Search results for "Glenn Beck"

'Liar' Ted Cruz absurdly blames Biden for non-existent 'ban' on Dr. Suess books — gets hilariously mocked

U.S. Senator Ted Cruz is joining the right wing pile-on attacking liberals for a ban that does not exist on Dr. Seuss books – but the Republican from Texas is going one step further, placing blame for the non-existent ban directly on President Joe Biden.
Among those lying about the "cancel culture" banning of Dr. Suess are Fox News' Ainsley Earhardt, who said on Tuesday, "There's this cancel culture trying to cancel Dr. Seuss now." Donald Trump, Jr. also lied, telling Earhardt, "You know they're canceling Dr. Seuss from reading programs," which is false.

Glenn Beck lied, saying, "They have now banned six books from Dr. Seuss," although like everyone else, he never said who "they" are.

There is absolutely no "ban" on Dr. Seuss. Dr. Seuss has not been banned, nor has Dr. Seuss been canceled.

Dr. Seuss Enterprises last year decided six of the beloved author's 60 books do not meet their standards. Some were written nearly a century ago, and the company that owns the copyright to the Seuss books decided to stop licensing those six lesser-known books over depictions of racism they admit are "hurtful and wrong."

Enter Senator Cruz, fresh from lying last week about Attorney General nominee Judge Merrick Garland.

Senator Ted Cruz has decided the "they" in "they are banning" is none other than President Joe Biden.

Wednesday Cruz tweeted a photo that supposedly depicts the top eight best-selling Seuss books – none of which are being discontinued.

He claimed President Biden is responsible for increased sales of the books.

Perhaps being dissatisfied with the degree of lying – in this case apparently thinking he had not lied enough, Cruz dashed off yet another tweet, this time trying to make some cash on the deal.

Many on social media expressed outrage. Some noted that Cruz's book was a bestseller in large part because it was purchased in bulk which may have violated FEC rules.

















The revenge of the 'liberal tears'

For four years, Donald Trump and his followers mocked Democrats as congenital failures and weepers of "liberal tears." On the 2020 trail, Trump imagined a fistfight he might have with Joe Biden (a famous male weeper), promising his followers that Biden "would go down fast and hard, crying all the way." Madison Cawthorne (R-NC), celebrated winning a Congressional seat last year by tweeting: "Cry more, lib."

It was a ritual in 2020 for Trump supporters to taunt Democrats for crying or, like a bully on a playground, anticipate with delight the tears that would flow from liberal eyes when Trump and his allies scored another victory.

But Biden won, and crying may be back. On Monday, his nominee for attorney general, Merrick Garland testified before some of the same senators who refused him a Supreme Court hearing in 2016. Garland stopped to compose himself as he told the story of his grandparents' flight from antisemitic violence, and his "obligation to the country to pay back" for their lives. While some outlets respectfully described him as "emotional," others noted that Garland was "tearing up" as he spoke.

Of course, this kind of bullying is not entirely conservative. It is also good business. Just as you can purchase bacon-scented gun oil branded as liberal tears, there are coffee mugs for sale that hold "alt-right tears," "white tears," "MAGA tears" and the tears of men who are white, straight, and just plain mediocre.

But history skews towards weeping as a conservative slur. From the 1890s through World War I, Progressive men were taunted by their "red blood" opponents as effeminate "mollycoddles" prone to breaking down in tears. Women were excluded from voting until 1920, and then from office holding for another half-century because their tears were seen as the opposite of reason. A 2019 study showed that one in eight Americans still believe women are too emotional to hold office.

While President Dwight Eisenhower was known to have a good cry when asked to recall the sacrifices of World War II, male tears largely remained a sign of political weakness and failure for most of the 20th century. In 1952, then-Senator Richard Nixon cried when confronted with a fundraising scandal. Jimmy Carter was widely reported to have wept when he lost the 1980 election while the victor, Ronald Reagan, never shed a tear in public and was famous for displays of masculine anger.

That changed with Bill Clinton, who may have done more than any modern liberal to rehabilitate crying and associate it with the Democratic party. While Clinton cried very little as president, photographers often caught him in tears as he watched the former First Lady succeed as a politician after 2000.

The association between crying and authenticity was cemented in the 2008 New Hampshire primary when a TV crew caught the normally restrained Hillary Clinton on the brink of tears, a personal moment that gave her a victory over Barack Obama. By 2016, Obama had cried so frequently in public that it was said to be "revolutionary."

Obama's emotional honesty may have encouraged other men to cry too, even Republicans. John Boehner, who cried when he became speaker of the House in 2010, routinely wept when asked about his bootstrap story. And Glenn Beck, who wept so much— faith, family violence, and George Washington were a few triggers—that he was suspected of faking it and characterized by Trump during the 2016 campaign as a "weird guy" who was "always crying."

Trump hated tears. He announced on the eve of his inauguration that he never cried because he liked "to get things done." Not crying, as if others wept at the drop of a hat, became part of the Trump brand. While Melania Trump was said to have cried in despair when her husband was elected, she never cried in public: Trump once said proudly that she wouldn't cry if he died. Although Ivanka is said to cry when calling editors to have negative publicity retracted, no one in the Trump family has been photographed in tears.

And ironically, the false narrative of Trump's victory still hinges on tears. "Gimme four more years," a white adolescent boy lip-synced on TikTok last week, draped in a Trump flag. "What comes next? Liberal tears." Bumper stickers and tee shirts that used to read "Trump 2020: make liberals cry again" have been updated for an anticipated 2024 campaign.

They are now on sale at Amazon: because the only losers are people who cry.

Michigan judge who gained fame demolishing rapist Larry Nassar just locked up one of Tucker Carlson's heroes

Judge Rosemarie Aquilina sentenced a Michigan restaurant owner to jail Friday for flagrantly violating state health laws regarding the COVID-19 pandemic. That came less than 48 after Fox News agitator Tucker Carlson had tried to make the defendant one of his endless tales of national grievance.

Aquilina threw Holland, Mich. restaurateur Marlena Pavlos-Hackney in jail Friday after a raucous hearing. Aquilina ruled that Pavlos Hackney will remain in jail until the state is assured her restaurant -- Marlena's Bistro and Pizzeria -- is closed and she pays a $7,500 fine, the Detroit News reported.

Pavlos-Hackney has become a cause celebre among Michigan Republicans since the state took away her license for refusing to comply with even the most basic COVID-19 mitigation measures. The restaurant stayed open during a state shutdown and refused to follow mask requirements, seating limits or other social-distancing rules, according to various published reports. Also, Pavlos-Hackney was charged with contempt in court for failing to show up when ordered.

Pavlos-Hackney has been openly defiant of authorities, proclaiming "they can arrest me" and appearing on Carlson's show Thursday and others (including Glenn Beck's "The Blaze") to complain that Michigan "was acting like the Communist state (Poland) I escaped from."

But Friday in Aquilina's court, it was the judge who was making the best sound bites in dressing down the defendant:

"We're in the midst of a pandemic," Aquilina said. "You have selfishly not followed the orders. You've not followed them for your own financial gain and apparently for the publicity that comes with it."

"Aquilina threatened supporters in the courtroom with contempt of court when they made noise during the court hearing. The judge gaveled down Pavlos-Hackney when the restaurant owner tried to interrupt the judge. "This isn't Burger King," Aquilina said. "When the sign changes to Burger King, you can have it your way."

"After the hearing, two supporters of Pavlos-Hackney stood outside the courthouse with bullhorns, calling Aquilina a "tyrant judge."

But Friday, Aquilina spoke with the assurance of a celebrity judge. She had drawn widespread recognition in 2018 in presiding over the USA Gymnastics sex abuse scandal case involving team doctor Larry Nassar. Here's how BBC.com reported it:

"The judge who has sentenced disgraced USA gymnastics team doctor Larry Nassar has given a voice to over 150 women who chose to confront their abuser face-to-face.

"'I just signed your death warrant," Aquilina said as she told him he would serve up to 175 years. She listened patiently as survivors shared their stories of abuse during the multi-day-long sentencing. At times acting as more of a therapist than a judge, the 59-year-old did not hide her empathy for the women.

"'Leave your pain here," she said.

"She said she had received media requests from around the world but insisted the story was not about her."

Aquilina, first elected as a judge in 2004, had previously "become the first female Judge Advocate General (JAG) in the Michigan Army National Guard where she earned the nickname "Barracuda Aquilina," the BBC reported.

She had not lost her bite as of Friday, as the News reported:

"During Friday's hearing, Aquilina also ordered a man attempting to represent Pavlos-Hackney as "assistance of counsel" to be arrested for contempt of court because he allegedly had represented himself as a lawyer when he was not licensed to practice. Richard Martin, who described himself as a constitutional lawyer and is the founder of the Constitutional Law Group, was ordered to serve 93 days in jail.

Not having been allowed the legal services of non-lawyer Martin was among the grievances spouted by Pavlos-Hackney during media interviews.

The News reported that "Pavlos-Hackney is believed to be the first restaurant owner in Michigan to be arrested for non-compliance with COVID-19 orders, according to Attorney General Dana Nessel's office. Others have complied after receiving court orders."

Carlson had criticized Michigan's "out of control" Attorney General Dana Nessel, consistent with messaging of the Michigan GOP, as reported by the News.

"The Michigan Republican Party criticized Nessel's office for arresting the restaurant owner while refusing to investigate COVID-19 nursing home deaths in Michigan. About 35% of all COVID deaths have occurred among nursing home residents and employees.

"Nessel is eager to spend taxpayer-funded resources going after small business owners trying to stave off bankruptcy but refuses to investigate the deaths of thousands of nursing home residents potentially caused by policies implemented by her political-ally Gretchen Whitmer," GOP spokesman Ted Goodman said in a Friday statement.

"It's a massive abuse of power and shows what her priorities are."

Notably, the Republicans' political attack was void of any substantive defense of Pavlos-Hackney's inalienable right to spread infectious disease. Here's what Nessel's office had stated on that front:

"Michigan Department of Agriculture and Rural Development suspended Marlena's food establishment license on January 20, 2021. The restaurant has been operating without a license since then - in violation of the Michigan Food Law. An administrative hearing was held on February 1 to determine if the suspension was proper and on February 11 the Administrative Law Judge issued a decision and an order continuing the summary suspension of Marlena's food license.

"This owner has continued to willfully violate the state's food laws, public health orders and the order of the court - a dangerous act that may have exposed dozens of diners and employees to the virus following the discovery that one of Marlena's customers tested positive for the virus within two days of eating there."

There was a small gathering of supporting protesting on behalf of the jailed restaurateur Saturday. Neither that, nor Tucker Carlson, is likely to hold much sway with Barracuda Aquilina, however.

Cancel work: The COVID-19 pandemic has taught us that work is not a virtue

Several years ago, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez released an overview of the Green New Deal that mentioned guaranteeing "economic security" for people who are "unable or unwilling to work." When conservative critics noticed those last three words, they pounced. Fox News waxed poetic about the "dignity of work" and Breitbart sneered at the "self-described Democratic Socialist" whose "radical proposal" ignored that even "traditional American liberalism regarded full employment as its goal because of the importance of work to society and the individual."

Indeed, there is a deep-seated belief in American society that one's survival is tied to work — and, thus, those who don't work don't deserve to survive, or at least to not be poor. You can see this in the New Testament, where it is written that "if a man will not work, he shall not eat" and people are urged to "settle down and earn the bread they eat." Over time conservatives found ways of couching that belief in lofty rhetoric about the wonders of the free market and warnings that if the government guarantees economic rights to all, somehow we'll lose our most cherished freedoms. Even Democrats have bought into this, most notably when Bill Clinton's 1996 welfare reform bill threw millions of people off relief by limiting benefits and establishing as a policy priority that recipients eventually be forcibly transitioned back to work.

Flash forward two years, and one global pandemic, later. Joe Biden just passed a historic $1.9 trillion stimulus bill to help the millions who are financially struggling as COVID-19 lockdowns spur job losses. Millions of other people suffer from burnout, stress and exhaustion as their employment lives and domestic lives have involuntarily meshed while they work from home.

We don't need studies to demonstrate how traumatizing this has been: Most of us are either stressed about making ends meet or stressed because the need to work for a living in these unusual times is physically and spiritually taxing.

Yet the people who decide what ideas fall within the Overton window — or the spectrum of opinions deemed socially acceptable — only permit us to seek ways to reinforce the pro-work status quo, not reevaluate it. Even in the earliest days of the pandemic, right-wing commentators like Glenn Beck were urging older Americans to risk their lives by going to work lest the economy suffer as authorities tried to contain a deadly disease. Billionaires became vastly wealthier during the pandemic while income inequality (which was already out of control) significantly worsened.

But instead of questioning whether this redistribution of wealth was just or efficient, the political focus has been on "getting people back to work" no matter what. Options like paying people to stay home and not work until the pandemic is over (which countries like the United Kingdom and Spain did to varying degrees) were never seriously considered — even though scientifically this would have been the most effective way to contain the disease. After all, if we did that, then people might start to question whether they should be forced to work to survive in the first place. And we can't have that because, well... reasons.

But what are those reasons, exactly? Why do we assume that whenever the economy crashes — whether in the Great Depression of 1929, the Great Recession of 2008 or now the Great Lockdowns of 2020 — the most we can hope for is that a moderate liberal like Franklin Roosevelt or Barack Obama will step in and mildly mitigate the damage? Why do we take it for granted that people must, absolutely must, be forced to work in order to survive? Why do we insist that anyone who even considers challenging that notion is a lazy and immoral mooch, someone who wishes to contribute nothing to society — even though, ironically, many of the world's wealthiest heir and heiresses do no work themselves?

What if there is a third way of looking at the concept of work, but we are so conditioned to reflexively believe that you must "earn your living" that we are failing to recognize it?

Ocasio-Cortez was not the first political thinker to ponder these things. In his 1932 essay "In Praise of Idleness," philosopher Bertrand Russell pointed out that there are two kinds of work: "first, altering the position of matter at or near the earth's surface relatively to other such matter; second, telling other people to do so." In other words, all work is either manual labor or managing manual labor. As Russell quipped: "The first kind is unpleasant and ill paid; the second is pleasant and highly paid."

Although the first type of work, manual labor, is necessary to some degree, Russell says that it "is emphatically not one of the ends of human life" because technology has made it possible to significantly reduce the amount of labor necessary to provide everyone with their necessities. Arguing that all human beings should still have to spend most of their days working, even though such work is unnecessary for society and often cruel to the individual, is irrational and immoral. Yet society has refused to recognize this in part because of the stubbornly persistent belief that work is, in its own right, some kind of reward.

That belief, not coincidentally, also allows a small fragment of our population to become extremely wealthy while the vast majority wastes most of its year in pointless toil. People buy into the pro-work ideology even though the moments people most cherish in their lives are usually those tied to pursuits that they choose on their own — whether they make money doing them or not — rather than because of tasks they are forced to perform in order to sustain life.

It isn't easy to figure out how to transition away from these assumptions. Russell suggested that "if the ordinary wage-earner worked four hours a day there would be enough for everybody, and no unemployment — assuming a certain very moderate amount of sensible organization." This did not mean that people should be encouraged to fritter away the remaining 20 hours of their work days, but rather that they should use their own judgment on how to create the best quality of life for themselves and other people. "Four hours' work a day should entitle a man to the necessities and elementary comforts of life, and that the rest of his time should be his to use as he might see fit," Russell posited. Barring that, we will continue to inhabit a world in which most of the population is miserably chugging away at pointless, menial jobs because they wrongly believe that misery is essential to survival. As this happens, our culture marinates in the toxic assumption "that everything ought to be done for the sake of something else, and never for its own sake."

Russell was not the only great thinker to arrive at this type of conclusion. In his 1880 essay "The Right to be Lazy" (revised in 1883), the Marxist writer Paul Lafargue (who was also Karl Marx's son-in-law) drew back on ancient philosophers from Greece and Rome to argue that free time, not constant work, allows us to realize our optimal selves. Lafargue believed that we flourish as human beings when we are free to think, to explore, to play, to indulge in our curiosities, to engage in stimulating conversations... and to decide for ourselves how we can best improve the world we inhabit.

"Capitalist ethics, a pitiful parody on Christian ethics, strikes with its anathema the flesh of the laborer," Lafargue wrote. "Its ideal is to reduce the producer to the smallest number of needs, to suppress his joys and his passions and to condemn him to play the part of a machine turning out work without respite and without thanks." He pointed out that it is inherently hypocritical for any ethical system to claim to value freedom and then consign people to spend most of their waking hours engaged in dreary toil. People have a right to recreation (something even Roosevelt acknowledged), a right to free time... a right, in short, to be lazy.

"The unbridled work to which it has given itself up for the last hundred years is the most terrible scourge that has ever struck humanity," Lafargue concluded, hoping that one day "work will become a mere condiment to the pleasures of idleness, a beneficial exercise to the human organism, a passion useful to the social organism only when wisely regulated and limited to a maximum of three hours a day."

Author Mark Twain — best known for writing "The Adventures of Tom Sawyer" and "The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn" — perhaps most succinctly summed up this point when he told a reporter in 1905 that he had never "worked" a day in his life.

"What I have done I have done, because it has been play. If it had been work I shouldn't have done it," Twain mused.

The beauty is that, when a person finds the way that he or she was intended to do, they wind up making the world a better place. Certainly they contribute more to society than if they are forced to sacrifice their hours to "bullshit jobs," a term that the late anthropologist David Graeber coined to refer to a special class of meaningless toil in an eponymous 2018 book. Four years before writing that book, Graeber told Salon that he was envisioning "a labor movement that manages to finally ditch all traces of the ideology that says that work is a value in itself, but rather redefines labor as caring for other people."

Throughout his writings, Graeber found evidence that most people will naturally want to help others in order to keep society running. They do not need to be forced to work in order to survive for that to happen. In fact, society winds up wasting its potential for efficiency by requiring people to do that. We create jobs that do not need to exist, or exist solely to help extremely wealthy people engage in lives of leisure, when we operate from that ethic. Graeber observed to Salon back in 2014 that he was struck by how people who expressed support for the Occupy movement online (because they were too busy working to do so in person) made it clear that they wanted fulfilling jobs, not work for its own sake.

"The complaints were surprisingly uniform," Graeber recalled. "Basically they were all saying, 'I want to do something with my life that actually benefits others; but if I go into a line of work where I care for other people, they pay me so little, and they put so much in debt, that I can't even take care of my own family! This is ridiculous!'"

This brings us back to Ocasio-Cortez and her "controversial" idea that people who are unwilling to work shouldn't be left to die. Only a few weeks after she posted that, Ocasio-Cortez indirectly returned to that belief when an audience member at SXSW asked her about whether automation would ruin lives by putting people out of work.

"We should not be haunted by the specter of being automated out of work," Ocasio-Cortez explained. "We should be excited by that. But the reason we're not excited by it is because we live in a society where if you don't have a job, you are left to die. And that is, at its core, our problem."

The good news is that this problem — of meaningless work and too much work — isn't unsolvable. What Lafargue and Russell observed in the late 19th century and early 20th century is even more true today: We have the resources to create a world in which people work for fewer hours and have more free time. We could put a cap on how much wealth any individual or institution could accumulate, establish a universal basic income so that no one would live in poverty and have a strong centralized government to address existential crises like climate change, pandemics and chemical pollution (an issue that gets overlooked: how plastics and other common products are making us infertile).

That path seems radical to us now, but only because we've been conditioned to believe that work is an absolute virtue and eliminating major class differences is unthinkable. Yet the truly radical proposition is that the vast majority of humanity should waste their lives working when they do not have to, just so a small fragment can indulge in excessive leisure because they are extremely wealthy. It is even more radical yet to claim that this should continue happening until, because the wealthy fail to address issues like climate change, they wind up destroying humanity altogether.

Fox News tried to launch a comedy show — it did not go well

Greg Gutfeld has always been Fox News' version of Greg Gutfeld. He has positioned himself as the funny person at Fox News, which is sort of like being the best-smelling dung beetle in a pile of manure. He has a new show on Fox, and boy is it a … hoot? Called Gutfeld!, Greg takes on Fox News' versions of the day's events and lampoons the Biden administration and the illiberal media. An early review online by @EvalsAdorable summed up the general overview of the Gutfeld! experience: "It's basically the Daily Show, but without the humor, imagination, or poignant observations."

The show began on Monday, and it was not good. At all. Its second night seems to have solidified Gutfeld's place in history. It's tough to truly explain how not funny this comedy show is. In some respects it is so acutely unfunny that one wonders if Greg Gutfeld might pull off his face mask at some point to reveal Andy Kaufman, back from the great beyond, playing one final long-con performance art piece on right-wing psychosis. But everyone is weighing in, and everyone professional or not, is more of a comedian than Greg Gutfeld will ever be.

There are a few things Gutfeld does on his show: he attacks MSNBC's Brian Williams, making the same joke over and over again—Brian Williams tells big story lies; he says Joe Biden is old and makes jokes about Joe Biden being old and senile; he attacks liberals for being racists who are all white and condescending; and he attacks comedy for being funny. The attacks on Biden and liberals are standard Fox News copy, and the attacks on Brian Williams are likely the result of Gutfeld's financial need to outperform Williams as the two men share a time slot, and Gutfeld's Gutfeld! likely only lives as long as it can compete with Williams.

To be clear, the idea of having a conservative comedy show has long been a holy grail that compassion-free right-wingers have hoped to achieve. You might remember the short-lived Fox News attempt at doing their own Daily Show, back in 2007, Half Hour News Hour. You don't have to watch it, but I would suggest you take a peek at the 50 second mark joke attacking liberals for not being able to tell the difference between television characters and real life politicians.


Half Hour News Hour Snipits www.youtube.com

Gutfeld hosted Fox News' Red Eye, a wee hours in the morning show that frequently had on real comedians, in a radio morning-drive-style format. As Red Eye faded away, Gutfeld found himself getting shots on other Fox panels, and the whiff of his sense of humor seems to have been the only quality he had.

Gutfeld's lack of intelligence, and his general mediocrity, has always been touched with this delusion that he was somehow the wry humorist on Fox News panels. Really, he just says the exact same racist shit that the rest of Fox News' hosts say, but from a lightly reclined physical position (see Glenn Beck's use of pens or glasses as a hand prop to denote thoughtfulness and avuncular trust), with a smug (most likely Bill Maher-inspired) turn of the face that indicates to the white supremacist automatons on the panel that he is making a sort of joke and one should laugh after he's finished.

But let's get to the jokes! Trigger warning: These jokes are neither laugh-out-loud funny nor are they groan-out-loud groan-y. In fact they aren't really anything more than somehow more poorly written Fox News copy, said in an approximation of a humorous delivery.


Oh. My.


One of the reasons why conservatives want and need people like Gutfeld to succeed is that humor and satire does have the ability to allow for more controversial opinions to get through into the mainstream without being analyzed for their worth. Not truly great humor, mind you, but being allowed to make generalizations is a part of comedy, and sweeping generalizations are the entirety of the right-wing intellectual platform.

There is also a large comedy market for more libertarian-like (mostly) males that are not nearly as conservative as the Republican Party, but are stressed out about cultural change. Frequently, people like Gutfeld use the excuse that they were "joking" when saying something offensive, hoping to lessen the brunt of the backlash to their putrid ideas. There is a never-ending conversation from the comedy world about "cancel culture," and it is identical to the conversation comedians had about political correctness years ago.

The argument goes that people's livelihoods are being attacked because some people don't find them funny. The comedy-line goes that any comedian should be allowed to say anything because comedians are constantly trying to push the envelope on socially accepted boundaries in search of humor, and sometimes they will miss the mark. The conclusion of these arguments is that attacks on comedians amount to censorship.

Truly great comedian Laurie Kilmartin pointed out that Gutfeld isn't the guy to carry this version of comedy across the finish line.


And because she's actually funny.


We are talking about this show.


Yeaaaaowch!


Here's a little comedy math for you.


But not everyone is excited about being scooped by Gutfeld!.


Frighteningly, like a performance artist, there is something so watchable about a garbage fire.



Seriously, this is so bad it almost seems like it was written by someone punishing Greg Gutfeld.


In fact, a parody account popped right up, called "Gutfeld Writer's Room." It's a fine slice of pastry, but it's considerably funnier than the Greg Gutfeld show.



And this made me laugh.


Greg Gutfeld says the reviews are wrong because he knows funny.


Well, we got that out of our system.

Republican attacks on COVID-19 relief flop as Democrats learn to circumvent the right-wing spin

The House of Representatives just passed their final version of the American Rescue Plan, a $1.9 trillion package aimed at ending the pandemic and restoring the economy to a hopefully better condition than it was when the coronavirus first hit American shores one year ago. President Joe Biden, whose White House proposed the draft that was largely adopted by Congress, is expected to sign the bill on Thursday ahead of a primetime address marking the somber anniversary of pandemic lockdowns.

Republicans in Congress, for their part, hate this bill.

Not a single GOP lawmaker voted for this COVID relief bill in either the House or the Senate. One would think that their propaganda apparatus, from Fox News to OANN to right-wing talk radio, would be hair-on-fire furious about it. But instead of trying to form a new "Tea Party", the nickname given the widespread conservative temper tantrum that rose up in the wake of Barack Obama's 2009 economic bailout bill, the response has been relatively muted. This is despite Biden's bill being more targeted towards aiding ordinary Americans and less of a corporate bailout than Obama's economic stimulus more than a decade ago. Instead of throwing fits about the bill, however, the right-wing noise machine would rather talk about anything else.

On Wednesday, Media Matters published an analysis noting that "Fox News devoted just one segment to the" coronavirus relief bill on the same day that this historic legislation passed. As Matt Gertz wrote the day before at Media Matters, this is in contrast with how Fox News reacted to Obama's American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, which was vilified "with an ideological misinformation campaign aimed at convincing the public that Obama was a dangerous radical pushing a Soviet-style vision that would enslave Americans while killing jobs, not saving them."

If you consumed exclusively right-wing media this week — which is normal in red state America — you'd get the impression that the Amerian Rescue Plan is a minor bill, and that the biggest problem facing this country is the onslaught of "woke" people that are stepping on the god-given right of every red-blooded white American to be shielded from criticism for saying racist and sexist things.

This week, Tucker Carlson used his popular primetime show on Fox News to spread racist lies about the death of George Floyd, repeatedly attack a female journalist as supposedly ungrateful for being upset by misogynist harassment, suggest that only emasculated men care about not spreading the coronavirus, and demagogue about the evils of letting pregnant women serve in the military. Fellow Fox News star Laura Ingraham, meanwhile, devoted her Wednesday night show to attacking Prince Harry and Meghan Markle for speaking out against racism, and insisting that the real victims are conservatives because they have to endure criticism for saying racist things. Sean Hannity, meanwhile, kicked off his Wednesday night show floating a conspiracy theory accusing Biden of faking his stutter.

It was the same story at the conservative National Review, whose front page has more stories about the supposed evils of anti-racism and the utterly imaginary threats against Dr. Seuss than about the coronavirus relief package. And the Fox News challenger Newsmax? Well:

And while there are some half-baked efforts among congressional Republicans to get limp talking points about prisoners getting checks or whining that it's a giveaway to the poor, folks like Rep. Jim Jordan of Ohio and Rep. Matt Gaetz of Florida clearly believe the move is distractions. They've focused largely on whining about "cancel culture" and trying to start a hearing about Britney Spears being under a conservatorship. While there is much to be said about the latter issue, there is no reason to believe Jordan or Gaetz — both stalwart supporters of forced childbirth — have suddenly developed a concern about women's freedoms. Instead, it's just a naked bid to use celebrity to change the subject from the American Rescue Plan.

As clear of a pattern as is displayed, it remains unclear why Republicans and the conservative media are so scared of talking about the American Rescue Plan. One theory is they don't want to cross their own voters, nearly half of whom support the plan.


But this explanation is unsatisfying, as right-wing media has a long track record of convincing their audiences to be angry about stuff they didn't care about before. After all, it's not like right-wing audiences were particularly worried about obscure Dr. Seuss books or the branding choices at Hasbro, until Fox News told them to care. Conservative media has a well-worn strategy on how to take popular economic programs and rebrand them so that their audiences grow to hate them: Race-baiting and lying.

The Tea Party was formed because right-wing outlets lied to their audiences, falsely telling them that Obama's economic rescue package was paying mortgages for Black and Latino homeowners, and forcing white people to foot the bill. This was a lie — the banks were bailed out, but the homeowners they cheated were not — but the idea that people of color were getting a benefit they were denied appealed to conservative voters. Similarly, the right-wing talking points about the Affordable Care Act — attacks on the birth control benefit, lies about "death panels" — were about convincing aging white people that the Black president was taking away "their" health care and giving it younger and supposedly less deserving people.

So far, however, conservative media seems to believe they can't just lie and race-bait about this bill until their people hate it. And maybe the explanation for why is a simple one: It's harder to bamboozle their audiences about the American Rescue Plan because Democrats have finally learned to make the aid more immediate and visible.

Biden's plan is a contrast to the economic bailout money of 2009, which flowed in ways that didn't seem to immediately impact the pocketbook of everyday Americans. And while Obamacare eventually became popular, it struggled for years because of the slow rollout of subsidies and Medicaid, the latter aided by Republican governors refusing the Medicaid expansion. Biden's bill, however, wisely starts sending out checks within days of the ink on his signature drying. The vaccination rates are escalating and will likely do so even more so after the money starts to flow from this bill. Biden is hitting the road to highlight the immediate benefits to communities. In fact, the bill is so robust and timely that at least one Republican who voted against it, Sen. Roger Wicker of Mississippi, is already out there trying to take credit for it:

Now, things may change. Given some time and commitment, right-wing media may finally find some race-baiting narrative to turn their audiences against this bill. But the fact that they seem to be struggling — and talking about anything else, if possible — is a lesson for Democrats: Keep it simple, stupid.

The more visible the aid is to Americans, the harder it is for right-wing media to spin elaborate racist stories implying someone is getting free stuff their audience isn't getting. And the faster people experience the positive effects of a bill, the harder it is to confuse the public about what's in it. Which is all the more reason Democrats needs to eliminate the filibuster and keep passing meaty legislation that makes it harder for the right to change the subject.

How our nation's blindness to history could lead to Trump's comeback

In March 2016, when few political consultants, pollsters, data-jockeys, psy-ops masterminds or media maestros thought that Donald Trump could or would ever win the White House, I assessed his rise differently in a long Salon essay that few can read now because Americans barely glance into what we always call "the rear-view mirror."

History is more than a rear-view mirror. It enables people who give it more than a quick glance to know that someone like Trump surfs a tsunami of ressentiment — a public psychopathology in which gnawing insecurities, envy and hatred, nursed by many in private, converge in scary social eruptions that present themselves as noble crusades but that diminish their participants even in seeming to make them big.

"Ressentiment's gloves really come off once there are enough angry 'little-big men' to step out en masse, with a Sarah Palin or a Glenn Beck," I warned nearly five years ago, adding:

Trump is leading them across the Rubicon, signaling that he'll mow down anyone and anything in his way. Legitimate grievances that fuel ressentiment sometimes drive its eruptions to a fleeting brilliance, as when Palin tapped currents of thwarted love and hope in her speeches in the 2008 campaign. But, like her public persona, such gestures soon curdle and collapse, tragicomically or catastrophically, into their own cowardice, ignorance and lies.

But how "soon" do they collapse? Trumpian ressentiment lasted for four years, which is more than just the blink of an eye in the short history of our republic. During those years I found myself elaborating my warning in many venues, including again here in Salon in 2018 (when I reported reactions to the 2016 essay) and, more recently, in Democracy Journal.'

But now that those predictions have been book-ended suitably by Susan Glasser's "Obituary for a Failed Presidency" in the New Yorker, her summary of Trumpian ressentiment prompts me to a couple of quick observations.

First, Americans need to do more than glance into rear-view mirrors as they speed to nowhere. "The past is never dead. It's not even past," wrote William Faulkner, novelist and interpreter of the American South. meaning not that we should impose the past upon the present but that we should learn from it as we see it at work in our lives. Non-historians should acquire the pleasing habit of checking History News Network summaries and links to op-eds and magazine essays by historians and occasional interlopers.

Trump couldn't have conned as many of us as he did if our schools had taught more of us about this country's dalliances with demagogues like Huey Long and Joe McCarthy. The invaluable program "Facing History and Ourselves" now guides thousands of students in doing what its name commends. We need more of it.

Second, we need to recognize that people who feel stressed and dispossessed often demand to be lied to about their history because they want easy answers and scapegoats. By stoking ressentiment and algorithmically-driven marketing that pressures deliberating citizens to become impulse-buying consumers, Trump ushered millions into a political twilight zone where democracy is suspended by strongmen.

A good liberal democracy strides on two feet: a "left" foot of public provision — public schools, health care and other resources, without which conservatives' cherished familial and communal values could never flourish — and a "right" foot of irreducibly personal conscience and responsibility, without which even the best-intentioned "liberal" social engineering would turn persons into cogs, clients or worse.

Finding and keeping a balanced stride is an acquired art and a discipline. History must inform it, but only wise parenting, teaching and, yes, political engagement — all of which require public as well as private resources — can teach young Americans the art and discipline of self-government instead of driving them to be "little-big men" all too likely to surrender to the next Trump who comes on to our now-badly-frayed civic culture. If something like Trumpism persists, as I believe it will, that won't simply be because his followers will remain more loyal to him than he will to them. It will be because our society's growing moral bankruptcy and injustices will stoke more ressentiment, whose bearers will look for — and find — a new and potentially more dangerous iteration of Trump.

Sen. Mike Lee wages 'strange crusade' against Mormon-owned Utah media outlets for not being right-wing enough

It's always amusing when far-right Republicans slam conservative media outlets for not being right-wing enough. One such Republican is Utah Sen. Mike Lee, who has been highly critical of two right-of-center media outlets in his state: the Deseret News and Salt Lake City's KSL Radio/KSL-TV — which is owned by Bonneville International, the broadcasting arm of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints. Lee believes that the Deseret News (also owned by Mormons) and KSL are insufficiently right-wing, and talk radio right-winger Glenn Beck is joining him.

Beck tweeted, "Utahans: why would you ever read this paper? @SenMikeLee is right. How can you trust a thing @DeseretNews writes if they can get this simple principle so wrong? History TEACHES Pure Democracy leads to slavery and suffering."

McKay Coppins, a staff writer for The Atlantic, has devoted a Twitter thread to Lee and Beck's ludicrous claims that Mormon-owned media outlets in deeply Republican Utah are too liberal.

Coppins explains, "So, Mike Lee has been waging a FB/Twitter crusade lately against the Utah media outlets owned by his church (KSL, Deseret News). The individual critiques are nitpicky, but basically he seems frustrated that the outlets aren't right-wing enough. Now Glenn Beck has joined the cause."

Coppins goes on to say, "This crusade is strange, in part, because neither outlet is remotely liberal. But it's classic Trumpian ref-working. As I reported earlier this year, Trump and his allies planned to take the fight to local media in 2020…. That seems to be happening in Utah."

Coppins also notes that President Donald Trump "continues to underperform with" Mormon voters in Utah. Nonetheless, Utah is a deep red state that Trump is almost certain to win in the 2020 presidential election. While polls are showing former Vice President Joe Biden to be competitive in some light red states — including Texas and Georgia — a Y2 Analytics poll released on October 5 found Trump ahead by 10% in Utah. And on September 17, an RMG Research poll showed Trump with an 18% lead in that state.

Fox News's decision to ignore a fallen Capitol officer's ceremony was deeply revealing

On Tuesday, the body of Capitol Police Officer Brian Sicknick, who was killed by pro-Trump insurrectionists during the Jan. 6 attack on the Capitol, was laid in honor in the Capitol Rotunda. President Joe Biden and first lady Jill Biden arrived that evening to pay their respects. Americans were able to watch the ceremony on multiple news channels—but not on Fox News. On Fox News, Sicknick's ceremony was barely mentioned.

Instead, Fox News' ever-frothing opinion hosts did what they do best: stoke audience panic over all number of bizarre side issues, from a barrage of far-right conspiracy theories promoted by the fascist Laura Ingraham to Sean Hannity's important report that somebody got ejected from a Lakers game "FOR HECKLING LEBRON."

Fox's attempt to mostly pretend Sicknick's ceremony was not happening did not go without notice. In fact, it seems pretty much everybody noticed it, to the point that both blasting and mocking Fox for their silence became the evening's hot Twitter pastime.

Most of the criticism noted that Fox News had long pretended that "Blue Lives Matter," only to have it not matter at all when it came to an officer murdered by a Trump-devoted mob. The Washington Post even put some numbers to it with an analysis of how often the network even bothered to mention Sicknick compared to competing networks, even after the network ran "thousands" of segments about other police deaths during the previous four years.

Accusing Fox News of hypocrisy over the death of police officers, however, is giving them far too much credit. Fox News is not minimizing the death of Capitol Police Officer Brian Sicknick because they wish to downplay the violence of Trump supporters toward police. Fox News is minimizing Sicknick's death because they are accessories to his death.

Sean Hannity and other Fox hosts bear direct responsibility for Brian Sicknick's death, because Sean Hannity and other Fox hosts were a primary avenue of conspiracy claims theorizing that Trump was the true winner of the election, cheated out of the presidency through widespread fraud. It was a hoax each and every time network hosts said it; Fox may soon be forced to pay out gargantuan sums to two voting machine manufacturers targeted by network hosts with known false claims, but each of the network's conspiracy claims was known to be false at the time the hosts made them. Though literally dozens of lawsuits were filed by Trump's allies and other Republicans, not one was able to identify any of the supposed subterfuge Fox's barrage of conspiracy-minded guests were claiming. It was a propaganda push intended to justify a proposed nullification of a United States election. It was a plot to topple democratic government based on false claims and overt propaganda.

On Jan. 6, it was acted upon by Americans who used the same claims promoted by Fox News as justification for violent insurrection and the attempted assassination of Trump-critical lawmakers.

Fox News did not avoid coverage of the honors being given to Sicknick merely because his death failed to conform to their usual propaganda slant. Fox News kept its silence about Sicknick's death because the network's promotion of an anti-democracy hoax was the direct cause of his death.

Every police injury that day is due to Fox News' legitimization of anti-democracy conspiracy claims that were known to be false each time Fox propagandists said them. Every public injury, every bit of damage. The National Guard now guards the Capitol because Fox's so-called "opinion" programs lied to America, repeatedly, in an intentional campaign to delegitimize the results of the United States elections. Every victim should join in lawsuits against the network and its hosts, and take them for every penny. That would still not address the clear and present danger Fox's hoax promotion represents to our very democracy; now that the propagandism of the network was a significant factor in an attempted violent coup against the government, the Murdoch family's cesspool of disinformation has transformed from a political nuisance to a significant domestic terror threat.

This is not the first time Fox has sent killers to their political enemies, nor the first time they have done so via a relentless stream of conspiracy segments targeting specific Americans and groups with false claims intended specifically to demonize their targets. Former host Bill O'Reilly targeted an abortion-providing Kansas doctor with false claims, repeatedly calling him a "baby killer" responsible for infanticide, after which that doctor was shot and killed outside his church by a far-right activist. Former host Glenn Beck began spouting increasingly bizarre conspiracy theories naming all manner of Democratic and liberal groups in chalkboard scribbles that supposed inscrutable connections between each; one of those named, the Tides Foundation, soon became the intended target of a far-right mass shooter.

It is a pattern. Fox News hosts manufacture false claims to demonize particular, named enemies. The far right targets those enemies with death threats or actual assassination. The network then shifts to radio silence, mentioning the violence only in passing or to deny responsibility.

It is a matter mostly of luck that that network's multi-year campaign against George Soros, claimed to be behind nearly every world event in asinine conspiracies elevated from far-right and neo-Nazi groups, has not yet resulted in his death. But they continue to promote the conspiracies, relentlessly, nonetheless.

Like Republican lawmakers who continued to peddle the same hoaxes, and for the same reasons, Fox News is a co-conspirator in the death of Officer Brian Sicknick. Its executives are culpable, because it was evident that the claims, if believed, would inspire allegedly "justified" violence. The network's most dishonest hosts chose to pursue anti-democratic sedition rather than acknowledge that Trump-led claims of invisible fraud were fraudulent, and they chose to entertain repeated claims suggesting the Biden presidency was illegitimate because it served their ideological purposes to claim so. This death is their responsibility—if they had spoken up against the conspiracies the mob used to justify their violence, the mob would have been a fraction of its Jan. 6 size. If the Republican Party was not at this point a fully fascist and anti-democratic force, they would have not engaged in conspiracy hoaxes as means of erasing an election loss that was not even particularly close.

Not all propaganda is treason, but propaganda intended to provide legitimacy for an attempted overthrow of this nation's government certainly should be counted as such. Hannity and other hosts crossed that line in service to a buffoonish and delusional con man—and in service to an ideology that no longer recognizes elections themselves as legitimate, if the outcome is not to their liking. The network is attempting to tap-dance through a failed violent insurrection they helped deliver to the door of the Capitol, and are minimizing the consequences of the violence so as to protect themselves from blame.

They could reform, but do not intend to. The Murdochs even issued a post-coup order doubling down on talking-head programs and slashing news coverage yet again; we can presume from that move that they believe catering to the fascist far-right will be profitable enough to offset whatever violence their disinformation and hoaxes fuel next.


Evangelical pastor explains why nobody understands Trump voters

By NATHANIEL MANDERSON

Based on the last two presidential elections, there is clearly a failure in reporting, polling and understanding of almost half of America. Perhaps liberals would simply like to govern and run for office by only mobilizing their half of the population and overlooking that other half, but I would imagine this country won't get closer to equal opportunity with that type of thinking. It's true that much of the divisive language comes from Trump supporters who seems to enjoy Trump's deplorable approach to life and politics. Does that embody every single person who voted for Donald Trump in the last two elections? If you think that, then you are as lost as the narrow reporting and polling I have witnessed during the last four years.

My life has brought me across the lives of many other people, which has allowed me to understand the viewpoints of both sides in a more personal and complicated way. I'm a former pastor, and my favorite family in one of my churches was one that actually attended a Glenn Beck rally. Do you realize how kooky you need to be to travel from Massachusetts to Washington, D.C., to attend a Glenn Beck rally as a family? Yet I have nothing but warm feelings for them: Best family in the church by far. They were close to each other, kind and down to earth — and as far from me politically as anyone I have ever met. My least favorite family was full of hate, judgment and self-righteousness — yet I agreed with them on every single political issue. In fact, that liberal family is the sole reason I left formal ministry.

As a high school teacher in a predominantly first-generation and low-income Latino community, I noticed something very interesting. First, my fellow teachers, who were naturally very educated, very liberal and quite talented teachers, and usually came from serious financial privilege, barely survived the Trump presidency emotionally. In real life their lives didn't change a bit. They still went to Europe during the summer, went out to eat all weekend, shopped at Whole Foods and lived in the heart of expensive liberal-bastion neighborhoods like Cambridge and Somerville. In fact, I bet their financial lives improved during the Trump presidency, or at least their parents' lives did.

Meanwhile, the students whose lives were actually affected by Trump winning in 2016 acted like it was nothing. The reason for this reaction was not political ignorance but real-life understanding. Many liberals suffering from what they call "implicit bias" — or, as I call it, racism — claimed that these poor, uneducated immigrants simply didn't know what had just happened. The truth is that the community members knew exactly what had happened: Nothing. Their city has had a bad school system for the last 40 years and it will continue down that path no matter who is president. Their city has gangs, dilapidated housing and crime everywhere, just as it did over the last 40 years. Trump as president just affirmed what they always suspected about this country: It doesn't care about their community. Except when, over the next 20 years, the poor Latino community is forced out by gentrification, which has already started.

Now comes my own failure, and the failure of the people with labels just like me. I am a Bible-believing Christian minister, I am blue collar, and I have been a committed member of the working-class poor most of my life. Many of my people support Trump and will continue in four years to support the next Trump type if the Democratic Party doesn't start changing its approach. By the way, the Trump type is here to stay. Trump brought in more votes than any other Republican ever — the Republicans aren't just going to wash their hands of him now. That's just a pipe dream of the left. The true path to defeating Trumpism forever lies within the blue-collar, working-class poor of this country.

If I had any political network besides a bunch of package handlers at FedEx I would start a new political party called the Blue Collar Party, the leaders of which would only be front-line workers around this great country. The laborers, the line workers, the waitresses, the janitors, the shovel holders and anyone else suffering from holding up this country. These people understand this country more than any reporter, politician or entertainer with a voice and a big salary ever could. The best part of that blue-collar fight is that it empowers all races, since class doesn't have a color. Naturally enough, providing upward mobility to the working-class poor will predominantly bring hope to many people of color and will potentially show a new sense of unity that could break down some of the barriers between races.

I have worked side by side with the working-class poor who love Trump, and I promise you there is hope in reaching them. Hell, Obama reached them a little, and Bernie Sanders did more so. Even Bill Clinton did, but for the most part they feel forgotten by the Democratic Party. In spite of all this, the liberal media simply wants to explain away half the country as racist, sexist and ignorant voters. God forbid the vote they gave for Trump had a genuine purpose. I admit it may have been a flawed purpose but it's one that needs to be addressed before the country completely loses sight of itself.

On my own end, I would love to reach out to my fellow evangelical followers to re-educate them on the Bible and what it truly means to follow Christ. The evangelical leaders are lost and beyond my help, but the followers are not. The Bible commands its followers to champion liberal causes and certainly not the two non-biblical issues that have been forced onto the public over the last 40-plus years. The issues around welcoming the foreigner, healing the sick, equality for all and supporting the causes of the least of these needs to be the new foundation of the public voice of the church.

I feel there are a great number of people in the country that simply feel unseen, and in desperation they reach out to anyone who even appears to care about them. I know it is easier to put people we disagree with into various categories. I do it all the time. It saves a lot of time and energy. However, as a minister I know I need to hold myself to a higher standard. I also know what I have seen and the people I have met in my life. People are complicated. In fact I barely understand myself half the time. At age 43, I hiked across Spain hoping to "find myself" on my own Camino de Santiago. I didn't find myself in Spain but it was certainly enlightening. I know my own personal journey is complicated and the same can be said about the millions of people living their lives across this Country. People are looking for a sense of belonging, looking to be heard, looking for professional and educational opportunity, looking to feel valued and loved. I can only hope that in the next few years this country will start to understand itself just a little bit more than it does now.


Nathaniel Manderson

Nathaniel Manderson was educated at a conservative seminary, trained as a minister, ordained through the American Baptist Churches USA and guided by liberal ideals. Throughout his career he has been a pastor, a career counselor, an academic adviser, a high school teacher and an advocate for first-generation and low-income students, along with being a paper delivery man, a construction worker, a FedEx package handler and whatever else he could do to try to take care of his family.

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