Thursday, June 11, 2009

Left Or Right?

The Wingers are doing their damndest to either say James Von Brunn isn't their creation.

The argument is "Well, he's not a right winger because he hated FOX News and the Weekly Standard, so that really makes him a radical Leftist" or it's "You can't call him a right-winger because he hated pretty much everybody."

Needless to say, Jon Chait kills this stupidity rather neatly.

First, the "conventional political classification" is a rubric that accounts for extremists on the far right or left who abhor Democrats or Republicans. Ralph Nader has a lot of bad things to say about the Democratic Party, but that doesn't make him hard to classify on the left-right spectrum.

Second, a certain strand of conservative thought is comfortable with most of the tenets of Republican doctrine with the exception of free trade and, especially, Jews, Israel, and neoconservative influence. Pat Buchanan is the emblem of this brand of conservatism. Buchanan is generally a Republican partisan except for Jewish/Israeli/Middle Eastern issues where he takes strong exception. Von Brunn is pretty clearly a violent and more extreme adherent of Buchanan's basic worldview. That he would detest a neoconservative institution like the Standard isn't "complicating" or surprising at all.

Third, it's somewhat apparent from Von Brunn's writing that he did identify with the Republican Party on some basic partisan questions. He cheered conservatives for getting Dan Rather fired, believed Sarah Palin was unfairly hounded by the media, and so on. Indeed, if there's anything surprising and disturbing about Von Brunn's beliefs, it's that he identifies more closely with the Republican Party than I would have thought a radical white supremacist would. This may be a sign that the GOP has become more appealing to radical right-wingers than it once was, but it could also be an anomaly.

So yes, he was a nutjob right-winger...and so far to the right he thought FOX and the Weekly Standard were just too soft on Obama, the Jews, the blacks, and everyone else he hates.

Comparing this guy to Markos "Daily Kos" Moulitsas or Keith Olbermann just because they dislike FOX News and criticize them openly is ridiculous. But hey, whatever helps these guys sleep at night.

Neocons: Still At It

So basically John Bolton wants Israel to attack Iran's nuclear sites. His "logic" on this apparently involves the following: any conceivable response Iran makes will A) force Obama and the US into war with Iran, B) destroy Iran's economy, C) force Israel to use its nukes, D) all of the above. Ergo, Israel should totally go for it. Also, too bad Israel didn't take Boton's advice and attack Iran while Bush was in charge...but hey, Obama's hardball approach just means you have to take the initiative yourselves sometimes, am I right?

Because after all, with our economy in the shitter and us neck deep into two wars already, what we really need more than anything else is a third Middle Eastern country to be at war with.

And yet, this guy was America's U.N. Ambassador under Bush.


The Point Is Still The Plan

Amanda Marcotte starts connecting the dots with both skill and aplomb:
In the wake of the second act of domestic terrorism in two weeks, the questions about whether or not the constant spew of lies and haterade from the right wing media is a public menace are increasing. (This will immediately be treated by right wingers as a call for government censorship, even though it is not, but obviously, they have trouble telling the difference between being criticized and being forced at gunpoint, which is relevant to this discussion.) I would also point to the right wing blogs penchant for getting people fired for irritating them as an example of how the attitudes they’re inculcating, especially now that the Republicans are out of power, encourage violence. While wingnuts will squeal like babies about censorship for merely being criticized, they actually are always on the lookout to silence political opponents by force. Murder is illegal, but depriving people of their livelihood or privacy is an effective way to send the signal that they will not tolerate criticism or opposition and will silence you by force, if necessary.

Thus the outing of Publius by Ed Whelan is another example. Whelen didn’t just out him, but linked to his contact page at his place of employment, and certainly to any of us who’ve seen this song and dance before, there’s no doubt that Whelan was hoping to inspire his readers to realize---as lone wolves, of course, who he certainly didn’t encourage---that they could start irritating Publius’s boss, with the hope that he’d project that irritation onto Publius and separate him from his employment. Again, I doubt that’ll happen, but it’s certainly the hope.

If there’s any doubt that the right is inculcating a tribal identity politics coupled with a strong self-assurance that they have every right to use force to silence opposition, consider this: Operation Rescue is trying to buy Dr. Tiller’s clinic. I hope this announcement causes the authorities to take the possibility of conspiracy seriously, because while Operation Rescue claims that they had nothing to do with the assassination, what they’re doing is making Dr. Tiller’s clinic a trophy, which shows that a) they totally see this as warfare and b) despite their cowardly denials of responsibility, they’re basically claiming responsibility.

When the use of force to silence your critics is mainstreamed in your movement, and the cowardly move of picking on vulnerable individuals is lauded because hurting someone, anyone just feels so right---well, it isn’t shocking that some people take the “let’s hurt someone” and “let’s shut them up with force” attitudes to the level of actual violence.

Or in other words, The Plan.

Part of The Plan (Destroy. Obama.) involves the lengths people will go in order to execute the plan. The truly dangerous end of this spectrum, the Von Brunns and the Scott Roeders, these are the people who have decided that Obama represents an existential threat to their way of life. They have decided that there is no action too radical in order to defend it, up to and including murder.

Is this an indictment of the conservative movement or all Republicans? No, not any more than Rev. Jeremiah Wright represents all African-Americans or Bill Ayers represents all liberals. I happen to think true conservatism has many valid points, especially from an economic standpoint.

But there's only so much shit you can shovel before you get covered in it yourself. When all you do is throw it, enable the throwing of it, then brutally attack anyone who dares to call you on it, you have a problem. When you singularly blame everyone BUT yourself for the problems you percieve having, when entire groups of people are nothing more than scapegoats and "the enemy" and at the top of this pyramid of deranged hatred is the President, you have serious problems.

I have said time and time again when people on a daily basis use their media channels to ask "Who will rid me of this troublesome liberal" and you blame these people to the point of openly calling them enemies of America and enemies of humanity, then you no longer can claim surprise and outrage when somebody like Scott Roeder or James Von Brunn decides to act on these impulses with deadly physical violence.

If you juggle lit blowtorches in a fireworks factory, disaster will eventually happen.

[UPDATE] Sara Robinson documents the atrocities since Obama's inauguration.

Dear America:

"Let me once again reiterate the five biggest lies about Obamacare in hopes that catapulting the propaganda will allow Republicans to kill the measure."

--Karl Rove, Wall Street Journal

There's No Such Thing As A Free Lunch

A record 20 million American schoolkids are on free or reduced lunches these days, and school districts are getting to the point where they simply can't afford to cover the cost much longer.
Through February, nationwide enrollment in free school lunch programs was up 6.3% over the same time last year, to 16.5 million students, based on data from the U.S. Food and Nutrition Service (FNS), which subsidizes the programs. Participation in reduced-price lunch programs rose to 3.2 million students, the data show.

Demand in some states has climbed at an even greater rate: Enrollment in free lunch programs jumped almost 17% in California, and several states — Arizona, New Jersey, Utah and Vermont — also saw more than 10% growth.

Many new enrollees are believed to be first-timers from families hit by the recession, says FNS Administrator Julie Paradis. "These programs are intended to expand when the need is greater ... and we're pleased that they're working," she adds. "But certainly there are additional costs, and that is a concern at a time of scarce resources. Our state and local partners are stretched."

In Jackson, Miss., where 86% of all students qualify for free or reduced-price meals, "some of our students show up for breakfast and haven't had anything to eat since lunch the day before," says Mary Hill, executive director of food services.

You figure that's what, one out of four, one out of five kids in America at this point on these programs. More will be on them soon. School districts are having to slash programs just as these programs are needed the most.

And it's summer now, these kids are out of school. They're not getting that daily meal these days. Next fall, who knows if there will be money for the lunches at all?

Spending has consequences. But cutting spending has consequences too.

If It's Thursday...

Good news and bad news. Jobless claims fell to "only" 601,000 last week, but the revised numbers actually meant that last week's continuing claims rose instead of fell, meaning 19 straight weeks of rising continuing claims. We're up to 6.82 million now. The people getting cut aren't finding new jobs.

Employers are running out of jobs to cut at this stage. The easy job eliminations have been made. Those employees left are having to pick up the workload for in many cases less pay and with fewer benefits.

What we're seeing now are the difficult job cuts as employers have to decide how close to the bone they can cut things without losing entire departments, divisions, and yes, companies. Something will have to give soon.

The happy-face media is calling this signs of recovery. I call it the capitulation before the dam breaks.

Gone Round The Bend

If you thought the Wingers were going to simply accept yesterday's Holocaust Museum shooting by having an introspective moment on the perils of bigotry, the advocation of violence, and the preaching of hate daily,'d be wrong, it's still Islam's fault!
Much is being made by Muslims and their many defenders on the left--and the ignoramus "conservatives" at Hot Air (who lecture us that hate has no ideological bounds, which I already learned not from those clueless ones, but from Sarah Palin e-mails wishing me cancer)--that the shooter of several people (one now dead) at the U.S. Holocaust Museum is not a Muslim but a White guy, James W. Von Brunn, who is a neo-Nazi.

But that is a distinction without a difference. In fact, it is because of Muslims--who are the biggest contributor to the worldwide rise in anti-Semitism to Holocaust-eve levels--that neo-Nazis feel comfortable--far more comfortable!--manifesting their views about Jews. Until 9/11 and our resulting new tolerance for Islam, the neo-Nazi types were marginalized and howling at the wind. We know who has been targeting Jewish museums and centers affiliated with Jews in recent years. And it hasn't been, in general, 89-year-old White guys.

Mr. Von Brunn has been on this planet for 89 years, and he didn't feel comfortable shooting up a Holocaust museum until now--this new era of "tolerance," in which we must tolerate the most extremist Muslim behaviors and sentiments. It's, in general, not 89-year-old White guys telling people at churches worldwide and in religious schools that the Jews are the devil incarnate, a filthy tribe, the sons of pigs and monkeys, subhuman, etc.

No, it's guys with names like Mohammed and Ahmed on our own American streets who make Mr. Von Brunn far more at ease in 2009 than he was even in 1999 to attack places associated with the Jews. They created the comfort zone for James W. Brunn to engage in today's shooting.

The rash of anti-Semitic attacks in America, with a frequency unheard of in previous contemporary U.S. history--on synagogues all over the country, a Jewish community center in Seattle, and now this Holocaust museum--have all happened since 9/11 and our new tolerance for Islam and all of its intolerant extremism. This is no coincidence. It is a correlation.

Now keep in mind Debbie Schlussel has her own nationally syndicated radio show and newspaper column. She's using this to basically say that yesterday's shooting was caused by tolerance of Islam. If you honestly believe that, there's nothing I can do for you.

It simply hasn't occured to Debbie here that preaching knee-jerk reactionary blind hatred of a group of people for being different puts her squarely in the same box as Von Brunn.

Not only that, but blaming "excessive tolerance" for the events of the last few months is insane, considering there's a much obvious agent of cause here: the reactionary knee-jerk hatred preached by Schlussel and taken to heart by Von Brunn has come bubbling to the surface thanks to the election of one Barack Obama. It's the irrational hatred of the President that is much more likely to be causing nutjobs like Von Brunn to take physical action.

But that would be an admission of culpability for people like Deb. As Jeffrey Goldberg puts it:

White Christians have done an excellent job being anti-Semitic for several hundred years -- almost a couple of thousand, actually -- without any help whatsoever from Muslims.
The hate goes way back, folks. When somebody tries to say "Hey, let's not hate each other so much" it's like pouring water on a grease fire.

We continue to reap the whirlwind, America. It's going to be a long four years.

Pyrrhic Victory Part 3

It turns out that Dr. George Tiller's death and subsequent closing of the Tiller Clinic may not be the victory that pro-life forces were hoping for.
A Nebraska doctor said Wednesday that he will perform third-term abortions in Kansas after the slaying of abortion provider George Tiller, but would not say whether he will open a new facility or offer the procedure at an existing practice.

Dr. LeRoy Carhart declined to discuss his plans in detail during a telephone interview with The Associated Press, but insisted "there will be a place in Kansas for the later second- and the medically indicated third-trimester patients very soon."

"I just think that until everything is in place, it's something that doesn't need to be talked about" in detail, Carhart said a day after Tiller's family announced his Wichita clinic was permanently shutting its doors.

Tiller's clinic was one of the only facilities in the country that performed third-trimester abortions. Carhart has run his own clinic in Bellevue, Neb., since 1985, but had performed late-term abortions at Tiller's clinic because of Nebraska's more restrictive abortion laws.

If Dr. Carhart steps up, then he'll certainly be another target. Will he be protected? Will he be attacked? He believes he is providing a vital service. Others will certainly believe he is a killer.

What lessons will America draw from the Tiller murder and apply to Carhart's clinical services?


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