Malkin et al. Admit That “Conservatives” Are Right-Wing Extremists and Potential Terrorists

Timothy McVeigh

Timothy McVeigh

Alex Koppelman writes at Salon that the Department of Homeland Security has issued a report to federal, state and local law enforcement regarding the threat of terrorism from right-wing extremists groups.

In Koppelman’s words, the report says “the political and economic climate today is similar to the one that fueled the militia movement — and, eventually, the Oklahoma City bombing — during the 1990s.” The DHS has no specific information of plans being made by rightwing groups. However, the DHS says it has reason to believe there is a wave of right-wing recruitment going on.

Naturally this has elicited no end of victimized, hysterical shrieking from wingnuts. For example, Malkin: Confirmed: The Obama DHS hit job on conservatives is real.

Bombed Abortion Clinic

Bombed Abortion Clinic

According to Audrey Hudson and Eli Lake of the Washington Times, the DHS defines “‘rightwing extremism in the United States’ as including not just racist or hate groups, but also groups that reject federal authority in favor of state or local authority.”

Therefore, according to Malkin (who assumes “right-wing” is a synonym for “conservative”), conservatives are racist haters who reject federal authority. What many of us have been saying all along, in other words. It was big of Little Lulu to admit it.

Lulu argues that “conservatives” are being “targeted” as part of an Obama campaign to smear the “tea parties,” even though the report has been in the works for a year. The DHS has also issued reports about potential left-wing terrorism, but Malkin says it’s not the same thing, because these reports were about specific groups. That may be; I don’t have a catalog of DHS warnings at hand. The Pentagon was keeping track of Quakers for a while, but you know Quakers. Sneaky sorts.

You can read the document under discussion here. It’s mostly saying that we’re facing conditions that historically have fomented right-wing extremism, so the DHS “will be working with its state and local partners over the next several months to ascertain with greater regional specificity the rise in rightwing extremist activity in the United States, with a particular emphasis on the political, economic, and social factors that drive rightwing extremist radicalization.”

In other words, the DHS is saying it has good reason to think right-wing radicalism will be an increasing problem in the foreseeable future, so law enforcement agencies need to stay on their toes to ascertain where a specific threat might be taking shape. As long as we’re not talking about violating individual rights — warrantless wiretaps, say — this just seems prudent and sensible.

Where Matthew Shepard Died

Where Matthew Shepard Died

But I also think right-wing extremism in the U.S. is less confined to specific, easily delineated groups. It’s more likely to be a handful of guys who stockpile guns and fertilizer in their basements than an organized group with a name in the form of an acronym that has a website and sends out newsletters. But according to the Right, we’re not supposed to notice the guys who stockpile guns and fertilizer in their basements until they actually blow up a federal building. On the other hand, unarmed Muslims going about their lawful business are suspect, 24/7.

This goes along with the tendency of U.S. “conservatives” to take no responsibility for their own words and actions. Everything is always someone else’s fault.

Great minds thinking alike — Dave Neiwert writes, “Conservatives indict themselves with shrieking over DHS report on right-wing terrorism.”

Malkin’s headline wails:

“The Obama DHS Hit Job on Conservatives Is Real”

So, I have a question for Malkin: Are you saying that mainstream conservatives are now right-wing extremists?

Because, you know, the report — which in fact is perfectly accurate in every jot and tittle — couldn’t be more clear. It carefully delineates that the subject of its report is “rightwing extremists,” “domestic rightwing terrorist and extremist groups,” “terrorist groups or lone wolf extremists capable of carrying out violent attacks,” “white supremacists,” and similar very real threats described in similar language.

Nothing about conservatives. The word never appears in the report.

Because, you know, we always thought there was a difference between right-wing extremists and mainstream conservatives too. My new book, The Eliminationists: How Hate Talk Radicalized the American Right, does explain that the distance between them has in fact shrunk considerably, thanks to the help of people like Malkin.

Update: More links —

Tbogg, It’s all fun and games until they start looking at the white man

Tim F., The Point (You’re Never Gonna Get It)

Glenn Greenwald, The ultimate reaping of what one sows: right-wing edition

Believe It, or Not

A couple of days ago I lambasted this guy for being an idiot, but I realize now I was mistaken. He is a satirist. He is a brilliant satirist. A brilliant liberal satirist. It’s the only possible explanation for this.

Once you recover from reading the piece linked above (take your time), check out the Politico story that goes with this headline:

Obama boosts anti-abortion efforts

WTF, you say. Well, if you read the article, you find out that Obama has not betrayed his pro-reproduction rights campaign positions. Rather, he is “boosting” anti-abortion efforts by being pro-choice.

In that case, boost away, Mr. President.

Obama Derangement Syndrome on Steroids

Remarkably, nearly overnight our President has gone from being a vacillating wuss to being a self-glorifying narcissistic exploiting the pirate crisis for his own ends. I suppose that’s progress.

However, Steve M documents that the wingnuts still consider President Obama to be a wuss in spite of the successful rescue of Captain Phillips. One would think the results of the earlier French commando raid — one hostage was killed — might have taught them that sometimes there’s a place for caution.

Another take on the successful mission is that President Obama had nothing to do with it, even though he had given two orders authorizing the use of force. That’s because the rescue did not come about because of a daring commando raid planned and orchestrated in the White House but because the officer in charge at the scene ordered snipers to fire and kill three pirates (as the White House had authorized him to do).

So a President is supposed to defer to the wisdom of “commanders on the ground” in Iraq. However, authorizing commanders on the sea off the Somali coast to use their own judgment based on unfolding events and standing military procedure is just wrong. The POTUS is supposed to put on tights and a cape, fly to the scene, and rescue the hostage personally. Or he’s a wuss.

Y’know, there’s point at which people stop being alarming and are just pathetic. See also John Cole.

Update: See also “The Great Right-Wing Freak-out” by Juan Cole.

Radio personality Rush Limbaugh challenged the president, saying that if we are not at war with Islam then the Somali pirates must not be Muslims. Perhaps, the rotund one suggested with his world-famed gift for subtle wit, the Somalis are actually Orthodox Jews. But Obama had explicitly said that the U.S. is at war with some Muslims, to wit, al-Qaida, and had merely exempted the broad religion of Islam as an object of enmity. When the U.S. went to war against the Serbians over Kosovo, it was presumably not involved in a war on Christianity, even though the Serbs are Eastern Orthodox Christians. Moreover, Islamic law forbids piracy, so the Somalis are not acting out of religious motives. The fevered irrationality of such diatribes, on the part of someone recognized as the leading voice of the contemporary Republican Party, points to the party’s dire intellectual straits.

Ya think?

Update: Paul Krugman makes the point that wingnuts really are no crazier now than they’ve ever been (Vince Foster, anyone?). He adds,

Last but not least: it turns out that the tea parties don’t represent a spontaneous outpouring of public sentiment. They’re AstroTurf (fake grass roots) events, manufactured by the usual suspects. In particular, a key role is being played by FreedomWorks, an organization run by Richard Armey, the former House majority leader, and supported by the usual group of right-wing billionaires. And the parties are, of course, being promoted heavily by Fox News.

Righties are having a fit about this, because they desperately want to believe that the “tea parties” are a grassroot phenomenon that sprang spontaneously from the soil of the Heartland. Most “tea parties” probably are being organized and funded locally, but only because the Powers That Be in the GOP People’s Central Planning Political Grassroots Organizing Committee put out the word to organize them.

One rightie says,

What Freedomworks and various other organizations are doing is not “astroturf” any more than the anti-war protests of some years back were astroturf because ANSWER and helped organize people around those events. Astroturfing is paid activism by an organization; it is not genuine grassroots activism that funded groups are simply helping to organize.

But the rightie is not defining “astroturfing” properly. As Matt Yglesias says, “An astroturf operation is a fake grassroots operation.” Real grassroots organizing begins at a local and regional level and often has to fight for recognition by the national establishment. The “tea parties” clearly were the idea of a few people in the Washington political/media world, who used national right-wing media infrastructure to promote them.

Update: One more thing — I agree with John Cole that the pirate episode really didn’t rise to being much of a test of President Obama as Commander in Chief. No doubt military advisers told him what the options were, and he signed off on one or more of those options, and after that it was all in the hands of the people at the scene. That would be true of any President. George Washington himself could have done no more.

The only really stupid thing Obama could have done is countermand the experts, and order them to either do nothing at all or do something they thought unwise, but apparently he didn’t do that.

However, the Right chose to blow up the pirate incident into a “test” of Obama on the order of the Tehran Hostage Crisis, which it never was. But once he “passed” their “test,” they had to trip all over themselves changing the test rules so that they could still give him an F. A hoot.

Bush Policy on Pirates: Um, Good Luck, Sailor

[Update, for people coming here from a right-wing site who plan to yell at me for “blaming Bush”: Please note that in no place in the post below did I blame Bush for Somali piracy or the present hostage situation. Right-wing bloggers who said that’s what I wrote are liars. — maha]

The Right is blaming Barack Obama for Somali pirates, or at least the lack of a response to the Somali pirates. Short version: Barack Obama is Jimmy Carter.

I thought you might like to read a Wall Street Journal story about Somali pirates published while George W. Bush was still president:

In the waning days of the Bush administration, the National Security Council issued a detailed yet little-noticed plan for combating piracy off the coast of Somalia….

…But the vast majority of the tasks laid out in the plan either were aimed at making sure pirates never reached commercial vessels — encouraging ships to travel at night, increasing intelligence sharing, destroying vessels that appear outfitted for piracy — or ensuring that there were consequences for pirates that were ultimately caught.

It was nearly silent, however, on what to do if a ship is taken by pirates and crew members are held captive. And what little guidance it provided was vague. U.S. naval forces were given authority to “terminate the act of piracy and any included hostage situation.” Just how they were to do that was left unsaid.

Pay close attention:

The reason for the plan’s lack of guidance has now been made clear over the last two days off the coast of the Horn of Africa: The choices facing a hulking navy destroyer as it confronts a ragtag group of Somali pirates holding an American seaman hostage in a small, propulsion-free boat are extremely limited.

Pentagon and U.S. Navy officials have been reticent to engage in the kind of hostage rescues that could spring crewmembers from capture at sea, arguing it would set a precedent that would strain an already thinly deployed naval taskforce in the region and, more importantly, potentially lead to more bloodshed.

In other words, President Obama probably is taking the advice of the commanders on the ground, er, water. But does this mean George W. Bush also was Jimmy Carter? I hate to insult Carter so, but let’s not pull punches here.

John Keegan, who has written some of my favorite military history books, says that the one way to stop the piracy is to sink pirate ships on sight. I suspect he’s right about that. However, that doesn’t solve the present hostage crisis, unless we’re willing to sacrifice the lives of the hostages. But then he says European navies would need to be re-equipped to engage in a pirate ship sinking campaign, which seems odd to me. But Keegan knows military stuff better than I do.

The Big Tea(se)

Andrew Sullivan points out that the astroturf “tea parties” being organized and promoted mostly on Faux Nooz don’t seem to have a coherent purpose. They’re tea tantrums, not parties, he says.

What are they protesting? Tax hikes? Most of the people who will show up for the parties have just had their taxes cut. So scratch that. The big budget spending proposals and bank bailouts? Dudes, none of us likes running up the deficit and bailing out banks. It’s painful. It’s going to be hard to pay off that debt. But what are your workable alternative proposals to stimulating the economy and preventing the collapse of the banking system?

Cue: cricket chirps.

Finally, illegal immigration. A serious issue, but what did the Boston Tea Party have to do with that?

The Right Blogosphere responded to Sully mostly by calling him names (you guessed it; he’s not a “real conservative”) and throwing more tantrums. The most substantive response I could find still did not address much of what Sully wrote.

The Right expects a world-record tea party turnout on April 15, but just in case the parties fizzle, they’ve got an excuse ready — sabotage by ACORN infiltrators. I swear, ACORN is the new bogeyman.

John Cole:

The best part about all the attention the tea parties will get the next couple of days is that it will all be on film. The usual suspects are already trying to do damage control, pretending that they will have been infiltrated by no-gooders (who else- Soros funded ACRON!), but that is pure nonsense, and the country is going to get a good look at some pure, undiluted, right-wing crazy.

Pass the popcorn.

Red Alerts

Yesterday I described the partisans of the Right as being in a big potato sack race, hopping to crazyland. Well, this guy got there. He’s making a Big Bleeping Conspiracy Deal out of the fact that newspapers use press releases. I’m sure the same newspapers who are “complicit” in pushing the “radical” agenda of Families USA have also in the past published stories based on press releases from the “totally off the sanity charts” Heritage Foundation and the American Enterprise Institute.

(Do these people live in caves? They’re so … innocent of how the world actually works, one wonders.)

Another news story that’s got rightie panties in a twist is from Rasmussen: “Just 53% Say Capitalism Better Than Socialism.” Younger people actually are evenly divided on the capitalism v. socialism question. The older the demographic, the higher the approval of capitalism over socialism. No big surprise.

I have words of comfort for those predicting the End of AmericaI doubt that most of the respondents know what “socialism” is any more than you do. I suspect only a very small portion of the respondents would say yes to the end of private ownership of property, for example.

But since the meatheads on the Right keep erroneously defining President Obama’s policy proposals as “socialism,” I can see how “socialism” might look good to a lot of people right now. It’s just that “socialism” isn’t really socialism. This country is no more going to embrace real, undiluted socialism than it’s going to fold itself up and fly to Jupiter. So chill.

Update: See also Chris Good and Melissa McEwan.

Hopping to Crazyland

Call it Clash of the Titan Wingnuts. Pam Geller of Atlas Shrugged is accusing Charles Johnson of Little Green Footballs of being an infiltrator, a neo-nazi, a fellow traveler of jihadists. Macranger calls CJ a “closet liberal” (ouch!).

Johnson actually said something sensible, which of course is beyond the pale for a wingnut. Commenting on a Politico piece called “Extremist rhetoric won’t rebuild GOP,” Johnson said,

This turn toward the extreme right on the part of Fox News is troubling, and will achieve nothing in the long run except further marginalization of the GOP—unless people start behaving like adults instead of angry kids throwing tantrums and ranting about conspiracies and revolution.

Based on blog reaction to Johnson, we needn’t be concerned that the Right will take Johnson’s advice.

I want to shift gears for a moment and look at some numbers — Nate Silver shows us that the GOP has lost considerable popularity in recent years. “[T]hose persons who continue to identify as Republicans are a hardened — and very conservative — lot. Just 24 percent of voters identified as Republican when Pew conducted this survey in March, which is roughly as low as that total has ever gotten,” says Nate.

If you go to you can find a page with “Dem versus GOP” approval ratings going back several years. There have been more Dems than Republicans all along, but since the 1970s the Dems took a big dive in party dominance. However, in very recent years they’ve been coming back.

A question asked sporadically by the ABC News/Washington Post poll, “Overall, which party — the Democrats or the Republicans — do you trust to do a better job in coping with the main problems the nation faces over the next few years?” shows the Dems consistently ahead going back to 1992, except for the years 2002 and 2003, when the GOP came way out on top. But by 2004 the Dems had the advantage again.

A Gallup question, “Looking ahead for the next few years, which political party do you think will do a better job of keeping the country prosperous: the Republican Party or the Democratic Party?” had the two parties evenly split, 42 to 42 percent, in 2002. But in 2007 the Dems were up, 54 to 34 percent.

So this movement in public opinion away from the GOP and toward the Dems isn’t something that just started this year. It appears it started in 2004. It just took awhile to become obvious even in mass news media.

At The New Republic, Chris Orr has an intriguing analysis of what’s happening on the Right. Essentially, the Right is already so marginalized its members have nothing else to do but compete with each other for position within the movement. And to do that they’re all trying to out-flank each other on the Right. So conservative politicians and media personalities are in a big potato sack race, hopping to Crazyland.

See also No More Mister Nice Blog.

Sedition and Crowded Theaters

In the comments to the last post several of you mentioned sedition, so let’s talk about that. Sedition is the incitement of resistance to or insurrection against lawful authority, the dictionary says. You can find plenty of that in the delusional rantings of Michele Bachmann and Glenn Beck.

We know now that part of what set off Richard Poplawski’s shooting of three policemen was the belief that Barack Obama was going to take away his firearms. This belief has no basis in fact, but it’s been propagated by well-paid right-wing media figures and the National Rifle Association. Isn’t this something along the lines of falsely shouting fire in a crowded theater?

We don’t have to speculate that right-wing hate speech has real-world, violent consequences. It’s happened. The question is, what are we going to do about it?

As a liberal, I am loathe to dig up the Smith Act — which I understand is still on the books — or enacting any anti-sedition legislation to prosecute people for their speech. In U.S. history sedition laws mostly have been used by people in authority to harass citizens they don’t like, or whose associations were suspect, not to suppress speech that was actually dangerous to anyone. And you know if sedition prosecutions become an issue now, as soon as the Right gets back into power (which is bound to happen eventually) everyone they don’t like will be in jeopardy. Got to suppress the fifth columnists in the name of freedom, of course.

So, what’s to be done? I haven’t a clue. You know they can’t be shamed into shutting up.

Update: Here’s a couple of videos I just picked up from Kos:

Newt is a politician. It’s hard to make them go away.

See also Joan Walsh.

Insanity Unleashed

Kevin Drum writes that the crazy Right is getting crazier.

A sense of besiegement has been the right’s stock in trade for as long as I’ve been alive.

But there is something different about their tone these days, and I can’t quite put my finger on exactly what it is. My tentative take is that there’s an inchoate quality to their fears that’s new.

See also “Scenes from the Real America” at the Washington Independent.

I don’t know that the wingnuts are any more “inchoate” than they’ve ever been. I don’t know that their problem is that they don’t have an enemy. I mean, who was their enemy in the 1990s? Bill Clinton, black helicopters, and the phantom liberal elite. Now they’ve got Barack Obama, Muslims, and the phantom liberal elite. What’s the diff?

Are they less sensible now than in their glory days when they stampeded us into Iraq or went after Dan Rather like a pack of rabid wolves? Yet there is a difference, as Gary Kamiya says.

With the collapse of the GOP into the party of Rush Limbaugh, and as Limbaugh and his ilk grow ever more reckless in their attacks on Obama, the boundaries between “respectable” right-wing paranoid hatred and “extreme” right-wing paranoid hatred are getting more blurred. Right-wing fanatic du jour Glenn Beck teased his recent Fox show with images of Hitler, Stalin and Lenin and said that he was wrong to say that Obama was leading America to socialism — because Obama is actually a fascist. “They’re marching us towards 1984,” Beck intoned. “Big Brother, he’s watching.”

I think the real difference is that, deep down, they know they’ve lost. They can’t admit it to themselves. They are still blustering as if they represent mainstream America. They still pretend to themselves the majority of Americans give a bleep what they think.

But the truth is, the majority of Americans don’t give a bleep what they think. They’re jokes.

President Obama is popular. Legislation gets passed without conservative votes. The nation is not in shock and awe of, or even paying attention to, their “tea parties.”

Remember back in January, when the stimulus bill passed in the House with no Republicans votes? For a time House Republicans seemed actually proud of themselves for standing together. Then they noticed nobody but them cared how they voted.

They threaten to “go Galt.” America says fine; go right ahead. Don’t let the door hit your butt on your way out.

This is the real danger. They still have the sense of besiegement, but before 2006 they felt they had power, and that they represented the mainstream. Now about all they have is paranoia and guns.

Watch your back.

Who’s Paranoid Now?

News reports say that the shooter who killed three Pittsburgh policemen today was panicked over the “the Obama gun ban that’s on the way.” We don’t want to jump to conclusions until we get more information. We may find out the shooter was psychotic, for example. But see Dave Neiwert.

Charles Blow wrote this morning,

As the comedian Bill Maher pointed out, strong language can poison weak minds, as it did in the case of Timothy McVeigh. (We sometimes forget that not all dangerous men are trained by Al Qaeda.)

At the same time, the unrelenting meme being pushed by the right that Obama will mount an assault on the Second Amendment has helped fuel the panic buying of firearms. According to the F.B.I., there have been 1.2 million more requests for background checks of potential gun buyers from November to February than there were in the same four months last year. That’s 5.5 million requests altogether over that period; more than the number of people living in Bachmann’s Minnesota.

Even without the right-wing hate rhetoric, more guns plus more unemployment equals, um, really bad things. There will be blood and more blood, I fear.

Of course, some on the Right dismissed Blow as a paranoid loon. Um, who’s paranoid now?