, but still suggestive), the outright rage against both Bill and Hillary Clinton burns as bright as it ever did.

It’s too early to say whether this will turn out to be a momentary issue, filling up a week or two of the primary campaign and then disappearing. But I doubt it, because that anger is real. The conservatives who were around during the 1990s don’t loathe Bill Clinton any less than they ever did, and the prospect of his wife becoming president is bringing all those feelings to the fore.

For the purposes of this article, I won’t be assessing the veracity of anyone’s accusations against Bill Clinton, which is perhaps a worthy topic of discussion but one for another day. I’m interested in what the issue tells us about where we are now and where we might be going. This was touched off by Donald Trump when he responded to Hillary Clinton saying he has a penchant for sexism by firing back that she can’t talk because her husband mistreated women. Though Trump didn’t seem to care much about Clinton’s sex life 20 years ago, this was like firing a starting gun, with old accusations remade and old feelings renewed.

To understand this, it’s important to remember how conservatives felt about Bill Clinton when he was president. It wasn’t just that they disliked him personally and disagreed with his policies. Many political opponents also found Clinton infuriating, exasperating, maddening. With that easy charm and that ready smile and that silver tongue, they thought he was as phony as could be. It wasn’t just that they found him dishonest, or that he always played it close to the ethical line. It was that again and again, he got away with it. Every time they thought they had him in their clutches, he’d manage to slip free.

The Monica Lewinsky affair, culminating in impeachment, was the apotheosis of this pattern, the ne plus ultra Clinton scandal. Republicans were sure they had him — for Pete’s sake, he had an affair with a 20-something intern right there in the White House! Surely the public would finally see the true nature of his villainy and turn away from him in disgust once and for all. But even then, Clinton escaped — and not only that, Republicans were the ones who ended up condemned by the public, and Clinton left office two years later with boffo approval ratings. It was enough to make you lose your mind.

And so many of them did, even those who didn’t travel through the fever swamps where no conspiracy theory about Clinton was too outlandish to believe (there were prominent political figures who sincerely thought that Clinton ran a vast drug-smuggling operation as governor of Arkansas and had murdered dozens of his political opponents and allies). When Clinton waltzed out of office, all they were left with was their frustration, disappointment, and a hatred that would not fade.

The frustration wouldn’t dissipate as long as Hillary Clinton, whom they always hated nearly as much, could one day become president. Now they have a new story to tell: Not only was Bill Clinton a serial abuser of women, but Hillary Clinton was no victim at all, but rather an active participant in his reign of terror, enabling and covering up his crimes.

This is an appealing story for conservatives with long memories, for multiple reasons. It’s not because their concern for women is so profound, and it’s not because they’ve made a careful strategic assessment that this issue is likely to significantly wound Hillary Clinton’s presidential bid (it probably won’t). What raising this issue does is allow them to fight that old battle again, to say that when they were mocked for their Clinton Derangement Syndrome, they were right all along and Bill Clinton was worse than everyone thought. And unlike things like Hillary’s emails or Benghazi, it allows them to wage a frontal assault on both Clintons at the same time.

The media environment today is far different than it was when opponents helped build what Hillary so famously referred to as the “vast right-wing conspiracy.” The start-up costs for such a conspiracy have been reduced to almost nothing, and accusations that 20 years ago had to be carefully nurtured if they were to spread will today move through the ecosystem in a matter of minutes. But at the same time, the unity of focus that characterized the right in those days is more difficult to sustain when so many people have the ability to move the agenda in one direction or another.

So those who want nothing more than to keep everyone’s attention on Bill Clinton’s sexual history won’t have an easy task before them. And just as before, their hatred, their mania, and their sheer desperation will probably turn them into their own worst enemies. And the Clintons will escape yet again.

 

By: Paul Waldman, Senior Writer, The American Prospect; Contributor, The Week, January 8, 2015

January 10, 2016 Posted by | Bill and Hillary Clinton, Conservative Media, Conservatives | , , , , , | 2 Comments

“Denying Extremists Another Recruiting Opportunity”: Kid Gloves For Homegrown Extremists Are Part Of A Strategy

Soon after a bunch of white guys with guns holed up at the Malheur Wildlife Refuge in Oregon in protest against the federal government, wags took to social media to deride them.

“Y’all Qaeda,” “YeeHawdists” and “Vanilla ISIS” are some of the clever put-downs circulating on Twitter.

Critics also decried what they perceive as a double standard in the seeming lack of response from law enforcement. If the gun-toting men were black or Muslim, went the typical argument, they would have incurred the full, militarized wrath of law enforcement.

So it might appear, but if you think law enforcement agencies are being deferential out of fear, you couldn’t be more wrong. Be very grateful that federal officials know exactly whom they are dealing with: troublemakers just itching for an excuse to claim that the federal government provoked them first.

As of this writing, things are still calm at the wildlife refuge, nearly 30 miles from the nearest town. But this bunch has itchy trigger fingers and enough conspiracy-addled emotion to take their standoff to the next level of danger.

In this desolate location, these guys are more likely a danger to each other than to the local population — although they have irked nearby residents and the Burns Paiute Tribe, who deem the siege a desecration of sacred land.

Ammon Bundy — the son of the Nevada rancher Cliven Bundy, who had his own standoff with federal agents in 2014 over $1 million in unpaid grazing fees — and the other men occupying the wildlife refuge splintered off from a protest of several hundred people, a gathering that drew Oregonians concerned about longstanding issues with rules for land overseen by U.S. Bureau of Land Management.

Bundy is from Arizona. How’d he wind up in Oregon? He smelled an opportunity for the limelight.

Bundy calls his Oregon crew Citizens for Constitutional Freedom, and it includes his brother and an Arizona man, Jon Ritzheimer, who has gained renown of late for staging armed anti-Muslim protests.

The presence of Ritzheimer and other idiosyncratic “patriots” led the Daily Beast to dub the occupation Wingnut Woodstock. These anti-government activists have come out of the woodwork at a time when some Americans have become hyper-focused on Islamic terrorists, Syrian refugees and other perceived threats to the nation.

Indeed, America faces multiple threats, including homegrown extremists. This month, Southern Poverty Law Center, an organization reviled by extremists, issued a report noting that the number of militia groups in the U.S. leapt to 276 from 202 in 2014.

In October, the Justice Department announced a new office to focus entirely on homegrown extremists. In doing so, the department acknowledged that it had taken its eye off the ball domestically, consumed as it has been with threats of overseas terrorists since 9/11.

Law enforcement authorities closer to the street haven’t been as easily distracted. A June survey by the Triangle Center on Terrorism and Homeland Security at Duke University found that police were highly aware of the homegrown threat. Surveying nearly 400 departments, it found that 74 percent were more concerned about anti-government extremists than the possibility of an attack inspired by or actually the work of al-Qaida or the Islamic State.

A colleague of mine, Kansas City Star reporter Judy L. Thomas, has spent decades chronicling such movements. She has written extensively on Posse Comitatus, Christian identity groups, white nationalists, militias and now the growth of the sovereign citizen movement, loose networks that see the government as dangerously corrupt and out of control.

Part of the problem, Thomas said, is that we don’t have a consistent definition of domestic terrorism. And the term is sometimes abused for political gain. It can be difficult to determine who is a mere conspiracy theorist with an arsenal and who is likely actually to act out his revolutionary fantasies violently.

The homegrown extremist groups often see themselves as soldier-saviors of America, armed and ready to do battle with the evil federal government that is taking away constitutional rights. Thomas’ sources, including past federal agents, say that much was learned after Waco, where more than 75 people died, as well as in other encounters with militia members. Authorities prefer methods to defuse rather than spark confrontation. That will surely save lives, in Oregon and elsewhere. And it will, one hopes, deny extremists another recruiting opportunity.

Ritzheimer said this in a widely viewed video he posted online from Oregon: “I am 100 percent willing to lay my life down to fight against tyranny in this country.” Authorities are taking him at his word — and not giving him his chance for martyrdom.

 

By: Mary Sanchez, Opinion-Page Columnist for The Kansas City Star; The National Memo, January 8, 2015

January 9, 2016 Posted by | Anti-Government, Domestic Terrorism, Homegrown Extremists | , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

“Making Ridiculous Claims On Purpose”: Huckabee: Obama May Want People ‘To Memorize Koran Verses’

When it comes to right-wing rejection of Syrian refugees, Mike Huckabee was ahead of the curve. Back in September, when most policymakers were debating how many – not if – the United States would welcome fleeing families, Huckabee asked, “Are they really escaping tyranny, are they escaping poverty, or are they really just coming because we’ve got cable TV?”

After the terrorist violence in Paris, the former Arkansas governor’s posture took an even uglier turn. After Huckabee used the attacks as a rationale for scrapping the Iran nuclear deal – he didn’t seem to realize ISIS and Iran are bitter enemies – he went on to say refugees should “end up in the neighborhood where the limousine liberal lives” or perhaps the “dorm rooms” at the University of Missouri.

This week, however, Huckabee is shifting his focus, directing his ire away from the refugees and towards the president trying to show leadership on the issue. Politico reported:

Former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee charged Monday that President Barack Obama’s “new domestic terrorism plan probably requires Americans to memorize Koran verses.”

That line – which has no basis in fact – came in a new op-ed the 2016 Republican presidential candidate penned for FoxNews.com.

“Why does the Obama administration express more outrage at conservatives than at radical Islamic terrorists? President Obama seems more interested in protecting the reputation of Islam than protecting the American people,” Huckabee wrote.

The Republican added that the refugees would be “unchecked” and “unscreened,” which is a brazen lie.

Note, the fact that this was written is no small detail. It’s easy to say stupid things on the fly, without giving the comments forethought, but when a national candidate writes ridiculous arguments in a published piece, it reinforces the deliberate nature of the absurdity.

In other words, Huckabee didn’t just blurt out nonsense in an interview, failing to think his argument through; he went to the trouble of thinking about it, writing it down, and making ridiculous claims on purpose.

We talked briefly about this yesterday, but I think the larger point isn’t that Huckabee has the capacity to be an offensive buffoon. We already knew that. The broader concern is that much of the political establishment likes to think of Huckabee as a charming, avuncular guy who’s easily to admire.

It’s past time for pundits to reassess those assumptions. Huckabee isn’t just some conservative political personality – he’s an anti-gay attack dog, someone who embraces racially charged conspiracy theories, and a snake-oil salesman with a record of over-the-top vitriol.

His Fox News op-ed is a reminder that the Beltway pundits who tell the public that Huckabee is a great guy apparently don’t know what they’re talking about.

 

By: Steve Benen, The Maddow Blog, November 25, 2015

November 29, 2015 Posted by | Mike Huckabee, Racism, Syrian Refugees | , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

“The Next Generation Of Birthers?”: Bizarre Ideas Make Their Way From The Far-Right Fringe To The Conservative Mainstream

We tend not to hear much from the “birther” activists anymore. For a while, these right-wing critics were obsessed with President Obama’s birthplace, ignoring all evidence in order to turn a ridiculous conspiracy theory into a cottage industry.

But with the president already thinking about his post-White House plans, and the 2016 election season underway, even the most unhinged conservatives no longer see much of a point in focusing on Obama’s origins. They’re just not going to force him from office.

And while it’s tempting to think the entire strain of nonsense is behind us, TPM reports that this may be wishful thinking. The birther “movement” has effectively surrendered in its crusade against President Obama, but what about some of his would-be successors?

In a column published last week on the conspiracy theory website WND, author Jack Cashill noted that questions had been raised about whether four of the 17 candidates in the GOP field were really “natural born citizens” and therefore eligible to run for President.

Ted Cruz has already dealt with those questions publicly – the Canadian-born senator from Texas renounced his citizenship with that country last summer in anticipation of a 2016 bid – but Cashill also listed Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL), Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal (R) and former Sen. Rick Santorum (R-PA) among those who were suspect.

Though the line between satire and sincerity can seem blurry in far-right media, the WorldNetDaily piece does not appear to be a joke. It starts with a passive-voice classic – “The question has been raised for Marco Rubio, Ted Cruz, Bobby Jindal and even Rick Santorum” – and proceeds from there as if this were a legitimate area of inquiry.

It goes so far as to argue, “No one doubts that Jindal was born in the United States, but what is not clear is where the loyalty of his parents lay and whether Jindal is a natural born citizen under the law.”

I’ve read this a few times, and I’ll confess, I’m still not sure what that’s supposed to mean.

And what about Santorum? Why is he included in the mix? Jack Cashill, the author of the WorldNetDaily piece, told TPM, “Because his father was born in Italy and there’s some question as to whether his father was a citizen at the time Santorum was born. That’s a strange case. Only the purest of the constitutionalists would take up that challenge.”

I’m sure Santorum is relieved.

But I’m still stuck on, “The question has been raised.” By whom? When? Why? Cashill told TPM, “Especially in very strict constitutional tea party circles it’s a very lively topic…. It is an undercurrent. It’s not enough to turn an election, but it’s enough to cost like 1 percent of a potential electorate.”

There is, to be sure, a considerable distance between one article on WorldNetDaily and months of scuttlebutt in non-fringe campaign circles. But as we’ve seen many times, bizarre ideas can make their way from the far-right fringe to the conservative mainstream with surprising speed.

There is literally no reason to question the presidential eligibility of Marco Rubio, Ted Cruz, Bobby Jindal, and Rick Santorum, but if your weird uncle sends you an all-caps email on the subject, now you’ll know why.

 

By: Steve Benen, The Maddow Blog, August 18, 2015

August 19, 2015 Posted by | Birthers, GOP Presidential Candidates, Right Wing Extremisim | , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

%d bloggers like this: