Thinkprogress.org reports that the Lafayette County Republican Central Committee has taken out the billboard advertisement at right, urging local citizens to rebel against the US government. Mad props to Big Game James Horak for the link. First of all, hey Amanda Terkel of Thinkprogress.org: You know what your internet news article needs? Some indication of where Lafayette County, Missouri is, or when the billboard went up, or a quote from someone at the Lafayette County RCC, or any additional information at all besides two links, one of which doesn’t work. Let’s hope the New York Times stays in business a little while longer. Second of all: JESUS CHRIST—THIS IS SEDITION, RIGHT? I mean, I didn’t go to law school, but telling people to not pay their taxes and “prepare for war” against the government is pretty much the definition of the term. Meanwhile, in Wheat Ridge, Colorado, local businessman Phil Wolf has erected a slightly more not-treason billboard asking the serious political question, “President…or Jihad?” It features a cartoon of Barack Obama in a turban and urges us to “remember Fort Hood.” It’s also emblazoned with the legend “BIRTH CERTIFICATE…PROVE IT!” Phil Wolf, I hope you’re reading this, because here you go. Wolf is not operating in the capacity of official representative of the Republican Party—although I think it’s safe to assume he’s not a registered Democrat—so his actions aren’t quite as damning as those of the Lafayette County RCC. Still, it’s hard not to see his behavior as partly consequent of a Republican Party whose elected representatives are actively fomenting mistrust of the federal government. At this point, the assessment that the GOP has settled into the role of opposition party is old news. What’s weird and mildly terrifying, though, is their emerging willingness to be a deliberate obstacle to American democracy.
When the White House first announced that it would be treating Fox News as an opinion outlet rather than as an objective news organization, it raised a lot of thorny questions. How, exactly, do you define objectivity? High school journalism textbooks are full of charts and bulleted lists, non of which mix serif and sans serif fonts, but any regular reader of the New York Times knows there’s objective and there’s objective, and never the twain shall meet. The problem is that bias is usually a sin of omission; what slants a story is not what you say, but what you don’t. When your annual Christmas card reports that I threw up at your wedding, that’s bias, because it neglects to mention that I also made a very nice toast. It’s exceedingly difficult for me to prove that your Christmas cards display a consistent anti-Brooks bias, though, because one can’t really prove a negative. Sure, you didn’t mention my toast, but you didn’t mention what color jacket your uncle was wearing, either, or what the temperature was, or which year the Inca empire experienced its first flu epidemic. Bias is usually absence, and the scope of absence is, by definition, infinite. Every once in a while, though, somebody straight-up lies. Fox News did it last week, and the public outcry has been far less that it should be. Video after the jump.
Sure, the federal government has taken a lot of steps lately to address America’s most serious problems—the financial collapse, skyrocketing health care costs, our tarnished image abroad. But when will the Obama administration wake up and do something about our imaginary problems? Specifically, why hasn’t anyone said anything about the secret Muslim takeover of our military and national security apparatus? Is it because any schoolchild will tell you that religious purges of government and the public sphere are associated with the ugliest chapters in our or any other nation’s history? Or is it because the President himself is secretly a Muslim? Hint: it’s the second one.
Now that Sarah Palin has been eaten by a grue, the mantle of Person In the Republican Party Who Might Actually Believe That Stuff has been taken up by Minnesota congresswoman Michele Bachmann. You may remember Bachmann from her bizarre assertions about the US Census and its possible role in a massive government conspiracy—something she stopped talking about after a census worker was killed in Kentucky. Like Palin, Bachmann believes in an American People whose will is diametrically opposed to that of the federal government—particularly the Congress part of the government, which she, bafflingly, is a part of. Also like Palin, her signature issue has become health care reform. Despite polls showing that most Americans favor a public option, Bachmann knows that “real, freedom-loving Americans” oppose the government “taking away [their] health care.” To make their voices heard, she’s taken it upon herself to organize a protest on the steps of Capitol Hill at noon today, at which she encourages protestors to enter their congresspeople’s offices and demand that they vote against health care reform. “This is the Super Bowl of freedom, this week,” she says. How can Michele Bachmann find the resources and communication apparatus to organize such a Super Bowl, in which an abstract concept competes with another, unnamed abstract concept on a week’s notice? Well, fortunately there’s Fox News:
By now you’ve probably seen the video of Representative Barney Frank (D-Mass.) putting the rhetorical whompus on one of his constituents at a town hall meeting in Dartmouth. If you somehow haven’t, do yourself a favor. The question—put to him by the most adorable hate-filled populist ever— was “Why do you continue to support a Nazi policy, as Obama has expressly supported this policy, why are you supporting it?” It’s an elegant rhetorical trap, but Frank finds a way out of it. First, he points out that the questioner is currently holding a photograph of the President with a Hitler mustache drawn on it. Then he asks her what planet she spends most of her time on, and concludes that “Trying to have a conversation with you would be like trying to argue with a dining room table. I have no interest in it.” As they say in Boston: face! Somewhere, Cicero is smiling.*