Tuesday, April 7, 2009

A Lot To Think About, A Lot To Consider And A Bunch Of Right Wing Rage And Rubbish For The Dumpster.

A Lot To Think About, A Lot To Consider And A Bunch Of Right Wing Rage And Rubbish For The Dumpster.



Famed Gitmo Lawyer Facing Six Months in Prison For Writing Letter to Obama Detailing Torture of Client
Clive Stafford Smith is accused of 'unprofessional conduct' by Pentagon officials who monitor communication between Gitmo prisoners and their lawyers.
Read more


It’s Not Like This Is All A Secret!



Shocking Scenarios: Rapid Economic Contraction May Lead to New Wars and Radicalized Politics
By Arun Gupta, Indypendent
Economic contraction could provoke: confrontation between U.S. and China or an unraveling of the European Union. 
Read more 


Vermont Legalizes Gay Marriage With Veto Override

MONTPELIER, Vt. (AP) — Vermont has become the fourth state to legalize gay marriage — and the first to do so with a legislature's vote.

The Legislature voted Tuesday to override Gov. Jim Douglas' veto of a bill allowing gays and lesbians to marry. The vote was 23-5 to override in the state Senate and 100-49 to override in the House. Under Vermont law, two-thirds of each chamber had to vote for override.

The vote came nine years after Vermont adopted its first-in-the-nation civil unions law.

It's now the fourth state to permit same-sex marriage. Massachusetts, Connecticut and Iowa are the others. Their approval of gay marriage came from the courts.

THIS IS A BREAKING NEWS UPDATE. Check back soon for further information. AP's earlier story is below.

MONTPELIER, Vt. (AP) — As expected, the Vermont Senate has overridden the governor's veto of a bill that would allow same-sex marriage.

The House planned to take up the issue later Tuesday, but it's unclear whether there are enough votes to override the veto by Gov. Jim Douglas.

If there are, Vermont would become the fourth state to legalize marriages of gay and lesbian couples.

The others are Massachusetts, Connecticut and Iowa.




Open Left:: GOP Obstructionism of Obama Nominees--And "Mainstream ...
By Paul Rosenberg 
No longer able simply to defend choices made by a fellow Republican, as they did under President George W. Bush, Republicans on the 
Judiciary Committee have turned into vocal critics of many of President Obama's legal nominees. ... because the "balance" narrative has to be carefully reconstructed (aka "reinscribed" as they say in the trade) every time a "news" story is written, and that takes up space, time and energy that's thereby not available to bring up stupid facts? ...
Open Left - Front Page - http://www.openleft.com/



by Jane MayerAPRIL 13, 2009


About a year ago, a book came out in England that made a fascinating prediction: at some point in the future, the author wrote, six top officials in the Bush Administration would get a tap on the shoulder announcing that they were being arrested on international charges of torture.

If the prediction seemed improbable, the background of the book’s author was even more so. Philippe Sands is neither a journalist nor an American but a law professor and a certified Queen’s Counsel (the kind of barrister who on occasion wears a powdered horsehair wig) who works at the same law practice as Cherie Blair. Sands’s book, “Torture Team,” offers a scathing critique of officials in the Bush Administration, accusing them of complicity in acts of torture. When the book appeared, some scoffed. Douglas Feith, a former Pentagon official, dismissed Sands as “a British lawyer” who “wrote an extremely dishonest book.”

Last week, Sands’s accusations suddenly did not seem so outlandish. A Spanish court took the first steps toward starting a criminal investigation of the same six former Bush Administration officials he had named, weighing charges that they had enabled and abetted torture by justifying the abuse of terrorism suspects. Among those whom the court singled out was Feith, the former Under-Secretary of Defense for Policy, along with former Attorney General Alberto Gonzales; John Yoo, a former Justice Department lawyer; and David Addington, the chief of staff and the principal legal adviser to Vice-President Dick Cheney.

In Washington the other night, over a cup of chamomile tea, Sands described the behind-the-scenes role he played in spurring the Spanish court to action. He paced his hotel room, seeming by turns proud and stunned at what he had done. “This is the end of these people’s professional reputations!” he said. “This is no joke. We’re talking about the serious potential deprivation of liberty.”

Sands said that he had “no personal vendetta” against the Bush Administration, but he does see a link between his family history and his chosen profession. His mother and her parents were Viennese Jews who barely survived the Holocaust; his mother spent the first seven years of her life in hiding, away from her family. “It inculcated a burning sense of being aggrieved at wrongdoing, and at the failure of people to take responsibility for their actions,” Sands said.

Sands got his first chance to demonstrate his convictions professionally in 1998. He was in Paris, for the unveiling of his grandfather’s gravestone, when he received a call asking him to represent Augusto Pinochet, the former Chilean dictator. He told his wife, Natalia Schiffrin, about the offer. “Philippe, if you do,” Sands recalls her saying, “I will divorce you!” (She is American, and the daughter of the book publisher André Schiffrin, a founder of Students for a Democratic Society.) Sands declined the case. Instead, he signed on to represent the other side, and helped pursue Pinochet for violations of international law. The case became a turning point in international law, establishing the principle that there is no immunity even for the highest-ranking former government officials when they are accused of torture. Pinochet spent some sixteen months under house arrest. A decade later, the same Spanish judge who initiated the legal proceedings against Pinochet, Baltasar Garzón, has been assigned to the case against the Bush Administration officials. 

The current torture case began in the spring of 2004, when photographs of abused prisoners at Abu Ghraib surfaced. Sands said that he read the protestations of innocence from Bush Administration officials, who blamed a few “bad apples” for the incidents, with the eye of a barrister. He recalled, “I could spot right away that they were speaking as advocates of a cause. So I decided to find out what really happened.” While keeping up his busy law practice, he travelled to America to interview the key players in what he described as “a writing project I am engaged in on international law and the war on terror.” Many Bush officials, including Feith and William J. Haynes II, the former Pentagon general counsel, who was also named in the Spanish lawsuit, agreed to meet with Sands, perhaps expecting a friendly chat. “I spent two years trekking around the country, finding out that they were manifestly untruthful,” Sands said. “I’ve got a particular bugbear about lawyers,” he added. “If not for lawyers, none of these abuses would have ever occurred.”

As Sands went about his research, he conferred with human-rights experts all over Europe on his findings. Word spread that he had the makings of a high-level war-crimes case. Sands won’t reveal exactly which human-rights authorities he consulted. But, in recent months, one of them was Gonzalo Boye, the Chilean-born Spanish lawyer who last week filed the criminal complaint against the Bush officials, on behalf of five former prisoners who were, they allege, tortured in the U.S. military prison at Guantánamo Bay. Boye said last week of Sands, “Let me just say that he played a very big role in my thinking. His book showed me who the targets were.” Feith, reached on the phone, called Sands’s book “wildly inaccurate.” He said, “It’s not a happy thing for the Spanish Court to think of prosecuting Americans for advice they gave to the President of the United States!”

It is hard to predict what will happen next, but, if arrest warrants are issued, the Obama Administration may be forced either to extradite the former officials or to start its own investigation. Sands, who admires Obama, said, “I regret that I have added to his in-box when he has so much else to sort out. But I hope he does the right thing. There’s not much dispute anymore: torture happened, and the law is clear—torture must be punished.”

Meanwhile, Sands reiterated a warning that he made in his book. “If I were they,” he said, referring to the former officials in question, “I would think carefully before setting foot outside the United States. They are now, and forever in the future, at risk of arrest. Until this is sorted out, they are in their own legal black hole.” 


Keywords: From The Issue  Cartoon Bank  Philippe Sands   “Torture Team”

Bush Administration  War Crimes   Criminal Investigations   Spanish Courts








Fifteen years ago, give or take, I sat in a crowded convention room at the Sands hotel in Las Vegas, (which, by the way, was leveled long ago, wiping out a legacy of Frank Sinatra and ushering in Disney), and listened to a parade of speakers at the annual Soldier of Fortune convention who, basically, set up the construct that we were potentially at war with the U.S. government and that we needed to protect ourselves from invading jack-booted thugs who might want to mount assaults on our homes and take away all our guns.

I learned about how to bury my assault weapons and other arsenals in special underground vaults that the dreaded bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms would never find.  I learned how to make my own bazooka.  I learned how to use urban or rural settings to protect myself from the government storm troopers who were coming to steal my guns.  I learned hand-to-hand combat.  I signed up to receive publications that would teach me how to prepare for the coming war--including hoarding gold, stockpiling canned goods and water, and home-schooling my children--without leaving any kind of imprint that would put me on some government-snooping radar.  I paid cash.  For obvious reasons.

At the enormous gun show, I perused booths where I could buy complete military uniforms, (including various medals), every kind of gun imaginable, mean-looking knives with scabbards, tasers--well, you name the weapon and I defy you to come up with one I didn't pick up in my own hands at that gun show. 

At the gun show, I bought books on explosives, firearms, sniper rifles, techniques of warfare, creating new identities so that I could disappear, and catalogues of books that are not published in any mainstream press.  I picked up lots of pamphlets on "Slick Willie" and his evil manipulative she-wolf wife, Hillary.

I passed a life-sized cut-out of an armed ATF agent, clad head-to-toe in Ninja black and leveling an automatic weapon at me, with a cartoon-bubble overhead that read, 
"Hi.  I'm from the government, and I'm here to help you."

And I spent some time around the bars that proliferated at each and every convention event--set up right outside each room of the conference--talking to mercenaries, gun-nuts, off-duty cops, rednecks, wannabe warriors, and militia paranoids.  (In some of the talks, you could count beer bottles lined up beneath people's chairs.)

I was the only unescorted female there.  

One of the convention speakers, a highly-regarded former helicopter pilot in Vietnam, gave us a rundown of what really happened at the Branch Davidian tragedy, which had occured a little over a year before the convention, on April 19, 1993.  (This was early September of 1994.)

With great authority, he told the packed room that he had a copy of the autopsy reports "on my desk in Washington, D.C." of the ATF agents who had been killed in the initial raid on the Waco area, Texas, compound.

"They were shot by their own people, folks," he declared, swiveling his body so that the backs of his thighs faced the crowd.  "Automatic weapons fire stitched right up the backs of their legs," he demonstrated, adding, with a scowl, "The Davidians didn't have any automatic weapons.  The ATF did it to their own guys."

Leaning forward conspiratorially, he said to the hushed crowd, 
"And I'll tell you something else.  There WAS NO .50-caliber weapon in that compound.  That's another myth perpetrated by the government."

Funny thing about myths.

See, the TRUTH is that I actually DID have an official copy of the autopsy done on the fallen ATF agents.  

It had been given to me by the same Texas Ranger who had hand-carried a .50-caliber weapon out of the smoking ruins of the compound.

"If they didn't have a .50-cal," he told me drily, "then I'd like to know what the hell it was I carried out of there."

The REAL autopsy reports showed no wounds "stitched up the thighs" of those dead agents.  Far from it.  

They were wounded horribly and fatally in the kinds of places where you shoot to kill someone who is wearing bulletproof body armor.

Sitting in those rooms during that three-day conference, the atmosphere of hatred and paranoia and rage was PALPABLE, real and tangible, like a black foggy cloud settling over our heads.  By the time I got back home to Texas, I was physically ill, literally sick to my stomach from the tension I'd absorbed.  

A tension, I might add, that was completely off the media radar and unknown to the vast majority of Americans at that time.

My little adventure to the Vegas SoF convention was just the start of a year's worth of research I was conducting for a book I was to write called, 
Ordeal.  (You can buy it in hardcover on amazon for like, a penny, plus a few bucks' postage.  Also in paperback.  It was also published in Great Britain, Japan, Germany, and Australia.)  

The book was a thriller which dealt with a fringe group of right-wing extremists known at the time as "survivalists."

Before the convention, my research had yielded virtually nothing about this group, these private militias who were arming themselves.  A quarter-page spread in
Time, half-page in Newsweek.  I think 20-20 might have done a brief piece.  Really, there was nothing else.  Nobody took them seriously.

But once I'd gone to the convention and been exposed front and center to the real nuttery going on in this group, I became very worried.  

In my fictional story line, I had a militia group that plans to bomb a federal building in Midland, Texas.  The charismatic leader of the group kidnaps a former girlfriend and her 15-year old son because he wants to use her expertise in explosives, and because he wants her back.  But she's living a quiet life as a happily married high school chemistry teacher, and nobody except her husband knows about her checkered past with this man.

I spent a year working on the book, and during that time, right-wing talk radio began to climb in ratings and in nut-case ranting.  G. Gordon Liddy made a new name for himself beyond just being a Watergate crook and sadistic nutcase by advocating that when the ATF came for you, you were to "aim for the head" because they wore body armor.

During that time, I begged my conservative family and friends not to encourage that sort of dialogue, that the hate-rhetoric had gone too far.

They laughed at me.

"You don't understand," I pleaded.  "That kind of talk gives the unhinged among us VALIDATION.  It certifies that whatever awful thing he may be planning to do is acceptable, even NECESSARY."

They mocked me for being a crazy liberal, for taking life too seriously, for having a wimpy draft-dodging womanizing president who needed to be impeached.

But as the year wore on and the publications I'd secretly subscribed to kept arriving in my mail box, I began to experience a terrible feeling of dread.

"Something terrible is going to happen," I insisted.  "You guys have GOT to tone this stuff down."

Turns out though, that I wasn't alone in my reasoning.

Because it wasn't just me who attended that Soldier of Fortune convention.

Turns out 
Timothy McVeigh was there too.  (That link'll take you to a PBS"Frontline" documentary timeline of McVeigh's movements in the months proceeding the Oklahoma City bombing.)

On April 19, 1995, the Murrah Federal building in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma was bombed into oblivion by that same Timothy McVeigh.

I was 400 pages into the manuscript of my book by then, and watched in horror as the worst-case scenario I had imagined took place before my eyes, and the death toll mounted to more than 160, including 19 children.

Of course, nobody could understand why McVeigh would give law enforcement officers only his name, rank, and serial number from his army days.

They didn't GET that he considered himself to be at war with the U.S. government.

The children, you see.  Just collateral damage.

Soldier of Fortune published an editorial a month after the bombing condeming the act, saying that even in times of real war, the U.S. army did its best to avoid the collateral deaths of civilians and that McVeigh's act had been reprehensible and in no way condoned by Soldier of Fortune.

Way too little and way, way too late, because that's not the way they had behaved at their rollicking convention six months before that.

After Oklahoma City, at least my own conservative family and friends calmed down considerably, even apologetically.  They couldn't understand how any thinking American human being could possibly consider bombing and killing babies to be worth making some kind of point.

Which is why, after all, I had chosen to write the book in the first place.

My book was auctioned to fourteen publishers a couple months after the bombing.  My own publisher rejected it, 
"because we don't want it to look as though we're taking advantage of the bombing."

The publisher who bought it paid a high five figure advance, and foreign sales brought it over the six-figure mark.

But in the days following the terrible bombing, there was a flood of interest in the mentality of such a person as McVeigh, and sudden whitehot media interest in militias and right-wing extremists.

I begged my new publisher to bring out the book as quickly as possible in order to meet that interest, but they dawdled, putting me in the excruciatingly slow book-publishing line-up.

By the time the book came out, 
two full years later, it was smack in the middle of the McVeigh trial.  By that time, survivalists had become so familiar in every venue from action movies to Walker, Texas Ranger, that they were now pretty much cartoon characters.  My painstaking, careful, and accurate research was swamped by the stereotype, and people were sick of the subject.

Even though the book received rave reviews, the bad timing killed sales.  Although I did three more books after that, for a total of eleven, my career as a suspense novelist was never the same.  It seems it, too, had come down beneath the rubble of the Murrah building.

Time passed.  The right-wingers got their wet dream fantasy with a cowboy president whose inattention to Intelligence briefings during his usual prolonged August vacation in 2001 brought them a REAL enemy in September to hate: 

And for eight years, we didn't hear so much anymore about how the government was the enemy and we needed to prepare for war when they came to get our guns, not with Bubba Bush in the White House by God!

Not with the NRA in the West Wing!

But the hate rhetoric did not stop--indeed, the influx of Internet access, blogging, social networking sites, viral e-mails, and the explosion of websites reliable and not-so-much opened up the floodgates of it, especially when, first, their most dreaded enemy of all ran for president.

Hillary Clinton.

And then, of all things, she got beat...BY A BLACK GUY!!!


I've been watching the hate rhetoric ratcheting up ever since the campaign, and I'm not alone.

The incomparable 
Southern Poverty Law Center, which tracks hate groups nationwide in Intelligence reports that are routinely relied upon by the F.B.I., among others, demonstrates how, in their latest issue, hate groups in recent years have skyrocketed to the highest number in U.S. history--almost a thousand.

I have continued to support the SPLC ever since writing 
Ordeal, (and am very proud that my name appears on their Wall of Tolerance in Birmingham, Alabama), and through the years since my book was published, I've seen the trend go up based on whatever demons the right-wing has decided to attack.  

After 9/11 it was anyone who was even THOUGHT to be a Muslim, even if he was a hapless turban-wearing Hindu Sikh.

Then they decided that illegal immigrants from Mexico were the newest threat, which saw the growth of the "Patriot" groups on border states, hunting down "wetbacks" crossing the Rio Grande.  Crimes against Mexican-Americans--legal and illegal citizens--shot up.

Only NOW we've got a black president to demonize, and they have not hesitated to do so.  Barack Obama received Secret Service protection long before he even got the nomination, and over the course of his campaign, that protection was beefed up several times.  Death-threats against him have increased along with the growth of hate-groups.

So now we've got an actual sitting congresswoman telling her home state voters that they should be 
"armed and dangerous," and various other right-wing spokespeople seem to be increasingly advocating for some kind of coming “revolution."

When I mentioned this to my moderate Republican husband--a Gary Cooperesque educated Texas cowboy--he shook his head and said quietly, 
"Boy, those Republicans just can't STAND not being in power, can they?"

(Note: he voted for Obama.)

I never dreamed after the madness of the nineties that I would see this country going through such convulsions again, carried on the fever-wave of yet more right-wing rage, hatred, and paranoia.  

(Granted, our far-left fringe suffers similar fainting spells, but it's been a real real long time since any of them bombed any buildings.  Not so for the right wing.  Before OkCity we had the abortion clinic bombings.  Then the militias.  And so on.  Armed and dangerous, indeed.)

I'm just as terrified for my president now as I was for Bill Clinton, sitting in that dark-cloud room of collective gun-nut insanity in Vegas all those years ago, and just as worried about gun violence--and with good reason, as witnessed by the recent tsunami of shootings that have taken the lives of innocents as well as police officers across this country.

As before in the nineties, I hear the rhetoric ratcheting up again, only the megaphone is much louder these days, with the likes of Rush Limbaugh and Matt Drudge lighting fires while Newt Gingrich and Dick Cheney gleefully spread the kerosene.

There's hope, though.

That's because, this time, it's different.

For one thing, this time, I'm not all alone.

The media is paying attention.

In yesterday's 
New York Times, Charles M. Blow wrote a powerful piece called, "Pitchforks and Pistols."

After following right-wing media for a while, he reports, 
"They're apocalyptic.  They feel isolated, angry, betrayed and besieged.  And some of their 'leaders' seem to be trying to mold them into militias."

Well, they won't have to try too hard.  I've been down this road before.  And there is a certain unhinged group of our society who just seem to psychologically (or psychotically, if you prefer), need to have someone to hate and fear, someone they are certain is out to get them.  Or at least, their precious guns.

Blow says, 
"It's not all just harmless talk."  (It never was.)  "For some, their disaffection has hardened into something more dark and dangerous.  They're talking about a revolution."

Of course he mentions congresswoman Michelle Bachmann of Minnesota (which was a real hotbed of militias in the '90's, I can tell you), Glenn Beck of the sobbing "I just love my country so much" variety, and so on.

And he brings up the panic-buying of firearms and ammunition by those convinced, YET AGAIN, that the Democratic president is going to send the ATF or the army after them to round up their guns.

Blow ends the piece by mentioning what a "really bad feeling" all this rhetoric is giving him.

Welcome to my world, dear.

Still...I AM more hopeful this time.

Cockroaches only proliferate in darkness.  During the 90's, this nutcase rhetoric was allowed to burn along like an untamed wildfire for months because no one in the media was paying attention and the Internet was not so widely used.

The fire burned until it exploded on April 19, 1995.

Now, these kinds of signature YouTube moments are immediately exposed on such popular venues as Jon Stewart's 
The Daily Show, where they are mocked, as well as on late-night television like Jay Leno and David Letterman.  A surprising number of Americans actually get much of their news from such sources, and back in the nineties, they either didn't exist or didn't know what was going on at places like the Soldier of Fortune convention.

This effectively sprays foam on the fire.  It may not put the whole thing out, but it can damp a lot of it down and show that it is a potential hazard and that people need to be paying attention and not tolerating it.

That's not enough of course, but I do know some things that we can do to help put out this fire.

First of all, I've mentioned before my friend 
Robby, who is as right-wing gun-nut as any of them, but who was so turned off by right-wing talk radio during the campaign that he stopped listening for the first time in 15 years.  

"This isn't who we are," he said.  "I don't know who these people think we are, but this isn't it."

He reports to me that many of his right-wing friends have also sworn off talk-radio.  It's gotten so disgusting, in other words, that it is even running off its own people.  I think this is in part because, as they hear the hysterical rhetoric and read the viral e-mails, they juxtapose what they've just seen or read or heard with, for instance, the president himself.

Here he is, going about his business in a reasonable, thoughtful, intelligent way, and this has not been lost on every wingnut out there.  They may not agree with his policies, but they just don't see him being the demon they're hearing about.

Robby and I even teamed up together to investigate one of these viral e-mails, and I have to give credit where credit is due:  Robby asked me first.

He'd been getting all these e-mails about how Obama was coming for their guns, blah blah, just a flood of them, and in the meantime, when he went to buy a box of ammo just to take down to the gun range for a little target practice with his .9 millimeter Baretta, he couldn't find any at the gun store.

He called me up.

"Dammit!" he said.  "This is RIDICULOUS.  From what I can tell, this president has not done or said ANYTHING that would fuel this kind of panic.  Would you check on your end, see if there's anything that's fueling this run on guns and ammo?"

So, I did.  I checked 
Daily Kos and Huffington Post and Talking Points Memoand the New York Times.  

Then I reported back.

"Robby, there's not one blog post or newspaper article from the liberal or progressive side that indicates gun control is on anyone's radar right now.  The president is just so buried under the economy, two wars, and wanted to get health care and energy independence and education upgrades that he's just not going there right now, and neither is anybody else."

"That's what I thought," he said.  "Well, I checked the NRA website--which I visit every day--and the Texas gun enthusiast websites, and believe me when I tell you that there is nothing from official gun enthusiast organizations fueling this thing."

I believed him, because we're good friends.

In disgust he said, 
"You know what I think?  I think these viral e-mails are being circulated by gun industry people--you know, gun store owners and the like.  They're deliberately fueling this panic so they can sell more guns."

He joked that he was going to sell all his guns and ammo and buy them back when the prices returned to some semblance of normality.

Now, this series of conversations and our little "investigation" proved to me that conservative and progressive friends and family can begin dialogues with one another as long as they are done with respect, in non-accusatory ways, looking for common ground.  

This is what Obama talks about, and it's possible.

Now, I've had conversations with very very conservative friends and family since that talk with Robby, on such topics as Sarah Palin, gun rights, and Obama's birthplace.  At times, they've gotten heated, and when that happens, I carefully change the subject until things calm down.  And I search for common ground and areas of mutual respect.

For example, I told them that I'd been as deeply offended when some liberals claimed that John McCain couldn't be president because he'd been born in Puerto Rico (on a military base, which is American soil, the morons), as I had been by the idea that Obama had been secretly born in Kenya.

I told them that I always tried to be aware of such extremist rhetoric no matter WHICH side it came from, and to respect reason and clear logic when it was presented.

I find that showing that kind of respect, no matter how much you may despise some of the things they are saying, helps to throw a little more water on that fire.  It calms things down.

It makes them think.

These are things that we can do within our own circle of family and friends, these are things we can do to defend our president, these are things we can do in reasonable, non-accusatory tones.

When Robby and I completed our little investigation, I sent a little e-mail around to all the conservatives on my e-mail list.  Its subject was, "IT'S NOT COMING FROM US."

In the e-mail, I talked about mine and Robby's friendship, our conversation on the viral gun-rights e-mails, and our little investigation, and Robby's conclusion that someone was deliberately jacking up the fear-quotient in order to sell more guns and ammo.

To my great surprise, I found that several of my most vehement gun-rights proponent friends not only agreed with Robby, but appreciated our mutual attempt to get to the bottom of the campaign.

It is only in such quiet, reasonable, small little ways that we can begin to fight this fire from multiple fronts.  The next time my little list of right-wing family and friends gets one of those viral e-mails on gun paranoia, I don't think they will forward it.  They'll push "delete."

The more of them who do so, the more who wean themselves from hate rhethoric because "it's not who we are," the more hope we have as a nation to avoid another Oklahoma City.

I am appealing to all my progressive friends and family to reach out to your conservative friends in respect whenever an issue arises that you think they might be over-reacting to.  Do your due diligence with research in non-partisan sources they will respect--even conservative ones, if you can find them--and quietly refute the notion.  When they forward you something outrageous, send them a CALM reply with the results of your research in such a way that you just refute the whole thing.  Period.

I'll bet the next time, they'll at least hesitate, and at the very least, might be more willing to see that not everything that crosses their Inbox is the Word of God.

And in the meantime, understand that the psychological flip-side of anger is ALWAYS fear.  These are scary times.  People are losing jobs and homes.  The dark side of human nature gets ripped out and exposed.  Sometimes we hear things too that we are only too eager to believe because it taps into that dark side of our own selves.

Apply that same calm reason to your own fears.  Do your own homework.  Quiet down.  Don't be so quick to believe awful things about opposing points of view.

If WE calm down and do our best to help calm THEM down, in this day of YouTube and Jon Stewart...I think we've got a real chance to survive the hate-tsunami and not be swept away by it.

One more thing.  Don't be surprised if you get no response when you send your calm reasoned e-mail.

They will only rise up and fight with you when they are certain they are right.

If they say nothing...It's a good sign.  It just means they don't want to admit that you're probably right.

But it also means they may hesitate next time, before hitting the "forward" button.

Or before they believe every single little thing they're told by the Soldier of Fortune crowd.

WEST POINT, Ky. - The sound of gunfire rumbles and echoes from half a mile away, long before anyone can see the entrance. The walk up to the Knob Creek Machine Gun Shoot starts on the country road outside the range, lined with cars from Kentucky, Indiana, Ohio and Georgia. Their occupants scramble for space before grabbing their ammo and starting uphill. They trudge through dirt that mostly, mercifully, has not yet turned into mud, and up to a gate where for $10 ($15 if they want to shoot video) they get an all-day pass to the biggest high-powered arms show in the country.

The noise, loud enough to interrupt a conversation outside of the gates, is deafening inside. Earplugs are not mandatory, only recommended, but everyone has them, from flimsy foam things handed out near the entrance to shapeable rubber plugs on strings to full-coverage, noise-deadening headphones. Every thirty-odd minutes a loud horn blares, and the shooting begins — dozens of Brownings, AK-47s and mini-guns open fire, some with armor-piercing rounds, on a range of broken-down cars, flaming barrels, and metal cans. There are people who’ve attended this twice-a-year event for decades who flinch when the volleys begin and the smell of gunpowder is wind-blown back into the audience.

As fun as this is — and for the people who arrived before 7 a.m. to set up shop, it is very fun — there’s a sense of foreboding this year. At the October 2008 gun show, said one of the organizers of the Jungle Walk ($35 for an Uzi and a stroll through a path of pop-up targets), “it was like a McCain-Palin rally in here. It felt like we were going to win. Then you know what happened.”

Ever since the election of President Barack Obama, gun store owners have reported massive increases in sales of firearms and ammunition. Attendees and sellers at Knob Creek can confirm that. Ron Hansen, a retiree from Michigan, grumbles that the ammunition supply at the show has “declined dramatically” since the displays of only a year ago. Myron Moore, a seller making a brisk trade in pistols and clips, explains that sales spiked right after the election and have slipped only a little because people worry this will be their last chance to stock up. “I’m selling everything Obama’s trying to ban,” he laughs.

Other attendees were uncomfortable revealing their first or last names. As massive as the event is — the Knob Creek Gun Range estimated that around 15,000 people passed through the gates–it does not keep tabs on who comes in. This is a safe haven, where guns can change hands without a lot of paperwork, and where ammunition is relatively cheap, though the prices have skyrocketed in the last few years. A purchase of an old Mauser rifle that would take some red tape-cutting in a gun shop is hassle-free at the gun range.

This is a place where vendors can sell T-shirts that read “The Fourth Reich: Obama-Biden 2012,” and “Hitler Gave Great Speeches Too..” and, most succinctly, “Fuck Obama.” It’s somewhere for people with hard-to-explain interests in World War II memorabilia can pick up items from Wehrmacht uniforms (”I’m putting the stuff together to make me a German officer,” says a man buying a Wehrmacht officer’s cap), Adolf Hitler mousepads (”Next time… no more Mr. Nice Guy”), and coffee mugs with Nazi commanders’ faces etched on them.

This leads to a certain skepticism of the media. Mark Stevens, whose Nazi merchandise is not moving very quickly on Saturday, declines to talk about it. “Any publicity from the media is bad publicity,” he explained.

One man asks a vendor if she has any “Impeach Obama” bumper stickers. Initially, he’s open to talking about his problems with the president. “There’s a black man in the White House,” he said. “What else do you need to know?” He suggests that journalism isn’t much of a career and tells me to look for something else to do. But 15 minutes later, he spots me in the range’s gun shop and asks me to cross his name out of my notebook. He grabs the book, grabs a pen, and scratches dark black ink onto the paper. “I don’t know who you are,” he said. “I don’t know if you work for the Southern Poverty Law Center. I don’t know if you work for the government.”

For other attendees, the president’s race couldn’t matter less. The problem is his ideology, a gun-grabbing fanaticism that they have opposed for decades, as seen in the anti-Bill Clinton stickers and T-shirts that are still visible in some parts of the show. But the ideology has never been quite as threatening. “Within a month everyone knew that we were right about Obama,” says Mark Koernke, the militia leader and radio host sometimes known as “Mark from Michigan,” who was freed from prison in 2007 after serving a six-year sentence for assaulting police, fleeing, and resisting arrest.

James Delk and his namesake son say that they’ve bought more ammo and supplies not just because they fear what might become illegal under Obama, but because they fear what could happen in an unarmed, increasingly economically disparate society. “I stocked up on food a little bit,” says the elder James Delk. “I’ve got one bedroom I converted into a food pantry. If it keeps getting worse, and it seems like it is, people are going to start breaking into your home to get food. You need to try to protect your family.”

“Now, I hope that Obama succeeds,” interjects the younger James Delk, “as long as he obeys the Constitution. They should enforce the laws they have instead of taking it out on innocent gun owners.”

Plenty of Knob Creek attendees echoed those sentiments. They forked over as much as $125 for short sessions with AK-47s, and as little as $20 to fire their own guns into the smaller of the event’s two ranges. Charles and Daisy Joan Brittain were among the people who’d driven up to shoot their heavy artillery on the big range, their Tennessee drivers’ licenses pinned to their chests in a new security measure. They lounged all day in a tent stocked with drinks, Nutter Butters, Hostess Donuts and cupcakes, shooting a Browning M-2HB, an M-16, and other guns, talking to friends they’d seen six months or a year ago.

The thousands of attendees who only showed up to shoot could avoid some of the more extreme political elements at the event, even if the extremists were hard to miss. The Barack Obama “Birthers,” who believe that the president cannot prove that he is an American citizen, were present in a table located close to the main range, near the NRA’s sign-up booth. It’s a location that allows them to pass out fliers for RiseUpAmerica.com, with a 10-point explanation of how “Barry Soetoro” could be removed from the presidency, to anyone walking through to the rest of the event. “He’s an illegal alien!” shouts Theresa Padgett, one of their volunteers. “We have an illegal alien running the country.”

“We need your help,” says Carl Swensson, the group organizer who has put together a “citizen jury” to indict the president. “They can’t go across the country and arrest everybody, although they do have pretty good facilities in the FEMA camps,” he says, referring to a conspiracy theory about the government building holding centers for dissidents. In the early afternoon Swensson and Padgett were joined by Orly Taitz, an attorney who has filed multiple lawsuits challenging the president’s citizenship, and they got organizers to read an announcement about their effort over the loudspeakers. By the end of the day they have collected at least 400 signatures, and dozens more from retired military members who wanted to sign on to one of Taitz’s lawsuits. Still, some people who signed onto the Obama citizenship petitions are grim about the chances of surviving this presidency with something as quick and easy as a legal disqualification.

Alan, a registered nurse from Illinois, asks whether last week’s massacre in Binghamton, N.Y. was a set-up. “How many government shooters or special ops teams,” he asks, “how many guys were in there killing people just so they could make gun owners look bad?” He’s not convinced by media reports about the massacre, especially because the shooter killed himself. “These people always kill themselves. They’re either mind-controlled or they’re set up.”

Alan says that he gets the real story on the threat to gun-owners from Mark Koernke, the militia leader who hangs around the show until the end, wearing Swiss camouflage and carrying copies of“How to Start and Train a Militia Unit.” He thinks that the revolution against the government in Washington and “the corporation of the United States” will begin this year, kicked off by some Lexington and Concord stand-off. He gives one attendee some advice about how to take care of his Mauser.

“When this is used in the next war,” Koernke says, “it’ll be part of the victory weapons that liberated America. ‘Yeah, my granddaddy used this in 2011! It was a hell of a fight!’”


 Outbreak: Limbaugh Spreads Obama Derangement Syndrome


In an April 5 article headlined "Anti-Obama talk worries some on right," Politico reported that some conservatives are concerned that -- in the words of conservative author David Horowitz -- some conservative commentators have "Obama Derangement Syndrome."Politico noted that in a piece for Frontpagemag.com, Horowitz warns that the criticism of Obama among some conservatives has approached 'over-the-top hysteria.' " The fears are well-founded. As Media Matters for America President Eric Burns pointed out in the Politicoarticle, "[I]n recent weeks, [Rush] Limbaugh made a number of ominous claims about the country's fate, including saying that the White House is '[p]erfectly timed, perfectly programmed, perfectly educated to destroy capitalism ... and they're in the process of doing it.' "

Media Matters has compiled a list of statements Limbaugh has made since President Obama's inauguration, including baseless and ominous claims warning of what will happen if the United States adopts either Obama's policies or those pushed by other progressives, often while invoking fears of rising socialism, communism, and tyranny.

Attacks on Obama's policies

  • On January 22, Limbaugh told Fox News host Sean Hannity that with the election of Obama, "I'm very much concerned that our greatness is going to be redefined in such a way that it won't be great, that we're just going to become average. We cannot have this large a government role in the private sector, with so many people thinking that just because they're Americans they're entitled to things -- that this guy is gonna be passing them out, and keep this country great and innovative, full of entrepreneurs. This -- these things concern me."
  • On February 12, Limbaugh "thank[ed]" Obama for "doing the job that everybody expects of you, taking every tradition and institution that defined this country's greatness and trying to rip it to shreds."
  • On February 13, Limbaugh stated: "I want the stimulus package to fail, 'cause if this thing for the first time ever does what it never has done before, we're even worse trouble. If it becomes established that the federal government and the federal government alone can manage the economy and take over the private sector, then forget it, folks -- I'm looking for property in New Zealand, and I'm gonna put my money in Singapore."
  • On February 27, Limbaugh said, "The dirty little secret ... is that every Republican in this country wants Obama to fail, but none of them have the guts to say so; I am willing to say it." He added, "We want him to fail because we want to preserve our country as we found it. We do not want to see a successful attack on capitalism."
  • On March 10, Limbaugh, noting others' view that the current economic crisis is "a war," declared: "[I]f Obama is our general, this war is lost."
  • As Burns noted, on March 18, Limbaugh claimed that "everyone in the White House" is "[p]erfectly timed, perfectly programmed, perfectly educated to destroy capitalism ... and they're in the process of doing it."
  • Limbaugh also stated on March 18 that "the big point about this AIG business" is to "poison as many minds in this country as possible to capitalism and to corporate America. This is exactly the kind of thing Barack Obama and his team love: everybody hating corporate America, hating Wall Street, hating CEOs, hating executives."
  • On March 20, Limbaugh claimed that "this administration [is] targeting individualism. This administration in the Democrat [sic] Party have an all-out assault on capitalism, individualism, and freedom." He later said that Obama "wants everyone in finance ... to be hated. He wants people in that business to be hated. He wants people in that business to be suspects," and asked, "You don't think this guy has a bug up his dress ... chip on his shoulder about wealthy people?"
  • On March 24, Limbaugh declared of the Obama administration: "They are focused on the destruction of the private sector. They -- this is an all-out assault on capitalism."
  • On March 25, while referring to the "tyrannical mob" that purportedly fomented the AIG bonus outrage, Limbaugh stated to a caller whose husband works for AIG: "You've got the president of the United States lined up against your family. That's what you have to realize. The president of the United States has seen to it that busloads of protestors -- if they find out where your husband and you live -- will show up on a bus tour to protest you."
  • Similarly on March 25, Limbaugh told a caller who said her husband works for either a company that received bailout money or a subsidiary of such a company: "People want families like yours to suffer. They want you to understand how hard life is for them, and that's why they support Obama. Because they think Obama's gonna get your mind right." He added, "Obama is gonna take away from you all these things, and you're gonna have to find out what it's like to send your kid to a rotten school. And you're gonna have to find out what it's like to have your husband never be home. And you're gonna have to find out what it's like for the rest of them. That's what Obama's gonna do. He's gonna equalize things. He's gonna level the playing field."
  • On March 26, while criticizing Obama's response to a question about "when can we expect the jobs that have been outsourced to other countries come back," Limbaugh stated that Obama "is a gutless wonder; he is seeking as much chaos and depression among average Americans as he can get."
  • Also on March 26, Limbaugh claimed, "On Capitol Hill, the treasury secretary [Timothy Geithner] testifies before [Rep.] Barney Frank's [D-MA] committee on how he intends to destroy our capitalist system with Barney Frank banging the gavel in support."
  • On March 27, Limbaugh stated of Obama's economic policies: "I have warned you and warned you again: If President Obama succeeds with this, our nation fails. Our nation is unalterably changed for generations."
  • On March 30, Limbaugh said of the "Obama takeover of the GM plant": "[U]nderstand it has nothing to do with a personal animus about Obama. It's about the fact that we fear -- 62 million Americans fear by virtue of those who voted against Obama -- we love and we fear the loss of our liberty, the loss of our freedom. We fear a government tyranny. We fear any form of a dictatorship. We fear the notion that government has all the answers and will do everything necessary to solve every problem for individuals. It scares us."
  • Later on March 30, Limbaugh stated that "[b]ased on what we've seen with General Motors and the banks, if [Obama] fails, America is saved," adding, "Barack Obama's policies and their failure is the only hope we've got to maintain the America of our founding."
  • On March 31, Limbaugh quoted novelist Ayn Rand saying, "The man who speaks to you of sacrifice is speaking of slaves and masters and intends to be the master" and said, "That is President Obama." He later added, "President Obama says we all need to sacrifice for whatever reason -- this reason or that reason. What it means is we need to pay more. We need to have less affluent lives. We need to dial down our prosperity. And we need to give the money to him, not a charity."
  • On April 1, Limbaugh claimed that if Obama "causes chaos and unemployment in a Republican state, that helps him. President Obama is about chaos. He's about misery. He is about people being unsatisfied and frightened of the future so that they will turn to him for the solution, not Governor [Rick] Perry [R-TX] or [Gov. Sarah] Palin [R-AK] or [Gov. Mark] Sanford [R-SC]."
  • On April 3, Limbaugh claimed, quoting Washington Post columnist Charles Krauthammer, that Obama "wants to warranty your life." Limbaugh continued: "Anything that goes wrong, he will deal with, the government will fix. Anything, any injustice, any economic injustice, any kind on inequality, anything that's not fair that happens to you, the government will make it right. That's what he seeks." Limbaugh later added that "Krauthammer calls him the great leveler. This is -- basically, you have to destroy capitalism. You have to wipe it out and then you have to take everything from everybody you deem has too much, and then you have to redistribute. That's what he wants to do."

Attacks on Democrats, Democratic proposals

  • Also during his January 22 interview with Hannity, Limbaugh said, "What made this country great is the recognition by our founders that individuals are all created equal endowed with certain inalienable rights -- life, liberty, pursuit of happiness. If you look at the Democrat Party, are they for life?" Limbaugh then claimed that Democrats are "the party of abortion." He continued, "Liberty? These are the people that are trying to pass any law they can to restrict where you can go, what you can do when you get there, where you can eat, what you can eat, what you can smoke, when you can't smoke, what kind of baby you can have, all these things. Pursuit of happiness? I have yet to see a happy liberal. I have yet to see a happy Democrat. They're always angry about things."
  • On February 17, Limbaugh stated that "the very people trying to undermine the Constitution because it's an obstacle to them are the very people that we put in power lately, over the years, both at the state level -- some places, the city level -- and in some instances, at the United States government level, the federal level. The Constitution is under assault by people who just -- who find it restrictive and unpalatable." Limbaugh later asked, "How do you come to a compromise with people like that?" He continued: "Everybody said, 'We ought to compromise, Rush, bipartisanship, we got to all get along.' How do you do that? How do you compromise good versus evil? How do you compromise victory with defeat? As I said last week, should Jesus have made a deal with Lucifer? Should Jesus have made a deal with Satan?"
  • On February 19, Limbaugh likened Democrats to murderers, rapists, and "this Muslim guy" who "offed his wife's head." He told a caller that "liberal Democrats" "are gonna establish separate rules for themselves by which they live, such as there'll be a w-- able to not pay their taxes and work in government at high levels. They're not gonna be subject to whatever greenhouse gas laws there are." Seconds after, he said, "Forget Democrat. These people are liberal socialists now. They bear no resemblance to the Democrat Party of John Kennedy, for example. ... It's about power; it's about control. These people genuinely look out over this country from their lofty perch and they don't like what they see. ... At this point, I don't care about the why. They're not going to leave, they're trying to control it. At this point, the only thing is they must be stopped -- within, within the confines of our Constitution and the political arena of ideas. They must be stopped. I don't care why they see this country the way they see it. I don't care why a murderer does it. I don't care why a rapist does it. I don't care why this Muslim guy offed his wife's head."
  • On March 10, Limbaugh "expla[ined]" the Employee Free Choice Act by stating, "You are a small business employee. Your boss has a shop that is not union. After this legislation passes, one day Tony Soprano will walk in, with a lead pipe, and he will start beating people upside the head to vote to unionize, because you cannot vote in private." He went on: "Card check is a public vote on whether to unionize. So they send in a Soprano guy with a lead pipe aimed at your kneecaps, or your head, and they tell you it'd be a good idea if you participated in unionizing the shop. And then after they unionize the shop, they really couldn't care much less about your shop. All they want is your dues -- to be able to send it to the Democrat Party."
  • On March 18, Limbaugh stated of the threats AIG CEO Edward Liddy had been receiving over bonuses: "I'm sure these are deranged leftists from the Democrat blogs and so forth. Well, they're the ones that hate capitalists."
  • On March 19, Limbaugh compared Barney Frank to Joseph McCarthy by claiming that "McCarthy sat there on a committee, and was basically using the power of government to impugn -- legally or not, falsely or not -- private citizens. Barney Frank's doing the same thing, demanding their names be made public, that their bonuses be turned back."
  • Also on March 19, Limbaugh stated of the Obama administration, "I think as much of the capitalist system as they can destroy, they will. They will at least send it on a downward cycle, which creates the need for government." He added, "That's what this AIG business is about. This AIG business is about, 'Look it, these people are thieves.' "
  • Discussing the Employee Free Choice Act on March 19, Limbaugh returned to his earlier comparison and said, "Imagine this: You're working at your small business, and Tony Soprano walks in and -- got a lead pipe with him. And we're gonna unionize this place -- well, at least we're gonna vote on unionizing this place, and we're gonna -- we're gonna vote in public." He added, "Nobody wants their kneecaps busted. I'm speaking figuratively, of course. But this is the intimidation factor of publicly voting, not the secret ballot, which exists today."
  • On March 27, while referring to "predatory politicians," Limbaughstated, "We keep hearing about toxic assets on Wall Street. ... The real toxicity is in the U.S. Congress. Barney Frank and [Sen.] Chris Dodd [D-CT] for example, just to name two, are toxic congressmen. They are toxic. They are poison members of our government."
  • On March 30, Limbaugh said: "Liberals, whether it's [Michigan Gov. Jennifer] Granholm or Obama, they want every one of us to make sacrifices. We have to suffer, and that's their version of life: suffering. We must all suffer. We must pay for the consequences of our prosperity, and the only way to fix things is with mass sacrifice, mass suffering." He continued: "Well, let me translate and define that for you. Mass sacrifice is tax increase upon tax increase upon tax increase upon loss of freedom upon loss of freedom. That's what they mean by sacrifice. You give up a little bit of you for the sake of the government growing large over you."
  • On March 31, Limbaugh claimed that a new piece of climate change legislation being drafted by Reps. Henry Waxman (D-CA) and Ed Markey (D-MA) will "finish this country off."
  • On April 2, while discussing the proposed Pay for Performance Act of 2009, Limbaugh referred to "leftists ... talking about fairness" as "slave masters," stating that "[t]hey are going to decide what's fair. And their definition of fairness is everybody being the same -- equalization of outcomes, which means, as I love to constantly say, spreading misery equally."
  • After a caller asked about "card check" on April 3, Limbaugh againused mafia imagery: "Tony Soprano standing in your business with a baseball bat or a lead pipe, you as the business owner are not going to try to convince your workers to a) throw him out and decertify, because even if you throw him out, Tony Soprano's waiting outside the door when the employees leave."

Invoking scenarios of socialism, communism, and tyranny

  • A March 12 entry (subscription required) on Limbaugh's websitestated that Obama's policies are "about 'social justice.' " It continued: "His education plan is Maoist (no surprise given the Ayers/Klonsky influence), and he is otherwise a Bolshevik. I'm also quite sure, given his character traits, that he would be a Stalinist if he thought he could get away with it ... and he's working on that, too. I wonder what the country will look like in his 10th or 15th year as president?"
  • On March 16, while discussing New York Attorney General Andrew Cuomo's letter asking for names of AIG bonus recipients and negotiators, Limbaugh asked, "Is [Cuomo] working out of the Reichstag or what? Does Albany have a Reichstag building in it? Or maybe there's a Kremlin in it. "
  • On March 20, pointing to reports of AIG executives seeking private security to protect them at their homes, Limbaugh claimed that we "now have mob rule the way it started in Nazi Germany." Minutes later, Limbaugh stated of the AIG clawback vote in the House: "We are not Soviet Russia and they are not the Politburo, but you can't tell the difference some days in the way they act, in the way they speak."
  • On March 24, Limbaugh stated of wanting Obama to fail: "Our opposition to Obama is indeed based on N-O. We say no to socialism. We say no to government berating the private sector for the purpose of taking it over. What's negative about that?"
  • Also on March 24, Limbaugh claimed that Obama is "taking away freedom incrementally, each and every day, making another big grab at it," adding, "That's not hypocrisy, that's tyranny."
  • On March 26, while discussing the upcoming Earth Hour, a climate change awareness initiative asking people to turn their lights off for an hour, Limbaugh called Obama an "extremist, tyrannical president," stating that "this level of emotional derangement, it's been present in this country for a long time, but, look with the election of extremist, tyrannical president, look at all of it that he's brought to the surface."
  • On March 31, while noting support for Obama in a poll, Limbaughsaid: "Maybe we have descended into a nation that sort of loves the concept of soft tyranny. Maybe we have a majority of Americans that actually like it or are willing to support it."
  • Also on March 31, Limbaugh compared the United States to Venezuela, stating, "Look where we are today -- the government has taken over two automobile companies, have expressed purpose in getting rid of SUVs and trucks. They have." He added, "Same thing's gonna happen with health care, 'cause you can't have a change without a crisis, without a villain. Obama has to always be portrayed as the hero. Phony outrage fueled by all the president's men, the drive-by media, will turn the country upside down. We are Venezuela in the early years."
  • Later in his March 31 show, while claiming that the Obama administration wants Americans to "sacrifice" on their car choices, Limbaugh compared the administration to the Nazi Gestapo. After stating his theory that Obama wants to jack up gas prices and force hybrids on everyone, Limbaugh said: "Politics is why you can't get a car you really, really like or why they don't make as many as you really, really like because they're being forced to keep the Gestapo off their back. They're forced to manufacture cars that people aren't buying to keep the Gestapo off their back."
  • On April 2, Limbaugh claimed that "Obama is engaged in a slow surrender of United States' best interests, our national interests" at the G-20 summit. He later added that "this is being reported as a slam dunk, grand slam. [Obama's] the star of the show. ... But the truth of the matter is the socialists at the G-20 have prevailed, and Obama is, for all intents and purposes, one of them. It's not just the $1 trillion they have pledged, the G-20 nations to the IMF and the World Bank to ostensibly wipe out third-world poverty -- worldwide poverty and stabilize the world economy. These clowns wouldn't have the first idea about stabilizing anything. They're about destabilization."
  • Later in the April 2 show, Limbaugh aired a clip of Obama discussing the results of the G-20 meeting: "We made enormous strides in committing ourselves to comprehensive reform of a failed regulatory system. We agreed to increase transparency and capital protections for financial institutions. We're extending supervision to all systemically important institutions, markets, and products, including hedge funds. We'll identify jurisdictions that failed to cooperate, including tax havens, and take action to defend our financial institutions." Limbaugh claimed that "[t]his is what [French President Nicolas] Sarkozy wanted. This is what Sarkozy threatened to walk out over. This is -- this was already -- tax havens, hedge funds." He continued: "They're going to raise taxes. They're going to go out and create new tax cheats in order to get money from them. They're going to spend and spend and spend and spend. This is a global socialist big-time maneuver."
  • Limbaugh described Obama saying at the G-20, "As president of the United States, president of the American people, I have to convince the American people that their self-interest is tied to yours" as "socialist gobbledygook." He stated, "This is all just getting so -- it's frustrating and it's so dead wrong. Our self-interest is tied to who? Who? I get up every day, and I've got to wait to figure out what somebody else in the world is doing before I decide whether or not what I'm doing is going to work? Whether it's good for me or my country, our self -- what? Our self-interest? That must -- alternative fuels -- so we've got to get rid of oil so somebody else can come up with a new green technology. What is -- all this is socialist gobbledygook. It sounds just brilliant. It sounds just unified and compassionate."
  • On April 3, after stating that liberals are never satisfied, Limbaughcompared advocates of gay marriage and opponents of SUVs to "the Soviets" and Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez: "They don't stop. It's like the Soviets. They didn't have four-year plans based on the service of term of their leader. They had forever plans, and if you had to, you know, take a year off, maybe a step back before you took two steps forward, then fine. But they had the objective, it was there, and whenever it got done was fine as long as you're always working for it." He continued, "Same thing with Hugo Chavez. Hugo Chavez taking over the banks now. Hugo Chavez nationalizing the oil industry. Hugo Chavez in Venezuela. We're getting an early sign of what Chavez did by watching things happen here. But they just -- they don't stop. They advance these ideas, and this is why an electoral majority needs to happen in order to defeat these people."


Faced with economic turmoil, media conservatives turn to class warfare

Summary: Even though the crises facing the financial and automotive industries were born primarily of the actions (or inaction) of those in positions of power in private industry and in government, many conservative media figures have assigned blame to specific groups of less wealthy or less influential people -- the poor, minorities, undocumented immigrants, and union members, among others -- disregarding the facts that belie such assignments of blame.

On December 8, House Democrats "unveiled a plan ... for propping up the U.S. auto industry" consisting of "about $15 billion in emergency loans if Detroit accepts a federal monitor to oversee operations and restructuring," as reported by the Los Angeles Times. This proposal came just days after the chief executives of Ford Motor Company, General Motors, and Chrysler appeared before the Senate Banking Committee, as the Detroit Free Press reported, to request "government aid they say they need to survive," and "warned of the damage that would be wrought by their failure." This proposed "bailout" of the auto industry follows the passage of the Emergency Economic Stabilization Act, which authorized a $700 billion "bailout" of the financial services industry after several lenders faced collapse as part of the subprime mortgage crisis and its subsequent impact on the credit market. These economic problems were born primarily of the actions (or inaction) of those in positions of power in private industry and in government. However, many conservative media figures have assigned blame to specific groups of less wealthy or less influential people -- the poor, minorities, undocumented immigrants, and union members, among others -- disregarding the facts that belie such assignments of blame.


When economists, public officials, and journalists address who is at fault for the subprime mortgage collapse and the ensuing financial crisis, a common theme emerges -- people in power failed to act responsibly. On September 17, Nobel Prize-winning economist Joseph Stiglitz wrote that "[t]here is ample blame to be shared," but that "at the center of blame must be the financial institutions themselves." According to Stiglitz, the financial institutions and their executives "misallocated capital; they mismanaged risk -- they created risk." Stiglitz also faulted the Federal Reserve and its former chairman Alan Greenspan for failing "both as a regulator and in the conduct of monetary policy." Indeed, in testimony before Congress on October 22, Greenspan admitted to a "flaw" in his ideology of self-regulating markets, saying, "I made a mistake in presuming that the self-interest of organizations, specifically banks and others, was such as that they were capable of protecting their own shareholders." Greenspan alsotestified that he didn't recognize the existence of the housing bubble, with home prices inflated beyond their true market value, until early 2006, saying, "I did not forecast a significant decline because we had never had a significant decline in prices."

Testifying before the Senate Banking Committee in October, former Securities and Exchange Commission chairman Arthur Levitt faultedthe SEC for failing to enforce financial regulations and failing to adequately "rein in dangerously risky behavior." On the November 27edition of PBS' Nightly Business Report, correspondent Erika Miller explained how "the mortgage market helped lay the groundwork for the crisis":

MILLER: It was Wall Street's securitization of mortgages that eventually turned a nasty housing downturn into a full-blown global banking crisis. Major brokerage firms bought up risky mortgages, bundled them together and sold them off in slices to investors -- often keeping big chunks for themselves. As bond market expert Tony Crescenzi points out, credit ratings agencies then gave the securities top marks.

ANTHONY CRESCENZI (chief bond market strategist, Miller Tabak & Co.): They didn't think through the risks in their entirety, particularly the liquidity risk, which is to say that the rating agencies didn't think about what would happen if securities were difficult to buy and sell in the financial markets.

MILLER: Former Lehman Brothers CFO Brad Hintz, now a brokerage stock analyst, says the problem was that buyers of mortgage-backed securities didn't know what they were getting.

BRAD HINTZ (brokerage analyst, Sanford C. Bernstein & Co.): Securitization, fundamentally, is a good thing. The problem with securitization is when you take it too far, and that's the idea that I can securitize something and I don't care the quality of what I'm securitizing. You know, it's a box of dirt. "I'm going to sell a box of dirt and that's fine.

MILLER: The crisis also would not have escalated so quickly had it not been for esoteric financial contracts called credit default swaps -- CDS for short. These complex derivatives were supposed to reduce risk by guaranteeing against losses in particular mortgage securities. Instead, they spelled disaster for companies which backed them, like AIG, the nation's largest insurance firm.

CRESCENZI: Where CD's went wrong was that they lacked transparency. We couldn't know for sure how many CDS existed for an underlying security. For example, a company might have $1 billion of bonds outstanding, but there could be $4 billion, $5 billion, $10 billion of CDS outstanding.

But despite the emerging consensus that the financial crisis was due largely to irresponsible practices by lenders and lax oversight by government regulators, conservatives in the media affixed blame to other groups, disregarding facts to set their sights on the poor, minorities, and those seeking to expand affordable housing:

The Community Reinvestment Act

Conservatives in the media attacked the Community Reinvestment Act (CRA), passed under President Jimmy Carter in 1977, claiming that the law forced banks to make "risky" subprime loans to low-income and minority households. In fact, experts have said that approximately 80 percent of high-priced subprime loans were offered by financial institutions that are not subject to the CRA, which applies only to depository institutions like banks and savings-and-loans. Moreover, Janet Yellen, president and CEO of the Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco, stated in a March 2008 speech that "studies have shown that the CRA has increased the volume of responsible lending to low- and moderate-income households" [emphasis added]. Michigan Law School Professor Michael S. Barr pointed out in his February 13 testimony before the House Committee on Financial Services that lenders subject to CRA face far more scrutiny than other lenders: "Banks and thrifts are subject to comprehensive federal regulation and supervision; their affiliates far less so; and independent mortgage companies, not at all." Barr said further:

Competition from banks and thrifts can help to drive out abusive practices and improve price transparency in these markets. However, given the large role played by independent mortgage companies and brokers, bank and thrift competition under CRA is not enough, on its own, to drive out bad practices. In recent years, there was intense competition among mortgage market participants to provide harmful products. Further federal regulation is thus also necessary to combat abusive practices, prevent a race to the bottom in bad lending behavior, and restore integrity to our housing markets."

Nonetheless, the CRA features prominently as a focus for blame in many conservatives' assessments of the financial crisis:

  • On the October 5 edition of Fox News' Special Report, former Wall Street Journal columnist Amity Shlaes said of the CRA: "We want to have everyone be able to buy a house anywhere. We're going to lend to people of all colors. Nothing wrong with that. We're going to make sure those banks do it, and they don't discriminate. But the law went overboard. Institutions made loans that they probably didn't want to make, because they couldn't seem racist."
  • On the September 25 broadcast of Westwood One's The Radio Factor, Fox News panelist Jonathan Hoenig claimed the CRA "makes banks give loans to bad risks."
  • On the September 25 edition of Fox News' The O'Reilly Factor, radio host Laura Ingraham claimed that 1995 rules strengthening the CRA "pushed all these institutions to lend to minority communities, many were very risky loans."
  • A September 25 Investor's Business Daily editorial claimed the CRA "forced banks to make many more subprime loans."

Minorities and low-income families

CRA's purpose is "to encourage depository institutions to help meet the credit needs of the communities in which they operate, including low- and moderate-income neighborhoods, consistent with safe and sound banking operations." Those blaming CRA for the financial crisis often also targeted minority and low-income communities:

  • On the September 18 edition of Fox News' Your World, host Neil Cavuto asked Rep. Xavier Becerra (D-CA), "[W]hen you and many of your colleagues were pushing for more minority lending and more expanded lending to folks who heretofore couldn't get mortgages, when you were pushing homeownership ... Are you totally without culpability here?" Cavuto later said, "I'm just saying, I don't remember a clarion call that said, 'Fannie and Freddie are a disaster. Loaning to minorities and risky folks is a disaster.'"
  • In a September 28 Boston Globe column, Jeff Jacoby wrote: "The pressure to make more loans to minorities (read: to borrowers with weak credit histories) became relentless. Congress passed the Community Reinvestment Act, empowering regulators to punish banks that failed to 'meet the credit needs' of 'low-income, minority, and distressed neighborhoods.' Lenders responded by loosening their underwriting standards and making increasingly shoddy loans."

Responding to the chorus of conservatives targeting CRA and minorities, Marc H. Morial, head of the National Urban League, reportedly sent a letter to Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson asking him to refute such claims, writing: "It's an effort to shift the climate away from deregulation and the lack of oversight. ... The numbers are becoming clearer each day that a large number of people who ended up with a subprime loan could have qualified for a prime loan. That's the abuse that's inherent here." In a November 19 speech in Baltimore, United States Comptroller of the Currency John Dugan criticized efforts to blame CRA for the mortgage crisis, saying, "CRA is not the culprit behind the subprime mortgage lending abuses, or the broader credit quality issues in the marketplace." Dugan added, "Indeed, the lenders most prominently associated with subprime mortgage lending abuses and high rates of foreclosure are lenders not subject to CRA."

Undocumented immigrants

Several media figures attributed the financial crisis to excessive lending to illegal immigrants, but failed to cite credible evidence to support that claim. On October 9, for example, The Drudge Report linked to an article on Phoenix radio station KFYI's website under theheadline, "HUD: Five Million Fraudulent Mortgages Held by Illegals..." But the Phoenix Business Journal reported on October 9 that the Department of Housing and Urban Development dismissed such reports as baseless, and that the "agency has no data showing the number of illegal immigrants holding foreclosed or bad mortgages."

Nevertheless, conservative and mainstream media figures leaped on the reports to single out undocumented immigrants in the mortgage foreclosure crisis:

  • On the October 9 edition of CNN's Lou Dobbs Tonight -- which aired after the Phoenix Business Journal article was posted -- San Diego radio host Roger Hedgecock said: "We have a situation where today HUD was talking about 5 million illegal alien home mortgage loans that have gone bad."
  • Also on the October 9 Lou Dobbs Tonight, radio host Joe Madison said: "You see, this really angers me, because I'm sitting here ... and wondering, how is it that people who are illegal get loans when people in my community who are legal have a difficulty getting loans, and if they do get them, they're often from predators?"
  • In her September 24 syndicated column, Michelle Malkin claimedthat "there's one giant paternal elephant in the room that has slipped notice: How illegal immigration, crime-enabling banks, and open-borders Bush policies fueled the mortgage crisis."


As the financial situation on Wall Street deteriorated, so too has the outlook for the "Big Three" American automobile manufacturers -- Ford, GM, and Chrysler. The subprime mortgage crisis and the collapse of Lehman Brothers triggered a spike in interbank lending rates, sparking a credit freeze. As The New York Times reported on September 30, lack of available credit further stalled new car sales: "After enduring a brutal sales slump caused by high gas prices and a faltering economy, the last thing the American auto industry needed was a credit crisis." The Times continued:

The virtual lockdown on credit is hurting Detroit's Big Three and other automakers at every level. More consumers cannot get auto loans. Dealers are hard-pressed to secure financing for new inventories. The auto companies themselves are running short of cash and can hardly afford to borrow more at interest rates as high as 20 percent.

It all adds up to an increasingly dismal forecast for the industry. Vehicle sales fell 11 percent in the first eight months of the year compared with 2007. But September sales, which automakers will report Wednesday, are expected to be down as much as 19 percent, according to the auto research Web site Edmunds.com.

University of California-San Diego economist James Hamilton noted in a December 3 blog post that November 2008 automobile sales were 40 percent lower than sales in November 2007. Hamilton wrote, "Remember that this volume decline is hitting an industry with huge fixed costs, and that these are decreases relative to 2007." Hamilton further stated that "we may be on the cusp of much more dramatic adjustments in this sector than anything seen so far." Moreover, an October 2 New York Times article reported:

For the first time since 1993, automakers sold fewer than a million new cars and trucks in a single month in the United States, as a reeling economy scared people away from showrooms in September, and many eager buyers were unable to get loans.

With industry sales dropping 26.6 percent over all compared with a year ago, car companies are likely to cut more production and jobs to compensate for falling revenues.

The credit crisis contributed heavily to the steep decline -- analysts estimated that it cost the industry up to 100,000 vehicle sales in the final week of the month, on top of lost sales because of high gas prices and the shaky economy.

Auto executives said Wednesday that the industry faced more misery ahead until a bailout package was passed in Washington.

"We feel it is critical," said Michael C. DiGiovanni, chief sales analyst for General Motors. "If it doesn't happen, it's going to set off a continuing downward spiral in the economy."

Nearly every automaker posted double-digit declines. Sales were down 34.5 percent at the Ford Motor Company, 32.8 percent at Chrysler, 32.3 percent at Toyota and 24 percent at Honda.

Yet despite this, numerous conservative and mainstream media figures have advanced the suggestion that autoworkers and the United Auto Workers (UAW) are solely or primarily responsible for the financial woes that the automakers face, often citing the false claim that autoworkers earn $70 or more per hour, ignoring management decisions that have driven the companies to the edge of collapse.

Ignoring market trends favoring fuel efficiency

The credit freeze and recession, further limiting automobile purchases, are only among the most recent problems facing the auto industry. Industry resistance to the development of more fuel efficient and marketable cars long preceded these economic issues. Indeed, GM itself cited "shifts in consumer preferences ... away from fullsize trucks and utility vehicles" as a cause of its economic problems. From the2007 annual report:

In North America, the turmoil in the mortgage and credit markets, continued reductions in housing values, high energy prices and the threat of a recession have had a negative impact on consumer's willingness to purchase our products. These factors have contributed to lower unit sales in North America in 2007 and, combined with shifts in consumer preferences towards cars and away from fullsize trucks and utility vehicles, have negatively impacted our results as such larger vehicles are among our more profitable products.

During the December 7 edition of CBS' Face the NationNew York Times columnist Thomas Friedman said to host Bob Schieffer, "Go on a college campus today, Bob. How many young people do you see driving Pontiacs? You know, you don't see it. That's the core problem. They haven't made cars people want to ride." Friedman later added:

FRIEDMAN: [W]hat they did was they tried to create a universe, basically, where gasoline would be cheap and you could only or would only have to sell and make those big cars. So just remember a couple of years ago, as gasoline prices rose, what was their response? Was it to move immediately to electric cars or more efficient cars? No, they came out with a program for a $1.99-cent a gallon of gas for a year if you bought a Hummer or a Yukon or a Suburban. It was like a crack dealer saying, "Bob, I'm going to guarantee you free crack or reduced crack for a year." It wasn't, "I'm going to get you off your addiction." And so that was -- they created a universe, and then they tried to protect it. And then the world, basically, impinged on them with higher energy prices and many other higher costs.

Discussing fuel economy standards in January 30, 2007, testimony before the Senate Energy Committee, Walter McManus, director of the Automotive Analysis Division of the University of Michigan Transportation Research Institute (UMTRI), stated, "Our research shows for almost a decade consumers have placed a much higher value on fuel economy than Detroit automakers has given it. But Detroit automakers ignored even their own data." McManus later stated:

Our study found that the consumer value of fuel economy rose each year in direct proportion to the rise in the real price of gasoline. Without some action to offset this trend, demand would have shifted away from large SUVs as early as 2003. What Detroit did (starting immediately after 9/11) was cut their vehicles' prices, and the least fuel efficient vehicles had the biggest price cuts. These cuts in prices offset the fall in what consumers would pay for their vehicles as gasoline prices rose. Consumers would have switched earlier, but Detroit kept making better and better offers they could not refuse as gasoline prices rose from 2002 to 2005. And, as a result, while sales continued to look good, Detroit was experiencing a massive erosion of profits.

Hurricanes Katrina and Rita sent regular gasoline prices shooting over $3 per gallon (nominal) in 2005 and the expectation of other supply disruptions kept the price high (nominal, year over year) for much of 2006. This time Detroit could not offer enough discounts and incentives to prevent a dramatic and sudden shift of American new-vehicle buyers from gas guzzling SUVs and large cars to fuel-efficient cars, crossover vehicles, and hybrids. For the first time since 1981, the truck share of sales fell in 2005 and 2006. (From 1981 to 2004 the truck share grew from 19% to 56%. The truck share fell to 55% in 2005 and to 52% in 2006.) More significantly, for the first time since 1991, the actual number of trucks sold fell in 2005 (by 79 thousand units) and again in 2006 (by nearly 2 million units).

This began a financial freefall for Detroit that has implications for the entire U.S. economy. Less than two years ago, UMTRI released a study that focused on Detroit's vulnerability to rising fuel prices. Both the industry and the media dismissed our findings. We predicted that if gasoline were to hit $3.37 per gallon it would cause $11 billion in losses for Detroit. We underestimated Detroit's vulnerability -- so far the gasoline price spike has cost close to $25 billion in losses, along with thousands of jobs.

In a November 14 article in The New Republic, Jonathan Cohn wrote, "Detroit steadily lost business to companies like Honda and Toyota that managed to make cars more efficiently -- and figured out, early on, that rising gas prices would increase demand for more fuel-efficient vehicles."

Failure to work for health care reform

During his December 7 Face the Nation appearance, Friedman said, "Look, do you remember when Hillary Clinton was pushing her national health care program?" and continued:

FRIEDMAN: Do you -- did you see the auto companies out there saying, "We need a national health care program. After all, we have these huge burdens of health care costs"? No, they were fat, dumb and happy then. Now they tell us, "Oh, it's terrible. We've got these health care costs. Woe is me." But were they out there campaigning for a national health care plan that they would've been the biggest beneficiaries of?

No. They were brain-dead, and it's a travesty that the American people are in this terrible choice today which the two senators outlined, which is either we bail out people who really don't deserve to be bailed out -- by the way, one of these car companies, let's remember, is a private equity firm, Cerberus Capital. We're going to be bailing out a private equity firm.

Indeed, Rep. James McDermott (D-WA) in a December 15, 2005, statement on the floor of the House of Representatives, introduced a letter he said was sent to the Canadian government separately by officials from Chrysler, Ford and General Motors expressing support for publicly funded health care in Canada. In the letter, automotive industry officials wrote, "Publicly funded health care also enhances Canada's economic performance in several important ways," and that "Employers in the auto industry, meanwhile, enjoy significant total labour cost savings because most health care services are supplied through public programs (rather than through private insurance plans)." Introducing the letter, McDermott said, "That is the U.S. auto industry acting outside the United States. It is time for them to act inside the United States and for us to act. "

And in fact, the $70 or more per-hour labor cost figure often cited by conservatives to attack and scapegoat the UAW includes wages and benefits -- including health care -- for current and retired employees.

Ignoring the UAW's recent concessions

Further, in scapegoating unions and employees, media accounts often fail to acknowledge significant concessions that unions have made to the automakers in recent years. In his November 14 New Republicarticle, Cohn noted:

But what's missing in the tsk-tsk editorials is any recognition that the culture of Detroit has been changing, however belatedly, starting with its labor relations. Ford led the way years ago by reaching site-specific "competitive operating agreements" with locals at different plants, rather than sticking to one national agreement, thereby enabling it loosen work rules and engage in the sort of collaborative quality management on which industry leader Toyota made its reputation. Then, last year, the UAW reached a breakthrough agreement in which it granted the companies similar flexibility, agreed to a two-tier wage structure for new hires, and set up a separate trust fund to finance future retiree health benefits. The companies would provide the initial money for this trust, but, henceforth, the unions would manage it--thereby taking off the companies' books a tremendous burden that had, on its own, accounted for about half the gap in compensation between unionized workers for the Big Three and non-unionized workers for foreign-owned automakers. "I think they've shown unprecedented ability to change and transform the union," says Kristin Dziczek, who directs CAR's Automotive Labor and Education program. "They understand what is at stake."

During a December 4 hearing of the Senate Banking Committee, Sen. Bob Casey (D-PA) also noted numerous concessions the UAW has made in recent years:

Point number one: In 2005, cuts in wages for active workers and health-care benefits for retirees -- point number one. I'm reading from your testimony. Cuts for new workers, bringing the wage level down to 14 bucks an hour. How many industries are doing that? Reducing the company's liability for retiree health care by 50 percent. And I realize these have been in the record before, but it is very important.

And wages and benefits. You said yourself that they're about 10 percent -- 10 percent of the budget? You would think listening to some of the people talk out there, some of the so-called experts, that wages and benefits were 70 percent of the cost. So there's a lot of mythology, a lot of myth generally that has been put on the record.

In 20 -- since 2003, downsizing by the companies has reduced their workforce by 150,000 people. That doesn't get said very often. The labor-cost gap with foreign transplant operations will be largely or completely eliminated. OK? So, it's -- I think it's important to put this information on the record for this hearing. And then we've heard this garbage about 73 bucks an hour. It's a total lie, and some people have perpetrated that deliberately in a calculated way to mislead the American people about what we're doing here. It's a lie, and they know it's a lie.

Media Matters has identified numerous instances of media blaming the UAW and autoworkers for the financial problems at Chrysler, Ford, and GM:

  • In his November 11 column, nationally syndicated columnist Cal Thomas wrote:

The latest, but by no means the last supplicant at the public trough, is the auto industry, which wants a bailout to save jobs because its cars are not selling. There is a reason for that and it can be summed up in five words: The United Auto Workers Union.

Half of the $50 billion the auto industry wants is for health care for its current and retired employees. This is the result of increasing UAW demands, strikes and threats of strikes unless health care and pension benefits were regularly increased. While in the past UAW settled for some benefit decreases while bargaining with the Big Three U.S. automakers, according to the Wall Street Journal in September 2006, "on average, GM pays $81.18 an hour in wages and benefits to its U.S. hourly workers." Those increased costs, including the cost of health care, were passed along to consumers, adding $1,600 to the price of every vehicle GM produced. In February 2008, after General Motors offered buyouts to 74,000 employees, the Center for Automotive Research estimated the average wage, including benefits, for current GM workers had dropped to $78.21 an hour. New hires pulled down a paltry $26.65.

  • During a CNN report that aired on the November 17 edition ofAnderson Cooper 360 and the November 18 edition of CNN Newsroom, reporter Randi Kaye said: "It is the engine that's supposed to keep automakers running. But some say the United Auto Workers Union has helped bring the Big Three to a grinding halt. UAW workers earn as much as $75 an hour, including pension and future health care. James Sherk, a fellow at the Heritage Foundation, a conservative think tank, calls the contract greedy." Kaye then aired a clip of Sherk saying: "Every so often management will try to insist on more competitive contracts and then you'll have the unions go on strike. Rather than take billions and billions of dollars in losses, management caves."
  • As Media Matters documented, during the November 19 broadcast of his Westwood One radio show, Lars Larson said: "When you're paying $73.73 an hour to those people with salary and benefits and your competition is paying $48 to its workers, you're going to get your butt kicked in the marketplace unfortunately."
  • During the November 20 edition of CNBC's Squawk on the Street, Sherk claimed, "You've got to look for the union label to understand why the Big Three are going under. The UAW, they're insisting on $75 an hour in wages and benefits for their workers. That's triple what most Americans earn. They insist on provisions like the jobs bank where they want their members to get full pay, six-figure salaries to sit around and play Trivial Pursuit and not work. No company can bear up under that kind of competitive burden. And the Big Three haven't been able to."
  • In his November 23 El Paso Times column, Joe Muench wrote: "Here's why an auto giant may well come to El Paso: Detroit is being crippled by union demands, workers making $70 an hour, plus benefits we dream await us only in heaven. They can't make a car in Detroit, anymore, for the price of a three-bedroom ranch-style house. We don't need $70 an hour because we've never dreamed of making $70 an hour. And benefits? We're in heaven if the insurance company actually covers most of a bill."
  • In his November 26 syndicated column, Ben Shapiro wrote: "General Motors Corp., Ford Motor Co. and Chrysler are in danger of bankruptcy. It isn't because they lack the technical know-how or the manufacturing capacity -- it's because the United Auto Workers have made the cost of labor untenable. Writing Nov. 19 in the New York Times, former Michigan Gov. Mitt Romney stated that because of the UAW, American cars cost an average of $2,000 more to make than foreign cars. The average UAW worker makes $75 per hour in salary and benefits, as compared to $42-$48 per hour for workers in Japanese plants in the United States."

In addition, Media Matters has documented numerous examples of media figures repeating the falsehood that autoworkers at Chrysler, Ford, and GM are paid $70 or more per hour.



Media Witness Return Of War Casualty For First Time In 18 Years
By AP 
Moveon.org talking points....haven't seen them for a while now.... Reply Favorite Flag as abusive Posted 12:11 PM on 04/06/2009. - + New MrCreosote See Profile I'm a Fan of MrCreosote I'm a fan of this user permalink ...
The Huffington Post | Full News Feed - http://www.huffingtonpost.com/thenewswire/


Navy's Big Weakness: Our Aircraft Carriers Are (Expensive) Defenseless Sitting Ducks
By Gary Brecher, AlterNet
Every single change in technology in the past 50 years has had "Stop building carriers!" written all over it. But the Navy paid no attention. 
Read more 


Too Big to Fail' Is Too Big -- Period
By Jim Hightower, Creators Syndicate
The "too big" claim forms the rationale for the diversion of regular people's money into rich people's pockets. 
Read more 


Hugo Chavez: Released Gitmo Prisoners Can Come to Venezuela 
By Liliana Segura, AlterNet
"We wouldn't have any problem in taking in human beings," Chavez said this week, calling on the U.S. to "finish with that miserable prison." 
Read more 


Ward Churchill Awarded $1 in Wrongful Termination Suit
By Tana Ganeva, AlterNet
A jury found that Churchill was fired by the University of Colorado in retaliation for his controversial essay on 9/11. 
Read more


Moyers Journal: Maddoff Was A Piker -- America's Big Banks Are a Far Larger Fraudulent Ponzi Scheme
By Bill Moyers, Bill Moyers Journal
One of America's top bank fraud experts explains the financial industry's "liar's loans" and wholesale greed that got us in this mess. 
Read more 


Bageant: We've Let Corporations and Media Rob Our Souls -- It's Time to Do Something Meaningful
By Joe Bageant, JoeBageant.com
The most chilling accomplishment of American capitalist culture is that we have commodified our own consciousness. 
Read more


How Can We Stop the Epidemic of Killing Women and Children By Returning Soldiers
By Ann Jones, Tomdispatch.com
No society that sends its men abroad for war can expect them to come home and be at peace, as returning Iraqi vets are proving in alarming numbers. 
Read more 


Eric Holder to Federal Prosecutors: Don't Play Politics with the Law
By John W. Dean, Find Law
Holder has placed all federal prosecutors on notice that his Justice Department will play by the rules. 
Read more 


David Axelrod Fights Back: Slams Dick Cheney
By Steve Benen, Washington Monthly
I have to assume the White House welcomes these kinds of opportunities.
Read more 


Global Economic Collapse Means Boom Times for Criminal Syndicates
By Michael T. Klare, Tomdispatch.com
In a world on the brink, we must offer a global stimulus or else face an epidemic of global crime. 
Read more


Information Overload | Michaela Cernescu's Blog
By Michaela Blog 
I just slept, ate in minutes, drink 
coffee and worked around 12 hours per day burning the midnight oil. The first 2-3 days was hard to follow this schedule but I resisted to open the Outlook as I knew that I couldn’t stop answering ... In summary - isolate yourself from the world and ignore the new “Holy Grail” daily promises if you want to finish what are you doing. Having said that, it is just one “Holy Grail” - your hard work, your perseverance, your consistency, ...
Michaela Cernescu's Blog - http://michaelacernescu.com/


Group gains against Electoral College

DENVER | A movement to bypass the Electoral College and elect the president based on the popular vote is gaining steam, racking up almost one-fifth of the support needed to trigger the plan.

National Popular Vote, a California-based group formed in 2006, has won commitments from four states to award their electoral votes to the winner of the popular vote. Those four states — Maryland, New Jersey, Illinois and Hawaii — have 50 electoral votes among them.

The goal is for states with a total of 270 electoral votes to enter into a compact in which they agree to give their electoral votes to the winner of the popular vote.

Since presidential candidates need 270 electoral votes for victory, such a compact would ensure that the candidate earning the most votes nationwide would win the election, and the Electoral College would be made irrelevant. Campaigning would become radically different. The most obvious change is that there would be no advantage to getting 51 percent in a given state, thus no "battleground states."

The new system wouldn't kick in until the target is reached, said John Koza, chairman of National Popular Vote and the designer of the plan.

"We have 20 percent of the electoral votes we need," said Mr. Koza. "The whole idea of the bill is that no state can do this alone. It only goes into effect when we have 270 electoral votes."

At this rate, however, the system could be implemented in time for the 2016 presidential race. Nearly every state has introduced National Popular Vote legislation this year, and seven have passed bills in one chamber.


Poll Finds Americans More Optimistic About Economy Since Obama ...
By The Huffington Post News Team 
Might as well say "A poll by 
MoveOn.org..." Reply Favorite Flag as abusive Posted 01:23 AM on 04/07/2009. - + OneAngryDwarf See Profile I'm a Fan of OneAngryDwarf I'm a fan of this user permalink. I love watching the heads of XRW tr0//s ...
Politics on HuffingtonPost.com - http://www.huffingtonpost.com/feeds/verticals/politics/index.xml


I don't normally like to pick on Little Wingnuts and prefer to answer only those who attempt to have me post their drool in comments...you know, the person who functions as the grease that makes the wheels and cogs spin 'round and 'round in dizzy confusion.  There are reasons for that, like that there are so many of them that taking shots at one is like focusing a magnifying glass on one ant in a march of army ants.  You might get rid of it, but pretty soon the rest of them have stripped the flesh from your tethered horse and have moved off.

Anyway, one of the many accusations hurled my way over time is that I don't allow conservatives to leave comments here.  I hear it most often from the militant rightees   who believe that questioning any action of war or war support is unpatriotic and treasonous... but today I invite you to respond in an intelligent manner with documentation, not accusation that George Soros is the Demon you would have everyone believe him to be…that means proof and simply bad mouthing someone more intelligent and successful than the whole lot of you put together.  

He called the coming of this mess accurately, diagnosed it with precision, is working through it without loss and has issued warnings that best be taken to heart.  After all he has been correct and the right has been wrong!  And that is a fact! If we would follow the right we would be an army marching into hell on a suicides mission. You have had your day; you have your way and raped the world into economic catastrophe and now you expect we will save you and leave in place all the tools of financial chaos that you have abused.  

Sorry; that is not going to happen.  You have over-played your hand and as I have said often enough; the answers are not going to come from the right or center, they will come from the left and Capitalism as we know it in America will emerge heavily regulated and almost unrecognizable in the economic anarchist form that you prefer.  

You will live with it because it will be the only instrument available for you to attempt to corrupt anew in the pursuit of obscene profit on the backs of all whom you deem the unkempt and unwashed.  And look at who dares charge looting….


George Soros: US Banking System "Basically Insolvent"
By The Huffington Post News Editors 
+ cjt1957 See Profile I'm a Fan of cjt1957 I'm a fan of this user permalink. Maybe you have not heard. Soros is Mr. 
MOVEON.ORG. He is just one example of a greety DEM... Reply Favorite Flag as abusive Posted 09:59 PM on 04/06/2009 ...
Latest News - http://www.huffingtonpost.com/thenewswire/


George Soros Warns 'Zombie' Banks Could Suck Lifeblood Out of U.S. Economy

Billionaire investor George Soros has warned that bailing out banks could turn them into "zombies" that suck the lifeblood of the American economy, which he predicted is in for a "lasting slowdown". He also cautioned that the recent rise in global stock markets is a "bear market rally because we have not yet turned the economy around".(guardian.co.uk)


I posed the question in graphic form last night using the word “hostile” and this short piece provides a concise answer!


Why Are People So Angry?

by Galen Barnett, The Oregonian

Monday April 06, 2009, 1:00 PM

With the national unemployment rate at 8.5 percent and likely to climb before it falls again, Tim Rutten of the Los Angeles Times has some numbers to ponder:

If you really want to cringe, consider those statistics against the historical picture that's been developed by MIT's Frank Levy, called "a leading scholar of income trends" by the Wall Street Journal. His work shows that although American families' incomes more than doubled in the years between the end of World War II and 1980, they haven't -- when measured in constant dollars -- risen since. In fact, during the eight years of George W. Bush's presidency, they actually fell. Meanwhile, from 1986 to 2005, the median annual income of the nation's wealthiest 1% of households actually increased by $250,000.

Nice work, if you can get it.

The other set of numbers that help explain some of the anger circulating at the moment came in an annual survey of CEO pay commissioned by the Journal. For only the second time in two decades, the median compensation paid to people who run the 200 largest U.S. companies fell -- though you're unlikely to run into them at the local food pantry, because the average CEO still makes $2.24 million a year. That represents an 8.5% decline over last year. But burrow into the numbers a bit and you'll discover that the decrease was entirely attributable to smaller performance bonuses and the falling value of stock given as direct compensation. The CEOs' base salaries actually grew by4.5%.

In other words, the very people who laid off millions of American workers, involuntarily furloughed hundreds of thousands of others, demanded that their employees take pay cuts and froze pensions and benefits gave themselves a raise.

These are the people who helped run the world economy into a ditch -- is it any wonder the rest of us are angry?

No comments:

Post a Comment

Fair Use Notice: This blog may contain copyrighted material. Such material is made available for educational purposes, to advance understanding of human rights, democracy, scientific, moral, ethical, and social justice issues, etc. This constitutes a 'fair use' of any such copyrighted material as provided for in Title 17 U.S.C. section 107 of the US Copyright Law. This material is distributed without profit.