Consider George W. Bush, Dick Cheney, Rudy Giuliani, and Ann Coulter. What do they all have in common, besides the fact they are rabid conservatives who have contributed nothing positive to our country? They all became more prominent, and held higher power and prestige after the September 11, 2001 attacks. While America picked up the pieces of that terrible day, they rose above it all to become the mitochondria of the right.
Because of those horrific attacks (which were the result of Republican-led negligence):
1. George W. Bush’s popularity soared to 90%, setting the stage for two wars and a re-election, which was centered around combating global terrorism to prevent “another 9/11.”
2. Dick Cheney launched a war on morality and international law with the use of torture, all in the name of preventing another 9/11. Now our national standing is forever stained.
3. Rudy Giuliani “united” New York City after 9/11, catapulting him into the national spotlight as a conservative hero against terrorism. Now, Giuliani has rendered himself irrelevant with his race-baiting and paranoia. Because of his fame from 9/11, we will be stuck with him until the day he dies.
4. Ann Coulter became internationally “relevant” with her “invade their countries, kill their leaders, and convert them to Christianity” comments regarding Muslims. She also took it upon herself to make fun of the 9/11 widows who she thinks are “enjoying their husband’s deaths so much.” Like Giuliani, she has rendered herself irrelevant.
All of these Republicans rose in the ranks of national prominence because of 9/11. Their careers benefited because they kept a tight grip on America with constant fear-mongering and rising nationalism. In their mantra, if you dissented against them, you were a traitor and a terrorist sympathizer. They kept getting elected and they kept getting their spots on TV because people were frightened. The American people wanted to be reassured that 9/11 would never happen again, and the ones who were the best at post-9/11 propaganda were the Republicans.
Because of 9/11, Republicans were back in business, and for a long time. As the United States naturally becomes more progressive with a younger population and an influx of forward-thinking immigrants, the GOP would virtually be obsolete if it wasn’t for that terrible September day.
Speaking of immigrants, you can thank post-9/11 Republicans for our flawed and stagnated immigration system. Because of their propaganda surrounding foreigners, we needed to put more money in the border, send everyone back, and close our borders because of “terrorism.” Yes, the two middle aged parents with their three small children fleeing Mexico are in the same boat as ISIS and the cartels, according to the GOP. If they were brown, they weren’t welcome. If you’re not white, you might as well be a terrorist. This rise in latent racist nationalism continues today, even as President Obama uses his executive authority to fix our broken immigration system. It’s no wonder why so many conservative Americans are hostile to anyone foreign.
The events also beautifully lined the pockets of the GOP (and almost bankrupted the country) with their two wars to “fight” terrorism, which greatly benefited their political machine. And why wouldn’t you be for the war? If you weren’t for “getting the terrorists,” you supported 9/11. The Republicans actually had us convinced there for awhile. According to Gallup Polling, between March 2003 to July 2005, the majority of Americans supported sending our troops to Iraq. After that, America quickly grew war weary.
But now here we are, 14 years after those terrible attacks and the GOP thinks they’re making a comeback. Cheney and Giuliani are appearing on almost every Sunday show, spewing their “we gotta’ get the terrorists” talking points. People are still listening to them, even though they have been conclusively proven wrong.
September 11, 2001 was the worst day for our nation. But it was the best day for the Republican Party. It wasn’t the attack itself that ruined us. It was the response, and the fear, in the long run, that ruined us.
Blaming the murder of two NYPD officers on President Obama isn’t just stupid — it’s delegitimizing and obscene
Quite appropriately, considering how terrible much of the news this year has been, it looks like the last big story of 2014 will be the horrifying murder of two NYPD officers this weekend by Ismaaiyl Brinsley, an unhappy and mentally unstable 28-year-old man who had a history of trouble with the law and a propensity for violence. Claiming on social media beforehand that he was doing it in the name of avenging Michael Brown and Eric Garner, Brinsley approached a squad car in Brooklyn on Saturday and pitilessly killed the two unsuspecting officers within before killing himself after a brief attempt to escape. Like Shaneka Thompson, the Air Force reservist and former girlfriend he’d shot in the stomach earlier that day (who is in critical condition but expected to recover), neither Officer Wenjian Liu nor Officer Rafael Ramos was white.
The worst thing about this terrible event is, by far, the fear and pain that has been visited on those who care for Thompson, Ramos and Liu. On a human level, that’s what most matters. But on the level of politics — which occasionally intersects with that of humanity, but far less often than you’d hope — a terrible development was the response. As my colleague Joan Walsh explained already, a truly surprising and disappointing number of high-profile conservatives and Republicans didn’t even wait until the public knew Brinsley’s name before they began using his atrocity for their own, tangentially related purposes. New York City Patrolmen’s Benevolent Association head Patrick Lynch, for example, almost immediately integrated the attack into his ongoing campaign against Mayor Bill de Blasio. Former Gov. George Pataki, meanwhile, used it to bash de Blasio and test the waters for the latest iteration of his quadrennially threatened (and quadrennially ignored) potential White House run.
Yet even though blaming New York’s mayor for Brinsley’s actions is irrational (and so opportunistic that it borders on the obscene), even more shocking, even more inexcusable, and even more disturbing were the comments from ex-Mayor Rudy Giuliani. The failed presidential candidate and well-compensated consultant to Serbian nationalists trained his fire not so much at Mayor de Blasio as President Obama, whom he charged with fostering an atmosphere that made actions like Brinsley’s seem OK. “We’ve had four months of propaganda, starting with the president, that everybody should hate the police,” Giuliani said on Fox News Sunday morning. “The protests are being embraced, the protests are being encouraged,” he continued. Even the peaceful protests, he said, “lead to a conclusion: The police are bad, the police are racist.” Giuliani all but laid the slain officers’ caskets at the president’s feet.
While it should not surprise us that a man who once, in complete earnestness, said “[f]reedom is about authority” thinks all forms of organized dissent against law enforcement are illegitimate, we should be shaken and concerned by the complete lack of pushback from other elite Republicans that Giuliani’s comments received. Despite the fact that nothing — absolutely, positively nothing — the president said in response to the turmoil in Ferguson or the outrage in Staten Island could be reasonably construed as even tacitly endorsing violence, no high-profile GOPer even tried to scold “America’s mayor” for his brazen claims. In spite of the fact that Giuliani’s comments could only make sense if you accepted a racialized and erroneous subtext (black protesters and president vs. white police), no Republican publicly disagreed. And when Erick Erickson, predictably, brought Giuliani’s insinuation to the surface, saying Obama “does not like the United States,” the silence remained.
When we think of the ways in which Obama’s most virulent enemies have sought to delegitimize him, to depict him not only as wrong on various issues as well as lacking in character but as fundamentally deceitful and un-American, we conjure up images of the birthers. We think of claims that he’s actually from Kenya and/or Indonesia, that he’s lying about his Christianity and/or as his name. But even though the Democrats, the mainstream media and elements of the Republican establishment have managed to push the birthers to the fringes of the GOP, there’s little reason to think Giuliani, Erickson and others who make arguments like theirs will be ostracized from polite society. That’s a great injustice — because what they’re doing now and what the birthers do is, fundamentally, the same.
Granted, alleging President Obama is on a decades-long mission, which began at the time of his birth, to destroy the United States from within is much more superficially outlandish than alleging that he encourages the murder of police. But both claims, at their essence, depict the president as alien from the rest of American society, as an interloper with nefarious designs. For the birthers, Obama is a secret Muslim or Marxist or lizard (or a combination of all three) who wants to weaken the U.S. in order to implement some shadowy scheme. And for Giuliani and Erickson, he’s a secret radical, a crypto-black nationalist, the New Black Panther Party’s best friend in D.C. He’s not a milquetoast liberal technocrat reformer, but an extremist in camouflage, inciting a race war and the murder of police.
These wild, bigoted fever dreams are dangerous accusations for anyone to excuse or ignore, no matter the target. But they’re especially unacceptable when the accused is the first African-American president of the United States. This country has a long, ugly history of treating people of color — but especially black people — as somehow less than fully American. That’s part of what made Obama’s ascension to the White House so important and extraordinary. The prospect of the country’s first black president being repeatedly accused by his political opponents of stoking a race war and sowing disorder is therefore a scary one; and if it came to pass, it would be a clear step back from where we were as recently as 2008. And this is why it’s imperative that all the key players in the political elite push these sentiments back underground, as they (mostly) did with the birthers.
If they’re serious about wanting to strive for national unity and reconciliation on race in America, Republicans and conservatives need to distance themselves from Erickson and Giuliani’s comments — ASAP.
The horrifying shooting of two police officers in Brooklyn on Saturday has brought out the worst in some people. But it also gives us an opportunity to consider how we talk about the way we talk and whether we might do it in a more enlightening fashion. We regularly argue over not just the substance of issues but the way those issues are being discussed; both liberals and conservatives are convinced that their side presents its arguments in reasonable and logical ways, while the other side is prone to inflammatory, dishonest and demagogic rhetoric. When something like this shooting happens, the accusation that it occurred because of the words someone else spoke is almost inevitable. But it’s also almost always wrong.
Over the weekend, the conclusion from some on the right was immediate: The killing of officers Wenjian Liu and Rafael Ramos could be laid at the feet of national leaders who have been critical of police practices, including President Obama, Attorney General Eric Holder and New York Mayor Bill de Blasio.
The venom directed at de Blasio from police union leaders was particularly vivid. “There’s blood on many hands tonight,” said Patrick Lynch, the head of the New York police union. “Those that incited violence on the street in the guise of protest, that tried to tear down what New York City police officers did every day. We tried to warn it must not go on, it shouldn’t be tolerated. That blood on the hands starts at the steps of City Hall in the office of the mayor.” Here’s a tweet from former New York governor George Pataki:
— George E. Pataki (@GovernorPataki) December 21, 2014
Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) seemed to want to say that public officials were not responsible for the murders, but yeah, they’re kind of responsible: “the tone they’re setting around the rhetoric regarding the cops incites crazy people, but I blame the shooter.” And then there’s Rudy Giuliani, who was much more explicit: “We’ve had four months of propaganda starting with the president that everybody should hate the police,” he said in an appearance on Fox News.
It’s hard to find words to describe what a despicable lie this is. But here’s the truth: Every single time Barack Obama has spoken about these issues, he has stressed that violence of any kind, even when people are protesting over legitimate grievances, is utterly wrong and unacceptable. He makes sure, in all his public statements, to include praise of police officers. If he had ever said anything like “everybody should hate the police,” it would have been rather dramatic, to say the least. But he never said anything even remotely resembling that. For instance, here’s what Obama said after the grand jury’s decision was announced in the Ferguson case:
“I also appeal to the law enforcement officials in Ferguson and the region to show care and restraint in managing peaceful protests that may occur. Understand, our police officers put their lives on the line for us every single day. They’ve got a tough job to do to maintain public safety and hold accountable those who break the law. As they do their jobs in the coming days, they need to work with the community, not against the community, to distinguish the handful of people who may use the grand jury’s decision as an excuse for violence – distinguish them from the vast majority who just want their voices heard around legitimate issues in terms of how communities and law enforcement interact.”
Wow, that is some horrifying anti-cop rhetoric. And what about de Blasio? Here’s part of the explanation for why some in the NYPD seem to hate him so much:
There have been a number flash points between de Blasio and police, including one earlier this month, when the mayor spoke to George Stephanopoulos of ABC News about his fears for his biracial son.
“It’s different for a white child. That’s just the reality in this country,” de Blasio said. “And with Dante, very early on with my son, we said, look, if a police officer stops you, do everything he tells you to do, don’t move suddenly, don’t reach for your cellphone, because we knew, sadly, there’s a greater chance it might be misinterpreted if it was a young man of color.”
I get that police officers might not like to hear that, but is there a single sane human being who can say it’s bad advice to give to a black teenager? Or that anyone could take it as encouragement to commit murder?
It’s perfectly fine to call people out on their rhetoric. Everyone fortunate enough to have a prominent voice in public debate should be accountable for the things he or she says. But when someone tosses off the accusation that an act of violence committed by one deranged person was a consequence of words someone else spoke, he or she should immediately be met with a couple of questions, the most important of which is: What,exactly, are you referring to?
So when Rudy Giuliani accuses Barack Obama of saying “everybody should hate the police,” the response should be, “Mr. Giuliani, can you tell us what quote you’re referring to? When did President Obama actually say ‘everybody should hate the police’?” And when Giuliani has no answer, then he ought to be asked whether he’d like to retract the accusation. When Rep. Peter King (R-N.Y.) says, “it’s really time for our national leaders, the president, it’s time for the mayor of New York, and really for many in the media to stop the cop bashing, to stop this anti-police rhetoric,” he should be asked what exactly the president said that constitutes “cop-bashing.”
To be clear, this isn’t about shutting down anyone’s right to say what they want, even to toss off unsupported accusations. People regularly react to criticism of the things they say with cries of “censorship,” as though the First Amendment not only gives you a right to speak but also removes anyone else’s right to tell you that you’re being a jerk. But if you’re going to say that someone else’s words led to violence, you’d better have a case to make, and that case has to include the specific words that supposedly pushed the violent person over the edge.
Liberals like me certainly spend our fair share of time examining and criticizing the rhetoric of conservative politicians. But when any of us do it, we should follow a simple rule: The more serious the accusation you’re making, the more responsibility you have to support it with clear, specific evidence. If we all followed that rule, we could have a debate about events like this shooting that actually brought some greater understanding.
Or we could just see how angry we could make people, and whether we could use the tragedy to stir up hatred at our political opponents.
Soledad O’Brien has been on a roll putting her guests in check when they wander of topic…
Soledad O’Brien and Mayor Rudy Giuliani had a very heated exchange over President Obama’s response to Libya on Monday’s “Starting Point.”
O’Brien replayed a clip of Matthew Dowd, a former member of George W. Bush’s administration, defending the White House against criticism that it doesn’t have the answers about the attack on the U.S. consulate in Benghazi. He said that it took far longer than two weeks to get to the truth about weapons of mass destruction.
O’Brien asked Giuliani if Dowd had a point. “So we’re gonna blame this on Bush too?” Giuliani said.
“You gotta stop putting words in my mouth, sir,” O’Brien interjected. After some back-and-forth, she continued, “Every time I ask you a question, you like to push back as if somehow the question being posed to you is unfair. It’s not. I’m a journalist, you said some things. I’m trying to get some accurate responses from you. You are welcome to answer.”
Giuliani said that Dowd’s response seemed like an attempt to blame Bush for the Benghazi attack. He also argued that Obama should have disclosed any knowledge about previous attacks on the consulate and how the U.S. reacted.
“That’s not what Matthew Dowd is saying,” O’Brien objected.
“But it doesn’t take a long time for the president of the United States to tell us whether or not he was aware that this consulate was attacked twice before and if he was aware what did he do to protect the consulate?” Giuliani countered.
“But the point and my question is, does Matthew Dowd have a point?” she said.
One thing that can be said about Soledad O’Brien is that she does her job well…
While challenging former New York City mayor Rudy Giuliani during an interview Monday morning, CNN’s Soledad O’Brien got Giuliani to admit to framing discussion of the fatal attack on a U.S. consulate for political gain.
Giuliani, a surrogate for Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney, accused President Barack Obama’s administration of covering up the Sept. 11 attack on the American consulate in Benghazi, Libya, that killed four people, including Ambassador Christopher Stevens.
“Calling something a cover up kind of takes it a step further, don’t you think?” O’Brien asked.
Giuliani’s remarks are part of a recent pattern of cover-up accusations from him; Think Progress reported that Giuliani also urged Romney to exploit the situation in a separate interview on Fox News Monday.
“The White House has fumbled this — whether it’s a deliberate cover-up or they’re making it look like a cover-up they have fumbled the ball four or five times here,” Giuliani told O’Brien and her panel. “Excuse me if being the fact that I’m a Republican, I don’t give them as you do, all the benefit of the doubt.”
Giuliani also accused O’Brien of bias toward Obama, asking aloud, “Am I debating with the president’s campaign?” when she challenged his version of the government’s handling of the assault, which, he said, had the president directly linking the attack to unrest over the anti-Islam short film “Innocence of Muslims.”
“He did not specifically say, ‘This was due to a movie,’” O’Brien said, before motioning backstage. “Miguel, why don’t you pull all these transcripts for me? We have them all in the back room, we can just pull them out.”
The U.S. State Department has conceded that some of the people involved in the fatal attack “were linked to groups affiliated with, or sympathetic to Al-Qaeda.” Secretary of State Hilary Clinton said last week she has set up a review board to determine whether the facility was properly secured.
Sunday, Steven’s father, Jan, denounced the use of the ambassador’s death as a political talking point.
Early on Sunday morning, as the rest of NYTimes.com was turned over to 9/11 anniversary, Paul Krugman vented his spleen. Years of columns were condensed into a few pithy lines. “What happened after 9/11 — and I think even people on the right know this, whether they admit it or not — was deeply shameful,” he wrote. “The atrocity should have been a unifying event, but instead it became a wedge issue. Fake heroes like Bernie Kerik, Rudy Giuliani, and, yes, George W. Bush raced to cash in on the horror. And then the attack was used to justify an unrelated war the neocons wanted to fight, for all the wrong reasons.”
These were sentiments he’d expressed before, but he knew they’d set people off. He turned off the comment section. “I didn’t have time to sift through the predictable vast pile of obscene and threatening stuff looking for the rare entries that were fit to print,” Krugman says. So the reaction occurred away from the blog, on Twitter and in other columns. Jennifer Rubin accused him of “hatred and contempt for his countrymen.” Donald Rumsfeld picked up the essential tool of the angry op-ed reader:
On a day when everyone else was flashing back to 9/11/2001, I was flashing back to the days and months later, when criticism of the Bush administration returned, and the practitioners of it became, briefly, Emmanuel Goldsteins. Remember Susan Sontag? Remember the Dixie Chicks? Remember the campaign to “revoke the Oscar” from Michael Moore? There hasn’t been much criticism of the substance of Krugman’s remarks; denying that 9/11 and counterterrorism strategy became “wedge issues” is denying a few years of political history. The criticism is of Krugman for expressing it. He brushes the criticism right off.
“I’m not saying anything in that post that I wasn’t saying back in 2002, when people like him were riding high,” says Krugman. “And isn’t Rumsfeld ‘sweep everything up, related and not’ the poster child for 9/11 exploitation?”
If you’ve forgotten the “sweep everything up” reference, there’s a refresher here.
I’d have to agree with Nobel prize winner in economics, Paul Krugman on his assessment…
This story may not be going away for a long while.
New York Times columnist Paul Krugman lashed out at the commemoration of the 10 year anniversary of September 11th, labeling George W. Bush and Rudy Giuliani as “fake heroes.”
On his “Conscience of a Liberal” blog Sunday morning, the Princeton economics professor didn’t lack in showing any temerity in his comments that certainly will upset conservatives.
“What happened after 9/11 — and I think even people on the right know this, whether they admit it or not — was deeply shameful,” he wrote. “Fake heroes like Bernie Kerik, Rudy Giuliani, and, yes, George W. Bush raced to cash in on the horror. And then the attack was used to justify an unrelated war the neocons wanted to fight, for all the wrong reasons.”
Krugman, who normally allows comments, also wrote that he wasn’t going to allow comments under this post “for obvious reasons.”
The mortgage crisis began in 2006 and it’s all President Obama’s fault—at least according to Fox News host Sean Hannity. Hannity recently blamed Obama—“his policies, his economic plan, his fault”—for the mortgage crisis, ignoring who was actually president (that would be George W. Bush) as the housing market slipped.
Hannity’s is just one example of the selective memory and historical revision frequently on display in the conservative movement. Right-wing pundits, politicians and pseudo-historians are nibbling away at objective historical truths to rewrite history for present-day purposes, and hardly any topic is off-limits: glorifying the “Reagan Revolution” to children, sugar-coating the Jim Crow South and revising textbooks to offer a favorable view on Phyllis Schlafly—among many others.
Below, read about eight ways in which conservatives try to rewrite, sugarcoat or ignore aspects of American history.
1. Michele Bachmann on the founding fathers and slavery. Propelled to the front of the Republican field after her victory in the Iowa straw poll, Minnesota Representative Michele Bachmann’s historical views are notoriously error-prone. In one her infamous gaffes, she said the founding fathers “work[ed] tirelessly to end slavery” (in fact, George Washington, James Madison and Thomas Jefferson owned slaves) and that John Quincy Adamswas a founding father—he was born in 1767.
Bachmann was a research assistant to John Eidsmoe for his 1987 book Christianity and the Constitution: The Faith of our Founding Fathers, in which Eidsmoe wrote, “The church and the state have separate spheres of authority, but both derive authority from God. In that sense America, like [Old Testament] Israel, is a theocracy.” And at a conference, Eidsmoe outlined his belief in church/state separation: “The church’s responsibility is to teach biblical principles of government and to drive sinners to the cross…. The function of the state is to follow those godly principles and preserve a system of order.” Bachmann has praisedEidsmoe as “absolutely brilliant. He taught me about so many aspects about our godly heritage.”
2. Secession was fine, dandy and legal. Texas Governor and Republican presidential hopeful Rick Perry is fond ofpro-secession comments; in 2009, he joked that “we can leave anytime we want. So we’re kind of thinking about that again.”
In his dreams. In fact, these attempts at humor sidestep what secession actually leads to: a nullification crisis, a Civil War, hundreds of thousands of casualties and the federal government as the victor anyway. And secession is illegal. In 1866 the Supreme Court ruled in Texas v. White that Texas’s ordinance of secession was “absolutely null.”
3. Forgetting September 11? Conservatives have an uncanny ability to misremember when the September 11 attacks occurred. In July, Fox News host Eric Bolling said “we were certainly safe between 2000 and 2008 — I don’t remember any terrorist attacks on American soil during that period of time.” (In his “apology,” he accepted no blame: “Yesterday, I misspoke when saying that there were no US terror attacks during the Bush years. Obviously, I meant in the aftermath of 9/11, but that is when the radical liberal left pounced on us…. thank you liberals for reminding me how petty you can be.”)
A surprising slip came from ex–New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani. In January 2010 he claimed that “we had no domestic attacks under Bush.” In December 2009 Mary Matalin made the outrageous claim that Bush inherited the attacks from Bill Clinton. In November 2009 Bush’s ex–Press Secretary Dana Perino said “we did not have a terrorist attack on our country during President Bush’s term.”
4. Mike Huckabee’s “Learn Our History.” Mike Huckabee’s cartoon history series is whitewashing American history. While claiming to engage children in an easy-to-digest format without “misrepresentations…historical inaccuracies, personal biases and political correctness,” personal biases somehow make an appearance. Each video is produced with consultation from Learn Our History’s “Council of Masters;” one “Master,” Larry Schweikart, is the author of 48 Liberal Lies About American History, including “Lie #45: LBJ’s Great Society Had a Positive Impact on the Poor.”
In a DVD on the “Reagan Revolution,” viewers are invited to “journey to a time when America suffered from financial, international and moral crisis:” Washington, DC, 1977. A knife-wielding African-American man demands “gimme yo’ money!” Ronald Reagan’s arrival—against triumphant music playing and a caption reading “one man transformed the nation…and the world”—changed all that for the better, the DVD suggests.
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