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No jokes today.

Since Barack Obama’s inauguration, nine people in the United States have been the victims of ideological murder by extreme right-wing individuals. By “ideological murder,” I mean that these crimes had no personal component; they were motivated solely by ideological considerations.

  • Keith Luke, 22, is charged with the murder of two Cape Verdeans and the rape and attempted murder of a third in Brockton, MA, on January 21. Police say that Luke planned to “kill as many Jews, blacks, and Hispanics as humanly possible.”
  • On April 4, Richard Poplawski, an apparent racist who believed that shadowy forces control the government, strapped on body armor and murdered three Pittsburgh police officers.
  • On May 30, Shawna Forde and two others entered the home of Raul Flores in Phoenix, claiming to be police officers, and shot Flores and his nine-year-old daughter to death, while also wounding Flores’s wife. Forde is associated with Minutemen American Defense, an extreme anti-immigration group.
  • On May 31, abortion rights activist Scott Roeder allegedly murdered physician George Tiller, one of the few remaining US doctors willing to perform late term abortions.
  • On June 10, white supremacist James von Brunn entered the Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington, D.C., and opened fire with a .22 rifle, killing museum guard Stepehn T. Johns.

With this as background, look what happened on Fox Nation when Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-MN) announced that she was going to refuse to answer 2010 census questions because ACORN will be “in charge of going door to door and collecting data from the American public” (which is categorically false):

Becha I don’t

! Becha they hear click, pop, and drop!

Not unless they have a bigger gun than I have. We Texans don’t play the roll over and give in game.

I will not fill it out and will run any Accorn people off my property.

BEWARE OF DOG…NO ACORNS ALLOWED.

ACORN will get to meet my black lab if you show up at my door for the census.

Come on by ACORN. My dogs need the training. You had better get issued police dog training pads. From how it looks I’m not alone and you WILL need them!

It’s my property and I have the right to say who is allowed on it. I also, have the right to post a sign advising THAT YOU ARE NOW IN RANGE, PLEASE HOLD STILL.

I guess that’s the best job they can get under this dictator? Anyone who helps him cheat to win again will get what’s coming to them.

JUST MAKE SURE YOU SICK YOUR DOG ON THEM OR ANSWER THE DOOR WITH YOUR GUN IN YOUR HAND.

And, lest anyone think that these are all just blowhards, here are two posters who are proud of what they have already done:

When the census person aka Acorn rang my doorbell my 3 german shepards were not happy – to say the least. I just pointed to the dogs and smiled. The Acorn dropped some notice and ran.

I am already in posession of my third notice for failing to cooperate with federal census takers targeting renters. When I asked if they were ACORN employees the feigned ignorance… as though they had never hear of it before.They told me the interview would take about 20 to 30 minutes. I told them it will take me less than two for them to record the information I’m willing to provide. I was marked “uncooperative”. I put the butch “b!tc#” (attitude) out and told her to leave the property immediately.

These two unfortunate workers, who were most likely just verifying addresses in preparation for the mailing of census forms next March, almost certainly had no connection to ACORN whatsoever. It’s far more likely that they’ve never heard of ACORN than that they were “feigning ignorance.”

And so it has begun already. This is the result of a relentless campaign of ACORN innuendo, half-truths, and falsehoods by conservative media and, sadly, politicians like Bachmann. And if something does happen to a census worker, the media and such politicians will have a difficult time explaining away their role in creating the atmosphere that caused it.

You couldn’t pay me enough to be a census worker in 2010.

Boo

This one’s going to be real short. I don’t think any additional comment will be needed.

President Obama today spoke about health care to an AMA convention in Chicago. According to the Chicago Sun-Times:

Though many doctors and Republicans say Obama’s health reforms would lead to “socialized medicine,” 2,200 members of the American Medical Association rose to their feet in nine standing ovations for Obama Monday, clapped at all his applause lines and only booed him once. [All emphasis added]

OK, you got the part about nine ovations and one booing, right? Good. Without further ado, here’s Fox Nation’s take on this. Surprise!

See that? No additional commentary needed.

(But aren’t you just shocked—shocked!—that FN didn’t report it like this?)

A change of pace. This one isn’t about Fox Nation, it’s about the people who comment there.

Today’s Washington Post contained a little op-ed piece by columnist Michael Kinsley regarding the national anthem. He’s not crazy about it. It’s very hard for most people to sing:

“The Star-Spangled Banner” is notoriously unsingable. A professor of music, Caldwell Titcomb of Brandeis, pointed out years ago in the New Republic that its melody spans nearly two octaves, when most people are good for one octave, max. The first eight lines are one enormous sentence with subordinate clauses, leaving no really good place to take a breath. There are far too many mandatory leaps off the high board (“. . . what so PROU-dly we hail . . .”).

He doesn’t much like the lyrics either (“there is only one reference to any value commonly associated with America: ‘land of the free.'”), but in any event, he’d like to use a different tune. He suggests “God Bless America”, “America”, “America the Beautiful”, “This Land is Your Land”, and a handful of others. Now, let’s note some things he’s not saying:

  • America sucks.
  • We should abolish the national anthem.
  • I hate America and I want to destroy it.
  • I’d prefer “Alice’s Restaurant”.

Well, here’s what FN makes of this:

So, OK, that’s pretty dumb, but, as I said, this one isn’t about FN itself. I’ve gathered together for your entertainment the merest smattering of the jolly comments from the FNatics. Enjoy.

The only thing that should change is what country he lives in.

Is he a communist? My gosh, next the Dems will be banning apple pie and baseball because they are too American! Maybe Mr. Kinsley would like a “vacation in Soviet Russia?” [Ed.: News of the collapse of Soviet Russia eighteen years ago apparently a bit slow to reach this neighborhood.]

As if this loser knows what it is like to fight for this country if indeed this is his country.

I suggest that we all contribute to a fund and use the money to send these weird, anti-american, flag and country haters to someplace they would fit in. Cuba, Palestine, Sudan, Egypt, Somalia, Borneo, Pakistan, Iraq, Iran are a few of the places that come to mind. [Ed.: Borneo?]

I do not understand people who have lived in our nation, been recipiants of all we have, and still want to destroy America.

It is a small minority who follow the “cool” crowd who always have to denigrate, debase and vilify our nation and its customs and traditions. These types of people are always among us; we call them misfits.

There is now other way to describe these People in power at this time as anything but “MONSTERS”. [Ed.: “These People in power” includes newspaper columnists?]

Is this guy a citizen? He is an excellent entrant for our waterboarding contest!

There is only one thing that needs to go and that is 0bama and his gang of criminals.

Why don’t all you people who don’t like the USA the way it [is] leave and start your own country. Then you can do things anyway you want. You can even have Obummer as Ruler.

send them all to some island far from Us and let them build the Country they want socialism, full control. Take all the atheist with them.

(Reply:)And let the Great Armed forces of our once great nation, like the Navy and the AIR FORCE, use that island for target practice.

This anthem is part of our heritage. What do the liberals want a “rap” anthem???

Liberals are all stupid, so should this suggest by a Liberal surprise anyone. This is just another thing the Left would like to cram down our throats. Frankly, Kinsley needs to be sent to Gitmo on the next plane.

Well, you get the gist. It is apparently not possible to disagree with FNatics on anything without causing them to blow a gasket.

On June 4, 2009, Fox Nation posted this brilliant bit of work claiming that a climatologist had directly blamed the recent crash of an Air France Airbus A-330 on global warming.

This one smells bad from the gitgo, don’t it? Even though severe thunderstorms are suspected to have been a factor in the crash, no serious climate scientist would ever blame a specific small-scale weather event on global warming. And, of course, none did.

Fox’s post links to a story by the Business and Media Institute:

Once again, a widely publicized tragedy is being blamed on man-caused global warming.

Warming alarmists have often bemoaned air travel saying it increases the threat of global warming, but this time they’re blaming the phenomenon for the tragedy surrounding Air France Flight 447. …

Aleksey Kokorin, a climatologist for the left-wing World Wildlife Fund’s Russia Climate Program, blamed global warming for the crash. He told Russia Today (RT) on June 4 global warming is to blame for making the weather conditions some think is to blame for the crash more severe.

The first thing to note is that there’s no original reporting in this “story”; it’s based entirely on another article. In that article, which appeared in Russia Today, climatologist Kokorin makes no such claim. Here’s the essence of what Kokorin does say:

“A consequence of global warming is that the frequency and severity of such events (severe weather conditions) is higher,” Aleksey Kokorin, head of Russia’s World Wildlife Fund’s Climate Program, told RT. “Unfortunately, the risk for airplanes, especially in tropical areas above water, will be higher. ….”

Kokorin is, quite obviously, speaking generally about one of the effects of climate change: that severe weather events are likely to become more numerous and more severe, and that this could make some flight routes somewhat more dangerous. This in no way blames climate change for this specific storm or, by extension, the Air France crash.

Business and Media Institute

So, who are these guys? What is the “Business and Media Institute”? From the charged language (“warming alarmists” who “bemoan” things, “left wing” institutions, etc.) you’ve probably already guessed that it’s got a horse in the race. And you were right. BMI is a division of the Media Research Center, and if the MRC testimonials from Ann Coulter, Rush Limbaugh, Britt Hume, Laura Ingraham, Bob Novak, John Fund, Neil Boortz, Fred Barnes, Newt Gingrich, Jerry Falwell, Phyllis Schlafly, and Robert Bork aren’t enough to give you the general flavor, maybe the more than $250,000 that ExxonMobil has contributed to MRC since 1998 is (see here, for example). Oh, and the $1.9 million of Mellon oil and banking money that the DeSmogBlog says MRC has received from the Scaife people.

Question of the Day: Why did Fox link to an article from industry-funded source that is about another readily available article? Why not link to the original article instead? Do you think it might be because the original article didn’t make a ridiculous, easily debunked fake claim about global warming? Extra credit: Look up “straw man argument”.

Bonus Question: How many FN commenters bothered with the one extra mouse click it would have taken to look at the original article using the link in the BMI article? (Hint: The correct answer is “One.” And he was, of course, shouted down for being the gullible libtard moron that he obviously is.)


Update [June 8, 2009]

I tracked down climatologist Kokorin and emailed him. As expected, he confirms that it was not his intent to blame climate change for the crash:

To be honest nothing about this particular crash, but about general risk of global climate change for airplanes.

OK, English is not Kokorin’s native tongue, but we get the idea.

On May 30, FN posted this charming item (the headline originally said “restrict”, but that wasn’t quite incendiary enough, so FN changed it to “muzzle”):

From the post:

A new White House policy on permissible lobbying on economic recovery and stimulus projects has taken a decidedly anti-First Amendment turn. It’s a classic illustration of Big Government trying to control every aspect of a particular activity and in the process running up against civil liberty.

Check out this passage from a post on the White House blog … (emphasis added):

“First, we will expand the restriction on oral communications to cover all persons, not just federally registered lobbyists. For the first time, we will reach contacts not only by registered lobbyists but also by unregistered ones, as well as anyone else exerting influence on the process. We concluded this was necessary under the unique circumstances of the stimulus program.

Sounds pretty bad, you’ll agree. But if you read the actual White House memo this was taken from—as, of course, no FN readers will—there’s no muzzling (or even any restricting) going on:

[T]he President’s March 20, 2009 Memorandum required all oral communications between federally registered lobbyists and government officials concerning Recovery Act policy to be disclosed on the Internet; barred registered lobbyists from having oral communications with government officials about specific Recovery Act projects or applications and instead required those communications to be in writing; and also required those written communications to be posted on the Internet.

So there’s no restriction on communications; they just have to be disclosed on the web so we can all see them. In other words, it’s a sunshine provision. This generates many predictable comments about how our new fascist/communist government is trampling on the Constitution in pursuit of its goal of destroying America, yada yada yada.

But now for the good part. On June 2, just three days later, FN posted this gem:

Again from the post:

Roll Call … says that the administration lifted bans on lobbyists that have some part of spending “stimulus” funds. So now getting hooks into bloated federal spending is open season for the very lobbyists that Obama pretended to disdain only months ago.

So much for hopinchange.

Additionally, the administration is still also pretending at “transparency” because one of the new rules is that there be “immediate internet disclosure” of this renewed contact that lobbyists are to have with federal agencies. Not that such a thing is anywhere near de rigueur at this point… but, um, you know how hard The One is working, right?

You’ve jumped ahead to the punch line, haven’t you? That’s right, these are the very same rules that they were going nuts about three days earlier. They were outraged when the rules were announced, and outraged again when they were retracted (actually, they weren’t retracted, just reduced in scope a bit). Commenters cheerily note that the “congenital liar”/”Chicago hood” Obama is moving right along with his “plan to tear down America.”

Stop it, guys. You’re killing me.


Originally posted in Just Weird Stuff June 6, 2009.

So, the FDA sent a warning letter to General Mills asking it to stop claiming that Cheerios helps to lower cholesterol. It’s not that the claim isn’t accurate; the problem is that, under section 201(g)(1)(B) of 21 U.S.C. § 321 (g)(P)(B)—you’ll want to look that up—the use of such a health claim makes Cheerios a drug, not a food.

OK, yeah, maybe it’s a little silly, but rules is rules.

But those lovable scamps over at FOX Nation, well, they just crack me up. Here’s their take on the Cheerios scandal. (Are these guys on sabbatical from the Daily Show or something? I mean, they’re that funny.)

Yes, friends, Barack HUSSEIN Obama (as he is generally referred to on FN) is going after good ol’ American Cheerios. Well, that seems to be what the comment-posters over at FN think, anyway. Here’s a random sample of what the well-informed, and always fair, FN crowd has to say:

Obama is an idiot! He is the biggest piece of crap I have ever seen in the White House.

No more food for anyone…everyone gets a Kook-Aid [sic] Obama IV and that is how life is sustained from now on.

The FDA is under the administration of Hussein Obama.

mr.0 will attack anything American, next up Corn Flakes and Wheaties, John Deere, CAT, baseball, apple pie.

Now that Obama and his staff trying very hard to do away with our Constitution, getting rid of small business nation wide and now they’re going after privately owned such as Cheerios? This is how the dictators and their cronies work.

Why hasn’t someone gotten him out of office yet?

CHEERIOS, please get it RIGHT so Obama can’t take you over, too!!!

Obama will do anything to keep the focus away from what his real agenda is. And that is to ruin our country.

Oy. Well, I suppose it’s not that surprising, given that some of the FN loonies called for Obama’s impeachment because he laughed at Wanda Sykes’s Rush Limbaugh jokes.

To be sure, there is the occasional lonely voice from the other side (“morons”, in the affectionate lingo of the FN glitterati). You gotta love this comment:

If Fox News can claim to be Fair and Balanced, I don’t see why Cheerios can’t claim to lower cholesterol.


Originally posted in Just Weird Stuff May 14, 2009.

FOX claims that its new web site, FOX Nation, is “unbiased.” Is it? A smattering of its front page headlines:

  • Taliban Copies Democrat [sic] Playbook
  • [Obama] Spent 20 Years With Wright but Won’t Celebrate Nat’l Prayer Day?
  • Has Obama Declared War on American Business?
  • 100 Days, 100 Mistakes
  • Your Democratic Scandal Scoreboard
  • Is Obama Targeting Catholics?

Hmmm. I don’t see any bias there, do you? But here’s my current favorite:

(While you’re looking at that, check out the rest of the unbiased headlines.)

Anyway, “Obama To Cut Slain Officers Programs in Half”. What an outrage! No, no, not the missing apostrophe. Obama is cutting benefits to the families of dead cops! Why, that’s disgusting!

Except that he isn’t. This is simply a budgeting exercise, and it has no effect at all on the actual benefits paid to the families of fallen officers.

The program in question is a Department of Justice’s Public Safety Officers’ Benefit Program (PSOB), which, among other things, pays a fixed death benefit to the families of slain public safety officers. The current benefit is $315,076 and is adjusted annually for inflation.

So, why the budget decrease? Let’s say that you’re doing your household budget, and, to get started, you compare last year’s budget to what you actually spent. In doing this, you find that you budgeted $2,000 for electricity, but you only spent $1,000. Are you going to still budget $2,000 for electricity this year? Of course not. The goal is to make your budget as realistic as you can. So, you budget using last year’s actual spending plus a bit—say, $1,250.

But does this mean that you wouldn’t pay the electric company if it turns out that your bills exceed $1,250? Again, of course not. The $1,250 is a budget estimate, not a spending limit.

It’s exactly the same with PSOB. Previous budgets allocated far more money for PSOB death benefits than was actually needed. So, the budget amount was sensibly reduced—but the amount is still sufficient to cover all anticipated claims. But even if it turns out not to be sufficient, all claims will still be paid. Remember that the budget is just a budget; it is not a limit on actual spending. PSOB death benefits are mandatory—they must be paid. From a DOJ 2009 budget document:

The funding level requested for FY 2009 is sufficient to cover all anticipated claims in that year for the death benefits program. As this program is counted as a mandatory account, should additional resources be required to fund all claims, the funding level can be adjusted administratively.

So, the fact is that there is no reduction in the benefits that will be paid to the officers’ families under this budget. Comparing that simple fact to the headline “Obama to Cut Slain Officers Programs in Half” is enlightening, to say the least.


Update: FN has updated the headline. Did they fix it? Nooooo. It’s even worse:

ACORN is mentioned only in FN’s headline; there’s not a single syllable about it in the article that the headline links to. I have a theory about how it got into the headline. If you look at the reader comments on the FN site, you’ll find a lot of references to the administration’s allegedly giving millions (and according to some, billions) to ACORN while slashing payments to the poor families of the dead cops (which, as we have seen, is not the case). My theory? Someone at FN was reading the comments, noticed this, and decided it was a neat way to throw some more raw meat to the pit bulls. But it’s just, you know, a theory.


Update 2 [May 9, 2009]: The International Association of Fire Fighters calls the report “misguided and inaccurate”.

The PSOB … program is an entitlement program, which means that 100 percent of benefits must be paid by law to every family that qualifies. The “cut” that FOX News is reporting is an estimate of what the program will pay out and is based on the predicted number of line-of-duty death claims.

“There has been no cut to the PSOB program,” states IAFF General President Harold Schaitberger. “The families of fire fighters who die in the line of duty will receive the full benefit. Whether there are half as many deaths or three times as many deaths, all claims will be paid.”


Originally posted in Just Weird Stuff May 8, 2009.