Palinism – Folksy Fascism for the 21st Century

9 Jan
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The face of 21st Century American Fascism

Chris does a wonderful job outlining the violent rhetoric that’s emanated from the angry right over the past couple of years, featuring such stars as Sharron Angle, Sarah Palin, Michelle Bachmann, and other bright lights among the tea party vanguard.

He titles his post “Inciting a Revolution”.  I disagree with the “Revolution” part, mostly because there’s no coherent or cohesive vision of a new America that these people represent.  They don’t seek a revolution that would somehow change the fundamentals of American representative democracy.  To the contrary, they claim to be the proudest and strongest adherents to its constitutional constructs.  Right down to the reading.

What they’re doing with their nihilist, eliminationist, violent rhetoric is inciting a riot, nothing more.  When Sarah Palin posts Gabrielle Giffords’ name with a gunsight over a map of her congressional district, that’s the same as yelling “fire!” in a crowded theater.  When Palin urges her minions to not “retreat” but “reload”, she’s deliberately and knowingly inciting violence.  Not just any violence – but the kind that murders people.  When you take all of the rhetoric together, from all relevant sources, it’s become evident that the American right wing has become infested with the same dirty bloodlust that led a Niagara County militia follower to blow up the Murrah Federal Building, and the men, women, and children within.

Yesterday, not only did the shooter injure a Congresswoman, but he murdered six people, among them a federal Judge and a nine year-old little girl.  Maybe the 2nd Amendment ought not apply to idiot paranoid schizophrenics.

I watched the alleged shooter’s YouTube videos and he’s not much different from any other semi-literate, uninformed, dumb, mentally ill mass murderers you’d come across in any given day.  We knew anyone who would commit mass murder would be a psychotic.

But that’s the point.  The greater issue is how a certain brand of domestic fascism has made it socially acceptable within that circle to joke about or incite violence against political opponents, and how that might play in an unhinged mind.

Palinism, which is what I’ve come to call the Tea Party movement, is food for the weak-minded.  Her brand of facile exclusionary bully politics, mixed in with clumsy jingoism, virulent hatred, calls to arms, and  deliberate ignorance is little more than a 21st century fascism.  After all, fascism is a hypernationalistic, ignorant, violent, eliminationist, political philosophy that relies on hatred.

When congresspeople can’t hold supermarket meet ‘n greets with constituents without tight security, the very foundation of our representative democracy has been rocked.  That this threat is a domestic one makes it all the more curious.

After all, the Palinists would have you believe that endless war is so totally necessary to protect our motherland fatherland homeland.  Yet the biggest risk the homeland faces is from the Palinist fascists themselves.

For fascism to grow, it needs a mortal enemy.  In Italy, it was the foreigners, democrats, and socialists who helped bring about perceived post-WWI slights preventing it from becoming a great power.  In Germany, it was the Versailles “Diktat”, which the Nazis blamed on foreign democracies and “international Jewry”.  For the Palinist fascists, it’s Obama and American Democrats for plunging America into Soviet-style communism by passing health care reform and suggesting cap & trade.

Here, the spark that lit the fire of Palinist fascism was the election of Barack Obama.  Although he’s as corporate-friendly a centrist Democrat as you’re likely ever to find, because of his name, his family history, his past employment, and his race, the Palinists have beat a drum for quite literally two + years that Obama is some sort of Muslim, foreign, Kenyan, unAmerican, Marxist, Communist usurper.  Although he legitimately won a fair and free election in 2008, they seek to delegitimize him through lies that play to people’s fears and rank prejudices.

You know, when liberals complained about George W. Bush’s legitimacy, people forget that there was a Supreme Court case fought over that very issue.  The claim, as they say, was colorable.  Here, no such factual basis exists.

Even though a solid majority of Americans voted for Barack Obama and, in turn, the policies he proposed, the Palinists claimed – shouted – that his perfectly reasonable policy proposals were tantamount to an abolition of the American experiment altogether.  We’d be subsumed by the United Nations or  the New World Order or whatever the bogeyman-du-jour might be, and America would become some sort of big, huge Cuba.

The rhetoric turned especially ugly when the Democrats passed a health care reform program that gave consumers more rights and failed to fundamentally change the status quo.  Note the date of the Palin tweet above.  Then note the date of this story.  Those Palinist fascist calls for a blood orgy were made the day after the heath care reform bill was passed.

When fascists complain falsely, but loudly enough about the legitimacy, policies, and danger to the republic the President and his party represent – bad things are bound to happen.

And then, when those bad things happen, they whine and cry about how both sides need to tamp down the rhetoric.

Well, no

Both sides don’t need to tamp down the rhetoric.  One side is guilty of maintaining or giving express or implied support and approval of eliminationist, hateful, violent, dehumanization of its opponents. The American right wing has become radicalized beyond recognition – its rhetoric and lies, and its calls to violence go far beyond what is acceptable in a western pluralist democratic republic.  Its behavior is ignorant fascism, and it’s time we called it that.  It’s also time that the opponents of that Palinist virus become more effective at rhetorically politically defeating it.

Luckily, America is better than Palinist fascism – a militant, violent, uninformed, ignorant, hateful and un-Democratic bucket of incitement.

88 Responses to “Palinism – Folksy Fascism for the 21st Century”

  1. Jafafa Hots January 9, 2011 at 9:15 am #

    Actually most states (maybe federal too, I dunno) disallow mental patients or anyone who has been admitted for psychiatric treatment from owning guns. I say this NOT as a “gun rights” person, just as an FYI.

    But there’s no way for current laws to weed out people who have had psychiatric issues because doctors (rightfully so, IMO) feel that protecting patient confidentiality is more important. This confidentiality does NOT prevent Dr., from warning authorities when they feel someone is actually dangerous.

    I think it’s important to point out here that most schizophrenics and most mentally ill people are far from violent. Thousands (perhaps millions) of Americans have sought treatment for depression, PTSD (which includes myself) and other troubles, and it would do great harm to them and to the cause of treating, preventing and recognizing mental illness and psychiatric difficulties in individuals (and also its prevalence in society) to stigmatize sufferers in some sort of registry, especially when it’s not statistically warranted.

    Now, gun laws applying to the entire populace? That’s something we need to talk about.
    We also need to be sure not to let the corporate disinformation machine change history again. Fox news is already at work on whitewashing this story.

  2. chris smith January 9, 2011 at 9:37 am #

    The whole revolution thing is explained in the last sentence of my article.

    • Alan Bedenko January 9, 2011 at 9:44 am #

      But revolution of normal is oxymoronic. Everything already is normal to most people. A small minority go along with Palin’s eliminationist fascism.

      • Christopher Smith January 9, 2011 at 11:13 am #

        That violent dog whistle language has become the normal from a specific group of people and it’s not a small group, either. This is the normal language from the most watched cable news network in the country, the surrounding pundit class and the majority of Republican candidates for office. They have convinced a sizable portion of the country that the President is not a US citizen and wants to fundamentally change the country from the inside out. Using violent language and imagery to position this as a war for the soul of America.

        I don’t think it’s a small group of people who believe this and I don’t think you believe that either.

  3. Mike in WNY January 9, 2011 at 10:26 am #

    You have provided us with a 962 word rant that “targets” political beliefs with which you disagree, no surprise there. Your brand of marginalizing other people’s beliefs is every bit as vitriolic as that which you purport is the problem. Other than suggesting, nicely, that people tone down their rhetoric, what do you suggest?

    • Alan Bedenko January 9, 2011 at 12:12 pm #

      @Mike in WNY – you’re right. I marginalize fascism. Would you prefer I respect it, or treat it with kind consideration?

      I “suggest” calling a spade a spade.

  4. BobbyCat January 9, 2011 at 10:39 am #

    A mass shooting was a fait accompli. Given the incendiary language on hate radio and the shouting in public forums and the call to arms by right wing candidates and television commentators, is anyone surprised that some psychotic are whipped into frenzy and driven over the top to violence? I’m not surprised, and I’ll bet many of you weren’t surprised either. It was a toxic mix that was bound to blow. Hate speech breeds violence. Duh.
    Who doesn’t understand that?

    I blame Rush Limbaugh and all the Limbaugh wannabees around the country that followed his success. Every washed up radio DJ who got old spinning top 40 hits watched Limbaugh make millions whipping-up his listeners with right wing demagoguery based on nothing more than paranoia and racism. “Wow”, they said, “I could do that”. Limbaugh was the incubator of hate radio. Buffalo has its own. You know their names.

    The rudeness and incivility of hate radio went public with the shouting at public forums. It turns out it was easy to shout-down elected officials. Rude candidates on hate platforms were a natural outcome. The snarkyness of chat rooms and high schools came to life. All the snarky candidates emerged – Sarah Palin and her ilk. Racism had a new outlet.
    The angry underclasses of ignorant America were given voice. It’s easy to wrap yourself in the American flag, brandish a gun and smite some imaginary enemies under the guise of patriotism.
    Taking up arms and going into battle against some imaginary enemy is a fantasy shared by many over-the-hill men. I have carried guns for business and recreation for most of my life. I know that many gun people have paranoia delusions of grandeur. They are the militia people. Some of them are ticking time bombs who feed on the kind of paranoia that hate radio and Fox gives them.

    Let’s stop the false equivalencies. This is a right wing evil. There are few, if any, left wing extremists that are advocating violence. There is a hand few of left wing commentators like Keith Olberman who are calling-out the right wing extremists. But I don’t know of any liberals advocating violence. The notion that ‘both sides are guilty” is bullshit. The right wing has an entire television network devoted to spreading right wing propaganda and fanning the fires of hatred. Buffalo has its own radio station spreading right wing propaganda. They need to be held accountable. After whipping up the low information America into frenzy, one psycho went over the top. Now, I suppose people on the right like Sarah Palin and Limbaugh will act surprised and deny their culpability. But they have blood on their hands, directly or indirectly.

  5. Mike In WNY January 9, 2011 at 10:47 am #

    We do not even know yet what motivated this deranged individual. Among his reading list was Mein Kampf, perhaps it was a hatred of Jews that led to this. Perhaps not. A classmate described him, in a tweet, as very liberal. True? Maybe, maybe not. What I do know is that the current attempts to leverage a tragedy to promote a liberal agenda is divisive hate-mongering. But, have at it, afterall, it is your 1st Amendment right. As one news commentator said yesterday, “this is a tragedy that transcends politics”.

  6. Bbill January 9, 2011 at 10:59 am #

    Divisive hate-mongering is the common currency of the right-wing Wurlitzer. Words do have consequences.

  7. Max January 9, 2011 at 11:05 am #

    I really liked your summary, Alan; right on the mark as usual. There’s still a lot to be revealed by the shooter and his intentions but it’s clearly evident that what I’ll call the ‘crackpot’ right and lot of self-proclaimed ‘legitimate’ media outlets have been generating ‘dog whistle,’ subliminal messages about the use of violence for a very long time. It will be those messages when enacted upon, that will seriously threaten the freedoms they sought to preserve.

  8. John Paul Jones January 9, 2011 at 11:05 am #

    It’s fascinating how a national political party that politicizes EVERYTHING as some creepy left wing conspiracy to take away their rights and property all of a sudden wants to take the “politics” and “divisiveness” out of a political assassination attempt. Telling, indeed.

  9. John Paul Jones January 9, 2011 at 11:18 am #

    Also quite telling that Palin pulled down all of her imagery and language and that Republicans canceled debate on repealing healthcre reform. A tacit admission that the climate they created is toxic.

  10. Mike In WNY January 9, 2011 at 12:07 pm #

    I would still like to know, other than suggesting that people tone down their rhetoric, what else, if anything, should be done?

  11. Mike In WNY January 9, 2011 at 12:22 pm #

    @Alan – No, you are trying to marginalize a large group of people with valid concerns. The glue that binds the Tea Party movement together is quite reasonable:
    1. Identify constitutionality of every new law: Require each bill to identify the specific provision of the Constitution that gives Congress the power to do what the bill does (82.03%).
    2. Reject emissions trading: Stop the “cap and trade” administrative approach used to control pollution by providing economic incentives for achieving reductions in the emissions of pollutants. (72.20%).
    3. Demand a balanced federal budget: Begin the Constitutional amendment process to require a balanced budget with a two-thirds majority needed for any tax modification. (69.69%)
    4. Simplify the tax system: Adopt a simple and fair single-rate tax system by scrapping the internal revenue code and replacing it with one that is no longer than 4,543 words – the length of the original Constitution. (64.9%)
    5. Audit federal government agencies for constitutionality: Create a Blue Ribbon taskforce that engages in an audit of federal agencies and programs, assessing their Constitutionality, and identifying duplication, waste, ineffectiveness, and agencies and programs better left for the states or local authorities. (63.37%)
    6. Limit annual growth in federal spending: Impose a statutory cap limiting the annual growth in total federal spending to the sum of the inflation rate plus the percentage of population growth. (56.57%).
    7. Repeal the health care legislation passed on March 23, 2010: Defund, repeal and replace the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act. (56.39%).
    8. Pass an ‘All-of-the-Above’ Energy Policy: Authorize the exploration of additional energy reserves to reduce American dependence on foreign energy sources and reduce regulatory barriers to all other forms of energy creation. (55.5%).
    9. Reduce Earmarks: Place a moratorium on all earmarks until the budget is balanced, and then require a 2/3 majority to pass any earmark. (55.47%).
    10. Reduce Taxes: Permanently repeal all recent tax increases, and extend permanently the George W. Bush temporary reductions in income tax, capital gains tax and estate taxes, currently scheduled to end in 2011. (53.38%).

    Once again, what do you propose to solve the rhetoric problem?

    • Alan Bedenko January 9, 2011 at 12:28 pm #

      I’m somewhat fascinated why a Ron Paul-style libertarian would be defending Palinist fascism so vigorously. I’m quite clearly not talking about the tea party’s (such as it exists) alleged policy concerns. I’m talking about its demonization of an entire population of Americans as being unAmerican, etc. (It’s all set forth in the post above).

      As to your now-tiresome “what do you propose to solve it”, that’s hardly my problem. Whackjobs on the left are pretty well marginalized as kooks. Whackjobs on the right are pandered-to and elevated to national esteem. Police your own house.

    • Alan Bedenko January 9, 2011 at 12:28 pm #

      By the way – what’s the constitutional authority to require a 2/3 majority to approve earmarks?

  12. Bbill January 9, 2011 at 12:35 pm #

    10. Reduce Taxes: Permanently repeal all recent tax increases, and extend permanently the George W. Bush temporary reductions in income tax, capital gains tax and estate taxes, currently scheduled to end in 2011. (53.38%).

    Those of us who, by contrast, support dealing with the deficit responsibly and not catering to our plutocrat overlords are called “Communists” and find ourselves in the “metaphorical” (cough) gunsights.

  13. Peter A Reese January 9, 2011 at 12:43 pm #

    How many tea party candidates and politicians have been exposed to threats and overt violence? What credible progressive voice (candidate, media or organizer) rails for violence against tea party advocates? What’s the current scorecard? Words and actions have consequences.

  14. Peter A Reese January 9, 2011 at 12:57 pm #

    Olbermann advocating violence:

  15. Mike In WNY January 9, 2011 at 1:34 pm #

    Just as I thought, you rant about a problem but refuse to offer a solution. I guess that relegates your rant to the status of political rhetoric.

    • Alan Bedenko January 9, 2011 at 1:43 pm #

      Oh, please. Coming from an adherent of a thoroughly untested political and economic theory, that’s rich.

      What would YOU do about it?

  16. BobbyCat January 9, 2011 at 2:01 pm #

    Paranoiacs with guns are the time-bombs of our society. They believe that someone or some group are out to get them. That gives them license to beat the bad guy to the punch: to shoot first. In their mind, they must make a preemptive strike. Sure, it;s crazy. I know many people in the gun community. Some fantasize about shooting others, “in self defense” – mainly people of color- if and when they are attacked. They visualize these scenarios. They talk about them.

    On the other hand, there is a legitimate reason to weigh various self defense scenarios. Anyone who carries a gun for self defense must know when to shoot in self defense, and when not to. Police routinely train on “Shoot/Don’t Shoot” courses.

    But I have know people who should not have guns, men who are itching for a fight. In my experience, most are racists, looking for a reason to kill. It’s likely that most of the braggadocio is just idle wind, but ya never know. If this guy n Arizona was known to have made threats, how was he allowed to buy the Glock 19? Did he fall through the cracks?

    For years I have heard people predict that all the rabble-rousing on hate radio and on Fox would push some nut case “over the edge”. Now it has happened and the wacko right wing is saying in unison “Who, us?”

  17. Bbill January 9, 2011 at 2:24 pm #

    It’s pretty clear that the wingers are struggling with a coherent response … to try and create a false equivalence is at least a tacit admission that there indeed is incendiary rhetoric coming from their standard bearers; to try and pin it all on the libs makes them look more ridiculous and laughable than they already do.

    My guess is that once Rush comes forth with his denial and dog-whistle calls to more violence, his followers will faithfully echo his words. This will be demonstrated often during the week ahead.

  18. Brian January 9, 2011 at 2:35 pm #

    I think we can all agree that Rupert Murdoch, Roger Ailes, Glenn Beck, Bill O’Reilly, Mitch McConnell, John Boehner, Eric Cantor, Peter King, Larry Summers, Tim Geithner, perhaps even Obama,  Wall Street and other conservatives are doing the “Happy Dance Circle Jerk” over this, eh? When the Barlow strikers threatened the plutocrat, he had them shot.  Homestead, Haymarket, Joe Hill, Malcolm, Martin….  The rich know how to get it done, and the rest of us grab our ankles.

  19. BobbyCat January 9, 2011 at 3:02 pm #


    I think the right wing media are content to incite their minions to the edge, but I don’t think they want anybody killed. They are content with the threats of violence, but not violence itself. Now they are forced to defend their actions. Most of the media talkers are whores doing it for the money. If Limbaugh could make millions leading the left, he would. Likewise with Palin and the rest. Very few are true believers. Even the Koch Brothers are financing the Tea Party just for the money. They have no philosophy other than money. I think your conspiracy involving Obama is over the top. Way over.

  20. Bills Fan January 9, 2011 at 5:08 pm #

    It seems hard to understand how someone can simultaneously claim that right wing rhetoric incited this violence AND claim that the individual who committed the violent act is a paranoid schizophrenic?  

    You think paranoid schizophrenics respond in any kind of predictably way to anything?  You’d really attribute some responsibility to someone else for the actions of a schizophrenic (other than maybe the person who was supposed to diagnose and/or medicate them)?  

    Maybe everyone should take a breath and wait for more information to come out before leaping to the predictably political positions?  Nah, screw that, we have the internet, let’s all just start screaming our opinion. 

  21. paul January 9, 2011 at 5:11 pm #

    I would say I was disappointed in Alan politicizing a tragedy, but its not surprising considering the source. A very troubled, possibly insane, young man opened fire killing several people. Alan wants to blame sarah palin. What an ass hole you are Alan.

    • Alan Bedenko January 9, 2011 at 5:33 pm #

      What I said was that Sarah Palin and her fascist ilk have set up an atmosphere that eases the nexus between ideation and action for “very troubled, possibly insane” people to take violent action.

      I’m also “politicizing” a tragedy that involves a political figure who was quite literally targeted – in the crosshairs like that of a firearm – by another political figure.

      I’m terribly sorry if all of this is troublesome to you, but there it is.

      Also, “asshole” is one word. You’re welcome.

  22. paul January 9, 2011 at 5:46 pm #

    Really, Alan. You think Sarah Palin actually wanted her shot. God you can be a small person.

    I’d wager its more important to you who you get to blame, than if the Congresswoman lives or not.

    • Alan Bedenko January 9, 2011 at 5:55 pm #

      I don’t know, Paul, whether Sarah Palin “wanted her shot”, because I can’t read her mind.

      What I do know is that Sarah Palin placed Congresswoman Giffords on what amounts to a hit list of congresspeople she’d like to have defeated in 2010, and then graphically placed gunsights over her congressional district on a map. It doesn’t, therefore, really matter what Sarah Palin “thought”. What matters is what she said, what she wrote, what her people drew, what she released.

      It absolutely matters to me whether the Congresswoman lives or not. It also matters to me that the right wing in this country take some responsibility for its coddling of eliminationist fascism within its ranks and stop making excuses for palpably improper and unreasonable rhetoric.

      Then again, I’m not aware of any national Democratic political figures making allusions to murdering any Republicans with guns, and I’m not aware of any left-wing psychopaths shooting Republican Congresspeople because Democrats just spent the last two years explaining to a bunch of dummies how the evil Republicans are going to destroy America with the help of a communist usurper pseudo-President.

      In other words, when some Republican congressperson is in a medically-induced coma in the wake of being shot through the head by a radical health care reform proponent, you let me know, and I’ll condemn the fuck out of it.

      But you’ll just make excuses for it. Who’s the “ass hole” now?

  23. BrianS. January 9, 2011 at 5:56 pm #

    Politicizing a tragedy? Bullshit. ALan is simply pointing out that this incident may very well be a cause-and-effect scenario. Why is that so hard to believe? For the last two years we’ve witnessed an ammo-box-full of attempts by the Limbaughesque and Fox News types to delegitimize, dehumanize and demonize those who are not on the far right. The message was clear: Anyone not on board with the right is an enemy of this country and is trying to destory it. Perhaps a black President was the catalyst. Regardless, no reasonable person with any shred of a grasp on the here-and-now would deny that this situation is very possibly the fruit born of such inflamatory and irresponsible (and yes, UN-AMERICAN) rhetoric. The interesting thing will be to hear the right wing spin BEFORE Limbaugh tells them what to say. (Hint: Those on-air before noon will have to fly solo for a day).

  24. Bills Fan January 9, 2011 at 6:12 pm #

    I don’t know what “Sarah Palin and her fascist ilk have set up an atmosphere that eases the nexus between ideation and action for “very troubled, possibly insane” people to take violent action” means so I can’t possibly respond intelligently as to whether I agree with that or not. 

    I will say this – if one of my relatives were one of the victims of this horrible act (imagine being poor parents of the 9 year old girl), I’d find the rush by partisans to assign some leve of blame to the other side fairly despicable.  And I say this even if some amount of blame may rightly be assigned when all the facts come out and I say this as someone voted for Clinton, Kerry and Obama.  

    • Alan Bedenko January 9, 2011 at 6:19 pm #

      I will say this – if one of my relatives were one of the victims of this horrible act, I’d march my ass up to Wasilla and ask her if she was pleased with herself.

      I’ll rephrase the sentence you’re having trouble with.

      Sarah Palin’s rhetoric helps crazy people make the decision to not just think crazy about doing violent things, but also that it’s ok to go out and commit them.

  25. Carl January 9, 2011 at 6:17 pm #

    It is HIGH TIME that people who spew this toxic stew be shunned by the public out of normal, rational public discourse. That means: 1. don’t listen to them on the radio or watch them on TV(nor should you patronize their advertisers), 2. if they write books, don’t buy them, 3. tell other people why you’re doing it.

    Not one more person should have to be shot at or, God forbid, KILLED because of a political disagreement.

  26. Bills Fan January 9, 2011 at 6:57 pm #

    If you genuinely believe you, as a stricken family member, would march your ass up to Wasilla right now to ask Palin if she was pleased with herself, I think you’ve let partisanship overwhelm your perspective.  

    This story may well lead right to her doorstep – maybe they find her reprehensible target map underneath the kid’s pillow, maybe they find he was a rabid McCain/Palin campaign supporter – but it may not.  Maybe he’s genuinely insane and had no coherent thoughts or political patrons.  Does it really harm anyone to wait a few days to let the information come out before rushing to political condemnation?  


    • Alan Bedenko January 9, 2011 at 6:59 pm #

      I dunno, does it really harm anyone to point out that Sarah Palin is a fascist, and to express my displeasure at that fact?

  27. BobbyCat January 9, 2011 at 7:02 pm #

    Inflamatory language incites violence. Duh. Who doesn’t understand that? Who could possibly deny that? Did you see the Congressman’s interview on MSNBC where she expressed concern about Palin’s crosshairs targeting her? Palin knows that a crosshair is the mark of death. I watched Palin put rifle crosshairs on an Alaskan caribou and kill it, after missing it 5 times with two different rifles. . She knows very well what it means to put crosshairs on a target to kill it. If her crosshair advertisement wasn’t inflammatory, why did her people take it down?

    In the same ad, Palin advisee her followers to “Reload!!” And that’s what the shooter tried to do – reload his Glock pistol – when a courageous woman grabbed the clip and stopped him.

    Don’t tell me that Palin is innocent. Maybe she didn’t pull the trigger but her inflammatory rhetoric set the stage for this tragedy and perhaps more to come. And for what? He own fucking fame.

  28. Bills Fan January 9, 2011 at 7:33 pm #

    Does it harm anyone? Hard to say.  Maybe the families of some of the victims who are surrounded by this horror are even more disturbed by the fact that partisans can’t stfu about what caused this before anyone really knows anything.  

    Beyond that, to the other 70% of the country (assuming about 30% identifies as partisan Democrat), this race to opine on which Republicans are responsible for this tragedy is incredibly off-putting and distasteful (though entirely predictable).    

    • Alan Bedenko January 9, 2011 at 7:38 pm #

      Well then. I guess you should frequent web authors who see fascism in their midst and “stfu” about it. Because clearly, it’s mean of me to examine a shooter’s motive and the rhetoric of violence on the right.

  29. BobbyCat January 9, 2011 at 7:46 pm #

    Maybe if one of your loved ones was murdered or wounded you wouldn’t ask “Does it harm anyone?”

    Palin painted a bullseye on a Congressman and that Congressman gets shot in the head. And that obvious culpability ‘disturbs’ you.

    “Disturbed” is right. You have the mark of a sociopath. Get some help.

  30. Bills Fan January 9, 2011 at 7:54 pm #

    It’s as if every use of the word fascism gets you a dime. Or a discount at some local restaurant or something. 

    a) enjoyed that you ultimately got to the ‘love or leave it’ angle though I thought that was a right wing trick and
    b) if you think you have enough information to “examine” this shooter’s motives, I hope you don’t become a judge (or sit on a jury)

    • Alan Bedenko January 9, 2011 at 7:58 pm #

      Not ” love it or leave it”, but GTFO. Go sit silently while the country is ripped apart by violent right wing asshats.

      • Alan Bedenko January 9, 2011 at 8:00 pm #

        Seriously, I have yet to see a Republican here, on Twitter, or on FB even gently renounce Palinist blood-rhetoric. I guess they’re cool with it.

  31. Bills Fan January 9, 2011 at 8:16 pm #

    “while the country is ripped apart by violent right wing asshats.”  So much for keeping anything in perspective, I guess.  

    Also, I agree that it’s remarkable that no Republicans (that I’ve seen anyway) have come out to condemn the Palin gun sight target map. Of course, it’s remarkable none of them condemned it back when it was published, too.  

  32. LeoInTheSnow January 9, 2011 at 9:09 pm #

    Renounce? Hell no!

    I don’t know how much of a Republican I am, since they get my support only by default – I’ll always be opposed to the Democrat party tht destroyed the industrial sector with bad trade policy. That’s why we have joblessness and no freakin’ federal revenues both.

    The TEA movement is exactly right to use the rhetoric it does. We want the government to be very afraid indeed, so much so that they do the job we elect them to do rather than always come up with some European academic’s dream of utopia to strive towards no matter how badly the same attempt has failed in every other place in the world.

    Apologize or denounce? F no, I’ll see if I can get teflon jacketed ammo instead.

  33. LeoInTheSnow January 9, 2011 at 9:12 pm #

    “When the people fear their government, there is tyranny; when the government fears the people, there is liberty.”
    Thomas Jefferson

    This kid in Arizona was a whack job, and there’s no excusing him. However, the government doesn’t have nearly enough fear of the people yet.

  34. BrianS. January 9, 2011 at 9:42 pm #

    “Government fear the people”? Sounds good, doesn’t it? Problem is, you have many congresspeople on the right in Washington who ARE afraid of a small minority of extremists and radio ideologues. They are afraid for all the wrong resons! The tea party crowd IS NOT in any way a majority, yet they carry the weight of a majority through intimidation. Many Republicans wouldn’t even support bills they helped author because they worried the tea party wiould rally against them for daring to cooperate at all with those who wore anything but a brown shirt. Having the government fear the people is one thing, while having the government held hostage by a minotry of extremists is a completely different issue.

  35. BobbyCat January 9, 2011 at 9:44 pm #

    Leo, Before you go whole ass hog into a sedition rant, remember that you have used your proper name elsewhere in these pages, and besides, the FBI can pull up your sheet with a few click of the mouse. Easy tough guy or you will begin 2011 in deep shit.

  36. Chris Charvella January 9, 2011 at 10:47 pm #


    Welcome to being part of the problem. I can’t understand how a person could use words like yours after what happened yesterday. Never mind; I’ve been around long enough. I understand it, but it still disgusts me.

  37. Paul Johnson January 10, 2011 at 12:27 am #

    When the French Government threatens a shorter lunch hour for the national labor force, people take to the streets in protest of a government, de-legitimizing their ability to effectively govern.  When the British Government threatens to raise tuition at University, the students take to the street in protest and de-legitimize the government.  

    In America, we yawn and change the channel to watch Auction Kings, American Pickers or Toddlers and Tiaras when the government essentially hands a trillion dollar to the banks and asks no sacrifice or accountability in return.

    What’s so incredibly misguided in all this second amendment talk and in the words of the tea party about refreshing the tree of liberty is that the government does not fear of our access to arms or our willingness to use them.  Hell, if there was an armed insurrection in this country led by every Loughner, militia member, tea party adherent or Freeman in this nation, it would be dispatched like a flea on a dog’s ass by the overwhelming force of our military.  

    The problem is that the government relies upon our passivity and ego for its continued legitimacy.  They do as they wish because the majority of people are completely disinterested and disenfranchised from the political process. We live in the future Aldous Huxley once feared for us in his book “A Brave New World”, in which he predicted the truth would be drowned in a sea of irrelevance.  I see a lot of that today as Tea Party people and members of the right wing thought brigade mount lame attempts at false equivalence and deny any role or responsibility in what transpired in Arizona yesterday.

    Our continued ambivalence to the creeping fascism of the right and the purposeful ignorance of the political movement it sponsors is the final manifestation of a future America we should all dread.

  38. Brian January 10, 2011 at 5:37 am #

    Ah, yes, the kid is a whack job–the lone shooter, just like every other right-wing assassin who does the work of ridding our country of people who think the country could be something better than a feathered nest for rapacious corporations. Barlow, Haymarket, Homestead (corporate hired thugs), Oklahoma City,JFK, RFK, Malcolm, Martin, Paul Wellstone (the last a pretty job, indeed).  Where DO we get these people so eager to murder liberals?

    • Alan Bedenko January 10, 2011 at 5:47 am #

      I’ll note just by way of noting two additional points:

      1. Fascism becomes popular and attractive when the economy tanks, as it did in 2008.

      2. Palin’s reality show is a way for her to further finesse her own mythology and build her cult of personality.

  39. LeoInTheSnow January 10, 2011 at 7:23 am #

    @Bobby Cat – that Full Name is Leo Wilson. The difference is where I post from. The FBI is going to have to go a long, long way to find anything on me that’s other than rhetorical – hell, I’ve even got a good credit rating. What limits the FBI is that whole “Rule of Law” thing that requires that THEY obey the law. They actually need evidence before they can start piling shit on. This isn’t Venezuela or Cuba.

    I have no sedition rant. That opportunity was missed by Aaron Burr, as far as I’m concerned. That whole Civil War thing was excessive and useless.

    Paul Johnson’s point about the Europe that’s so sanctified by some in our country sounds familiar to me, as if someone whose opinion I respect had said it to me before. I also agree that out government outguns the citizenry by a huge measure, though I notice that they also outgun anyone in Afghanistan and seem to be having a bit more trouble there than a flea on a dog’s ass could account for. It would be only marginally more difficult, though, since some rhetoricians have been reviling our nation so much and for so long that little of the police or military may think twice about shooting their fellow citizens and neighbors.

  40. Bbill January 10, 2011 at 7:35 am #

    An informative rundown of right-wing response to what most of us consider a national tragedy.

  41. LeoInTheSnow January 10, 2011 at 7:38 am #

    #Chris C – seriously, I”m part of the problem? What I see is a lame, knee-jerk reaction to one lone whack job acting out and killing people. There’s been no substantive link between this guy and the TEA movement, which at least one article posted at this site was honest enough to point out, no matter that it also tries immediately to dilute that admission.

    As I see it, the cost of campaigning is too high or I’d be in DC being part of the answer.

    I digress.

    The problem, as I see it, is a government that has abandoned its own principles, beginning before I was born and continuing to this day. The solutions to nearly ALL our problems are to limit government’s ability to act against the interests of the people, domestically or abroad. Frustration from individual citizens (and over-reactions and acting out by whack jobs, too) is normal in the face of it.

    If there’s another problem, it’s the “opinion jounalism” that is as refreshingly overt here as it is disgustingly like a sedition attempt by conspiracies like journo-list.

    But, nobody came out calling for every conspirator in that to be silenced, publically reviled for its lack of ethics or to close down the outlets for those conspirators. You post stuff from Michael Moore one week, and then talk about whack-job conspiracy theorists on the right the next? It’s downright laughable, and I’ve gotten more than one hearty gut-laugh from you guys doing it. It’s almost disrespectful that you’d be so radically hypocritical in an article as serious as this SHOULD be and force those gut-laughs out.

  42. Jesse January 10, 2011 at 7:53 am #

    ” When Sarah Palin posts Gabrielle Giffords’ name with a gunsight over a map of her congressional district, that’s the same as yelling “fire!” in a crowded theater. ”

    Sorry Alan, but that comparison is just plain stupid.

    • Alan Bedenko January 10, 2011 at 7:59 am #

      Not really. Irresponsible speech is irresponsible.

  43. Mike In WNY January 10, 2011 at 10:00 am #

    Sarah Palin better get more security. Alan has called her a fascist myriad times. A deranged person might read those rants and conclude that fascists need to be eliminated.

    • Alan Bedenko January 10, 2011 at 10:35 am #

      So, @MikeinWNY, one isn’t supposed to point out that a fascist is a fascist? Can you point to a single, solitary instance where I’ve even casually or jokingly called for violence against anyone or anything, at any time?

  44. JohnnyWalker January 10, 2011 at 10:17 am #

    Let me digress. Remember when the Newt issued his Contract on America. His persistent demonizing of the Federal bureaucracy. Then, as if by coincidence, some asshole (one word) idiot from Retzof in good old WNY drives a truck bomb to Tulsa and blows up the Murrow (federal office) building killing 160. Newt goes into damage control insisting his rhetoric had nothing to do with it. If that incident had no effect on political discourse, then sadly, neither will this.

  45. LeoInTheSnow January 10, 2011 at 10:24 am #

    @JohnnyWalker, how convenient to leave out the motivation for that attack in OKC – the government exterminating a group of families (including their children) in Texas.

    Nuthin’ to see here, folks, keep it moving! We always stage snipers when we’re knocking on the door of a citizen with no charges against him to ask him to come in for questioning!

  46. Fat Tony January 10, 2011 at 10:36 am #

    We act as if liberal conscience of the country has been shot…Giffords is a moderate/conservative Dem who voted against Pelosi. This is not some right-wing conspiracy to eliminate voices of opposition.

    Honestly, I don’t know why it’s so hard to believe that some nut job hearing voices in his head committed a despicable act that above all else killed a nine year old girl who was excited about the possibility of public service when she grew up. That’s the tragedy here….a young child with great optimism about her future being taken from us.

    If you’re going to point fingers at the political commentators then Alan, you have crossed into the realm of those who complain about violence on T.V. and video games and sex on network television as the cause of societal ills. And that would include are mutually-enjoyed Howard Stern….are you ready to go down that path and join the Parents Television Council? Palin’s rhetoric nor anyone else’s had NOTHING TO DO WITH THIS SHOOTING and to say so is further politicize a tragedy.

    • Alan Bedenko January 10, 2011 at 10:46 am #

      @Fat Tony – I didn’t say Palin should be silenced. She should be rejected by her party and shamed into some soul-searching and a heartfelt apology for her frequent use of violent rhetoric – rhetoric which, if uttered by a leftist, the right wing would have a field day with.

  47. Mike In WNY January 10, 2011 at 10:45 am #

    Alan, I don’t recall Palin advocating for dictatorial control of the country. Therefore, she isn’t a fascist. None of that really matters though. The word fascist has a negative connnotation and a nut-job might construe your rants as inciting violence. Since you defend yourself on the basis of what you meant, Sarah Palin should be afforded the same consideration.

    Politicians have been “targeting” districts, demographic groups, etc., for decades.

    Your analogy about shouting “fire” does not apply. Shouting “fire” in a crowded theater can lead rational people to place themselves in danger. Targeting a Congressional District does not lead a rational person to commit violence.

    • Alan Bedenko January 10, 2011 at 10:58 am #

      @Mike in WNY – the Republicans, by coddling and encouraging violent speech, have in turn encouraged irrational people to act irrationally.

      But you’re right, based on what the shooter’s YouTube videos say (because the right wing have argued that those represent the sum total of his views and motives) his positions are much closer to that of Ron Paul than Sarah Palin. Have a great day!

  48. LeoInTheSnow January 10, 2011 at 10:46 am #

    @Fat Tony – the democrats took a shellacking in the last election because of an activist grass roots effort called the TEA movement. There’s great promise that they’ll take another in the next election cycle, now that those they’ve supported are beginning to deliver what they supported them to do.

    In a couple of other articles posted on this site in the past couple of weeks, we see some resistance from elected Democrats to their own establishment, suggesting that they might have a similar problem on their hands.

    One of the regular posters on this site calls it a “left-wing smear machine”. do you really expect anything but this lame, desperate attempt to equate the acts of a disturbed person to the movement that threatens them? Keep your shoes on, and keep on marching.

  49. BobbyCat January 10, 2011 at 11:21 am #

    The flood gates of hate speech were opened some years ago and incendiary rhetoric has been pouring out every since on hate radio, TV and in the streets. There are calls for revolution from tea parties types, rallies to ‘take back out government”, shouting-down public officials – not by the liberals – but by by right wing fanatics. Men appear at public rallies armed with AR15’s and call it “freedom to bear arms”. Bullshit! It’s fanaticism and racism gone wild, fanned by Limbaugh, Beck, Palin and their right wing ilk. I’m a guy who owns lots of guns. I would NEVER incite public concern by displaying a gun at a rally. These people are crazy and progressives have a right – a duty- to call for an end to that kind of madness. Now the right wing is scrambling to deny that their words and actions had consequences. Do you think we are too stupid to know better? People are dead because the right wing whipped-up the frenzy and some nut case went over the edge. A congressman was targeted with crosshairs and worried about the consequences. Then she was shot in the head and other innocents killed. You people have a lot of never trying to escape culpability. Do you think you are to clever and the rest of us are stupid? They tea party and the right should be shamed. Don’t tell me your rhetoric didn’t matter. All these tough-talking tough guys should find some backbone, and tone it down. And an apology is in order.

  50. JohnnyWalker January 10, 2011 at 12:12 pm #

    @Leo, How convienient of you to forget that the incident was precipitated by the murder of 4 agents attempting to serve a search warrent. Also you apprently forgot that 4 fires were started simultaneously inside the building. That the Davidians were in a concrete bunker, and could have escaped. Which was more of a choice that the occupants of the Murrah building had.

  51. LeoInTheSnow January 10, 2011 at 12:19 pm #

    @JohnnyWalker, I do agree with all that. It’s a particularly poor item to use as an example for anyone on either side of the debate, expecially with obvious, “convenient” ommissions.

  52. LeoInTheSnow January 10, 2011 at 12:21 pm #

    @JohnnyWalker, there was no search warrant when those snipers were staged, only an attempt to bring Koresh in for questioning.

  53. JohnnyWalker January 10, 2011 at 12:46 pm #

    @Leo. Actually I think it is a valid comparison. I am convinced that in both cases, individuals on the edge, found justification and encouragement for their actions in the words of others.

  54. JohnnyWalker January 10, 2011 at 12:53 pm #

    Not that I am defending the way that situation was handled by law enforcement. They could have confronted Koresh when he was outside the compound picking up supplies.

  55. LeoInTheSnow January 10, 2011 at 1:06 pm #

    @Johnny, I’m a pretty dedicated pacifist myself, which is why I moved to a community of like-minded individuals in the southern tier. It was handled very poorly indeed, and the appropriate backlash from the public (NOT that of our neighbor to the north) probably saved the lives of the Freemen in the incident that followed.

  56. MiddleMovingRight January 10, 2011 at 1:16 pm #

    Alan–I suggest you have a Coke, a smile, take a deep breath and read the First Amendment, you know, the thing that makes you able to post you blog. Believe it or not my friend there are a large number of people in this country that may have voted for Obama that now feel that the country is going too far left. People that played by the rules, worked hard and are dismayed by the notion of income redistribution, undocumented Democrats straining social services, and the creep of the Federal Government. Your fascination (or fetish) with Palin misses the point. She may have galvinized the movement but she isnt the movement. As for “Palin fascism”-perhaps you need a session with a dictionary while you are enjoying your Coke and your smile

  57. Alan Bedenko January 10, 2011 at 1:47 pm #

    Well, “MiddleMovingRight”, I am well acquainted with the 1st Amendment.  Can you point out something that I wrote that would contravene anyone’s 1st Amendment rights?  Of course not. 

    Is the country going too far left?  One might have that opinion, but it would be pretty much mistaken.  Your use of “undocumented Democrats” is curious. To what or whom might you be referring?  

    I don’t think I said that Palin _was_ the movement.  I think she has her own movement, and it is firmly embedded in fascism, right down to the cult of personality.  

    If you have a specific way in which I’m wrong about her being a fascist, that’d be swell for you to type, otherwise a suggestion that I use the dictionary is obnoxious nonsense. 

  58. Jesse January 10, 2011 at 2:48 pm #

    I already pointed out where you’re suggesting rhetoric should somehow be equated with yelling ‘Fire!’ in a theater. I currently DO have an absolute right to spew any firey rhetoric I care to spew, not counting other already-restricted speech such as direct threats.

    If you’re NOT suggesting a heavy-handed modification to the First Amendment, then you might want to change the way you phrased that particular bit of silly overreaction.

    Particularly since this guy does NOT appear to have been motivated by any particular set of political views.

  59. MJC January 10, 2011 at 3:01 pm #

    To me, the blame toward certain right-wing pundits, such as Limbaugh and O’Reilly is misplaced. As much as I disagree with their views, they have traditionally taken the “everything the Democratic Party does is wrong” stance. Poorly argued? Very often? Misleading? Quite often as well. But dangerous? Not so much.

    The really dangerous character is Glenn Beck and those who are now appropriating his views. (Notice that WBEN’s morning man shifted from a Limbaugh wannabe to a Beck wannabe a while ago.) Beck is the one preaching fear and paranoia, as well as countless conspiracy theories designed to scare the living hell out of the uneducated masses.

    The old school GOP conservatives always preached smaller government, but they never preached that the government was dangerous. Just ineffective.

    As such, I would hesitate to paint the entire Right with this argument. Even Palin fails to reach the level of anti-government fervor that Beck hits on a daily basis.

  60. BobbyCat January 10, 2011 at 8:34 pm #

    Some demagogues are worse than others. But taken in toto, they combine to create a toxic stew. When Croncrite, Reynolds, Huntley and Brinkley were delivering the news they explained how the KGB would feed propaganda to the Soviet Pravda and they would spread their half truths and lies to the Soviet people and to the rest of the world. We laughed at Pravda because we all knew they had no credibility. And we felt sorry for the Soviet people who were totally brainwashed by their totalitarian puppet masters.

    Now Fox is a sanctioned propaganda network run by an foreign-owned corporation spreading bullshit to low information Americans. But many of us still feel sorry for the poor souls who believe their propaganda. None of us ever dreamed that Pravda would reincarnate in the USA.

    We need to stop the outright lies broadcast by Fox. It’s ripping our country apart. We’re in a lot of trouble. No wonder we can’t seem to find solutions for our problems. We need facts to solve our problems, not lies.

  61. Rick January 11, 2011 at 6:58 am #

    The democrats used a map in 2004 against Bush with targets on it too. You need to be an independent to be able to see the ridiculousness is equal on both sides. Both parties are appalling and engage in the rhetoric.

  62. Alan Bedenko January 11, 2011 at 7:28 am #

    By the way, now that we’re up to a solid volume of comments, point out where I blame Palin for Loughner’s deed. Certainly, that deed was the impetus for this post, and that deed should be the catalyst that leads to a soul-searching on the right, but in this post, I did not argue the existence of a causal nexus between Palin’s gun fetishist rhetoric and Loughner’s deed.

  63. Bbill January 11, 2011 at 9:16 am #

    Ann Coulter suggesting poisoning Justice Stevens’ creme brulee

    Glenn Beck fantasizing about killing Michael Moore or poisoning Nancy Pelosi’s glass of wine.

    A couple of wingnut examples (among many) off the top o’ the cap.

    Find some equivalents from the left.

    Or be done with that false equivalency canard as it’s like denying the existence of gravity.

  64. MJC January 11, 2011 at 9:43 am #

    No doubt – those comments by Coulter are in extreme bad taste. But the real danger is when Beck and his acolytes start preaching the “government is coming to get you” or “beware of one-world government” conspiracy theory garbage. This is the propaganda that fires up the insane militia types – you know, the kind of guy who moves himself and all his guns down to some remote cabin in the woods so that he can train for the inevitable revolution.

    While we are on the topic, by the way, just a message for those militia types : there will never be enough of you or your firepower to take on the state troopers, let alone the federal government. You’re a joke. You’re playing a violent form of fantasy football and you’re about as likely to lead a revolution as I am of being a starting QB in the NFL. Grow up.

  65. Marquil January 11, 2011 at 10:26 am #

    re: the Dems 2004 map. I believe those are archery targets, thus underscoring the Democratic right to bear quivers (modern quivers can hold up to 30 arrows!)

  66. BobbyCat January 11, 2011 at 10:29 am #

    The media is afraid to say anything negative about stars like Limbaugh and Beck who rake in millions. Instead of calling them out, they stay mum. They admire their success and would likely trade places with them. They covet the money.

    We talk about the psychosis of the Arizona shooter because its safe to do that. But what about Glenn Beck? I think he is certifiably insane. I don’t follow him closely enough to know if he hears voices and is schizophrenic but I think its obvious that he suffers from paranoia. I don’t think its an act, I think the man is really nuts, and dangerous.

    I do know that Beck is an a recovering alcoholic and lived in his car for a while. I don’t know why Fox is allowed to keep an unbalanced man fomenting revolution and sedition in the United States. I agree with Rep. Louise Slaughter when she asks: “Where is the FCC?”.

  67. Hank January 12, 2011 at 11:12 am #

    The FCC is buying Obama’s books and memorabilia in the NBC Store at Rockefeller Center.

    You libbies crack me up. Peed myself dry reading this shit. America has big problems, one of which started when the LBJ administration stopped allowing the committal of mentally disturbed people to institutions against their will. If any one thing killed that child and wounded this Blue Dog Dem who voted against Pelosi, it was that policy of another of the Senate’s Liberal Lions, President Johnson.
    You jokers need to get a life even worse than the Sheriff of Pima County, AZ


  1. Blame and Motivation « - January 11, 2011

    […] This has not stopped those of good and ill will from speculating, or calling for changes in gun laws, or denouncing various groups with which they were already in opposition. The main focus, nationally, of such speculation surrounds Sarah Palin, her campaign rhetoric and graphics of crosshairs over candidates (including Giffords) and the general Tea Party love affair with not just praising the Second Amendment, but inserting guns into politics, sometimes literally.   […]

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