Yesterday, the Breitbart empire stepped up to the plate, called their shot, swung, missed, hit themselves in the face with the bat, then took a triumphant trot around the bases as spectators looked on with piteous and mocking wonder.
Hug-gate, as it quickly came to be called, was the big story the Breitbart people had been teasing for weeks now -- a videotaped hug between then-Harvard Law student Barack Obama and the late Harvard professor Derrick Bell at a 1991 protest supporting Bell's push to have a woman of color offered tenure at the school. Why the controversy? Because Bell, per the Breitbart indictment, is a dangerous radical who, in the act of pressing his body to the young Obama's, imparted to him all the insane radicalism that now animates the moderate liberal currently residing at 1600 Pennsylvania Ave.
As Breitbart.com's Ben Shapiro put it, in characteristically grandiose fashion: "This is just the beginning. And this video, in its entirety, is the smoking gun showing that Barack Obama not only associated with radicals but believed deeply in their principles - and wanted the rest of us to believe in them, too."
The problems with the story stack high. 1) The video has been online since 2008 and snippets of it were included in a PBS special on the '08 election; 2) David Remnick wrote specifically about Obama's speech about Bell in The Bridge and even noted on page 214 that "his speech concluded, he hugged [Bell] in front of a cheering crowd"; 3) The NY Times reported on Obama's praise for Bell at the rally in 2007; 4) Buzzfeed obtained the video and published it yesterday morning, squashing the Breitbart "scoop"; 5) Derrick Bell was a respected academic, an influential figure in the Civil Rights movement, and nowhere near the dangerous frothing radical the Breitbart team would have us believe; 6) Even if Bell were a dangerous radical, they present zero evidence whatsoever that Obama "believed deeply" in Bell's alleged radicalism; and 7) A hug? Seriously?
That's embarrassing enough, but remember: this is BIG Journalism. And when the journalism is this big, you have to go deeper.
Right-wing media are demonizing the National Council of La Raza in order to object to President Obama's recent appointment of Cecilia Muñoz as director of the Domestic Policy Council, accusing the organization of being an "amnesty" group with "racist" ties. These attacks are not new: Conservatives have long described the civil rights group as "the Ku Klux Klan Of The Hispanic People."
In a post on Andrew Breitbart's BigGovernment.com touting a book titled A Century of Palestinian Rejectionism and Jew Hatred by Sol Stern, Ben Shapiro wrote that President Obama is not an actual Muslim but "an ideological Muslim in the same way Hillary Clinton was an ideological lesbian in her college days."
From Shapiro's post:
Sol is very kind when he writes that President Obama's motives are unclear with regard to his ideological support for Mahmoud Abbas' odd iteration of the Palestinian state-to-be. His motives are absolutely clear. President Obama is not who New York Magazine pretends he is -- he is our first ideologically Muslim president.
That doesn't mean he's a Muslim -- far from it (he's an atheist). He is, however, an ideological Muslim in the same way Hillary Clinton was an ideological lesbian in her college days -- he believes in the geopolitical perspective of the Muslim world, namely that the United States and Israel are responsible for all evil and that if Israel had never existed, the world would be a better place.
The right-wing media is sure that President Obama betrayed Israel and "sided with the terrorists" with his restatement of U.S. policy that the Israelis and Palestinians should come to a peace agreement that results in a "secure Israel" and "viable Palestine" with "borders ... based on the 1967 lines with mutually agreed swaps so that secure and recognized borders are established for both states."
But a funny thing happened. American Jews -- 78 percent of whom voted for Obama in the 2008 election -- didn't immediately rise up against the president. So the conservative media found their next target for attack: American Jews.
On May 23, Glenn Beck called Obama's statement an "absolute betrayal" but said "the Jewish community seems to be giving him a pass yet again ... How is that possible?" One of his sidekicks said the reaction of the Jewish community was "unbelievable."
On May 26, Ben Shapiro published a piece on CNS News arguing that Jews who support Obama are "Jews In Name Only." Shapiro wrote:
In 2008, Obama grabbed 78 percent of the Jewish vote. Even the most wildly optimistic polling today shows that Obama's support remains high among Jews. It's a result that Republicans simply can't understand - why do so many Jews continue to support a president who has shown time and again that he stands against the State of Israel?
The answer is deceptively simple: the Jews who vote for Obama are, by and large, Jews In Name Only (JINOs). They eat bagels and lox; they watch "Schindler's List"; they visit temple on Yom Kippur - sometimes. But they do not care about Israel. Or if they do, they care about it less than abortion, gay marriage and global warming.
And then on May 27, on Andrew Breitbart's BigPeace.com, blogger Dan Friedman trumpeted a Jerusalem Post poll finding low support for President Obama in Israel and declared that "Israeli Jews [Are] Not Nearly As Sick As USA Jews." (I wonder whether Friedman will also turn on Israeli Jews when he sees a Haaretz poll of Israelis finding that "only 20 percent saw [Obama] as hostile" compared to 43 percent who found him "businesslike" and "a quarter [who] described him as friendly.")
American Jews aren't buying the right-wing media's alarmism about Obama's views on Israel, and these media figures would rather attack the Jews than rethink their own arguments.
Right-wing media have claimed that President Obama attacked Israel in his recent restatement of U.S. policy that a peace agreement between Israel and Palestine should be based on the 1967 borders with agreed upon swaps. These criticisms follow a long series of falsehoods, distortions, and smears advanced by the right-wing media to claim that Obama and his administration are anti-Israel or even anti-Semitic.
Obama is the "Girls Gone Wild" president: Stick a lens in front of him and he'll take off his shirt, mince about like a coed, and babble nonsensical nothings to an audience oddly fascinated by his antics.
Wow. That's pretty bad. The verb "mince" is often used as an anti-gay pejorative.
Shapiro then goes on to diagnose the president with what he claims is "clearly a psychological condition," presumably drawing on the extensive psychiatric expertise he developed by staying in a Holiday Inn Express last night:
Obama's desperate need for attention is clearly a psychological condition. He drinks in applause like a washed-up movie star. It is usual for neglected children to develop narcissistic personality disorder (NPD), typically characterized by an inflated sense of self-importance, a strong sense of entitlement, preoccupations with utopian fantasies, elitism, manipulative tendencies and pathological need for praise.
President Obama was abandoned by his parents during childhood. Now he exhibits the textbook symptoms of NPD. He thinks his powers are godlike in import; "I have a gift, Harry," Obama once told Sen. Harry Reid. He believes he is entitled to positions of power and prestige. He has never worked a real job in his life, yet deigns to tell the rest of us that he embodies our hopes and dreams.
Yeah, it's so weird that the President of the United States thinks he's "entitled to positions of power and prestige"! (Or maybe, as President, Obama simply holds a position of power and prestige?) Sadly, running the executive branch of government for the most powerful nation on earth isn't a "real job," according to Townhall columnist Ben Shapiro, whose bio notes he is also "a regular guest on dozens of radio shows around the United States and Canada."
From Ben Shapiro's December 23 syndicated column:
During the 2008 election campaign, Barack Obama repeatedly informed the American people that he would call on the country's best minds to advise him. "You know," he told an audience back in May 2008, "my attitude is that whoever is the best person for the job is the person I want."
Too bad he thinks the best person for the job of secretary of defense is a bisexual, drug-addled talentless Auto-Tune creation with a relentlessly annoying fan base -- full of faux-profound morons who think that fashioning one's hair into a telephone qualifies as high art.
That's right -- Lady Gaga is the de facto secretary of defense.
This week, when the Democratic Senate trashed the Clinton-era "don't ask, don't tell" law designed to prevent homosexual activity and the breakdown of unit cohesion within military ranks, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) shuffled off to his Twitter account to send a note to the sponsor of the legislation: the aforementioned Gaga. "@ladygaga We did it!" Reid tweeted to Gaga, as though Gaga were a senator who had voted on the policy. "#DADT is a thing of the past."
Ms. Gaga -- a noxiously androgynous combination of Madonna, HAL 9000 and the worst of Salvador Dali -- had made it her personal mission to stump for the repeal of "don't ask, don't tell." On Sept. 20, 2010, Gaga made a speech in Maine replete with idiotic misconstructions of the Constitution and vicious slander about our troops (she compared them to the murderers of Matthew Shepard). Worst, she offered not a single argument as to how the repeal of "don't ask, don't tell" would help the military.
In essence, her position was this: she likes homosexuals -- as she should, since she makes her living off of them. All those who feel uncomfortable about showering with homosexuals, being hit on by homosexuals or serving alongside gay couples, who will obviously defend each other before their comrades, are mean and nasty and brutish. Therefore, the military should throw out all of the soldiers who have such legitimate concerns (including 58 percent of front-line troops) in favor of the approximately 0.000188 percent of soldiers who have been discharged for homosexual behavior and/or self-identification.
If this seems like a troubling argument to you, you're sane. If it seems like a strong argument, you're Harry Reid.
With know-nothing conservative columnist Ben Shapiro pretending that deficit reduction can easily be accomplished by cutting nonexistent government funding for small art exhibits, it's refreshing to see Larry Elder take a different approach. Unfortunately, Elder's plan seems to involve selling most of Utah, Nevada, Alaska, Idaho, and Oregon, and a significant portion of many other states.
Think I'm exaggerating? Here's Elder:
we need to raise money. How? Fund current and near-term liabilities by selling federally owned land. The federal government owns more than one-fourth of the land in America.
Elder didn't say who he expects to buy up 80 percent of Nevada. China, maybe?
In any case, Elder doesn't stop at auctioning off the interior West. Everything must go. He wants to sell off the Hoover Dam and "government-run nuclear and other power plants," too. Hey, what's the worst that could happen?
And Elder isn't done yet. He also wants to "shut down" the departments of Energy, Education, Labor, HUD, HHS, Interior and Commerce. Oh, and the EPA. And the IRS.
Elder also suggests a constitutional amendment limiting the federal government's budget to ten percent of GDP, which would be about $1.4 trillion -- or just about enough to cover Defense and Social Security and … well, that's it.
Still: It's refreshing to see a conservative media figure spell out exactly what they mean when they say government is too big. It's certainly more useful than Ben Shapiro's inane claims that the deficit can be reined in by cutting (privately-funded) art exhibits.
Conservative columnist Ben Shapiro thinks it's easy to cut government spending:
We know that it isn't tough to cut spending. This week alone, for example, the federally-funded Smithsonian Institution spent cash stocking its National Portrait Gallery with pictures of Ellen DeGeneres clutching her naked bosom, penises, and nude brothers making out -- all of this in order to show America how gays and lesbians "struggle for justice ... [attempting to] claim their full inheritance in America's promise of equality, inclusion and social dignity."
The Smithsonian does not use government money to fund exhibitions. The exhibit in question was funded by private-sector contributions. And even if it had been funded with government money, its total cost -- $750,000 -- would represent about 0.00002 percent of the federal budget. But, again, the exhibit wasn't funded by the government, which means that in arguing that it's easy to cut spending, Ben Shapiro successfully identified an exhibit that constitutes exactly 0.0 percent of the federal budget. With sharp minds like Shapiro's at work, the deficit will be gone in no time!
(In fairness to Shapiro, he does identify one other supposedly easy way to reduce the budget, complaining that the $1.25 billion in funding for "black farmers who were supposedly discriminated against by the Department of Agriculture" was an unnecessary "racial payoff by liberals to a key constituency." But, in fairness to reality, that's dumb. See, that $1.25 billion was the result of the settlement of a lawsuit, so it wasn't entirely optional. And noted conservatives like Iowa Republican Chuck Grassley pushed for it. And even if it was entirely unnecessary, it constitutes about 0.04 percent of the federal budget.)
Syndicated columnist Ben Shapiro takes to Twitter today to say that "Arabs like to bomb crap and live in open sewage":
Shapiro has previously declared that the Obama administration is "openly anti-Semitic," said that President Obama himself "embodies all the personal characteristics of a fascist leader," and compared White House chief of staff Rahm Emanuel to concentration camp prisoners who worked for the Nazis.
Conservative media outlets have launched another bogus smear on Shirley Sherrod, attacking her participation in a lawsuit charging the U.S. Department of Agriculture with discrimination against African American farmers. In fact, congressional Republicans and a federal judge agree that the USDA discriminated against African American farmers.
From Ben Shapiro's April 28 syndicated column, "An Open Letter to American Jews":
American Jews, I have one request of you: please pull your heads out of your posteriors.
I mean that in all sincerity. Your continued support for Democrats and an administration that is openly anti-Semitic is a disgrace. Your embrace of a party that seeks to hamstring Israel in the name of a wholly fictitious Middle East peace process is contemptible. Your loyalty to a president who consistently sides with Palestinian and Iranian mass murder-supporters is disgusting.
Your backing of a man who has spent his life surrounding himself with the worst anti-Semites America has to offer -- Jeremiah Wright, Rashid Khalidi (former Palestinian terrorist spokesman), Louis Farrakhan ("I don't like the way [Jews] leech on us"), Samantha Power, Robert Malley, to name a few -- is nothing short of reprehensible. Rahm Emanuel's presence in the Obama cabinet doesn't ameliorate Obama's anti-Semitism -- it just provides it convenient cover. Al Sharpton wrongly called Condoleezza Rice and Colin Powell "house negroes"; Emanuel is a kapo.
Dictionary.com defines "kapo" as "a Nazi concentration camp prisoner who was given privileges in return for supervising prisoner work gangs: often a common criminal and frequently brutal to fellow inmates."
Right-wing bloggers and columnists have recently accused President Obama of instigating an "intifada" against Israel through his administration's criticism of Israel's announced plan to expand housing in a section of East Jerusalem or by purportedly "incentiviz[ing] Palestinian Arabs to violent uprising."
From Ben Shapiro's February 10 syndicated column:
The environmentalist frenzy overtaking the Democratic Party and its left allies is just one symptom of a burgeoning anti-democratic wave among liberals. Even as the deep green crowd pushes forward with its anti-technology, anti-liberty agenda, first lady Michelle Obama insists that we now police what inner- city kids eat for dinner. Her "anti-obesity" initiative, spearheaded at LetsMove.gov, suggests that it is our responsibility to "ensure that all families have access to healthy, affordable food in their communities."
What if not all families want healthy food? What if they prefer McDonald's? Surely the Food Police follows hot on the heels of the Green Police-already, liberal politicians are floating "fat taxes" as punishments for businesses that market unhealthy products.
The anti-democratic wave continues with the White House's utter disdain for anyone who disagrees with them on foreign policy. John Brennan, assistant to the president and deputy national security adviser for homeland security and counterterrorism, suggested this week that "Politically motivated criticism and unfounded fear-mongering only serve the goals of al-Qaeda." Hey, wait a second-didn't dissent used to be patriotic?
Then there are the White House's media lackeys, contemptible pseudo-intellectuals like Paul Krugman, who put on the soundtrack to "Apocalypse Now" and wrote this: "We've always known that America's reign as the world's greatest nation would eventually end ... The truth is that given the state of American politics, the way the Senate works is no longer consistent with a functioning government." That's the ticket! When the Dear Leader is in trouble, liberals are eager to dump one of the foundational institutions of republican governance.
The left is crying out for a friendly tyranny, whether it springs from the holsters of the Green Police, the Food Police or the Obama administration. Whenever there is backlash against their agenda, their first solution is to dismiss the people.
To that end, we the people are characterized as stupid, angry and easily manipulated. No doubt, we the people are stupid or angry or easily manipulated sometimes. But we are still the people. And we the people aren't made to be ruled by the iron fist of the know-it-all know-nothings who now occupy our nation's editorial boards and highest offices.
From Ben Shapiro's February 3 syndicated column, headlined "Obama's Philosophically Fascist State of the Union Address":
There sure is something different about President Obama. Usually, the State of the Union address is a laundry list of proposals spiced with sycophantic applause and dipped in an admixture of boredom and bravado. It is rarely a statement of basic philosophy. Not for President Obama.
President Obama's State of the Union address was the greatest American rhetorical embrace of fascist trope since the days of Woodrow Wilson. I am not suggesting Obama is a Nazi; he isn't. I am not suggesting that he is a jackbooted thug; he isn't (even if we could be forgiven for mistaking Rahm Emanuel for one).
President Obama is, however, a man who embodies all the personal characteristics of a fascist leader, right down to the arrogant chin-up head tilt he utilizes when waiting for applause. He sees democracy as a filthy process that can be cured only by the centralized power of bureaucrats. He sees his presidency as a Hegelian synthesis marking the end of political conflict. He sees himself as embodiment of the collective will. No president should speak in these terms—not in a representative republic. Obama does it habitually.
It would be pointless to discuss at length the dictatorial, demagogic nature of much of Obama's address—the attacks on the banking system; the unprecedented personal assault on the Supreme Court justices; the dictatorial demands ("I want a jobs bill on my desk without delay"); the scornful looks and high-handed put-downs directed at his political opponents. It would be even more pointless to discuss the incomprehensible stupidity of Obama's policy proposals. (Export more of our goods? Why didn't anyone else think of that?)
It is worth examining, however, the deeper philosophy evident from Obama's address. From the outset, his speech was an ode to himself.
We are not he. The American spirit is not the Obama spirit. America is not defined by our collective desire to bring about political utopia through abdication of representative democracy to a body of "wise pragmatists." America is defined by Americans—individuals fighting to support their families, to preserve their values and their freedoms. And that Americanism stands in direct opposition not only to the Obama agenda, but also to Obama's vision of himself.