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Violent rhetoric is bullying

What prompted this article is a new perspective on the violent birther rhetoric gained from reading from Joe McGinniss’ book, The Rogue: Searching for the Real Sarah Palin.

McGinniss went to Alaska in 2010 to conduct interviews for the book and by a totally unforeseen turn of events, ended up renting a house next door to the Palin’s in Wasilla, Alaska. Although there was no basis for the claim, the Palins considered McGinniss, a stalker and Sarah Palin posted a photo of him on his back porch (looking the other way) on her Facebook page and said he was looking into her children’s bedrooms (something not possible from the McGinniss house). National conservative pundits like Glenn Beck pushed the story, and a storm of violent rhetoric appeared in comments on Andrew Breitbart’s web site and others, comments such as:

“This is one psychotic liberal . I hope someone mistakes him for a moose and puts an end to his publicity stunt. It would be nice if he ends up at the bottom of Lake Lucille.”

“If trapped in a house and not able to get out for food, does anyone know how long a freaky marxist fanatic can survive on a diet of KY Jelly?”

“I hope someone knocks his teeth down his throat.”

“What a spineless creepy bordering on sex-predator freak. I hope he tries to break into the Palin’s yard and gets a gut full of shotgun shell.”

Those are just about me. They get worse:

“hey, Joe, sleep with one eye open, you POS. can’t wait for your grandkids to show up and play in the woods and water.” And, after publishing my home address: “Joe’s lonely wife needs mail, phone calls and other assurances of concern and good will in Joe’s absence.”

Mcginniss, Joe (2011-09-20). The Rogue: Searching for the Real Sarah Palin (Kindle Locations 1161-1172). Crown Publishing Group. Kindle Edition. 

Some of the locals suggested McGinniss should leave town for his own safety and the local police regularly patrolled the area to prevent an incident. He had to change his home phone number because of the death threats.

McGinniss labels this behavior (by the Palins, the conservative media and the blog commenters) as “bullying” and I completely agree.

Bullying must be vigorously opposed from the start.

Media Matters blames government shutdown on birthers

photo of Ted CruzTed Cruz, Sarah Palin, and birther attorney Larry Klayman, addressed a group estimated at about 200 yesterday, followed by a march to the Capitol. Klayman reiterated his racist and bigoted views, saying:

[Obama’s] not the president of “we the people,” he’s a president of his people.

Media Matters for America observed that the abortive “Ride for the Constitution” trucker strike was also organized by a birther and concluded :

If anyone’s surprised that a proud and unapologetic birther (in 2013!) was front-and-center at a right-wing anti-Obama rally this week, or that the birther charade plays a central role in government shutdown activism, then they haven’t being paying close enough attention to the conservative movement in America.

Media Matters does agree with the birthers on one thing—the mainstream media is not covering the birther insurgency, calling it their “blind spot.”

Amidst the avalanche of news coverage and commentary about the shutdown, the birther strain that runs through important parts of the Republican Party remains essentially off limits for Beltway reporters and pundits. That’s a mistake. I’m not suggesting it’s the dominant story of the day or that it requires constant attention. (Or that birtherism afflicts Senate Republicans.) But it remains a pivotal flash point that provides crucial context for trying to understand the completely unprecedented nature of the current crisis and the mindset fostering it.

While not attributing birtherism to any Senate Republicans, Media Matters notes 8 Representatives who have made pro-birther remarks: Steve King, Mark Meadows, Ted Yoho, Steve Stockman, Jeff Duncan, Blake Farenthold, Richard Hudson, Vicky Hartzler.

I think Media Matters has a point. Anti-birthers routinely marginalize birthers, citing their 205 losses in court, and we gloat when Tea Party Conservatives in the House of Representatives backpedal on their birther-friendly comments. We would say: “you’ve accomplished nothing, and you never will.” Insofar as the birther goal of removing Obama from the White House, that’s a true statement, but I remember that there are millions of birthers. Their irrational hatred of Obama, which shows itself in crazy conspiracy theories, also shows itself in an irrational and self-destructive hatred of the Obama administration and everything it does. It seems that these Tea Party and birther types think that all it takes to govern is to say “no” and if they can’t get Obama out of the White House, they will tear down the White House and the government with it. They are at the most basic level anarchists, hell bent on the destruction of America.

Media misunderstands birthers

Forbes magazine logoForbes Magazine published a story about Ted Cruz, Sarah Palin and CPAC, covering some of the same ground that I’ve touched on the past few days. Their headline is:

Birther Hypocrisy- Right Wing Has No Problem With Canadian Born Senator Ted Cruz Running For President

It appears to me that Forbes writer Rick Ungar didn’t quite understand the birthers, any more than he understood the context of Sarah Palin’s “background check” comment. The thrust of the article is that conservatives who believed Obama was foreign born and thereby ineligible to be President have no problem with an indisputably foreign-born Ted Cruz. It’s not the same, and I tried to explain that in the following comment I left at Forbes:

I think this article lost its way.

First, Sarah Palin’s remark in context was not a reference to Obama’s eligibility, but to his “associations and intentions”. Some who cheered her remark might have heard her going birther, but that’s clearly not what she said.

Second, there were two streams of eligibility controversy about Obama. There were those who falsely believed that Obama was foreign-born, and while Canadian-born Cruz was born a US citizen, a hypothetical Kenyan-born Obama would not have been born a US citizen due to an obscure technicality that existed at the time related to his US citizen mothers’ age.

The other stream of Obama citizenship deniers holds to a legal theory that only persons born in the United States to two US Citizen parents can be President, and among the activists in that group, neither Cruz nor Obama, nor Bobby Jindal1 for that matter is constitutionally eligible to be President. (Obama’s father was not a US Citizen, nor were Jindal’s parents.) While those folks are wrong, they are not hypocrites.


1In the published comment, I misspelled Jindal.

Palin flirts with birtherism at CPAC?

More background checks? Dandy idea, Mr. President. Shoulda’ started with yours.

Our colleagues at ORYR (BirtherReport.com) think so, describing the previous quote as “Sarah Palin Goes Birther on Obama.”

I wouldn’t quite lay the birther mantle on her yet because of the context, which deals with associations, not place of birth. The longer version, which was related to the 2nd Amendment/gun control is:

[00:56] Background checks? I guess, to learn a little more about a person’s thinking and associations and intentions. More background checks? Dandy idea, Mr. President. Shoulda’ started with yours.

The “other” Obama conspiracy theories

This blog has been more narrowly focused on Barack Obama’s presidential eligibility than its blog title, Obama Conspiracy Theories, suggests. There are many other Obama conspiracy theories out there, widely available on talk radio, books and video.

FEMA conspiracy theories

The Federal Emergency Management Agency is the part of the Executive Branch tasked with emergency preparedness and disaster recovery. It has considerable power to step in during an emergency, and whenever there is power, there is fear of its abuse, and whenever there is fear, there are conspiracy theories.

Disaster scenarios weave well into Christian millennialism, a belief in an apocalyptic end off the world which is expected soon (where the definition “soon” has been refined since at least the 2nd century CE). I call your attention to the Now The End Begins website and their article by Geoffrey Grider: Obama’s Private Army and FEMA Dentention [sic] Camps. It says:

Obama’s private army plus FEMA camps equals American detention camps
So far I have shown you two facts that cannot be disputed. The first fact is that President Obama’s Healthcare bill mandates the creation a civilian army chosen by him and answerable to him. The second fact is that FEMA has been commisioned [sic]to create "national emergency centers" that will be located inside existing military bases. Now I ask you – is it a HUGE leap to put the two together and see where we go from here?

Continue Reading →

Is the story over or not?

Sarah Palin and Donald Trump

By the way, if you haven’t seen the movie, It’s Complicated, do yourself a favor and take a look. Perhaps the movie is the reference intended by The Hill in its article: Palin and Trump: It’s complicated. The article examines the political relationship between Donald Trump and Sarah Palin, and the nice things they have been saying about each other lately. Palin blames the media for pumping the birther issue rather than Trump for pimping it. (Also check out how NewsMax spins the story.)

By contrast, the Kansas City Star has a new article out, Media needs to ignore the nutjobs. They raise two questions:

First: Just how bleeping dumb are we, anyway?

Second: When will the mainstream news media do its job and stop enabling these crackpots?

Hmm, Doc wonders if he is enabling crackpots…

Despite Palin’s chiding and the Kansas City Star’s advice, the news media is still talking about birthers.

More recent birther stories in the media:

An intriguing article in the  Christian Post talks about Donald Trump’s possible connections with Evangelical Christians in a bid for the presidency: Donald Trump, Paula White Rallying Christian Support?

“I can think of few people with the means to be president who would be worse for the country and the world than Donald Trump,” [Brian McClaren] told The Christian Post in an email. “His ‘birther’ talk, his questionable moral history, his love of money, his combative nature, his arrogance, his nationalism as opposed to a more global mindset, his carelessness towards the poor, and his love for power make him, in my mind, a horrible candidate.”