In case you haven’t heard, there is a bloodthirsty terrorist militia marauding through Iraq and Syria, killing innocent, mostly Muslim civilians and making hundreds of thousands refugees as they flee the crusading army. These same murderous fanatics are threatening to turn the streets of America red with blood. They are being fought by Iraqi and Syrian soldiers, rebel groups who oppose Bashar al-Assad, Shiite militias backed by Iran, Jordanian fighters, and American bombers and drones. Yet they manage to endure and even achieve some measure of victory.
The problem that ISIS presents to the world is clearly one that defies easy solutions. However, that doesn’t stop self-serving demagogues from pretending they have one. So what can realistically be done to put an end to the slaughter? Who will step forward to save us? It can only be the Ego of the East, Donald Trump, who recently unveiled his 2016 campaign slogan:
It is times like these that we must be grateful to have heroes like Trump walking among us. The ferret-topped reality TV host, and alleged business genius (alleged by him), has come forward to reveal that he knows precisely how to squash the terrorist hoards once and for all. This what he told Greta Van Sustern today on Fox News (video below):
Trump: I do know what to do and I would know how to bring ISIS to the table or, beyond that, defeat ISIS very quickly. And I’m not gonna tell you what it is.
Setting aside the lunatic notion that Trump would ever sit across a table from ISIS negotiating an armistice, his childish refusal to share his military brilliance could be seen by some as rather unpatriotic. After all, people are dying right now and ominous threats of escalation are being thrown around that include domestic attacks.
Now, anyone with a functioning cerebral cortex knows that Trump is not going to run for president. He’s pulled this scam before, and there is no way that he would engage in an activity that would require him to disclose his shady finances. But if we indulge that fantasy for a moment, we would also have to be dumb enough to pretend that he would have a shot at winning the nomination and beating Hillary Clinton. So it would not be until January of 2017 at the earliest that Trump would be able to launch his ISIS-crushing plan. Could Trump be held responsible if another 9/11-like attack occurred in the next year and a half because he withheld his magic formula for victory?
Of course we should believe Trump because he has been so credible on all of the other proclamations he has made in the past. Like the time he said that the private investigators he sent to Hawaii to finally discover where Barack Obama was really born were telling him that “they cannot believe what they’re finding.” Trump never revealed those findings to us, they were that unbelievable.
Then there was the time that Trump told the Kurvy Kouch Potatoes of Fox & Friends that he had “very big news … concerning the president of the United States” that would significantly alter the race between Obama and Mitt Romney. The payoff came several days later he released a cheesy video wherein he made Obama an offer that he could not refuse. Of course, the offer to tempt Obama with a five million dollar bribe to hand over to Trump his college transcripts and passports was not only refused, it was completely ignored.
So now Trump says that he will decide in June whether or not he will run for president (he won’t) and that his decision will surprise everyone. Frankly, I’m surprised he can complete a sentence without drooling.
This week President Obama gave the commencement address at the United States Coast Guard Academy in New London, Connecticut. The speech devoted significant time to the issue of climate change and the problems it creates for the military. He said in part that…
“I’m here today to say that climate change constitutes a serious threat to global security, an immediate risk to our national security. And make no mistake, it will impact how our military defends our country. And so we need to act — and we need to act now.”
To no one’s surprise, Fox News bristled at the notion that the potential harmful effects of climate change would be a topic of discussion at a military graduation ceremony. And among those flustered by the President’s message was pathological liar Bill O’Reilly (video below) who began his reproach by claiming that “that theory surprised a lot of military people.”
Then, as evidence of the many surprised military people, O’Reilly played a clip of Sen. John McCain (who has not been in the military for 34 years) saying that he is, indeed, worried about climate change, but wonders whether “we give a damn about what’s happening in the streets of Ramadi.”
McCain was attempting what many intellectually vacant demagogues do by implying that it’s impossible to care about more than one thing at a time. Even so, he undermined O’Reilly’s point by admitting his worries about climate change. But more importantly, that soundbite from McCain was the only proof O’Reilly offered of his assertion that the military are surprised by Obama’s speech. Had he actually done any research on the subject he would have found that the Pentagon has expressly cited climate change as a “threat multiplier” that can “aggravate” conditions that lead to conflict and terrorism. As stated in the Pentagon’s 2014 Quadrennial Defense Review:
“The pressures caused by climate change will influence resource competition while placing additional burdens on economies, societies, and governance institutions around the world. These effects are threat multipliers that will aggravate stressors abroad such as poverty, environmental degradation, political instability, and social tensions – conditions that can enable terrorist activity and other forms of violence.”
What’s more, sixteen retired Generals and Admirals writing for the Center for Naval Analyses’s Military Advisory Board published a report that warned that…
“…developments in scientific climate projections, observed climate changes (particularly in the Arctic), the toll of extreme weather events both at home and abroad, and changes in the global security environment have all served to accelerate the national security implications of climate change.”
So as usual, Bill O’Reilly doesn’t have the foggiest notion what he is talking about. Not only do 97% of scientists who study climate agree that climate change is a real concern and is exacerbated by human behaviors, but the military has repeatedly affirmed the geo-political risks. Which makes it all the more disturbing that O’Reilly can say with a straight face that…
“It’s fine to want a cleaner planet. I do. And it’s good to explore ways to eliminate harmful emissions. Every sane person supports that. But to tell a group of military graduates that climate change is a defense priority borders on delusion.”
Apparently O’Reilly believes that America’s military leadership are suffering delusions with regard to climate change. Then again, if anyone knows about being delusional it’s O’Reilly. And he isn’t alone. His contention that every sane person supports exploring ways to eliminate harmful emissions would put congressional Republicans in the insane category. Just last year GOP members of the House voted overwhelmingly to prohibit the Defense Department from using funds to implement the recommendations of the science institutions best qualified to assess climate change.
This is just another example proving that the last thing the GOP wants is for experts to be contributing their expertise to policy. And the last thing O’Reilly and Fox News want is for facts to get in the way of their rightist propaganda.
Failed businessman and birther, Donald Trump, has not yet announced whether he will run for president in 2016. Of course his failure to make a decision isn’t exactly leaving anyone wondering about what it will be (or caring). He has been down this road too many times and now everyone pretty much knows that he’s just a publicity-seeking fraud. However, last night on Fox News Trump did reveal his fake campaign slogan: “This Country Is A Hell Hole.”[Video below]
What better way to endear himself to an electorate of Fox pods who are similarly unpatriotic and harbor hateful feelings about an America that elected Barack Obama twice. These pseudo-patriots pretend to be loyal flag-wavers while constantly maligning the country and their fellow citizens who happen to disagree with them. They pretend to support the troops unless they are conducting training exercises in Texas, in which case the same soldiers are invaders bent on imposing martial law. They pretend to adhere to Christian tenets of charity and loving thy neighbor unless their neighbor is black, Muslim, or on welfare (you know how Jesus despised the poor).
And now Trump tells Megyn Kelly how he really feels about America. He’s not alone. A couple of years ago Rush Limbaugh admitted that “I am ashamed of my country.” Not long after that Sean Hannity confessed that “I am humiliated for my country”
Someone should tell these cretins that we’re not exactly bragging about them, either. As for Trump, he will never run for president for at least one unavoidable reason: Candidates have to produce financial statements. Trump won’t do that because he doesn’t want everyone to know what a loser he is (he declared bankruptcy four times). He says that he will announce his intentions next month and everyone will be surprised. Even Megyn Kelly said that she would only be surprised if he runs.
Most Americans are surprised that anyone takes him seriously – or that he takes himself seriously. In the Clown Car of the Republican Party, Donald Trump is riding in the trunk, but he thinks he’s driving.
A few weeks ago a well known Islamophobe and professional instigator, Pamela Geller, held what she pretended was a contest to “Draw the Prophet Muhammad.” In reality the affair had nothing to do with art or free expression, but was a deliberate attempt to incite violence.
Geller’s hate-fest was praised as a courageous expression of liberty by sympathetic bigots at Fox News. They regarded her repugnant message as patriotic and celebrated the death of the two idiots that Geller was successful in provoking into senseless violence. But if you want to know what the same Fox News blowhards who revere Geller really think about free speech, just keep watching and they will reveal their true disgust for the First Amendment when it protects speech that they don’t like.
Last week Eric Bolling delivered a commentary about an art exhibit by students at a New Jersey high school. The exhibit was called “Law Enforcement – Police Brutality.” It was a subject chosen by the students and was open to, and included, opinions from all sides of the debate. Bolling, of course, focused solely on the work that was critical of the police, and he was not shy about expressing his desire for censorship.
Bolling: OK, I get the idea of free speech but … hey, teachers at Westfield would you put up an art exhibit showing teachers abusing students? I don’t think you’d do it. Nor should you have done this. I’d like to see that thing taken down.
Judging by this comment it is not particularly clear that Bolling really does “get the idea of free speech.” These students have every right to express their own opinions of significant current events that affect their communities. Suppressing the artwork they produce is a clear breach of those rights. But hypocrites like Bolling continue to expose themselves as having variable principles that permit freedom only to those with whom they agree. This is illustrated best by what Bolling himself said a couple of weeks prior in defense of Geller and her hate exhibit.
Bolling: Free speech is protected no matter how inciting it may be. We’re becoming too politically correct. We worry that offending Muslims somehow overrides our won Constitutional rights.
It should surprise no one that Bolling never suggested that Geller’s exhibit should be “taken down,” nor that he never stood up for the students’ free speech “no matter how inciting it may be.” To Bolling and his Fox News cohorts, Geller’s anti-Muslim bigotry makes her a standard bearer of American virtue, but the students’ concerns about abuse of power by law enforcement makes them snotty little delinquents who should be neither seen nor heard.
On a side note, why is Fox News so obsessed with demeaning high school students? Check out this previous attack on students in Vermont after they defended their state from disparaging remarks by a Bill O’Reilly producer.
Icing on the flake: The following day, Bolling responded to criticism he received for his overt hypocrisy. In his whiny, self-defense he insisted that he is a stalwart proponent of free speech and all that he meant to convey was that he also had the right to say that he didn’t approve of the student art show. However, there a couple problems with that “clarification.” First, he didn’t say that he didn’t approve, he said that he would like to see it taken down. Second, he never acknowledged that critics of Geller’s phony exhibit also have a right to disapprove. He still regards them as anti-free speech, once again proving that his rights are legitimate and everyone else should shut up.
The conservative media circus is furiously banging their drums to chastise George Stephanopoulos, host of ABC’s Good Morning America and This Week, for his failure to disclose a donation to the Clinton Foundation. This oversight is being portrayed as an unforgivable offense of partisan bias. As with any matter that can be hyper-dramatized by zealous punditry, Fox News took the lead in running Stephanopoulos through the metaphorical grinder.
A couple of notes need to be raised in order to fairly assess this situation. First of all, Stephanopoulos donated to a charitable organization, not a political campaign. Thus, it cannot really be regarded as partisan in that the Clinton Foundation does not engage in any political activities. Its mission is purely philanthropic and no fair observer has ever alleged any ideological leanings. Furthermore, unlike a corporate donor or a foreign entity, there isn’t any conceivable benefit that Stephanopoulos might have been seeking in exchange for a donation. Even his critics do not allege that his motives were anything but altruistic.
That said, there are problems with his failure to disclose that impact his reporting when the subject is the Foundation itself. For instance, Stephanopoulos recently interviewed the author of “Clinton Cash,” a book that alleges improprieties on the part of Hillary Clinton in connection to donations to the Foundation. The fact that the book was filled with factual errors and failed to prove its premise does not excuse Stephanopoulos from an ethical duty to reveal that he was also a donor.
Taken in its entirety, this scandalette hardly seems to approach the degree of significance that is being assigned to it by Fox News and other conservative media. There was no effort to extract any personal gain and the ethical lapse did not result in any reportorial distortion. But that hasn’t stopped right-wing muckrakers from attempting to whip it up into a full-blown catastrophe for Stephanopoulos. He has been maligned as hopelessly biased and there have been calls for him to resign or be fired. Fox’s Howard Kurtz described the affair as…
“…such a bombshell that George Stephanopoulos has now had to withdraw as ABC’s moderator in the Republican presidential debate next year.”
What makes the debate moderation move somewhat comical is that last November the chairman of the Republican Party, Reince Priebus, ruled out anyone that he regarded as being unfriendly to the Party’s interests.
Priebus: [the] thing that is ridiculous is allowing moderators, who are not serving the best interests of the candidate and the party, to actually be the people to be deposing our people. And I think that’s totally wrong.
Priebus reinforced that edict yesterday saying that “I’ve been very public about this. George Stephanopoulos was never going to moderate a Republican debate anyway.” Somewhere Priebus got the impression that debate moderators are supposed to serve the interests of the candidates. Certainly the interest of the voters never entered into it. And the last thing that the GOP wants is a debate that is truly spirited and informative. They are looking for something more on the order of an infomercial.
Amidst this tumultuous uproar over the fate of Stephanopoulos and his relatively modest $75,000 gift, what has gone unmentioned is that he is not alone in making donations to the Clinton Foundation. In fact, Fox News has been even more generous than Stephanopoulos. Rupert Murdoch’s son James, the COO of 21st Century Fox (parent company of Fox News), made a donation in the range of $1,000,000-$5,000,000. The News Corporation Foundation contributed between $500,000-$1,000,000. Fox regular Donald Trump forked over between $100,000-$250,000.
There might be more of these types of ethical problems involving media personalities on the right donating to Republican charities like the Bush Foundation. However, we can’t uncover them because the Bush Foundation doesn’t disclose their donors like the Clintons do. Curious, isn’t it?
So the question is: How can Fox News criticize George Stephanopoulos for his undisclosed donations to the Clinton Foundation, when they have made far bigger donations without disclosing them? What’s more, the donations from the Fox media empire can be regarded as possible bribes since, unlike Stephanopoulos, they have pending business before the government and its regulatory agencies. If Fox News wants to pretend to be “fair and balanced” they need to immediately come clean. And if Stephanopoulos is denied the opportunity to moderate any GOP debates, then Fox News should be prohibited from airing them.
Don’t hold your breath waiting for Fox to act ethically in this matter. They will neither remove themselves from the debate schedule, nor cease their attacks on Stephanopoulos. That’s just the way Fox does business and it will continue despite the obvious hypocrisy and lack of journalistic principle.
The network that markets itself as “fair and balanced” has spent years proving their commitment to that slogan by balancing their right-wing infused “news” delivered by GOP mouthpieces with right-wing infused “news” delivered by people they falsely claim are liberals. The roster of fake Democrats on Fox News is extensive and includes rabid rightists like Pat Caddell, Doug Schoen, Mara Liasson, Juan Williams, and Kirsten Powers, all of whom freely express their contempt for the Democratic Party.
Kirsten Powers has long been a member of the Fake Democrat Society. She invariably agrees with her Fox News colleagues whenever she engages in a so-called debate on current events. Fox will predictably call on her to discuss issues that they know will reflect poorly on other Democrats. So if there is bad news for President Obama or Hillary Clinton making the rounds, Powers will get extra airtime to pile on. And she can be relied upon to make incendiary comments like the time she accused Obama of sympathizing with terrorists. Plus, she gets the benefit of the Fox marketing machine when she has a liberal bashing book to promote.
This new book by Powers, “The Silencing,” has the not-at-all derogatory subtitle of “How the Left is Killing Free Speech.” What could be more appropriate for the network that daily exercises its free speech to disparage lefties while complaining about being victims of official censorship? And what better message for a supposedly liberal pundit to devote to an entire book? And while we’re at it, how dumb is it for someone exercising her free speech in a book (and daily on Fox News) to complain about free speech being killed?
The truth is that this book is a petty and self-serving response by Powers to the derision she endures for her conservative activism while pretending to be a liberal. For some reason she thinks that she can get away with wearing a Democratic label and bashing Democrats, but never be criticized for it. So she wrote a book to further hammer away at those with whom she professes to be aligned. What better way to demonstrate loyalty than to accuse your so-called friends of “killing” free speech?
In some respects this book is just the sequel to “Muzzled: The Assault on Honest Debate,” the book her fellow fake Dem, Juan Williams, wrote a couple of years ago on pretty much the same subject. Both books attack what they regard as political correctness as exercised by a liberal establishment that objects to Fox News passing off right-wingers as Democrats.
As evidence of the rightward ideological slant of Powers, her book was published by the uber-conservative Regnery Publishing, the literary home to Dinesh D’Souza, Ed Klein, Michelle Malkin, Laura Ingraham, Newt Gingrich, Mark Levin, Ann Coulter, Ted Nugent, and Patrick Buchanan. That is not the sort of company kept by real liberals. However, Powers’ book fits right in with the other tomes lambasting liberalism and chronicling the exploits of our allegedly treasonous and foreign-born president.
Additionally, Powers has been lauded by the ultra-rightist Breitbart News on numerous occasions, even as they joined the charade that Powers is not one of them. And the first excerpts of her book were published by the house organ of the Heritage Foundation, now led by former GOP Senator and Tea Party icon Jim DeMint. These are associations that expose the ulterior motives that Powers is pursuing with her partisan diatribe. Those motives are further revealed on the inside flap of her book:
“Free speech and freedom of conscience have long been core American values. Yet a growing intolerance from the left side of the political spectrum is threatening Americans’ ability to freely express beliefs without fear of retaliation.”
First of all, the notion that free speech comes with a shield from retaliation is contrary to the definition of free speech. What conservatives like Powers want is the ability to say all the nasty, dishonest things they like without being subject to rebuttal or criticism. It’s free speech for them, but no one else.
From a broader perspective, however, this book just reveals an effort to take down liberals for perceived intolerance, while completely ignoring the same from conservatives. If Powers were the least bit concerned about representing a progressive worldview, she would have authored a more balanced assessment of the matter. The fact that she limited her inquiry to the alleged crimes of liberals shows exactly where her heart lies.
Furthermore, the inside flap also declares that the reader will “learn how the illiberal left is obsessed with delegitimizing Fox News.” And that, in the end, is its whole reason for existing. It is a flagrantly self-serving attempt to promote Fox News, excuse their blatant biases, and restore the credibility she and Fox have lost due to their rampant dissemination of lies, which PolitiFact has found is the majority of their reporting.
Remember Glenn Beck? Remember that guy who used to rant about caliphates and Agenda 21 conspiracies and presidents who hate white people? I know it has been a while (like maybe twenty or thirty minutes), but if you can reach back in your memories to that time that Glenn Beck was dispensing certifiably insane lectures on the end of civilization, you may be interested to know that he’s still doing it.
Yes, even though Beck has undergone revelations that such nonsense was destructive, he still persists. Even though he has apologized and claimed to have had epiphanies showing him the evil of his ways on at least two occassions:
June 7, 2013: For any role that I have played in dividing, I wish I can take them back. January 22, 2014: I think I played a role, unfortunately, in helping tear the country apart.
And even though he claimed that his “craziness” was the product of his diseased mind:
November 11, 2014: I had begun to have a string of health issues that, quite honestly, made me look crazy. And, quite honestly, I felt crazy because of them.
The lunacy continues in the bowels of his Texas studio where today he unleashed some of his most vicious rhetoric to date aimed at First Lady Michelle Obama.
The impetus for this flow of vitriol was Obama’s inspirational commencement speech at Tuskegee University in Alabama (video below). It was a well-received address that began with uplifting praise for “all of you will take your spot in the long line of men and women who have come here and distinguished themselves and this university.” She continued with heartfelt personal stories of how she and her family were subject to many of the same hardships that African-Americans, and other oppressed minorities, have suffered due to prejudices that were ingrained in the culture of a nation divided by race.
Despite these hardships, Obama assured the students that this country holds great promise for them and that they must never give in to bitterness or cynicism. She used the example of the famous squadron of Tuskegee Airmen who distinguished themselves in World War II:
“Now, those Airmen could easily have let that experience clip their wings. But as you all know, instead of being defined by the discrimination and the doubts of those around them, they became one of the most successful pursuit squadrons in our military. They went on to show the world that if black folks and white folks could fight together, and fly together, then surely — surely — they could eat at a lunch counter together. Surely their kids could go to school together.”
Obama also spoke movingly about some of the outright bigotry that welcomed her and the President into national politics:
“Back when my husband first started campaigning for President, folks had all sorts of questions of me: What kind of First Lady would I be? What kinds of issues would I take on? Would I be more like Laura Bush, or Hillary Clinton, or Nancy Reagan? And the truth is, those same questions would have been posed to any candidate’s spouse. That’s just the way the process works. But, as potentially the first African American First Lady, I was also the focus of another set of questions and speculations; conversations sometimes rooted in the fears and misperceptions of others. Was I too loud, or too angry, or too emasculating? (Applause.) Or was I too soft, too much of a mom, not enough of a career woman?
“Then there was the first time I was on a magazine cover — it was a cartoon drawing of me with a huge afro and machine gun. Now, yeah, it was satire, but if I’m really being honest, it knocked me back a bit. It made me wonder, just how are people seeing me.
“Or you might remember the on-stage celebratory fist bump between me and my husband after a primary win that was referred to as a “terrorist fist jab.” And over the years, folks have used plenty of interesting words to describe me. One said I exhibited “a little bit of uppity-ism.“ Another noted that I was one of my husband’s “cronies of color.” Cable news once charmingly referred to me as “Obama’s Baby Mama.”
“And of course, Barack has endured his fair share of insults and slights. Even today, there are still folks questioning his citizenship. “
However, the lesson from this that Obama conveyed to the students was expressed in her realization that “if I wanted to keep my sanity and not let others define me, there was only one thing I could do, and that was to have faith in God’s plan for me. I had to ignore all of the noise and be true to myself — and the rest would work itself out.”
The overwhelming theme of the speech was victory over adversity, and the benefits of being true to oneself and committed to a path of harmony, service, and success, personally and professionally. But somehow Glenn Beck got a very different message. He castigated Obama for failing to solve all problems associated with race relations (video here if you have the stomach for it). He said that “they could have changed race relations forever. But they took us back to the 1960’s on grudge politics.” Of course, he never explained how the Obamas could change everything forever, or how they turned back the clock, but validating anything he says has never been a part of his shtick.
Beck was disturbed that Obama spoke about the very real tribulations faced by victims of prejudice. He surely would prefer that she had ignored such unpleasantness. But worse, he accused her of exacerbating racial strife and being ungrateful for the progress that has been made. He insisted that she had no right to lament the difficulties that she endured, and which many still endure, because her husband was elected President with votes from white people. In Beck’s world, progress means that all transgressions, past and present, are irrelevant. The only thing you should feel now is gratitude for the benevolence of all the white people who made your success possible.
According to Beck it is white, conservative, Christian men who are the victims of discrimination today. Somehow, in his severely warped brain, he believes that African-Americans who talk about the real strains of bigotry are self-absorbed whiners, but the beleaguered Caucasians of America have righteous grievances of social injustice. And if that weren’t delusional enough, he lashed out at Obama for fomenting violence and deigned to speak in her voice:
“The worst thing you can do is riot in the streets. She’s saying the opposite. ‘I know what you feel because I felt it, and even I’m the President’s wife and I still feel invisible. I feel like we’re not being heard. So I’m not only validating your feeling, I’m here to tell you it is happening.’
“And that’s why people are rioting in the streets. She is encouraging this kind of behavior.”
For Beck to pretend that he has any concept of what Obama has gone through in her life is repulsive in the extreme. But more importantly, his attack on her misses the whole point. She is speaking for millions of Americans who have suffered at the hands of bigots. And she is telling them to have faith in themselves and their ability to prevail through hardship. Beck played some clips of Obama’s speech, but never any of those where she told the students that their future was in their hands and that they can succeed with a positive outlook.
The fact that Beck came away from this with the notion that Obama was advocating violence and rioting is the best possible evidence of his overt animosity and inbred hatred. It affirms precisely what Obama was talking about. It affirms all of the worst that can be attributed to bigots like him. And it demonstrates that his prior testimonials that he has seen the light and doesn’t want to be a divisive figure anymore, doesn’t want to tear the country apart, were all lies. But then, we knew that already. He has never stopped being a hate mongering spokesman for the worst elements of our society, and it’s fair to assume that he never will.
First things first: Freedom of speech is a cherished liberty among all Americans and most citizens of the rest of the world. It is the bedrock upon which all other freedoms rest. Preserving it is critical for civilized societies to exist. And it must be honored for all speech, especially that which is regarded as unpopular or offensive.
That said, in the practice of defending free speech we must be able to distinguish between actual expressions of genuine thoughts and beliefs, as opposed to cynical exploitation aimed at inflaming emotions and inciting violence. Just as shouting “fire” in a crowded theater when there is no fire is not protected speech, staging events meant to cause harm is not an excusable act under the First Amendment.
Hypocrites who pervert the notion of free expression need to be called out. They are often easy to spot. They complain bitterly when they are not allowed to malign and insult others with impunity. And while they insist that any derogatory speech directed at their heroes be condemned and suppressed, they outright lust for words and pictures that offend those whom they don’t particularly like. That’s how they can justify support for blatantly repulsive speech against Muslims or other enemies of right-wingers, but the slightest perceived slur aimed at Christians or other conservatives is an abomination. [Just ask the Dixie Chicks and the casualties in the War on Christmas]
The affair in Garland, Texas was advertised as “The Inaugural Muhammad Art Exhibit and Contest.” But lest anyone mistake it for a legitimate exercise in free speech, the facts about its organizers and purpose must be known.
The event was a project of the American Freedom Defense Initiative, a virulent anti-Islamic operation that has been been identified by the Southern Poverty Law Center as a hate group. It is run by notorious Islamophobes, Pamela Geller and Robert Spencer. Geller & Co. have often produced media-centric events to promote an overtly bigoted agenda, of which the event in Garland is just the latest example.
To underscore the evil intentions behind this gathering, note that the venue chosen was the very same venue where Muslims held a conference in January of this year with the stated mission of making it clear that terrorists like ISIS and Al Qaeda are “enemies of Islam who are hurting Muslims and neighborly relations toward the world.” That event was heckled by right-wing protesters who apparently object to peaceful Muslims who repudiate terrorism.
Geller admitted that she picked this site as a response to the previous, pro-peace event put on by area Muslims. Which also raises the significance of the fact that the Garland community has a growing Muslim population. Consequently, holding an openly hateful event in such a community is purposefully provocative.
So can this rightly be called a “free speech” event when the primary activity is an alleged “art” contest that the producers know will be inflammatory; the site was chosen as a deliberate poke in the eye; the community is home to those the organizers wish to offend; the guests include international anti-Islam activist Geert Wilders; and the participants are professional hate mongers? Wouldn’t it more more correct to call this a deliberate provocation intended to incite violence?
There was obviously no intent on the part of Geller and her hate brigade to engage in a sincere public discourse. It is far more likely that she got exactly what she wanted when a couple of would-be terrorists showed up with guns blazing. Sadly, what isn’t being reported in the media is that the leaders of the broader Muslim community at large condemned the shooting and expressed unreserved support for the free speech rights of Geller et al. They also counseled other Muslims in the area to refrain from even showing up to protest the event, in order to preserve the peace. In that effort they were successful as there was no onsite protest. The only alleged Muslims who showed up were, unfortunately, the gunmen.
It’s really too bad that there are people like Geller whose sole purpose in life is to create chaos and disharmony. And it makes it all the worse that they twist cherished principles like freedom of speech to incite violence. It is also too bad that there are idiots who will take the bait and give the hate mongers what they yearn for. Yes, Geller is just as entitled to free speech as anyone else. But she is coming awfully close to that line where she is shouting “fire” and hoping that innocent people get trampled.
The author of “Clinton Cash,” the widely debunked collection of baseless speculation masquerading as an exposé of Hillary Clinton, had yet another opportunity to hawk his snake oil on Fox News’ MediaBuzz with Howard Kurtz. Peter Schweizer was interviewed about the book in the friendliest of settings where he received almost no challenge to the numerous errors he published.
Despite the fact that the entire premise of his book is that Hillary Clinton engaged in illegal activities, Schweizer told Kurtz that “I don’t think the standard of any news organization would be that we only report things when we have evidence of illegality.” So, according to Schweizer, the evidence of illegality is not a prerequisite for writing a book accusing someone of illegality. That is a justification for speculation, at best, and slander, at worst. In any case, it is not journalism.
Schweizer was asked about whether, due to his past associations, it would be appropriate to characterize him as partisan. Schweizer’s answer was that he is a conservative, but that does not equate to being a Republican. Really?
For the record, his associations include consorting with the Koch brothers, writing for Breitbart News, heading the ultra-rightist Government Accountability Institute (also affiliated with Breitbart and the Koch brothers), being a research fellow at the conservative Hoover Institution, contributing to Glenn Beck’s book, Broke, and serving as an aide to both George W. Bush and Sarah Palin. Now why would anyone think that he might be a partisan Republican?
Schweizer and Kurtz also discussed his alleged investigation into the finances of Jeb Bush. This is frequently brought up as proof of his political independence. However, it proves nothing of the sort. First, it remains to be seen if he ever publishes anything critical of Bush. This may all be talk. And second, many Republicans are opposing Bush in favor of more radically right-wing Republicans like Ted Cruz, Rand Paul, and Scott Walker. So Schweizer may just be among that contingent of the GOP, and still blatantly partisan.
The entire segment with Kurtz was a useless piece of froth that did nothing but help to promote Schweizer’s book. This could have been predicted from the outset after hearing Kurtz’s first question:
“The coverage of your book has started to turn. Now you’ve acknowledged in interviews that you can’t prove, don’t have a document showing that Hillary Clinton took any specific action intentionally to help donors to the Clinton Foundation. But, are much of the mainstream media giving you a harder time because you’re going after the Clintons?”
Notice that Kurtz started off his question with the valid criticism of Schweizer’s lack of evidence for the crimes his book alleges. But then Kurtz swerves to avoid making Schweizer answer those criticisms by instead bashing the media and throwing Schweizer a softball about what a hard time he has had at the hands of the so-called liberal press that just loves Hillary. A real journalist would have pursued the first part of that question and abandoned the second part as pointless drivel. But Kurtz made his choice which resulted in this response from Schweizer:
“I think there’s a certain element of that, yes. I think part of it is because there have been a lot of scandal books – so-called scandal books – in the past. But I also think that there’s this sense that they’re looking for political motivation in what I’m doing. And I think that you certainly can look behind the motivations of what people are doing, but you also ought to look at the facts themselves.”
Schweizer is actually right on two points. There have been a lot of so-called scandal books about Clinton. And none have proved any wrongdoing whatsoever – just like Schweizer’s. They have, however, defamed her as a lesbian cocaine smuggler who murdered White House counsel Vince Foster, was raped by husband Bill which resulted in Chelsea, hired a terrorist member of the Muslim Brotherhood as a close aide, and is hiding her true identity as a blood-drinking reptilian. And so much more.
The second point Schweizer got right was that it is important to look at the facts. That is something that he, by his own admission, didn’t do in his book, which is all speculation. And it is something that Kurtz also failed to do in his interview. But facts have never been a priority for Fox News and the conservative movement for which they are the propaganda machine. So no one should be surprised that they aren’t starting to care about facts now.
The religiously inspired opponents of marriage equality have blamed society’s gradual acceptance of more expansive civil liberties as the trigger for innumerable catastrophes and natural disasters. The range of horrors that they claim are the result of granting more freedom to Americans to live their lives as they chose run from hurricanes to wars to epidemics. These are the lengths that crazy people obsessed with pseudo-religious fervor will go to demonize the objects of their hateful crusade.
So what about the people who are not crazy? On last night’s Nightly Show with Larry Wilmore (video below), the host cited a report that claimed that same-sex marriage would produce 900,000 more abortions in the next thirty years. That must be because of all the unwanted pregnancies among gay couples. Wilmore explained that this inane theory was what happens when “people who don’t believe in science try to do math.” However, the important thing to note about this claim is that it was not made by the Westboro Baptist Church (aka the “God Hates Fags” tabernacle), but by a group of a hundred conservative attorneys and academics who filed their opinion in a brief to the Supreme Court. In addressing the absurdity of these claims, Wilmore entered into this exchange with former press secretary to George W. Bush and current Fox News host, Dana Perino:
Wilmore: These are things that people actually blamed the gay marriage on. These are true: Hurricane Sandy, Sodom and Gomorrah, the Northridge earthquake, mass animal deaths, and September 11th was also blamed on gay marriage. Perino: All the things you mentioned that people are absurdly saying that gay marriage has caused, people have also said that global warming is causing. They’re almost interchangeable at this point. Wilmore: Global warming caused 9/11? Perino: Oh yeah, there are people who say that. Because of the unrest in the Middle East. And then you have the drought. Yes, believe me.
Perino is no Glenn Beck (who said this week that gay marriage will also cause church attendance to decline by 50% in the next five years), but she has managed, in that brief exchange, to dismiss the gay bashing nut cases by suggesting that everybody does it, while simultaneously associating Climate Change with the same coterie of crackpots who think God is punishing America for its descent into sin. Note that the gay marriage doomsayers are faith-based purveyors of myth, but those warning of the harmful effects of Climate Change are scientists. In the contest of credibility, who would you trust: Rush Limbaugh or Prof. Neil deGrasse Tyson?
As the time nears for the Supreme Court’s ruling on marriage equality, the religious right is convinced that it also represents the nearing of the End Times. Conservative wingnut Alan Keyes called a decision upholding the right of all Americans to marry “a just cause for war.” Likewise, Rev. E.W. Jackson, a frequent guest on Fox News, declared that Christians “must enlist in this war” and be prepared to “give our lives.” But all of that may be unnecessary if Rick Wiles is right:
“America will be brought to its knees, there will be pain and suffering at a level we’ve never seen in this country. The word that I hear in my spirit is ‘fire.’ I do not know if it refers to riots or looting or war on American soil or a fireball from space.”
A fireball from space? Now THAT sounds like global warming.