As details about the tragic shooting in Arizona came to light, members of the right-wing media quickly used the fact that Hitler's Mein Kampf was listed as one of Jared Loughner's favorite books as evidence that his politics are "left wing." This characterization coincides with years of effort by Fox News personalities to tie the fascist Nazi regime of Adolf Hitler to progressivism.
From the January 6 edition of Fox News Channel's Special Report:
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Jonah Goldberg claims Republicans really wanted to work with President Obama on last year's stimulus:
Contrary to the spin, many congressional Republicans were either eager to work with the new president or terrified of opposing him. They weren't opposed to a stimulus bill either.
But the White House decided to sign on to the pork-heavy stimulus crafted by Nancy Pelosi and Harry Reid, without GOP input -- "We won the election. We wrote the bill," Pelosi boasted -- thus blowing up Obama's still-plausible image as a bipartisan president and emboldening the Republicans to oppose the stimulus, which also left them free to run against the sinking "Obama economy."
This is simply a lie. Republican ideas were incorporated into the stimulus bill. Senator Chuck Grassley, for example, added a $70 billion AMT provision. And provisions Republicans opposed were removed. The fact is, the stimulus was smaller and more focused on tax cuts than many economists thought was wise -- and both the size and composition of the stimulus were, in part, efforts to incorporate Republican priorities.
From the December 6 edition of Fox News' Special Report with Bret Baier:
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In her new book America by Heart, Sarah Palin (egregiously) crops a quote from President Obama about American exceptionalism and then offers the observation that it "reminds me of that great scene in the movie The Incredibles":
Astonishingly, President Obama even said that he believes in American exceptionalism in the same way "the Brits believe in British exceptionalism and the Greeks believe in Greek exceptionalism." Which is to say, he doesn't believe in American exceptionalism at all. He seems to think it is just a kind of irrational prejudice in favor of our way of life. To me, that is appalling.
His statement reminds me of that great scene in the movie The Incredibles. Dash, the son in the superhero family, who is a super-fast runner, wants to try out for the track team at school. His mom claims it won't be fair. "Dad always said our powers were nothing to be ashamed of. Our powers made us special!" Dash objects. When his mom answers with the politically correct rejoinder "Everyone's special, Dash," Dash mutters, "Which is another way of saying no one is." [Page 69]
Palin's writing is strikingly similar to Jonah Goldberg's November 9 syndicated column -- presumably written after Palin finished her book -- in which he says Obama's quote "reminded me of the wonderful scene in Pixar's 'The Incredibles'":
Last year, when asked if he believed in American exceptionalism, President Obama responded, "I believe in American exceptionalism, just as I suspect that the Brits believe in British exceptionalism and the Greeks believe in Greek exceptionalism."
This reminded me of the wonderful scene in Pixar's "The Incredibles," in which the mom says "everyone's special" and her son replies, "Which is another way of saying no one is."
But at least the president made room for the sentiment that America is a special place, even if he chalked it up to a kind of benign provincialism.
If you think this is just a coincidence -- hey, great minds think alike! -- consider one other piece of information: In her acknowledgements section, Palin offers a "special thanks to the brilliant, independent self-starter who got her start in Alaska, Jessica Gavora. Thank you for your most important work on America by Heart." Gavora is the wife of Jonah Goldberg; Goldberg recently tweeted that his wife "worked with Sarah Palin on her new book."
I contacted Goldberg for comment on the similarities, but have not heard back. I will post his comment if he does reply.
After sitting for a three-hour interview with C-SPAN on November 7, National Review's Jonah Goldberg wrote two posts on National Review Online complaining about progressives who called into C-SPAN to question him.
In one post, he complained that there "was a significant share of stupidity and asininity from some callers, but much less than I had any right to expect." In a second post, he claimed that "a plurality of the lefty callers were simply obsessed with race," claimed that "many liberals ... can't conceive of the idea that their ideological opponents aren't racists," and called another progressive caller "a jerk."
Goldberg also seemed upset that someone would mention Media Matters for America to him, writing: "I suspect that one or two of them were professionally invested in the topic (the guy who plugged FAIR and Media Matters smelled like a seminar caller to me)."
I haven't listened to the whole three-hour interview, but it's hard to think that these callers could possibly have been more defamatory to conservatives than Goldberg is to progressives. After all, Goldberg has written a book called Liberal Fascism: The Secret History of the American Left, From Mussolini to the Politics of Meaning, has claimed that "you can draw a line, but it's not a straight one" from Mussolini to Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama, and has suggested that Hitler was a liberal.
You could probably construct a more brazenly hypocritical argument than Jonah Goldberg's latest rant about liberals if you tried, but you'd really have to work at it.
Responding to a column by the Washington Post's Anne Applebaum, Goldberg writes that "the simple fact is that the objections offered by the anti-elitists right now have almost nothing to do with Ivy League education. Fair or not, to the extent the Ivy League comes up it is as a codeword or symbol for the agenda of progressives." And Goldberg spells out what these "anti-elitists" on the Right dislike about the progressive agenda:
Applebaum doesn't seem to comprehend that it is not status-class anxiety that is driving the main critique of the elite. It is that this particular elite is hellbent on bossing the country around that will make America less meritocratic.
To date, I've seen not one instance of Tea Partiers denouncing engineers, physicists, cardiologists, accountants, biologist, archeologists or a thousand other professions who've emerged from elite schools. Because those people aren't bossing anybody around.
Got that? Conservative "anti-elitists" dislike the "elite" because it is a bunch of liberals "hellbent on bossing the country around." Goldberg italicizes "bossing … around" twice, so it's pretty clear he thinks this is his key point.
But it's an absolutely stupid point. In this context, "bossing people around" is just a negative term for "leading." Every politician's agenda can be disparaged as "bossing people around" if you don't like what they're trying to do.
If "bossing people around" is the complaint, where's the conservative outrage over a governing elite telling two loving adults that they can't get married? Where's the conservative outrage over a governing elite telling a Marine that, unlike his peers, he'll be fired if he publicly acknowledges his relationship status?
You won't find clearer examples of "bossing people around" on any progressive agenda. And so it is obvious that Goldberg's claim that conservative "anti-elitists" dislike liberals because liberals are "hellbent on bossing the country around" is bunk. The Right's complaint isn't that the Left wants to boss people around, it's that it doesn't like what the Left wants to do. And they have every right to dislike it. But dressing that dislike up, as Goldberg does, as some principled commitment to individual liberty is simply dishonest. Or dumb. Or both. With Goldberg, it's hard to tell.
(Goldberg himself wrote in 2008 that gay marriage is "likely inevitable and won't be nearly the disaster many of my fellow conservatives fear it will be" and on December 31, 2009 (via Nexis) that it should be delayed, which basically means that he's in favor of bossing people around for the sake of bossing them around.)
In other words, it is the agenda of a very specific and very self-styled elite, not the existence of an elite that is pissing so many people off. Some of the angriest and most dedicated people I meet at Tea Party events are quite wealthy and successful, often with shiny educations equal to Applebaum's.
So, basically, wealthy and successful people who are used to bossing others around resent being bossed around themselves. And Jonah Goldberg thinks this is a principled objection to people bossing people around. Got it.
And Goldberg provides this hilarious example of projection:
[I]t's only one subset of Ivy Leaguers that seems to bother anybody on the right: the lawyer-social engineers-journalist-activists they churn out by the boatload. No one begrudges kids who've made good from tough backgrounds. What bothers lots of Americans is when those kids then think they are entitled to cajole, nudge, command and denigrate the rest of America.
When did you last hear a prominent liberal politician denigrate "ignorant bible-thumping rubes in Kansas?" Probably back on the Fifth of Never, right? But conservative politicians suggest that effete, godless coastal elites aren't "Real Americans" all the time. Goldberg himself refers to liberals as "filthy hippies," to pick one of many slurs. But in Jonah Goldberg's fantasy world of paranoia and oppression, it is liberals who denigrate the rest of America.
If you ever catch yourself thinking Jonah Goldberg is completely useless, just remember that in his attacks on liberals, he provides convenient reminders of the flaws of conservatives.
New York GOP gubernatorial candidate Carl Paladino recently said he didn't want children "brainwashed into thinking that homosexuality is an equally valid and successful option" as "getting married and raising a family." Right-wing pundits have since defended his remarks, calling his comments "dead on the money," "defensible," and "[not] bad at all."
From the October 11 edition of Fox News' Special Report with Bret Baier:
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From the October 8 broadcast of Fox News' Fox & Friends:
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What is wrong with these people?
That's a refrain that goes through my brain many times each week, and I'm sure goes through the minds of my Media Matters colleagues as we monitor the right-wing media and continue to be dumbstruck by what passes for content. Granted, players there have never gotten bogged down in details, and have rarely let the facts get in the way of a good, liberal-hating yarn. This is, after all, a team that's led onto the field everyday by a chronic liar, Rush Limbaugh.
So the bar has never been set very high. But since Obama's Inauguration, there has been a frightening, wholesale change within the oxymoronic world known as "conservative journalism."
Bottom line: There's no adult supervision, which allows the likes of James O'Keefe to rush to the front of the right-wing media line. And to be honest, he doesn't look that out of place standing along side such committed fabricators as Glenn Beck or Pam Geller or Jim Hoft or Andrew Breitbart, or Fill In the Blank for whomever is making right-wing headlines these days describing Obama in the most fanatical and hateful way possible.
This is what the right-wing media now looks like. It looks like O'Keefe and his reportedly skeevy plan to lure a reporter into some pseudo sex den for a gotcha punk. It looks like Glenn Beck warning about progressive "killers" who loom on the horizon. And it sounds like Rush Limbaugh spitting out "Ayatollah Obama," when referring to the President of the United States on the AM dial
And folks, that's just from just this week.
I see that handful of conservative activists and media voices have offered up tsk-tsking condemnations of O'Keefe's latest tale. (But not mentor Breitbart. His Big Journalism bloggers remained uniformly mum about the O'Keefe fiasco on Wednesday.) And I assume those handful of conservative O'Keefe critics are embarrassed by his actions, embarrassed that he's viewed as an influential young gun in right-wing media circles, and embarrassed that Breitbart once lobbied for a Pulitzer Prize on O'Keefe's behalf.
But allegedly planning to lure a reporter onto a floating sex palace in order to surreptitiously film an uncomfortable seduction, is precisely what you get when a movement announces there no rules, when there are no adults around to oversee things, and there's not even a minimal expectation for coherency. It's what you get when inmates run the media asylum. So nobody should be surprised.
From the September 15 edition of Fox News' Fox & Friends:
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Right-wing media have frequently cited Bjorn Lomborg to downplay the danger of global warming. In his forthcoming book, Lomborg will reportedly declare global warming a "chief concern facing the world today" and recommend spending $100 billion annually on clean energy technology financed by a global carbon emissions tax.
From the August 24 edition of Fox News' Special Report:
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Propose a law or government regulation aimed at protecting the environment, and it's a safe bet that the right-wing media will respond by blasting intrusive "nanny state" policies that tell people how to live instead of letting them decide for themselves, and insisting that if people really care about the environment, the glorious free market will take care of it.
When Washington DC, for example, instituted a plastic bag tax designed to reduce number of bags clogging local rivers and streams, the good folks at Fox News denounced the measure as "downright ridiculous."
Now, I don't tend to agree with the claims that the free market will take care of all of our problems, or that the government discouraging the use of environmentally-destructive products is an unbearable infringement on individual liberty. But at least those positions are understandable. They don't (necessarily) indicate a hatred for the planet.
But what happens when the market provides environmentally-friendly products, and individuals make the decision to purchase those products? The right heaps derision upon them.
Just this morning, Glenn Beck & Co. mocked reusable grocery bags. Not, mind you, governmentally-mandated reusable grocery bags -- the bags themselves, and the people who use them. See, "real men" don't use them; they use "as much plastic as possible."
Then there's the Toyota Prius. For some reason, conservative media figures are blinded by rage whenever they encounter a Prius.
Confirming her membership in Manhattan's liberal elite, Katie Couric boasted on Tuesday's Late Show that she plans to follow Tom Friedman's admonition, that in refusing to move away from oil "we have met the enemy and he is us," and so she's realized she "should" buy a Toyota Prius, the favorite of conspicuously superior liberals, or at least a hybrid. Couric recounted how her daughter told her "'we should turn in the car we have' and 'get a Prius or a hybrid.' And I said, 'you know, Ellie, we should do that.' And we're going to look into it."
What the heck? Did a Prius run over Brent Bozell's dog? What's wrong with a private citizen deciding she should buy a fuel-efficient car?
I'm starting to think the right-wing media doesn't love free markets so much as they hate the environment. How else to explain their gleeful mockery of individual decisions to use reusable plastic bags and drive fuel-efficient cars?