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“Cheapening The Legacy Of 9/11 On 9/11”: Grossly Inappropriate Joy Over Hatred And Destruction

I try not to dip my brain too much into the toxic waste of anti-Islamic bigotry. But occasionally its purveyors profane the very memories they claim inspire them, as in this nasty piece of work from Carol Brown of The American Thinker, who manages to cheapen the legacy of 9/11 on 9/11:

It is now official. On Thursday the Senate let the Iran deal go through – a deal that will forever change the landscape of the world in terrifying and unthinkable ways. I need not enumerate how this collaboration with Iran (and it is a collaboration) will affect Israel, the Middle East, the United States, and indeed the entire world.

Readers know all too well.

And yet, you’d hardly know how our fate was sealed on Thursday. America’s alignment with the Nazis of the 21st century hardly made a dent in media coverage. Headlines appeared as they do on any other day.

Imagine that.

[O]n Thursday, after Republican leaders spent months colluding with the Democrats, the Washington cartel ensured that our children and grandchildren will live in a world with a nuclear Iran.

In between profound sorrow, incredible dread, and blind rage, I find myself asking: Why?

Perhaps many elected officials don’t care about America, their oath of office, or our children. Apparently their allegiance to party and power trump concern for even their own children.

If reading this annoys you, be glad I left out the long, long quote from Mark Levin. But here’s the coda:

And so we now not only have a 9/11, but a 9/10 – when our leaders sold us down the river. Yet again. But this time the stakes are as high as they get.

People like Brown and Levin want, welcome, demand constant global war with Islam, and will accept nothing less (Brown has been singled out by the Anti-Defamation League for her “ugly rhetoric” about Musims). They should stay the hell away from the memorials to 9/11, since their joy over hatred and destruction is grossly inappropriate to the commemoration of innocents and those who died to in an effort to save them.


By: Ed Kilgore, Contributing Writer, Political Animal Blog, The Washington Monthly, September 11, 2015

September 14, 2015 Posted by | 911, Conservatives, Iran Nuclear Agreement | , , , , , , | Leave a comment

“Tea Party Consulting Scam”: The Real Conservatives Funded By The Senate Conservatives Fund

It’s worth reading Politico’s Manu Raju and Maggie Haberman’s recent story on the Senate Conservative Fund, an independent political group that used to specialize in backing “insurgent” primary candidates over “establishment” ones, and that now devotes the bulk of its spending against actual incumbent Republican elected officials — including, most notably, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell. The SCF’s leader, Matt Hoskins, has a “core team of five staffers” and no board of directors to answer to. The organization reports that it raised more than $9 million in 2013. It spent some of that money on campaigning for its chosen candidates. It has spent some of that money on … other things.

But without a board of directors, Hoskins and his team can choose to spend with little accountability.
Such expenditures include purchasing hundreds of thousands of dollars’ worth of conservative commentator Mark Levin’s books to hand out to donors as a freebie for their contributions. His group also paid $143,360 over three years to a luxury design firm to renovate office space in Washington townhouses, according to campaign-finance filings.

Between May 2010 and October 2013, Hoskins and his company, Bold Colors, have been paid, in total, $463,750, with an additional $72,000 from the SCF’s super PAC, records show.

To sum up: The SCF has paid more than a half-million dollars to the consulting firm run by the head of the SCF. But the detail that caused a minor conservative media shit storm was the detail about the SCF buying up Mark Levin’s book in bulk. A spokesperson for the RNC — the “establishment” — tweeted about it, which led to a bunch of true conservatives complaining about the dastardly accusation that Levin is somehow on the take, just because this group sent a bunch of money this way and he sends a bunch of donors their way. Levin said that the RNC spokesperson, who sent one tweet calling attention to the Politico story, “will not silence me with his sleazy inside-the-beltway tactics.”

And then Erick Erickson stepped up to defend Levin and the SCF, with a completely insane post comparing the symbiotic relationship between the SCF and Levin to the fact that a National Republican Senatorial Committee staffer had child pornography on his computer. I mean, yes, one is a “guilt-by-association” argument with no coherent financial motive while the other is a clear-cut conflict-of-interest deal, but still, they both happened. Erick Erickson: master of analogies. Erickson writes: “It is just as ridiculous to accuse Mark Levin and the Senate Conservatives Fund of a quid pro quo relationship when they happen to be allies in a fight and also happen to be friends.”

Even if we didn’t live in a world where explicit endorsements-for-pay were common among conservative radio personalities, it wouldn’t be “ridiculous” to assume that buying hundreds of thousands of dollars worth of a host’s book would lead to the host saying nice things about you. But the problem for Erickson’s argument is that we actually do live in a world where conservative groups pay talk radio hosts obscene amounts of money to boost their groups. And one of the hosts who does this is Mark Levin. It is a thing he does. He endorses groups for money.

The Senate Conservatives Fund, with the help of various talk radio people, made itself the most prominent group fighting against the GOP establishment on behalf of the Tea Party. That led to them raising lots and lots of money. That money goes to people running the SCF, in the form of salaries and consulting fees, and it goes to the people promoting the SCF, in the form of direct payments and mass book purchases. None of this is illegal (as far as I know, anyway). Is it immoral? Is it unethical? Not many people are interested in answering that question. Nearly every prominent national conservative is in on the graft, and the marks are people who write checks to fund the advancement of conservative ideas or the election of conservative politicians. All of this is exceedingly well-documented. And it doesn’t matter.

The thing about this grand bamboozling is that the marks want to be bamboozled. When you tell them that Glenn Beck is paid to have certain opinions, they truly do not care. Sending people money to fight for a cause you strongly believe in feels good. The apocalyptic pitches may be obviously manipulative to anyone outside the target demographic, but they obviously work. And for years, the scheme actually worked in the larger sense, of enriching people and advancing the conservative agenda. With the financial (if not political) success of the SCF’s nihilistic approach to strategy, conservatives invested in the actual policy agenda are starting to worry.


By: Alex Pareene, Salon, January 14, 2014

January 15, 2014 Posted by | Conservatives, Tea Party | , , , , , , | Leave a comment

“Memo To The Crackpots”: No, You’re Not Impeaching Anyone

The last time Sen. Tom Coburn spoke warmly but candidly to his Oklahoma constituents about his “friend” Barack Obama, it was to reassure them that the president doesn’t want to “destroy America.” Instead, Coburn said two years ago, “his intent is to create dependency because it worked so well for him.” He went on: “As an African-American male,” Obama received “tremendous advantage from a lot of these programs.” That’s what friends do, in Coburn’s world: They indulge in delusional racial stereotyping to defend their “friend” from detractors.

Also? Apparently they claim their “friend” is “perilously close” to “high crimes and misdemeanors” – the standard for impeaching a president – and promise they won’t let their friendship stand in the way of impeaching the “lawless” president.

Coburn is just the latest Republican to humor his crackpot constituents in August town halls by suggesting the president can and/or should be impeached. By the standards of the modern GOP, he may be the most surprising, since every once in a while he has an outbreak of sanity and refuses to go along with his party’s nihilism caucus. Most recently he said Sen. Mike Lee’s drive to shut down the government to repeal Obamacare amounts to “destroying the Republican Party.”

To make up for that breach with the base, Coburn told constituents in Muskogee that the administration is “lawless” and “getting perilously close” to the constitutional standard for impeachment. He one-upped Lee by joining crackpot Mark Levin’s call for a new constitutional convention. “The constitutional republic that we have is at risk,” he told the crowd. When asked directly about impeachment, he said, “I think those are serious things, but we’re in serious times. And I don’t have the legal background to know if that rises to ‘high crimes and misdemeanors,’ but I think you’re getting perilously close.”

To be fair, Coburn also defended his “friend” Obama by allowing that the first black president just might not be very good at his job. “I think there’s some intended violation of law in this administration, but I also think there’s a ton of incompetence,” he said.  Glad to have that out there.

Though Coburn’s impeachment remarks have triggered a lot of coverage, he’s gotten less attention for another wild assertion to the Muskogee crowd: that a better strategy for repealing Obamacare than shutting down the government is to use the debt ceiling deadline.

“If you wanna do it,” he told an angry constituent, “do it on the debt limit, don’t do it on shutting down the government, because the economy’s so precarious right now, and shutting down the government won’t stop Obamacare one iota.” If the economy is too “precarious” for a government shutdown, imagine what a debt-ceiling meltdown would do. Nobody in the crowd asked Coburn to explain.

Coburn’s impeachment rambling comes on the heels of similar musings by other congressional Republicans at their August town halls. Just Monday, when asked why not impeach the president, Sen. Ted Cruz genially replied: “It’s a good question. And I’ll tell you the simplest answer: To successfully impeach a president you need the votes in the U.S. Senate.” Actually, the supposedly brilliant Cruz ought to know that to impeach a president, you need the votes in the House – the Senate then votes on whether to “convict” him.

But you know, maybe Cruz is getting ahead of himself because he believes his fellow Texan Rep. Blake Farenhold, who recently told his constituents that Republicans have the votes in the House to impeach Obama. “If we were to impeach the president tomorrow, you could probably get the votes in the House of Representatives to do it,” he said. “But it would go to the Senate and he wouldn’t be convicted.”

Of course, reindeer farmer Kerry Bentivoglio thinks impeaching Obama would be “a dream come true,” but he sounded more skeptical than Coburn about the chances of doing it – though he admitted consulting lawyers about possible grounds. “Until we have the evidence, you’re going to become a laughingstock if you’ve submitted a bill to impeach the president, because number one, you’ve got to convince the press,” he said.

So let’s recap: Coburn, one of the Republicans the Beltway media regularly use as an example of someone willing to work with Obama, sounds more convinced the president might be impeachable than a former reindeer farmer who resides on the party’s wingnut fringe. Reporters have to stop covering the supposed attempt of the GOP to heal itself, because it’s not happening. Real change in the party will require Republican leaders leveling with their base. That means standing up to nuts like Mark Levin and Rush Limbaugh and the delusional extremists organizing “Overpasses for Obama’s impeachment” (yes, that’s a thing) and showing up to rant at town halls.

Tom Coburn doesn’t have the guts to do that, so he can’t be counted among the last few reasonable Republicans. Let’s hope Time magazine leaves him off its annual list of 100 “influential” luminaries next year. Or at least let’s hope Obama declines to write the tribute to his GOP “friend” next time around.


By: Joan Walsh, Editor at Large, Salon, August 23, 2013

August 24, 2013 Posted by | Republicans | , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

“A Far-Right Mob Movement”: Benghazi, Projection, And The Dark Obama Obsession

President Obama’s most fevered critics have been waiting for a national “aha” moment since he was first inaugurated more than 50 months ago. Coming off an electoral landslide, Obama was instantly greeted by a mob-like movement on the far right that denounced him as a socialist and a communist. Excited conservatives quickly reached for Nazi rhetoric and imagery in an effort to convey the dark threat the Democrat posed to the country.

Amplified by Fox News and a well-funded right-wing media industry, the “grassroots” revolt was portrayed as a sweeping rebuke of Obama. But in truth, the raging critics occupied the loud fringes, a fact confirmed by Obama’s easy re-election.

Still, professional detractors have held out hope that at some point Americans would come to see Obama as they see Obama; as a monster of historic proportions who’s committed to stripping citizens of their liberties and getting them addicted to government dependencies, like a drug dealer.

This week’s House Oversight Committee hearing into the Sept. 11 terror attack on the U.S. Consulate in Benghazi was supposed to trigger that “aha” event. It was supposed to be The Day Americans Turned On Obama. Indeed, Obama wouldn’t be able to finish out his second term because the Benghazi revelations were going to be so damaging, Fox New’s Mike Huckabee told his radio listeners. And Sean Hannity warned ominously that, “This is going to be a really defining, important week in the Obama presidency, and it’s not going to be a good week.”

But none of that happened at the hearing. Instead of being the kind of “explosive” Watergate-style hearing that Fox talkers prayed for, Wednesday’s hearing sagged under the weight of stubborn facts, and didn’t even reach the level of Whitewater hearings, which under Bill Clinton established the modern-day mark for pointlessly partisan “scandal” hearings.

Not that it matters to the media players who produced the Benghazi hearings, though. Conservatives continue their Groundhog Day charade, reassuring themselves that the hearing was a hit and that scandal “bombshells” exploded on Capitol Hill. (They did not.)

The larger, common sense question that lingers though is, why? Why keep pounding a story so far into the ground that most news consumers can’t even make sense of the convoluted allegations anymore?

I think the explanation for the durability is that Benghazi serves as an all-purpose platform that allows the most hardened critics to project their anti-Obama madness. It allows them to spin their ugliest fantasies about the president and to depict him as a heartless traitor who chose to let Americans die at the hands of Islamic terrorists. It’s a way to condemn Obama for having a “reflexive impulse to blame, rather than defend, America.”

For the last eight months, Benghazi has served as a convenient vessel to ferry around the right wing’s Capt. Ahab-like obsession. Most often docked at Fox News, which has referenced “Benghazi” thousands and thousands and thousands of times since last September, the terror attack represents a way to feed that sinister fixation about the president being a Manchurian Candidate who let Americans die in Benghazi and “sacrificed American lives for politics.”

Benghazi mania is driven by a dark obsession with Obama that’s built upon the assumption that he’s capable of the very worst and incapable of anything good or decent. That the president of the United States does not deserve to sit in the Oval Office because his loyalties (not to mention his origins) are in doubt. Which is supposedly why he would abandon Americans to die in Benghazi.

Note some of the rhetoric this week, which portrayed Obama as unfit and un-American. From Fox News’ Todd Starnes:

“If Obama won’t protect four Americans under attack in Benghazi, what makes you think he’ll protect the rest of us?”

And from talk show host Mark Levin [emphasis added]:

It’s just unbelievable that our country didn’t come to the defense of these men. It makes me sick to my stomach. It’s not a natural reaction if you’re a red-blooded American. My God, send in the military! But no, we didn’t… What the hell kind of commander in chief is that? Let me go further, what kind of an American is that?

What kind of American is Obama if he won’t protect citizens under attack?

As Marc Ambinder at The Week noted, if you follow the premise of the Republican’s vast conspiracy that suggests the White House deliberately let people die in Benghazi because they feared the political fallout of a terror attack, you’d have to assume Obama “is simply and utterly evil.” Ambinder is right, and they do believe it.

Which is to say, Benghazi as it’s debated and presented today (and will be for months to come), isn’t just about Benghazi, or the four Americans who died in the attack or the dozens more injured. It’s about Obama and a blinding, uncontrollable anger that fuels his most dedicated foes, and their relentless, futile search for the American “aha” moment.

Two decades ago, radical Republicans waged an eight-year campaign against Bill Clinton because Republicans were convinced he was a crook and a scoundrel. We’re now past the halfway mark of another eight-year Republican war against a Democratic president. This one is fueled by the belief the president, as a person, is utterly beneath contempt. (It’s one reason Fox talkers so easily, and so crassly, invoke Obama’s children when launching political attacks.)

The Benghazi narrative gives the fevered swamp denizens a ready-made framework to project their fears and hatred onto Obama and to do it in the context of “news.” And that’s why, despite this week’s hearing which didn’t advance the story forward one inch, the Benghazi narrative isn’t going away anytime soon.


By: Eric Boehlert, The Blog, The Hufington Post, May 10, 2013

May 14, 2013 Posted by | Benghazi, Right Wing | , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

How The Right Brought The Trump Birther Madness On Itself

GOP primary voters should reward substance, rather than pols who masterfully exploit hot button issues. So why are so many Republicans embracing Donald Trump? They’ve been trained to elevate politicians based on the “tough” rhetoric they use rather than the record they’ve amassed. And to rally around anyone seen as being disrespected by the dread mainstream media.

The talk radio right bears much of the blame for these pathologies. Caught up in the Tea Party excitement, guys like Mark Levin used their platforms to act as apologists for Republicans like Sarah Palin and Christine O’Donnell. Didn’t they fire up the base? Weren’t they unafraid to zing President Obama? As Donald Trump rises in the polls, however, Levin is having second thoughts. The right is suddenly foolish to embrace demagogues with thin resumes and incoherent political philosophies. For all their differences, folks like Ross Douthat, David Frum, Reihan Salam, David Brooks, Daniel Larison, and many others have long been urging the GOP to pick its champions based on substance. You’ll never hear any of them urge that Donald Trump be taken seriously.

Meanwhile, Sarah Palin is defending Trump. Will Levin call out the woman whose political judgment he has frequently touted? Rush Limbaugh is inviting Trump on his show for softball interviews, and telling callers to his program that the celebrity billionaire ought to be taken “half-seriously.” Having announced that taking Trump at all seriously is idiocy of the highest order, will Levin openly criticize his fellow talk radio host? Or does this bully lack the courage to go after anyone with a bigger audience than his? Remember that the next time he tries to tell you that the reformers embody what’s wrong with the right. Like all bullies, his targets aren’t chosen based on desert.

In failing to call out the people most responsible for the right’s pathologies, Mark Levin is not alone. As Adam Serwer notes:

Trump’s candidacy is largely a problem of the GOP’s own making. It’s a symptom of circumstances Republicans have spent the last two years tacitly cultivating as an asset. Republican leaders have at best refused to tamp down the most outlandish right-wing conspiracy-mongering about the president and at worst have actively enabled it. The result: A substantial portion of their base believes a complete myth about the president’s birth certificate, and Republicans are stuck with a candidate shameless enough to exploit the issue without resorting to the usual euphemisms more respectable Republicans tend to employ when hinting at the president’s supposed cultural otherness. I don’t know how you solve a problem like Donald Trump, but I know it’s a problem the Republican Party brought on itself.

Indeed, half of the Iowa GOP are birthers. It’s so much of a problem that Ann Coulter and Karl Rove are out there assuring everyone that President Obama was in fact born in the United States. In doing so, they frame Birtherism as a trap liberals are setting. They’re implicitly criticizing all the mainstream voices on the right who’ve flirted with Birtherism, but are uninclined to name names, or to come right out and state that what those conservatives did has come back to bite the right. 

Some of us have long insisted that the conservative movement was going to pay for its embrace of demagoguery, anti-intellectualism, bombast in place of substance, and shameless pandering. For our trouble, we’ve been dismissed by talk radio hosts and conservative bloggers, who took an ends-justify-the-means approach to the 2010 primaries and opposition to President Obama generally. Lo and behold, the conservative movement is now paying a price, exactly as predicted. The GOP has a weak field for 2012, and although Donald Trump isn’t going to win the nomination, his early status as a front-runner is an unwelcome distraction and may end up pulling other candidates toward the sort of absurd populism that will hurt them in a general election.

Even Mark Levin, Ann Coulter and Karl Rove now see these pathologies on the right, and the dangers they pose. So are they going to criticize the most prominent conservatives who brought these conditions about? Nope. There is never direct intra-movement criticism of Rush Limbaugh or Roger Ailes. There is never any appreciation of the pathologies encouraged by everyone who supported Sarah Palin. Instead we get self-righteous criticism that is too little, too late, and a cowardly refusal to confront the culpable parties in a way that would prevent this sort of thing from happening again. 

By: Conor Friedersdorf, The Atlantic, April 21, 2011

April 23, 2011 Posted by | Birthers, Conservatives, Elections, GOP, Ideologues, Ideology, Iowa Caucuses, Journalists, Media, Politics, Press, Pundits, Republicans, Right Wing, Tea Party, Voters | , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment


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