Buckley & Skousen, Palin & Beck

Why the South Must Prevail
By William F. Buckley, Jr.

The central question that emerges-and it is not a parliamentary question or a question that is answered by merely consulting a catalogue of the rights of American citizens, born Equal-is whether the White community in the South is entitled to take such measures as are necessary to prevail, politically and culturally, in areas in which it does not predominate numerically? The sobering answer is Yes-the White community is so entitled because, for the time being, it is the advanced race. It is not easy, and it is unpleasant, to adduce statistics evidencing the median cultural superiority of White over Negro: but it is a fact that obtrudes, one that cannot be hidden by ever-so-busy egalitarians and anthropologists. The question, as far as the White community is concerned, is whether the claims of civilization supersede those of universal suffrage.

The Tea Party 600: Canaries in the Political Coal Mine?
By Arianna Huffington 

There was much to mock about this past weekend’s Tea Party convention: the low turnout, Tom Tancredo’s repulsive immigrant bashing, a conspiracy-drenched documentary claiming the financial crisis was deliberately engineered by radical 1960s ideologues bent on bringing down capitalism, and, of course, Sarah Palin’s keynote lite. 

But it would be a huge mistake to dismiss the movement that led to the event. 

Yes, some of the Tea Party movement is ugly. Yes, some of the Tea Party movement is race-based. Yes, some of the Tea Party movement is being bankrolled by conservative political groups — and all of it promoted by Fox News. But focusing only on those elements obscures the fact that some of what’s fueling the movement is based on a completely legitimate anger directed at Washington and the political establishment of both parties. 

Think of the Tea Party movement as a boil alerting us to the infection lurking under the skin of the body politic. 

In his recent piece about the Tea Parties, The New Yorker’s Ben McGrath wrote: 

If there was a central theme to the proceedings, it was probably best expressed in the refrain ‘Can you hear us now?’, conveying a long-standing grievance that the political class in Washington is unresponsive to the needs and worries of ordinary Americans. Republicans and Democrats alike were targets of derision. 

Though this weekend’s event had a decidedly conservative bent, it was interesting to watch how during the Q&A session after her speech, both Palin and Judson Phillips, the chief organizer of the convention, proudly informed the crowd that neither of their spouses vote Republican. 

Limbaugh and Palin: Round Four
By Chris Kelly 

“Rahm’s slur on all God’s children with cognitive and developmental disabilities – and the people who love them – is unacceptable, and it’s heartbreaking.” — Sarah Palin 2/1/10 

Sarah hadn’t seen it herself, because it was in a newspaper. But “a patriot” told her about it. Really. On Wednesday, Rush weighed in. This went beyond party politics. Someone had to stand up for boorishness on principle. 

“Our politically correct society is acting like some giant insult’s taken place by calling a bunch of people who are retards, retards … I’m not going to apologize for it.” – Rush Limbaugh 2/3/10 

He went on to say “retard” or “retarded” twenty-seven times. On Sunday, someone asked Sarah Palin how she liked them apples, and she replied: 

“He was satirical in that… Rush Limbaugh was using satire. So I agree with Rush Limbaugh.” – Sarah Palin 2/7/10 

Yum. Delicious apples. 

Of course, you know all this. The knock on Sarah Palin is that she’s applying two different standards, one for Rush Limbaugh, because he’s a friend, and another for Rahm Emanuel, because he can do the crossword puzzle. But I think there’s something even creepier going on. Here’s what Limbaugh said Tuesday: 

“I only hope here that Rahm doesn’t go out and call these people another F-ing unfortunate name out there, folks, because I’ll have to repeat it in another satire.” Rush Limbaugh 2/9/10 

Notice how he said “satire?” It’s a quintessential bully move. He said it because she said it when she said it was okay for him to insult her children. He said it to let her know that he knows that he made her eat shit. 

A Reality TV President: Only a Matter of Time
By Barry Levinson 

The trick about this magic is that it’s not a trick. It is real. We embrace reality stars without reason. And because it is a baseless adulation, no negatives can dilute our affections. Negatives that are said about Sarah Palin have no ballast. No meaningful critique can harm her. Expose her. Or for that matter, even elevate her. She has reality TV star status. Words have no relevance in our relationship to her. We don’t communicate with reality TV stars, and they aren’t required to communicate with us. It’s the unspoken connection, an electronic embrace, it is a fragile relationship, and faulty at best. 

To debate Sarah Palin’s abilities and her acumen are meaningless. Words lose their currency. She’s impervious to rational critiques. Nothing can be said to shake a supporter who idolizes her. It is ironic that the vacuum tube brought on the electronic age of communication. A reality TV star lives in some strange vacuum. A shield that seemingly protects them from any rational discourse. Nothing can be said that rivals their TV glow. They burn brightly, and their light fascinates and captivates. And oddly enough, just as you can’t explain their sudden rise to fame, you can’t explain their fade into oblivion. And when we are asked why we cared, we can’t remember. To a reality TV star, their only enemy is time.

Ron Paul vs. Sarah Palin for the Soul of the Tea Parties
By Jane Hamsher 

There’s trouble brewing between the Ron Paul libertarians who staged the the first modern tea party in 2007 by dumping tea into Boston Harbor, and the neocon war hawks led by Sarah Palin who are furiously trying to hijack their message. 

After I appeared on MSNBC talking about Sarah Palin’s appearance at the Nashville tea party convention, several libertarians told me they were unhappy with the exchange. 

I said that Sarah Palin’s hawkish message on Iran was oddly out of place in a group whose roots belong to the Ron Paul libertarians, particularly as the anti-interventionist Rand Paul is looking strong in the Kentucky Senate Senate race — and Palin just endorsed him. The woman who appeared with me representing the tea partiers disagreed with that premise, and claimed she was very much an interventionist. 

My libertarian friends couldn’t imagine what she was doing on TV representing the tea parties in the first place, and thought it was a sad day when the opposition stated their position more fairly than their supposed allies. 

But it underscores a rift between the anti-tax, pro-civil rights libertarians who started the tea parties and the corporatist neocon grifters of the GOP who are now trying to swoop in and capitalize on all of the hype. And in the irony of ironies, tea party-identified candidates are now trying to oust Ron Paul from his Texas House seat. 

Meet the man who changed Glenn Beck’s life
Cleon Skousen was a right-wing crank whom even conservatives despised. Then Beck discovered him
By Alexander Zaitchik
 

Even if the turnout wasn’t the 2 million that some conservatives tried, briefly, to claim, it was still enough to fill the streets near the Capitol. It was also ample testament to the strength of a certain strain of right-wing populist rage and the talking head who has harnessed it. The masses were summoned by Glenn Beck, Fox News host and organizer of the 912 Project, the civic initiative he pulled together six months ago to restore America to the sense of purpose and unity it had felt the day after the towers fell. 

In reality, however, the so-called 912ers were summoned to D.C. by the man who changed Beck’s life, and that helps explain why the movement is not the nonpartisan lovefest that Beck first sold on air with his trademark tears. Beck has created a massive meet-up for the disaffected, paranoid Palin-ite “death panel” wing of the GOP, those ideologues most susceptible to conspiracy theories and prone to latch on to eccentric distortions of fact in the name of opposing “socialism.” In that, they are true disciples of the late W. Cleon Skousen, Beck’s favorite writer and the author of the bible of the 9/12 movement, “The 5,000 Year Leap.” A once-famous anti-communist “historian,” Skousen was too extreme even for the conservative activists of the Goldwater era, but Glenn Beck has now rescued him from the remainder pile of history, and introduced him to a receptive new audience. 

The anger of the festering fringe
By Roger Ebert 

These beliefs are held by various segments of our population. They are absurd. Any intelligent person can see they are absurd. It is not my purpose here to debate them, because such debates are futile. With the zealous True Believers there is no debating. They feed upon loops within loops of paranoid surmises, inventions which are passed along as fact. Sometimes those citing them don’t even seem to care if you believe them. Sometimes they may not believe them themselves. The purpose is to fan irrational hatred against our president. 

What are we to make of the recent suggestion on the “respected” right-wing site NewsMax, later withdrawn, that “it might not be such a bad thing” if the U. S. military rose up and overthrew Obama in a coup? That sort of talk belongs on a password-protected neo-Nazi or Klan site, not in a place where ostensibly intelligent people look for information. Where were the editors? What did they think? If they’re “conservatives,” do they support the overthrow of our government by a coup? 

I don’t really think so. But I believe they will stoop to almost anything to fan the flames of their cause. And they have created a timidity in the mainstream Republican party, afraid to alienate a “base” it should be ashamed of. When Lyndon Johnson signed the Civil Rights Act, he is said to have observed that with one signature he had lost his Democrats the South. It took moral courage to sign that bill. He did indeed lose the Southern racists, who were to its shame embraced by the GOP — a poisoned pill, it is becoming obvious. 

[…]  Racism plays a role, but conspiracy theories themselves have an addictive quality. They appeal to a personality type. Many of those who take nourishment from them have, I suspect, a bitter resentment against authority. They don’t want anyone telling them what to do. They’re defiant. Anyone who is in power is lying to them for evil motives. Nothing they learn from the mainstream media can be trusted. Some people may think they’re so smart — but these conspiracy insiders know the real story. They learn it from each other, they embellish it, they pass it around, they “document” it with invented connections, they bond among themselves, and they live in a closed system that seems to validate them. 

They lack common sense. Their conspiracy theories cannot tolerate it. Most reasonable people, when they heard Obama wanted to kill their grandmother, simply smiled, because — well, because they knew he didn’t. But the conspiracy people Know Better. That’s the whole point. That’s where the fun comes in. They have a peculiar intensity in their circular reasoning. They cite facts that are not facts, supported by authorities who are not authorities. As my grandmother freely said of perhaps too many people, “They don’t have the sense God gave them.” 

Some of this may be connected to the weakness of American education. Yes, I know that there are splendid schools and brilliant, dedicated teachers. See my recent review of such a school. But many good teachers will be the first to tell you that they despair of some of the students sent to them from lower grades. They cannot read, write, spell, speak or think on a competent level. They aren’t necessarily stupid. The schools, their parents and society have failed them. The words “no child left behind” are a joke. 

Among the things the schools often don’t instill is a sense of curiosity. Too many kids have tuned out. They nurture a a dull resentment against those who know more. Feeling disenfranchised, they blame those who seem to have more information and more words. Some of these victims may in fact be quite intelligent. Some of them may grow up to become fringers. Read the web sites of conspiracy zealots and you will find articulate people who can write well. Their handicap is that they missed the boat when it sailed toward intellectual maturity, and now they’re rowing furiously in pursuit, waving a pirate flag. Their screeds are a facsimile of reasoned, sensical arguments. They don’t know the words, but hum a few bars and they’ll fake it. 

Sith Lords of the Ultra-Right
By Steven D

Ever wonder how the right always seems so coordinated in the strategy.  How all the multitude of organizations they’ve created all seem to use the same playbook?  How they all manage to focus on the same talking points each day, day after day, year after year.  Well it’s no accident.  But how do they do it?The answer my friends lies in a little known organization with the innocuous sounding name The Council for National Policy.  Don’t go looking for an official website because you won’t find one.  In fact this “think tank” goes out of its way to avoid publicity:

When a top U.S. senator receives a major award from a national advocacy organization, it’s standard procedure for both the politician and the group to eagerly tell as many people about it as possible.Press releases spew from fax machines and e-mails clog reporters’ in-boxes. The news media are summoned in the hope that favorable stories will appear in the newspapers, on radio and on television.It was odd, therefore, that when U.S. Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist (R-Tenn.) accepted a “Thomas Jefferson Award” from a national group at the Plaza Hotel in New York City in August, the media weren’t notified. In fact, they weren’t welcome to attend.The media should not know when or where we meet or who takes part in our programs, before or after a meeting,” reads one of the cardinal rules of the organization that honored Frist. The membership list of this group is “strictly confidential.” Guests can attend only with the unanimous approval of the organization’s executive committee. The group’s leadership is so secretive that members are told not to refer to it by name in e-mail messages. Anyone who breaks the rules can be tossed out.What is this group, and why is it so determined to avoid the public spotlight?That answer is the Council for National Policy (CNP). And if the name isn’t familiar to you, don’t be surprised. That’s just what the Council wants.The CNP was founded in 1981 as an umbrella organization of right-wing leaders who would gather regularly to plot strategy, share ideas and fund causes and candidates to advance the far-right agenda. Twenty-three years later, it is still secretly pursuing those goals with amazing success.Since its founding, the tax-exempt organization has been meeting three times a year. Members have come and gone, but all share something in common: They are powerful figures, drawn from both the Religious Right and the anti-government, anti-tax wing of the ultra-conservative movement.It may sound like a far-left conspiracy theory, but the CNP is all too real and, its critics would argue, all too influential. 

What amazes most CNP opponents is the group’s ability to avoid widespread public scrutiny. Despite nearly a quarter century of existence and involvement by wealthy and influential political figures, the CNP remains unknown to most Americans. Operating out of a non-descript office building in the Washington, D.C., suburb of Fairfax, Va., the organization has managed to keep an extremely low profile an amazing feat when one considers the people the CNP courts.   

Sounds a little tin foil hattish to you?  Trust me it gets worse.  Founded in 1981, its first president was Tim LaHaye famed millenialist preacher and writer of the Left Behind series of

popular books about the “end-times” and the Second Coming of Christ. He was also a co-founder of the Moral Majority. In the 1980s he headed the American Coalition for Traditional Values. While heading that group, LaHaye said, “If every Bible-believing, Christ-loving church would trust God to raise up an average of just one person over the next 10 years who would get elected, we would have more Christian candidates than there are offices.”

A list of former and past members reads like a who’s who of conservative Christian Right activists, anti-tax and anti-government activists, billionaire right wing philanthropists and GOP office holders, past and present […]

Today’s “conservative journalism” — what would Bill Buckley say?
By Eric Boehlert

Thirty-one Republican members of Congress co-sponsored a resolution in October 2009 honoring O’Keefe and partner Hannah Giles for “display(ing) exemplary actions as government watchdogs and young journalists uncovering wasteful government spending.” Nobody inside the right-wing world cared if O’Keefe and Breitbart allegedly edited out exculpatory portions before releasing the tapes. They don’t care that he and Breitbart refuse to this day to release all of the unedited videotapes so independent observers can determine just how manipulated they were before posting them online.

So the moral is obvious: To get on Fox News, you concoct a video that makes Democrats look bad. End of story. But of course, that’s not journalism.

Don’t just take my word for it. In the wake of the ACORN videos story last year, a few voices within conservative media actually pointed out the obvious. James Taranto, a member of the far-right Wall Street Journal editorial board, included this boulder-sized caveat in his otherwise fawning interview with O’Keefe’s mentor and employer, Andrew Breitbart, last year:

The approach Mr. O’Keefe and Ms. [Hannah] Giles used — lying to prospective sources or subjects — is grossly unethical by the standards of institutional journalism. Almost all major news organizations, including the Journal, strictly prohibit it.

Fox Business’ Rebecca Diamond made a similar point during an interview with O’Keefe last November:

But, James, if you want to be considered a real journalist and not just a conservative activist — just doing stuff on behalf of your conservative agenda — you can’t pretend you’re somebody you’re not. … If I did that, Roger Ailes would probably fire me because it’s unethical as a journalist, as a real journalist.

Which brings me back to Buckley. If you rewind to the time of the National Review’s founding in the 1950s, Buckley had to decide how to treat the emerging right-wing influence of the radical John Birch Society, which at the time was convinced Dwight Eisenhower was a communist agent, that most of the U.S. government was run by communists, as were the health care and education industries. As Buckley biographer Sam Tanenhaus explained to Bill Moyers on PBS last year, at first the National Review indulged the John Birch Society because it was fanatically anti-communist, which bolstered the conservative movement.

Then, finally, in the mid-1960s (and yes, it took way too long), Buckley said “Enough.” As Tanenhaus recounted last year:

And he said, “We can’t allow ourselves to be discredited by our own fringe.” So, he turned over his own magazine to a denunciation of the John Birch Society. More important, the columns he wrote denouncing what he called its “drivel” were circulated in advance to three of the great conservative Republicans of the day, Ronald Reagan, Barry Goldwater, Senator John Tower, from your home state of Texas, and Tower read them on the floor of Congress into the Congressional record. In other words, the intellectual and political leaders of the right drew a line.

“We can’t allow ourselves to be discredited by our own fringe,” said Buckley, referring to the conservative movement as a whole. Today, however, rife with would-be lawbreakers and committed name-callers, “conservative journalism” faces the same fringe conundrum.

“Political Winners” Circle Filled by Figures Close to Obama

“Political Winners” Circle Filled by Figures Close to Obama
Lydia Saad (Gallup)

This offers some useful insight.  It shows two things that I suspected.  The liberals are doing fairly well.  And the conservatives aren’t doing so well.

Here are the highlights:

  • “In Americans’ estimation, the top three political winners of 2009 are all women closely linked with the Obama administration: Michelle Obama, Hillary Clinton, and Sonia Sotomayor.”
  • President Barack Obama, himself, also falls in the political winners circle, although the percentage calling him a political loser is somewhat higher than is seen for the three women.”
  • “More than half [of all Americans identify as a political loser] the Republicans in Congress generally.”
  • “Nearly half of Americans (46%) call Sarah Palin a winner, but slightly more (49%) call her a loser.”
  • “About equal numbers of Americans call… radio talk host Glenn Beck winners and losers, while a large segment has no opinion…”
  • Democrats are much more unified in considering Michelle Obama, Hillary Clinton, and Barack Obama winners (each called a winner by at least 90% of Democrats) than Republicans are in calling Sarah Palin a winner (at 76% among Republicans).”
  • “Now that the presidential election in which the McCain-Palin ticket was defeated is more than a year past, Sarah Palin is nearly as likely to be viewed as a political winner as a loser. Hillary Clinton lost a bitterly fought primary for the 2008 Democratic presidential nomination, but has been visibly filling her role as Secretary of State and has risen above the political fray…”

Even Obama is maintaining a positive rating despite the economy and terrorism, but maybe the American public is smart enough to realize that you can’t blame a president in his first year for what he inherited from the previous administration.  Furthermore, considering the top three political winners, the Obama administration as a whole seems to be going above and beyond merely maintaining a positive rating.

I’m happy that the American public has been critical of Republicans in Congress.  They’ve been playing a game of deception and obstruction with the Obama administration.  They’ve been able to cause problems in the political arena, but it turns out the American public would at the moment prefer their politicians to be part of the solution rather than part of the problem.

Most interesting to me were the results about Sarah Palin and Glenn Beck.  I had my suspicions that these two weren’t as popular as the media sometimes portrayed them.  Yes, they have some very devoted followers who have been quite vocal with the Tea Party and all.  There, however, is no majority of favorable opinion about either.  Actually, more people view Palin unfavorably than favorably and a large segment couldn’t care less about Beck. 

I’ve always been of the opinion that the Tea Party has been overly hyped.  Beck may consider himself a populist (“We surround them.”) as the leader of the Tea Party, but the fact that the Tea Party was heavily promoted by Fox News proves it never was primarily a grassroots movement (rather, what is called Astroturf).  The anti-war movement during the Bush administration was way larger and more organized than the Tea Party could ever hope to be.  The anti-war movement accomplished that without support and promotion by a major political propaganda machine.  In fact, the anti-war movement accomplished that even while mostly being ignored by mainstream media in the US.

I should give the Tea Party some credit.  Surveys do seem to show that it is a popular movement, but that seems mainly because the Republican party at the moment is so unpopular.  The ex-Republicans have to go somewhere.  However, it’s important to point out that not all people in the Tea Party are ex-Republicans or necessarily even conservative.  Many are independents and libertarians who may or may not hold any allegiance to the conservative movement, and I’m sure many of these don’t consider Beck and Palin to be their leaders.

Even though I’m obviously critical of Beck, I should thank him.  It was his e-mail newsletter that notified me of the Gallup poll.

Lie of the Year: ‘Death panels’

PolitiFact’s Lie of the Year: ‘Death panels’

Of all the falsehoods and distortions in the political discourse this year, one stood out from the rest.

“Death panels.”

The claim set political debate afire when it was made in August, raising issues from the role of government in health care to the bounds of acceptable political discussion. In a nod to the way technology has transformed politics, the statement wasn’t made in an interview or a television ad. Sarah Palin posted it on her Facebook page.

Her assertion — that the government would set up boards to determine whether seniors and the disabled were worthy of care — spread through newscasts, talk shows, blogs and town hall meetings. Opponents of health care legislation said it revealed the real goals of the Democratic proposals. Advocates for health reform said it showed the depths to which their opponents would sink. Still others scratched their heads and said, “Death panels? Really?”

The editors of PolitiFact.com, the fact-checking Web site of the St. Petersburg Times, have chosen it as our inaugural “Lie of the Year.”

PolitiFact readers overwhelmingly supported the decision. Nearly 5,000 voted in a national poll to name the biggest lie, and 61 percent chose “death panels” from a field of eight finalists. (See the complete results.)