Monday, June 22, 2009
Mark Levin: The Most Extremist and Frightening HateWing Talker of Them All
Talk radio these days is becoming more and more extremist and frightening. And HateWing spewer Mark Levin is the most frightening and extreme of them all.
Clearly, though, there's an audience for Levin's twisted vision. After all, his latest book, "Liberty and Tyranny: A Conservative Manifesto," was a recent No. 1 New York Times bestseller, with over a million copies now in print. And an incredible 1,355 out of 1,538 Amazon customers have given the book a perfect 5-star rating.
"Liberty and Tyranny" rounds up and recycles the usual arguments for (supposedly) limiting government. It's the same tired, cliched, simplistic arguments that have been trotted out endlessly by today's GOP (a philosophy, incidentally, that was trounced at the polls by the American people last year, who demonstrated that they're sick and tired of three decades of trickle-down Reaganomics).
But Levin couldn't care less what the majority of American people want. He believes that he, and his shrinking GOP base, know what's really best for the American people. Frankly, it sounds like elitism to me. (Which is ironic, because Levin and his ilk are constantly bitching and moaning about the "Liberal Elites" who are supposedly trying to push their views on the rest of us).
What's worse is that in "Liberty," (as was the case with his other books), Levin tries to justify his extremist beliefs by claiming that his twisted views are what the Founding Fathers called for.
If you read Levin, you get the impression that America today (a modern industrial superpower with a population of 300 million people) should be run exactly the same way it was run in the 1700s (when the U.S. was a sparsely populated collection of 13 rural colonies).
This is True Freedom, Levin would have us believe. Never mind that back in the 1700s, most Americans weren't free at all. After all, millions of blacks were enslaved. Indians were persecuted and murdered. And the majority of the population (women) couldn't even vote.
Is a 1700s-style government what Levin really wants for today's America? Well, when it fits his arguments. For example, any non-defense government programs, of course, ought to be abolished. Everything from Social Security to the FDA to the FAA to Medicare. Never mind that the American people overwhelming support all these programs. Levin wants them all abolished.
The problem with Levin is the inconsistency of his arguments. Levin, you see, has absolutely no problem with America's massive, out-of-control Pentagon budget. (Never mind the the fact that the Founding Fathers were opposed to a standing army during peacetime, as well as the fact that the U.S. got along just fine without the Pentagon for much of our nation's history).
Although Levin claims to be in favor of a smaller, less intrusive government, he has no problems with pouring trillions of our tax dollars into the pockets of wealthy and powerful "defense" contractors. So much for Eisenhower's warning about the dangers of the Military Industrial Complex.
But what did Eisenhower know? He was only an American hero and decorated military general who won World War II for America. No, let's ignore Eisenhower's words of wisdom and instead listen to cowardly chickenhawks like Levin (who never served in the military).
Incredibly, for all his talk about "fiscal responsibility," Levin has no problem with corporate welfare. In "Liberty," you won't read a word about the hundreds of billions of tax dollars that the likes of Halliburton have collected in closed, no-bid corporate welfare over the years.
Nor will you read a word about how corporate America these days pays little tax (in fact, two-thirds of U.S. corporations pay zero federal tax these days). But Levin, as always, lies through his teeth and claims U.S. corporations face a crushing, heavy tax burden.
One wonders what the Founding Fathers would have made of Levin. Although he claims to speak for their vision for America, I get the feeling that the likes of Thomas Jefferson would have been appalled at Levin. Jefferson, for example, rejected the divinity of Jesus Christ and famously wrote papers attacking the absurdities of the Bible. The Founding Fathers in fact were not Christian. But Levin, as always, lies through his teeth and claims that they were.
And yet Levin hijacks the Founding Father's views and would have us believe that they'd support things like George W. Bush's illegal, immoral $3 trillion War of Lies in Iraq. So much for George Washington's warning to the young nation to never get involved in overseas military adventures.
Bush, in fact, shredded the Constitution that Levin claims to support. During the Bush years, Levin fanatically supported Bush through all the outrages, from embracing torture as official state policy to warrantless wiretaps.
For Levin to turn around and claim in "Liberty" that he supports the philosophy of the Founding Fathers is sickening and grotesque. The Founding Fathers would have despised a dangerous demagogue like Levin.
"Liberty and Tyranny" has been a huge success for Levin. It even has a near-perfect 4.5 stars on Amazon. In 1,538 customer reviews, the book has garnered a perfect 5-star rating from an incredible 1,355 customers. Levin often touts this fact on his radio show.
The wingnuts definitely know how to play the Amazon ratings game. Check out a book by anyone from Al Gore to Michael Moore and you'll see endless one-star "reviews" by wingnuts (who, instead of actually reading the books in question, simply leave a short one-sentence attack on the author).
Yes, "Liberty" has been a big success. But for that matter, so was "Mein Kampf."
Thursday, May 01, 2008
Bill O'Reilly Continues To Lie About His "Humble" Roots
Fox News host Bill O'Reilly has long maintained that he came from humble, working-class roots.
In his interview Wednesday with Hillary Clinton, O'Reilly once again displayed his "I'm just a regular working stiff" persona and reminded viewers that he grew up in Levittown, a working-class suburb of New York City.
Indeed, O'Reilly's bio on the Fox News Web site continues to claim that O'Reilly came from "from humble beginnings" and that he "lived in a modest house with his father, mother and sister in the Westbury section of Levittown."
"You don't come from any lower than I came from on an economic scale," O'Reilly once claimed.
Indeed, in his interview with Clinton, O'Reilly regularly trotted out the phrase "the folks," as though he knows what's on the minds of ordinary working-class Americans. It's a gimmick often used by Rush Limbaugh and George W. Bush, as well. Which is ironic, because all three men are immensely wealthy. For example, O'Reilly makes an eye-popping $9 million a year.
O'Reilly has previously pointed out that his father, who retired in 1978, never made more than $35,000 a year. It's a misleading and dishonest claim though that this made the O'Reilly family's circumstances "humble." As the media watch group FAIR has pointed out, O'Reilly's father's income is actually equivalent to over $90,000 today in inflation-adjusted dollars.
And as Media Matters has noted, the median income for a U.S. household today is $48,451. Which means O'Reilly's father earned almost double the nation's household median income. Hardly "working-class."
Of course, O'Reilly is hardly alone among millionaire media celebrities in being clueless about the lives of real ordinary working Americans these days. After all, during a Jan. 5 Democratic debate ABC's Charlie Gibson claimed that families making $200,000 a year are "middle-class."
Monday, February 11, 2008
Right-Wing Blogs Oblivious To Troop Deaths In Iraq
Anyone who has ever spent any time in the creepy parallel universe known as the right-wing blogosphere has likely noticed that these sites tend to share one thing in common. Here, you'll find a complete and total absence of any mention of our troops who've fallen on the battlefield in Iraq.
As far as the right-wing blogosphere is concerned, troop deaths in Iraq simply don't exist.
There's a great deal of bluster and jingoism on these sites about "supporting the troops." But when it comes to the slightest mention of any wounded or dead soldiers, you simply won't find it in the right-wing blogosphere.
This is a stark contrast to the progressive blogosphere. Here, you'll routinely find mentions of troop casualties (along with regular calls to get the troops out of harm's way). You'll also find calls to fix the mess at Walter Reed and to improve the paltry benefits that our troops receive.
Five U.S. soldiers were killed in two roadside bombings on Friday. And yet, if you visited much of the right-wing blogosphere, there was zero mention of these fallen heroes. Nor, of course, was there any mention of the ongoing horrific violence over the weekend in Iraq (which included a car bomb that killed at least 33 people).
Why, exactly, do right-wing blogs and sites completely ignore troop deaths? Do they simply figure that it's not important news?
If that's the case, then let's take a look at some examples of the sort of news that the right-wing blogosphere did consider important on Sunday:
- Flopping Aces: A tiresome, predictable attack on Nancy Pelosi for daring to question whether the surge is really working. (Actually, she's right: the surge is a fiasco). Hilariously, the wingnuts at this site call Pelosi "simple-minded"---this, from a blog that is still spinning ridiculous yarns, trying to link Saddam and Al Qaeda.
- The Drudge Report: A glance at this site on Sunday showed that tabloid crap about Britney Spears and Heather Mills is apparently more important than news of our fallen troops.
- RushLimbaugh.com: No mention of troop deaths here, from the Fat One. However, he does find room on his site to peddle his exploitative "Adopt-A-Soldier" scheme to sell paid memberships to his site. (One might think that a fantastically wealthy mega-millionaire like Limbaugh could afford to give away free memberships to the troops that he claims to support).
- Instapundit.com: Like a lot of right-wing propaganda blogs, if you spend much time here, you might be convinced that the War in Iraq is actually a big success after all and the only problem is that the treasonous Liberal Media won't report it. Sadly, though, you won't see even a tiny mention of the on-going horrific violence and troop deaths.
It's clear that the right-wing blogosphere has embraced the Dick Cheney view of the war in Iraq. Victory is just around the corner. The insurgents are in their last throes. And as for the ongoing U.S. troop deaths, well, let's distance ourselves from that uncomfortable topic (as much as Dick "Five Deferments" Cheney distanced himself from serving his country during the Vietnam War).
These days, about the only time one ever does encounter a mention of the troops in the right-wing blogosphere, it's usually in the form of a vicious attack on our nation's war heroes (from John Kerry to John Murtha to Wesley Clark to Max Cleland).
Friday, February 01, 2008
Wikipedia Continues To Sanitize Bush Content
Wikipedia, the massively popular online encyclopedia, claims that its "content must be written from a neutral point of view."
But after comparing Wikipedia's main articles on Bill Clinton and George W. Bush, you could have fooled us. These days, some of Wikipedia's content looks like it was written by Fox News.
For example, Wikipedia's main Bill Clinton article manages to mention every single fringe right-wing nutcase allegation ever made against the 42nd president.
By contrast, the main Wikipedia article on George W. Bush has been carefully sanitized. It clearly aims to present Bush in the most favorable light possible. Frankly, the Bush article looks like a love letter from Karl Rove.
(Note that we're talking about the main, high-profile Wikipedia Clinton and Bush articles---so this is indeed an apples-to-apples comparison).
I realize that Wikipedia offers fluid, dynamic content and is technically open to edits by anyone and everyone. Right-wing bias in articles is open to correction by progressive contributors (and vice-versa).
But it's clear that in the battle to edit the main Clinton and Bush pages, the right-wing contributors are winning (and have been winning for a long time).
For example, the main Wikipedia article on Clinton includes a massive, seven-part "Controversies" section.
By contrast, no "Controversies" section exists in the Bush article (although there is a two-part "Criticism and public perception" section).
One thing that recently caught my eye in the Clinton "Controversies" section was the "Sexual Misconduct Allegations" headline. The section discusses claims of sexual misconduct made by Kathleen Willey and Juanita Broaddrick. The section also includes links to other Wiki articles that discuss the allegations in great detail.
If Wikipedia was free of bias, one might think that the main Bush article would include at least a mention of the Margie Schoedinger sexual assault allegation against Bush.
And just who is Margie Schoedinger?
She was a 38-year-old Texas woman who filed a sexual assault lawsuit against George W. Bush in December 2002.
Oh, and there's one other interesting detail: the next year, Schoedinger was found dead of a gunshot wound.
Let's imagine for one moment if a woman had filed a sexual assault lawsuit against Clinton---and let's say that woman was found shot to death a year later.
Do you think the mainstream media would ignore such a story?
I think we all know goddamn well the answer to that. The fact is, the media would give such a story around-the-clock, saturation coverage that would make the Monica Lewinsky media frenzy look tame by comparison.
But instead, the Schoedinger case was completely ignored by the U.S. media, with the sole exception of the small local Texas newspaper (The Fort Bend Star) that originally reported the story. Her case remains extremely obscure. To this day, very few people have ever heard of her.
Wikipedia gives coverage to unproven sexual allegations in its main Clinton article. But in the main Wikipedia article on Bush, there is zero mention of the Schoedinger case.
I recently got a taste of just how protective Wikipedia is of Bush, when I tried to raise this issue on the site. (Note that I wasn't even trying to edit the main Wikipedia Bush article--I was merely raising the issue in the "Discussion" forum).
I typed a brief post in the forum, raising this issue.
Within 30 seconds, my text was removed from the discussion forum. I then re-entered the post and it was promptly deleted again.
Bear in mind, all I was asking for was equal treatment in Wikipedia's coverage of Bush and Clinton. I certainly wasn't asking for any special treatment, or even (gasp!) a mention of, say, the Valerie Plame case or the Downing Street memo.
Neither issue, of course, gets the slightest mention in the main Bush article. As I mentioned previously, since Wikipedia's content is fluid and dynamic, the situation may have changed by the time you read this. But if that's the case, you can be assured that such content won't survive long on the Wiki articles before it is deleted by Bush supporters.
I can't say that I'm really surprised by Wikipedia's kid-glove, Fox News-like treatment of Bush. It's clear that the Bush worshiping cultists will do anything to protect the image of their hero. Clearly, these people will stop at nothing to sanitize Wikipedia's content on Bush.
In the aftermath of this episode, I guess the only thing that baffles me is how Wikipedia can continue to claim with a straight face to be a reference resource with a "neutral point of view."
Monday, January 14, 2008
"What Would Reagan Do?" Campaign Continues GOP's Creepy Deification Of The Gipper
Remember the "What would Jesus do?" campaign that was popular back in the 1990s? It was a slogan used by many Christians as a reminder to follow Jesus in their daily lives.
These days, Republicans have borrowed the phrase as part of their creepy, ongoing deification of their hero, Ronald Reagan.
Recently, right-wing hacks Sean Hannity and Laura Ingraham have been touting the Heritage Foundation's "What would Reagan do?" campaign.
The "What would Reagan do?" slogan (often abbreviated as "WWRD") recently took off like wildfire across the right-wing Web. Wingnut bloggers pontificate on the subject and online merchants peddle WWRD T-shirts and other products.
The Republicans can't seem to get enough of Reagan these days. If you listen to a GOP presidential debate, the participants endlessly sing Reagan's praises and proclaim themselves to be the most worthy candidate to carry the Gipper's legacy.
Personally, I find all this Reagan worship rather creepy and disturbing. But what disturbs me the most is that none of it is based on reality. Indeed, the GOP's view of Reagan is based on myth and fantasy.
Take for example, a recent article by Heritage Foundation official Rebecca Hagelin.
"Because Reagan did more than simply take strong, effective positions -- he took positions based on the U.S. Constitution -- principles which never change. Principles as relevant to today’s issues as they were when penned by our nation’s founders. He proved that timeless values are just that ... timeless."
Wow, that's quite heady praise for a flip-flopping, opportunistic politician who started out his career as a Democrat. Take a closer look, though, and you'll see that Hagelin's praise is the sort of cult-like, Kool-Aid-drinking devotion that is totally disconnected from reality.
First of all, there's this Heritage Foundation fantasy that Reagan "took positions based on the U.S. Constitution."
The reality is that Reagan (like George W. Bush) subverted the Constitution and used it like a piece of toilet paper.
Take the Iran-Contra affair, in which the White House ignored the Constitution and secretly sold weapons to terrorists in Iran and then illegally used the money to fund the Contras, the thugs who were trying to overthrow the democratically elected government of Nicaragua.
Although Reagan praised the Contras as "Freedom Fighters," they were in fact nothing more than terrorists who routinely slaughtered civilian men, women and children.
After the Lebanese magazine Ash-Shiraa exposed the Iran-Contra affair, Reagan lied through his teeth and denied the whole story. (So much for the GOP's portrayal of Reagan as a man of honesty and integrity).
Of course, we'll never know the full story of Iran-Contra. The White House team shredded thousands of papers that documented the affair. But what we do know is that Reagan had utter contempt for the Constitution and the rule of law.
In a 1987 special, journalist Bill Moyers documented the whole sordid affair, in "The Secret Government: The Constitution in Crisis," which you can view here. Watching it, I felt ashamed to be an American.
If the wingnuts insist on worshipping their hero Reagan, that's their business. But to try to portray Reagan as a paragon of honesty and integrity (and as a president who respected the Constitution) is a nauseating lie.
Monday, October 22, 2007
AP Borrows A Page From Right-Wing Nutcase Blogs
Browsing news stories of the latest carnage from Iraq today, my eye caught this extraordinary sentence buried in an Associated Press report about U.S. forces claiming to have killed 49 militants in a dawn raid in Baghdad's Sadr City Shiite enclave:
"Iraqi police and hospital officials, who often overstate casualties, reported only 15 deaths including three children."
This sounds like the sort of wild-eyed, paranoia-fueled conspiracy claim that one normally would find only in the extreme fringe far-right blogosphere.
But that sentence didn't come from Little Green Footballs or Flopping Aces, or any of the other right-wing nutcase blogs that populate the outer fringes of the Web.
It came from the Associated Press.
And, frankly, it's an extraordinary claim--and one that doesn't hold up to scrutiny.
Note that this AP report isn't claiming that Sunni insurgents, or Shiite militias lie about their casualties. That wouldn't be anything new. In fact, we've heard claims like those before, (as the insurgency and the U.S. military continue their ongoing propaganda wars).
No, this is "Iraqi police and hospital officials," whose casualty claims, AP would have us believe, are no longer to be trusted.
Maybe I've missed it in previous AP coverage, but I don't recall ever seeing this extraordinary claim made in previous AP coverage. It seems like this bold claim would warrant a major, investigative story in and of itself.
There's a couple of major problems with AP's assertion that Iraq police forces and hospitals are liars.
First of all, it doesn't really make a whole lot of sense. If we're talking about claims made by insurgents, then surely a dose of skepticism is in order (although, from what I've seen, insurgent casualty claims have been no more inaccurate than claims by U.S. military officials over the years in Iraq).
But this latest AP report is disputing the Iraq police and hospitals: a solidly mainstream source if there ever was one. If we can't believe fundamental, basic information released by the major institutions of the Iraq state, then, who, exactly, can we believe? Is AP now making the kooky right-wing blog-like claim that Iraq's own police and hospitals are conspiring against the U.S. military? That's surely what this sounds like.
The second major problem I have with AP's claim is that I really wonder how on earth AP would know if the Iraq hospitals and police were "overstating" casualty figures.
Like I said, this AP report looks like it could've been lifted from the pages of the Web's extremist right-wing nutcase fringe. The latter, after all, are always disputing anything and everything that comes out of Iraq (unless it's spoken by the likes of George W. Bush, Dick Cheney, or Rush Limbaugh---a group which, ironically has the worst track record of accurate information on anything Iraq-related).
Ever since 2003, when the Iraq War began turning disastrous (around the time Bush declared "Mission Accomplished"), the right-wing blogosphere has been casting about, looking for a scapegoat to blame for the fiasco. AP has been one of the main targets of the right-wing lunatic fringe, with "controversies" like the Jamil Hussein case. In the latter case, the right-wing nutcases claimed that Hussein, an AP source, didn't exist. When it was later determined that he did, in fact, exist, the right-wingers quietly tiptoed away from the story and dropped the matter.
Despite the fact that the Jamil Hussein "controversy" blew up in their faces and revealed them to be the uninformed Kool-Aid-drinking idiots that they are, the right-wing blogosphere has continued to slam AP repeatedly over "biased" war coverage over the years.
And now, it appears that AP is caving in to the right-wing blogosphere and is giving credence to the sort of wild-eyed paranoid claims that one previously had to scour the nutcase fringe blogs to find.
Monday, July 30, 2007
Fox News Attacks Liberal Blogs
As Fox News' Bill O'Reilly said, "This is vicious, hateful stuff"
Oh, and while we're on the topic of "vicious, hateful" speech:
"Oh, you're one of the sodomites. You should only get AIDS and die, you pig. How's that? Why don't you see if you can sue me, you pig. You got nothing better than to put me down, you piece of garbage. You have got nothing to do today, go eat a sausage and choke on it."
Right-wing radio talkshow host Michael Savage
"We should invade their countries, kill their leaders and convert them to Christianity."
Right-wing commentator Ann Coulter
The debate over Bill Clinton should be about "whether to impeach or assassinate."
"I'm thinking about killing Michael Moore, and I'm wondering if I could kill him myself, or if I would need to hire somebody to do it."
Right-wing CNN commentator Glenn Beck
"I wanted to bludgeon her with a tire iron."
Right-wing commentator Michael Graham (speaking about Hillary Clinton).
"I really believe that the pagans, and the abortionists, and the feminists, and the gays and the lesbians who are actively trying to make that an alternative lifestyle, the ACLU, People For the American Way, all of them who have tried to secularize America. I point the finger in their face and say 'you helped this (the 9/11 terror attacks) happen.'"
Right-wing pastor Jerry Falwell
Oh, and one other note: the comments above were all made by famous, celebrity right-wingers, many of whom frequent Fox News. By contrast, the inflammatory blog content that Fox News focuses on are anonymous comments posted on liberal blogs.
Subscribe to Posts [Atom]