April 9, 2009

Did Paranoid Right-Wing Media Fuel the Pittsburgh Cop Killer’s Rage?

I think the answer is unequivocally yes, and without a shadow of a doubt.

This story’s been cleaned up a bit in the media lately, but living where I do and having access to local news from the area, the story was first reported on the local scene as a shooting that Poplawski, in all of his sickness, went through with because he was worried about a possible future ban on assault weapons or restriction on handguns by the Obama Administration.

Those same paranoid right-wing fears have driven up gun and ammo purchases around the country by paranoid conservatives who are so deathly frightened that someone’s going to take their guns away and white-out the 2nd amendment. Like the title says, paranoid right-wing media, and paranoid right-wing delusional fear. Obama even said on the campaign trail that he supported an individual’s right to bear arms, and that he supported the 2nd amendment. Even so, conservatives are so afraid that they’ve gone running to the gun store to pick up the guns and ammo they’ll apparently need when all of the brown people come after them demanding things like equality.

On April 6, two days after the 22-year-old Richard Poplawski allegedly murdered three police officers in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, a radio host named Alex Jones settled in before a microphone in his studio in Austin, Texas to do some damage control. “The mainstream media has certainly enjoyed tying me into this story,” Jones complained. “They’re attacking me and saying I’m delusional and there’s no New World Order The Second Amendment, what the country’s founded on–it’s all my fault!”

Poplawski was a neo-Nazi wannabe who railed against blacks, Jews, “Zionists,” and gun control. And like many members of the far-right fringe, he allegedly visited Jones’ Web sites and posted alarming reports by Jones’ writers on the white supremacist message board, Stormfront. (Poplawski’s posts are here, authored under the handle, “Braced For Fate.”) While Alex Jones generally avoids overt racism, he has found an eager audience on Stormfront by conjuring dark visions of an impending New World Order, claiming FEMA is secretly building a national concentration camp network, and announcing that President Barack Obama has planned mass gun seizures on his way to establishing a leftist dictatorship. “Remember, the first step in establishing a dictatorship is to disarm the citizens,” warned a March 13 commentary on Jones’ website, Prison Planet.

Now it would be easy to stop here and blame some crazy conservative fringe for this crime, but it runs much deeper than that – conservatives, as they’re so good at doing, are playing their best card: fear.

But hysterical warnings of government gun grabs and a socialist takeover of the U.S. are no longer the sole proprietary interest of fringe players like Jones. In the Obama era, Jones’ conspiracy theories have graduated to primetime on Fox News. And radicals like Poplawski are tuning in. Indeed, according to the Anti-Defamation League, the alleged killer posted a YouTube clip to Stormfront of top-rated Fox News host Glenn Beck contemplating the existence of FEMA-managed concentration camps. (“He backed out,” Poplawski wrote cryptically beside the video.) Three weeks later, Poplawski posted another Youtube clip to Stormfront, this time of a video blogger advocating “Tea Parties,” or grassroots conservative protests organized by Beck and Fox News contributor Newt Gingrich (see here and here) against President Barack Obama’s bailout plan.

Just when you think these folks can’t out-crazy themselves.

[ Did Paranoid Right-Wing Media Fuel the Pittsburgh Cop Killer's Rage? ]
Source: Alternet

April 4, 2009

Stephen Colbert Rips Glenn Beck to Shreds: Building His Career On 9/11

Ah Glenn Beck – the slimy underbelly of cable news, lower than even some Faux News hosts dare to sink. My dislike for Glenn Beck is very well documented.

While I can happily say that I had beef with Beck before it was cool, Stephen Colbert got into the act on his show:

The Colbert Report Mon – Thurs 11:30pm / 10:30c
The 10.31 Project
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Stephen Colbert ripped apart Fox News host (and New York Times cover boy) Glenn Beck Tuesday night, mocking his 9-12 project, meant to conjure the spirit of compassion and camaraderie Americans felt on September 12, 2001.

“We weren’t told how to behave that day after 9/11, we just knew,” Beck says to describe the project. “It was right, it was the opposite of what we feel today. Are you ready to be the person you were that day after 9/11, on 9/12?”

“Ready!” Colbert shouted, decked out in a gas mask, holding a gun, and wearing adult diapers.

Colbert then used a classic “Daily Show,” exposing the hypocrisy of Beck’s 9-12 project by highlighting comments he made on September 9, 2005.

“This is horrible to say, and I wonder if I’m alone in this,” Beck said on his radio program that day, “you know it took me about a year to start hating the 9/11 victims’ families? I don’t hate all of them. I hate probably about 10 of them. But when I see a 9-11 victim family on television, or whatever, I’m just like, ‘Oh, shut up!’ I’m so sick of them because they’re always complaining. And we did our best for them.”

“The 9-12 project is not for families directly affected by 9/11, just people building their careers on it,” Colbert said.

Colbert went on to mock Beck’s now infamous tendency to cry, and to launch his own “democratic experiment, the 10-31 project.”

“It will be scare and balanced!” he joked.

Oh Stephen, how right you are. But wait – could it be? Could Beck have grown a heart? Possibly started to spawn a brain? Nah, what am I thinking? He’s just faced with sinking ratings.

[ Stephen Colbert Rips Glenn Beck to Shreds: Building His Career On 9/11 ]
Source: AlterNet

InvisiblePeople.tv: Because the Homeless Have Stories

invisible people logo

It would be easy to ignore the panhandlers walking between cars at intersections, or ignore the people sitting huddled for warmth in doorways and street corners with plastic cups begging for change; to lower your head and move on pretending they’re not there, to pretend that if you gave them money that they’d spend it on drugs or alcohol (as though it would be your right to supervise what they spend money on), to ignore the fact that you’re likely closer to their position than you would like to admit, to pretend that these people aren’t actual people with real stories, real lives, families, dreams, aspirations, problems, loves, and passions.

In the end, it would be easy to pretend they’re not just like you or I. But it’s not about what’s easy, it’s about what’s right.

At InvisiblePeople.tv, Mark Horvath – a man who has lived through homelessness himself – has dedicated his blog and at least a part of his life to making sure that the stories of the people who live in their cars, under bridges, on the streets, and in alleys, are told loud and clear. The stories are heavy, deep, very real, and the people in them are perhaps more aware and present than many of us who float through our days, flitting from fad to fad, place to place, night to night.

There’s something to learn here, and there’s something to be done as well.

[ InvisiblePeople.tv ]

A Year Without a Mexican: The Debilitating Loss of Economic Lifeblood

This story reminds me of a play I saw a long long time ago called the Day of Absence, which emulated what would have happened in the deep south back in the 50s should all of the Black people in the local town vanished for one day. All of a sudden, up and gone, leaving the only remaining Black people in the town comatose in the hospital, unable to rise and take care of the town’s white residents.

As America has been building a new sub-class in the form of Mexican and Latin American immigrants (documented and undocumented), the calls are growing louder again to get tough on immigration and border security. That’s all well and good – it’s one thing to say we need to enforce the law and secure our national borders, but it’s another thing to not acknowledge the effects of those broken immigration laws in the first place and what they’ve done to American life and American society. There is no small lesson to learn from looking to see who’s serving you breakfast in the morning, who’s cleaning your office bathrooms, and who’s ringing up your purchases at the local department store. Instead, the media wants us focusing instead on Mexican drug cartels and the flow of narcotics across the southern borders; making it easy to paint “all of them” in the same light.

This article is the story of Pottsville, Iowa, a community economically and emotionally torn apart by the raids on a meat packing plan that wound up imprisoning almost a third of the town’s population. The damage to the community is still felt today, and this story is a detailed telling of the rise and fall of Pottsville, a rural community that in many ways more embodies the American “values” we hold dear than the people who complain so much about those values.

[ A Year Without a Mexican: The Debilitating Loss of Economic Lifeblood ]
Source: Mother Jones (courtesy of AlterNet)