Posts Tagged ‘Bill O’Reilly’

The attempted murder of Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords and the death of six bystanders in yesterday’s mass shooting in Tucson, Arizona have sparked a debate about how toxic our national discourse has become. That discourse barely had time to neutralize before it turned toxic again a few hours later. Before suspect Jared Lee Loughner was even named as the suspect, left wingers took aim at the Tea Party and Sarah Palin for the gun imagery she has brought to bear (and bears) in our national debates, and her targeting of Giffords in particular. This, they say, wasn’t an isolated incident by a crazy person but the spawn of a right-wing firmament that breeds crazy in crazy nurseries.

A couple of years ago, for instance, Fox pundit Bill O’Reilly repeatedly called Kansas abortion provider George Tiller a baby killer and mentioned him some 28 times on his show. Tiller was later murdered by Scott Roeder, shot in the eye while he was inside his church. The right has since Barack Obama’s election become more ominous in its rhetoric, more martial in its imagery and apocalyptic in its pronouncements. A disempowered group of Americans in 2008 turned to millenarian fury (a sign of their fear). Thus Giffords and others had gotten threats for their support of the health care bill. People were showing up at protests during those debates brandishing guns.

And so there was an anticipation building up among liberals that something like this was bound to happen sooner or later, perhaps even a dark wish that it happen to reveal the true animal spirits on the right.

So once there was news of a shooting, it seemed like a good time to immediately assail Palin’s bulls eye imagery, and the crosshairs she trained on Arizona’s Eight District in a 2010 political poster, which Giffords herself called an implied threat. Or for that matter it was worth remembering that Ann Coulter once called Bill Clinton assassination worthy. Or that Glenn Beck has joked about killing opponents and that his whole ideology is based around conspiracy theories that appeal to our country’s many lunatics.

At some point, rhetoric does indeed turn into threat, as I think it did in O’Reilly’s case. The First Amendment doesn’t cover threats. You can’t draw a line through a person’s name and smear it in blood on a poster. But it’s not like the right doesn’t know this. Instead its more clever exponents play with the contradictions. Palin and Glenn Beck do it with an edge of satire that their audience is likely aware of on some level, as obnoxious and destructive as it is to progress, as anathema as it is to people with brains. Yes it’s sad that some dummies do take it seriously (not realizing that Palin is less about policy than media whoredom or not recognizing that Beck is little more than a snake oil salesman/pitch man for gold investments). But the left uses imagery just as often, and with the arrogant vouchsafe that it’s OK for us because we’re right after all. A lot of us called George Bush a war criminal because we thought he had left at least a hundred thousand people dead in Iraq by lying about the reasons for going to war. Are there ramifications of using that language? Could it be used by a crazy person who thinks George Bush is literally a wanted criminal and who might in a deranged state somehow take action on that notion?

This is one reason I can’t blame Palin and Beck for Giffords. And that has made me a very lonely lefty this week.

Call it First Amendment fundamentalism or just sadness about how quickly the situation was exploited. Nobody on the left had the sense to wait a few hours to see who opened fire at that Safeway, and when it turned out to be a moonstruck college dropout/armed forces reject with paranoias about mind control, libs had to spin like mad when they realized they had literally jumped the gun. All of my heroes are now doing the mushy blogs about how toxic our political climate has become and trying with limp avail and flimsy proof to lay it at the feet of Palin.

Yes, Loughner used some right wing symbols about the Constitution being under attack and about the integrity of gold-backed currency. But he was mainly weaving that into a dark, solipsistic ideology all his own, barely recognizable to even NRA members. Who in the hell on the right wing has ever argued about government control of your “grammar structure”?

My heroes Keith Olbermann and Paul Krugman have taken this story with the dutiful drudgery of football players taking their positions at shirts and skins scrimmage. Krugman did not offer his usual elegant hard numbers to back up his weak contention that this was an invariable outcome of right wing hate-mongering–but just swiped at Palin in a pro forma rant,  trying to convince us she’s more to blame than people who used to call George Bush Hitler. Before 5 p.m. yesterday, conservatives already had been roused to defensive anger and were in pretty good stead to bat away the arguments that Jared Loughner’s  insanity in any way resembled their own behavior. The anti-bodies had kicked in, and there would be no reason, if I were a right-winger, to listen to the criticism. The left made a prima facie judgment and showed the right it will blame Sarah Palin for anything, even small pox, car wrecks or dog mange.

That makes her stronger, folks.

I’m a leftist, and do believe the Tea Party has created a toxic environment of anti-government panic and often destroyed sensible discourse with meaningless sloganeering. My late mother once told me that in her job as a tax preparer, she came across people who wanted to cash out of all their stock holdings at unattractive bases, take big tax hits or do other forms of financial violence to themselves just because Fox News has told them America had gone socialist. My mother’s prescription: “Fox News should be banned.” And this was a woman who had voted for Bush.

Just another example that conservative thinking is going to do real harm to many disadvantaged people (a lot of them conservatives) in the long run. They will slash necessary programs, push an anti-government agenda that forces more out-of-pocket expenses on poor people, destroy the middle class, accelerate wealth disparity, put us more in debt to the Chinese and force depressions on us if they have to. But it’s hard to prove or see that kind of insidious violence, and that makes lefties want to pin something more tangible on right wing leaders. How about a murder?

The fact is that there are lots of ways to slice the orange on this story. The most horrible is the one none of us dare bring up: We could point to the tragic irony that Giffords is a gun rights advocate and maybe ask if this is a good time to bring up the issue again in our national discourse. We could have taken aim (note the harmless metaphor) at Sarah Palin’s gun stances rather than Palin herself. Instead, we played into her hands and won her more sympathy.

Or we could have noted the irony that Giffords has not been easy to pigeonhole and she’s a good example of our less doctrinaire politicians. The sad thing is that maybe we need more of her, not one less. Our all-too-necessary political center is being attacked when it ought to be protected.

Instead, we liberals painted ourselves into a corner and made this contradictory statement: “The political atmosphere has become too toxic … and it’s the other side’s bloody fault.”

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Longtime political analyst Juan Williams was fired by NPR this week after he told Bill O’Reilly on Fox News that he gets nervous when he sees Muslims on airplanes, especially when they self-identify as Muslims. He then declared that it made him no bigot.

What are the many different ways we can look at, break down, deconstruct or reverse engineer this episode?

–*We could say Juan Williams made a bigoted remark and should have been fired.


–*We could point out that if a white man said he gets nervous around black men, it would anger Juan Williams, so he should know better.


–*We could say that the sentiment itself wasn’t as bad as the insistence that it wasn’t bigotry and Williams’ refusal to apologize for it.

This means he might have gotten away with saying the first part, but not the second part. We think. This is where we need lawyers to come in and break it all down for us and tell us when, in fact, he became bigoted. Unfortunately, all we have are his defenders, Sarah Palin and Mike Huckabee, who are probably as qualified to parse language as they are to teach us the linguistic roots of Sanskrit.


–*We could point out Juan Williams said something that quite a few Americans feel, even if it’s wrong. In other words, he was dumb enough to say out loud what Anderson Cooper, Brian Williams, Christiane Amanpour, Katie Couric and Regis Philbin might well feel but wouldn’t dare say.


–*You could say it doesn’t matter, because evincing his own personal feelings is not his job as a reporter.


–*As the song goes, “Everyone’s a Little Bit Racist.” Maybe sometimes we should say what’s on our minds or in our hearts, even if it’s bad, to examine what it’s about. But now Williams and others are on notice to hold those feelings in so that they never go examined. We are not allowed to make a safe place for discussion about the things we feel even though it might help us know what our problems are.


–*Juan Williams could have made that same statement with more sensitivity and still said something newsworthy: “I know it’s wrong, but I feel nervous around people in Muslim dress on airplanes, and that’s important to say out loud,” because this is something important we ought to know about the very large non-Muslim community in the U.S.–they fear people who are not like them.


–*We could acknowledge that if a Muslim went on TV these days and told us he gets nervous around non-Muslims, we’d probably see his point and we do want him to feel free to express himself right? If a lone woman, for that matter, got nervous walking when surrounded by strange men, we’d probably see her point, too. It’s not always rational. Does that make it illegitimate?


–*We might get angry that Juan Williams lost his job for something relatively minor when a week ago Bill O’Reilly said “Muslims killed us on 9/11,” which is much more outlandish and insipid, not to mention ungrammatical–and O’Reilly has never once feared for his job. Rather than creating a nursery of dissenting voices, NPR seems secretly determined to drive decent reporters to the Wild West town of slander that is Fox News, where they can more comfortably say uncomfortable things.


–*We could notice to our shame that liberals close ranks against heretics just as blithely as George W. Bush does. What we couldn’t do to O’Reilly, we’ve decided to do to a much more reasonable guy.


–*We notice that liberals like Juan Williams must fear for their jobs if they go outside the bounds of political correctness, while right wingers never need fear it. That means we risk putting more reporters like Juan Williams on Fox News’ payroll and continuing to polarize the United States.


–*We might point out that Juan Williams and Rick Sanchez, two journalists with relatively reasonable centrist viewpoints, have both recently been fired for making racially inflammatory remarks that were totally out of character for them. This means soon we will all be reading from scripts, and hewing to our party lines all the time. There will be no free-associating, no counterintuitive arguments, no alternative premises, no synthesizing of paradoxical statements, no free marketplace of ideas. Everybody will sound like Barney the Dinosaur.


–*We could say that NPR is trying to hold the line for objective journalism and that everyone with an opinion can feel free to go express it on Fox, where there is nothing but opinion and precious little news 24 hours  a day.


–*We could come up with a conspiracy theory that Juan Williams and Rick Sanchez were likely fired for backstage intrigues we know nothing about, because there is lots of infighting in the competitive world of broadcast journalism that is bigger than any one red herring racial comment. It might sound like a conspiracy theory, but Williams said that NPR didn’t like him being on Fox, so they found a reason to 86 him, and that doesn’t sound so far-fetched.


–*We could just say Juan Williams got fired because he was black.

Yes, it’s a stupid thought. It may sound like the most ludicrous argument of all. But think about it–why does everybody get to be a bigot but Juan Williams? Is it because we think he should know better since he’s a black man? Well who says that?

I don’t want to defend what Juan Williams said, but I think there’s too much readiness by some news organizations to fire good people for 1) obvious brain farts and 2) a failure to adhere to orthodoxy. I know when I free associate, stuff comes out of my mouth that I regret later. So maybe I should never be on broadcast news. But then I ask, who should?

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–*Naked wine show

–*Naked C-SPAN

–*Naked minutes of the CIA Nancy Pelosi waterboarding briefing by the Bush administration

–*Naked waterboarding

–*Naked minutes of the Chrysler reorganization plan, featuring naked back room arm-twisting of the car company’s subordinated debt holders by the Obama administration, especially if those naked lenders think they don’t have to play ball with the administration and have this naked re-org shoved down their naked throats

–*Naked stockholders up shit creek

–*Naked Supreme Court selection hearings

–*I’m Fucking Matt Damon

–*Bill O’Reilly’s “Fuck It, We’ll Do It Live”

–*Some cute chick in a bikini on YouTube talking about how we should all live in tents

–*Naked monkey smelling feces, fainting

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(Originally posted Tuesday, March 25, 2008 )

In the series finale of the canceled show “Jericho,” the angry producers end the story with the former United States being completely overrun by a sea of Islamic hordes on horseback, and Osama bin Laden feeds his beast of burden oats on the steps of the U.S. Capitol, using the Constitution as his own personal toilet paper.

“Medium”: “Allison, I understand you can read minds. Can you read my mind now, Allison?: Fuck you, that’s what I’m thinking, Allison.”

“The Bachelor–London”: ‘Tis Pity She’s a ‘Bachelor’ Contestant

10 CNN
Cross-eyed ex-hookers still waiting outside hopefully, just in case somebody wants to, I don’t know, talk with them about the Eliot Spitzer case again. Or about the sex business in general. Or anything else. C’mon, let us in! It’s freezing out here!

13 PBS
Charlie Rose: Old, heterosexual, rich, white men distraught over the passing of William F. Buckley. “He was our Martin Luther King,” cry distraught, effete, wealthy Caucasians.

15 Animal Planet
What do chimps fantasize about when they masturbate? That’s right! Pamela Anderson!

16 Disney
That’s So Adolf!

17 CW
You know, they have a name for “Gossip Girl” in prison, Serena, it’s called “Snitch Bitch.”

18 CNN Financial
A single share of the dismantled financial giant Bear Stearns now costs less than the one-piece “a la carte” meal at Kentucky Fried Chicken

20 E! Entertainment Network
Jar Jar Binks: The E True Hollywood Story

38 Fox News
John McCain loses whatever credibility he had left by letting idiot Mongoloid man-child Sean Hannity put words in his mouth for an hour while he shakes like a neutered Spanish Civil War concussion victim.

38 Fox News
Bill O’Reilly wants to know everything about this golden shower business. And don’t lie to him or spare him any detail–this is the no-spin zone, damn it!

39 Oxygen
We’ve realized that we can now strike the greatest blow for women by airing numerous cat fight shows.

40 Lifetime
Movie: It involves a mother, a daughter, drugs and a pimp. You can fill in the rest, even if you don’t have any imagination whatsoever.

40 Lifetime
Movie: ” ‘I Am Not a Moron’: The True Story of Eliot Spitzer Call Girl Ashley Dupre,” a Lifetime movie event starring Mischa Barton

41 History
“The Prophecies of Nostadamus, Part IV”: Nostradamus predicts that tonight he will eat a lean, tasty dish of mutton.

42 HBO
“The Wire”: The cancellation of this seedy tale destroys Baltimore tourism, as those excited to come and visit its densely packed, crack cocaine-infested streets will now likely spend their tourism dollars elsewhere — in places such as Newark and Detroit.

43 Hallmark
I knew that if I looked through 1,500 channels, I could find “Matlock” somewhere

“American Gladiators”: A few lions and Christians would take this show to the next level.

45 Discovery Health
“Dwarf Family Revisited”: A dwarf family wants to explode all the myths about little people. Except the one about how they are ravenously oversexed.

46 Ovation
David Hartman gives long, tedious lecture about Restoration theater that might be more interesting if it had a few extra plunging bodices

56 Independent Film Channel
Pedro Almodovar’s most recent necrophilia movies are just getting too sentimental for me

57 Turner Movie Classics
Charlie Chaplin: Hamming it up and violating interstate white slavery laws.

58 Crosswalk
“Democracy Now”: In a cruel, ironic “No Exit” kind of existential hell, left-wing journalist Amy Goodman realizes she’s going to have to ride out the rest of her life contending with idiot mouth-breathing 9-11 conspiracy theorists, kind of like a baby-sitter for adults.

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(Originally posted February 13, 2008 )

Bill O’Reilly has a lot of anger. That’s because he likely hasn’t seen this:

Kitten Loves Puppy "happy valenetines day"

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