Friday, January 14, 2011

Assclowns of the Week #86 the Maniacs edition

(Artist unknown but poached from D r i f t g l a s s's blog.)

For going on six years, Assclowns of the Week has been a satirical feature in which I've rarely played it straight, one that's played mainly for laughs through political and social satire. In the wake of Saturday's heinous and horrific shooting in Tuscon that stole six innocent lives and wounded about a dozen others, this is one of those times.

There's enough blame to go around (and if you were to listen to right wingers and "sensible" mainstream media pundits on CNN and elsewhere, liberals are equally to blame for the heated rhetoric), thereby making a new edition of ACOTW inevitable and all too easy to write.

As expected, Saturday's shooting that put a US Congresswoman in a critical care unit and six others in the morgue didn't account for all top ten spots. There was also Tom DeLay and Judge Pat Priest (2) for the Hammer being able to dance out of the courthouse before he saw the inside of a jail cell and in advance of an appeal.

So I hope you can understand the almost complete paucity of humor. This just isn't the week for it. Consider this a PSA that warns about the fascistic and intolerant rightward tug that's ironically turning us into the very nations that we're invading and occupying in the name of democracy.

10) Jack Shafer

.oO Why am I hearing that farting sound between my ears? Oo.

Usually Jack Shafer gets it right. That's why I cannot understand what he was thinking, or if he even was, when he wrote this brain fart for Slate entitled,, "In Defense of Inflamed Rhetoric." In fact, there's so much stupid to wade through, I'll just have to cherry-pick the parts that don't paralyze my brain. Like this, for instance:
The call by Sheriff Dupnik and others to take our political conversation down a few notches might make sense if anybody had been calling for the assassination in the first place, which they hadn't. And if they had, there are effective laws to prosecute those who move language outside of the metaphorical.

Yeah, technically, no one called for the assassination, despite Sarah Palin targeting Giffords' district with a crosshair gun sight and Giffords' opponent Jesse Kelly vowing to remove her from office and giving his supporters the chance to shoot an M16 with him.

But if there were actual laws that were actually being enforced and those responsible for the hate rhetoric that Shafer is downplaying, then we have to believe it would've lessened the probability of the assassination attempt. He also criticizes Sheriff Dupnik for his calls for civil political discourse. Shafer makes the assumption that Dupnik was out of the loop and knew exactly as much we knew when the fact is that law enforcement is almost always ahead of us by a news cycle or two. Elsewhere, Shafer says,
Any call to cool "inflammatory" speech is a call to police all speech, and I can't think of anybody in government, politics, business, or the press that I would trust with that power. As Jonathan Rauch wrote brilliantly in Harper's in 1995, "The vocabulary of hate is potentially as rich as your dictionary, and all you do by banning language used by cretins is to let them decide what the rest of us may say." Rauch added, "Trap the racists and anti-Semites, and you lay a trap for me too. Hunt for them with eradication in your mind, and you have brought dissent itself within your sights."

Our spirited political discourse, complete with name-calling, vilification—and, yes, violent imagery—is a good thing. Better that angry people unload their fury in public than let it fester and turn septic in private. The wicked direction the American debate often takes is not a sign of danger but of freedom.

Shafer seems to be making the same conflation here that the mainstream media are making: That all heated rhetoric is equal in terms of vitriol, passion and culpability and that it's all good. Once again, we were not the ones targeting Republican districts with crosshairs, shooting members of Congress, physically assaulting members of Congress on victorious election nights, curb-stomping liberal activists, revealing their addresses and those of their families, vandalizing congressional offices and homes and so forth. The liberals are not the ones that need policing. And the "freedom" that Shafer champions was taken over the line to irresponsible hate speech that is, or should be, an actionable federal crime.

9) Tammy Bruce

Tammy Bruce surveying the land for liberals.

Surveyor's symbols? Uh huh.

It would be a stretch to say that 2nd amendment zealot Tammy Bruce represents the mainstream media but she certainly didn't help to clear the waters any when she broadcast an interview with Sarah Palin aide Rebecca Mansour across the "The United States of Tammy."

Mansour, typically, was puling that people were holding Palin at least indirectly responsible for the Tucson shooting and pathetically trying to claim the crosshairs weren't crosshairs at all. At one point, Bruce said, "Well, it's a surveyor's symbol." Despite the fact that Palin herself called the symbol a “bullseye icon” on her Twitter account.

Poor, poor Tammy. It must suck being the anti-Rachel Maddow while being deprived of about 95% of her intelligence, charm, integrity, credibility, popularity, talent, good looks, celebrity and audience.

8) Jeh Johnson

Last Friday, Jeh Johnson, the Pentagon’s General Counsel, made an amazing pronouncement that could’ve been concocted by the Texas Board of Education: Dr. Martin Luther King would’ve been in favor of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. This is what the African American Johnson said at a Pentagon shindig honoring Dr. King (for some bizarre reason):
“I believe that if Dr. King were alive today, he would recognize that we live in a complicated world, and that our nation's military should not and cannot lay down its arms and leave the American people vulnerable to terrorist attack. Every day, our servicemen and women practice the dangerousness -- the dangerous unselfishness Dr. King preached on April 3, 1968.”

No, Jeh, nonviolent opposition's greatest champion would’ve been fucking appalled to see that we repeated history 40 years after the Gulf of Tonkin non-incident, that we’d invaded two sovereign nations on equally flimsy and false pretences, that we’d merely substituted napalm for white phosphorus, that we’d been practicing torture and extraordinary rendition on a massive scale, enriching war profiteers at an exponentially greater clip than we ever saw in Vietnam, that millions of Iraqis, Afghanis and Pakistanis have died while thousands more US soldiers were killed and tens of thousands maimed while we continue to neglect our infrastructure here at home and that we’ve been continuing these policies for the last two years under the genial eye of our nation’s first African American president and a fellow Nobel Peace Prize Laureate, especially upon realizing that invading said sovereign nations not only did not enhance our national security but even endangered it.

Or, if he’d lived, maybe he would’ve turned Republican and bought a giant foam finger to wave at Bush-Cheney town halls, who knows?

7) Trent Humphries

Some right wing nut job had to say it so Tucson Tea Party co-founder Trent Humphries bravely went where angels fear to tread by claiming that Rep. Giffords’ shooting was her own fault.
It's political gamesmanship. The real case is that she [Giffords] had no security whatsoever at this event. So if she lived under a constant fear of being targeted, if she lived under this constant fear of this rhetoric and hatred that was seething, why would she attend an event in full view of the public with no security whatsoever?

There are so many things that are wrong with this “She had it coming to her” argument that‘s been used all too many times against rape victims, one hardly knows where to begin. First, I’ve never known for a victim of a political assassination or attempt to be blamed for being attacked. And secondly, on a deeper level, how he can square Giffords’ unproven trepidations with Sarah Palin’s equally unproven innocence of any wrongdoing is a marvel of intellectual gymnastics. If there was a credible danger, then we must first look to the people who threatened to use “Second Amendment remedies” and did use crosshairs over specific districts, then to those who cross that line, not to those who didn’t put up a rope line and keep their constituents at bay with security. Thirdly, I know of no politician who would willingly endanger their life and those of their constituents simply in the interests of “political gamesmanship.” Fourthly, obviously the irony was lost on Humphries that MSNBC and the Guardian were seeking his opinion because they know fully well the Tea Baggers are largely to blame for the rhetoric that has surely led someone somewhere to resort to a “Second Amendment remedy.”

And, as always when disaster strikes, Republican opportunism is always half a step behind. Here’s a quote from a (typically misspelled) fundraising letter from the Tea Party Express:
“Instead of prayers for the victims and their families, the Left was consumed with using this massacre to score political points by blaming the tea party movement, Gov. Sarah Palin and now Rush Limbaugh.”

They don’t have much of a problem, however, being consumed with using the massacre to score some donations.

6) The Westboro Baptist Church

What do these inbred lunatics hope to accomplish by inappropriately protesting funerals? That we'll change our minds and decide not to bury the dead?

The pathologically homophobic Westboro Baptist Church out of Kansas has been a national embarrassment for decades, especially when they began protesting funerals of our war dead and high profile public figures such as Elizabeth Edwards. But even the progeny of Fred Phelps hit a new low when they announced they'd protest the funerals of the six innocents who were killed in the mass shooting at Tucson last Saturday.

These hillbillies who serve as nothing more than the acid test for the limits of the First Amendment would protest the interment of Jesus Christ fresh off the cross if they thought they could score points with the Lord whom they profess hates us for our tolerance of homosexuals. Seems to me Fred needs a hug. I say we send GOPROUD and the Log Cabin Republicans to their compound for a group hug so they can all ignite each other in a matter / antimatter-like reaction.

5) Sarah Palin

(Courtesy Father Tyme at Blondesense)

"Don't Retreat, Reload" (provided your Daddy's there to do it for you), is what professional victim Sarah Palin said last spring when she put up a map consisting of crosshairs over 20 Democratically-held districts, including that of Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords (AZ-8), who was gunned down and almost killed last Saturday.

Shortly after the shooting in Tucson, Mooselini made another balcony appearance to offer "condolences" to the Gifford family, inappropriate considering the congresswoman is, thankfully, still very much alive and expected to pull through. Gee, that was a nice gesture, considering that she'd literally and personally targeted Congresswoman Gifford's district using incendiary symbols and rhetoric.

Problem is, before her Facebook comment went up, Palin's people also took down the Take Back the 20 site that had originally put up the offending map but not to worry. The original image is still up... on Palin's own Facebook page.

It seems that Palin's flying monkeys took a cue from their Athena hunter queen and began a vigorous, rigorous campaign to delete any and all negative comments about Palin within minutes, often within seconds. So much for reverence of the Constitution. Apparently the only part of that document that right wingers have any use for is not the First amendment but the Second.

It’s also pretty telling that the last tweet put out by Palin before acknowledging the Tucson shooting was to crow about the price of gold going up to almost $1400 an ounce. And speaking of gold and its fools...

4) Glenn Beck

Sometimes, you've just gotta love random image generators.

If you were to listen to self-styled Minute Man Glenn Beck, you'd have to go aaaaalllll the way back to 2005 when he openly fantasized about killing Michael Moore on his radio show to find the latest example of violent rhetoric. Uh huh.

Well, Glenn Beck’s own War Room (a louder, weepier and sweatier place than Wolf Blitzer’s Situation Room) begs to differ. Two years ago, Beck imagined a war game scenario for 2014 and asked viewers what they’d do. Later that year, he fantasized about poisoning then Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi. Then last year, after obsessing about the Tides Foundation for a solid week one summer, Byron Williams took a cue from Beck and packed an SUV full of weapons and was going to shoot up the ACLU and the Tides foundation and wound up wounding two Oakland police officers, instead. He cited Beck as an influence, thereby officially giving us one degree of separation between a right wing gun nut and a Fox host.

So if you were to discount all these things, then, yeah, Beck hasn’t threatened anyone or incited violence as a response to imagined conspiracy theories in going on six years.

3) Rush Limbaugh

Shorter Rushbo: "Thank you, Jared Lee Loughner, from the Democrat Party, for almost killing one of the most beloved members of our caucus." At least, that's what Goebbels' reincarnation spat last Tuesday into his gilded microphone from the place where Viagra and Oxycontin Went to Die.

Rush is usually made the poster child for the Republican Party but we should also make him the poster child for the right wing media and this week proves a point: That Limbaugh is spearheading a conspicuously and suspiciously defensive wind machine that immediately geared up within seconds of the Giffords shooting. Limbaugh and Co. is acting as if we’d verbally put the gun in Palin’s hand. We did not. We have merely been stating that Palin, as well as Limbaugh and too many other right pundits to enumerate, have contributed to the toxic atmosphere of hatred, conspiracy fears and bigotry that feebler minds will interpret as license to take up arms and seek “second amendment remedies”.

.oO Has anyone noticed that I'm using this tragedy to score political brownie points? No? Good. Oo.

2) Tom DeLay and Judge Pat Priest

The news this week wasn't all bad. Tom DeLay, one of the most stunningly corrupt politicians in American history, which is saying something, was "sentenced" to three years in prison for conspiracy to commit money laundering but not the actual money laundering charges. Since DeLay was convicted of laundering $190,000 to other Republicans to finance their own campaigns, that means DeLay stands to serve one year in jail for every $63,333.33 that he'd laundered. But that's not as good as it would sound at first.

Because that stands in stark contrast to another case in which two Mississippi sisters serving double life were recently released by Gov. Haley Barbour because one sibling needs a kidney that the other sister is willing to donate. The Scott sisters, who are African American, had already served 16 years in prison for stealing $11, which amounts to one year in prison for every .69¢ that was stolen by three other people (Barbour's real reason for springing them was because dialysis cost too much).

Meanwhile, at about the same time, in DeLay's home state of Texas, 51 year-old Cornelius Dupree, Jr. was recently released after spending 30 years in prison for a crime he didn't commit when DNA evidence eventually exonerated him.

Dupree is also African American.

DeLay got sprung on $10,000 bail (or $1000 cash bond) and will likely remain free for months or even years while his lawyer Dick Deguerin will spend untold amounts of time and money tying up the courts through an endless appeals process. While the three innocent African Americans have been class acts after their racial persecution and openly grateful for their freedom, an unrepentant DeLay railed on for 10 minutes before Pat Priest about partisan politics playing a part in his conviction, even though DeLay never saw the inside of a jail cell and got to walk out of the courthouse. Bleeding heart judge Pat Priest, after giving a DeLay a slap on the wrist and only 10 years probation on the actual money laundering charges in lieu of 5 more years, became one of the few judges to allow a man to walk free while appealing his conviction, something denied the abovementioned money-, influence- and melatonin-challenged African Americans.

Let's hope next time we see DeLay on TV, it'll be a full season of Dancing With the Cons.

1) Jared Lee Loughner

Last Saturday morning, Jared Lee Loughner became merely the latest and most talked about lone right wing nut in a seemingly endless goose-stepping procession of right wing, gun-clutching insurrectionists. But to hear the right wing and establishment media talk about it, Loughner just (Poof!) spontaneously appeared in a vacuum.

To date, not one major right winger has ever taken responsibility for what was put into this young man’s addled brain during his formative years (he was only six when Timothy McVeigh carried out Oklahoma City). No one is born hating or distrusting the government and people like Glenn Beck are the ones most loudly talking about debt, tyranny and gold and, gee, how nice would it be if we just all went back to the wildly fluctuating gold standard?

The grinning psychopath pictured above isn’t directly affiliated with the Republicans or the Tea Party. But he is a feeble-minded, incoherent young man who, inspired by hateful, paranoid rhetoric, shot up a shopping center in Tucson, killing six and almost killing a US Congresswoman. Someone reached him and it’s high time somebody fess up and admit it instead of trying to propagate fantasies that we’re just having a robust national debate or that liberals are just as responsible for the toxic discourse as conservatives. And whoever had reached him and turned him to the Dark Side, it damned sure wasn’t Greenpeace, The Sierra Club, PETA or the ACLU.

Dishonorable Mention:

Louie Gohmert of Texas must think it's still the mid 19th century when redneck congressmen could go to the Senate and beat liberal Senators half to death with impunity. Because Gomer's bill is by far the most peckerheaded of all the ones thus far in this 112th Congress: Let's arm all the Congressmen and allow them to bring their guns into the Capitol Building.

(In memory of Judge John Roll, Christine Green, Gabriel Zimmerman, Dorothy Morris, Dorwin Stoddard and Phyllis Schneck, who died in Saturday's shooting.)

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