Sarah Palin And GOP Favor Gun Rights For Terrorists To Open Carry, Just Like Jesus Said

It’s the most wonderful time of the year. The time when the War on Christmas warms the cockles (whatever they are) of American patriots as they prepare to celebrate the release of another Sarah Palin book: Sweet Freedom: A Devotional. Palin’s latest butchering of the English language “invites you to draw strength and inspiration from 260 meditations based on guiding Biblical verses.”

Sarah Palin

One of the inspirational verses in the book is Luke 22:36, which says “But now, he that hath a purse, let him take it, and likewise his scrip: and he that hath no sword, let him sell his garment, and buy one.” And from that Palin has constructed an interpretation that strains the bounds of reason. She spoke with Tom Sullivan of Fox News Radio and delivered her warped analysis of the scripture:

“In the New Testament, Luke:22. We’re talking about gun control. Jesus, I swear he was a proponent of open carry. Because he told his disciples, he said ‘You better arm yourselves. You better protect the innocent. You don’t rely on the authorities. You don’t rely on others peoples.’ He said ‘You carry your sword.’ He told his disciples ‘Before we go on our journey, if you have a cloak, if you have your purse, OK, go get ’em. But if you don’t have a sword with you…’ – which was their arms back then – ‘…then you sell your cloak and you go buy a sword. And you get out there and you defend the innocent and yourself. Let’s go.’ He was all for self-defense and the Second Amendment.”

Really? Then why on the next morning did he tell his disciples to cease any defense of him, saying that “all they that take the sword shall perish with the sword.” Biblical scholars read this verse as Jesus merely advising the disciples to be prepared with necessary tools for the tasks of survival (i.e. hunting, and cutting cloth or building materials). That explains why after he told them to buy swords he replied that “It’s enough,” when they responded saying that they had two already. Certainly two swords would not have been enough to fight the officers who would come to arrest Jesus. But they would be plenty as parts of a tool collection.

What’s more, nowhere in the verse does it say that Jesus advocated using swords, or any weaponry, to “defend the innocent and yourself.” To the contrary, he preached against violence and favored passive resistance as in “turn the other cheek.” Palin’s interpretation sounds like Jesus was assembling an early incarnation of The Avengers to suit up and take on the evildoers of Jerusalem.

In an oddly significant juxtaposition to Palin’s mangling of the Bible, Fox News reported yesterday that terrorists have had nearly unfettered access to guns in America. Gretchen Carlson’s story (video below) quoted a study by the Government Accountability Office on the ability of people on the Terrorist Watch List to legally purchase guns:

“People on the Terrorist Watch List here in the U.S. – Who knew they were still legally able to buy guns? Look at this data from the Government Accountability Office going back to 2004. Suspected terrorists made more than 2,200 attempts to buy guns from U.S. dealers. More than 2,000 of them, or 91% were successful.”

Who knew? Well, actually many people knew. Even Fox News knew and reported on it many times. This has been an issue for gun safety advocates for years. There have been several attempts, going back to at least 2007, during the Bush administration, to pass legislation to close what has been called “The Terror Gap,” but they have always been met with fierce opposition from the NRA and Republicans in Congress.

One of those Republicans who has opposed the legislation is Texas representative Tony Dale. Ironically, Dale is now citing the ease with which guns are available as a reason to deny entry into the U.S., and Texas, by Syrian refugees. Dale is worried that among them will be terrorists who will be able to purchase guns thanks to the legislation that he voted for. And another opponent of closing the Terror Gap was the late Adam Gadahn (aka Azzam the American), an Al Qaeda operative who issued a directive to his comrades saying that…

“America is absolutely awash with easily obtainable firearms. You can go down to a gun show at the local convention center and come away with a fully automatic assault rifle, without a background check, and most likely, without having to show an identification card. So what are you waiting for?”

It’s rather strange that Carlson would be so surprised that this is occurring when it is something that has received so much attention in the past. And her editorial take on the subject seems to be aligned with the gun safety advocates who are pushing for restrictions on gun purchases by those on the watch list. That would put her at odds with the rest of the Fox News team, the GOP, the NRA, and Sarah Palin. Which means, of course, that she is at odds with Jesus the Avenger. Uh oh.

How Fox News Deceives and Controls Their Flock:
Fox Nation vs. Reality: The Fox News Cult of Ignorance.
Available now at Amazon.

Donald Trump’s Latest Bonehead Theory Is Custom Made For His Racist Supporters

The Republican Party’s front-runner for their presidential nomination, Donald Trump, continues to peel off nonsense of the most extreme variety. Just when you think he’s topped out at proposing to reprise the repugnant “Operation Wetback,” he reaches down deep to deliver something that far surpasses the idiocy of any ordinary mortal.

Donald Trump

Yesterday Trump was on Laura Ingraham’s radio show and had something to say about the Syrian refugee crisis that most of the civilized world is struggling to address. But his remarks were not about the human suffering or the logistical challenges or potential solutions. What Trump sought to add to the debate was a ludicrous and wholly unfounded conspiracy theory accusing President Obama of another dastardly deed.

Trump: They send [the refugees] to the Republicans, not to the Democrats, you know, because they know the problems. In California you have a Democrat as a governor. In Florida you have Rick Scott. So, you know, they send them to the Republicans because, you know, why would we want to bother the Democrats? It’s just insane. Taking these people is absolutely insanity. I don’t know if you know. They’re talking about hundreds of thousands potentially. Hundreds of thousands.

Where to begin. How about with the fact that Trump’s assertion is a bald-faced lie. His projection of the distribution of refugees based on the party affiliation of a state’s governor makes no sense whatsoever, and he doesn’t bother to provide any support for the wild claim. Even using the example that he provided, the facts show that California has already taken in 218 Syrian refugees this year (more than any other state), while Florida has taken only 104 (placing them down at seventh). What’s more, states with Republican governors can be expected to receive more refugees simply because there are more of them. Currently there are 31 states led by Republicans and 18 by Democrats.

Furthermore, Trump’s assertion that there are plans to resettle “hundreds of thousands” of refugees must have been pulled straight out of his ass, because there is no such estimate in reality. The federal government has committed to receiving about 10,000 refugees. So Trump is only off by at least ninety percent.

Now if you’re wondering how Trump can get away with making such blatantly false comments and still retain his position at the top of the GOP primary contest, the answer is in the the type of voter to whom Trump is appealing. A new survey (pdf) by the Public Religion Research Institute (PRRI) reveals that Trump’s supporters are fervently opposed to immigrants with 69% saying that “immigration is a critical issue to them personally.” That compares to only 50% of supporters of other Republican candidates. In addition, the survey found that…

Trump supporters are much more likely to express negative views of immigrants than the supporters of other candidates. Eight in ten (80%) Trump supporters say that immigrants today are a burden to the U.S. because they take American jobs, housing, and health care. Nearly three-quarters (73%) of Trump supporters say that it bothers them when they come into contact with immigrants who speak little or no English.

Never mind that it is completely untrue that immigrants are taking jobs from Americans or are consuming financial benefits. What’s most disturbing about these findings is the overt bigotry of the Trump contingent. But it gets even worse:

Trump supporters also express greater concern about discrimination against white Americans and white men in particular. Roughly three-quarters (74%) of Trump supporters — compared to 57% of supporters of all other Republican candidates — agree that, today, discrimination against whites has become as big a problem as discrimination against blacks and other minorities.

That must be why it’s so hard for white men to get jobs, or find housing. And it explains why so many of them are being killed while unarmed by police officers. [/snark] It would be bad enough if there were a significant portion of Trump’s supporters who held these absurd opinions, but these numbers are frighteningly high. It means that 75% of Trump’s followers are seriously deranged in a way that exposes the rancid biases of the Republican Party. Because in the end, Trump’s followers are GOP voters, and when he eventually flames out, the Party is still going to have to appeal to these same cretins to support their nominee.

How Fox News Deceives and Controls Their Flock:
Fox Nation vs. Reality: The Fox News Cult of Ignorance.
Available now at Amazon.

The Republican Crisis Recycling Center: Syrian Refugee Edition

In what is being described as the worst refugee crisis since World War II, the plight of displaced Syrians continues to be a daunting humanitarian problem that is putting pressure on nations around the world to find a compassionate solution.

The United States is among those nations, but it is battling opposition from within. Not surprisingly, it is the Republicans and other conservative politicians and pundits who are adamantly against allowing Syrian refugees safe harbor in America. So far, more than half of the state governors are on record as opposing resettlement of Syrians in their states, and all but one of them are Republicans. [Legal note: These constitutional fetishists are unaware that they do not have the authority to dictate immigration policy, which rests with the federal government]

The GOP’s arguments against welcoming these refugees are consistently based on the fear that terrorists will clandestinely slip in among the legitimate migrants. While there is very little evidence of that occurring, it remains the favored excuse of the refugee opponents. The typical refrain goes something like this:

  • We must immediately prohibit those people from entering the United States.
  • Those being let in will include terrorists.
  • If our leaders won’t protect us they should resign.
  • It’s not our problem. Let others in their own region deal with it.
  • We can’t be humanitarians. We have to protect ourselves first.

Oh, sorry. Those were actually the reasons that Republican politicians and pundits opposed letting people from West Africa into the country last year during the Ebola outbreak. The degree of hysteria expressed by the wingnut contingency at that time was deafening. For their trouble they earned PolitiFact’s “Lie of the Year” award for 2014. It was a well-deserved tribute to their deranged insistence that Americans were going to be infected by the millions, and those who were fortunate enough to avoid the disease would be slaughtered by terrorists. Some of these fear mongers, like Glenn Beck and Fox News’ Keith Ablow, accused Obama of deliberately orchestrating this mass extinction of the U.S. population.

And while we’re on the subject, those were also the very same excuses the rightists gave for opposing the resettlement of Latino children. When thousands of kids were stranded in the Southwest they were treated like a plague and accused of being disease carriers, or having associations with drug traffickers or terrorists.

Let’s just call it the “Republican Crisis Recycling Center” where they repurpose their standard complaints to fit whatever outrage they are currently trying to push.

Republican Crisis Recycling

This might be a good time to point out there were never any outbreaks of Ebola in the U.S., nor did any of the kids who were eventually placed in foster homes blow up any pizza parlors. The irrational hysteria of the rightist fear merchants never materialized as they predicted (hoped?). And all of the available evidence points to the same results if we welcome the Syrian refugees in to America. There are, in fact, already some 2,000 Syrian refugees who have resettled here since 2011, and in four years they have done nothing but try to put their tattered lives back together.

Donald Trump was among those who exploited the Ebola crisis and charged that infected persons would be pouring across our southern border. Now he is doing the same to Syrians who he is convinced are serving as a “Trojan Horse” for terrorists. His plan is to acquire a parcel of land in Syria and make it a “safe zone” for the refugees. All 4,000,000 of them? It would have to be a city the size of Los Angeles. And no matter how good a builder he fancies himself, he isn’t going to construct such a metropolis overnight. These people need housing and food and medicine and all the other necessities of life, not a tents in the desert.

Sadly, that’s the sort of dumbfounded thinking (with an emphasis on the dumb) that dominates the Republican mindset. Another example is Mike Huckabee’s suggestion to only allow Christian refugees in. President Obama called that religious test “shameful.” How he would differentiate the Christians from the Muslims and others, he did not say. I suppose he could tattoo a number on all the Muslims to identify them for rejection. Then he can help Trump load 11,000,000 Latinos into train cars to deport them to “safe zones” in Central America for his reprise of Operation Wetback.

How Fox News Deceives and Controls Their Flock:
Fox Nation vs. Reality: The Fox News Cult of Ignorance.
Available now at Amazon.

What the right seems to forget is that these refugees are fleeing the same violence and terrorism that we are fighting in Iraq, Syria, and elsewhere. They also seem to forget the values embodied in their faith that calls for compassion, service, and brotherhood. And finally, they quite easily forget the example of America’s principles expressed by the gift from France that beckons to the world…

Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free; the wretched refuse of your teeming shore; send these, the homeless, tempest-tossed, to me. I lift my lamp beside the golden door.

[Addendum:] Jesse Watters of Fox News managed to connect the refugee crisis with the Ebola outbreak. On The Five he said “Obama has imported dangerous things into this country since he got there. He’s imported socialism here, He’s imported Ebola into America. He’s imported illegal aliens. Remember he brought all of the Ebola victims into this country?” All of them? This is the sort of idiocy that permeates the racist right-wing ideology on issues that go far beyond the current problem with refugees.

Super Genius Ben Carson Will Stop Illegal Immigrants By Cutting Benefits That They Don’t Get

Proving once again that having a degree in medicine doesn’t indicate any capacity for understanding other fields of study, Dr. Ben Carson has taken a position on immigration that defies any semblance of logic. So of course, the Fox News community website, Fox Nation, saw it as brilliant and passed it along to their dimwitted readers.

Ben Carson

Carson spoke to supporters in Henderson, Nevada, where reports revealed his plan for ending illegal immigration. It is a plan that he described as “simple” and with which “You can pretty much get it to 100 percent.” However, it would be more accurate to describe it as simple-minded. The fact that he believes that he can reduce illegal immigration to zero is the first indication that he’s gone completely bonkers.

The key assumption in the Carson plan is that immigrants are drawn to the United States by a smorgasbord of freebies they can feast upon when they get here and immediately proceed to slacking off. It still remains a mystery how such lazy moochers can simultaneously be accused of taking jobs away from Americans while lounging by their pools and collecting welfare.

Carson’s plan would cut off all of the government benefits that these freeloaders are supposedly enjoying, which would remove the primary incentive for them to come here. Of course, Carson did not identify any specific benefits that these alleged sponges are absorbing, but insisted that without them, “you won’t have anybody even trying to do this.” Probably the main reason why Carson could not cite a single abused benefit is that he couldn’t come up with any that undocumented residents are entitled to. And the few that may be available are not applied for by most immigrants due to the fear of being discovered and deported.

Had he done any research at all, Carson would have learned that undocumented immigrants are not eligible for most types of welfare, including food stamps, housing assistance, health care, etc. What’s more, they actually pay far more into state and federal treasuries than they will ever see come back from any source. They pay about ten billion dollars annually in state and local taxes. And over a decade they have contributed over 100 billion dollars to Social Security, which they are not eligible to receive. In effect, they are donating a substantial portion of their income to the retirement of American citizens.

So Carson’s plan to end illegal immigration is to deny the immigrants benefits that they do not and cannot receive. And it’s all based on the absurd premise that these nonexistent benefits are what draws them to make long and treacherous journeys across international borders. Had Carson not spent so much time researching how the pyramids were really just giant grain silos, he might have learned that what makes the U.S. such an attractive destination is the prospect of jobs. Yet Carson and his right-wing pals never propose cutting off access to that benefit by threatening to arrest or otherwise penalize the employers who are providing it.

How Fox News Deceives and Controls Their Flock:
Fox Nation vs. Reality: The Fox News Cult of Ignorance.
Available now at Amazon.

What’s really most depressing about all of this is not that there are pitifully ignorant people like Carson and Donald Trump spewing such unmitigated nonsense. It’s that they are the leaders of their party’s primary contest for President of the United States. That there are so many Americans who are so blind and/or gullible that they buy into the most idiotic drivel is what should worry the rest of the country and motivate them to vote next November.

The Wingnut Reverse Beetlejuice Doctrine: Say ‘Radical Islamic Terrorism’ Three Times

The warped philosophy of conservatives in America has long held that the primary reason for the persistence of terrorism is that President Obama and other Democrats are reluctant to utter the phrase “radical Islamic terrorism.” They somehow have concluded that those magical words are key to defeating groups like Al Qaeda and ISIS. And they wonder why we think they’re stupid.

Fox News Beetlejuice

Following the Democratic Debate in Iowa on Saturday, the call to cast the magic spell was once again made the centerpiece of rightist criticisms. GOP candidates, and right-wing pundits on Fox News and elsewhere, have uniformly adopted the fabled “Reverse Beetlejuice Doctrine” wherein you shout “radical Islamic terrorism” three times and ISIS disappears. Actually, it isn’t even required to shout it. You can just tweet it. For example:

  • Donald Trump: Why won’t President Obama use the term Islamic Terrorism? Isn’t it now, after all of this time and so much death, about time!
  • Jeb Bush: Yes, we are at war with radical Islamic terrorism. #DemDebate
  • Ted Cruz: We need a President who is unafraid to name our enemy — radical Islamic terrorism — and will set out to defeat it.
  • Rick Santorum: Yes, @HillaryClinton we are at war with radical Islam! You are not qualified to serve if you cannot even define our enemy! #DemDebate
  • Mike Huckabee: You’re all grown up now. You can do it. Three words. Ten syllables. Say it with me: “Radical Islamic terrorism.” #DemDebate
  • Carly Fiorina: We need a President who will see and speak and act on the truth…Hillary Clinton will not call this Islamic terrorism. I will.
  • RNC (Republican National Committee: Hillary refuses to say we are at war with “radical Islam.” #DemDebate
  • Todd Starnes (Fox News): If your #DemDebate drinking game words are “Radical Islam” — you’ll be going home cold sober tonight, folks.
  • Eric Bolling (Fox News): Just so all you vapid @HillaryClinton supporters know. She just said “we are not at war with radical Islam”. #parisisburning
  • Donald Trump (again): When will President Obama issue the words RADICAL ISLAMIC TERRORISM? He can’t say it, and unless he will, the problem will not be solved!

In addition to these individuals, conservative media is singing from the same hymnal. National Review, Breitbart News, Washington Times, Free Beacon, and the Daily Caller are among those in the choir. It’s clearly an obsession with these folks. They are convinced that babbling a few specific words is a better indicator of the determination to fight terrorists than actually fighting terrorists. So even though Obama ordered the successful assassination of Osama Bin Laden, and as Commander-in-Chief presided over the killing of thousands of terrorist operatives, including many of their leaders, he can’t possibly be serious about the mission until he recites the approved scriptural incantation.

For the record, just this week under the leadership of President Obama, missions were carried out that are believed to have resulted in the deaths of the ISIS chief in Libya and the infamous ISIS executioner known as Jihadi John. And all without invoking the magic spell.

At Fox News they are engaging in their standard game plan of distorting reality in a way that twists it to their far-right biases. Ed Henry, their senior White House correspondent, in a post-debate report told Sean Hannity that “At one point [Hillary Clinton] said ‘I do not believe we’re at war with radical Islam.’ The reaction to that online and overnight will be very interesting.”

Of course the most interesting part of that is that it is not what she said. What she said was “I don’t think we’re at war with Islam. I don’t think we’re at war with all Muslims. I think we’re at war with jihadists.” Nevertheless, Henry’s bastardization of her remarks is what will stick in the already gooey minds of Fox viewers. The cult simply will not permit free thought based on verifiable facts.

How Fox News Deceives and Controls Their Flock:
Fox Nation vs. Reality: The Fox News Cult of Ignorance.
Available now at Amazon.

There are numerous reasons for declining to fall into the “radical Islamic terrorist” trap. News Corpse spelled them out early this year in some detail. The gist is that we have legitimate concerns regarding our ability to form coalitions with the Muslim nations in the Middle-East whose cooperation is required to prevail against ISIS. That is not helped by demeaning their faith. But it’s more than that. By accepting the terms and definitions of the terrorists, Republicans, Fox News, et al, are acting as the PR department for the terrorists who desperately aspire to be regarded as the legitimate voice of Islam. Why are they insisting on granting the terrorists that victory?

And here’s some perspective from Muslims on the anti-Islam extremists who pretend to be Muslim.

Pres. Obama: This Is An Attack On All Of Humanity. Rupert Murdoch: Nuh Uh

The world watches stunned as yet another horrific act of terrorism is carried out that senselessly takes the lives of innocent people. The city of Paris is in shock as it struggles to recover and to understand the nature of a lethal and elusory enemy. And decent people worldwide are united in sympathy, concern, and determination to prevail over evil.

President Obama expressed the condolences of the American people in statement (video below) that was heartfelt while recognizing the difficulties of the tasks that lie ahead. He said that “This is an attack not just on Paris, it’s an attack not just on the people of France, but this is an attack on all of humanity and the universal values that we share.”

The truth of that statement is reflected in the nearly unanimous agreement from national leaders around the world such as German Chancellor Angela Merkel who said that this “Attack on freedom was not only meant for Paris, it is against all of us.” Iranian Foreign Minister Hossein Jaber Ansari condemned attacks saying that “Those terrorist groups that committed the Paris crimes do not believe in ethical principles and they are not loyal to any type of divine religions — including Islam.”

There was, however, a notable exception. Rupert Murdoch, the CEO and Chairman of the parent corporation of Fox News, explicitly contradicted the President and others in a tweet saying that the “Paris outrage not an attack on all humanity, but an attack on us. ie, Western civilisation!”

Rupert Murdoch

What a despicable expression of egocentric, supremacist bullcrap. Murdoch’s insistence that terrorism is not a plague on all the nations of the world exposes his rancid bigotry and ignorance. It is self-centered and delusional to suggest that the only targets of terrorism are people like himself. He is apparently unaware that the most frequent victims by far of radical Islamists are other Muslims. Why does he think there are currently some three million refugees from Syria flowing into neighboring countries? They are peaceful and frightened people fleeing the barbarism of ISIS that has taken the lives of so many of their friends, families, and fellow citizens.

These people know the horror and heartbreak of terrorism far better than Murdoch does from the comfort and safety of his penthouse. Yet he callously dismisses them as not being the targets of terror. His assertion that Westerners are the only victims, that it isn’t an attack on humanity, may be because he doesn’t regard them as human. And choosing this time to excrete his vile prejudices, while the blood of Parisians, including very likely the blood of innocent Muslims, is still staining the streets of Paris, could not be more repulsive.

It is so sad that such a blatant bigot controls one of largest media empires in the world and that it so closely mirrors his hate mongering. Murdoch was a fervent proponent of, and propagandist for, the war in Iraq that destabilized the region and allowed groups like ISIS to flourish. And now he belittles the suffering of the people most devastated by the chaos and brutality for which his efforts were a major contributing factor.

Murdoch could not be more wrong. What happened in Paris was most definitely an attack on all of humanity. Murdoch just doesn’t have enough of it to know that.

How Fox News Deceives and Controls Their Flock:
Fox Nation vs. Reality: The Fox News Cult of Ignorance.
Available now at Amazon.

[Addendum:] One of Murdoch’s favorite guests on Fox News, Milwaukee’s wingnut Sheriff David Clarke, tweeted his response to the Paris attacks: “If GOP plays this politically smart they can end any chance that the Dems win the WH in 2016. War is politics carried on by other means.” It’s bad enough that he is brazenly politicizing this tragedy while the bodies are still warm, but he’s also implying that the objectives of the terrorists are aligned with those of the Republican Party. In effect, he’s looking at “the bright side” of this horror for his political pals. How sick is that?

David Clarke

Fox News On Bloomingdale’s: What Could Be Funnier Than Date Rape?

Earlier this week Bloomingdale’s came under an onslaught of well-deserved criticism for an ad that seemed to advocate sexual assault by surreptitiously drugging your female friends. It is inconceivable that this ad went through their marketing department processes and emerged as acceptable to publish. Eventually Bloomingdale’s acknowledge their abysmally poor judgment and apologized.

Fox News Bloomingdale's

That, however, is not the end of the story. Because Fox News still had something to say on the subject. And it was left to the kids on the curvy couch of Fox & Friends to articulate the network’s response (video below). Thereupon, co-host Elisabeth Hasselbeck, the lone woman on the program, called it a reckless ad. Unfortunately her fellow-co-hosts were somewhat less disturbed. Clayton Morris jumped in to praise Bloomingdale’s for apologizing like a remorseful wife-beater. And Steve Doocy actually tried to make excuses for the ad saying “Remember back in the old days when people used to make jokes?” Morris then joined in to add “When people had a sense of humor.” Yeah, you remember humor? Those uniquely human moments when we are amused by violence against women. [Ironically, I just published an article about how Fox News aspires to be a comedy network]

Indeed, those were the good old days. Men could spike the drinks of women and have their way with them without repercussions. And alluding fondly to those carefree times (for men) is nothing more than a bit of good humor. Bill Cosby must be thinking back on those days with some longing. It’s reminiscent of the time when the Fox & Friends gang happily joked about NFL running back Ray Rice knocking out his fiance in an elevator. Co-host Brian Kilmeade helpfully observed that “I think the message is – take the stairs,” presumably to avoid being videotaped in the commission of an assault.

Fox News has a history of downplaying the seriousness of sexual assault. On one particularly repulsive occasion, commentator Liz Trotta complained about women in the military who whined about being assaulted by their comrades. Trotta argued against “this whole bureaucracy upon bureaucracy being built up with all kinds of levels of people to support women in the military who are now being raped too much.” Although she never actually defined how much rape was acceptable before it would be considered “too much.”

The takeaway from this is that whenever you hear Republicans talk about returning the country to a past that they imagine as serene and untroubled, what they really want is to roll back the clock on women’s rights and civil rights and any progress made on advancing individual freedom and reducing bigotry. They revere nothing more than a past when white, male, Christians dominated the nation’s social and governmental institutions. And that deranged expression of nostalgia just isn’t funny anymore.

How Fox News Deceives and Controls Their Flock:
Fox Nation vs. Reality: The Fox News Cult of Ignorance.
Available now at Amazon.

The Clowns Of Cable News: Laughing At Fox News, Not With Them

There has been a meme circulating around the InterTubes for some time saying that “I get my news from Comedy Central and my comedy from Fox News.” It’s a concise way of articulating the reality that programs like The Daily Show are far more reliable sources for information than Fox & Friends or Bill O’Reilly.

Fox News Bozo

But something that seems to have been developing without much notice is that Fox News is actively reshaping their programming to be more like an actual comedy network. Alone among cable news broadcasters, Fox News is airing actual comedy shows. Already on the schedule is their late night entry Red Eye. Earlier this year they premiered The Greg Gutfeld Show, spinning off the former Red Eye host. And they just announced a new show starring Bill O’Reilly stalker/producer and Fox Nation editor, Jesse Watters, that will expand on his Watters’ World segments from The O’Reilly Factor. [See this epic smackdown of Watters by Steven Colbert]

Setting aside the fact that there is scarce evidence of actual humor in any of these programs, what is interesting is that Fox News is investing so much of their airtime in a form of entertainment that literally makes a mockery of their pretense to being journalists. For a network that whines so often about not being taken seriously as reporters, this trend will do little to enhance their already tattered reputation.

Making matters worse is the fact that Fox News has been so fiercely derisive of comedy programs that deign to direct their barbs at news subjects. Over many years there has been a constant drumbeat of outrage from Fox aimed at comedians whom they regard as unqualified to have worthwhile opinions on the news or the talent to find humor in it.

And no one has taken more abuse from Fox than Jon Stewart. Sean Hannity called him “a sanctimonious jackass.” Megyn Kelly said that “He was not a force for good.” Bill O’Reilly labeled him “a key component of left-wing television.” O’Reilly also went after Stewart’s audience saying that he has “stoned slackers watching your dopey show every night.” And this anti-Stewart doctrine comes straight from the top. Fox News CEO Roger Ailes publicly scolded Stewart saying that “He hates conservatives. He’s crazy.”

Fox News generally demeans anyone in the entertainment field who speaks out about politics, unless it’s Ted Nugent or Dennis Miller, but then it’s a stretch describing them as entertaining. If George Clooney or Sarah Silverman exercise their rights as citizens, Fox News considers it an abomination and unleashes a rancid stream of unreserved hostility. Fox contributor Laura Ingraham even wrote a book titled Shut Up and Sing,” to advocate for silencing show biz folk who want to participate in American democracy.

How Fox News Deceives and Controls Their Flock:
Fox Nation vs. Reality: The Fox News Cult of Ignorance.
Available now at Amazon.

So after disparaging entertainers, and especially comedians, for engaging in the centuries old art of satire, it is rather odd to find Fox News devoting a significant amount of time and money to doing what they hate so many others for doing. But while it is common for comedians to take on political topics, it is unheard of for news networks to commit whole programs to comedy. Certainly a news network can interview a comic or report on a humorous news story, but Fox is getting ready to launch their third comedy show. And they still want people to take them seriously as journalists? Well, that ship has sailed. If anything, Fox could continue to debut new comedy programs until they fill the schedule. Then, at least, people will be laughing at Fox for the right reasons.

GOP Debate Lowlights Featuring Donald Trump’s ‘Sarah Palin Moment’

Fox Business Network is patting itself on the back for pulling off the most boring primary debate to date (transcript). They led the candidates through what amounted to a two hour Republican infomercial. The moderators were so detached that when Donald Trump flew off on a tangent about China in response to a question about the Trans-Pacific Partnership trade deal, they failed to inform him that China was not a party to the deal. Rand Paul stepped in to correct the record, but they never followed up to get a straight answer from Trump.

And speaking of Donald Trump, he contributed some of the most hair-brained comments of the evening. Most notably, Trump may have delivered what will become his “Sarah Palin Moment.” He was asked what he would do in response to Russia’s aggression in Ukraine, Trump said “I got to know [Vladimir Putin] very well because we were both on 60 Minutes.” That’s about as delusional as Palin’s belief that her geographical proximity to Russia gave her insight into the region’s labyrinthine complexities.

The Republican Foreign Policy Dream Team:
Donald Trump Sarah Palin

Furthermore, Trump never actually met Putin who taped his 60 Minutes segment in Moscow. Trump was interviewed in his Manhattan penthouse. So what he meant by being “stablemates” is incomprehensible. It’s impossible to avoid the conclusion that he was being deliberately misleading.

In addition to his fudging a close relationship with Putin, Trump came out against raising the minimum wage because he thinks that people “have to work really hard and have to get into that upper stratum.” He continued saying that if wages were higher it would make the U.S. less competitive. In other words, he expects American labor to compete with the slave-wage earners of China and other nations that abuse their working class. That should make a good campaign bumper sticker.

But a Trump rant wouldn’t be complete without his descending into rancid bigotry. And Trump didn’t disappoint. While answering a question about his utterly ludicrous proposal to round up and deport eleven million undocumented residents, Trump sought to validate his approach by comparing it to a program implemented by President Dwight Eisenhower in 1952. And as if to put a sunny disposition on the controversial program, Trump introduced the comparison with a reminder of Eisenhower’s chummy campaign slogan, “I like Ike.” What Trump left out is that Eisenhower’s Operation Wetback (yes, that was what it was called) resulted in dozens of fatalities and a taint of racism. Approximately 1.2 million people were deported to rural areas of Mexico with none of their possessions or other resources necessary to survive. Trump is calling for ten times as many deportations and still won’t explain how he will do it.

Now we don’t want to pick on Trump exclusively. Ben Carson also indicated his opposition to raising the minimum wage saying that “Every time we raise the minimum wage, the number of jobless people increases.” Once again, Carson is pulling data out of a human body part far removed from area that he generally operated on. There is ample evidence that raising the minimum wage has no negative impact whatsoever on job creation. But not satisfied with merely misstating reality, Carson went on to actually call for lowering the minimum wage for some workers.

Marco Rubio weighed in on the matter of wages and education. Apparently he is not too anxious to encourage Americans to seek higher education. Consequently, he advocated for vocational training as opposed to college. Of course, there isn’t anything wrong with vocational schools, which may be superior alternatives for some students. But Rubio reduced the argument to “Welders make more money than philosophers. We need more welders and less philosophers.” However, Rubio’s argument is not based in reality. The median salary for philosophy professors is almost $64,000. The median salary for welders is about $37,400. And philosophy majors (who often go into many other lines of work where an understanding of people and society is required) command higher average salaries throughout their careers. We need both welders and philosophers, but no one should be persuaded based on dishonest applause lines from self-serving politicians.

Rand Paul’s breakout moment in the debate came during a discussion on income inequality when he said that “If you want less income inequality, move to a city with a Republican mayor or a state with a Republican governor.” Not surprisingly, this is another Republican distortion of the truth. Of the ten states with the worst income inequality gaps, six are run by Republicans. Do these people ever get tired of being wrong?

Apparently not. Because Carly Fiorina joined the parade in a rant against the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. She inexplicably said that “We’ve created something called the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, a vast bureaucracy with no congressional oversight that’s digging through hundreds of millions of your credit records to detect fraud.” What Fiorina considers a “vast bureaucracy” is a relatively small agency with fewer than 1,000 employees. For comparison, the IRS has about 90,000. What’s more, it has the same measure of congressional oversight of almost every other federal agency. It’s director must be confirmed by the Senate, and it is subject to budgetary constraints imposed by Congress. Finally, you’ll have to ask her what she finds so offensive about uncovering fraud and protecting America’s consumers.

To give credit where it’s due, there some questions that where genuinely probing and worthwhile. Sadly, not one of them got a direct answer. The candidates exercised the old debate strategy of not answering the question you are asked, but the question you wish you were asked. And the moderators did nothing in the way of follow ups to attempt to get a responsive answer. Here are three outstanding, and unanswered, questions:

Gerard Baker, Wall Street Journal: Now, in seven years under President Obama, the U.S. has added an average of 107,000 jobs a month. Under President Clinton, the economy added about 240,000 jobs a month. Under George W. Bush, it was only 13,000 a month. If you win the nomination, you’ll probably be facing a Democrat named Clinton. How are you going to respond to the claim that Democratic presidents are better at creating jobs than Republicans?

Maria Bartiromo, Fox Business: [Hillary Clinton] was the first lady of the United States, a U.S. senator from New York, and secretary of state under Barack Obama. She has arguably more experience, certainly more time in government than almost all of you on stage tonight. Why should the American people trust you to lead this country, even though she has been so much closer to the office?

Baker: Income inequality has been rising in the United States. Fifty years ago, for example, the average CEO of a big corporation in this country earned 20 times the average salary of one of his or her workers. Today, that CEO earns about 300 times the average salary of a worker. Does it matter at all that the gap between the rich and everyone else is widening?

How Fox News Deceives and Controls Their Flock:
Fox Nation vs. Reality: The Fox News Cult of Ignorance.
Available now at Amazon.

This debate was a peculiar creature from the start. The Fox Business Network has program ratings so low that Nielsen doesn’t even publish them. The only explanation is that it was a gift from the Republican Party to Rupert Murdoch and the Fox News family. As it turns out, it was a generous gift in that the debate drew a record number of viewers (13,500,000) for the tiny network. Although it was still the smallest audience of any of the debates held so far this election cycle. The next debates are scheduled for November 14 (Democrats on CBS) and December 15 (GOP on CNN).

GOP Debate On Fox Business Wants To Know: Whose Plan Would God Endorse?

The rancorous aftermath of the Republican debate a couple of weeks ago on CNBC laid the foundation for a comparison to what Fox News would do when they hosted their second GOP debate on their sister network, Fox Business. The hype prior to the FBN affair was all about how they would show the rest of the press how a debate should be run.

Fox Business

Well now we know. Rather than questions about whether Donald Trump is a cartoon candidate (which deserves further scrutiny), Fox’s Neil Cavuto, the Glenn Beck of business news, sought to ascertain the candidates’ positions on tax policy. And opening that segment of the program, Cavuto turned to Ben Carson and asked

“I think God is a pretty fair guy. So tithing is a pretty fair process. But Donald Trump says that is not fair, that wealthier taxpayers should pay a higher rate because it’s a fair thing to do. So whose plan would God endorse then doctor?”

Seriously? That was the first question asked on the subject of taxes. And it was rather contentious framing that pitted Carson against Trump, something Republicans railed against after the CNBC debate. And yet, following this debate Fox will undoubtedly spend untold hours exalting themselves as superior debate hosts and praising how they put on a more serious, less combative candidate forum.

It may indeed have been a program more closely in tune with their audience who likely support the notion of a faith-based tax policy. Perhaps the next Republican debate can be an American Idol spin-off called “God’s Favorite,” where candidates compete to see who gets voted out of Heaven.

Anyone who has researched the tax plans of the GOP field, however, will not be surprised by the reliance on faith. They all create varying degrees of additional debt with Trump’s topping out at more than $10 trillion over ten years. The Rev. Ted Cruz continued sermonizing with a comparison of the IRS tax code to the bible. You’ll never guess which one he preferred. But the sin of lying was given short shrift. PolitiFact examined recent representations by some of the candidates and rated them all less than truthful.

So did Fox achieve their goal in presenting a less antagonistic debate that focused on the issues and served the interests of voters? Well not if disseminating real information is the standard of judgment. At no time during the debate was it brought up that these candidates were pitching tax plans that exploded the debt. That seems like something that voters would want to know.

How Fox News Deceives and Controls Their Flock:
Fox Nation vs. Reality: The Fox News Cult of Ignorance.
Available now at Amazon.

In the end, though, if the voters were not served, the candidates were. They got pretty much exactly what they wanted: A forum to articulate their views without any serious challenge. The debate was more of an extended infomercial for the candidates who were permitted to spin, lie, and even promote their websites in a brazen appeal for cash. Which actually is kind of a perfect synergy for a GOP (Greedy One Percent) debate on Fox’s money-media network.