Friday Reads: Morning Granola Mix of Fruits, Nuts & Flakes

Good Morning!

Okay, let’s just say it’s been an interesting summer and get on with the links.

Dana Milbank at WAPO writes about “Modern-day McCarthyism regarding Hillary Clinton aide Huma Abedin”.

There are frequent bouts of McCarthyism in the capital, but the latest version has the special touch of being delivered by a guy named McCarthy.This McCarthy isn’t your average Joe: Andrew McCarthy’s work is providing the intellectual underpinnings — such as they are — for Rep. Michele Bachmann’s outrageous suggestion that Huma Abedin, a longtime aide to Hillary Rodham Clinton, has ties to the Muslim Brotherhood.

McCarthy gave a 90-minute talk at the National Press Club on Wednesday morning sponsored by the conservative Center for Security Policy, which was the source cited by Bachmann (R-Minn.) in her letter challenging Abedin’s loyalty. Sen. John McCain (Ariz.) and other top Republicans justifiably blasted Bachmann, but McCarthy defended the congresswoman and went her allegation one further — drawing a twisted line from Abedin all the way to al-Qaeda.

“I don’t understand why more people in Washington from both parties have not rallied in support of Congresswoman Bachmann” and her fellow signatories on the letter, McCarthy lamented, “at a time when government policy is being radically harmonized with the agenda of the Muslim Brotherhood, meaning policy has shifted in the direction of avowed enemies of the United States.”

In fact, the accuser went on, Bachmann “actually understated the case” against the Clinton aide. “Ms. Abedin had a very lengthy affiliation with an institute founded by a top figure at the nexus between Saudi terror funding, Brotherhood ideology and al-Qaeda’s jihad against the United States.”

If Abedin is in fact a Muslim Brotherhood plant spreading sharia law in the United States, she’s using unorthodox methods: posing provocatively for a Vogue spread, then marrying and having the child of a Jewish congressman who sent out a photo of his genitals on Twitter. As Clinton’s personal aide, helping her boss with suits and handbags and logistics, she has not been in an ideal position to advance the alleged cause. Even McCarthy admits that she’s “not a policymaker.”

This is just plain disgusting.Well,here’s some one that sounds like they had my experience way back in the day when I could find sane people in the Republican party. I probably could’ve written this book. But, I didn’t. Alternet has printed an excerpt from ” The Party Is Over: How Republicans Went Crazy, Democrats Became Useless and the Middle Class Got Shafted ,” by Mike Lofgren.

Having observed politics up close and personal for most of my adult lifetime, I have come to the conclusion that the rise of politicized religious fundamentalism may have been the key ingredient in the transformation of the Republican Party. Politicized religion provides a substrate of beliefs that rationalizes—at least in the minds of its followers—all three of the GOP’s main tenets: wealth worship, war worship, and the permanent culture war.

Religious cranks ceased to be a minor public nuisance in this country beginning in the 1970s and grew into a major element of the Republican rank and file. Pat Robertson’s strong showing in the 1988 Iowa presidential caucus signaled the gradual merger of politics and religion in the party. Unfortunately, at the time I mostly underestimated the implications of what I was seeing. It did strike me as oddly humorous that a fundamentalist staff member in my congressional office was going to take time off to convert the heathen in Greece, a country that had been overwhelmingly Christian for almost two thousand years. I recall another point, in the early 1990s, when a different fundamentalist GOP staffer said that dinosaur fossils were a hoax. As a mere legislative mechanic toiling away in what I held to be a civil rather than ecclesiastical calling, I did not yet see that ideological impulses far different from mine were poised to capture the party of Lincoln.

The results of this takeover are all around us: If the American people poll more like Iranians or Nigerians than Europeans or Canadians on questions of evolution, scriptural inerrancy, the presence of angels and demons, and so forth, it is due to the rise of the religious right, its insertion into the public sphere by the Republican Party, and the consequent normalizing of formerly reactionary beliefs. All around us now is a prevailing anti-intellectualism and hostility to science. Politicized religion is the sheet anchor of the dreary forty-year-old culture wars.

Clearly, we have to be able to talk about the rising tide of right-wing, racist organizing. The ginned-up controversy over the Department of Homeland Security’s 2009 report on the rise of hate groups looks particularly stupid now, given that Page seems straight out of the pages of the report.  “Rightwing Extremism” predicted that a troubled economy plus the election of a black president could inspire a rise in racist hate groups and actions.  The report was particularly concerned with “lone wolves.” As Jonathan Capehart has already noted, it found that “lone wolves … embracing violent right-wing extremist ideology are the most dangerous domestic terrorism threat in the United States.”

It went on to say that “white supremacist lone wolves pose the most significant domestic terrorist threat because of their low profile and autonomy — separate from any formalized group — which hampers warning efforts.” The report also noted that military experience could make such lone wolves particularly dangerous. Page was a veteran (I’m not implying veterans are violence prone). Wells Fargo foreclosed on his North Carolina home in January. His girlfriend reportedly dumped him in June. He was a lone wolf who lost his home and was already deep into white supremacist insanity. We don’t know when, or why, he moved to violence. But “Rightwing Extremism” seems prescient now.

Instead of being hailed, or simply ignored (as government reports tend to be), it inspired a clamorous right-wing backlash against even the possibility that extremist right-wing rhetoric married to ideas of racial superiority might result in violence. Matt Drudge, who regularly trumpets supposedly under-covered stories about crime by African-Americans (particularly stories that feature white victims), was one of the loudest voices of opposition to the release of the DHS report, which had been commissioned by George W. Bush. One Drudge banner headline shrieked “SHE IS WATCHING YOU,” she being Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano. So racial profiling and stereotyping is fine when it comes to crime by African-Americans, but not by whites. We’re used to that kind of double standard from Drudge, whose site some days resembles Stormfront in its hysterical hyping of black-on-white crime.

Some conservatives even object to the Southern Poverty Law Center characterizing Page, along with his racist musical colleagues, as white supremacists. Silly contrarian Ann Althouse objected to the SPLC terming the bands Page has belonged to “racist white power” bands, adding, “I’m not sure how they know that.” Oh, I don’t know, Ann, maybe because an album cover of one of Page’s bands, Definite Hate, featured an illustration of a white arm punching a black man’s face? Reuters found a YouTube video for Definite Hate that referred to lyrics including: “Wake Up, White man, For Your Race, And your land,” and “Wake Up People Or Your (sic) Gonna Die!” Page himself talked about going to Georgia’s white-power music festival Hammerfest. Is that evidence enough for you? Althouse and her dittohead commenters accused the SPLC of stigmatizing and demonizing “punk rock” generally, which of course they absolutely didn’t do.

I have no problem with the SPLC tracking white power bands. I was appalled when Napolitano withdrew the “Rightwing Extremism” report after the faux-controversy. Al-Qaida expert Peter Bergen notes that there have been twice as many right-wing terror attacks as Muslim terror attacks in the U.S. since 9/11, and suggests the government isn’t taking it as seriously. I don’t believe in racial profiling, of any group, but I think we should take the terror potential in right-wing extremist organizing as seriously as we take the potential in any violence-committed group. (Although at the end of an otherwise insightful piece, Bergen warns about “left wing extremist groups,” even though he fails to give any examples of them.)

 Speaking of gun-toting nutters, here’s one on George Zimmerman from The Orlando Sentinel: “Can Zimmerman win ‘stand your ground’ hearing?”

Zimmerman’s lawyer, Mark O’Mara, on Thursday formally announced that he would defend Zimmerman using Florida’s now much-debated “stand your ground” law.

That means he’ll schedule a trial-like hearing, put on evidence and try to show that Zimmerman was afraid — and that it was a reasonable fear — that Trayvon was on the verge of killing or severely injuring him.

If he’s successful, a judge will throw out the second-degree-murder charge.

“There is clear support for a strong claim of self-defense,” O’Mara wrote in a blog post Thursday.

Central Florida lawyers predicted that, based on the evidence released so far by prosecutors, Zimmerman has a strong chance of winning.

“He’s assaulted, and he claims he’s on the ground, fighting for his life. I don’t see how a judge does not grant that motion,” said Robert Buonauro, an Orlando defense lawyer who has been through three “stand your ground” hearings, one that cleared his client.

“He was in a place where he had a right to be. He wasn’t violating any laws. He was attacked. There’s no other witness to contradict his testimony,” Buonauro said.

That last point — that no other witness saw the entire encounter — is key, according to experts. An Orlando Sentinel review of Central Florida “stand your ground” cases found that suspects were far more likely to be exonerated if they were the lone surviving witness.

Prosecution Investigator Dale Gilbreath testified at a bond hearing April 20 that prosecutors had no evidence — other than Zimmerman’s statement — about who struck the first blow Feb. 26, the night Zimmerman and Trayvon got into a fight and wound up in a wrestling match on the ground that ended with the teenager shotin the heart.

“I think we all understand that you don’t win without putting your client on the stand,” said Orlandodefense attorney Diana Tennis. “It all looks pretty darned good for him, but he is going to make or break that hearing.”

What Zimmerman must make clear is that he was afraid of Trayvon, she said.

And to qualify for immunity under Florida’s “stand your ground” law, his fear must be reasonable and he must have believed that unless heacted immediately, he would have died or been severely injured.

Zimmerman’s account to authorities, on its face, appears to comport with the law, Tennis said, but there is one major drawback: “[He] doesn’t do so well on the stand,” she said. “That’s a huge worry.”

Grab your popcorn for that one!  Okay, away from gun nutterz and back to religious nutterz.

The American Family Association’s Bryan Fischer has sunk to a new, disturbing low with his anti-gay statements. In two separatetweets last night, he called for an “Underground Railroad to deliver innocent children from same-sex households.” In one tweet  he was referring to the sad story of Lisa Miller, who, after declaring herself ex-gay, kidnapped her daughter away to Central America to prevent her former partner from having any custody. (She is still being tracked by federal agents as a fugitive of the law.)

In the other tweet, Fischer referred to the testimony of a individual named Robert Oscar Lopez, who blames all of his social problems on being raised by his mom and her lesbian partner.

Okay, well that’s a few nuts, flakes, and fruits to keep you wondering what’s happened to sanity in this country. There’s a whole lot unpopped kernels at the bottom of our bowl these days.  What’s on your reading and blogging list today?

29 Comments on “Friday Reads: Morning Granola Mix of Fruits, Nuts & Flakes”

  1. ecocatwoman says:

    The Nation had a story on Lofgren’s book earlier this week that I’d shared in the comments. Definitely looks interesting. Throughout US history there have been other times when religion played a big role in politics. I wonder if there are any books comparing those times to current times.

    David Barton, a faux historian, is the darling of the evangelicals. I posted a link to NPR’s story on an earlier post. Here’s an excerpt that really raised my hackles:

    “You go back to the Founding Fathers, as far as they’re concerned, they already had the entire debate on creation-evolution,” he said on Daystar Television Network. “And you get Thomas Paine, who’s the least religious Founding Father saying, ‘You’ve GOT to teach creation science in the classroom. Scientific method demands that.'”

    Of course, that was years before Charles Darwin was born.

    For the full story, here’s the link –

    The Guns, God & White Supremacy monsters/mobsters have plagued our country for many, many years. Ignoring them will not make them go away. Unfortunately, it seems to me that too many people agree with these folks but don’t get involved – they just cheer them on in the privacy of their homes. Hate is the overarching quality that separates humans from non-human animals, IMHO.

  2. ecocatwoman says:

    As an avowed NPR junkie, this story is terribly upsetting to me:

    I don’t listen to Planet Money very often, so I missed Davidson’s interview with Elizabeth Warren (who I greatly admire). I also don’t listen to This American Life frequently, which is apparently where Davidson made his bones on NPR. Here’s an intro to Davidson vs Warren:

    In May 2009, in the heat of the banking industry’s massive pushback, Davidson essentially mugged Elizabeth Warren, the chief architect of the financial consumer protection bill, in an interview that took a sharp and bizarre hostile turn early on. Davidson surprised Warren and his own listeners with uncharacteristic personal smears, trying to portray her as a clueless, power-hungry ideologue. Davidson’s attack on Warren was so out-of-line and uncharacteristically hostile that it sparked a torrent of criticism from NPR listeners who couldn’t understand why Davidson or NPR would do such a thing. Keep in mind, this was in the spring of 2009, when unemployment was still shooting through the roof, the future of the economy was in doubt, and talk of a 1930s style Great Depression-2 was still front-and-center.

  3. bostonboomer says:

    Ohio man faced weapons charges after he goes to see Batman movie with a bag of guns and knives. He says he did it to protect himself and other moviegoers.

  4. ecocatwoman says:

    Supremely OT, but have to share. These Nudibranch – sea slugs – are amazingly beautiful.

  5. Pat Johnson says:

    Along with the rise of the Religious Right let’s not forget the toxicity of talk radio that has more Right Wing pundits spreading their “message” all across the nation under the “Fairness in Broadcasting Act”.

    The “message” being that “religion” and the Baby Jesus is being attacked, liberalism is Satan’s pawn, the government is planning on taking away your weapons, and a subversive cabal exists somewhere in the country, plotting and planning on subjecting us to martial law. Oh, and don’t forget to factor in the “gay agenda” that is behind most of this secrecy and chaired by none other than Barney Frank.

    Keep pumping the premise that we are all under seige by some unseen forces and enough people will find themselves in total agreement. Thus I give you the Tea Party and the fools who have managed to ride this meme into congress via the election booth. For those who think this can’t happen I argue that it already has.

    The code word is “freedom” that is inserted into every debate, establishing the theory that those freedoms have been eliminated, or about to be, and you have constructed a narrative that produces fear.

    Romney has now declared that Obama is engaging a “war on religion” that is bound to attract those who are more than willing to “fight” back in one form or another.

    Sounds so much like the messages and methods used back in the 1930s when “patriots” acted out their dissatisfaction from the use of propaganda brought about by turning them into “victims”.

    Listen to some of these politicians and try to find the difference. There is none.

    • Fannie says:

      I agree – I am so sick of Romney protraying Obama as taking away the veteran vote in Ohio-
      finally found a petition to sign to stop Romney………………then I think about Obama who took down Osama and Gaddafi………………..these freedom fighters refuse to give our Commander in Chief credit for it, and these freedom fighters are the first to approve of waterboarding, bet they even think it was a good tool to use on the 11 year old girl………………I’m disgusted.

    • RalphB says:

      What Pat said! Squared!

  6. ANonOMouse says:

    This should set the nutters on their ear

    Draft of Democratic Party Platform Plank in Support of Marriage Equality

    “We support the right of all families to have equal respect, responsibilities, and protections under the law. We support marriage equality and support the movement to secure equal treatment under law for same-sex couples. We also support the freedom of churches and religious entities to decide how to administer marriage as a religious sacrament without government interference.

    We oppose discriminatory federal and state constitutional amendments and other attempts to deny equal protection of the laws to committed same-sex couples who seek the same respect and responsibilities as other married couples. We support the full repeal of the so-called Defense of Marriage Act and the passage of the Respect for Marriage Act.”

  7. RalphB says:

    DougJ at Balloon-Juice. I couldn’t agree more! Uh, winning

    Don’t tell me that hammering Romney on Bain and taxes hasn’t helped, because it has.

    When Democrats were the dominant party, they ran ads accusing their opponents of causing nuclear war and they scared up votes from dead people in Illinois. They also defeated Hitler and the Great Depression, passed Civil Rights, and presided over the greatest economic expansion in human history. Let’s be that party again. Because I’m tired of the one that frets about being fair to its opponents while it watches the nation burn.

    • bostonboomer says:

      It’s hilarious. Every day the Morning Joe crew repeats that mantra that Obama’s attacks aren’t working. It’s starting to sound really lame, because they obviously are working extremely well. I think Romney is done unless something dramatic happens.

      • RalphB says:

        Haha. That’s one reason I don’t watch Morning Joe. The occasional lucid moment from some ponderous pundit isn’t worth it. 🙂

      • bostonboomer says:

        I don’t watch it, but sometimes I leave my satellite radio on all night and I wake up listening to it. It’s very annoying, but I can’t fall asleep without some noise in the background.

    • Beata says:

      Mitt Shady can’t come clean ’cause he’s too busy covering up the dirt. Piles of it.

  8. bostonboomer says:

    Kelly Ayotte has cancelled her speaking plans for next week. Could she be the VP choice?

    • bostonboomer says:

      There have been a lot of changes to her Wikipedia page in the past couple of days.

      • Hey that is strange…

      • ANonOMouse says:

        UGH!!!! Ayotte is a TP’er who was endorsed by Sarah Palin during her Senate run, she won’t do a thing for the ticket, but not sure Romney has a VP choice who can lift him from the pit of his own bs. Except for the Rasmussen (duh), the polls are looking worse for Romney with each passing day. Chosing a woman will help him with no one but the Palinites and he has them anyway.

      • bostonboomer says:

        The only reason to pick her would be to carry NH, but I don’t think it would happen anyway.

    • Beata says:

      I really want Rmoney to choose Paul Ryan as his VP. Then Mitt will be forced to openly defend the noxious Ryan Budget plan he supports. The middle class will just love Romney-Ryan as they get to know them better! And seniors will be waxing nostalgic about how personable the Nixon-Agnew ticket was.

      • ANonOMouse says:

        I’m hoping the same thing Beata and basically for the same reasons. The problem for RMoney is that with or without Ryan he will at some point have to defend the Ryan Budget because he’s on the record supporting it. Barack Obama will not allow that one to go unchallenged.

        RMoney needs a VP choice that might bring him a state. NH is trending Obama by 4+ and NH only has 4 electoral votes to offer. Jindal can’t bring anything because LA is already solidly red. Pawlenty, from MN might deliver his states 10 electoral votes, but Obama leads in MN by 6. To my mind the best of the bad choices for Romney is Portman with Ohio’s 15 Electoral votes. Still, even Portman may not be able to deliver them because Obama leads by 6 points in OH according to the latest poll.

        RMoney has no where to run to baby, nowhere to hide!!

      • Beata says:

        Mouse, I agree Portman is Rmoney’s best choice, but I predict even with him on the ticket, Rmoney will lose Ohio. Bain, the Ryan Budget, and Rmoney’s “tax issues” will be his downfall there, as they will in several other Midwestern states.

        Oh, and I should have written seniors will “wax nostalgic” about Nixon-Agnew. ( That’s for any grammar police who are lurking! )

    • Beata says:

      I know next to nothing about Ayotte. Is she popular in her home state of New Hampshire?

      • RalphB says:

        If Rmoney can’t win NH without her, he’s a goner anyway. It would seem to be the same kind of play that McCain thought he was making for Hillary voters when he picked Palin but who knows.

      • bostonboomer says:

        Romney won’t win New Hampshire. Obama will win it.

  9. RalphB says:

    Unless the Republicans win this time and completely hose the processes for voting, this could well be true. It gives me hope anyway since the demographics are ruthless.

    The Last Stand for White Conservatism

    Polls at the time found that whites gave from 56 percent to 61 percent of their votes to Dwight Eisenhower in 1952, Ronald Reagan in 1980, and George H.W. Bush in 1988. For each of those men, those crushing margins among whites translated into an electoral landslide. Each won at least 426 Electoral College votes and cruised in the popular vote.

    Yet this year, Romney could win as much as 60 percent of the white vote (or, amazingly, even slightly more) and still lose. The reason is the electorate’s changing composition. When Reagan was first elected in 1980, whites cast about 90 percent of the votes; even in Bush’s 1988 victory, whites represented 85 percent of all votes and minorities just 15 percent.

    But by 2008, after two decades of steady growth, minorities cast 26 percent of all votes. One recent analysis found they represent 29 percent of eligible voters for 2012. Even if the minority vote share remains flat at 26 percent, should Obama hold his 80 percent of it, he can win a national majority with slightly less than 40 percent of whites.

    The fact that Romney could roughly equal the towering performances of Eisenhower, Reagan, and Bush among whites and still fall short ought to alert Republicans about the dangers of an electoral strategy so dependent on those voters alone. “If Republicans are going to be competitive at the presidential level over the next 10-20 years they have to do better among nonwhite voters, especially Asians and Hispanics,” says GOP pollster Whit Ayres. “[If you] basically win a landslide among whites and still lose, the handwriting is on the wall.”