A President Was Killed The Last Time Right-Wing Hatred Ran Wild Like This
(Anyone That Doesn’t Believe That We Don’t Have Enough Volatility, Venom And Vitriol To Unleash Violence In This Nation Any Day Now Is Simply In Severe Denial Or Stone Cold Ignorant.)
September 18, 2009 9:10 am ET by Eric Boehlert
That being John F. Kennedy, who was gunned down in Dallas, of course.
I've been thinking a lot of Kennedy and Dallas as I've watched the increasingly violent rhetorical attacks on Obama be unfurled. As Americans yank their kids of class in order to save them from being exposed to the President of the United States who only wanted to urge them to excel in the classroom. And as unvarnished hate and name-calling passed for health care 'debate' this summer.
The radical right, aided by a GOP Noise Machine that positively dwarfs what existed in 1963, has turned demonizing Obama--making him into a vile object of disgust--into a crusade. It's a demented national jihad, the likes of which this country has not seen in modern times.
But I've been thinking about Dallas in 1963 because I've been recalling the history and how that city stood as an outpost for the radical right, which never tried to hide its contempt for the New England Democrat.
Now, in this this month's Vanity Fair, Sam Kashner offers up in rich detail the hatred that ran wild in Dallas in 1963. To me, the similarity between Dallas in 1963 and today's unhinged Obama hate is downright chilling.
Kashner's fascinating cover story actually chronicles the professional struggles of writer William Manchester who was tapped by the Kennedy family, after the president's assassination, to write the definitive book about the shooting. The Vanity Fair articles details the power struggles, and epic lawsuits, that ensued prior to Manchester's publication.
But this unnerving passage from VF caught my eye. In it, Kashner retraces Manchester's step as he researched his book. It's unsettling because if you insert "Obama" for every "Kennedy" reference, it reads like 2009:
Manchester also discovered that Dallas “had become the Mecca for medicine-show evangelists … the Minutemen, the John Birch and Patrick Henry Societies, and the headquarters of [ultra-conservative oil billionaire] H. L. Hunt and his activities.”
“In that third year of the Kennedy presidency,” Manchester wrote, “a kind of fever lay over Dallas country. Mad things happened. Huge billboards screamed, ‘Impeach Earl Warren.’ Jewish stores were smeared with crude swastikas.…Radical Right polemics were distributed in public schools; Kennedy’s name was booed in classrooms; corporate junior executives were required to attend radical seminars.”
A retired major general ran the American flag upside down, deriding it as “the Democrat flag.” A wanted poster with J.F.K.’s face on it was circulated, announcing “this man is Wanted” for—among other things—“turning the sovereignty of the US over to the Communist controlled United Nations” and appointing “anti-Christians … aliens and known Communists” to federal offices.
And a full-page advertisement had appeared the day of the assassination in The Dallas Morning News accusing Kennedy of making a secret deal with the Communist Party; when it was shown to the president, he was appalled. He turned to Jacqueline, who was visibly upset, and said, “Oh, you know, we’re heading into nut country today.”
Manchester discovered that in a wealthy Dallas suburb, when told that President Kennedy had been murdered in their city, the students in a fourth-grade class burst into applause.
Today, conservatives are expressing outrage that Rep. Nancy Pelosi had the nerve to raise concerns about the onrush of violent political rhetoric. The Noise Machine claims it has no idea what Pelosi's talking about. But the truth is, America's most famous bouts of political violence (i.e. JFK, Oklahoma City, etc.) have always been accompanied by waves of radical, right-wing rhetoric. Given that history, the GOP's insistence that the hate now filling the streets couldn't possibly inspire violence seems woefully naive.
(Translation: Shut Up And Let Us Foment Violence (Ed.))
The House Republicans' top campaign chief strongly denounced Speaker Nancy Pelosi's comments that appeared to question whether today's angry conservative protests were similar to anti-gay rallies in the late 1970s that preceded the assassination of two San Francisco political leaders.
Rep. Pete Sessions (Texas), chairman of the National Republican Congressional Committee, said Pelosi crossed the line when she related the rhetoric of anti-gay protesters in San Francisco in 1978 -- the year Harvey Milk, the first openly gay member of the city's board of supervisors, and his political ally, Mayor George Moscone, were killed by former supervisor Dan White -- to that of contemporary conservatives while answering a question about the protests against President Obama's health-care proposals.
"The Speaker is now likening genuine opposition to assassination. Such insulting rhetoric not only undermines the credibility of her office, but it underscores the desperate attempt by her party to divert attention away from a failing agenda," Sessions said in a statement. "During one of the most important policy debates of our time, the American people have been completely abandoned by those elected representatives under her control. Voters are justifiably frustrated with Washington, and the Speaker's verbal assault on voters accomplishes nothing other than furthering her reputation for being wildly out of touch with the American people."
Unsure of who's right in this debate? Decide for yourself. Here is the full question and answer at Pelosi's weekly press briefing, held every Thursday morning:
Q: Madam Speaker, in terms of the political tone, the tone of the debate, Hoyer said earlier this week he thought it was the most vitriolic since '93-'94. And around that time we also saw acts of domestic violence, domestic terrorism. How concerned are you about the tone of the political debate, in terms of people talking about anti-government rhetoric and so on and the possibility of violence?
Speaker Pelosi: Well, I think we all have to take responsibility for our actions and our words. We are a free country, and this balance between freedom and safety is one that we have to carefully balance.
I have concerns about some of the language that is being used because I saw this, myself, in the late '70s in San Francisco. This kind of rhetoric was very frightening, and it created a climate in which violence took place.
So I wish that we would all, again, curb our enthusiasm in some of the statements that are made, so that understanding that some of the people -- the ears that it is falling on are not as balanced as the person making the statement might assume.
But, again, our country is great because people can say what they think and they believe. But I also think that they have to take responsibility for any incitement that they may cause.
UNITED NATIONS, Sept 17 (Reuters) – The United States has “serious concerns” about a U.N. investigator’s report accusing Israel and Palestinians of war crimes during their Gaza war, the U.S. envoy to the United Nations said on Thursday.
“The United States is reviewing very carefully what is a very lengthy document,” Ambassador Susan Rice told reporters. South African jurist Richard Goldstone unveiled the report in New York this week.
“We have very serious concerns about many of the recommendations in the report,” Rice said.
The Goldstone commission said both the Israeli army and Palestinian militants had committed war crimes, and possibly crimes against humanity, during the December-January war in the Gaza Strip. It said both had terrorized and killed civilians.
It urged the U.N. Security Council to refer the allegations to the International Criminal Court in The Hague if either Israel or Palestinian authorities failed to investigate and prosecute those suspected of such crimes within six months.
Israel had criticized the investigation from the start and refused to cooperate with a mission whose mandate it said was “clearly one-sided.” Both Israel and the Palestinian militant group Hamas rejected the 575-page document.
Goldstone’s mission was organized by the Geneva-based U.N. Human Rights Council, a body Israel and the United States have long criticized for what they say is its anti-Israeli bias.
Earlier this year, the United States successfully ran for a seat on the council, vowing to try to change the U.N. rights body from within. Under President Barack Obama’s predecessor, George W. Bush, the United States had boycotted the panel.
Israel has rejected international criticism of an offensive it said was launched to curb Hamas rocket attacks on its towns. Israel says it is investigating allegations but has not yet found cause to prosecute any of its soldiers.
Rice said the Human Rights Council’s approach to the Gaza war investigation was deeply flawed.
“We have long expressed our very serious concern with the mandate that was given by the Human Rights Council prior to our joining the council, which we viewed as unbalanced, one-side and basically unacceptable,” she said.
She also rejected one of the key recommendations in Goldstone’s report — that the Security Council should now take up the matter. Rice made clear that Washington saw no point in the 15-nation council even discussing the report.
“The appropriate venue for this report to be considered is the Human Rights Council,” she said.
Western diplomats said temporary council member Libya was interested in debating the Goldstone report. As a result, they said, the council might have to engage in a symbolic discussion of it but would almost certainly take no action.
Rice said the focus should be the future.
“This is a time to work to cement progress toward the resumption of (Israeli-Palestinian peace) negotiations and their early and successful conclusion,” she said.
Obama might meet with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas on the sidelines of the U.N. General Assembly next week to restart stalled peace talks. (Editing by Alan Elsner)
“If we are to achieve a richer culture, rich in contrasting values, we must recognize the whole gamut of human potentialities, and so weave a less arbitrary social fabric, one in which each diverse human gift will find a fitting place.”
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Prime Minister Syed Yusuf Raza Gilani on Friday categorically rejected the perception of any secret deal with former President Pervez Musharraf to give him safe passage.
“If there had been such a deal it would have come forth by now as media is very vibrant today,” he said in an interview with Samaa television channel. He said President Musharraf’s actions have not been indemnified by the parliament nor he has been convicted so there is no question of him being pardoned.
The Prime Minister said that the remarks attributed to President Zardari in this regard have already been contradicted by the Presidency. Replying to a question about three ‘deals’ in the past with Pervez Musharraf, involving Nawaz Sharif and Shaheed Benazir Bhutto and President Zardari, Gilani said as far as the deal with Nawaz Sharif is concerned he did not consider it a deal as the PML (N) leader at that time was under custody.
“If a person is in custody, legally it cannot be considered a deal. Confession before a police officer is no confession.” He said negotiations between Benazir Bhutto and Pervez Musharraf were going on for the former President to doff off his uniform and for holding free and fair elections.
However, he added, there were many conditions which were not fulfilled and emergency was imposed after which Benazir contacted party leadership and decided to go for a long march. The Prime Minister also referred to attack on Benazir Bhutto on the very first day of her arrival in Karachi adding she was later assassinated during an election rally in Rawalpindi.
He said after PPP came into power, they started putting pressure on Musharraf and the provincial assemblies passed unanimous resolutions for his resignation and later planned to go for his impeachment.
To a question the Prime Minister said that Musharraf’s well wishers may have advised him to quit honourably. He said had the former President the support of judiciary or the army, he would have never resigned.
He said when President Zardari and Nawaz Sharif were holding a press conference to declare Musharraf’s impeachment, he was supposed to go to Beijing Olympics but was delaying his plans to go to China.
Finally, he called off his tour but the Foreign Office said one of the two should go in view of Pakistan’s relations with China. “Musharraf had the hanging sword of impeachment while I had the hanging sword of 58 (2)b, But I decided to go to China.”
He said the President had consulted informally with his political aides and with common friends about using 58 (2)b against him. “He would say that I had many options and this (58 ) was one of them.”
About using article 6 of the constitution against Musharraf for holding his trial, the Prime Minister reiterated that he was for it if there is a unanimous resolution of the parliament. He, however, said that his government is a blend of political parties and people who had been with President Musharraf and he also wants to take along the allied parties.
“I am for it. We must create a history. But at the same time we should not rock the boat. If there is a unanimous resolution then the whole nation would be together.” He said he suffered at the hands of Musharraf regime as he remained in jail for five years during which his sister and mother died. “Emotions and politics are two different things. I have to think about country.”
To a question about Balochistan he said, under a package which includes constitutional, administrative and economic reforms, is currently being prepared under constitutional amendments after which the people of the province would be satisfied.
He said he has already started taking allied parties into confidence over these reforms. “If it is taken to the joint sitting of the parliament for approval where it is defeated, then nothing will be achieved.” “We have to implement this package as we don’t want to play before the galleries.” He said this package will set a direction towards greater provincial autonomy.
About the issues of governance, Prime Minister Gilani said it is the responsibility of the government to resolve them. He said the biggest challenge to the country is terrorism, elimination of which is priority number one of his government and stressed that no war can be won without the support of the nation.
“The parliament has supported us whole heartedly on this war against terrorism and I am grateful to the leadership of all political forces.”
He asked a counter question whether the current operation against the militants is successful or the one carried out in the past.
He paid tributes to the armed forces, police personnel and all those who laid down their lives in successful operation against militants in shortest possible time. Prime Minister Gilani also highlighted the excellent handling of IDPs and their safe return to homes immediately after the army operation.
About extending army operation into other troubled tribal areas he said his strategy is not to move alone but take all stake holders along. He said when time comes he will take all the political as well as military leadership into confidence and “see whether it is worth it or not worth it but I will not disclose it earlier.”
Replying to a question about changes in bureaucracy he said it is a continuous process. He said he has worked with President Musharraf for six months and no minister or secretary would meet him without first taking him (Gilani) into confidence.
He said contrary to the general impression, he enjoys all the powers of the chief executive as without his consultation and advice, the service chiefs or judges of superior judiciary cannot be appointed and he is the one who has the authority to make changes in bureaucracy.
Dick Cheney is fond of saying that history is the only judge he will have to answer to. If that’s the case, history will certainly judge him as one of the most powerful and secretive vice presidents this country has ever had. Through his expansion of power and unprecedented influence over the president, Cheney was able to get numerous resolutions and laws passed without the public knowing who was pulling the strings. Robert F. Kennedy, Jr. talks about this controversial ex-vice president with Barton Gellman, author of the book “Angler: The Cheney Vice Presidency.”
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When Bill O'Reilly stepped up to receive his Media Courage Award from Family Research Council Action on Friday night, he had no intention of facing the media. In fact, as I reported, he shut us out.
Perhaps the host of FOX NewsChannel's "The O'Reilly Factor" didn't what to be seen accepting that award from FRCA's Tony Perkins, given the latter's sketchy background on matters of race. (Perkins spoke before the white supremacist Council of Conservative Citizens in 2001, and I saw him deliver a racially charged speech to the 2007 Reclaiming America for Christ conference in Coral Gables, Fla.)
It's more likely, however, that he wanted to deprive arch-rival Keith Olbermann of MSNBC of a video clip that would have been great fodder for Olbermann's ongoing war on all things O'Reilly.
Despair not, reader. Thanks to the generosity of my friend and colleague Angelia Wilson, who had purchased a conference registration, we can glean the gist of O'Reilly's remarks from her copious notes.
Leaders of FRC Action, according to the organization's press release, chose O'Reilly for recognition "for being a voice of virtue in a culture of death." O'Reilly's virtue, it seems, was his relentless hammering of Dr. George Tiller, who, until his murder by an anti-abortion extremist in June, was one of the few physicians in the country performing late-term abortions.
O'Reilly told the audience that when he checked out investigations of Tiller, to whom he referred on the air as "Tiller the baby-killer," the TV host found much worthy of reporting. O'Reilly was apparently referring to the targeting of Tiller's clinic by Phill Kline, former attorney general of Kansas and anti-abortion activists. As I wrote for The Public Eye earlier this year: …
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