From the January 4 edition of MSNBC's The Rachel Maddow Show:
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Conservative media are attacking the prospect of Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI) running for Speaker of the House, claiming Ryan supports "open borders," compromised with Democrats on spending, and supported President Obama's trade deal.
Republican presidential candidate Ben Carson's controversial comment -- that the number of people killed in the Holocaust "would have been greatly diminished if the people had been armed" -- echoes an old conservative media talking point that has long been condemned as "historically inaccurate."
Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump's campaign launch speech viciously denigrated Mexican immigrants and strongly split conservative media figures on his candidacy. While some argue Trump is a "rodeo clown," others think he is "saying things that need to be said." Several conservatives disagree with Trump's rhetoric but claim he's raising important issues.
Conservative columnist Morgan Brittany thinks the recent unrest in Baltimore may be a "set-up" and that President Obama might "have to institute martial law to preserve order, form a national police force and postpone the 2016 elections" if the police officers charged in Freddie Gray's death are acquitted.
In her new column for conspiracy website WND, Brittany announces that "something is not right" and speculates, "I don't think the chaos in Baltimore 'just happened'; I think it was planned and is the next step in the breakdown of our society."
Brittany laments that Obama "was supposed to be the one to unite all Americans and heal the divide, but instead, he did everything he could to turn the heat up and make sure the divide became wider." According to Brittany, the president has "inserted himself into every controversy that had a racial component" and "always took the side of the African-American." Following news of Gray's death, Brittany argues, "The leaders of chaos rushed to take advantage of that situation and all hell broke loose."
After suggesting that charges filed against police officers allegedly involved in Gray's death are an "overreach," Brittany pondered whether Obama would react to potential acquittals by imposing martial law, an idea she grants is "maybe" crazy:
So she and all of the people involved in making that decision have possibly created an even bigger problem. If indeed after all of the evidence and testimony is given in this case and the officers are acquitted, what then? I predict at that point the lid will blow off, and we will have another Rodney King situation.
From now until the verdict in this trial, the agitators will continue to travel and communicate city to city, town to town, stirring up unrest and hate, keeping people on edge waiting to see the result of this cliff-hanger. If the verdict is not what they want, perhaps Obama will have to institute martial law to preserve order, form a national police force and postpone the 2016 elections.
Crazy? Maybe, but we are on the edge in this country. Attacks are coming from all sides, from inside and outside of our borders, and we are becoming overwhelmed. What happens when Baltimore spreads across the country and our television screens show four or five cities burning at once? Who will we turn to at that point? "One Nation under God" - we need Him now more than ever.
Last year, Brittany speculated in a column that the Obama administration may have been orchestrating Ebola and other crises in order to declare martial law and seize people's guns.
Brittany's column shares today's WND opinion page with a column from newly-announced presidential candidate Ben Carson, which warns of the dangers of an EMP attack. The day he announced his candidacy, Carson published a WND piece pitching readers on what he will "accomplish as president."
Conservative media are criticizing the Minnesota State High School League for adopting a policy that will allow transgender student athletes to play on the sports teams that correspond with their gender identity, warning that the policy will cause gender confusion, inappropriate behavior in locker rooms, and unfairness for female athletes. But officials from athletic leagues across the country haven't reported problems since enacting similar trans-inclusive policies.
On December 4, the Minnesota State High School League voted overwhelmingly to adopt a policy that would allow transgender students to participate on the athletic teams that correspond to their gender identity.
The policy was approved despite a right-wing misinformation campaign which tried to derail the measure by stoking fears about female locker rooms and student privacy. That campaign was led by the extreme Minnesota Child Protection League, which produced ads warning that trans-inclusive athletic teams would cause the "END OF GIRLS' SPORTS" and allow boys to take showers with girls. Those talking points were echoed by conservative media outlets including Fox News, Townhall, and WorldNetDaily. An unhinged article in The Federalist warned that the policy would be "psychologically destabilizing" and "encourage children to reject their bodies." The policy's adoption has only fanned the flames of conservative media outrage.
But Minnesota is hardly the first state to allow transgender student athletes to play on the teams they feel comfortable with. School athletic leagues across the country have had similar policies for transgender students in place for years without experiencing the problems predicted by conservative activists.
A columnist for conspiracy site WND asked whether the Obama administration has "orchestrated" Ebola and other crises in order to declare "martial law" and seize everyone's guns.
In recent weeks, conservative media figures have used the Ebola story to attack the Obama administration with twisted criticism, with radio host Michael Savage going so far as to suggest the administration was hoping to "infect the nation." Now Morgan Brittany, actress and host of conservative online show PolitiChicks, ponders in her WND column, "What If The Conspiracy Theories Are True?"
Writing about a dinner party she attended in "the heart of Los Angeles" with a crowd that "would never want to be thought of as conservative," Brittany describes how the attendees were skeptical of recent government statements about Ebola and other issues, and claimed "everything that has come out of Washington has been misleading or an out and out lie."
According to Brittany, the attendees questioned "Why is there no urgency to stop the disease from entering the U.S.?" She explains the conversation then "veered into conspiracy territory," including concerns about what Brittany called "$1 billion worth of disposable FEMA coffins":
Upon hearing this latest evidence of the incompetence permeating our government, the conversation veered into conspiracy territory. One of the men brought up the fact that Washington has known for months if not years that we were at risk for some sort of global pandemic. According to a government supplier of emergency products, the Disaster Assistance Response Team was told to be prepared to be activated in the month of October for an outbreak of Ebola. Hmm, that's just like the fact that they knew 60,000 illegal children were going to be coming across our southern border eight months before it happened.
Questions were then brought up about the stockpiling of ammunition and weapons by Homeland Security over the past couple of years and the $1 billion worth of disposable FEMA coffins supposedly stored in Georgia. Why was there preparation being made for FEMA camps to house people in isolation? These were the questions being seriously discussed.
For the record, the "disposable FEMA coffins" Brittany warns of "have nothing to do with FEMA or any other agency of the U.S. government, and they were around long before Barack Obama was first elected to the presidency of the U.S. in 2008." According to Snopes, a private company that sells plastic containers called grave liners stored the containers outdoors. An image of the containers circulated online and "gave rise to wild conspiracy theories" that have been circulating online for years.
Brittany concludes by lamenting how people have lost trust in government because of supposed dishonesty, which creates a situation where "theories begin to emerge about all sorts of things." She adds, "My fear is that this has all been orchestrated from the very beginning," possibly so that "guns can be seized":
Recent polls show that there is a crisis of confidence among the people. When the people lose all trust in their government because of the lies they have been told over and over again, theories begin to emerge about all sorts of things. We desperately need someone to rebuild the trust and restore faith in this government. The damage that has been done is almost irreparable.
My fear is that this has all been orchestrated from the very beginning. Who knows? Maybe the current administration needs this to happen so martial law can be declared, guns can be seized and the populace can be controlled. Once that happens ... game over.
Last month, Brittany was hosted on Fox & Friends to plug her new book, What Women Really Want.
WND has long been a cesspool of wild conspiracy theories. The site has for years led the charge claiming President Obama lacks an authentic birth certificate and has featured columns suggesting the 2012 shooting in Sandy Hook was staged.
An article published in WorldNetDaily blames the acceptance of homosexuality for creating a "slippery slope" to the popularization of incest, citing the popular HBO series Game Of Thrones as evidence.
In a July 23 post titled "Next Stop On Slippery Slope: Incest," notorious anti-LGBT activist Michael Brown warned that the acceptance of homosexuality had created a "slippery slope" towards "sexual anarchy" and the normalization of incest:
Gay activists constantly tell us that there's no such thing as a slippery moral slope and that the acceptance of homosexuality will not lead to the acceptance of other sexual practices, such as incest. The facts prove otherwise, and it is clear that we are rapidly sliding down the very slope whose existence they deny.
As I continually chart our society's moral free fall, the term that best describes our current condition is sexual anarchy, where men can have sex with men just as well with women, where sex outside of wedlock is just as acceptable as sex within wedlock, where marriage doesn't necessarily mean monogamy and where longstanding social taboos are cast off.
In their zeal to justify homosexual practice, these misguided teachers have opened the door wide to incest as well, removing the primary biblical texts that prohibit these sexual unions.
Society as a whole needs to take heed as well. If we don't reverse our slide down this slippery moral slope, we will soon crash and burn.
Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) has again dipped into the fringes of the conservative media for support. The Washington Post reported that Paul is building a national network to potentially support a 2016 presidential run, and is using Fritz Wenzel as his pollster.
Wenzel is a birther who has called President Obama an "imposter," and teamed up with conspiracy site WND to push dubious polling about the president's birth certificate. In addition to promoting conspiracy theories, Wenzel is also an objectively poor pollster. He has a long history of offering wild electoral predictions, prompting Slate reporter Dave Weigel to dub him the "pollster that's always wrong."
Wenzel's WND polling isn't limited to birtherism. WND articles about his polls carry headlines like, "AMERICANS WANT 'GAY' LESSONS BANISHED"; "POLL: SEEDS OF TYRANNY PRESENT IN AMERICA"; "ANSWER TO BENGHAZI OBFUSCATION? IMPEACHMENT"; and "POLL: PALIN WOULD STIR UP EVEN DEMOCRATIC PRIMARY" (a poll that claimed Palin would be competitive against Obama in a Democratic primary).
Wenzel's problematic history means the media should treat his polling and analysis skeptically as Paul ramps up his presidential efforts.
The website of Wenzel Strategies touts an endorsement from Paul, who states: "Fritz Wenzel and Wenzel Strategies played a crucial role in my [Senate] election victory ... He is smart, swift, great to work with, and provides top-quality work. I would recommend him to any political campaign." Wenzel was also the pollster for Ron Paul's 2012 presidential campaign.
Paul's birther pollster is his latest connection to fringe conservative media. Last year Jack Hunter resigned from Paul's Senate office after his "neo-Confederate" and "pro-secessionist" punditry (including defenses of Lincoln assassin John Wilkes Booth) surfaced. Hunter co-wrote Paul's 2011 book, and also appeared in The Daily Caller and on Fox Business. Paul has also repeatedly appeared on the program of leading 9/11 conspiracy theorist Alex Jones. Paul used Jones' program as a publicity and fundraising platform during his U.S. Senate campaign, and Jones was an enthusiastic and active supporter of his candidacy.
Conservative news outlets are hyping a minor website change to suggest that the FBI is distancing itself from the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) - a group that monitors hate speech and violence - in response to criticism from anti-gay organizations. But the FBI has issued a statement debunking that narrative and continues to publicly touts its partnership with SPLC on its website.
On March 26, Washington Examiner reporter Paul Bedard asserted that the FBI was ending its relationship with SPLC, noting that a link to the group had been scrubbed from the FBI's Hate Crime "resources" page and calling it a "significant rejection of the influential legal group":
The Southern Poverty Law Center, which has labeled several Washington, D.C.-based family organizations as "hate groups" for favoring traditional marriage, has been dumped as a "resource" on the FBI's Hate Crime Web page, a significant rejection of the influential legal group.
The Web page scrubbing, which also included eliminating the Anti-Defamation League, was not announced and came in the last month after 15 family groups pressed Attorney General Eric Holder and FBI Director James Comey to stop endorsing a group -- SPLC -- that inspired a recent case of domestic terrorism at the Family Research Council.
The FBI had no comment and offered no explanation for its decision to end their website's relationship with the two groups, leaving just four federal links as hate crime "resources." The SPLC had no comment.
The conservatives behind some of the worst political smear campaigns have started a super PAC.
Takeover Super PAC is backed by a team that includes Joseph Farah, founder of the fringe conspiracy site WND; Jerome Corsi, a leading member of the Swift Boat and birther campaigns; and Floyd Brown, producer of the racist Willie Horton ads.
The group says it will "win elections and take our country back from the liberals and socialists" and exhorts potential donors, "If you're tired to [sic] putting your money to work for turncoats and traitors, join us." Takeover claims liberals want to eliminate the right to privacy, the Second Amendment, religion, want to "permanently enslave the American people" with Obamacare and entitlements, and ultimately desire "a tyrannical dictatorship."
In a fundraising email announcing the PAC, Farah stated that he's "not giving my money to the RNC any longer. I'm not giving a dime to Karl Rove's Tea Party-hating PAC, and I'm not supporting spineless Republicans who lead us down the same liberal roads. I'm giving my money to Takeover Super PAC." Farah and other conservatives have been feuding with Rove, a fight that intensified when the former Bush adviser launched an effort to protect Republicans against tea party challengers.
The section of Takeover's website for supported candidates is currently empty. Several navigation buttons on its website, such as links to its Facebook (which links to "facebook.com/takoversuperpac [sic]"), Twitter (which links to "twitter.com/takoversuperpac [sic]"), and YouTube pages do not work -- and a page devoted to the "Takeover Store" is also blank.
Takeover's advisory board indicates the group will be heavily intertwined with professional consultants.
The super PAC's executive director and treasurer is "Internet marketing and communications entrepreneur" Thomas Freiling. He previously headed Patriot Super PAC, which paid him $78,239 during the 2012 election cycle, according to Federal Election Commission data via OpenSecrets.org. Freiling's consulting firm Fairfax Technologies also received $18,044. Patriot Super PAC paid $374,976 to Internet communications consulting firm Grassroots Action Inc. Grassroots is headed by Steve Elliott, who also sits on Takeover's advisory board. Patriot Super PAC raised $922,266 during the 2012 cycle, and spent $163,418 on independent expenditures.
Board member Floyd Brown is president of Excellentia Inc., a conservative marketing firm. Another board member, Richard Viguerie, pioneered the use of direct mail fundraising.
The toxic background of the group's board members may actually end up hurting any supported candidates. Here's a closer look at three of the group's advisors.
According to a poll by Rasmussen Reports being trumpeted by right-wing media, a majority of American voters believe the Obama administration is "not aggressive enough in deporting those who are in this country illegally." The poll also found that a majority of white as well as minority voters "oppose a halt to deportations." But these results don't take into account the federal government's record on deportations and are contradicted by a veritable litany of polls taken this year and over the past two years.
Conservative media are promoting the poll as evidence that the country wants more undocumented immigrants deported and that this proves that the current border enforcement and deportation policies of the Obama administration are too lax.
The poll, a national survey of 1,000 likely U.S. voters conducted December 8-9, asked vague and out-of-context questions about a specific category of immigrants (those who overstay their visas) including:
But the first question -- which used the language "make them leave the country" instead of "deport" -- failed to put the overstays in context. According to a February 2013 study, overstays declined by 73 percent between 2000 and 2009 thanks to enhanced security measures by DHS in the years following the September 11, 2001, attacks. The Wall Street Journal reported in April that about 40 percent of the roughly 11 million undocumented immigrants currently in the country are those who overstayed their visas. The article continued:
Little is known about the demographics of the so-called overstayer population, but some studies suggest they tend to be better educated and more fluent in English than those who crossed the border illegally. They also are more likely to hail from European, Asian and African countries. And in many cases, they used tourist visas to enter the U.S.
Nearly four months after the Boy Scouts of America (BSA) changed its membership policy to allow openly gay scouts, WND continued its hysterical reaction to the policy change, publishing a column denouncing the organization's leaders for leading the BSA into "the darkness of sin."
In a September 4 column that drew heavily on the words of Heritage Foundation founder Paul Weyrich, Jeff Rayno suggested that acceptance of LGBT rights is making American culture "an ever-wider sewer." But for homophobic bigots, all is not lost, Rayno wrote:
The years it would take to correct the damage caused by one vote taken by the BSA this year would be monumental. Deep in the struggle, our young men would be growing up unattended, while parents fight a losing battle to save what was once the Boy Scouts of America. Countless amounts of money would be wasted battling in courts that are growing more and more liberal every day. What is truly needed is a new organization built on solid principles with bylaws that are stronger than those of the BSA which would allow godly families to begin a new chapter.
On Sept. 6 and 7, 2013, a group temporarily named "On My Honor" will meet in Nashville, Tenn., to form such a group. Using the American Heritage Girls as a template for their organization, a new name, logo and branding will take place, as well as the development of new programs that will teach practical life skills with an emphasis on leadership and character. It will be clearly understood by all members that the context for sexual relations is between a man and a woman in the covenant of marriage.
Perhaps this is the beginning of the Weyrich vision. We can change the program of society, but unlike the modern world, the remote control doesn't work. We have to get off the seat and make an effort. It's an investment of time, energy and patience. We will be scolded by those who love the darkness of sin, but the net result will be future culture warriors, our sons, who live in a light brighter than any neon screen. They walk in the truth - the only reality that matters.
A WND video blasting the "left-wing war on children" epitomized the central problem with conservative media's response to a new California law guaranteeing transgender students the right to use school facilities and participate in school programs that correspond to their gender identity. The five-minute video never once uses the word "transgender," instead peddling "bathroom panic" horror stories.
The video, posted on August 20, featured WND's Molotov Mitchell playing the part of the hip, edgy, no-nonsense conservative. Mocking the law as "comprehensive bathroom reform," Mitchell seized on right-wing fears - ginned up by outlets like Fox News - that the law would enable "horny adolescent boys" to sneak into girls' restrooms and locker rooms:
Thanks to this law, it's also legal for horny adolescent boys to join the girls' wrestling team if they so desire, to stand around in their locker rooms while they change, and even shower with them if they want. What a brilliant way to protect children!
Finally, at K through 8 schools, middle school boys can now go into little girls' bathrooms. What could possibly go wrong? I think we all know what can - and will - go wrong.
Conservative commentator Pat Buchanan added his voice to the chorus of right-wing defenders of Russia's crackdown on gays and their supporters, writing that international criticism of Russia shows people can no longer distinguish between "good and evil."
In his August 13 syndicated column, Buchanan took America's "moral and cultural elites" to task for their opposition to Russian laws banning the positive depiction of homosexuality and the adoption of Russian children by any foreign couples from countries with marriage equality. Buchanan pined for the days when society ostracized gays, while lauding Russian President Vladimir Putin for seeking to restore a "moral compass" to Russia by implementing its anti-gay policies:
Our moral and cultural elites have put Putin on notice: Get in step with us on homosexual rights -- or we may just boycott your Sochi games.
What this reveals is the distance America has traveled, morally and culturally, in a few short years, and our amnesia about who we Americans once were, and what it is we once believed.
Putin is trying to re-establish the Orthodox Church as the moral compass of the nation it had been for 1,000 years before Russia fell captive to the atheistic and pagan ideology of Marxism.
"The adoption of Christianity," declared Putin, "became a turning point in the fate of our fatherland, made it an inseparable part of the Christian civilization and helped turn it into one of the largest world powers."
Anyone ever heard anything like that from the Post, the Times or Barack Hussein Obama?
Buchanan is fond of mourning "who we Americans once were." He's made a career of predicting the imminent collapse of American civilization as a result of Latino immigration, cozied up to white supremacists, and traced the decline of a once-great America to the historical moment when Americans started to affirm "[t]hat women and men are equal ... and that all races, religions, and ethnic groups are equal." It's no surprise, then, that he finds a kindred spirit in the retrograde Putin.