Thursday, December 22, 2011

Bob Garfield Tries to Make the GOP Sound "Fringe", Fails Miserably

Bob Garfield is one of those media elites that liberals would love to have at their dinner parties.  He has a show on National Public Radio, has contributed to All Things Considered, Playboy etc. Upper West Side catnip.  Well, he just wrote a piece in The Atlantic titled "The Media's Deaf, Dumb and Blind Campaign Coverage".  The point of the article is that the media is so afraid of showing their liberal bias that they are not covering how "fringe" the GOP has become.  Of course, he ignored the possibility that what they are saying isn't fringe at all, and might just be a slightly different way of thinking than what he is used to in his liberal conformist cocktail parties.  I think knowing this, he resorted to misrepresenting (a nice word for saying he made stuff up that wasn't actually said) to make things sound scary, when in fact they weren't.  So let's take a look at all the examples he puts forward for Republican "craziness":

When presidential hopeful Newt Gingrich this weekend floated the idea of arresting federal judges over "activist" decisions, something very strange happened: It was in the papers.

Not on page one, or anything. No "-gate" suffix. No wall-to-wall cable coverage, like for a shark attack or a missing blond. Still, Gingrich's remarks did get a mention, possibly because the scenario he described sounded so gigantically unconstitutional. And unapologetically authoritarian. And just plain scary.

That's because he didn't say he wanted to arrest the judges.  He said he would send out the Capitol Police or US Marshalls to judges who refused to honor a Congressional subpoena to testify to explain their decisions.  Is that really that crazy?  Members of the legislative and executive branches have to explain their decisions on a daily basis, why not judges?  Most of them already don't have to get re-elected so why is this even smallest semblance of accountability crazy?  Also, I think that Congressional hearings on judicial decisions is a better use of time than say their hearings on the use of steroids in baseball (which uber liberal Henry Waxman said were dealing with important questions for "baseball, its fans and the nation").

For months and years, the GOP presidential candidates have mimicked the most incendiary and marginal right-wing firebrands of the 1950s and 60s. Yet neither the provocations, nor their eerie echoes, have gone much remarked upon. For instance, when Rep. Michele Bachmann asserted that public schools "are teaching children that there is separation of church and state, and I am here to tell you that is a myth," based perhaps on her objection to the accepted understanding of the Establishment Clause, this raised no great media hew and cry.

Since when is "accepted understanding" have anything to do with the truth?  People used to think that the Earth was flat and Jews have horns (though this is still believed by many Arabs, Europeans and Ron Paul supporters).  Anyway, let's look at what the Establishment clause actually says "Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof;"  Basically it saying that Congress can't create an official state religion so there won't be  a Church of America like there is a Church of England.  In now way was this meant to apply to the states as Massachusetts had an established church (Congregationalist) until 1833, two generations after the Constitution was ratified (I'm guessing that if it were an oversight, it would have been caught by then).  The extreme view that is forcing an Alabama school to take "Silent Night" out of the Christmas program is not based on the actual text of the 1st Amendment.  So Bachmann is actually 100% correct.

In 2010, Sarah Palin said as much, too: "Go back to what our founders and our founding documents meant -- they're quite clear -- that we would create law based on the God of the bible and the Ten Commandments."

Granted she takes it a little too far when she talks about the Ten Commandments but if you do look at the Declaration of Independence there are two mentions of God at the very beginning.  "When in the Course of human events it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another and to assume among the powers of the earth, the separate and equal station to which the Laws of Nature and of Nature's God entitle them, a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the separation. We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness."  So basically, we have certain GOD-given rights and the constitution (with the Bill of Rights) was a document meant to enshire those rights in the laws of this country.  So with that in mind how is what Sarah Palin said controversial?  Well, here is the completely insane answer:

Here is what Wesley Swift had to offer on the subject: "This is a Christian nation. The Supreme Court ruled on separate occasions that this is a Christian nation. And the fact remains that there are many forces that are seeking to destroy Christian civilization." Wesley Swift being the founder of the Christian Identity movement -- a white supremacist, anti-Semite and convicted domestic terrorist. One of his brothers in paranoia was the so-called "minister of Hate," the Rev. Gerald L.K. Smith, founder of the racist and anti-Semitic America First movement.

So Palin's comment that the founders believed that the laws of this country should defend our rights that "are endowed by their Creator" somehow makes her comparable to a White Supremacist and anti-Semite?  Holy leap in logic Batman!  Note she didn't even mention Christianity in her quote so religious Jew and Muslims should have no problem with what she just said.  What a tortured mind is Bob Garfields, he even hears the word God and he thinks about racist White Supremacists.  The folks at NPR must have A Clockwork Orange like setup somewhere in their offices to get a reaction like that.

Xenophobia. Demonization of the United Nations and the Federal Reserve. Radical reduction of federal budget and influence. Conflation of federalism with socialism. Cult of states rights. Christian exceptionalism. Return to the gold standard. Not to mention the dismantling, in the name of jobs, of the entire regulatory infrastructure of the nation.

There is a lot in this paragraph to comment on so please be patient.  Xenophobia?  And the evidence of xenophobia is???  Is it related to the insane attempt to link Palin's innocuous phrase with White supremacists?  Is that the best you can do Bob?  Given that all of the candidates are for legal immigration (most want to expand it and none of them are saying we should deport every illegal) where is the evidence of xenophobia? 

To call what the Republicans are doing with regards to the United Nations "demonization" makes it sound like somehow it is undeserved.  It's a racist, anti-semitic, anti-American organization that is so dysfunctional that Libya was on it's Human Rights Council (in 2002 it even passed a resolution backing Palestinian terrorism) and Iran was sponsoring a UN-backed conference on terrorism.  And let's not forget the whole Oil for Food scandal that involved Kofi Annan himself.

On the Federal Reserve there is only one statistic that you should know, that since they started the US Dollar has been devalued by almost 96%.  Enough said.  And on the "radical reduction of federal budget" issue, has he seen our budget lately?  For every dollar we collect, we are spending $1.40.  It actually seems more radical to keep spending this way instead of, now hold on to something, actually spending just what we take in!  I don't think I'd want to see Bob Garfield's credit card statement if he considers this a radical idea.

His comment about conflation of federalism with socialism actually makes no sense.  Anyone who has read the Federalist Papers (and I'm willing to bet more Republicans have than Democrats) would have trouble doing that.  Obviously federalism won't necessarily lead to socialism but you have to have people in government willing to hold themselves back and not act like drunken teenagers with keys to their parents car.  He then just throws that phrase "Christian exceptionalism" out there like it is dirty.  I'm really not sure what he is referring to but given America is great and it is Christian that might be where he is getting that from.  Here's a useful exercise, please name any non-Christian nations that is as free as the United States?  I'm waiting.

On the gold standard and the regulatory thing, he is confusing Ron Paul with the GOP.  Ron Paul is not the GOP, he is loosely affiliated at best. Remember he ran for President as a Libertarian in 1988 and in 2008 endorsed the Constitution Party candidate for President.  He just runs as a Republican because he gets more attention that way.

Texas Gov. Rick Perry on the radical Obama administration: "They are socialist. Their policies prove that almost daily. Look, when all the answers emanate from Washington D.C., one size fits all, whether it's education policy or whether it's healthcare policy, that is, on its face, socialism."

And this is crazy because?  Isn't Obamacare a step towards a more socialist healthcare system?  Is there anyone credible who doesn't think so?

On December 16, New York Times columnist and Nobel-winning economist Paul Krugman called Ron Paul's economic doctrine "madness."

I don't quite understand why we should take this as proof that his ideas actually are madness.  Garfield actually provides no reasoning, just saying that hey Krugman thinks it's crazy.  Just because Krugman won a Nobel Prize doesn't mean he is right.   I have a feeling that Hayek and Friedman, who also won the Nobel prize, would probably support his ideas.  Also, Bob Garfield needs to look at Krugman in Wonderland, a great blog that regularly pokes holes in the tripe that Krugman publishes.

Bachmann spies enemies in both the legislative and executive branches government, asserting on one occasion, "I wish the American media would take a great look at the views of the people in Congress and find out: Are they pro-America or anti-America?" And on another one: "The federal government will virtually have control over every aspect of lives for the American people," she said. "It is time to stand up and say: We get to choose. We choose liberty, or we choose tyranny -- it's one of the two."

It's kind of a a legitimate question given that liberals have expanded the interpretation of the commerce clause to mean the Federal Government can regulate abortions and whether or not you buy insurance.  Given that, is there anything that the Federal Government can't regulate?  Saying we are on the road to tyranny doesn't sound especially extreme.

I know Bob Garfield meant to write this to poke fun at the GOP and get some nice golf claps from his fellow compatriots in liberal intellectual circles (which I know he has done) but what is clear is that the GOP isn't the one out of touch, Bob Garfield is for thinking that what they say is actually crazy.

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