What is it about President Obama's inaugurations that bring out the craziest of the right-wing crazies?
Four years ago, Obama's historic swearing-in sparked months' worth of teeth-chattering paranoia, trumpeted by the conservative media, about how the new Democratic president posed a mortal threat to America and that drastic action might need to be taken.
In 2009, a far-right Newsmax columnist determined that a "military coup "to resolve the 'Obama problem'" was not "unrealistic." That's about the same time Glenn Beck used his then-new program on Fox News to game out bloody scenarios for the coming civil war against the Obama-led tyranny. Note that the armed rebellion rhetoric was uncorked just weeks after Obama's first cabinet had been confirmed.
Now, four years later as Obama's second swearing-in approaches, the same misguided insurrectionist pageantry is back on display. (The fringe John Birch Society is probing the likelihood of "armed resistance" against the government -- "an unlikely prospect, for now at least.") And this time, Adolf Hitler stars in a leading role.
In fact, there's a disturbing collision now underway featuring two signature, conservative paranoid fantasies. One holds that Obama is like Hitler; that he's a tyrant ready to undo democracy at home. The other is that Americans need access to an unregulated supply of assault weapons in order to fight their looming insurrectionist war with the government.
In the last week we've heard more and more conservatives try to tie the two wild tales together: Obama's allegedly pending gun grab will prove he's just like Hitler, which will demonstrate the need for citizens to declare war on the government.
Ignoring nearly 250 years of our democratic history, conservative voices across the media landscape have been nodding their heads in agreement suggesting it's only a matter of time before the United States resembles a tyrannical dictatorship that will be either fascistic or Stalinist in nature (or both, if the rhetorician feels no obligation to historical accuracy).
So much for the notion of American exceptionalism -- "the conviction that our country holds a unique place and role in human history" -- that conservatives love to preach.
Another Fox News contributor is thinking of making a run for office as a Republican.
Fox News contributor Dr. Keith Ablow is reportedly considering running for John Kerry's Massachusetts Senate seat in the event Kerry is confirmed as the next secretary of state. Ablow, who has a long history of making outrageous (often anti-gay) comments, is the latest in a long line of conservatives who have attempted to use their Fox News platform as a springboard into political office.
According to a report in the Boston Herald, Ablow released a statement indicating he would be open to "seriously" considering a senate run if neither Scott Brown nor William Weld run for Kerry's seat:
Ablow, 51, of Newbury, who state records show has supported the campaigns of Republican candidates for office, including Charlie Baker's failed 2010 run for governor, could not immediately be reached for comment this morning, but in a statement said: "The dysfunction in Washington and the tragedy in Newtown, Connecticut are both signs this country needs help, and, if neither William Weld nor Scott Brown is the candidate to bring that help from Massachusetts to Washington, I will take those who have asked me to run much more seriously.
"It is time, on so many levels, for real leadership based on the truth," he added.
Ablow is a member of the "Fox News Medical A-Team," and a regular columnist for FoxNews.com.
From the November 28 edition of Fox News' Fox & Friends:
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From the October 14 edition of Fox News' Fox & Friends Sunday:
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From the October 3 edition of Fox News' Fox & Friends First:
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From the July 11 edition of Fox News' Fox & Friends:
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Anti-gay groups and LGBT activists alike have spent the past few days arguing over a new study which allegedly finds that children of gay parents are worse off than the children of married, heterosexual parents. The study – conducted by associate sociology professor Mark Regnerus – has been the subject of intense criticism because of its deeply flawed methodology and misleading conclusions.
Lost in the debate, however, has been a discussion of what proponents of the study are actually suggesting about same-sex parents. If the study is correct, what do anti-gay activists believe it proves about gay people in general?
One of the study's most disturbing findings is that children with gay parents reported significantly higher rates of sexual abuse – including rape – by parents or adult figures as kids than children raised by married, heterosexual parents. It's unclear why rates of abuse differ between the two groups, but anti-gay activists have touted the finding as evidence of the long-disproven "gays are pedophiles" myth.
American Family Association (AFA) spokesman Bryan Fischer cited the study as evidence that allowing gay couples to adopt is "a form of sexual abuse." Peter LaBarbera of Americans for Truth About Homosexuality (AFTAH) referenced the study while arguing "you're more likely basically to get molested in a household led by two lesbians."
The claim that gays and lesbians are more likely to molest children than heterosexuals is one of the oldest and most damaging myths about homosexuality in American politics. It's the kind of homophobic propaganda that usually distinguishes typical anti-gay organizations from actual anti-gay hate groups. It's not all that surprising, then, that groups like AFA and AFTAH are so eager to promote the Regnerus study.
What's disturbing about the reaction to the study, though, is how widely it's been embraced by "moderate" anti-gay activists and organizations that have typically shied away from this kind of rhetoric. The National Organization for Marriage (NOM) has offered its enthusiastic endorsement of the study, as have Fox News' Dr. Keith Ablow, National Review Online's Ed Whelan, Focus on the Family, the New Jersey Family Policy Council, and others.
The biggest problem with Regenerus' study isn't just that it's junk science – it's that it gives mainstream conservatives a license to promote one of the most extreme anti-gay smears imaginable under the guise of advancing legitimate scientific inquiry.
When all is said and done, Regnerus' study won't end up providing any useful information about the impact of same-sex parenting. It will, however, reveal volumes about those who are so aggressively championing it.
Fox News' resident anti-LGBT pop-psychologist Dr. Keith Ablow published a column on Tuesday defending a flawed new study that found that children raised by married, heterosexual parents are better off than children raised by a variety of families that include a gay parent. Praising the study for its objectivity and scientific rigor, Ablow wrote:
The "no differences" theory that children of gay parents -- married or not -- do not substantially differ from the children of married, heterosexual parents has now been called into question.
In reality, the study -- authored by associate sociology professor Mark Regnerus -- has already come under widespread criticism for its misleading comparisons, arbitrary population samples, and generally abysmal methodology. Regnerus himself has spent a good chunk of this week attempting to explain away his study's glaring shortcomings. And he even admitted that none of his data can actually be used to make a judgment about whether same-sex parents are better or worse than heterosexual parents.
Despite the study's obvious shortcomings -- and the fact that it's already being misused by anti-gay groups -- Ablow warned against "silencing such research," adding that he refused to be "bullied" out of searching for the "truth" about how LGBT parents affect children:
On Friday, the New York Times published a story profiling Dr. Robert L. Spitzer, a prominent psychiatrist who recently retracted and apologized for a study he conducted in 2003 which purported to demonstrate that some people actually could change their sexual orientation through therapy. In a recent letter to Dr. Ken Zucker, the editor of the journal that published Spitzer's study, Spitzer wrote:
I believe I owe the gay community an apology for my study making unproven claims of the efficacy of reparative therapy. I also apologize to any gay person who wasted time and energy undergoing some form of reparative therapy because they believed that I had proven that reparative therapy works with some "highly motivated" individuals.
With Spitzer's apology, perhaps the last iota of 'credible' scientific evidence for the belief that gays and lesbians can be 'cured' of their homosexuality has vanished. Unfortunately, few of the news networks that touted Spitzer's study in 2003 have covered its retraction.
In fact, the belief that a person's sexual orientation or gender identity can be changed is still alive and well at Fox News thanks to the work of Dr. Keith Ablow - a member of network's "Medical A-Team."
Ablow is notorious for peddling the false idea that children might decide to identify as transgender if they see a happy transgender person - like Dancing with the Stars' Chaz Bono - on television. He's also suggested that using pink nail polish and having same-sex parents might similarly cause children to abandon their gender identity. He's been open about his belief that transgender people are suffering from "psychotic delusions" and should be encouraged, through therapy, to identify as their biological sex.
Ablow has also voiced his support for the claim that homosexuality is a product of environmental factors and, as a result, can be changed or reversed. In the past year alone, Ablow has argued that:
And last week, Ablow condemned the American Psychiatric Association (APA) for declassifying Ego-Dystonic Homosexuality (EDH) as a mental illness in 1987. EDH, which was the diagnosis given to people who were distressed by their same-sex attractions, continues to play an important role in the pseudoscientific research produced by modern "ex-gay" groups today.
Although Ablow has thus far avoided explicitly condoning "ex-gay" therapy, he's provided all of the allegedly 'expert' medical opinion one would need to buy into the myth that LGBT people can be 'cured': LGBT people made a choice, they're LGBT because of bad parenting, their identities can be influenced by external factors, etc.
So while Spitzer's apology seems to have left reparative therapy in critical condition, over at Fox News, the doctor is in.
From the May 17 edition of Fox Business' Lou Dobbs Tonight:
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Fox News contributor and psychiatrist Dr. Keith Ablow has a weekly segment on Fox & Friends called "Normal or Nuts," in which he takes viewers' emails about their odd traits and then declares them either "normal" or "nuts." Usually these complaints fall into the category of personality quirks; for example, today's segment included a viewer asking if it was normal to have a crush on her sister's husband. But one of the emails this morning took an odd turn, when a viewer asked if it was normal that they were planning to "move to a doomsday unit in case of an attack." The viewer went on to describe their "safety silo" as having "space to store dry food for years" and being able to "run on wind power."
After co-host Gretchen Carlson read the email, which concluded with the viewer asking if the "safety silo" was "just craziness," Ablow reassured the viewer that, while he wished he could call the viewer "nuts," it made sense because a group of unnamed wealthy people had a plan to flee the country "in case things get so wildly out of control with the government taking over that there's no individual liberty left":
CARLSON (reading question): OK. I may move to a doomsday unit in case of an attack, my new home will have 9 foot thick concrete walls, run on wind power, and with space to store dry food for years. Is a safety silo just craziness?
ABLOW: No, you know, I wish it were. I honestly wish it were. I wish I could sit here and say, "Boy, that's so crazy." But I got to tell you, people with lots of money, they must be really crazy, because they're getting houses outside this country to flee to in case things get so wildly out of control with the government taking control that there's no individual liberty left. So this isn't craziness, but the question is wouldn't you rather build walls of steel in your character? That's never vulnerable.
From the April 16 edition of Fox Business' Varney & Co.:
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It's taken Fox News' resident pseudoscientist Keith Ablow less than twenty-four hours to come up with a diagnosis for Democratic strategist Hilary Rosen, whose comments about Ann Romney's work experience sparked controversy Wednesday night.
His expert opinion: Rosen is an "anti-gender" "hater" who despises femininity and stay-at-home moms.
In an April 12 column for FoxNews.com, Ablow wrote:
Top Democratic strategist Hilary Rosen provided a clear psychological window on women who despise other women when she showed gut-level contempt for Ann Romney -- describing her as "never having worked a day in her life."
These "anti-gender" women have it in for anyone who embraces her femininity, maternal instincts and capacity to nurture as their highest priority -- postponing or passing up other laudable opportunities to work at, say, a law firm or as a marketing executive. They despise the notion that some women may indeed be drawn -- instinctively and happily -- toward creating special and loving environments in which to raise their children, while spending all their available time sustaining and enriching those environments and those children.
Women who are happy raising families don't have much "cred" with Rosen or, for that matter, President Obama, because Rosen and Obama resonate only with those who carry the flag of the disenfranchised and abused. Anyone who thrives in an American company or American home, while proud and happy with any element of traditional American values, must be a hopeless automaton or relic of the oppressive past. [emphasis added]
At first glance, the column bears all the marks of a typical piece of Ablow pop-psychology:
His column takes a turn for the worse once he decides to bring up Rosen's sexual orientation. According to Ablow, Rosen's comments are "ironic" since she – as a lesbian raising twins with her partner – should be supportive of women raising children:
Hilary Rosen vilifying women who choose to be stay-at-home wives and mothers is particularly ironic, given that she has chosen an alternative lifestyle raising twins with a female partner, meaning no father-figure is present in her home. To enjoy the benefits of her alternative lifestyle while denigrating the lifestyle of Ann Romney shows that her seemingly infinite bandwidth for alternative lifestyles flows in one direction: only alternative. [emphasis added]
The real irony is that Ablow's (barely coherent) argument undermines the premise of the rest of his column – that Rosen despises femininity and the "feminine role." In fact, Ablow himself has frequently (and inaccurately) theorized that lesbian parents have a "discomfort with masculinity," even encouraging their male children to identify as transgender in order to be "like both of them." If Ablow's ridiculous theories about lesbians are true, it seems unlikely that Rosen's comments were motivated by a hatred of femininity.
The reality, of course, is that none of Ablow's theories are based on any kind of accepted or legitimate psychological research. As usual, his column amounts to little more than a right-wing diatribe disguised as credible medical expertise.
From the April 5 edition of Fox Business' Lout Dobbs Tonight:
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Right-wing media have attacked President Obama for his recent comments about shooting victim Trayvon Martin and his family, accusing Obama of "inject[ing]" himself into the debate using "racial code" and claiming that his statement is evidence that "he's got it in for this country."